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Unit information: Cinematic Antiquity in 2018/19

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Unit name Cinematic Antiquity
Unit code CLAS30017
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Michelakis
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Classics & Ancient History
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The emergence of cinema as ‘the tenth muse’ at the beginning of the twentieth century marks a turning point in the way in which Greece and Rome are conceptualized in the modern world. Cultures previously perceived as remote and inaccessible, the objects of contemplation from a distance or the products of imagination, are suddenly transformed into a fleeting but very vivid reality to be experienced through the senses. Cinema makes possible the generation of new modes of perception and thought within which Greece and Rome become not only more realistic, but also more complex, dynamic, and undecipherable. The aim of this unit is to study films and critical writings that illustrate this reconceptualization of Greece and Rome in cinematic modernity and its oscillation between radical and popular ways of thinking about the role of the classics in the modern world.


To engage with key texts and films related to the encounter between cinema and Greco-Roman Classics;

To gain understanding of and ability to analyse different ways of conceptualizing the functions of Greece and Rome in modernity and cinema as a medium and metaphor for modernity;

To gain understanding of and ability to analyse different ways of conceptualizing the functions of cinema as a medium of and as a potent metaphor for modernity;

To develop critical interaction with primary and secondary materials;

To develop written presentation skills through the course assessment.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will:

(1)be familiar with the differing ways in which Greece and Rome have been configured in the texts/films studied, and the uses to which these texts/films have been put

(2)have developed their skills in reading and interpreting different kinds of texts/films in relation to issues of cultural studies, aesthetics and media studies

(3)be able to use the knowledge acquired in class and through independent research to construct coherent, relevant and critical arguments concerning the interpretative issues raised by the texts/film studied

(4)ability to apply existing analytical strategies to new evidence

Students will also be expected to show:

(5) skills in critical thinking and in written communication appropriate to level H

Teaching details

3 hours per week (seminar)

Assessment Details

One summative coursework essay of 3000 words (50%) and one unseen examination of 2 hours (50%). Both elements will assess ILOs (1) (2) (3). The coursework essay in particular will offer students the opportunity to demonstrate ILOs (4) and (5).

Reading and References

Mary Ann Doane, The Emergence of Cinematic Time: Modernity, Contingency, the Archive, Harvard University Press 2003

Pantelis Michelakis and Maria Wyke (eds) The Ancient World in Silent Cinema, Cambridge University Press 2013

James Porter (ed.), Classical Pasts: The Classical Traditions of Greece and Rome, Princeton University Press 2006

Salvatore Settis, The Future of the ‘Classical’, Polity Press 2006

Wanda Strauven (ed) The Cinema of Attractions Reloaded, Amsterdam University Press 2007

Pasi Valiaho, Mapping the Moving Image: Gesture, Thought and Cinema Circa 1900, Amsterdam University Press 2010