In the last decade, courses on the representation of the ancient world in cinema and television have proliferated on college and university campuses all across the world, just as the study of classics and film has continued to grow and expand as a significant and rewarding critical sub-field in the study of classical receptions. To support these many new courses, there are now numerous excellent books, articles and reviews that explore the ways in which films and television programs represent and reinvent the ancient world, whether these productions seek to depict historical events and personages, draw on mythological and literary themes, or utilize other cultural aspects of antiquity, such as the ancient languages, to imbue the entertainment on screen with a sense of drama or sophistication.
The growth in the ubiquity and popularity of such courses has clearly provided instructors with many opportunities to teach the basics of classical receptions, film studies, and popular culture/media theory, together with a few stealth lessons about the history, literature, and culture of “real” antiquity as well. But alongside the opportunities, these courses present several significant challenges, both practical and pedagogical. This presentation will outline some of the opportunities and challenges facing instructors of “Classics and Film”-type courses, in order to initiate a conversation about best practices and strategies. Issues to be discussed include: “High” culture vs. “pop” culture clash; level of student familiarity with material; assumptions about course “easiness”; screening time practicalities; the role of “real” history; assessment of student engagement; the use of film theory; and optimal course size.