Publications by members

The Colours of the Past in Victorian England

Edited by Charlotte Ribeyrol

Peter Lang: Oxford 2016.

XIV, 270 pp., 40 coloured ill.

Cultural Interactions: Studies in the Relationship between the Arts, 38
General Editor: J.B. Bullen
ISBN 978-3-0343-1974-4

Link to publisher

The experience of colour underwent a significant change in the second half of the nineteenth century, as new coal tar-based synthetic dyes were devised for the expanding textile industry. These new, artificial colours were often despised in artistic circles who favoured ancient and more authentic forms of polychromy, whether antique, medieval, Renaissance or Japanese. However faded, ancient hues were embraced as rich, chromatic alternatives to the bleakness of industrial modernity, fostering fantasized recreations of an idealized past.
The interdisciplinary essays in this collection focus on the complex reception of the colours of the past in the works of major Victorian writers and artists. Drawing on close analyses of artworks and literary texts, the contributors to this volume explore the multiple facets of the chromatic nostalgia of the Victorians, as well as the contrast between ancient colouring practices and the new sciences and techniques of colour.

Charlotte Ribeyrol: Introduction – Charlotte Ribeyrol/Philippe Walter: «A magic web with colours gay»: W.H. Hunt’s Chromatic Nostalgia – Caroline Arscott: Whistler and Whiteness – Stefano Evangelista: Symphonies in Haze and Blue: Lafcadio Hearn and the Colours of Japan – Isabelle Gadoin: The Orient in Chromolithography: Owen Jones and the Colours of Islamic Art – Michael Seymour: Colour and its Reconstruction in the Nineteenth-Century Rediscovery of Assyrian Art – Lene Østermark-Johansen: «Like fragments of the milky sky itself»: The Late Nineteenth-Century Revival of Luca della Robbia’s Coloured Terracottas – Marc Porée: ‘Popularity’ in Blue – Muriel Pécastaing-Boissière: Annie Besant and Charles W. Leadbeater’s «Key to the Meanings of Colours» in Thought-Forms (1901) – Claire Masurel-Murray: «White Alb and Scarlet Camail»: The Colours of Catholicism in Fin-de-Siècle Literature.


Publications by members

Imagining Ancient Cities in Film: From Babylon to Cinecittà

Edited by Marta García Morcillo, Pauline Hanesworth and Óscar Lapena Marchena

Routledge, London and New York 2015

Routledge Studies in Ancient History

338 p., 37 ill.

ISBN-10: 0415843979

Link to publisher

In film imagery, urban spaces show up not only as spatial settings of a story, but also as projected ideas and forms that aim to recreate and capture the spirit of cultures, societies and epochs. Some cinematic cities have even managed to transcend fiction to become part of modern collective memory. Can we imagine a futuristic city not inspired at least remotely by Fritz Lang’s Metropolis? In the same way, ancient Babylon, Troy and Rome can hardly be shaped in popular imagination without conscious or subconscious references to the striking visions of Griffiths’ Intolerance, Petersen’s Troy and Scott’s Gladiator, to mention only a few influential examples. Imagining Ancient Cities in Film explores for the first time in scholarship film representations of cities of the Ancient World from early cinema to the 21st century.

The volume analyzes the different choices made by filmmakers, art designers and screen writers to recreate ancient urban spaces as more or less convincing settings of mythical and historical events. In looking behind and beyond intended archaeological accuracy, symbolic fantasy, primitivism, exoticism and Hollywood-esque monumentality, this volume pays particular attention to the depiction of cities as faces of ancient civilizations, but also as containers of moral ideas and cultural fashions deeply rooted in the contemporary zeitgeist and in continuously revisited traditions.

