Tuesday 21 March 2023

Classical Mythology and Children's Literature... An Alphabetical Odyssey

Spring is here! And with it – a free book! The latest publication from Our Mythical Childhood is Classical Mythology and Children's Literature... An Alphabetical Odyssey, by Elizabeth Hale and Miriam Riverlea. An exciting bonus – it’s illustrated by Panoply’s very own Steve Simons!

Alphabetical Odyssey takes you on a journey through the oceans of children’s books inspired by ancient Greek and Roman mythology. The 26 chapters discuss elements important in literature for young readers, providing insights into how mythical adaptations, retellings, and allusions connect with aspects of childhood and adolescence. The chapters are arranged alphabetically, such as E is for Emotions, J is for Journeys, N is for Nature, and O is for the Olympians, and each comes with their own illustration.

You can download a free copy here. Share the download link as much as you like. The book will have a special appeal to anyone interested in classical mythology, classical reception, and/or young people’s literature.

You can find other free downloads from the Our Mythical Childhood series, and hard copies of the books available for sale here

All too soon, they will be joined by Teaching Ancient Greece: Lesson Plans, Vase Animations, and Resources, a book based around Panoply’s Our Mythical Childhood animations featuring 15 lesson plans by teachers from all over the world and all sorts of bonus resources to go with them. We’ve been working on that for a good while now and can’t wait for you to see it. Watch this space for news. If you’ve managed to miss the OMC animations and documentaries, take a look here: https://www.panoply.org.uk/our-mythical-childhood

Above, entrance to The Allard Pierson Museum of Antiquities in Amsterdam

We’ve had a busy start to the year. January saw us at the Allard Pierson Museum at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Panoply’s Sonya Nevin was there to present at the Ancient Vases in Modern Showcases conference, organised by Laurien de Gelder and Vladimir Stissi. Kate Cooper of the Royal Ontario Museum gave a stonking key note speech, outlining all sorts of factors that must be considered when planning a vase gallery or exhibition. Consider even the difference between arranging vases chronologically, arranging them by type of vase, displaying artefacts according to their decoration to express themes such as Trojan War, Sport, or Warfare, or the effect of grouping similar objects from different cultures. These are all solid options, yet they create a different experience for the museum visitor and a different impression of the objects and their meanings.

We also heard from Jill Hilditch, who has tackled the display of prehistoric ceramics and objects with unknown functions. You may recall the interview that Dr Hilditch did for Panoply a little while back discussing her research project, Tracing the Potter’s Wheel. Sally Waite and Olivia Turner presented a public programme, You Echo Through Time , which they ran at the at the Great North Museum in the UK, helping modern women explore their own experiences through an artefact-based search for the voices of ancient women. David Saunders of the J.Paul Getty outlined the approach that will be taken in a forthcoming exhibition, placing Mayan, Moche, and ancient Greek ceramics beside one another to prompt reflections and comparisons. One to look out for.
Above, David Saunders outlines the ideas involved in the Getty's forthcmoing exhibition of Mayan, Moche, and Greek Pottery

Sonya’s presentation outlined the way in which vase animations provide a bridge between the museum and the wider community – creating opportunities for people to see artefacts outside the museum space – seeing them in a new form in the classroom, in theatres and cinemas, projected onto walls, on tablets in parks – all sorts of spaces - and offering a prompt for further creative engagements with the artefacts, be it drawing, pottery-making, poetry, storytelling and more besides. Enjoying an ancient artefact does not have to mean simply looking at it; seeing can be only the beginning.
Above, Vases beyond the museum: a school event in Poland sees teens watching Panoply vase animations in a theatre before giving their own research presentations and making their own ceramic designs.

Sonya recently gave a different sort of talk closer to home in Cambridge, at the Digital Education Futures Initiative ( https://www.deficambridge.org/). This initiative, developed at Hughes’ Hall, Cambridge, creates opportunities for developing new models of education and new research priorities arising due to the growing prevalence of digital technology. Recent talks have explored digital tech’s ability to harness collective intelligence; Camtree, also based at Hughes’ Hall, which creates opportunities for teachers to conduct and share research and improve learning outcomes; and Sonya’s presentation on how digital technology has enabled new insights into the study of ceramics and ancient iconography.

We will have more news for you soon. Coming up are a new About Dionysus documentary to complement our Dionysus animation; news on an exhibition in the US that we've contributed to; and insights into the Islanders exhibition, which is on now at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

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