Recent Graduate Seminars

AU 2017, CLAS 7890: Graduate Seminar on Ancient Empires (Anthony Kaldellis). Empires are all the rage, and not only among professional historians. The United States is now widely discussed as an empire and compared to Rome, with anxiety about whether it is a good or a bad empire, or whether it is in decline. Ancient empires still provide the basic framework for these debates. In this seminar we will study the variety of ancient empires, focusing on those of Greece and Rome. We will consider definitions of empire in each case, how the politics of empire shaped culture, ethnicity, and religion, and what happened to the Roman empire in its later phases, when it moved from a politics of difference to one of homogeneity.

AU 2017, CLAS 7893: Graduate Seminar on Mystery Cults in the Ancient World (Fritz Graf). Mystery cults are a unique feature of ancient religions from archaic Greece to late antiquity. The seminar will discuss these cults some of which survived for more than a millennium. We will not just concentrate on the well-known cults of Demeter and Persephone at Eleusis and the Great Gods in Samothrace, or the Mediterranean-wide cults of Dionysus, Cybele, Isis, or Mithras, but also on less well known cults that our sources treat as mystery cults and that often are only a local or regional affair and attested only in the epigraphical record. This also raises the question what exactly the term mystêria covers which some authors think goes back to the Bronze Age, how it developed throughout antiquity, and how modern scholarship looked at it, not the least in its relationship to Christianity.

SP 2017, CLAS 7890: Ancient Philosophical Handbooks: Lessons, Lives & Communities (Richard Fletcher). The ‘Handbook’, ‘Guide’ or ‘Companion’ has become a staple genre within academic publishing. At the same time, there has also been a spate of popularizing books that attempt to make ancient wisdom vividly applicable to contemporary life. While in the latter, the personal narrative is exploited as a means to take the uninitiated reader on a journey through ancient ideas, the former maintains a more objective approach to its subject to maintain a core readership within scholarly communities. Yet in antiquity, both of these approaches were employed in tandem to teach and introduce readers to a range of philosophical positions. In this seminar we will examine the genre of the ancient philosophical handbook that emerged in the Roman Republic and Empire, written in both Greek and Latin, as belated attempts to systematize earlier philosophical thought within antiquity. The course will look at the dynamic between philosophers’ lessons, lives and communities according to different schools (Epicureanism, Stoicism, Platonism) by reading selections from ancient writers. Our main focus will be on understanding the limits of the genre of ancient philosophical handbook, highlighting the connections between the philosopher’s life and their lessons, the methodological variety to these lessons and the contexts for their formation and dissemination within ancient communities. We will also be self-consciously engaged with how these texts and their lessons resonate beyond antiquity.

SP 2017, LAT 7890: Latin Epic Poetry: Ovid’s Metamorphose (Frank Coulson). In this course, we shall examine in detail Ovid’s Metamorphoses (with a close reading of Books 1-13).  In addition to investigating current literary interests of scholars, I also hope to provide some background regarding the text of the poem, how it is constituted, how to read and interpret an apparatus criticus.  We shall also devote some time to the nachleben of Ovid (since this is my own area of research interest), and I would encourage anyone who has palaeographical interests to consider doing a research paper on the manuscript tradition or school tradition (most of this material is virgin territory and ripe for conference papers and publication).  As I am interested in a close reading of the text, there will be translation exams and explications de textes, in addition to a research paper.

AU 2016, CLAS 7890: Prometheus from Hesiod to Ridley Scott (Tom Hawkins). This course will focus on the figure of Prometheus and narratives associated with him. We will begin with the Aeschylean Prometheus Bound before looking back toward Hesiod and forward to other depictions of the Titan, such as Aristophanes’ Birds and Plato’s Protagoras. From here we will move into later antiquity and beyond as we focus increasingly on the trends and methods of reception studies, which will bring us into the future at the intersection of classical antiquity and science fiction.

