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Initiatives in Public Humanities

Classical Receptions

Classical receptions is a fast-growing field of research that examines the complex relationships between, on the one hand, the literary and material record of classical antiquity and, on the other, its uses by various authors and actors working in a wide array of media and civic contexts at specific moments in later periods in and beyond antiquity (e.g., visual artists, journalists, political activists, academics, drama, fiction, film, etc.). Its aim is twofold: to illuminate the peculiarities and concerns of the receiving culture (by reading uses of antiquity in rich context) and to generate fresh insights into the meaning of the ancient sources in their own time (by stripping away layers of expectations and readings that have colored interpretations). The group convenes a Kaplan Institute Research Workshop which conducts seminars devoted to student work and key publications in the field, and hosts small conferences in collaboration with Contexts for Classics at The University of Michigan. Notable visitors to Northwestern have included Edith Hall, Anthony Grafton, Lorna Hardwick, Glenn Most, Caroline Winterer, Yopie Prins, Felix Budelman, Christopher Stray, Pierre Judet de la Combe, and Yannis Simonides.

Our group also oversees the Classicizing Chicago Project, an investigation of the scattered traces of a changing, sometimes antagonistic, but always keen relationship with the Greek and Roman past evident in Chicago history. The Classicizing Chicago Project is building a digital archive of examples of this cultural mingling across time and space, and a collection of interpretative materials of interest to scholars, students, teachers and the general public.

Undergraduate curricular initiatives are collected in the Department of Classics' "classical traditions" courses.


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