We are delighted to announce that not one but TWO students from the School of Classics won Laidlaw Scholarships this year! The Laidlaw Scholarship Programme offers students an opportunity to develop leadership and research skills. Congratulations to our future leaders: Toni Andres and Isabella Redmayne, who have kindly introduced their research projects below.
Participating in the Undergraduate Assistant Research Scheme in summer 2020 helped us to visualise different approaches to encouraging public engagement with academia. The Laidlaw Scholarship presented an opportunity to explore our individual interests in fields that are equally relevant in Classics and everyday life.
Queer Catullus: the Power of Gender Impersonation in Creative Arts
Ever since its publication in the 1st century BC, Catullus has polarized his readers with explicitly sexual descriptions of love affairs with both men and women. While the historical reception of his poetry has mainly been centered around his portrayal of sexuality, my project aims to shift this focus to his performance of gender against the construction of sexuality in Ancient Rome. By taking an interdisciplinary approach, I will lean on Susan Sontag’s definition of ‘camp’ in queer culture, arguing that Catullus in fact challenges the construction of normative perceptions of gender and sexuality. To what extent can we parallel his reclamation of gendered stereotypes with modern ‘drag’? And how can his legacy be reformed sustainably? In my leadership project, I will use my research as a foundation for a creative workshop with queer communities in order to open the legacy of his reception to a more diverse, genderqueer audience. By encouraging public engagement with Classics, I hope to promote space for queer minorities in academia.
The presentation of liars and storytellers in Greco-Roman literature: Fake News in the Ancient World
Multiple contemporary political figures have entered the limelight on the back of a reputation for entertaining personalities, to devastating results. Of course, this is by no means a new phenomenon. My research project aims to scrutinize the presentation of liars and storytellers of ancient literature (particularly Odysseus) in order to gain a greater understanding of modern responses to lies and entertainment. At what point did the ancient Greeks and Romans believe lies ceased to be entertaining and began to be dangerous? What about liars like Lucian, who used lies to entertain and present truth? In my leadership project, I aim to use my research as a foundation for a series of drama and oracy workshops to take around schools in underprivileged rural areas to help promote the analytical side of the arts, while giving them a taste of some Ancient History too.
We are both really looking forward to our projects and expecting to have a lot of fun!