Through our work this term, my goal is that you will hone certain scholarly skills that will be useful in any academic context (close philological study of canonical texts, summarizing and critiquing scholarly publications, verbal argumentation, abstract writing, the nitty-gritty of scholarly prose, etc). In addition, we will have the chance to explore the figure of Prometheus in a wide variety of contexts and to use him as a point of entry into reception studies. Prometheus is an ideal figure for such an adventure, since he can stand as an icon of so many overarching human fears and ambitions.

AU 2016, CLAS 7892: Latin Paleography (Frank Coulson). This course will introduce the student to the major book hands of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.  In addition, she/he will become acquainted with the major tools necessary to conduct research in manuscript studies.  Attention will also be devoted to those cultural institutions that fostered the transmission of classical literature in the Middle Ages, and to the theory and practice of the editing of classical and medieval Latin texts from manuscript copies.

AU 2016, GRK 7890: Plato’s Symposium and Longus’ Daphnis and Chloe (Bruce Heiden). Plato, Symposium and Longus, Daphnis and Chloe.  This course will be a close study of two narrative works that develop pedagogies of love and ethics.

SP 2016, CLAS 7890: Methodologies for the Study of Myth (Sarah Iles Johnston). We will look at the major methodologies that have been used to interpret myths during the past 100 years--and at the roots that some of them have in the 18th and 19th centuries.  We will contextualize some of these approaches within other intellectual or social movements of their times, and will look more broadly at the effect that some of them have had on the basic presumptions with which we now approach the study of myths.  In order to do this, we will look at prime examples of each approach.  Although my examples in this course will be drawn primarily from ancient Greek sources, those without Greek language abilities are welcome to read them in English.  I strongly encourage those of you from outside of Classics to bring into our discussions myths and other relevant materials from your own fields. 

SP 2016, LAT 7890: Vergil (Julia Nelson-Hawkins). In this course, we shall focus on the Aeneid of Virgil with a close reading of Book One and parts of Book Four.  The emphasis throughout will be on an understanding of the Latin text, but larger issues related to Latin epic and Virgil’s place within that tradition will also be discussed.

AU 2015, CLAS 7894: Graduate Seminar on Roman Festivals in the Greek East (Roman, Christian, and Jewish Festival in Late Antiquity) (Fritz Graf). The seminar is intended to be a continuation and extension of the earlier seminar, “Festivals in Roman Religion” (CLAS 7893), both topographically (no more Rome, but the cities of the Greek East) and chronologically (not late Republican Time, but the Imperial Age, including the Christianization of the Roman world). We will work with a series of case studies that range from the Kalendae Ianuariae in Roman Palestine to the Lupercalia in Christian Byzantium. The sources we work with are both epigraphical (mostly for the earlier part of the Imperial Age) and literary, including Christian Church Fathers and Church historians (for the late part of the period).

AU 2015, GRK 7890: Topics in Classics and the Near East (Lopez-Ruiz). This course will explore the colonizing presence of Phoenicians and Greeks in the western Mediterranean, discussing archaeological and written sources and current approaches to colonization and cultural exchange. The Roman presence in the western Mediterranean, especially in conflict with Carthage, will also occupy the later part of the seminar, as well as Roman perceptions of these western Phoenicians.

SP 2015, GK 7890: Homer: The Odyssey (Bruce Heiden).  This course will be a close study of Homer's Odyssey, paying special attention to the epic's presentation of human and divine intellect.

SP 2015, LAT 7890: Ovid’s Metamorphoses and its Reception in the West (Frank Coulson). In this course, we shall examine in detail Ovid’s Metamorphoses (with a close reading of Books 1-11).  In addition to examining current literary interests of scholars, I also hope to provide some background regarding the text of the poem, how it is constituted, how to read and interpret an apparatus criticus.  We shall also devote some time to the nachleben of Ovid (since this is my own area of research interest), and I would encourage anyone who has palaeographical interests to consider doing a research paper on the manuscript tradition or school tradition (most of this material is virgin territory and ripe for conference papers and publication).  As I am interested in a close reading of the text, there will be translation exams and explications de textes, in addition to a research paper.

