Popular Comedy Conference

About the conference

The comic theatre of Greece and Rome, like that of many other crucial periods of comic history (e.g. Elizabethan and Jacobean drama; music hall; vaudeville) is often described as popular comedy. This conference aims to investigate the extent, limits and utility of considering comic drama to be "popular". We are particularly interested in the modes of performance and reception of comedy. How far does performance in front of a mass audience shape the form and language of comedy? How genuinely "popular" are different comic traditions? To what extent and in what ways do "elite" and "popular" interact in the original and subsequent contexts of reception? Is "popular comedy" a useful term or is it subsuming other more challenging concepts (such as, for example, class)? And to what extent can parallel themes in the production and reception of popular comedy be seen across cultures? The conference begins with the comic traditions of Greece and Rome, but is intended to broaden out the question to consider popular comedy in other periods and modes.

Our invited speakers are:

  • Dr James Robson (Open)
  • Prof. Ralph Rosen (Penn)
  • Prof. Alan Sommerstein (Nottingham)
  • Prof. Peter Wiseman (Exeter)

The conference is supported by grants from the Institute of Classical Studies and the Classical Association. 



Wednesday 28 August 2013

9-10 Registration
10.00-10.10 Welcome

Session 1 - Introducing Popular Comedy:
Ralph Rosen (Penn), Aesthetics, taste and the question of 'popular' comedy in Classical Athens

10.50-11.20 COFFEE
  Session 2 - Aristophanes:
11.20-12.00 James Robson (Open University), Humouring the masses: the highs and lows of Aristophanic comedy
12.00-12.40 Sarah Miles (Durham University), Paratragedy and popular comic drama
12.40-14.00 LUNCH
  Parallel sessions:
  Session 3 - Menander: Session 4 - Comic Drama and Beyond:
14.00-14.40 Giorgios Kazantzidis (Oxford), Doctors in a comic costume: medical language and mass audience in the comedy of Menander Andrea Capra (Milan), A star performer and his people: the staging of Assemblywomen  
14.40-15.20 Valeria Cinaglia (KCL), ‘Menander and popular ethics’ Viviane Klein (Boston), Animaniacs and Ancient Greek Satyr Drama  
15.20-16.00 Stavroula Kiritsi (RHUL), “Menander’s new adventure”: an adaptation of Dyskolos for the modern Greek audience Steve Kidd (Brown), Is “elite comedy” a paradox? The case for sympotic comedy  
16.00-16.30 TEA  
16.30-17.30 Key note address: Alan Sommerstein (Nottingham), How “popular” was Athenian comedy?  
18.30-20.00 Reception: 65 Oakfield Avenue

Thursday 29 August 2013

  Parallel sessions: 
  Sesssion 5 - Later Greek Humour: Session 6 - Film & TV:
9.30-10.10 Inger Kuin (NYU), Audience and performance in Lucian’s comic dialogues Lee Broughton (Leeds), Popular comedy in a popular film form: surveying and reassessing critical responses to comedic European Westerns
10.10-10.50 Anna Foka (Umea), Popular impact equals popular comedy? The case of Byzantine mimes Kai Schwind (Lillehammer/Oslo), “A chilled out entertainer” – Ricky Gervais in The Office, comedic performance versus the real
10.50-11.20 COFFEE
  Session 7 - Roman Mime and Beyond:
11.20-12.00 Andrea Argius (Rome), Late-Republican mime: a source for “public opinion”
12.00-12.40 Ian Goh (Manchester), Eclogues and Satires as a joint response to popular comedy during the Triumvirate
12.40-14.00 LUNCH
  Session 8 - Roman Comedy:
14.00-14.40 Peter Kruschwitz (Reading), Populi sensus maxime theatro et spectaculis perspectus est  
14.40-15.20 Amy Richlin (UCLA), Human trafficking and the memory of freedom in Plautine comedy  
15.20-16.00 Peter Brown (Trinity, Oxford), The audiences of Plautus and Terence  


16.30-17.30 Key note address: Peter Wiseman (Exeter), Liberior iocus: erotic performance in the Roman world  
19.30 Conference dinner at a local restaurant

Friday 30 August 2013

  Session 9 - Early Modern:  
09.30–10.10 Kate de Rycker (Kent), The reception of Aretino’s comedies in Early Modern England
10.10-10.50 Martina Pranic (FU Berlin/Charles University, Prague), Highs and lows of Dundo Maroje: reconsidering the popularity of the most popular Ragusan comedy
10.50-11.20 COFFEE  
  Session 10 - Greek Comedy and Popular Modern Reception:
11.20-12.00 Olga Śmiechowicz (Jagiellonian University, Krakow), Aristophanes for Polish culture between 1890 and 1918
12.00-12.40 Angeliki Varakis-Martin (Kent), Positive emotion, popular celebration and cognition in the modern staging of Aristophanic comedy
12.40-14.00 LUNCH
  Session 11 - Cross-media perspectives:  
14.00-14.40 Ian Wilkie (Institute of Education, London), Vaudeville comedy and twentieth-century art
14.40-15.20 Marcel Lysgaard Lech (University of Southern Denmark), To be and not to be: reflections on the comic character
15.20-15.50 TEA  

Concluding remarks and discussion: Costas Panayotakis and Ian Ruffell

Practical information

Practical information

Conference venue

The conference will take place in the Western Infirmary Lecture Theatre complex (WILT) - building B9 on map.


Several nearby hotels in Glasgow offer good value for money - please check those recommended by the University of Glasgow' s Conference and Visitor Services Office.

Maps and travel

Maps and travel information are available on the University's web pages

Travel Directions:

  1. From Edinburgh Airport to Glasgow city centre
    Take the airport bus to Edinburgh Waverley (main train station). Take a train from here to either Glasgow Queen Street Station or Glasgow Central Station. Both are in Glasgow city centre. (For the remainder of the journey see 4 for the conference venue).
  2. From Glasgow Airport to Glasgow city centre
    An airport bus runs to Buchanan Bus Station in Glasgow city centre (right next to Queen Street Station) every 10 minutes. However, if you are going to the conference venue, it makes more sense to take the 747 bus that runs every 20 minutes, see 3.
  3. From Glasgow Airport to the conference venue
    Bus 747 runs every 20 minutes and takes the long way round to the city centre, passing close by the conference venue. Get off at the Western Infirmary, right after Kelvingrove Park.
  4. By taxi from Glasgow Airport
    There is a taxi rank outside Arrivals. This is a quicker but more expensive option (around £20). 
  5. From Glasgow city centre to the conference venue
    Take the subway from Buchanan subway station. From Queen Street Station, follow the subway signs through the underground passage. From Central Station, see map here. Get off at Hillhead.

For more information about how to get to Glasgow or how to get around town, please visit the University of Glasgow website.

Postgraduate bursaries

Postgraduate bursaries

Through the generosity of the Classical Association, we have been able to offer postgraduate bursaries to cover accommodation and registration fees. The closing date for application has however passed and there are none left to be awarded.

Contact us

Contact us

If you have any queries regarding the conference, please contact the organisers:

Dr Ian Ruffell
School of Humanities
65 Oakfield Avenue
Glasgow G12 8LP

Email: Ian.Ruffell@glasgow.ac.uk

Dr Costas Panayotakis
School of Humanities
65 Oakfield Avenue
Glasgow G12 8LP

Email: Costas.Panayotakis@glasgow.ac.uk