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Blog: Reflections on the Ancient Worlds, Modern Communities 2023 Panel in New Orleans Alison Futrell Wed, 04/19/2023 - 09:55

This year’s Ancient Worlds, Modern Communities (AnWoMoCo) panel, organized by Nina Papathanasopoulou, Public Engagement Coordinator for the SCS, and

A long-haired woman stands at a podium with a Zoom screen behind her. A Powerpoint on the Zoom screen reads "Archaeology After School."
Figure 1. Nina Papathanasopoulou introducing Eva Prionas and the Archaeology After School Project. Photo by Ellie Ganelin.

Joel Christensen (Brandeis University) and Paul O’Mahony (Out of Chaos Theater Company) met through Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies, brought together by their distinctive approaches to ancient theater.

RGTO is an online video series that pairs virtual performances of ancient drama with specialists who discuss and analyze what emerges from the combination of ancient text and modern voices, movements, and silences—the culminating implications and effects of a slew of staging choices. Further details came out in the presentation’s Q&A session. An episode on choruses, for example, brought in several directors, each of whom produced a specific scene and addressed their choices explicitly. Would music be incorporated and, if so, how? If not, how did this change the scene’s impact? How did the power of the chorus’ “voice” change if played by one actor? How did the camera lens stand in for an imagined member of the audience? Did filming from multiple angles expand perceptual effects beyond the playwright’s original scope? As of this January, 91 episodes of RGTO have been produced, addressing all the surviving Greek tragedies, along with a selection of Greek epic and Roman drama.

A dark image of a bearded man standing over a metal plate, from which a number of vertical rods are extending. He is hitting the rods with two drumsticks.
Figure 3. The ghostplate instrument used in Talos Dreams. Photo by Ellie Ganelin.

Dafnis was especially interested in exploring the tensions embodied in the story of Talos. On the one hand, this is a man-made object, an enigmatic menace to humans; yet he’s also self-aware, with an emotional expressiveness that flavors representations of the character. Talos Dreams reflects on these contrasts in musical abstraction, ingeniously using technique and technology to hybridize the instrumental sources and output. Lyrics, for example, were reprocessed by an online poetry generation app. Musicians rehearsed and recorded in separate locations (par for the course for the pandemic), with the edit and remix digitally processed; videos, however, ranged widely through natural and industrial settings, situating the performers in forest groves and in manufactured storage spaces, as well as the academic lectern occupied by Mayor for her condensed spoken-word insights.

A pink and purple graphic poster for the Sculpture Shoppe at Ithaca Mall. It has square shapes mixed with liquid bubbles.
Figure 4. The poster for “The Sculpture Shoppe” at Ithaca Mall.

The exhibit showcased an impressive range of viewpoints, with interactive, multimedia creations that merited attentive decoding. Some playfully nodded at technologies of reproduction: a 3D-scanned sculpture that unmade and remade itself at randomized intervals; multiple generations of hands cast in isomalt sugar were continuously reshaped by dripping water; mushrooms cast in resin emerged from a hole ripped through Athena’s plaster head. Others addressed local space(s): visitors were called on personalized odysseys by a bust of Homer that spat out printed directions to regional sites (re)named after places in the ancient Mediterranean, while opening-night attendees grooved to the witty anti-rhythms of MUSE-AK, now brought into the foreground and vocalized in ancient Greek by animatronic and human performers.

A collection of posters underneath the heading "Queering the Past(s)," featuring illustrated people, Greek vases, and assorted text.
Figure 5. One of the posters for the Queering the Past(s) project.

Much of the presentation focused on recent classroom initiatives in many parts of the U.S. and the harmful impact that the absence of inclusive curriculum has on many students, as documented in the GLSEN 2021 National School Climate Survey.

A poster reading "Folklore Traditions: Herbal Mythology. Day trips to Ancient Greece." Behind the text are images from Greek vases and nature.
Figure 6. The poster for Christodoulou’s Herbal Mythology tour.
A group of people standing on a path amidst tall, green trees.
Figure 7. Christodoulou during one of her tours at the National Gardens in Athens. Photo by Maria Christodoulou.

Christodoulou has also been in conversation with current practitioners of traditional herbal medicine in Greece, exchanging insights and comparing individual results in detail, with the goal of assembling a repository of healing recipes to share on the website. The project has a strong and wide appeal with multiple communities well beyond the academy, incorporating a distinctive pedagogical approach and drawing upon local knowledge bases.

Two women and a man stand smiling behind a podium with a banner that says Society for Classical Studies
Figure 8. Ellie Falaris Ganelin, Nina Papathanasopoulou, and Hugh McElroy during the panel on the Ancient Worlds, Modern Communities initiative in New Orleans. Photo by Ilya Ganelin.
Blog: Reflections on the First Ancient Worlds, Modern Communities Panel during the 2022 SCS Annual Meeting Chelsea Gardner Fri, 03/11/2022 - 10:09

If you attended the 2022 Annual Meeting earlier this year — and if you woke up bright and early on Saturday morning! — you may have been lucky enough to tune in to the very first panel sponsored by the Ancient Worlds, Modern Communities Initiative (AnWoMoCo). Recent recipients of a microgrant from this program gathered from all over America, Canada, and even Ghana to present seven exciting public-facing projects that aim to bring Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies out of the ivory tower. The goal is to reach audiences, organizations, and people who might otherwise never have the opportunity to engage with the history, literature, language, archaeology, culture, texts, and individuals of the ancient Mediterranean world.