2020-2021 Graduate Classics Courses

Classics Course Descriptions for 2020-2021
23520.  Pity: What’s the good of it? (=CLAS 23520, ANCM 43520, BiBL 33520, RLST 23520)In the Iliad, Andromache famously appealed to her husband Hector to take pity on herself and her infant son, and not go out to fight the Greeks; Hector took pity, but said no. What happened to pity since Homer? Aristotle recognized as an essential feature of tragedy, along with fear. Surprisingly, however, it did not enter Greco-Roman political theory except for one short, little noticed mention: Lucretius placed pity for the weak at the foundation of the Epicurean view of justice. This course will delve into the notion of pity from antiquity to Schopenhauer, with attention to Greeks, Romans, Christians, the period of the Enlightenment, and the Romantics. We will ask: can pity serve as the foundation of morality, as Schopenhauer proposed; or is it shameful, or self-serving?  E. Asmis. Winter.

25806.  The Epigraphy of the Greek World. (= CLAS 35806, HIST 20309/30309) PQ: Greek proficiency at an intermediary level or higher.  Following the conquest of Alexander, Greek became the language of power all over the Near East and up to central Asia and India (for a while). Even the fall of the various Greek kingdoms at the end of the Hellenistic period did not mark the end of the habit of writing in Greek. Inscriptions in Greek coming from those regions are still to be found in significant number up to the third century CE. This class will cover all types of inscriptions, from slave manumissions to civic decrees or royal letters, and from  modest epitaphs to sophisticated verse epigrams. It will illustrate the vitality and prestige of Greek culture well beyond the regions close to the Mediterranean Sea.  A good level in Greek is required. A. Bresson.  Winter.

26216.  Pagans and Christians: Greek Background to Early Christianity (=RLST 20505, MDVL 20505) This course will examine some of the ancient Greek roots of early Christianity. We will focus on affinities between Christianity and the classical tradition as well as ways in which the Christian faith may be considered radically different from it. Some of the more important issues that we will analyze are: "The spell of Homer." How the Homeric poems exerted immeasurable influence on the religious attitudes and practices of the Greeks. The theme of creation in Greek and Roman authors such as Hesiod and Ovid. The Orphic account of human origins. The early Christian theme of Christ as Creator/Savior. Greek, specifically Homeric conceptions of the afterlife. The response to the Homeric orientation in the form of the great mystery cults of Demeter, Dionysus, and Orpheus. The views of the philosophers (esp. Plato) of the immortality of the soul compared with the New Testament conception of resurrection of the body. Ancient Greek conceptions of sacrifice and the crucifixion of Christ as archetypal sacrifice. The attempted synthesis of Jewish and Greek philosophic thought by Philo of Alexandria and its importance for early Christianity.  D. Martinez. Spring.

26620. Making the Monsoon: The Ancient Indian Ocean  (=HIST 26614/36614, CLAS 36620)The course will explore the human adaptation to a climatic phenomenon and its transformative impacts on the littoral societies of the Indian Ocean, circa 1000 BCE–1000 CE. Monsoon means season, a time and space in which favorable winds made possible the efficient, rapid crossing of thousands of miles of ocean. Its discovery—at different times in different places—resulted in communication and commerce across vast distances at speeds more commonly associated with the industrial than the preindustrial era, as merchants, sailors, religious specialists, and scholars made monsoon crossings. The course will consider the participation of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and East African actors in the making of monsoon worlds and their relations to the Indian Ocean societies they encountered; the course is based on literary and archaeological sources, with attention to recent comparative historiography on oceanic, climatic, and global histories. R. Payne. Autumn.

27116. The Greek Countryside. (=CLCV 37116) This course explores the historic development and dynamics of the ancient Greek countryside (oikoumene, chora) alongside the emergence of the city (polis). Recent historical analyses of demography and economy, archaeological fieldwork, and research on the cultural lens of town/country are revealing a highly complex world surrounding the city walls. What are the benefits and potential interpretive challenges of investigating these places and their constituent actors? Discussions will question the construction of urban vs. non-urban categories of ancient life, agropastoral economies and markets, political and social boundaries, rural sanctuaries, diachronic change, and methods and theories for examining the countryside through material culture and textual evidence. K. Kearns. Autumn.

27320.  Greek Archaeology in 20 Objects. (=CLAS 27320)  This course centers the objects of the ancient Greek world, from prehistory to the Hellenistic period, as avenues for exploring the practice, history, and motivations of the discipline of Greek archaeology. From the mundane to the spectacular, we will closely consider twenty things – pots, statues, coins, knives, bones, inscriptions, among others – whose compelling if fragmentary biographies reveal how archaeologists reconstruct and explain ancient social lives. Discussions will interrogate histories of object analysis, identification, and interpretation; schemes of periodization and categorization; theories of gender, class, economy, politics, and religion; developments in technologies and aesthetics; the intersections of artifact discovery and museum or market acquisitions; and the making of Greek archaeology within the wider discipline.  C. Kearns. Winter.

