News and Events


On May 3rd, the AWAWS Sydney Chapter was fortunate enough to have Dr Ronika Power, AWAWS member, speak about her experience of being a Superstar of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) over the past year. Natalie Mylonas writes that Ronika explained the importance of young women having women role models engaged in STEM to look up to, especially given the under-representation of women in these fields, a situation we know all too well in Ancient World Studies as well. We were all greatly encouraged by the incredible experiences the Superstars of STEM program offered her, including the opportunity to meet high profile individuals and to share the importance of Ancient World Studies and Arts more generally with them, and the chance to inspire Australian school girls to follow their dreams. We would like to warmly thank Ronika for her time, and look forward to hearing all about her future endeavours through the Superstars of STEM program.


AWAWS sponsored a panel and other events at the ASCS Annual Conference held at the University of Queensland.


AWAWS member, Dr Ronika Power, from the Department of Ancient History at Macquarie University has been selected from around 350 applicants across Australia as a participant in the inaugural Superstars of STEM Program, hosted by Science and Technology Australia (STA).

The program will work with 30 of the nation’s most dynamic scientists and technologists to create role models for young women and girls, and work towards equal representation in the media of men and women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine). Superstars of STEM aims to debunk society’s gender assumptions about scientists and increase the public visibility of women in STEM:

Ronika is the only Arts-based practitioner amongst the cohort of winners.

Congratulations to Ronika on her fabulous achievement!


Call for Papers


Women’s Classical Committee Workshop

Monday September 11th 1-5 p.m.
University of Roehampton, London

Organised by Susan Deacy, Fiona McHardy and Katerina Volioti

Deadline for abstracts: Friday 10 August 2017

This event takes place at a time when various groups are coming together in the UK and internationally to discuss workplace bullying and harassment and to seek solutions. The issue is high on the agenda of the Women’s Classical Committee UK, which conducted a survey in 2016 asking for feedback on experiences of gendered bullying and sexual harassment. A paper in Cloelia in 2016 by two of the current event’s organisers explored the responses to this survey while also presenting the experiences of other classicists.

One goal of this workshop is to look in further depth at some of the *problems* in Classics. For example, we should like to look at where issues of gender intersect with mental health, age, disability and status. We also anticipate a discussion around whether the perpetuation of ‘traditional’ views of Classics might be fostering a culture where bullying and harassment can endure.

But: our key goal is to move from identifying problems to finding *solutions*. We take inspiration, here, from the ongoing moves in Classical women’s networks in North America and Australasia to tackle issues in the discipline by cooperation, including by those who have themselves suffered unpleasant experiences in the workplace. Our quest will also be informed by initiatives beyond Classics, including the 1752 Group, which is developing strategies for combatting sexual misconduct at UK HEIs.

The Women’s Classical Committee UK invites proposals for brief papers (15-20 minutes) on any aspect relating to the topic. We warmly encourage Classicists at any career stage and of any gender to submit abstracts.

Please send abstracts of 200 words max to Susan Deacy – – by 10 August 2017.

Supported by the Women’s Classical Committee UK and by the award money from a National Teaching Fellow 2015: (The National Teaching Fellowship Scheme is funded by the three funding councils for England, Northern Ireland, and Wales and administered by the Higher Education Academy)

The Women’s Classical Committee UK aims to:

1) Support Women* in Classics **
2) Promote feminist and gender-informed perspectives in Classics
3) Raise the profile of the study of women in antiquity and Classical reception 4) Advance equality and diversity in Classics.

For more information and details of how to become a member please see


The international conference, The Once and Future Kings: Roman Emperors and Western Political Culture from Antiquity to the Present, was held 5-7 July 2017, at the University of Queensland, St Lucia Campus, Brisbane.

The conference web site is available here:
Keynote speakers: Prof. Rhiannon Ash (Oxford), Prof. David Scourfield (Maynooth) and Dr Penelope Goodman (Leeds).

The conference opened on the evening of Wednesday, July 5, with a public lecture by Prof. Ash on “Emperors in Space”, followed by a full two-day programme featuring speakers from the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand. Delegates coming from outside Brisbane may be interested to know that the exhibition ‘Gladiators: Heroes of the Colosseum’ will be on at the Queensland Museum in July.

The R. D. Milns Perpetual Endowment Fund and to the Australasian Society of Classical Studies are acknowledged for their financial support of this conference.

