Graduate Seminars 2017-2018

Prose Composition 

 Fall GRK1000F Advanced Greek language P. Bing  MW 11-1, LI205
 Spring LAT1000S Advanced Latin language A. Keith  TBA

Language-Intensive Courses

 Fall LAT1809F Latin authors of the Republic S. Bernard  F 10-1, LI205
 Spring GRK1811S Hellenistic Literature and Culture R. Höschele  M 9-12, LI103

Research Seminars

 Fall CLA5004F The Poetics of the Presocratics V. Wohl  M 1-4, LI103
 Fall CLA5009F Varro: knowledge and antiquarianism A. Bendlin  R 9-12, LI103
 Fall CLA5016F Writing the history of archaic Greece B. Akrigg  T 9-12, LI103
 Fall CLA5029F Papyrology K. Blouin  W 1-4, LI103
 Fall CLA5023F (COL2100) Complicity E. Gunderson  R 1-3, Isabel Bader 3rd floor
 Spring CLA5000S All of the Iliad J. Burgess  W 10-1, LI103
 Spring CLA5007S Editing Classical Latin Texts J. Welsh  F 9-12, LI103
 Spring CLA5020S Augustine, Confessions C. Brittain  T 1-3, LI220
 Spring CLA5022S Greek Ethnography and the Ancient Economy E. Lytle  R 9-12, LI103

Reading Seminars: Course Descriptions 

LAT1809 Latin authors of the Republic / S. Bernard
This course will comprise a selection of early Latin texts in a variety of genres from the second century B.C.E. A range of genres and styles will be considered with the aim of increasing awareness of and fluency with Latin of the Republican period.

GRK1811 Hellenistic Literature and Culture / R. Höschele
This course will focus on Hellenistic poetry, reading everything from the qualifying lists with some additional material.

Research Seminars: Course Descriptions

CLA5004: The Poetics of the Presocratics / V. Wohl
This course will explore the literary style and philosophical thought of the Presocratics, proceeding on the understanding that the two – their style and thought – are intimately interconnected and mutually informing. In these writings, abstract ideas are often expressed in vividly concrete images (and sometimes vice versa). The infinite can be compressed into a one-line aphorism. Paradox pervades both form and content. How should we approach these fascinating, fragmentary, often frustrating texts as literary works? More broadly, how can we – and should we – read philosophy as a literary genre? Such methodological questions will be at the fore as we attempt to develop strategies for interpretation of this rich and difficult corpus. Our inquiry will focus on the Presocratics’ anthropology (their views of human nature and society) and students will be encouraged to think laterally, reading these authors with and against other ancient Greek texts (poetry, art, medicine, history, political theory, etc., according to their interests). Students from Philosophy and other departments are very welcome (and accommodation will be made for those without Greek), but no philosophical background is required or assumed. If you want to get a head start, a good place to begin is Kirk, Raven and Schofield, eds. The Presocratic Philosophers (Cambridge, 1957).

CLA5009 Varro: knowledge and antiquarianism between the Late Republic and the Augustan period / A. Bendlin
This research seminar will be dedicated to Marcus Terentius Varro, one of the foremost intellectuals of the Late Republican and triumviral periods. We will pay particular attention to Varro’s writings about Roman cultural customs and religious institutions (prominently, in his fragmentary Antiquitates rerum humanarum et divinarum). However, we will also consider other Varronian works and will attempt an assessment of the abundantly rich body of “antiquarian,” theological, and legal literature produced by Varro’s contemporaries during the Late Republican, triumviral, and Augustan periods. Finally, we will trace Varro’s influence in later Roman culture, from the encyclopaedic endeavours of Augustan authors such as Verrius Flaccus to Varro’s reception by Christian writers.

Some reading knowledge of French and German would be helpful.

