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CL7023 Classics and European Identity

Lost In The Labyrinth

Module Organiser: Professor Anna Chahoud (MT, Dr Ashley Clements (HT)
Teaching Staff: Members of Staff in the Department of Classics
Duration: One Term (Jan-April)
Contact hours: 22 (11 x 2-hour seminar p.w.)
Weighting: 10 ECTS


What do we mean by ‘Classics’? What is the role of the Ancient Greek and Roman past in the construction of contemporary national and cultural identities? What is the relationship between antiquity, authority, and identity? What is ‘identity’, and why does it matter? What are the boundaries of ‘Europe’? What diversity underlies the word ‘Europe’? These are some of the broad questions we raise in our exploration of the legacy of Greco-Roman antiquity. We will discuss the role of Classical heritage in the shaping of cultural and national identities and in political developments such as nationalism, imperialism, colonialism and postcolonialism. A series of interconnected seminars will encourage in-depth examination of the ways in which classical myths and ideas, texts and artefacts have been approached and appropriated in specific cultural and political contexts. The focus is on the reception of Classics from the 19th century to the present day.

Working Methods

A mixture of lecture and informal seminar. In the formal presentations students will be introduced to a topic closely related to each lecturer’s research interests. Students will be assigned specific themes for discussion with related bibliography and will be expected to conduct independent research, give oral presentations, and participate in discussion. The module will be assessed by one written research paper (max. 5,000 words).

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • Analyse and discuss the concepts of ‘Classics’ , ‘Europe’, and ‘identity’.
  • Identify and analyse the contextual reasons behind specific interpretations and uses of classical texts and artefacts.
  • Understand and evaluate key methodologies involved in the study of the classical past.
  • Apply and critically discuss key methodologies in the areas of reception studies, cultural heritage studies, and the history of ideas.
  • Articulate informed views on key primary sources and scholarship.
  • Conduct independent research and present the results clearly and professionally both orally and in writing.

Seminar Topics

  • Introduction: Classical Antiquity and contructions of identity in the 19th-21st  centuries
  • Europa and the Bull: from Classical myth/image to modern Europe (Dr Christine Morris)
  • Classics and Anthropology in nineteenth-century Britain (Dr Ashley Clements)
  • Alexander the Great and European historiography (Dr Shane Wallace)
  • Classics and Popular Culture: Rome on Film (Dr Hazel Dodge)
  • Classics and the Troubles, through the lens of Irish poets such as Seamus Heaney and Michael Longley (Dr Martine Cuypers)

Introductory Reading

  • Bolgar, R.R., The Classical Heritage and Its Beneficiaries (Cambridge UP, 1954).
  • Freeman, P., Ireland and the Classical World (Austin, University of Texas Press, 2001)
  • Grafton, A., Most, G.W. and Settis, S. (ed.), The Classical Tradition (Harvard UP, 2010).
  • Hardwick, L. and Stray, C. (eds.), A Companion to Classical Receptions (Wiley-Blackwell, 2007).
  • Kallendorf, C.W. (ed.), A Companion to the Classical Tradition (Wiley-Blackwell, 2006).
  • Stanford, W.B., Ireland and the Classical Tradition (Irish Academic Press, 1976).


Last updated 7 March 2017