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Thinking about theories and methods

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Edited by Tony Keen, Tuesday, 8 Nov 2016, 20:32

This post arises out of something I wrote for first year MA in Classical Studies students at the Open University, but it also draws upon my experience teaching for the MRes in Classical Research at Roehampton.

OU students have an amount of independent reading time, and I suggested that a good idea for at least part of that was to work their way through various chapters of David Schaps' Handbook for Classical Research, which is a set book for the OU module, recommended for Roehampton, and pretty useful for anyone. Few Masters' students will need to read all of this, but I think it would be very good to make sure that they've read Part 1, which covers 'The Basics', and at least study the table of contents for the rest, so that they know what chapter(s) to come back to once they've finalized what they're going to be studying in depth. (With caution - some chapters of Schaps are better than others; archaeologist colleagues are not impressed with what he says about archaeology.)

I do think that it is important to consider overtly one's theoretical approaches and methodologies. Everyone has them. Even those people who are suspicious of theory and advocate its rejection (such as the late David West, in his notorious 1995 Presidential Address to the Classical Association, 'Cast Out Theory', which I was there to see) are actually adopting a theoretical position. It's impossible not to. This doesn't mean that it is necessary to commit oneself to any one rigid approach - my own approach, which mostly draws on new historicism salted with some insights from post-modernism (see Schaps, 2008, pp. 123-24), very much aims to be theory-aware without being dogmatic (for further expansion of my views on theory, see this blog post).

I also think (and this is a point I used to hammer home to Roehampton students) that it's very important to read outside Classical Studies. Traditionally, Classicists have been quite insular in this regard, wrongly so, I would argue. It is particularly obviously wrong when applying theories that have come from elsewhere. One cannot reasonably take a feminist approach to Classical material solely on the back of Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz's introduction to Feminist Theory and the Classics, brilliant though that is (you can read all but one page of it on Amazon). It is necessary (and I think most feminist scholars would agree with this) to go and read some mainstream feminist theory, from the likes of Simone de Beauvoir or Germaine Greer or others. 

But this doesn't just apply in such obvious theoretical areas - it also applies in fields that seem much more mainstream in Classical Studies, such as ancient history or archaeology. It was certainly the case when I was a postgraduate student that it was far too easy for an ancient historians to be produced who had never read a word of the historiographic theory of E.H. Carr, Eric Hobsbawm, Arthur Marwick or Arnold Toynbee* - a big regret of my postgrad career is that, being in a History department, I didn't ask to sit in on the department's module on The Study of History). One of the reasons I admire Neville Morley is that ever since Writing Ancient History in 1999 he's been arguing for ancient history being informed by historical theory - but I'm not sure how much his ideas have taken hold (and if your only engagement with historical theory is to read Morley, well, you're doing it better, but you're still not doing it right). There are probably significantly more Classical archaeologists who have dipped into the likes of Renfrew and Bahn's Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice, particularly at post-graduate level, but the point still needs making.  

This is not something that Master's students necessarily need to think about right at the beginning of their studies, but it is something they need to address when they are thinking more overtly about their dissertation. And as often with these things, the earlier the start, the better it will be.

References

Keen, T. (2009) 'Reception Theory: Some Preliminary Thoughts', Memorabilia Antonina, 4 January [Online]. Available at tonykeen.blogspot.co.uk/2009/01/reception-theory-some-preliminary.html (Accessed 27 October 2016).

Morley, N. (1999) Writing Ancient History, Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press.

Rabinowitz, N.S. (1993) 'Introduction', in Rabinowitz, N. and Richlin, A. (eds) Feminist Theory and the Classics, New York & London, Routledge, pp. 1-20. 

Renfrew, C. and Bahn, P. (2016) Archaeology: Theory, Methods and Practice, 7th edn, London, Thames & Hudson.

Schaps, D.M. (2008) Handbook for Classical Research, London & New York, Routledge. 

West, D. (1995) Cast Out Theory: Horace Odes 1.4. and 4.7, London, The Classical Association.

*In the past, when I've made this point, I have sometimes had responses along the lines of 'I don't really like Carr/Hobsbawm/Marwick/Toynbee', which is missing the point. I have no issue with someone finding some other historiographic theorist to draw upon - the point is that there's a lot of theory out there, and ancient historians certainly weren't, and possibly still aren't, reading enough of it.

