FIEC / CA 2019
15th Congress of the Fédération internationale des associations d'études classiques and the Classical Association annual conference 2019

Diversifying Public Engagement in Classics: Showcase Event

Friday 5 July 2019, 1-4 pm – Room 802, Institute of Education


Organisers: Emma Bridges (Institute of Classical Studies, UK), Zena Kamash (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK)

This event will allow delegates to explore the work of classicists (broadly conceived) who are working on a variety of engagement projects designed to share their research with non-specialist audiences. We aim to foster conversations about what good practice in public engagement for classicists looks like in 2019, and to challenge the research community to consider ways in which existing practice might be developed and diversified, both in terms of the methods used and the audiences reached. Delegates are invited to drop in at any time during the session to view exhibits and posters, to participate in hands-on activities, and to talk informally to researchers about their methods of engagement.

This is a free drop-in event; all are welcome.



Acting the Ancient World

Stephe Harrop (Liverpool Hope University, UK)

Acting the Ancient World is a project designed to give students of AS/A level Classical Civilisation the opportunity to explore ancient texts and creative practices through body, breath, sound, movement, and shared imagining. The idea is simple: to create a series of short films making accessible drama exercises relating to key topics available for use in the classroom. By exploring ancient plays and practices as actors, students can enrich their theoretical and literary understanding with sensory and imaginative experiences, gaining a fuller sense of how ancient texts work as catalysts for live performance – both then and now.


Autism and Classical Myth

Susan Deacy (University of Roehampton, UK)

This project is producing a set of activities for autistic children focused around an episode involving Hercules. This is where, in a strange place, the hero encounters two women/goddesses who offer him widely different paths in life. The activities are designed for children aged 7-11 although they can be adapted for older children. The project’s goals include to utilise the potential appeal of Hercules for autistic children, including as a character who performs feats that others cannot and yet who experiences what they might recognise as emotional overload and distress.


By Jove Theatre Company

Christine Plastow (The Open University, Associate Director of By Jove, UK), David Bullen (Co-Artistic Director of By Jove, UK)

By Jove are a socialist feminist group of theatre makers who tell old stories in new ways; we think about how myths, legends, and tales from the cultural canon – some familiar, some less so – can speak to audiences in the 21st century. We’ve staged new versions of the Oresteia, Medea, and Bacchae for audiences in south-west London, as well as poetry nights exploring the women of Greek mythology. Our current project, a reimagining of the myth of Orestes and an exploration of storytelling in queer communities, is in development and will tour the UK and US in 2020.


Classics and Creative Engagement

Zena Kamash (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK), Emma Bridges (Institute of Classical Studies, UK)

This exhibit shares a range of our projects which use creative activities to engage wider publics with the ancient world in a variety of ways. These will include: Rematerialising Mosul Museum, which uses textile craft as a way of engaging with and responding to the destruction of Iraqi cultural heritage; Weaving Women’s Stories, a series of events for the 2018 Being Human Festival which explored the connections between storytelling and textile-making in women’s lives in the ancient world; and Making Monsters, which uses a range of media (including puppetry, 3D printing, and an accessible anthology of writing by creatives and academics) to shed fresh light on the ‘monsters’ of ancient myth.


From Troy to Baghdad: Reading World Literatures of War with Combat Veterans

Roberta Stewart (Dartmouth College, USA)

In an American society in which less than 1% serve and must return to the 99% civilian society, this community book group program harnesses world literature to create community for U.S. veterans within ‘home’ contexts. Reading world literature as texts that are “good to think with” provides veterans the opportunity to identify and develop a vocabulary for communicating and interpreting military experience as a premise for imagining or re-imagining their own personal life narratives of deployment and return.


