Graduate Seminars 2021-2022

Prose Composition

 Fall GRK1000H Advanced Greek language B. Akrigg TBD
Spring LAT1000H Advanced Latin Language J. Welsh TBD

Language-Intensive Courses

 Fall LAT1800H Special Topics in Latin Literature A. Bendlin TBD
 Spring GRK1810H Classical Greek literature and culture E. Lytle TBD

Research Seminars

 Fall CLA5018H Topics in Roman History, “Roman Weather: Climate Science and Ancient History” S. Bernard TBD
 Fall CLA5022H Topics in the Study of Greek and Hellenistic Society, “Acts, Agents, and Agency in Ancient Greek Thought” V. Wohl TBD
 Fall CLA5023H Topics in the Study of Roman Literature and Culture, “Greco-Roman Rhetorical Culture of the 1st and 2nd Centuries CE” E. Gunderson TBD
 Spring CLA5010H Vergil M. Dewar TBD
 Spring CLA5021H Topics in the Study of Greek and Hellenistic Literature and Culture, “Classics and Theory: Orality, Textuality, Hypertextuality” K. Yu TBD
 Spring CLA5025H Topics in Greek and Hellenistic History II E. Lytle TBD


Prose Composition: Course Descriptions

GRK1000H-F: Advanced Greek Language (B. Akrigg)

LAT1000H-S: Advanced Latin Language (J. Welsh)

Reading Seminars: Course Descriptions

LAT1800H-F: Special Topics in Latin Literature (A. Bendlin)

GRK1810H-S: Classical Greek literature and culture (E. Lytle)

Research Seminars: Course Descriptions

CLA 5018 Bernard

This seminar considers scientific approaches to ancient history, and in particular the paleoclimatology of the Roman past. Generally, the course seeks to build students’ familiarity and fluency with interdisciplinary approaches to the study of the ancient world. We explore scientific literature on physical proxies that reveal past climate trends, along with primary literary, epigraphic, and archaeological  sources, which shed light on how Romans understood environmental change and developed resiliency. Together, we will work to elaborate best practices for incorporating climate science into reconstructions of the ancient world without resorting to simplistic models of environmental determinism. The course coincides with a planned conference on the climate history of Roman conquest to be held in Toronto this fall. Readings will predominately be in English but will regularly include technical scientific literature; it is a chief aim of the course to help students locate and grapple with specialist scholarship from outside their discipline. Students of all intellectual backgrounds are very welcome, from those interested in socioeconomic history to those thinking about philosophical, artistic, or literary engagements with environment and landscape. Assessment is based on an in-class presentation, a related literature review, and a term paper.


CLA 5022 Wohl

What does it mean to claim or confess to be the author of one’s actions? Modern liberalism draws tight causal links from individual volition to action to responsibility. But for the ancient Greeks, that causal chain was not so singular or straightforward. Agents acted amid a miasma (sometimes literal) of other forces: the gods, fate, genealogy, the polis, the limits of knowledge and the passions of the body. The study of agency in ancient Greek thought thus opens onto questions about the nature of the ethical subject and their relation to the myriad forces and pressures (internal and external, familial and social, physical and metaphysical) that surrounded them. The course will be divided into three parts. In the first we will examine the limits of individual human agency, including the particularly challenging question of female agents. The second will focus on collective agency, including that of the dêmos in Athenian political thought and of the elements in pluralist philosophies. In the third part we will consider non-human agency (gods and daimones, non-human animals, and lively objects). Our primary texts will come mostly from fifth- and fourth-century Greece (including tragedy, comedy, forensic oratory, and philosophy). We will read these primary texts with and against works of scholarship and of critical theory (likely to include Bernard Williams, Gyatri Spivak, Jean-Luc Nancy, Rosi Braidotti, and Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari). The class is open to those without advanced knowledge of Greek: if that is you, please contact me for more information (


CLA 5023 Gunderson

We will be exploring rhetoric in the age of empire. The advent of an imperial system fundamentally complicates one of the fantasies that animated previous rhetorical culture, namely that orators and oratory play a hegemonic role in their societies. We will explore some of the modifications both implicit and explicit that occur in the first 150 or so years of the common era. These include issues such as  the rise of epideictic and the evolution of “oratory for its own sake” as well as the super-star culture of traveling orators; shifts in canons of style; the changes in rhetorical theory that attend changes in practice; and the rise of nostalgic histories of rhetoric.

We will be reading both Greek and Latin authors. The specific authors and topics we cover will depend on student interest. Sociological, historical, and literary-critical approaches will all be encouraged.


CLA 5021 Yu

This course takes a long-range view of orality and textuality as modes of discourse in Greek literary thought. Equally fundamental will be the concept of hypertextuality — the obsession and overproduction of text as exemplified by the profusion of specialist compendia, encyclopedias, and commentaries in the Imperial Greek period. Rather than approach orality, textuality, and hypertextuality teleologically, we explore their interdynamics, their potentialities and limits, the social and intellectual institutions and practices undergirding them, as well as the distinct forms of authority inherent in each mode. Some guiding questions include: How does occasional performed poetry already intimate the textual? Why do inscriptions and technical scholarly texts routinely take recourse to aspects of orality? Indeed, how do we purport to access Greek oral tradition when the evidence is largely, if not entirely, mediated by the textual? What happens to the speaking voice when rendered textual?

To recover how the Greeks themselves theorized the oral, textual, and hypertextual, we will read representative ancient Greek texts (not only selection of archaic poetry, historiography, philosophy, and public inscriptions and sacred laws, but also inscribed hymns, Totenpässe, curses, prayers, and oracles recorded on various materials). We will integrate into our discussions pertinent secondary scholarship from comparative literature, linguistics, anthropology, and the sociology of knowledge (e.g., Goody, Vansina, Ong, Havelock, Rosalind Thomas, Benveniste, Certeau, and Latour).