AU 2014, GRK 7890: Bestial Persons and Human Animals (Tom Hawkins). This course will explore the boundaries (sometimes rigid, sometimes fluid) between animals and human beings in ancient Greek literature. Modern advances in genetics, microbiology, evolutionary biology, the psychology of emotions, philosophy and animal studies now call for a rethinking of simplistic distinctions based on criteria such as speech, the use of tools, altruism, or the ability to create art. We will interrogate the various ways that ancient thinkers constructed categories of ‘human’ and ‘animal’ across the width and breadth of ancient Greek literature.

AU 2014, LAT 7890: Roman Satire and Iambus (Julia Nelson-Hawkins). This seminar investigates the relationship between Roman Satire and Greek Iambus, and specifically looks at the way Archilochus opposed his iambus to his elegy and how Archilochus' conception of an elegy / iambus binary factors into Horace's reclamation of Archilochus as a model for his Satires.  The main Latin texts that we read are Horace and Persius, but we also read excerpts of Archilochus and Aristophanes.  Participation is worth 40% and the final paper and abstract are worth a combined 60%.

SP 2014, CLAS 7881: Studies in Greek and Roman Art (Mark Fullerton). The ancient Greeks and Romans were just as interested in their personal and communal origins as we are today - indeed, probably more so.  In this seminar we shall explore some aspects of many ways in which the past could be constructed and manipulated to suit the needs of the present.  The focus of our directed readings will be on Classical Greece, and especially Athens, where the evidence (and scholarship) is especially plentiful.  Student projects, however, may encompass any topic from ancient Greece and Rome relevant to the theme of the course, in keeping with the particular research interests of each student.  It is hoped that there will be participation from graduate students in various aspects of the classical world: Art History and Archaeology, History, Philology, Epigraphy, Philosophy, Religion, etc.  The course will feature, in early April, a session with Dr. Joan Breton Connelly, Prof. of Classics and Art History at New York University.  Author of an award-winning book on Greek priestesses, and winner of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship for her controversial work on the Parthenon frieze, Prof. Connelly will discuss with us her new book on the Parthenon, to appear in January 2014.

SP 2014, GRK 7890: New Testament Interpretation for Historians (Bert Harrill). The main goal of the course is a careful, close reading of the diverse New Testament writings, as well as some non-canonical texts, in their religious and cultural context of the Roman Empire, with attention to the history of research and current methodologies in the field.  

SP 2014, GRK 7890: Sappho (Benjamin Acosta-Hughes). This seminar provides an overview of the Archaic poet Sappho, the body of whose work has been significantly enhanced in the past two decades with the discovery of new poetic fragments. The seminar will entail a close reading of all of the extant fragments of Sappho’s poetry, as well as examples of later Greek and Roman reception of this alluring yet enigmatic voice. In consecutive sessions the seminar will focus on a variety of themes related to Sappho and her poetry, among these performance contexts, associations of women, Sappho and Homer, the cult of Aphrodite, Sappho’s ‘autobiography’. No previous knowledge of Sappho is required, although some familiarity with ancient lyric poetry is desirable. The seminar requirements are two in-class presentations and a final seminar paper. We will use Voigt’s addition of Sappho and Alcaeus, which will be provided, as well as the texts of the new fragments.

SP 2014, LAT 7890: Caesar and the Fall of the Republic (William Batstone).

AU 2013, CLAS 7893: Festivals in Roman Religion (Fritz Graf). We will start with studying the Roman calendar from the epigraphical and literary record, then analyze a number of Roman festivals of late Republican time through the existing documentation. In many cases, this documentation is heavily epigraphical (such as with the festivals of the Arval Brethren or the Secular Games), in other cases the main information comes from literary texts, especially Ovid’s Fasti, but also Propertius book 4, Livy and Varro’s De Lingua Latina.

