Report

Hercules conference logo: composite image of Roman sculpted young Hercules, Hercules in Roman fresco, Hercules on Leeds Town Hall, Hercules by Marian Maguire.This international conference brought together classical reception specialists and scholars from the fields of medieval and later European (art) history, literature and drama.  The packed programme included 49 papers on a wide range of topics, from early Christian appropriations of Hercules via his Renaissance reinvention as the type of virtue to modern popular music, cartoons and the contemporary Greek press.

Karl Galinsky talks about Hercules.

Full details of the programme are available on the conference website, but highlights included:

  • the opening plenary by Prof. Karl Galinsky (University of Texas, Austin), ‘A hero for all worlds and all ages: a triptych’;
  • Prof. Jon Solomon (University of Chicago, Illinois) on ‘Hercules at the court of Louis XIV’;
  • Prof. Edith Hall (KCL) with Dr Henry Stead (KCL) on ‘Hercules and the Victorian strongman’;
  • presentations by the contemporary dramatists Helen Eastman (Oxford) and George Rodosthenous (Leeds) on their recent Hercules-themed prodcutions;
  • the contemporary New Zealand artist Marian Maguire on her innovative series of etchings and lithographs The Labours of Herakles.

The Christian Hercules Panel with (clockwise from top right) Alexandra Eppinger (Chair), Cary MacMahon, Efstathia Maria Athanasopoulou, Eva Anagnostou-Laoutides, Arlene Allan.

Three papers were delivered remotely by speakers unable to travel to Leeds, and all papers were recorded, so that they might be made available to delegates after the conference as podcasts (with Powerpoint slides and other supporting material).  A total of 55 delegates attended in person, and a further 18 were registered as ‘virtual delegates’, with access to the podcast site.

Feedback

Feedback from the conference was overwhelmingly positive.  Many delegates paid informal compliments to the organisers, and 65% returned a questionnaire.  Comments included:

  • “A model of good practice. Very useful and inspiring.”
  • “Exactly what a conference should be – bringing together different ideas and people.”
  • “Wonderful range of papers and an engagement with all kinds of modern media – really illuminating about the place of the classical hero, his cultural trajectory into the modern world.”
  • “Real synergies clear both within panels and across the conference as a whole. Papers excellent, but conference also much more than the sum of its parts.”
  • “I was very impressed by the breadth of different subjects – also, always interesting to meet people from other disciplines. Was the most “International” conference I’ve ever been to.”
  • “The organisation was superlative – the most well-organised conference I have ever attended.

Wordle of conference feedback emphasising that the conference was friendly and community-building as well as inspiring, exciting and up-to-date

The virtual conference website, containing podcasts and materials has been praised as useful for delegates who attended in person to check information as well as those who were not able to attend in person, free-form feedback crediting it with being “Wonderful!”.

The full conference report can be downloaded: Conference Report_2013 (782kB pdf).

The organisers would like to thank all those who contributed to making the conference such a success, including our sponsors: