Ancients and Moderns: the 81st Anglo-American Conference of Historians

Date: 5-6 July 2012

Venue: Senate House, London

Click here to register


With the Olympics upon us in the UK it seems an appropriate moment to think more broadly about the ways in which the classical world resonates in our own times, and how successive epochs of modernity since the Renaissance have situated themselves in relation to the various ancient civilisations. From political theory to aesthetics, across the arts of war and of peace, to concepts of education, family, gender, race and slavery, it is hard to think of a facet of the last millennium which has not been informed by the ancient past and through a range of media, including museums, painting, poetry, film and the built environment.

For our 81st Anglo-American conference we are joining with the Institute of Classical Studies to showcase the full extent of work on classical receptions, welcoming not only those scholars who work on Roman, Greek and Judaeo-Christian legacies and influences, but also historians of the ancient kingdoms and empires of Asia and pre-Colombian America.

Our plenary lecturers include: Paul Cartledge (Cambridge), Constanze Güthenke (Princeton), Mark Lewis (Stanford), Sanjay Subrahmanyam (UCLA) and David Womersley (Oxford).

On behalf of the 2012 Anglo-American Conference Programme Committee:

  • Hugh Bowden, King’s College, London
  • Catharine Edwards, Birkbeck College, London
  • John North, Institute of Classical Studies
  • Rosemary Sweet, University of Leicester
  • Miles Taylor, Institute of Historical Research
  • Georgios Varouxakis, Queen Mary University of London

How to register

You can register either online or by completing and submitting the attached form.
Full rates:

Two days
Full Delegate Fee £100
IHR Friends/Fellows £75
Student /Unwaged/Retired £65

One Day
Full Delegate Fee £60
IHR Friends/Fellows £50
Student /Unwaged/Retired £40

Click here to register


Publishers’ fair

The IHR will host its regular Publishers’ fair which will take place alongside the conference in the Crush hall of Senate House. The fair will feature major international publishers as well as specialist Classics publishers. Delegates will have an opportunity to buy the latest books at discounted rates, and to speak to the various publishers and editors in attendance.


Adam Matthew Digital   Bloomsbury Publishing Cambridge University Press I.B. Tauris Publishers Liverpool University Press Manchester University Press Oxford University Press Palgrave Macmillan Reaktion Books Routledge Publishing Wiley-Blackwell Yale University Press  


Pimlott lecture

Oxford University Press

Thursday 5th July, 6pm, Beveridge hall

In honour of the late Professor Ben Pimlott, Twentieth Century British History, the Centre for Contemporary British History and Oxford Journals have established the annual Pimlott lecture series.

The 2013 Pimlott lecture will take place during the Anglo-American Conference and will be presented by Jean Seaton (Westminster) on the subject of ‘The BBC and national life: the insider or outsider?

The lecture will be followed by a wine reception, sponsored by Oxford University Press. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to

Conference programme

Please click here for the printed conference programme


Thursday 5th July

9.30       Registration

10.00     Welcome

10.15     Plenary lecture, Paul Cartledge (Cambridge) Olympic Renascences: How Democratic were the Ancient Olympics?
               Chair: Hugh Bowden (King's College London)

11.30     Parallel panel sessions

Body, place planet: ancient and modern airs     
Chair: J B Fressoz
Brenda S. Gardenour (Saint Louis College of Pharmacy) Ensouled Flesh, Embodied Air: The Persistence of the Permeable Body and the Fear of Foul Air from Ancient Medicine to Modernity
Vladimir Janković (Manchester) Vitruvius at Work: Reflections on the History of Wind in Urban Design
James R. Fleming (Colby College, Maine) Carbon “die” oxide: Spiritus lethalis and toxic climate pneuma

Ancient tyranny and early modern governance
Chair: Peter Lake
Darcy Kern (Georgetown) Tyrant or Rex Inutilis: Debating Definitions of Kingship in Renaissance England
Rei Kanemura (Cambridge) Debating tyrannicide in early Jacobean England
Jamie Gianoutsos (Johns Hopkins) A Chaste Virginia: Tyranny and the Corruption of Law in Jacobean England

The Use of Classics in Modern Military Education       
Chair: Brian Holden Reid (King's College London)
Paul Ramsey (Calgary, Canada) A Response to Plato’s Republic: Military Education and the Study of War in Britain
Eugenia C.  Kiesling (United States Military Academy) Seeking a Classical Legacy: Ancient Historians and Professional Military Education in the United States
Andreas Stradis (Bristol) Possessed by Our Times: The Place of Thucydides in U.S. Higher Professional Military Education from 1972