Conference convenors: Caillan Davenport and Shushma Malik


The Australasian Society for Classical Studies 38th Annual Conference (31 January-3 February, 2017) was hosted by Victoria University of University of Wellington. Amongst many interesting panels and events, AWAWS members hosted and took part in the following:

1. Intersectionality in Antiquity

AWAWS panel, chaired by Dr Amelia Brown, University of Queensland

  • Dr Maxine Lewis, University of Auckland—Modern theory meets ancient evidence: do we need intersectionality?
  • Elizabeth Smith, Macquarie University—The mitra and Clodius’ transvestism: the value of an intersectional response
  • Dr Mark Masterson, Victoria University of Wellington—Intersectionality and eunuchism in elite men’s culture in Byzantium

This panel uses intersectional theory to analyse gender in antiquity. ‘Intersectionality’ refers to the oppression women suffer when sexism is compounded by other aspects of identity, such as race, class, and sexuality. Intersectionality dominates contemporary feminist practice and theory, but is rarely discussed explicitly in studies of Greco-Roman gender ideologies. This divergence between feminist activism outside the academy and feminist analysis of ancient material reflects a major shift within our field; up until the nineteen-nineties feminist scholarship on antiquity was closely connected to contemporary feminism. This panel reconnects feminist analysis of the ancient world with current feminist discourse.

The first paper examines the methodological questions that arise when one uses a modern theory to examine ancient culture. It argues that although intersectionality developed out of a specifically modern context (one in which race is the dominant vector of oppression), it nevertheless has value for studying the ancient world. The second and third papers each offer a case study of intersectional identities in antiquity, concretely showing the value of applying an intersectional lens to antiquity. The second paper argues that ideologies surrounding Roman head-covering practices related to ethnicity as well as gender, focussing on the negative reaction to Clodius’ use of the mitra in the Bona Dea scandal. The third paper explores the intersection of masculinity and sexual practices in Byzantium, focussing on the relationships between intact men and eunuchs. Together the papers demonstrate that intersectionality offers useful critical insights into gender in antiquity.

2. Helen and Menelaos in the Odyssey: μῦθος, νόστος and ξενία

Chaired by Prof Elizabeth Minchin, Australian National University

  • Fiona Sweet-Formiatti, Australian National University—The ξεινήϊα of Menelaos, and of Helen
  • Dr James O’Maley, University of Melbourne—Stories and Audiences in Odyssey 4
  • Elizabeth Stockdale, Macquarie University (RECIPIENT OF THE 2016 AWAWS RESEARCH GRANT)—With and without you: The νόστοι of Helen and Menelaos as paths to μῆτις

The Odyssey, ostensibly, is concerned with the journey of Odysseus, but Helen and Menelaos   contribute greatly to a deeper understanding of Odysseus’ role in the epic. This panel will examine how the three inter-related concepts of μῦθος, νόστος and ξενία, concerning and performed by Helen and Menelaos, function within the Odyssey. The μῦθοι of Helen and Menelaos will be analysed from internal and external narratological perspectives and purposes. Olson (1989) also comments on their μῦθοι as doublets for the return of Odysseus. Within their μῦθοι, Helen and Menelaos reveal glimpses of their νόστοι, which in turn presents their guest Telemachos not only with his father’s exploits and κλέος, but also Helen’s and Menelaos’ journeys to μῆτις and κλέος. The patterned treatment of νόστοι in the Odyssey has been noted by Barker and Christensen (2014). Helen and Menelaos’ selections and presentations of ξεινήϊα demonstrate their significance as co-hosts and individual host to the son of Odysseus, Telemachos. In addition, they jointly and separately offer insights into the complex inter-relationships of the ‘natural law of hospitality’ Pitt-Rivers (2015) at play in Homeric ξενία. Therefore, the μῦθοι, νόστοι and ξενία of Helen and Menelaos in the Odyssey, conceptually are inter-related. They reveal the complex layers of narratological, semantic and value specific aspects of Helen and Menelaos within focused scenes, as well as play a larger role within the structure of the Odyssey itself.


  • Barker, E and Christensen, J. ‘Odysseus’ nostos and the Odyssey’s nostoi: Rivalry within the Epic Cycle’ P.A.7. (2014), 85-110.
  • Olson, S.D. ‘The Stories of Helen and Menelaus (Odyssey 4.240-89) and the Return of Odysseus’ A.J.P.110.3 (1989), 387-394.
  • Pitt-Rivers, J. ‘The Law of Hospitality’, HAU 2.1(2012), 501-17.

