Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Rejecting the Classics

21 February 2018, 1:30 pm–6:00 pm

Reims Cathedral burning during World War I

Event Information

Open to



IAS Common Ground, Ground Floor, South Wing

This half-day workshop, generously supported by UCL's Institute of Advanced Studies and the A. G. Leventis Foundation, will take place at UCL's IAS Common Ground on Wednesday 21 February 2018. As part of the Institute's current 'Lies' research theme it aims to explore the way that the privileged status of the 'classical' has been challenged as false by later authors and writers.

The emphasis will be on exploring whether negative or critical evaluations of the idea and value of the 'classical', and by extension of 'classic' pieces of literature and works of art, can be integrated into the research agenda of the humanities. Can disciplines founded on the idea of imparting the worth of cultural artefacts find a place for the types of rejection to be found in writers like Joyce and Brecht, or in social, historical and intellectual contexts like the postcolonial or postmodern era, that display profound ambivalence towards that same cultural legacy? Or do these rejections contain lessons that are diametrically opposed to those that form the core of humanistic enquiry? Refreshments will be provided, and all are welcome.

Provisional schedule

1.30-2: Registration and introduction

Panel 1

2-2.30: Samuel Agbamu (KCL) - 'The Arco dei Fileni: forgetting places of memory in the postcolony'.

2.30-3: Valeria Spacciante (Scuola Normale/UCL) - 'Divesting Ulysses of Myth in Alberto Savinio's Capitano Ulisse'.

3-3.30: Henry Stead (OU) - ' "The poet is steeped is Street Fighter 2": Ross Sutherland, Anti-classicism and contemporary class conflict'.

3.30-4: Break

Panel 2

4-4.30: Jonathan Groß (Düsseldorf) - 'Magna gloria inde non nascitur: Adolph Philippi, Professor of Classics, on the irrelevance of classical scholarship'.

4.30-5: Rossana Zetti  (Edinburgh) - 'Doubting the myths: the limits of Classics in a post-war world' on Bertolt Brecht.

5-5.45: Katie Fleming (Queen Mary) / Daniel Anderson (Cambridge) - 'Ulysses Wakes Up: the anticlassical James Joyce' and 'Anti-Platonism in James Joyce'.

5.45-6: Concluding remarks

Please register here and contact Adam Lecznar with any queries or questions at a.lecznar@ucl.ac.uk.

Download the poster here.

Image: Reims Cathedral burning during World War I (University of Dayton, Marian Library Postcard Collection)