CLA5016 Writing the history of archaic Greece / B. Akrigg
Although it is usually overshadowed by the better-attested classical period, the archaic period saw the emergence of almost everything that is claimed as interesting, important and distinctive about ancient Greek culture: its distinctive political institutions, artistic and architectural forms, literary genres and thought. The available material can be difficult: contemporary written sources are scarce, fragmentary and difficult, and for narrative structure we usually have to rely on the accounts of authors from later periods. Archaeological data are more abundant but present numerous and varied problems of interpretation. In this course we shall survey the full range of this material and consider how best to make sense of it.

A good way to assess our understanding will be to try to communicate it to others. The course will therefore be structured around the preparation of a resource for an advanced undergraduate course on this period: for example, a textbook, although the format is something that will be discussed in the class. Important objectives of the course are to provide experience of the challenge of writing for an undergraduate (as opposed to a specialised scholarly) audience, and experience of contributing to a collective project. Participants in the course will need to work collaboratively: you will need not only to produce your own work but to comment on and edit that of your colleagues. Each participant in the course will be required to contribute one chapter (or the equivalent) to the resource, but also to take some responsibility for the shape of the resource as a whole. Assessment will be based on weekly assignments, contributions to class discussion, on the quality of the submitted final written assignment, and on the quality of your responses to and feedback on your peers’ work throughout the semester.

Issues that we may address will depend to some extent on the interests of the participants. Obvious ones include: periodisation; whether there was an eighth-century renaissance; the expansion of the Greek world; warfare; law-codes; tyranny; epic; lyric; religious cult; temples and sanctuaries; but we need not be constrained by this list.

Recommended advance preparation for this class includes reading the following books, and thinking about the strengths and weaknesses of their approaches:

  • Oswyn Murray (1993) Early Greece (2nd edition), Fontana.
  • Robin Osborne (2009) Greece in the Making 1200-479 BC (2nd edition), Routledge.
  • Jonathan Hall (2014) A History of the Archaic Greek World ca 1200-479 BC (2nd edition), Blackwell.

…and consulting and contrasting these two volumes:

  • Alan Shapiro ed. (2007) The Cambridge Companion to Archaic Greece, CUP.
  • Kurt Raaflaub and Hans Van Wees eds. (2009) A Companion to Archaic Greece, Blackwell.

CLA5029 Not meant to last: A Semester-Long Introduction to Papyrology / K. Blouin
Papyrology is the study of ancient texts that, due to their support and the fact that they were written with ink, were meant to be perishable: papyrus mostly, but also potsherds, stones, wax tablets, wood, leather, bones. Just as today’s writings, ancient ones came in a variety of languages and types. They therefore provide us with an extraordinarily rich body of evidence that complements later manuscripts and other archaeological sources. Starting from a series of weekly themes and case studies, this seminar will offer graduate students with an interest in ancient history, philology, and material culture an introduction to the discipline of papyrology. Issues discussed include the history, methodology, and ethics of papyrology, as well as papyri and material culture, multilingualism, literacy, Herculanum and its texts, the Vindolanda tablets, and “paraliterary” texts. Most material will be in Greek and Latin, but documents in other languages will also be discussed.

CLA5023F (JCO5121) Complicity / E. Gunderson
This is a class about the relationship between politics and literature.
A Roman citizen who was twenty in 68 CE and lived to 98 CE would have witnessed three jagged transitions between the Julio-Claudian, Flavian, and Antonine dynasties. These were eventful decades. And the “events” were by no means merely the insertion of new persons into various political functions. New authors, texts, and projects arise in this period. And these same new arrivals themselves will fall out of favor and yield to others amid still further waves of political and cultural change.

We will explore aesthetics, culture, and power in Flavian and early Antonine authors. We will make a survey of the various major prose and verse projects on offer from this period with an emphasis upon the complex constellation of questions that circulate around the subject and power. In so doing we will also employ a species of methodological survey. Which theoretical works might help us to overcome some of the facile answers or trackless impasses that would otherwise confront us?

