Lecturer in the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics Ms Helen Lenahan was invited to present a paper at the Classical Association Conference 2023 hosted at the University of Cambridge.
The annual event is held by the Classical Association (the British Society of Classicists) that marked its 120th anniversary this year.
Lenahan said that the call for papers was open to topics from a broad range of classical interests,but encouraged the submission of papers on the decolonisation of Classics.
Her paper titled, The Minotaur in the Cave: San Rock Art in a Classics Curriculum considered ‘the unique challenges facing young Classics academics in South Africa with regard to the decolonisation and Africanisation of Classics curricula.’
She argued that South African Classics could benefit from increased collaboration with South African archaeology in fields of study like San rock art, as Classics offers core skills such as the translation of dead languages and the analysis of ancient religions.
Lenahan added that the conference offered panels and papers by international and innovative academics on topics spanning a breath-taking range of research. She attended several sessions by leading researchers on topics ranging from Ancient Greek lexicography to depictions of the “other” in Greek sculpture.
Speaking of the challenges regarding her presentation, she remarked: ‘It was important for me to provide clear, concise definitions of these terms for an international audience, as well as sufficient context about what they mean in South Africa. This involved extensive, time-consuming engagement with state-wide and university-specific policies.’
She said that she is thankful for the experience that allowed her to express her belief in classical studies in a South African context which is not always obvious to academics and students.
‘It was an honour to represent the UKZN Classics Department at an international gathering of academics and researchers. This paper allowed me to combine this personal interest with my academic work in Classics,’ said Lenahan.