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Centre for the Reception of Greece and Rome

The Centre for the Reception of Greece and Rome was set up in 2007 to bring together interests among members of staff and postgraduate students in many departments and disciplines across Royal Holloway. The Centre’s focus is on the political, philosophical and literary bridges between the contemporary world and Mediterranean antiquity.

Thinking about the heritage of Greece and Roman has been constitutive of virtually every area of modern life: literature, drama, political theory, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, art, music, architecture, the military, government, gender, LBGT+ rights, post-colonialism, civil rights, medicine, engineering, entertainment, theatre, cinema and sport.

Current research in the Centre has two main strands - classics in popular culture, and classics in contemporary thought. Many members of staff in the department have an interest in reception; our broader interests range from political and literary philosophy, urbanism, literary receptions, science fictions, and popular culture. 

The Centre's Directors are Dr. Liz Gloyn and Dr. Efi Spentzou. The Centre hosts our current graduate students whose work is associated with the reception of the classical world. The Centre offers a Masters by Research in Classical Reception for those wishing to explore this subject at PGT level.

Major current projects include:

  • Three Classicizing Capitals - Prof. Richard Alston
  • Classical monsters in popular culture - Dr. Liz Gloyn
  • Archaeology and Comics – Dr. Zena Kamash, with Dr. Leen van Broeck and Dr. Katy Soar
  • Heritage, crafting and well-being in post-conflict contexts – Dr. Zena Kamash
  • Science fiction and the fantastic in classical literature - Dr. Nick Lowe
  • The modern Greek novel and the Classical tradition - Dr. Efi Spentzou
  • Reimagining of Eurydice as the Girl - Dr. Efi Spentzou


Members of the Centre for the Reception of Greece and Rome

  • Prof. Richard Alston - political receptions including imperialism and colonialism, Urbanism and the idea of the city, and political philosophy (Foucault, Arendt, and ancient politics).
  • Dr. Siobhan Chomse - the reception of the Roman emperor in contemporary art and culture.
  • Dr. Liz Gloyn - classics in popular culture and the history of women in classics.
  • Dr. Richard Hawley - the history of teaching Classics and classical treatments of gender.
  • Dr. Zena Kamash - Middle Eastern heritage and archaeology; decolonising Classics; post-conflict reconstruction; archaeological ethics.
  • Dr. Nick Lowe - literary reworkings of the Classical plot, particularly focusing on popular culture and science fiction; intellectual history of late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
  • Dr. Efi Spentzou - feminist receptions of the Classical, with a particular focus on literary theorists and philosophies of the self, and the modern European poetical traditions.


Honorary Research Fellows

  • Aven McMaster - Professor Emerita of the Ancient Studies department at Thorneloe University at Laurentian in Sudbury, Canada. Her scholarly interests are Latin poetry, gender and sexuality, public scholarship, and reception of the ancient world, especially in speculative fiction and media. She is a co-host of The Endless Knot Podcast, about etymology, history, and culture, and helps to produce videos for the educational video channel Alliterative on YouTube. Her PhD is in Classics, from the University of Toronto.
  • Dr Stavroula Kiritsi - reception of Greek tragedy and comedy on the modern stage, and the comparative study of emotions in classical and modern Greece.


Affiliates of the Centre for the Reception of Greece and Rome

  • Prof. Robert Eaglestone - contemporary literature; contemporary European philosophy, with an interest in the use of classical philosophy by twentieth and twenty-first century thought.
  • Dr. David Bullen - theatre director, writer, and academic specialising in (histories of) feminist and queer approaches to adaptation, particularly in relation to Greek tragedy and Greek myth. 
  • Dr. Sam Agbamu - Leverhulme Early Career Fellow and Lecturer in Classics at the University of Reading. Prior to his move to Reading, he held his Leverhulme ECF at RHUL, where he had also taught. His research interests generally revolve around how constructions of classical antiquity shape our contemporary societies, particularly in relation to discourses of 'race' and nation. More specifically, he is interested in the role of Latin literature in early modern and modern projects of nationalism and imperialism, and is currently looking at the fourteenth-century Italian poet Petrarch's Latin texts through this lens. He has a keen interest in classical reception in colonial contexts, and has written about Black Classicisms as well as classical reception in postcolonial visual arts. 
  • Dr. Rhiannon Easterbrook - researcher specialising in classical reception in popular and middlebrow performance and in cultures of consumption from the nineteenth century until the present day. Interests in gender and sexuality, class, and imperialism. 
  • Peter Olive - the instrumentality of Greek myth in postmodern theory and criticism; Greek drama in performance.


Forthcoming events include a workshop on podcasting with Dr. Aven McMaster (date tbc); Dr. Andrew Roberts of English Heritage talking about his interpretation projects at Richborough and Wroxeter (3pm, 24th May); and an event exploring teaching race in the UK and European HE context (date tbc). More details will be posted here in due course.


