Rutger Classics graduate students Liz Gloyn, Ben Hicks and Lisa Whitlatch are delighted to announce that the 2010 graduate student conference was a huge success! Held on 9th April at the Busch Campus Center, the conference gave graduate students interested in reception issues a chance to listen to cutting-edge scholarship and discuss their own research.
The conference had three panels, each of which showcased some fascinating new work. In the first panel, Vincent Tomasso, Stanford University, spoke on “The Iliad in the Original: Theorizing Classical Reception in Filmic and Televisual Texts”, providing a valuable theoretical underlay to the rest of the day’s papers. Katharine Piller, University of California at Los Angeles, gave her paper, entitled “ ‘As You Wish’: The Reception of the Greek Romance in The Princess Bride”; she provided a new way to think about the themes found in the Greek novels as well as fresh approach to a favorite cult film. Patrick Burns, Fordham University, closed the panel with “The Hyper-Alexandrianism of Virgilian Centos and Girl Talk’s ‘Mashups’ ”; although this was a field few of the conference attendees were familiar with, the paper showed a clear parallel between the artistic strategies involved in creating a cento and a mash-up.
After a brief coffee break, the conference’s keynote speaker, Sheila Murnaghan, University of Pennsylvania, spoke on “Classics for Cool Kids: Popular and Unpopular Versions of Antiquity for Children”. Professor Murnaghan’s paper traced the use of classical themes in American children’s literature, particular the reworking of myths; she began with the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne in the mid-nineteenth century, and tracked developments in the genre up to the present day and the Percy Jackson novels.
The second panel resumed after lunch. Michael Sullivan, Rutgers University, began with “Europa Barbarorum and the Rehabilitation of Historical Accuracy”; he emphasized the popular audience for computer games which market themselves as historically accurate, and the huge appeal that the classics still has to the digital generation. Sophie Klein, Boston University, followed with “Animaniacs and Ancient Greek Satyr Drama”; her sophisticated handling of the common themes in satyr plays and the cartoon The Animaniacs gave us a new way of approaching a challenging body of texts and of using reception to understand the ancient world. Midori Hartman, University of British Columbia, had her paper read in absentia by Liz Gloyn. Although she was unable to attend personally due to the timing of her comprehensive exams, her paper, “Transformation as Disease, Reincorporation as Cure: A Comparative Case-Study of Apuleius’ Metamorphoses & C.S. Lewis’ The Horse and His Boy”, used medical and cultural anthropological models to compare the themes in the two works.
After a final coffee break, the third and final panel began. Jorie Hofstra, Rutgers University, and Jan Verstraete, University of Cincinnati and Montclair State University, provided a fascinating analysis of how medicine deploys classical material in their paper, “The Classics and the Pursuit of Legitimacy in Modern Medicine”. Finally, Andrew McClellan, University of British Columbia, closed the formal proceedings with his paper “Creating the Grotesque: Zombification in Lucan’s Bellum Civile, Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Romero’s Day of the Dead”; his analysis helped to explain the continuing power of the zombie trope through ancient to modern culture.
The informal part of the conference now began with a reception to thank the speakers and give the audience an opportunity to follow up conversations begun earlier in the day or pursue thoughts arising from the final panel. For those who were able to stay, there was pizza and a showing of the 1913 silent film Gli ultimi giorni di Pompeii, with English intertexts. This occasion for relaxed networking attracted a good turn-out, and rounded off the conference with an enjoyable opportunity for conversation.
Ben, Liz and Lisa would like to thank everyone helped make the conference such a resounding success. They would especially like to mention the Rutgers Graduate Student Association and the Classical Association of the Atlantic States, for their generous funding support; and Rutgers graduate students Amy Bernard-Mason, Lyndy Danvers, Andriy Fomin, Charles George, Eleanor Jefferson, Rachel Loer, Constantin Pop and Kate Whitcomb for their invaluable help throughout the day.