The Classical World New Zealand

I’m delighted to have made contact with Dr Anastasia Bakogianni, of Classics at Massey University, New Zealand, who has established the Classical World New Zealand project. She writes about it below. Any interested participants, please be in touch!

– Liz Hale

The Classical World New Zealand project

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How have New Zealanders received the classical world? How have they adapted and transformed it for use in their own culture and the arts? Why do they feel this deep connection with ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt? These are the fundamental questions that Classical World New Zealand, a new project based at Massey University, seeks to illuminate. When I arrived on the beautiful shores of Aotearoa (the Māori name for New Zealand) last year I was curious to learn more about how New Zealanders and New Zealand based practitioners responded to the classical world. I was already aware of the existence of such receptions, but I was still surprised by the richness and variety of these connections, and I am happily looking forward to discovering more. This is surely yet more proof of the ongoing impact of the classical world on our own modern global culture.

A guiding principle in my own work, instilled in me by my mentor Professor Lorna Hardwick, is the importance of an open dialogue with practitioners. As a ‘receptionista’ I study creative adaptations of the classics in a variety of media, but rather than simply imposing my own view on the material I want to hear what the artists themselves have to say about their motivations and creative processes. Reception is a complex process that deserves close study and an integral part of that investigation should be the practitioner(s)’ own perspective. With this in mind I started looking for Kiwi artists with a strong connection to the classical world. With the help of my colleagues and the Internet I was soon well on my way. This is an ongoing project, illustrated by audio-visual material. We will continue to add to the resources on our website so keep checking back or follow us on Twitter for updates. Our journey of discovery has just begun…

The Massey Classical Studies team (Anastasia, Gina, James and Jonathan) wants to share our discoveries so we created an open-access website: www.massey.ac.nz/classicalworldnz. The material we have gathered is organised according to ‘medium’. There are currently six main subsections to the website: Film, Literature, Music, Scholarship, Theatre, and Visual Arts. In addition, we also have two pages for News & Events and Further Resources. Please do get in touch, if you want to take part in our project. The only eligibility criterion for an interviewee is that you have to be based in New Zealand. But that does not mean we are not open to feedback and suggestions from the world beyond Aotearoa’s shores!

Contact details:
Project coordinator: a.bakogianni@massey.ac.nz
Twitter: @classicalnz

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