Ancient Greek Culture & Society: From Drinking to Old Age
Fiona Hobden's research into the culture and society of ancient Greece has focused particularly on the symposion, or drinking party. Investigations address the social and religious aspects of the event, alongside it discursive role in the ancient Greek imagination (or thought world). Drawing upon a broad range of written and visual material from the Archaic to Imperial periods, she demonstrates how representations of drinking together - at the symposion, on the comic stage, in the lawcourts, and in historical and philosophical writing (for example) - contributed to contemporary conversations about politics, morality and identity, as well as understanding of the event itself. These ideas are developed most fully in her monograph, 'The Symposion in Ancient Greek Society and Thought' (Cambridge, 2013). Fiona is currently developing a new project on old age, which aims to illuminate the place of the elderly within ancient Greek society by examining their representation in relation to the city, the family, and social networks across a broad array of literature and art. A chapter being prepared for 'The Cultural History of Ageing in Antiquity, c.800 BCE to 500 CE' (edited by Tim Parkin and Sam Fernes) addresses first-person experiences of ageing, drawing upon theories from cultural gerontology.
Classical Reception Studies: Antiquity on Television
Fiona's research in the field of Classical Reception Studies focuses primarily on the ancient world on television, and especially in documentaries. Where earlier research examined the persuasive effects of archaeology as space, artefact and practice, recent investigations have focused on how, why and to what effect documentaries construct antiquity as 'self' and 'other' (in relation to ancient Greece), shape biographical lives for Great Men from ancient history (the Roman emperor Augustus), present versions of the past that sit between other media and genres (for Pompeii), and modernize ancient epic (sepecifically the 'Odyssey'). However, her interests in television were initially sparked by an episode about Pompeii in the popular BBC science-fiction drama 'Doctor Who' (season 4, 2008), and she has recently written about the historical action series 'Spartacus: Blood and Sand' (STARZ, 2010) and the competitive reality show 'Bromans' (Electric Ray, 2017). Themes include the interaction betwen fact and fiction within genre contexts, television drama as a source of emotional and historical knowledge (or a 'practical past'), and the gender politics encapsulated by the female gaze. Together with Amanda Wrigley, Fiona is co-editor of Ancient Greece on British Television (Edinburgh, 2018).
History & Philosophy: Xenophon the Athenian
Fiona's interest in Xenophon dates back to her doctoral thesis, where she examined sympotic representation and philosophical strategies in the 'Symposium', a Socratic dialogue set at a drinking party. Her Symposion monograph (see above) provided an opportunity to examine sympotic scenes from Xenophon's more 'historical' works. She has more recently produced a chapter on 'Oeconomicus' for Michael Flower's Cambridge Companion to Xenophon. Having co-edited 'Xenophon: Ethical Principles and Historical Enquiry' (Brill, 2012) with Christopher Tuplin, Fiona is currently writing an introduction to ‘Xenophon’ for Bloomsbury's 'Ancients in Action' series. She has also written a chapter on the reception of the 'Anabasis' in twenty-first century popular fiction for the forthcoming 'Brill's Companion to the Reception of Xenophon', edited by Christopher Farrell and Dustin Gish.