For example, a sentimental, romantic reading of poetry will almost inevitably churn up the idea of “resistance” as folded into any valorized verse project: power represses; the poet-as- critic resists. This paradigm probably says more about the modern reader than it does about the ancient object of criticism, since, one will note, the center of the discussion for the ancient authors of the period tends to be located around a question like “fawning”. The term adulatio spikes in this era. Betrayal, cynicism, despair, self-interest and stupidity are similarly “hot” motifs within these authors.
The facile oscillation between inculpation and exculpation, between complicity and resistance, needs to be set to one side precisely because of the self-interested insistence in so many ancient sources that politics and aesthetics must converge. It is all too easy to praise or blame the past because the ancients themselves insist that we play the praise-and-blame game and they set the very rules by which it will be played. Instead of following that lead, we will look at how and why politics and literature become entwined and who stands to gain from their their convergence, even if the profits seem to be nothing more than an ostentatious shudder of loathing. What is the politics of hermeneutics itself?

CLA5000 All of the Iliad / J. Burgess
We will read through all of the Iliad in Greek and interpret the epic comprehensively, from various perspectives. Class activities will include analysis of passages from each week’s assignment, group discussion on secondary readings, and student presentations. Besides considering ancient views on Homer and modern schools of thought (Analysts,Unitarians, Oralists, Neo-Analysts), we will survey historical, anthropological, and theoretical approaches to the Iliad, as well as its reception down through time. As we engage in a serial reading of the epic from front to back, we will also contemplate the nature of ancient performance of the poem. Requirements include a final translation exam and a research paper. All approaches based on an informed knowledge of the epic and Homeric studies will be welcome.

CLA5007 Editing Classical Latin Texts / J. Welsh
This seminar is dedicated to the methods and problems involved in the editing of Classical Latin texts that survive by transmission in manuscripts. We will begin with a consideration of present and historical approaches to editing such texts, and of the theoretical assumptions inherent in such approaches. The majority of the semester will then be devoted to the hands- on work of, inter alia, surveying, diagnosing, and collating manuscripts; confirming their relationships and establishing a stemma codicum; establishing the archetypal text; and producing an edited text and critical apparatus. Our work will focus on the text of Asconius’ extant commentaries on Ciceronian speeches, with consideration of related texts and editions as time and other constraints permit.

CLA5020 Augustine, Confessions / C. Brittain
The seminar will read the Confessions as (inter alia) a philosophical analysis of human psychology and natural development which takes the case of Augustine as a more or less standard example of humanity. The complex structure, style and multi-level writing of the text makes it a challenging work, but the philosophical results are rewarding as well as influential in the history of philosophy.”

CLA5022 Greek Ethnography and the Ancient Economy / E. Lytle
Ancient Greek ethnographic literature frequently focuses on ‘economic’ behaviour – one need look no further than Herodotus’ introduction to his famous account of the customs of the Egyptians, which, he notes are “opposite to other men”, since “among them, the women buy in the market and act as retailers, while the men remain at home weaving (2.35).” Such ‘economic’ attention is hardly surprising given the fundamental importance of the Greek household (oikos) and its management (oikonomia) to Greek identity against which accounts of foreign customs are constructed. But in this course we will focus on passages relevant to modern notions of economy, and especially to concepts and phenomena that are often the subject of classical economic theory: supply and demand, trade, markets, money, prices, labor, risk, profit. Insofar as these ethnographic accounts contrast, distort or reflect Greek realities they constitute relatively unexplored evidence for the ancient economy.

We will read selections of Greek ethnographic literature from Herodotus to Claudius Ptolemy, including the fragments of some lesser-known authors like Agatharchides of Cnidus. These ethnographic passages can profitably be read alongside additional ancient sources and a range of modern scholarship on the ancient Greek economy and economic theory. This course is intended to provide an introduction to the ethnographic genre as well as to current approaches to the study of the ancient economy, while hopefully also amounting to more than a mere sum of those parts. Arrangements are possible for students with limited knowledge of Ancient Greek.