Introduction: Cinematic Cityscapes and the Ancient Past Marta García Morcillo and Pauline Hanesworth 2. The Babylon of D. W. Griffith’s Intolerance Michael Seymour 3. City of God: Ancient Jerusalem and the Holy Land In Cinema Leonardo Gregoratti 4. From Ithaca to Troy: The Homeric City in Cinema and Television Francisco Salvador Ventura 5. Utopia: Cinematic Sparta as an Idea (Not A City) Thomas Blank 6. Monuments, Men and Metaphors: Recreating Ancient Athens in Film Pauline Hanesworth 7. City of Lights: Ancient Alexandria in Cinema and Modern Imagination Nacho García 8. The East in the West: The Rise and Fall of Ancient Carthage in Modern Imagery and in Film Marta García Morcillo 9. “Rome is No Longer in Rome”: In Search of the Eternal City in Cinema Alberto Prieto Arciniega 10. “It is like Soho, Only Bigger”: Doctor Who and Modern Interpretations of Pompeii Rosario Rovira Guardiola 11. The Late Antique City in Movies Filippo Carlà and Andreas Goltz 12. Barbaricum – Civilisation of Savages Martin Lindner 13. Atlantis and Other Fictional Ancient Cities Óscar Lapeña Marchena

  • Review by Seán Easton (Gustavus Adolphus College), in: Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2016.08.35
    Imagining Ancient Cities in Film is the first edited volume wholly devoted to the cinematic ancient cities of the Mediterranean. This book is not only a scrupulously documented bridge to the substantial body of film that touches on the topic as well as the scholarship devoted to it, it is also a fresh starting line for work in the area. In their introduction, editors Marta García Morcillo and Pauline Hanesworth situate the volume’s critical coordinates in the transition from Roland Barthes’s cinematic ‘balcony of history’ to a phenomenological model of viewership. Thus, rather than encounter urban spaces on screen as distanced objects of our static gaze from a balcony, we are invited to experience them as visitors, traveling in and through them. The watching of historical film, according to this model, becomes a mode of our ‘being-in-history’, or of embodied history; i.e. our physical, sensory experience of a vivid recreation of the past (pp. 5-6). … Click here to read the entire review
Publications by members

Status Quaestionis. Rivista di Studi Letterari, Linguistici e Interdisciplinari is an an on-line, open-access peer-reviewed journal edited by the the Department of European, American and Intercultural Studies of Sapienza University of Rome. Issue 8 (2015) of the journal was dedicated to ClasStatus Questionis Logosical Reception Studies and published several papers presented and discussed at the conference Ktema es aei: La ricezione del mondo antico, an event organised in 2013 at the Università degli Studi di Torino by Maria G. Castello and Carla Scilabra in collaboration with Imagines.

Table of contents, abstracts and links to the publications (PDF):

Preface. Filippo Carlà, Maria G. Castello.

A preface to this issue of the journal, explaining the choice of the topic and of the articles and summarizing the main contents of the articles published here.


Atena e l’ottovolante: “affective turn”, estetica postmoderna e ricezione dell’antico. Filippo Carlà

The author investigates in this article the forms of Classical reception, in particular in reference to the visual and performing arts and with a special focus on the role of Classical Antiquity in postmodern aesthetics. terra-mitica-4After presenting, in a first part, a model relating Classical reception to transcultural dynamics, the author presents the most substantial changes in the forms of reception in postmodernism and finally introduces a current research project which investigates, along the theoretical lines presented in the first sections, the representations of the ancient world in theme parks.


Cinema storico ed eternità di Roma. Domitilla Campanile

This article aims to discuss the academic renewed interest on films set in a cinematic interpretation of the past. Separating fiction from truth should not be the first real purpose for ancient historians; furthermore scholars ought to commit to these studies without any disdain or patronizing superiority. Loren in the fall of the roman empireThen, the author tries to examine the function played by the image of Rome in these movies, and the broad range of meanings shared by the representations of the city. Finally, the author analyses the evolutions in conceptualizing the eternity of Rome and the deep changes noticeable in many films from this point of view through the ages.


Il futuro della ricezione dell’antico. Luigi Spina

Reception studies can be defined as «the ways in which Greek and Roman material has been transmitted, translated, excerpted, interpreted, rewritten, re-imaged and represented». The ways in which the ancient world could be received in the future depend on the relationship between the three elements which compose the cultural communication, the authors, the texts, the public of readers and spectators, through the new media.