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A Functionalist reading of the Aeolus episode (Odyssey 10.1–76)

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Edited by Tony Keen, Monday, 20 Oct 2014, 12:22

(This piece was originally written as an assignment for the University of Pennsylvania/Coursera course Greek and Roman Mythology. Please note that this does not mean that I believe in Functiuonalist readings as explanations for all myths - see my other recent blogpost about that - but that I find the approach useful in this particular case.)

In the Aeolus episode (Odyssey 10.1–76;[1] Fagles, 1997, pp. 230–233), Odysseus’ fleet arrives at Aeolus’ island. Aeolus entertains him according to the rules of xenia (Struck, 2012a), giving Odysseus a bag containing all winds except that needed to return to Ithaca. Unfortunately, Odysseus’ crew open the bag, and Odysseus is driven back to Aeolus. Despite Odysseus’ pleas (10.68–71; Fagles, 1997, p. 232), Aeolus this time sends him away empty-handed.

The Functionalist approach (Stuck, 2012b), originally formulated by Bronislaw Malinkowski (Morford et al., 2011, p. 11; 2015, p. 12) proposes that ‘Myths are stories whose themes legitimize social and cultural norms for the culture that tells them’. What norms are legitimized here? Aeolus might at first seem to be violating xenia. But Leodes’ fate, struck down by Odysseus despite seizing his knees in supplication (Odyssey 22.310–329; Fagles, 1997, pp. 448–449), shows that xenia’s demands do not always trump all other aspects of the Homeric social code (Struck, 2012c). The Aeolus episode legitimizes the social norm that xenia, though overwhelming, is not open-ended.

Amongst the Phaeacians (Books 7–8, 13.1–76; Fagles, 1997, pp. 179–210, 286–289), Odysseus has no direct and immediate obligations to his hosts (Struck 2012a), but once home he will be expected to dole out similar treatment, either to those whose hospitality he has previously received, or to strangers. Reciprocity lies at the heart of xenia. The Aeolus episode shows that one cannot simply go straight back to somewhere one has received xenia, at least not without allowing a decent interval (repeat visits were legitimate if enough time had passed, as shown by Telemachus’ words to the disguised Athena: ‘are you a friend of father’s, a guest from the old days?’; Odyssey 1.175–176; Fagles, 1997, p. 83). Gifts, once given, become the recipient’s responsibility, and the gift-giver has no obligation to replace gifts the recipient has failed to take care of.

The Suitors’ failure to recognise these limits—they should have moved on long ago—is central to the Odyssey, so the Aeolus episode reinforces the poem’s overall themes.

Reference list

Fagles, R., trans.(1997) Homer: The Odyssey, New York, Penguin.

Morford, M.P.O., Lenardon, R.J. and Sham, M. (2011) Classical Mythology, international 9th edn, Oxford & New York, Oxford University Press.

Morford, M.P.O., Lenardon, R.J. and Sham, M. (2015) Classical Mythology, international 10th edn, Oxford & New York, Oxford University Press.

Struck, P. (2012a) ‘Week 2 Lecture 7: Knee-grabbing and xenia’, Greek and Roman Mythology [Online]. Available at https://class.coursera.org/mythology-2012-001/lecture/18 (Accessed 13 October 2014).

Struck, P. (2012b) ‘Week 2 Lecture 8: Functionalism’, Greek and Roman Mythology [Online]. Available at https://class.coursera.org/mythology-2012-001/lecture/19 (Accessed 13 October 2014).

Struck, P. (2012c) ‘Week 4 Lecture 6: The bow’, Greek and Roman Mythology [Online]. Available at https://class.coursera.org/mythology-2012-001/lecture/38 (Accessed 13 October 2014).



[1]              Line references are to the Greek text.

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What is myth?

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Edited by Tony Keen, Tuesday, 3 Nov 2015, 13:49

(This was originally prepared for students taking the Open University Module A330 Myth in the Greek and Roman Worlds. It represents my personal opinions, not those of the Module Team, and is not part of the official module materials.)

The question I want to address briefly here is ‘what is myth?’ This is, of course, a pretty fundamental question for most courses on mythology, including the Open University course A330 Myth in the Greek and Roman Worlds, and it does get addressed in the A330 Course Introduction (Emlyn-Jones and James, 2011, pp. 8–10). But after that, students on that course, or indeed on many other courses on myth, may find that the question gets slightly forgotten. This is because, in a lot of ways, it’s really quite a hard question. And the reason for this is that myth is one of those things where everybody knows what it is—but when it comes to seeking a hard-and-fast definition, that turns out to be a lot more difficult than you might expect.