AU 2013, GK 7890: Callimachus: Aetia (Benjamin Acosta-Hughes). Callimachus fragmentary Aetia was one of the most influential poetic works of Greco-Roman Antiquity, with a long reception history that extends well into Byzantium. While the whole poem is no longer extant, substantial fragments remain, conveniently studied in two recent extensive scholarly commentaries (Harder and Massimilla). The seminar will entail a close reading of all of the extant fragments, as well as consideration of later literature, both prose and poetry, influenced by Callimachus’ masterwork. Among the topics treated in our weekly sessions will be Callimachus and Archaic poetry, Ptolemaic court patronage, Callimachus and his contemporaries, Callimachus’ erotic works. Several concluding sessions will focus on the important influence of Callimachus in Roman Poetry.  No previous knowledge of Callimachus is necessary, some background reading in the period and its poetry will be provided before we begin. The seminar requirements are two in-class presentations and a final seminar paper.

AU 2013, LAT 7890: Apuleius (Richard Fletcher). In spite the considerable work on how Apuleius engages with the work of earlier poets (e.g. Homer, Plautus, Lucretius, Virgil, Ovid) in his fiction The Golden Ass (aka the Metamorphoses), there is still little discussion of how his self-confessed identity as a Platonist plays into this engagement. Did Apuleius follow the Plato of the Republic in attacking imitation and thus banishing (most of) them from the idea State? Or can we see his use of poets in his philosophical and literary works as close to the continued incorporation of poetry into the fabric of the Platonic dialogues, from isolated references and citations to full-blown myths? Or, given that Apuleius (in the Apologia) quotes what he thought to be Plato’s own poetic compositions to defend his own verse, does Apuleius actually believe that we should read Plato as a poet? This seminar will attempt to answer these questions and more through a careful study of the various relationships between Plato and the poets, Apuleius and Plato and Apuleius and the poets. The first half of the class will be devoted to reading selections from the Apuleian corpus (De Platone, De Mundo, De deo Socratis, Florida, Apologia) as responses to Plato’s dialogues that directly discuss poetry (Ion; Republic – read in Greek) and then to exploring the various uses of poets by Plato in other dialogues (e.g. Symposium, Phaedrus – read in English) and recent work on the dialogue form as a variety of poetry (and thus of the Platonic philosopher as poet). Then will follow a series of key topics to Plato’s approach to poetry – characterization, myth and the divine – explored in terms of how they are raised in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses. The second half of the course will focus on bringing this nuance –  Platonic –  approach to bear on more conventional  readings  of the Metamorphoses and its engagement with poetry, focusing on different poets and genres, including Epic (Homer, Virgil, Ovid), Tragedy (Euripides), Comedy (Plautus) and ending with a discussion of philosophical poetry (from the Pre-Socratics and Callimachus to Lucretius, Manilius and Persius).

 

SP 2013, CLAS 7890: Pindar (Sarah Iles-Johnston). In this course, we will try to accomplish two things: give you a basic knowledge of Pindar as an author and some of the current scholarship debates about him, and give you an introduction to a new way of thinking about the way that Pindar (and many other ancient authors) narrated myths. The second goal is a moving target, as it comprises my own current research.  Although I expect you always to question scholars’ opinions, the opinions you read concerning the second topic will be particularly interesting for us to argue about, since there is no opinio communis among classicists as to how the ideas might be applied.

To accomplish this, most weeks, we will read (1) one or two poems by Pindar (2) one or two articles on the poem(s) that we read and (3) an article that introduces to you some essential aspect of scholarship on Pindar.  Most weeks, we will also be reading (4) scholarship on serial narratology—that is, how the narration of a story is successfully accomplished.  This scholarship focuses on modern works, including television series, movie epics, novels that began as serialized works in novels, etc.

