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Our Mythical Childhood... The Reception of Classical Antiquity in Children’s and Young Adults’ Culture in Response to Regional and Global Challenges

Periodic Reporting for period 4 - OurMythicalChildhood (Our Mythical Childhood... The Reception of Classical Antiquity in Children’s and Young Adults’ Culture in Response to Regional and Global Challenges)

Periodo di rendicontazione: 2021-04-01 al 2022-09-30

The Project’s main objective is to explore the reception of Classical Antiquity in the contemporary culture of children and young adults in terms of the vital intersection space where the development of human identity takes place. We challenge the concept of the Graeco-Roman tradition as a petrified legacy of the past, on the one hand, and the vision of young people’s culture as an interim sphere of activities necessary only for maturation to “serious”, that is adult culture, on the other. In relation to these phenomena, we propose a novel approach based on the following two premises. First, we treat Classical Antiquity as a living cultural experience ever in the process of imaginative and meaningful transformations the world over. Second, we study the works for young audiences with a particular focus on their dual impact of a seemingly contradictory character that, however, is perfectly consistent with the objective to prepare young people for the challenges of life today. Mainly, these works endow the new generations with the traditional packages of ideas and values considered constant and universal and at the same time they take a position on contemporary agendas and become important vehicles of often revolutionary insights into the most current problems wracking society, like social inequality and environmental issues.
In our research, we also take into consideration the potential of the global influence of popular culture that has given a new dynamic life to the heritage of Classical Antiquity nearly all over the world, incl. the most distant regions, thus compensating for a significant reduction of the role of the Classics in education. In this context, the further major innovation of our studies consists in the application, next to the global, of regional perspectives. Previously often discarded as parochial and inferior, these perspectives are crucial when juxtaposed to the globalized reception of the Classics. For only then can the hidden trajectories of identity development be revealed and can the Greek and Roman heritage, as it is processed in children’s and young adults’ culture, manifest its potential for serving as a precious research marker of social, ideological, and cultural changes both within local societies and in a global context, as well.
To analyze these issues to the fullest, the international team of scholars from Australia, Cameroon, Israel, Poland (HI), and the UK, with consultants from other European countries, New Zealand, and the USA, carry out comparative studies of differing reception models in youth culture through three chosen aspects (filters) that facilitate a comparative approach: the classical myths, the reception of Greek and Roman history, and environmental issues. Moreover, we engage in numerous dissemination activities to make optimum use of the potential of the Project and the universal appeal of Classical Antiquity along with the natural connection that the educated public feels towards the theme of childhood, in the aim of encouraging novel approaches to inclusive education, esp. in regard to autistic children, and to citizen science by engaging young people in research via school projects and innovative tools, such as ancient Greek vase animations. By means of all this, we strive for a new model of work in the Humanities on the frontiers of research, education and culture.
Over the course of the Project, we organized 4 international conferences and 3 workshops (incl. “The Present Meets the Past” with a label of the European Year of Cultural Heritage). They were dedicated to the discussion of our research results within the reception of the ancient myths, Greek and Roman history, and environmental issues in youth culture, as well as regarding the use of classical mythology as a tool helping autistic children develop social cognition and affective engagement. These events gathered the Project’s team members and experts from various continents (from Australia, through Asia, Europe, Africa, and on to North America), and hosted also presentations by PhD-students, students and high-schoolers.
The Project resulted also in numerous publications, incl. 12 volumes (6 published, 3 forthcoming 2022, 3 forthcoming 2023) that have filled several gaps in the field, incl. regarding the classical reception in children’s and young adults’ culture, the role of the ancient myths in education worldwide, the application of the myth of Hercules in the work with autistic children, and the implementation of the 5 animations prepared within the Project and based on Greek vases in school curricula (in the two latter volumes we offer also examples of lesson plans). The Gold Open Access to all the publications has been ensured.
We have organized or taken part in more than 340 dissemination actions (incl. citizen science, video competitions, public lectures, and a special initiative “Find the Force!” in response to the pandemic). 4 BA, 2 MA, and 2 PhD-theses have been accomplished within the Project at the HI, and we have offered training opportunities to students. The Our Mythical Childhood Survey and Our Mythical Education databases have been created, with a user-friendly interface, where we have gathered and analyzed over 1,500 of the most vital examples of reception cases. We have set up and lead the Project’s website, 4 scholarly blogs and 4 social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram) to regularly communicate our research results with society. These channels, as well as the databases and the website are continued also after the Project’s end owing to the support from the HI. The potential of the Project is boosted also through the establishment of The Cluster: The Past for the Present – the International Research and Educational Programme, including the PI’s cooperation with Prof. Véronique Dasen, the PI of the ERC Adv. Grant Locus Ludi (Fribourg). Last but not least, next steps within the “Our Mythical Childhood” programme are planned.
Among the most important achievements of the Project beyond the state of the art, the elaboration and development of a deliberate policy in regard to Open Access should be mentioned. Our progress in this respect was recognized by the fact that the Project was chosen as a subject of analyses “among 15 projects that have achieved outstanding results in open access uptake or good research data management, sharing and reuse practices” (V. Banelytė, Public Policy and Management Institute, see the report “Case studies on Open Science in the context of ERC projects”: I wish to mention also the Project’s ground-breaking approach towards inclusive education (ancient myths for autistic children) and the work with ancient artefacts (animating the ancient vases). The absolute highlight is the reconstruction of Sappho’s song 44 performance, with the contribution from eminent experts on ancient Greek music ( We have generated also novel impulses in regard to the reception of Classical Antiquity in youth culture. The additional value of the Project beyond the state of the art regards the establishment of a new holistic model for work in the Humanities at large by encouraging the participation in research of the scholars from their regions and in their regions and organization of citizen science-oriented activities to stimulate research-driven education and societal integration worldwide.
Logo of the stage 1 of the Project - conf. Our Mythical Hope, artwork by Zbigniew Karaszewski
The OurMythicalChildhood Team at the workshops The Present Meets the Past
Logo of the stage 3 of the Project - conf. Our Mythical Nature, artwork by Zbigniew Karaszewski
The participants in the conf. Our Mythical History, phot. Robert Przybysz
The participants in the conf. Our Mythical Hope, phot. Miroslaw Kazmierczak
Logo of the societal action within the Project – Find the Force, artwork by Zbigniew Karaszewski
The participants in the workshops The Present Meets the Past
The logo of the Project - a painting by Matylda Tracewska
Logo of the stage 2 of the Project - conf. Our Mythical History, artwork by Zbigniew Karaszewski
Logo of the workshops in the European Year of Cultural Heritage - The Present Meets the Past