As the Open University Course Introduction says, there are lots of different meanings for the word ‘myth’. If you own a copy of the Open University publication The Arts Good Study Guide (Chambers and Northedge, 2008; a text, incidentally, which I recommend to anyone studying an Arts or Humanities course), you will find in there a section on ‘Some myths about exams’ (pp. 285–290). Of course, the authors are not talking there about a heroic struggle of a legendary hero to pass the examination for a course in mythology. They are instead using ‘myth’ to describe something that is commonly believed about exams, but is not (in the opinion of the authors) actually true. But this is not what we mean when we speak of ‘the myth of Heracles’–because no-one actually believes that the story of Heracles is literally true.

The word ‘myth’ comes, of course, from the ancient Greek word μῡθος or muthos (sometimes transliterated as mythos). As students on the OU course Myth in the Greek and Roman Worlds learn in Block 4 (Emlyn-Jones in James et al., 2011, pp. 112–113, 189–192), this originally simply meant ‘the spoken word’, and was contrasted with logos, the written word. Gradually, the meanings of both terms shifted, so that from its basic meaning, muthos came to mean a spoken story, such as, for instance, Homer’s Odyssey, recited by a rhapsode. That led to muthos having connotations of the made-up, and hence the irrational and the false, whilst logos in consequence represented the rational and the true. And as part of that, muthos came to represent, for the Greeks, what we would now describe as ‘mythology’.

But for a long time, ‘myth’ wasn’t the term that post-Classical scholars used. They preferred the Latin term fabulae, which means ‘stories’, or ‘tales’ (and later became the standard Latin term for a dramatic performance). The Greek term muthos only came into favour with the work of the German scholar Christian Gottlob Heyne (1729-1812), who found fabulae too slight for the weight he wanted to place on mythology, and so started using the Greek term muthos (also, as Morales, 2007, p. 57, notes, he wanted to use the contrast between muthos and logos to advance his case that the Greek myths belonged to a primitive stage of humanity, as opposed to the rationality of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment). From there muthos passed into English-speaking scholarship as ‘myth’.

But still, what is a ‘myth’? Mark Morford and Robert Lenardon, in their textbook Classical Mythology, do advance a definition in their first chapter. They say:

A classical myth is a story that, through its classical form, has attained a kind of immortality because its inherent archetypal beauty, profundity, and power have inspired rewarding renewal and transformation by successive generations.

(Morford et al., 2015, p. 26)[1]

Is that definition acceptable? Well, for a start, it is, as Morford and Lenardon state, only a definition of a classical myth; it won’t do as an overall definition of ‘myth’, which has to encompass all the other mythologies, such as Norse, Chinese, Sumerian, etc. But even if we removed the specific reference to the Greek and Roman world, will what Morford and Lenardon say work as a definition of myth? I think problems remain. For one thing, this definition really only covers the famous and often retold myths. There are, however, many stories that are obscure, and rarely retold, such as Ovid’s tale of the crow in Metamorphoses, Book 2 (549–595). Are we to remove those stories from mythology, because they haven’t ‘inspired rewarding renewal and transformation’? I think not.

Another course on Greek and Roman mythology, run as an online MOOC by Peter Struck of the University of Pennsylvania for Coursera, adopted the following definition of myth (based on Burkert, 1982, p. 23):

a traditional tale with secondary partial reference to something of collective importance… told by someone for some reason.

(Struck, 2012a)

Now, that’s a pretty vague sort of definition, one which covers a lot of ground. It’s certainly better than the heavily value-weighted definition of Morford and Lenardon. But even Struck's course had to throw out this wishy-washy definition when it came to looking at Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a work OU students study in some depth in Myth in the Greek and Roman Worlds. Struck replaced his original definition with this definition of mythology:

a clump of stories, probably untrue, about ancient characters that may or may not have actually existed, with some deeper truths in them, or not. But they’re surely fun to hear.

(Struck, 2012b)

The problem is, of course, that any mythology includes a whole range of different stories, created for different purposes. There are aetiological myths, myths that explain the origins of a feature of the natural world. This sort of story used to be familiar to children through Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories (1902), which explain various features of animals, such as ‘How the Leopard got its spots’, and ‘How the Elephant got its trunk’. Ovid’s Metamorphoses is full of such stories, as anyone who reads that work will find out—one example from Book 2 (401–531) is the myth of Callisto, explaining the origins of the constellation of the Little Bear, and why that constellation never sinks below the horizon (from a Mediterranean perspective).

