Classics and the Creative Communities

Reception studies analyse post-antique responses to antiquity. Critical appraisal of modern responses to antiquity have been used by the global creative community, including film makers, media practitioners and theatre producers, directly influencing their methods and perspectives.

About the Project 

How and why antiquity is reimagined on screen offers creators of film and television new paradigms for perceiving their work and a stimulus to review and develop their methods and approach.

Analyses of cinematic receptions of antiquity by Dr Joanna Paul offer a nuanced reappraisal of the changing and malleable role of the Classical world – its literature, art and history – in film, by identifying generic, production and cultural factors that influence its varying depictions. An example of this is Dr Paul's analysis of the modern epic 'Alexander', directed by Oliver Stone (2004).

Dr Paul, in pointing to Aristotle's "single action", has opened my eyes to what I missed at the time

- Oliver Stone

 research has concentrated on television documentaries about the ancient world, exploring the 'hows', 'whys' and effects of this distinctive mode of historiography. With particular attention to audio-visual and narrative strategies, it reveals the rhetorical synergies between setting and story.

These are further enhanced by  work on ancient and modern imperialism, which redefines the relationship between ancient and modern discourses on power. It establishes how ancient historians like Herodotus represented imperialism, how such representations influenced 19th- and 20th-century conceptualisations of contemporary imperialism, and how modern readings of ancient imperialism continue to be cast back into ancient histories.


The impact of the  at Liverpool on communities that create receptions of antiquity today is evidenced in the fields of film, television, and theatre. This has inspired individuals to reappraise their methods, perspectives and practices or to use the research as a springboard for their own analyses:

  • Film-makers:
    • Director Oliver Stone stated that he acquired new understandings of his own work as a film-maker and story-teller, and its possibilities, by engaging with Dr Paul’s research on the 2004 film 'Alexander'.
  • Media practitioners:
    • Research on ancient world documentaries provided the background, stimulus and framework for a 'Documenting Antiquity' workshop. Consisting of a mixed group of commissioners, directors, and producers from the primary UK broadcasters and production houses and researchers from Classics, Ancient History and Media Studies, it examined the character, effects, and future directions of ancient world documentaries
  • Theatre producers:
    • The impact of Tom Harrison’s work on the creative practice of Alison Richards, an Australian theatre artist, is witnessed in her experimental performance paper ‘X Marks the Spot’.


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