Our Mythical Childhood...

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

ACCLAIM Members

Cora Beth Fraser

Cora Beth Fraser was born in North-East England, and grew up with her nose in a book, fascinated by fantasy, myths and legends of all kinds – particularly the illustrated kinds. That fascination never really went away. Now she teaches Greek and Roman Myth (among other things) with The Open University, and illustrates ancient literature in her free time. Cora Beth has always been interested in the intersection of Classics and Education. She graduated from Newcastle University in 2005 with a PhD in Classics (focusing on the narrative strategies of Tacitus) and at the same time graduated from The Open University with an MEd specializing in Primary Education. She has since gone on to gain a third Masters degree, this time in Online and Distance Education, with a particular interest in accessibility online. She has taught in primary schools, secondary schools, traditional universities and community settings, and has spent the past three years building an online community around her student-facing website, Classical Studies Support.

In 2020 she was made a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and was awarded the Open University Recognition of Excellence in Teaching Award for her development of online resources to engage marginalised students. She was also honoured to be invited to join the Lego Classicists Family. It wasn’t until her son was diagnosed with autism in 2016 that Cora Beth began to recognise the same traits in herself. She was diagnosed as autistic in 2020. These days she takes an active interest in autism and learning, both in school settings and as a member of the CUCD EDI Committee – but can still usually be found with her nose in a book.

Cora’s website is here https://classicalstudies.support

And here is a post Cora wrote for the CUCD Education blog: “Diverging Online: a guide to online teaching of neurodiverse student groups”


Sarah Hardstaff

Sarah Hardstaff recently completed a PhD at the University of Cambridge, specialising in children's literature and the works of Mildred Taylor and Cynthia Voigt. Sarah is a contributor to the Our Mythic Childhood survey and is interested in the use of myth in inclusive children's literature. Her background includes work in autism support and advocacy.


Aimee Hinds

Aimee Hinds is a PhD student at the University of Roehampton, researching intersectional possibilities in receptions of Greek mythology in popular culture. Her approach to intersectionality encompasses queer theory, Marxist theory, post-coloniality and disability studies to explicitly open the boundaries of feminist theory. She has written about bad feminism in classical reception, issues with fashion’s engagement with the ancient Mediterranean, and polychromy in Neoclassical and modern art.


Harry Rao

Harry Rao was born in London in the United Kingdom and is now a student at the University of Roehampton going into the second year studying Classical Civilization. 

While I never formally studied classics in school or A Level, I have been partial and predisposed to the ancient world. This comes from a element of nostalgia being exposed to the ancient world through popular media and children's culture from audio tapes and stories such as Tales from Greek Legends by Benjamin Soames to other popular media such as Disney’s Hercules and Clash of the Titans all which instigated a love of the mythical world and which led to pursement of later consumption of Classics as young teen/adult reading prose and poetry such as Homer’s Iliad or Hesiod’s Theogony

I happen to also be diagnosed with autism at age 7, and as a child growing up with autism having to live still today with the condition of high functioning autism this research interest of Susan Deacy finding a strong level of interconnection finding a correlation between the conception and idea of myths being palpable and appealing to autistic people is a concept that I found to be very accurate when describing me and my temperament. The idea of myth being a “portal to another world” as described by Susan Deacy is something I found to be very true at least in my life, when life has not been kindest due to my condition myth has always been a progressive backbone as something surveying a dichotomized function. 

While myth is innately fantastical serving as a form of escapism from the hardships of the real world for autistic people it has done, for me, it also tells us much about the hard reality of human conflict, human relationships and the fragility of the human state that can be particulary applicable to the lives of autistic people more so then average person I find. Stories that found a footing and level of palpability and identifiability to me and many potentially many other autistic people who feel potentially estranged from society or feel they cannot express themselves could be seen in mythical adaptations such as Euripides’ Medea which deals with themes of being a outcast and being rejected because of an “otherness” qualilty, something people with autism myself include have often felt and thus sympathize with. Or myths that tackle the heightened nature and intensive and impulsive emotions and consequences such behaviours can have like Hercules, one of Susan Deacy’s key research interests, and his Twelve Labours he needs to accomplish both to return to normality and retain acceptance by his wider clan but also obtain personal atonement himself for his misgivings by facing the psychological and physical obstacles often manifested in the lives of those with autism. 

Supporting and posting about our mythical childhood and pursing this line of research connecting myths and autism is something I would want to commence with once I have finished my 3rd year of university and masters, as I feel this is a unique and refreshingly left field line of research exploring two things that are seemingly disconnected but surprisingly interconnected. The Myth and Autism study establishes the relevance of myth as vehicle in current contemporary society, how myth can unconsciously influence seemingly disconnected alternative spheres of research such as those on the autism spectrum.This is something I would love to look into. 

This video pays a tribute and echoes the sentiment of my personal journey seeing what relationship i have with myth being a autistic person myself and this song exemplfies the hurdles presented in myth that autistic people can identify with.


Emily Rushton

By day, Emily Rushton is a SENDCo (special educational needs coordinator) and Classics teacher by day, and a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge, by (generally very late at) night. After completing her PGCE in Latin at Classics at Cambridge, she went on to complete an MEd at the Faculty of Education looking at how creative teaching approaches improved comprehension for students with socio-communicative challenges. 

Through her PhD research, she is developing a free, open-resource intervention for schools to use to support wellbeing for SEND students using the creative exploration of mythology. She uses performance research and alternative processes of information recording to aid accessibility. Emily’s research interests include classical reception, disability in antiquity, critical disability studies, performance research and creativity. She is obsessed with musicals and a proud, born and bred south-Londoner. 


Dani Shalet

An Associate Lecturer, as well as a Research Fellow in Education at Christ Church University, Dr Dani Shalet's educational background, is diverse. Wanting to do a degree in Planetology, she changed to history when discouraged by a High School teacher to not pursue this career path, because 'it wasn't a girl's subject'. Dr Shalet went on to do a degree in History with a focus on Ancient History, and a PhD in Science and Religion (where she combined all her interests). After receiving her PhD in 2015, Dr. Shalet went on to do a PGCE in Physics with Maths and now holds a QTS. She has taught Science, Physics, History, Maths, Philosophy, and RE in secondary schools. Moreover, she was an Assistant Lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Kent.

Her research interests lie in Science/Religion and Education where she explores as well as develops, multidisciplinary pedagogies, with her PI and team. Her interests lie in the History of Science; Myth and Religion; Philosophy of Mathematics; Religion and Popular Culture; Game Studies; Fandom and Gender; Platonic and Neo-Pythagorean philosophy. She also worked as a field Archaeologist for the Canterbury Archaeological Trust in 2015 and was a gaming podcaster from 2011-2016.

She is currently working as a Research Fellow on a TWCF funded initiative that investigates ways to improve primary and secondary education in the UK. The LASAR (Learning about Science and Religion) team is based in the Faculty of Education--at Canterbury Christ Church University.

https://www.canterbury.ac.uk/education/our-work/epistemic-insight/epistemic-insight.aspx

Furthermore, she also contributes to the Our Mythical Survey project where she can pursue her other love, writing about mythology and videogames.