Past Events

In autumn 2022, Dr. Sam Agbamu gave a seminar titled "Shades of Dido: Carthage's Queen in Post-Classical Contexts" to mark the successful completion of the first year of his Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship with the department before his move to Reading. In January 2023, we hosted a virtual book launch for Comics and Archaeology, co-authored by Dr. Zena Kamash, Dr. Katy Soar and Dr. Leen Van Broeck. 

In autumn 2021, we co-hosted a workshop on "Performing Greek Tragedy in the 21st Century: Problems and Possibilities", organised by Dr. David Bullen, and a masterclass with Dr. Francesca Bologna on putting together the British Museum exhibition 'Nero - the man behind the myth'. In spring 2022 we hosted a virtual book launch for Prof. Robert Eaglestone's Truth and Wonder: A Literary Introduction to Plato and Aristotle.

In summer 2021, the Centre offered a series of masterclasses with creative practitioners, featuring Josephine Balmer, Claire Pollard and Emily Hauser. These 'in conversation' sessions focused around the choices that creative writers make when engaging with classical material. The Centre also hosted Oliver Baldwin to talk about gay representations of Medea as part of his British Academy-funded Queer Tragedy project. 

In 2018-19, the Centre ran a Celebration of the Centre  for the Reception of Greece and Rome attended by academics, alumni, students and other interested members of the public. We hosted an exciting seminar series, featuring Yun Lee Too, Margaret Malamud and Martin Revermann. In June 2019 the Centre also co-organised a Wikipedia Workshop, Rediscovering the Women of Royal Holloway and Bedford College, with the Bedford Centre and the sponsorship of Royal Holloway's RoWaN network. Members of the Centre were involved in Drawing on the Past – The Pre-modern World in ComicsHeidegger and the Classics and Tacitus For The Twenty-First Century: An Interdisciplinary Workshop

Previous research events held under the auspices of the Centre include readings by poet and playwright Tony Harrison (Artist in Residence, RHUL, 2011); a conference on Civilisational Collapse at the British Library; the conference Eight Years in Babylon: The Iraq War and the ClassicsClassics and Class (at the British Academy); Ancient Aesthetics and Social Class; a conference on Antiquity and the Ruin in Paris; The Classics and France; Derrida and the ClassicsPsychogeographies in Latin LiteratureClassics and New Faces of Feminism; Poetics of War; and Women Writing the Classics.


The Centre has a distinguished publication record; these are some recent highlights of our various books, chapters and articles.

Richard Alston, Edith Hall, Justine McConnell, Ancient Slavery and Abolition: From Hobbes to Hollywood. Oxford University Press, 2011.

Richard Alston, Edith Hall, and Laura Proffitt. Reading Ancient Slavery. London: Bristol Classical, 2011.

Richard Alston and Shreyaa Bhatt, Foucault's Rome (Foucault Studies, 22) (2017). 

Liz Gloyn. Tracking Classical Monsters in Popular Culture. Bloomsbury Academic, 2019.

William Fitzgerald and Efrossini Spentzou, The Production of Space in Latin Literature. Oxford University Press, 2018.

Nick Lowe. "The Rational Irrationalist: Dodds and the Paranormal.Rediscovering E.R. Dodds: Scholarship, Education, Poetry, and the Paranormal, eds. Christopher Stray, Christopher Pelling and Stephen Harrison. Oxford University Press, 2019.

‘Reaching Out’ with Eurydice

Students and a member of staff at the department of Classics and the School of Humanities at Royal Holloway have embarked on an outreach project called the Myth and Voice Initiative. The project aims to provide safe space for engagement with feelings, emotions, obstacles and solutions surrounding the use of voice and personal expression in moments of crisis, perhaps even trauma. The focus is on school children and other youth groups.

The project works through a series of experiential workshops based on selected characters and story lines from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. These provide a safe ‘othered’ environment in which young people can grapple with contemporary dilemmas and challenges. The mythological setting provides an emotional distance and similar cover is afforded by the role-play elements in the reimagining of the ancient stories.  

The first such workshop focuses on the myth of Eurydice and Orpheus, as a story of muted self-expression and the strains behind young love. This is now up being offered online to interested school groups. Another two workshops are in preparation: one is based on Arachne and plays out the contemporary reception (in social media and elsewhere) of a powerful (female) voice. The other is based on the myth of Persephone and attempts to engage with gendered and generational conflict within relationships (and marriages). 

A central aspect of this Initiative is its inclusionary nature and the multiplicity of creators and authors. Participants are enabled to create as they offer their experience and insight and, in turn, learn as they teach. The Eurydice workshop was a joint effort of Dr Spentzou and a group of 3rd year undergraduate students. Together, they designed it in a series of online workshops during the 2020 national lockdown. It has been subsequently tested by a group of 2nd year students in 2020-21 who have acted as participants, facilitators and designers. They have become contributors and co-designers of the Arachne and Persephone workshops. 

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