Dr. Lisa Maurice: Breaking the Surface of Classical Reception

Meet Dr. Lisa Maurice, Senior Lecturer at BIU’s Department of Classical Studies. Dr. Maurice specializes in the study of classical reception in the ancient world. Recently awarded a 1.5 million Euros grant by the European Research Council (ERC) for a joint research project on the reception of classical antiquity in children and young adults' contemporary culture, Dr.  Maurice is part of an international group of academics from Poland, Australia, Cameroon and Great Britain participating in the project.

According to Dr. Maurice, the classical reception discipline is relatively new, becoming increasingly popular only in the last decade. The field considers how Greek and Roman texts, ideas and culture have been interpreted, used and reworked by subsequent writers, thinkers, artists and societies, with an awareness that art forms and media are a reflection of the world around us, and that the portrayal of the ancient world has both been a reflection of, and even a catalyst, for modern cultural changes.  “The reception field examines the synthesis of cultures,” explains Maurice. “The manner in which we examine the ancient world teaches us a great deal about old as well as modern times.”

As is well known, even in modern societies, the imprint of ancient cultures remains alive and well, both through the use of terminology and concepts (theater, philosophy, democracy, etc.) and through the adoption of different cultural patterns (architecture, languages, etc.). Dr. Maurice says she “looks at how classical antiquity is reflected in, among other things, film, literature and various media in modern Western culture.”

Also within the framework of the project, an international database – the first electronic tool of its kind – will be established, compiling and outlining the vast numbers of references to Classical mythology in children's and young adults' culture worldwide. 

Born and raised in London, Dr. Maurice holds a degree in Classics from Cambridge University. She began teaching in the Classics department while studying for her PhD at Bar-Ilan University.  She has taught a wide range of courses in both the Department of Classical Studies and the Department of General History, and is the author of The Teacher in Ancient Rome: the Magister and his World. The subject of reception became the focus of her research during her tenure as a BIU lecturer. “I was studying and teaching Roman comedy, but also focused on the modern culture of western society,” she shares. She conducted her first reception-related study about three years ago, after having watched the movie “Ocean’s 11” and realizing that the script is written exactly like an ancient Roman comedy.

Since then, Dr. Maurice has organized two conferences on reception. One focused on values and good vs. bad in the modern world, and the manner in which we label the good and the evil, examining why we choose those specific labels for specific characters and actions. The second conference focused on pop-culture in the ancient world, and attracted researchers and experts from across the globe. A third conference, planned for next year, will be sponsored by the Rector’s Grant recently awarded to Maurice for a multi-disciplinary research group. This next conference will focus on the western world’s dual legacy: Judeo-Christian and Greek-Roman.

For more about Classical Studies at Bar-Ilan University refer to the Department’s website.
For more on Dr. Maurice click here.