Trendall Lecture

Awarded to an early or mid-career researcher who exemplifies distinguished scholarship in the Classics.

Australia has a rich history of world-leading researchers of the ancient world, its languages, literature, thought, history, art and civilisations. The Trendall Lecture celebrates this long tradition and reminds us of the deep and continuing relevance of the ancient world and late antiquity to modern life.

We are delighted to partner each year with the Australasian Society for Classical Studies Conference (ASCS) to host the Trendall Lecture.

2024 Trendall Lecture

Experiencing immersion from Antiquity to Modernity

Dr Emma Cole
From 5.15pm, Tuesday 13 February 2024
St Teresa of Koltara Building (Building 421), ACU Melbourne Campus

Entrance to the Trendall Lecture is free and open to the public. No registration is required. If you wish to attend the full ASCS conference, you may view the program and purchase tickets.

Immersive experiences are big business within today’s creative economy and range from cutting-edge interactive museum experiences and theatrical performances, through to the forms of immersivity facilitated through virtual (VR), augmented (AR), and mixed (XR) reality technologies. Yet the idea of immersion is not new; painting, sculpture, and theatre have all been discussed historically in terms of illusion, realism, and immersion, and textual critics in antiquity also described literature’s ability to create the sensation that a reader or listener was present at the event being described as well.

This lecture will explore how the most innovative forms of immersive experience today can be thought of as a return to, or a refashioning of, a very old fascination with immersion. Dr Cole will introduce examples from ancient literature that we can consider to facilitate immersion, and will explore how this background offers a new way of approaching contemporary immersive experiences. By putting immersion, ancient and modern, into dialogue, we learn something about the benefits, and even dangers of this type of aesthetic experience, and reach towards an understanding of why they are again attracting so much attention.

About Dr Emma Cole

Dr Emma Cole is a classicist and a theatre and performance studies scholar, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and the Royal Historical Society. Her expertise lies in the performance of Greek tragedy in contemporary theatre, particularly in experimental, immersive, and postdramatic adaptations of tragic texts. Dr Cole was an academic consultant with immersive theatre company, Punchdrunk, and worked on the productions Kabeiroi (2017) and The Burnt City (2022-23). 

Namesake & history

Photo of Trendall

Professor A.D. (Dale) Trendall AC CMG FAHA (1909–95) was a Foundation Fellow of the Academy. This lecture is made possible by a bequest from his estate.

The first Trendall Lecture was given by Professor Michael Osborne, then Vice-Chancellor of La Trobe University, in 1997 and has been delivered almost every year since.

Dale Trendall, of course, in a lifetime of scholarly endeavour demonstrated only too brilliantly the historical, social, and artistic significance of Greek pottery. Michael Osborne, Trendall Lecture, 1997

Acknowledgement of Country

The Australian Academy of the Humanities recognises Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the traditional owners and custodians of this land, and their continuous connection to country, community and culture.