Early modern humanism and the Greco-Roman tradition  
Chair: Matt Phillpott (IHR)
DeAnn DeLuna (UCL) A Classical World Well Lost:  Fabian Philipps on a Modern Breed of Landlord in Seventeenth-Century England 
María Gabriela Huidobro (Universidad Andres Bello, Chile) Classical tradition in the epic poetry on Arauco's war     
Marco Romani Mistretta (Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa) There is a pleasure in the pathless woods: tradition as challenge in Politian's Silvae        
Evangelos Sakkas(Queen Mary, University of London), Harrington’s mixed constitution and neo-Roman populism 

Collectors of antiquities and their interpretations of the past
Chair: Adriana Turpin (IESA/Warwick)
Leon Lock: Sculptors collections in the late 17th century: Flemish sculptors and Rome
Adriano Aymonino: Collecting images from the Antique: antiquarian sources and the arts in eighteenth-century Europe'
Chiara Teolato: Souvenirs of the Antique: collecting and display the Zoffoli’s small bronzes
in England (1760-1800)
Silvia Davoli: Dr Gottlieb Wilhelm Leitner (1840-1899) dispersed collection of Gandhara sculptures: Lahore, London, Florence and Berlin

1.00        Lunch

                Film session

Muscles, Marathons and Mario Bava: The Giant of Marathon (1959)

While Roman epics are among the most familiar film re-presentations of history, ancient Greek history is less often seen. The Giant of Marathon takes as its subject the Persian Wars of the 5th century BCE and, for its inspiration, the legendary messenger Pheidippides and his feat of athletic endurance. However it also carries more modern messages for its target Italian audience. The session, presented by Dr Shahabudin (Reading) will begin with an introductory talk on the film and the contexts of its production, followed by the screening of an extended clip.

2.00        Plenary lecture, Mark Lewis (Stanford) Nationalizing Antiquity in China
               Chair:  Rosemary Sweet (Leicester)

3.00        Parallel panel sessions

Revolution and empire 
Chair: James Moore (British University in Egypt)
Nicholas Cole (Oxford) The Utility of Classical Models for American Revolutionaries
Sanja Perovic (King’s College London) Ancient, Primitive, Revolutionary?  The ‘Revolutionary Romanticism’ of Les barbus
Phiroze Vasunia (Reading) Burke, Empire, Revolution

Reformation and early Christianity
Chair: Peter Webster (IHR)
Matt Phillpott (Institute of Historical Research) Ancient and Early Modern Martyrs: A Reformation reappraisal of Britain’s Roman heritage as told by John Foxe    
Celestina Savonius-Wroth (Indiana, Bloomington) Ancients and Moderns in the Apologetics of the Church of England, c. 1660-c. 1725    
Károly Goda (Münster) The World Never Lost: The Antique Heritage of Urban Processions in 14th−16th-century Central Europe 

Empires old and new
Chair: Vivian Bickford-Smith (IHR)
John Hilton (KwaZulu-Natal) Theodor Mommsen, British Imperialism and the South African War of Independence (1899-1902)    
Arthur Weststeijn (Royal Netherlands Institute, Rome) Late humanism and the ideological origins of Dutch colonialism
Stephen Hodkinson (Nottingham) The Spartan and Soviet empires in 1980s U.S. intelligence analysis
Richard Warren (Durham) Tacitean National Heroes in 19th Century Art 


4.30        Refreshments

4.45        Plenary lecture, David Womersley (Oxford) 'Antiquity and Modernity: Gibbon's Changing Thoughts'
                Chair: Georgios Varouxakis (Queen Mary, University of London)

6.00        Pimlott lecture, Beveridge hall

In honour of the late Professor Ben Pimlott, Twentieth Century British History, the Centre for Contemporary British History and Oxford Journals have established the annual Pimlott lecture series.

The 2013 Pimlott lecture will be presented by Jean Seaton (Westminster) on the subject of ‘The BBC and national life: the insider or outsider?