Then there are myths that probably have their origins in actual historical events, such as those myths concerning the Kings of Rome (though too much assumption of a historical background behind a myth such as that of the Trojan War brings its own problems).

And there are myths that are just funny stories, with no particular object beyond that. An example of this might be the story of Iphis and Ianthe in Metamorphoses Book 9 (666–797), a humorous tale about a girl raised as a boy.

And this is just to cover a few types of myth.

In their first chapter, Morford and Lenardon (2015, pp. 3–39)[2] advance a possible method of rationalizing this complexity. They address the manner in which some scholars have divided mythology into ‘true myth’, which concerns the gods, ‘legends’ or ‘sagas’, which have a historical basis, and ‘folktales’, those stories intended as pure entertainment. They add a couple of subcategories of folktales: ‘fairy-tales’, those folktales with a high moral and/or magical content; and ‘fables’, for stories in which animals are the principal characters, best-known from the tales of Aesop, such as ‘The Hare and the Tortoise’. They make no distinction between legends and sagas, though one could argue that 'legends' should be individual stories, and sagas longer linked stories around a central character or event (such as the Trojan War).

There are several problems with this rationalization. One is the unnecessary importation of the term ‘saga’, a specific term from Norse literature, into the study of Greek mythology. Another is that not everyone uses terms in the same way—for example, J.R.R. Tolkien, in his 1939 essay ‘On Fairy-Stories’ (in Tolkien 2012), clearly includes in the category of fairy-stories the sort of high fantasy/mythology he had been writing since the 1910s, and which would soon be published in The Lord of the Rings.

But the biggest problem for this rationalization is the one that Morford and Lenardon themselves identify (2015, p. 4)[3]—that few actual myths can be fitted neatly into these categories, and most include different elements taken from different categories.

This is a natural product of the constant retelling of the stories. A story intended to explain some element of the world around the original storyteller will then be retold for a contemporary purpose by an Athenian tragedian, or as an entertainment by Ovid. A mythology is built out of ‘true’ myths, legends, folktales, fairy-tales and beast fables, so it’s important to know that some people make these distinctions—a former colleague of mine amongst the Open University Associate Lecturers, for instance, distinguishes between the story of Aeneas, a myth of the foundation of Rome, and the story of Romulus, a legend of the foundation of Rome. But trying to categorize all mythological stories is fraught with problems, and I will continue using the general term ‘myth’—and should I use other terms such as ‘legends’, I don’t mean anything specific by this.

I'm still no closer to a precise definition of myth. But perhaps I shouldn’t be looking for one. In fact, there are a lot of concepts that resist easy definition in this way. As part of my scholarly portfolio, I do some work as a science fiction critic. Science fiction critics get very exercised about how to define science fiction. One famous definition was offered by the critic Damon Knight in 1956, in a work called In Search of Wonder. He says:

… it will do us no harm if we remember that [science fiction] means what we point to when we say it.

(Knight, 1996, p. 11)

That sounds like an enormous cop-out—it doesn’t try to tell you what science fiction is, it just tells you that you’ll know it when you see it. But in fact it’s the only definition that makes any sense. Most of us have a fair idea of what the core of science fiction is, but we’ll always be arguing about works on the edges of the genre. And those arguments will always undermine any attempt to more precisely define what we mean by ‘science fiction’.

The same thing happens in other genres. Let’s look at western movies, for instance. Everyone knows that The Searchers (USA, John Ford, 1956) or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (USA, George Roy Hill, 1969) are westerns. But if one adopts a definition that says, for example, that westerns are set on the American frontier between the American Civil War and the end of the nineteenth century, one ends up excluding movies such as Red River (USA, Howard Hawks, 1948), which begins in 1851, a decade before the Civil War. Even if one stretches the chronological boundaries, to, say, from the Texas Revolution of 1835 to the start of the First World War in 1914 (or US participation in 1917), one excludes Bad Day at Black Rock (USA, John Sturges, 1955), set in the late 1940s, yet often included in lists of the best westerns ever.

To borrow a term from semiotics, science fiction, westerns, and mythology are all ‘analogical’ modes of communication, where meaning is articulated through proportion, expression and gradation, as opposed to ‘digital’ modes, where clear-cut definitions are employed. This means that there is general consensus about the core of such concepts, but there are grey areas at the edges, where interesting discussions can be had. As a mythological example of a grey area, one can consider the degree to which the emperor Augustus not only employs mythological imagery, but becomes himself, through the writings of Virgil and others, a mythological character. The same thing happens to Julius Caesar at the end of Ovid’s Metamorphoses (15.745-870). Can one therefore talk about the ‘myth of Augustus’ or the ‘myth of Caesar’? (Obviously people do, but generally they mean the image that Caesar and Augustus presented of themselves.)