3. Wednesday 1 February, 7:30pm, Featherston

AWAWS social event, following the keynote address

4. Friday 3 February, 1-2pm, Room 1

AWAWS lunchtime meeting



During the Australasian Society for Classical Studies 37th Annual Conference (2-5 February, 2016), held at the University of Melbourne (Parkville campus), AWAWS held the following events:

1. Interdisciplinary approaches to Understanding the Role of Women in the Ancient World

AWAWS Panel, chaired by Dr Sonya Wurster, University of Melbourne

  • Dr Emily Baragwanath, The University of North Carolina
  • Associate Professor Louise Hitchcock, The University of Melbourne
  • Associate Professor Marguerite Johnson, The University of Newcastle

As James and Dillon (2012, 1) have demonstrated, the study of women in the ancient world using just one form of evidence is not only limiting but also inadequate. They note that we can learn about women in the ancient world more effectively when textual and material scholars are in conversation. In response to this view, the three papers in this panel use diverse methodologies from both textual studies and archaeology to examine the role of women in the ancient world.

This panel contributes to an existing body of work on the role of women in the ancient world that has grown since the publication of Pomeroy’s Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves in 1975. In particular it builds on recent studies into the role of women, such as those found in Franco (2014) and James and Dillon’s (2012), that focus on methodology as a way of interpreting the extant evidence.


  • Franco, Cristiana and Fox, Matthew. 2014. Shameless: The Canine and the Feminine in Ancient Greece-With a New Preface and Appendix (The Joan Palevsky Imprint in Classical Literature) ix, 294 pages.
  • James, Sharon L. and Dillon, Sheila. 2012. A Companion to Women in the Ancient World (Blackwell Companions to the Ancient Qorld; Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell) xxiv, 616 pages.
  • Pomeroy, Sarah B. 1975. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity (New York: Schocken Books) xiii, 265 pages, 263 leaves of plates.

2. Tuesday 2 February, 1pm to 2pm

AWAWS lunchtime meeting

3. Wednesday 3 February, 7.30pm, Hotel Lincoln

AWAWS members drinks, following the keynote address



Please find below reports from our two panelists at the 2014 AMPHORAE viii meeting:

Academic Options for Women in the Early Twentieth Century – Re-evaluating the Contribution of Lilly Grove Frazer and Jane Ellen Harrison

Katherine R. L. McLardy, Monash University

A consultation of published accounts of the lives and works of Jane Ellen Harrison and Lilly Grove Frazer suggests a wide divergence in their academic options and career choices; however, a closer examination elides this gap considerably. The matter is complicated by the fact that a considerable mythos has developed around Harrison as a female pioneer of the field of Classics, whilst Grove is remembered primarily through the lens of her relationship with her more renowned husband.

Jane Ellen Harrison is now widely acknowledged as an important figure in the early days of Classics, a female pioneer, although much of her work has been superseded by later theoretical developments in the field. Harrison’s career is well-known and details can be found in various biographies on her.[1] Here I will focus on only a few highlights of her career. Harrison was given a scholarship to study at Newnham College where she was a high-achieving student. Failing to secure a lectureship after her studies, she taught briefly and then moved on to a long-standing arrangement lecturing at the British Museum. Her academic output was prolific, both in journals and as monographs, and she was the first woman to lecture within the university buildings at Cambridge. From 1898, she returned to Newnham College as a research fellow, where she was able to negotiate a role based primarily on research with minimal teaching duties; this was unusual for the time. Her work within the so-called Cambridge Ritualists has been the focus of recent interest by historians of the field. Harrison was also fluent in many languages and was known to be an engaging teacher. Late in her life, her interests shifted from the early Classical world to focus on the Russian language instead.

By contrast, Lilly Grove Frazer is normally remembered in modern scholarship as the wife and supporter of James George Frazer, as well as his “redoubtable life companion,” in the words of a contemporary. The conception is that she gave up her own scholarship in order to promote that of her husband and to protect his reputation as a scholar, and the focus is firmly on the negative aspects of her personality, as indicated by the above description.[2] In fact, the full quote from Malinowski is not nearly so damning, stating “those of us who came to know the capable, energetic, though somewhat redoubtable life companion of Frazer became as devoted to her as to him.”[3] Instead of considering Lilly Grove Frazer only in the context of her relationship to her husband, her own achievements make her worthy of interest as an important early female scholar.