Listen to Her! Turning the Volume Up on Egypt’s Ordinary Women

Heba Abd el Gawad (Durham University, UK and Helwan University, Egypt) 

Listen to her! is a photo-story exhibition offering a female-eye-view of what it means to be an ordinary Egyptian woman, aimed at defying Western stereotypes labelling Middle Eastern women. By amplifying the marginalised voices of six single and collective female experiences, it introduced a ‘decolonising in practice’ model increasing the representation and visibility of modern Egyptian communities within ancient Egyptian displays. The exhibition showcased female artists’ street graffiti and contemporary Egyptian emotive and street performance video installations. Through a WhatsApp group nine Egyptian women reclaimed the narrative over ten ancient Egyptian objects, reminding museums of shared ownership of collections with local communities.


Medieval Manuscripts of Ethiopia and Eritrea

Mai Musié (University of Oxford, UK)

The Bodleian Libraries has a collection of manuscripts and icons from Ethiopia and Eritrea, including illuminated gospels in Ge’ez, the Kǝbrä Nägäst, and The Harp of Mary.

Members of the Ethiopian and Eritrean communities from Oxford, London, and Milton Keynes are working with the Bodleian to co-curate a display planned for summer 2019, which will help us to find out more about these precious books and manuscripts and share them with the public.

Events so far have included:  A photo-exhibition of the Garima Gospels illuminated pages (Nov 2016 – July 2017) at Faculty of Classics, Oxford. An associated colloquium, “Early Ethiopian and Other Eastern Illuminated Gospel Books: Text and Image” (Nov 2016). A display “Bodleian Treasures, Early Ethiopian Bible Illumination” (April 2017), a scoping meeting in July 2017, “Bodleian Treasures, Early Ethiopian Bible Illustration” (July 2017). An “Ethiopia and Eritrea Discovery Day” – family day in July 2018, and a study day in September 2018 “Introducing Manuscripts from Ethiopia and Eritrea” (Sept 2018).


Mythical Reimaginings

Liz Gloyn (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK)

Dr. Gloyn and Howard Hardiman, a visual artist, collaborated to create two video pieces of performance poetry told in British Sign Language, based on the myth of Callisto and the transformation of Harmonia and Cadmus into serpents. The pieces were premiered at the Nine Worlds Convention in August 2017, as part of a panel titled ‘Re-Reading Mythology’, and were shown as part of the ‘Illumination’ exhibition at the Quays Art Gallery on the Isle of Wight. This exhibition had a launch event and ran schools workshops around the art featured. Both videos are also accessible via YouTube.


Panoply Vase Animation Project

Sonya Nevin (University of Roehampton, UK)

The Panoply Vase Animation Project makes animations from the scenes on ancient pots. The animations are created to boost enjoyment of and engagement with ancient pottery and ancient culture more broadly. We are currently making new animations within the ERC-funded project, Our Mythical Childhood… The Reception of Classical Antiquity in Children’s and Young Adult’s Culture in Response to Regional and Global Challenges ( We are making further animations for the ERC-funded project, Locus Ludi. The Cultural Fabric of Play and Games in Classical Antiquity ( Drop by to see the animations and to try related creative activities.


Philosophy in Prison

Kirstine Szifris (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)

Delivered through the medium of a Community of Philosophical Inquiry, this project aimed to explore the relevance of philosophy education in the lives of prisoners. The research, which took place in two prisons, explores the role of prison education, community dialogue and active philosophising in encouraging personal development. With similar populations but contrasting characters, HMPs Grendon and Full Sutton provided the backdrop to grounded, ethnographically-led research. The research culminates in a discussion of personal development that articulates the role of education in developing growth identities among prisoner-participants.


Sex & History Project

Rebecca Langlands, Kate Fisher, Jen Grove (University of Exeter, UK)

We use ancient and other historical objects from museums to improve Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in the school classroom and other youth settings for young people, usually aged 14-18. We create educational resources together with partners such as Brook and the RSE Hub, as well as museums around the country. We use artefacts from across time and place as the focus for discussions about subjects outside of the biology of sex, such as healthy relationships, body-image, gender roles, consent, pornography and LGBTQ+ identities.