So I can’t provide a definition of myth. But you may have noticed that one word has recurred through these discussions. That word is ‘story’, and I would certainly assert that the principal feature of myths is that they are stories.

If no single definition of myth is universally applicable, it follows, as Morford and Lenardon say (2015, p. 3),[4] that no single theory of myth explains the entirety of myth. This hasn’t, of course, stopped proponents of various theories asserting that their theory explains everything, whether that be Bronislaw Malinowski and the functionalists, who argue that myths legitimized aspects of society, or the Freudians and their idea that myth represents the collective unconscious of humanity. Many of these are ideas that can be useful for understanding individual myths—well, perhaps not Freud, but that’s an argument for another time (for a partial takedown of Freud, see Morales, 2007, pp. 74–79)—but they don’t explain everything. Familiarity with theories of myth is an important part of any course on myth. But inevitably, those theories must be used with caution.

I’ll end by saying something about what myth is not. Myth is not something that exists independently of the texts, literary or visual, in which it is recorded. This may seem obvious—of course we can’t experience myth except through reading or looking at images. But it is surprising how much the idea persists that the representations of myth are reflections of some concept that is referred to as the ‘original myth’, rather as Plato theorized that everything we experience is a manifestation of an ideal concept.

However, there is no ‘original myth’, at least not in any sense that is meaningful to us. Of course, there will have been a time back in the mists of prehistory when the story of Odysseus was first told. But we cannot recover that moment, or the form that the story took at that telling. We can talk about the earliest versions recorded, but even those are the products of countless earlier retellings that we no longer have access to.

We can also talk about ‘dominant’ versions. These are the versions that become the ones that people first think about when they consider a myth, and which later versions engage with and react against. These are not necessarily the same as the earliest surviving versions. For the story of Odysseus, Homer’s Odyssey, the earliest surviving version, is also the dominant version. But for the story of Oedipus, the dominant version is in Sophocles’ play Oedipus Rex, and this differs significantly from the earliest surviving version, which is again that of Homer’s Odyssey. Sometimes these dominant versions are called ‘canonical’, but that implies that these versions are correct, and versions that differ are wrong. This is not, in my view, an idea that is useful.

Because there is no one ‘right’ version of a myth, it is impossible to treat sources for myths in the same way as one might treat historical sources. Many students trained on historical courses will be used to taking various sources, and fitting them together like a jigsaw, to create as true a picture as possible of the event. But in myth, that simply can’t be done. We have a collection of jigsaw pieces, yes, but each piece comes from a slightly different jigsaw. If those pieces are forced together, the picture created is inevitably a distorted one.

So this leads to a final comment: what do you mean when you talk about, for example, ‘the myth of Hippolytus’? Do you mean an embracing concept that includes all the variations on that myth? Or do you mean the version in Euripides’ play Hippolytus, which is the dominant version? Or do you mean a composite version that has been put together for the Penguin Dictionary of Classical Mythology (Grimal, 1991, p. 204), or some other reference work? You’ll have effectively grasped hold of the essential concepts of courses on myth when you are able to mean the first, rather than the other two.

Reference list

Burkert, W. (1982) Structure and History in Greek Mythology and Ritual, Oakland, CA, University of California Press.

Chambers, E. and Northedge, A. (2008) The Arts Good Study Guide, 2nd edn, Milton Keynes, The Open University.

Emlyn-Jones, C. and James, P. (2011) A330 Myth in the Greek and Roman Worlds: Course Introduction, 2nd edn, Milton Keynes, The Open University.

Grimal, P. (1991) The Penguin Dictionary of Classical Mythology (trans. A. Maxwell-Hyslop; ed. S. Kershaw), London, Penguin Books.

James, P., Hughes, J. and Emlyn-Jones, C. (2011) A330 Myth in the Greek and Roman Worlds. Block 3: Ovid and the Reception of Myth; Block 4: Myth and Reason in Classical Greece, 2nd edn, Milton Keynes, The Open University.

Kipling, R. (1902) Just So Stories, London, Macmillan & Co.

Knight, D. (1996), In Search of Wonder: Essays on Modern Science Fiction, 3rd edn, Chicago, Advent.

Morales, H. (2007) Classical Mythology: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Morford, M.P.O. and Lenardon, R.J. (2007) Classical Mythology, 8th edn, Oxford & New York, Oxford University Press.

