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Talks and events

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Our talks, lecture series and events are conducted by experts and leading academics and artists.

Upcoming talks and events


Historic photograph of USYD students dressed up in costumes from Greek play outside the Great hall, 1886.

Agamemnon cast, University of Sydney, 1886. Image courtesy of the University of Sydney Archives.

Agamemnon comes to the Antipodes: early drama at the University of Sydney

Event type: Evening lecture
Date and time: Wednesday 20 November, 6 for 6:30pm
Venue: Nicholson Museum
The University of Sydney (Camperdown/Darlington Campus)
Entry:  $30 for Friends of the Nicholson Museum and their guests $40 for the general public $10 for students; please register here.

In 1886 students and staff from the Classics department of the University of Sydney staged – to considerable acclaim – a production of Aeschylus' Agamemnon in the Great Hall. This marked the real beginning of dramatic activities at the University of Sydney and was, moreover, the first time a Greek play had been performed in the colony. Just three years later, the Sydney University Dramatic Society (SUDS) was founded: in this, it mirrored events which took place a few years earlier at Oxford University where a production of Agamemnon in 1880 preceded the establishment of Oxford University Dramatic Society (OUDS) in 1885.

The two universities were, quite literally, a world apart, in an era where travelling between the England the Colony of New South Wales meant a four month boat trip – how and why was this play reproduced with such uncanny similarities? This Antipodean Agamemnon marks an important moment not only in relation to the birth of Australia’s oldest theatre company, SUDS, but also the reception of Classical literature in Australia.

Dr Laura Ginters is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Sydney. Her current research focusses on 19-20th Australian theatre history. her new book (with Robyn Dalton) is The Ripples Before the New Wave: Drama at the University of Sydney 1957-63 . Her interest in this early production of Agamemnon at the University has now expanded into a larger project investigating the reception of Classical theatre in Australia from 1788-1918.


Collage of three images; L-R 1) depiction of the ark 2) photo of Inrving Finkel 3) depiction of the ark

Image Credit: L-R 1. Attributed to Miskin, Noah's Arc, c 1590. 2. Dr Irving Finkel 3. Ephraim Lilien, Arche Noahs, 1914.

The Sir Charles Nicholson Lecture 2019: The Ark Before Noah

Event type: Evening lecture
Date and time: Friday 6 December, 6 for 6:30pm
Venue: Nicholson Museum
The University of Sydney (Camperdown/Darlington Campus)
Entry:  $30 for Friends of the Nicholson Museum, NEAF members and their guests; $40 for the general public; $10 for students; please register here.

British Museum curator Dr Irving Finkel tells a real-life detective story that began with the arrival of a single, palm-sized Babylonian cuneiform tablet on his desk. Dating from about 1850 BC, this clay document proved to be a copy of the Babylonian Story of the Flood, a myth from ancient Mesopotamia containing instructions for building a large boat to survive a flood. In this Annual Nicholson Lecture, Dr Finkel shares his research and additional discoveries that provide unanticipated revelations about the ark before Noah.

Philologist and Assyriologist Irving Finkel is Assistant Keeper of the Department of the Middle East at the British Museum in London. He has been a cuneiform tablet curator since 1979. He holds degrees from the University of Birmingham and is especially interested in ancient magic and medicine, all aspects of ancient cuneiform literature, and the history of board games. His recent publications include The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood (2014). His new book The First Ghosts was published in September 2019.

Dr Finkel's Australian visit is presented by the Friends of the Nicholson Museum, the Near Eastern Archaeology Foundation and the Australian Institute of Archaeology.


Photo of tourists exploring an imagining of the Trojan Horse at the Troy archaeological park

Image Credit: Tourists explore an imagining of the Trojan Horse at the Troy archaeological park. [Wikicomons.org]

Troy: fact or fiction?

Event type: Public lecture
Date and time: Saturday 7 December, 2pm
Venue: Nicholson Museum
The University of Sydney (Camperdown/Darlington Campus)
Entry: Free; please register here.

Join us for a lecture by Dr Jennifer Lawless, the final in our 2019 series Travellers in Time.

The ancient tradition recorded by Homer's Illiad maintains that the great city of Troy was destroyed by Mycenaean Greek forces around 1200 BC, all caused by the abduction of the Spartan queen Helen by the Trojan prince Paris.

How far do more recent archaeological finds either confirm or challenge the ancient legends? What have archaeological excavations revealed about the site; looking from the initial excavations by Heinrich Schliemann to more recent finds. New interpretations and discoveries at the site will be presented as well as the current disputes over ownership of the the so-called 'lost treasure of Troy'.

Dr Jennifer Lawless was previously NSW History Inspector for NESA. She currently leads history tours to Turkey, Greece and Crete for Academy Tours. She has published over a dozen history text books, winning the NSW Premier's History Prize and twice the Australian Publisher's Prize. Her research has taken her to Turkey over many years and Troy is a particularly favourite site. 

This lecture series is sponsored by our friends at Academy Travel.


Featured image (top of the page): Kunisada/Toyokuni III Utagawa, View of fast shooting by Hon' omaru Shoshun, Edo, Japan 1847 (detail)