The lecture will be followed by a wine reception, sponsored by Oxford University Press. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to


Friday 6th July 

9.30       Registration

10.00     Plenary lecture, Sanjay Subrahmanyam (UCLA) Ancients, Moderns and Muslims: Reflections on Europe and India 

Chair: Charles Burnett (Warburg)

11.00     Refreshments

11.30     Parallel panel sessions

Homer Reborn: Epic Ideals and Cultural Conflict in the Eighteenth Century     
Chair: Catherine Tite (University of Regina)
Anastasia Bakogianni (Open University) Penelope on a pedestal: The epic heroine in eighteenth-century visual culture
James Moore (British University in Egypt) Troy under siege, Homer under siege?  Reflections on the search for Troy and the Homeric controversy in the late eighteenth century
Ian Macgregor Morris (Independent writer, Salzburg) Recreating the Siege: Troy in 18th Century Political Culture

Classical philosophy and scholarship in the age of liberalism
Callum Barrell (Queen Mary, University of London) Past minds, present problems: Historicism and Hellenism in mid-Victorian thought           
Antis Loizides (Cyprus) Radicalising Plato: James Mill’s Reading of the Athenian Philosopher       

Religion, revolution and antiquity   
Chair: James Lees (IHR)  
Justin Biel (Minnesota) Superstition without Idolatry: Probable Strictures from Richard Johnson on Sir William Jones’s “Gods of Greece, Italy, and India”         
Jean-Baptiste Goyard (Université de Versailles Saint Quentin) ‘Subjects of curiosity, [rather] than of use or information’?:  The Greek leagues in the debates on the U.S. Constitution           
Matthijs Lok (Amsterdam) ‘Le véritable berceau des muses’ : Antiquity in French Counterrevolutionary thought (1786-1800).                

Staging the classics
Chair: Peter Webster (IHR)
Daniel Snowman (IHR) Re-dressing Salome and Elektra: How Covent Garden represented the ancient world to 20th-century opera audiences
Joseph Walsh (University College Dublin) Yeats, British Censorship and the Race to Stage Oedipus Tyrannus
Jonathan Black (Kingston) A Whisper from the Ancients’: Ancient and Modern in British Inter-War Public Memorial Sculpture       
Helen Roche (Cambridge) Xenophon and the Nazis

1.00        Lunch

Policy forum

The Classics Now

Jeannie Cohen (Classics for all)

TBC (Cambridge School Classics Project)

Tanya Mordie (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art)

Carol Cragoe (Independant architectural advisor)

This forum is open to all and attendance is free.

2.00        Parallel panel sessions

Modern Olympisms and Ideas of Antiquity 
Chair: Dion Georgiou (Queen Mary)
Martin Polley (Southampton), Between Zeus and Coubertin: Olympia and the British
Dave Day (Manchester Metropolitan University), Romanticising the Classical: The Late Nineteenth-Century Amateur Athlete
Mike O'Mahony (University of Bristol), Modernising Myron: The Reception and Reinvention of the Discobolus in the Era of the Modern Olympic Games

The classical world and the world of ‘Democraticall Gentlemen’: republicanism in England, 1640–1700
Chair: Katherine Harloe (Reading)
Rachel Foxley (Reading) Harrington on the forms of popular government
Markku Peltonen (Helsinki) Classics and the coming of the English Civil War
S-J Savonius-Wroth (Helsinki) The ancient ideal of civic friendship in seventeenth-century England

Ancient medicine and physick  
Chair: Catharine Edwards (Birkbeck)
Samantha Sandassie (Queen's University) Water Drinking in Seventeenth Century England
Lisa Jarman (Exeter) Galen in early modern England: medicine and the role of ancient authority

Classical landscapes & modern identities
Chair: Simon Trafford (IHR)
David Marsh (Birkbeck) The Last Map Of Troy? : An Exact Delineation of London, 1658   
David McOmish (Glasgow) A Classical Identity: the unifying power of the Ancient World in a divided land
Lucy Pollard, Degenerate Greeks? Attitudes of seventeenth-century travellers to contemporary Greeks

3.30        Refreshments

4.00        Plenary lecture, Constanze Güthenke (Princeton) Classical Scholarship and the Transatlantic
Chair: Catharine Edwards (Birkbeck)

6.00        Reception


Other related events and notices

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Classical Reception Studies Network

The Classical Reception Studies Network (CRSN), based at the Open University, UK, exists to promote rigorous debate about all aspects of Classical Reception Studies, especially via the development of seminars and workshops which encourage the exchange of expertise and growth of collaborative projects, including the supervision of graduate students.

CRSN encourages the current expansion of Classical Reception Studies beyond the province of Classics and classicists, and the Network is accordingly interested in extending its range of contacts into related fields such as History, Politics, Comparative Literature and Comparative Drama.  Scholars and students whose work has a classical aspect are invited to visit our website and to consider recording their research interests there.

Visit our homepage at For further information please click here