Morford, M.P.O., Lenardon, R.J. and Sham, M. (2011) Classical Mythology, international 9th edn, Oxford & New York, Oxford University Press.

Morford, M.P.O., Lenardon, R.J. and Sham, M. (2015) Classical Mythology, international 10th edn, Oxford & New York, Oxford University Press.

Struck, P. (2012a) ‘Week 1 Lecture 4: Ideas on myth from the modern era’, Greek and Roman Mythology [Online]. Available at https://class.coursera.org/mythology-2012-001/lecture/8 (Accessed 15 September 2014).

Struck, P. (2012b) ‘Week 10 Lecture 4: Ovid—Background and themes’, Greek and Roman Mythology [Online]. Available at https://class.coursera.org/mythology-2012-001/lecture/94 (Accessed 15 September 2014).

Tolkien, J.R.R. (2012) The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays [ebook reader], London, HarperCollins.



[1]      In the 9th edn (Morford et al., 2011) this text can be found at p. 25, and in the 8th edn (Morford and Lenardon, 2007) at p. 29. 

[2]       8th edn (2007), pp. 339; 9th edn (2011), pp. 3–36.

[3]       8th edn (2007), p. 4; 9th edn (2011), p. 4.

[4]       8th edn (2007), p. 3; 9th edn (2011), p. 3.

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Marcus the Evangelist

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A new blog post on the name of St Mark the Evangelist:

http://tonykeen.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/marcus-evangelist.html

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Does Catullus sing Smokey? A meditation on the fannish academic and the return of the personal voice

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There’s a new epic post on my academic blog, all about how we write when we write as academics.

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Revised introduction - 2016 version

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Edited by Tony Keen, Wednesday, 21 Sep 2016, 15:51

Hi. Here's an updated introduction to myself. 

I'm Tony Keen, I'm 51 years old, and I have been as student of the Classics (ancient Greece and Rome) since 1976. I was educated at Manchester Grammar School, took my first degree at the University of Edinburgh and my Doctorate at the University of Manchester, and before the OU taught at Manchester, Queen's University, Belfast, Northeast Normal University, Changchun, People's Republic of China, and Royal Holloway, University of London.

I've been teaching for the Open University as an Associate Lecturer since 2000. Up to 2008, I was teaching on AA309 Culture, Identity and Power in the Roman Empire for Region 13 (South East) and Region 01 (London).

From 2008 to 2014 I taught A219 Exploring the Classical World for R13. In 2011 I taught AA310 Film and Television History. From 2011 to 2013 I taught A397 Continuing Classical LatinFrom 2010 to 2015 I taught A330 Myth in the Greek and Roman Worlds, and in 2014 began A863 MA Classical Studies Part 1. I've supervised some research students - my current supervisee is Claire Greenhalgh.

I used to moderate the course forums on A330. I have also been an exam scriptmarker on A219 and AA309, marked EMAs for A330, written some material for the AA309 Course Website, conducted revisions of the A219 website and some other materials, and been monitor (someone who checks other ALs' marking) on A219 and A330.

For three years (2006-2009) I was a Research Affiliate with the Classical Studies Department, working in the Classical Reception research cluster, and did some work as a Project Research Consultant on Drama for the department's research project on Classical Receptions in Drama and Poetry in English from c.1970 to the Present. I am currently (2013-2018) an Honorary Associate in Classical Studies - at my departmental webpage you can read more about my research profile.

I have also taught for the London Region Arts Club.  I tutored their AA309 and A330 Day Schools and Study Weekends, led Ovid readings and EMA days for A330, and led walks around Roman Colchester, Roman London and Roman Canterbury, and a trip to Italy for Siragusa, on LRAC's behalf.  I also led trips to Hadrian's Wall, Roman Sussex and Italy for the now-defunct Open University Travel and Study Society.

I've also taken some OU courses.  In 2009 I took AA310 Film and Television History, and in 2012 completed H812 Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice.  In 2012-2013 I studied A215 Creative Writing.

Outside the OU, since 2013 I have been an Visiting Lecturer in Classical Civilization at the University of Roehampton, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Notre Dame London Global Gateway. I teach a summer school on Fantastic London for Middlesex University. And in 2015 I briefly returned to Royal Holloway as a Visiting Lecturer.

From 2009 to 2014 I was the editor of CA News, the newsletter of the Classical Association. I also have another weblog, Memorabilia Antonina.  I was also the Chair of the 2013 Science Fiction Foundation Conference.

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