Although much of the biographical sources on Grove date to the period following her marriage to Frazer, scholars have been able to reconstruct some highlights of her earlier career. With her first husband, Grove travelled widely in South America, especially Chile. On their return to England, Grove taught modern languages, especially French. She was one of the early female members of the Royal Geographical Society and gave lectures at the British Association and the Royal Geographical Society on her experiences in South America and on the topic of dance, discussing a wide spread of countries and time periods. It was this latter topic that would bring about her meeting with Frazer, and eventually resulted in a book, Dancing, her only published work on the topic. It is likely that this abandonment of the topic of dance is partly responsible for the modern conception of her scholarship. However, she was paid a decent amount of money for the work and appears to have not had anything more than a nominal interest in the subject to begin with.

Her own academic interests were instead centred on teaching French and amateur dramatics. She authored a considerable number of works relating to the teaching of French, both for the use of students, and explaining her methods of teaching. She was heavily involved in the early use of the phonograph for the teaching of language, producing series in French, German, English and the Classics (Latin/Greek) consisting of a textbook accompanied by a set of phonograph records. In this capacity, she lectured on the use of this technology for teaching language. She also undertook translation work, translating anti-German propaganda during the First World War.

Grove did promote her husband’s career admirably – by supervising the translation of his works in French, by repackaging his work into other formats, by teaching field anthropologists to use the phonograph for the collection of evidence in the field, and in many other ways. But at the same time, it is clear that she continued to accomplish much in her chosen field and possessed a successful academic career in her own right.

Thus, it appears that the wide divergence between the career and life choices of Jane Ellen Harrison and Lilly Grove Frazer is mainly a construct of their treatment by modern scholars on the history of scholarship in these fields. As Grove’s main work is outside of the purview of historians of religion, anthropology and the Classics, and as her work, at least in terms of enduring impact, is eclipsed by that of her husband, James George Frazer, her contributions as an early female scholar have been largely ignored. Admittedly, Grove’s work has faded into obscurity, but without the notoriety of the paradigm shifts that can be associated with the work of Frazer and Harrison. Harrison has also benefitted from dedicated students who composed biographical accounts, and from being championed by her former college as an important female scholar. As Grove has not been the subject of sustained interest by historians, with the exception of one unpublished masters thesis, her image has been formed through biographers of Frazer, and the fact that her relationship with Frazer’s friends and colleagues was always rocky has clearly affected the modern image of her. Whilst not arguing that Grove was not an abrasive woman, this focus on her character has obscured a focus on her scholarship.


Ackerman, R. (1987). J.G. Frazer: his life and work.

Ackerman, R. (1991). The myth and ritual school: J.G. Frazer and the Cambridge Ritualists.

Beard, M. (2000). The invention of Jane Harrison.

Foote, S.L. (1986). Lilly Grove Frazer and her book Dancing (unpublished thesis).

Malinowski, B. (1944). A Scientific Theory of Culture and Other Essays.

Robinson, A. (2002). The life and work of Jane Ellen Harrison.

Stewart, J. (1959). Jane Ellen Harrison: a portrait from letters.

[1] For example, see Stewart (1959), Ackerman (1991), Beard (2000), Robinson (2002).

[2] See especially Foote (1986) and Ackerman (1987) for summaries on Lilly Grove Frazer.

[3] Malinowski (1944), 181.

The Primitive ‘Other’: Indigenous Women in Australasian Ancient World Studies.

Emily Poelina-Hunter, University of Melbourne

As many people with multiple identities will recognise, who you are, and the society you live in impact your areas of research. On November 28th 2014 I presented this paper in the AWAWS panel at AMPHORAE VIII at my home institution, the University of Melbourne. The presentation was a personal story from my perspective as an Aboriginal woman who has been a student, tutor, and lecturer in Classical Studies and Archaeology in New Zealand and Australia for over 15 years.

Storytelling is a key form of communication, education, and knowledge building in Indigenous Australian communities, and I briefly outlined my background and my journey which led me to a field of study where I relate with the primitive ‘other’. Since moving to Melbourne to undertake my PhD I have been involved in many committees and societies to further the representation of minorities – namely women in Ancient World Studies in Australia and New Zealand. In the last two years I have been much more involved with committees that seek to advance representation of Indigenous Australians in tertiary education, and when I looked back over my career as a tertiary student and staff member I felt that this shift was something that had been building over a long time and was directly related to my life and educational journey.

My background

My father’s father, Pop Poelina (Poh Ling Wah) was from west Timor and came to Broome in Western Australia to work as a pearl diver. My father’s mother, Nana Hunter, was Aboriginal and escaped from a cruel marriage to an Irish station master in the Kimberley and made her way to Broome. Nana Hunter brought 5 children with her and married Pop (there were two Poh Ling Wah’s pearling in Broome at the time and she changed their surname to Poelina so that Pop, who was a master diver, got the bigger pay cheque). My father, Petrus, is the oldest of the 5 children Pop and Nana had together. He met my Mum in Port Hedland, then moved to Perth where I was born in 1982. When I was 8 we moved to New Zealand permanently and settled in Hawkes Bay where my Pakeha Mum grew up, so that we could look after her parents.