Tra ricezione e rielaborazione del passato: un exemplum moderno. Gea di Luca Enoch. Maria G. Castello

The article aims to analyse the reception of classical antiquity and of the ancient religions in a comic by Luca Enoch: Gea. Originally published by Sergio Bonelli Editore in the late 1990s, Gea is an unicum for the Bonellian standards starting from its editorial format and its narrative structure. But the real touch of originality can be identified in its main themes, which are unusual for a “popular comic” – sexuality, social problems, political matters, etc. – and in the way how the Author uses the classical heritage and the ancient religions in two different modes. The former is presented in a traditional and stereotypical way while the latter are strongly reinterpreted. So the purpose of this paper is to understand the reasons for this different use of the past.


Vivono fra noi. L’uso del classico come espressione di alterità nella produzione fumettistica giapponese. Carla Scilabra

This paper aims to analyse the presence of figures and themes coming from the Classical heritage in the Japanese manga production. This review focuses mainly on how the manga-artists use such characters in order to identify and depict otherness: the works that are taken under consideration are mainly comics dating to 1970s, in which it is possible to follow an evolution of this production. The Author tries also to present a social and political explication of this phenomenon, based upon a brief analysis of how these theme could be connected to the evolution of the cultural and military relationship between Japan and the West ypical way while the latter are strongly reinterpreted. So the purpose of this paper is to understand the reasons for this different use of the past.


Le metamorfosi di Circe: dea, maga e femme fatale. Irene Berti

The myth of the encounter between Odysseus and Circe, first attested in the Odyssey, was very popular in and after Antiquity, and it inspired poets, artists and philosophers. In most cases, the post-Homeric Circe is transformed from an ambiguous, but fundamentally positive creature, into an increasingly negative one. Starting her “career” as a Homeric goddess, she quickly turns into a witch and into a seducer. Waterhouse. Circe Invidiosa. detailThis essay focuses on the reception of the figure of Circe in two periods, the Renaissance and the belle époque, during which she enjoyed considerable success, as an enchantress in the former, and as a femme fatale in the latter.


Appunti sulla fortuna del mito troiano: riflessioni a margine di un libro recente. Fabio Guidetti

Starting from the analysis of Valentina Prosperi’s recent book Omero sconfitto. Ricerche sul mito di Troia dall’Antichità al Rinascimento (Roma 2013), the paper develops some considerations about the current state of research on the reception of the Trojan myth in Western culture. Four main contexts are outlined: the reflections on Greek identity by the intellectuals of the so-called Second Sophistic in the Roman imperial period (1st-3rd century); the cultural shift of Late Antique translators (4th-6th century), and the effects of their peculiar choices on the Lydgates Troy booktransmission of ancient texts; the renewed interest in the stories of Troy in the Western Middle Ages, especially in France and Italy, from the 12th to the 14th century; and, finally, the importance of ancient myth and epic poetry for the literary self-consciousness of Italian Renaissance humanists and writers of the Quattrocento and Cinquecento. The author stresses the long-lasting importance of the ancient literary accounts of the Trojan war in shaping the cultural identity of Western civilization, and especially their role as models for the two genres of historiography and fiction, often far more closely interrelated with one another than we expect.




John_William_Waterhouse_-_Sketch_of_Circe,_1911-1914 detailBook reviews:

Jacopo Bassi, Gianluca Canè (a cura di). Sulle spalle degli antichi. Eredità classica e costruzione delle identità nazionali nel Novecento. Milano: Unicopli, 2014. 278 pp. By Dario Nappo

Filippo Carlà, Irene Berti (eds.). Ancient Magic and the Supernatural in the Modern Visual and Performing Arts. London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2015. 335 pp. By Ryan W. Cooper

Alessandra Coppola. Una faccia una razza? Grecia antica e moderna nell’immaginario italiano di età fascista. Roma: Carocci, 2013. 168 pp. By Rachele Dubbini

Antonino De Francesco. The Antiquity of the Italian Nation. The Cultural Origins of a Political Myth in Modern Italy 1796-1943. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. 266 pp. By Maja Gori

M. Lindner (hrsg.). Antikenrezeption 2013 n. Chr. Heidelberg: Verlag Antike, 2013. 163 pp. By Lucia Cecchet

Pantelis Michelakis, Maria Wyke (eds.). The ancient world in silent cinema. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. 398 pp. By Paola Mior

Bibliography. Filippo Carlà, Maria G. Castello


ISSN: 2239-1983