SP 2013, LAT 7890: Latin Seminar (Julia Nelson-Hawkins). Egypt utterly captivated the Romans' imaginations in the first century BCE: Augustan Rome was filled with artifacts and traces of Egyptian culture, some of which linger even today in the many Roman piazzas that still hold ancient obelisks, some imported by Augustus himself. 

The seminar will investigate the many ways Egypt was manipulated in Augustan poetry / culture and why: On the one hand, Egypt was an ideal "wonderland" of pleasure, health, security, and models of statehood; on the other hand, it was a place of monsters and terrors, reeking an infectious "orientalism" that threatened Rome's very existence. 

No knowledge of ancient Egypt is required.  In this course we will look at Egyptian themes in Virgil and other Augustan poets, including descriptions of the battle of Actium, allusions to Egyptian deities and rituals, as well as to the Ptolemies (descriptions of Augustus and Caesar as Ptolemies, in particular).  We will begin, however, with a new look at Alexandrian politics in Callimachus and Theocritus (based on recent arguments in Hellenistic poetry studies which claim that Hellenistic poets are deeply engaged in Ptolemaic politics and culture and are not formalist, "ludic" poets).  This fresh look at Hellenistic poets' engagement with Egyptian culture will provide a model for re-examining not only the politics of appropriation, but also Augustan poets' relationships with their Hellenistic models, as well as their attempt to redefine their own state after the Civil Wars ended with Egypt being added to the "imperium sine fine".  

AU 2012, GK 7890: Greeks and Phoenicians in the West (Carolina Lopez-Ruiz). This course will explore the colonizing presence of Phoenicians and Greeks in the western Mediterranean, discussing archaeological and written sources and current approaches to colonization and cultural exchange.

AU 2012, GK 7890: Sophocles (Ajax, Antigone) (Bruce Heiden). This course provides a close study of two Sophoclean tragedies in which concepts of nature are implicated in hopelessness and suicide.

SP 2012, GK 840: Studies in Greek Drama (Dana Munteanu). The seminar is an in-depth examination of Euripides’ "escape tragedies." We will be reading Helen (entirely), Iphigenia among the Taurians (selected passages), and the fragmentary Andromeda, which were possibly presented together as a trilogy in 412 BCE (cf. Wright 2005).  We will also look at the Orestes.  While closely examining the text, we will concentrate on matters of (1) Euripidean innovation in themes and style (e.g. refashioning of previous dramatic treatments of the topics), (2) dramatic reflections on social and cultural realities (e.g. description of slaves and women, references to the devastation of war), (3) novelty in the representations of myth, gods, and religious thought, (4) new ethical dilemmas, and, finally, (5) problems of initial staging and later productions. In addition, we will discuss the reception of these plays, from early interpretations (e.g. 4th century BCE: possible differences between elite critics, such as Aristotle and later Peripatetic writers, and broader audiences, among whom these plays remained extraordinary popular) to the much later reworks (e.g. 18 and 19 century CE literary and operatic versions).

WI 2012, LAT 880: The Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books from 1200-1500 (Frank Coulson). The purpose of this course is to teach students to read, date and localize manuscripts written in Gothic script from 1200-1500.  We will examine facsimiles of various types of Gothic from the areas of medieval Europe, including England, France, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands, with a view to differentiating their unique properties and forms.  Particular attention will be paid to textualis, cursiva and hybrida (and their various levels of execution), as well as to changes and development in layout from century to century.  Students will be expected to work with and transcribe relatively numerous examples of each type of script; in the final weeks of the quarter, the student will work on their own research topic (in conjunction with me) with a view towards publication.  Though the focus in the course will be on Latin manuscripts, students whose primary interest is in vernacular literatures may choose a research topic dealing more closely with their own area. Please consult with me about individual choices.

 

 

 

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