Classics was my best subject at high school, so I did a double degree BA in Religion and Classical Studies at Victoria University, in Wellington, followed by a First Class honours in Classical Studies, a Graduate Diploma in Ancient Greek, and an MA in Classical Studies. My NZ student loan is massive. To do a PhD for free I moved back to Australia, and had to come to the University of Melbourne to get Louise Hitchcock as my supervisor. My thesis topic focusses on Early Bronze Age Cycladic figurines and statues dating from 3200-2000 BCE. I am arguing that their abstract painted motifs are representations of tattoos. All my examples are female, and being a tattooed female myself, who belongs to one of the oldest living cultures in the world, I feel more at home with this prehistoric material than I ever did translating the texts of Greek men from 5th century Athens in my Classics degrees.

My current research

While I love my PhD topic there are several set-backs to being who I am in this field of research. I find terminology offensive and outdated – especially when doing historical research (primitive, savage, barbaric, un-civilized, blacks, natives). I am out of place – have you ever been tutored, lectured or supervised by a Maori, Aboriginal, or Torres Straight Islander? I do not have any Indigenous female academic role models in ancient world studies – they are in Indigenous Studies. People think it is strange that I don’t specialize in Aboriginal archaeology, but I have never studied at an institution that teaches it. To illustrate the isolation I feel as an Aboriginal woman doing tertiary study in a field devoid of Aboriginal academics and students, here are some statistics.

At the University of Melbourne in 2014 there were 55, 485 students enrolled:

  • 39, 403 were domestic students (71.05 %)
  • 16, 055 were international students (28.95 %)
  • 117 were Indigenous undergraduates (0.21 %)
  • 126 were Indigenous postgraduates (0.23 %)

Now, if you add 71.05% to 28.95% you get 100 %. Looking at it this way, Indigenous students are non-existent at the University of Melbourne. With undergraduates and postgraduates combined we are not even half of a percent.

In the same year there were 7,714 staff employed:

  • 73 were Indigenous Australians (0.95 %)
  • 48 were professional administration staff
  • 25 were academic staff

The source for this data comes from The University of Melbourne Reconciliation Action Plan (2015-2017): Consultation Draft. Looking at Australia more widely, Aboriginal Australians who have a post-school qualification = 14 % (New Zealand Maori: 85 %, US Native Americans: 65 %). Aboriginal students who complete a university degree = 3 %. Aboriginal students who complete a PhD = 0.5 %.

As a recent three-part documentary on NITV (National Indigenous Television) demonstrated, 6 out of 10 Australians have little or no contact with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and this inevitably breeds racism. The language of eugenics is still used when people ask what percentage of me is Aboriginal. The diversity amongst Aboriginal people is not understood – I copped flack from Centrelink for applying for Abstudy with a NZ passport in 2010, dual citizenship is not understood, nor is it expected that I could live outside of Australia. To get Abstudy I had to provide proof of my Aboriginality with a letter from an Elder.


Knowing and living the above statistics is really hard sometimes. I do not want to turn my back on 15 years of experience in ancient world studies, and I could stay in this field and be a “trailblazer” by being a visible and vocal Aboriginal woman who has diversified into prehistoric Greek archaeology. I am expected to be a role model when I have never had one in this field for myself. Ideally I will try and get an ancient world studies job where I can include Indigenous perspectives and material in my courses. Alternatively, I could move into Australian Aboriginal archaeology – but is this still ancient world studies? And can I be bothered retraining? While I am finishing off my PhD part time I have started working as the Project Officer in the Research Unit for Indigenous Language in the School of Languages and Linguistics at the University of Melbourne. I have also worked as the Research Officer for the Indigenous Specialisation at RMIT University. I feel like I am making a difference in these roles – I strongly believe that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders need to be recognised in Australia’s constitution and strongly support the work of Reconciliation Australia. The job market in ancient world studies will probably see me move Indigenous Studies, as I have already turned down several positions in 2014 knowing that I have to submit my thesis in April 2015.

Thank you to AWAWS and the organisers of AMPHORAE VIII for letting me share this unconventional presentation, and thank you also to those who listened respectfully and hugged me after I got through this personal account!