From the Grand Tour to Gladiator: Modern Encounters with the Ancient World: Sources (HIH3170)

StaffProfessor Kate Fisher - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15.00
NQF Level6
Co-requisitesHIH3171 - From the Grand Tour to 'Gladiator': Modern Encounters with the Ancient World (Context)
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

  • Explore the range of uses of the Classical Past, for example,  to make sense of experiences, to justify ideologies, to develop personal identities, to demonstrate civility, to challenge contemporary assumptions or to bolster calls for social, political or economic reform.
  • Explore the political purposes behind the representations of the ancient world.
  • Reveal the politics at stake in all uses of the Classical past, from overt propaganda to serious scholarship.
  • Use the study of the uses of the classical period to shed new light on our understanding of the modern world and its concerns.
  • Examine how the history of representations of the Classical Past have themselves changed and shaped the way that the ancient material is understood both in academia and popular culture.
  • Explore emerging methodological and theoretical debates in the fields associated with uses of the past and the purpose of history.
  • Look closely at the approaches and methodologies of the discipline of Classical Reception.
  • Integrate the theoretical literature on Classical Reception with other related debates about history writing and its cultural significance, such as the literature on the ‘uses of the past’ or ‘memory studies’.
  • Employ these methodologies and theoretical insights in the analysis of a broad set of moments in modern western history.
  • Employ these methodologies and theoretical insights in the analysis of a very broad range of types of source material.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Ability to see how the Classical period has been perceived and represented during the past 300 years.
  • 2. Identify how Classical material has been used and interpreted in different contexts and periods in response to different agenda and concerns.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Ability to analyse a wide range of different sources in a highly critical and sophisticated manner.
  • 4. Ability to explore the relationship between a source's subject matter and its wider cultural significance.
  • 6. Ability to critically examine how the writing of history and perceptions of the past can influence contemporary political, social, economic and cultural debate and vice versa.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Independent study and group work skills, including the presentation of material for group discussion, developed through the mode of learning.
  • 8. Ability to digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment.
  • 9. Ability to present arguments orally.

Syllabus plan

We will focus on a selection of themes and moments in modern history, such as: Philhellenism, the Greek wars of independence, the rise of fascism, the birth of archaeology, the politics of museums, the invention of pornography, the grand tour and the development of the tourist industry, European nationalism, the formation of the USA, the emergence of sexuality, changing ideologies of sport and developments in formal education.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities44Seminars (2hr x 22)
Guided independent study256Independent Study

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Portfolio80 A total of 6000 words.1-8Mark and written comments
Individual Presentation201-9Mark and written comments

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Mary Beard and John Henderson, Classics: a very short introduction (Oxford 1995)
  • “Introduction” in Lorna Hardwick and Christopher Stray, A companion to classical receptions (Oxford, 2008)
  • M. Wyke, Projecting the Past: Ancient Rome, Cinema, and History (New York, 1997)
  • Blanshard, Sex : Vice and Love from Antiquity to Modernity (Chichester, 2010)
  • Edwards ed., Roman Presences : Receptions of Rome in European Culture, 1789-1945 (Cambridge, 1999)
  • Shelly Hales and Joanna Paul, eds. Pompeii in the Public Imagination from its Rediscovery to Today (Oxford, 2011)
  • Viccy Coltman, Classical sculpture and the culture of collecting in Britain since 1760 (Oxford, 2009)
  • Mark Bradley, ed., Classics and Imperialism in the British Empire (Oxford, 2010)
  • Susan A. Stephens and Phiroze Vasunia eds., Classics and National Cultures (Oxford, 2010)

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Key words search

Classical reception, Uses of the Past, Classical Tradition, Classical Past, Western Civilization. Heritage, National identity, History of scholarship, history of Classics, history of archaeology, history of art.