27716. Exemplary leaders in Machivelli’s Discourses. (=CLAS 37716, PLSC 27703/47703, FNDL 27716)  Cicero famously called history the “schoolmistress of life.” This course explores how ancient and early modern authors – in particular, Livy, Plutarch and Machiavelli – used the lives and actions of great individuals from the Greek and Roman past to establish models of political behavior for their own day and for posterity. Such figures include Romulus, Brutus, Camillus, Agathocles, Nabis, Cleomenes, Fabius Maximus, Scipio Africanus, Julius Caesar, and Augustus. We will consider how their actions are submitted to praise or blame, presented as examples for imitation or avoidance, and examine how the comparisons and contrasts established among the different historical individuals allow new models and norms to emerge. No one figure can provide a definitive model. Illustrious individuals help define values even when we mere mortals cannot aspire to reach their level of virtue or depravity. Course open to undergraduates and graduate students. Readings will be in English. Students wishing to read Latin, Greek, or Italian will receive support from the professors. M. Lowrie, J. McCormick. Winter

Classics Course Descriptions for 2020-2021

CLAS
33520.  Pity: What’s the good of it? (=CLCV 23520, AMC 43520, BiBL 33520, RLST 23520) In the Iliad, Andromache famously appealed to her husband Hector to take pity on herself and her infant son, and not go out to fight the Greeks; Hector took pity, but said no. What happened to pity since Homer? Aristotle recognized as an essential feature of tragedy, along with fear. Surprisingly, however, it did not enter Greco-Roman political theory except for one short, little noticed mention: Lucretius placed pity for the weak at the foundation of the Epicurean view of justice. This course will delve into the notion of pity from antiquity to Schopenhauer, with attention to Greeks, Romans, Christians, the period of the Enlightenment, and the Romantics. We will ask: can pity serve as the foundation of morality, as Schopenhauer proposed; or is it shameful, or self-serving?  E. Asmis. Winter.

35808.  The Epigraphy of the Greek World. (= CLCV 25808, HIST 20309/30309) PQ: Greek proficiency at an intermediary level or higher.  Following the conquest of Alexander, Greek became the language of power all over the Near East and up to central Asia and India (for a while). Even the fall of the various Greek kingdoms at the end of the Hellenistic period did not mark the end of the habit of writing in Greek. Inscriptions in Greek coming from those regions are still to be found in significant number up to the third century CE. This class will cover all types of inscriptions, from slave manumissions to civic decrees or royal letters, and from  modest epitaphs to sophisticated verse epigrams. It will illustrate the vitality and prestige of Greek culture well beyond the regions close to the Mediterranean Sea.  A good level in Greek is required. A. Bresson.  Winter.

36620. Making the Monsoon: The Ancient Indian Ocean  (=HIST 26614/36614, CLCV 26620)The course will explore the human adaptation to a climatic phenomenon and its transformative impacts on the littoral societies of the Indian Ocean, circa 1000 BCE–1000 CE. Monsoon means season, a time and space in which favorable winds made possible the efficient, rapid crossing of thousands of miles of ocean. Its discovery—at different times in different places—resulted in communication and commerce across vast distances at speeds more commonly associated with the industrial than the preindustrial era, as merchants, sailors, religious specialists, and scholars made monsoon crossings. The course will consider the participation of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and East African actors in the making of monsoon worlds and their relations to the Indian Ocean societies they encountered; the course is based on literary and archaeological sources, with attention to recent comparative historiography on oceanic, climatic, and global histories. R. Payne. Autumn.

36720.  Leo Strauss and Lucretius On the Nature of Things.  (= SCTH 37323)  I shall discuss Leo Strauss’s “Notes on Lucretius” (1968) and Lucretius’ De rerum natura with a special focus on the relation of philosophy and poetry.  H. Meier. Spring.

37116. The Greek Countryside. (=CLCV 27116) This course explores the historic development and dynamics of the ancient Greek countryside (oikoumene, chora) alongside the emergence of the city (polis). Recent historical analyses of demography and economy, archaeological fieldwork, and research on the cultural lens of town/country are revealing a highly complex world surrounding the city walls. What are the benefits and potential interpretive challenges of investigating these places and their constituent actors? Discussions will question the construction of urban vs. non-urban categories of ancient life, agropastoral economies and markets, political and social boundaries, rural sanctuaries, diachronic change, and methods and theories for examining the countryside through material culture and textual evidence. K. Kearns. Autumn.

37320.  Greek Archaeology in 20 Objects. (=CLCV 27320)  This course centers the objects of the ancient Greek world, from prehistory to the Hellenistic period, as avenues for exploring the practice, history, and motivations of the discipline of Greek archaeology. From the mundane to the spectacular, we will closely consider twenty things – pots, statues, coins, knives, bones, inscriptions, among others – whose compelling if fragmentary biographies reveal how archaeologists reconstruct and explain ancient social lives. Discussions will interrogate histories of object analysis, identification, and interpretation; schemes of periodization and categorization; theories of gender, class, economy, politics, and religion; developments in technologies and aesthetics; the intersections of artifact discovery and museum or market acquisitions; and the making of Greek archaeology within the wider discipline.  C. Kearns. Winter.

37716. Exemplary leaders in Machivelli’s Discourses. (=CLCV 27716, PLSC 27703/47703, FNDL 27716)  Cicero famously called history the “schoolmistress of life.” This course explores how ancient and early modern authors – in particular, Livy, Plutarch and Machiavelli – used the lives and actions of great individuals from the Greek and Roman past to establish models of political behavior for their own day and for posterity. Such figures include Romulus, Brutus, Camillus, Agathocles, Nabis, Cleomenes, Fabius Maximus, Scipio Africanus, Julius Caesar, and Augustus. We will consider how their actions are submitted to praise or blame, presented as examples for imitation or avoidance, and examine how the comparisons and contrasts established among the different historical individuals allow new models and norms to emerge. No one figure can provide a definitive model. Illustrious individuals help define values even when we mere mortals cannot aspire to reach their level of virtue or depravity. Course open to undergraduates and graduate students. Readings will be in English. Students wishing to read Latin, Greek, or Italian will receive support from the professors. M. Lowrie, J. McCormick. Winter

38020. Platonic Aesthetics. (=SCTH 35009) The anachronism of the course title constitutes our program: to what extent can Plato’s thinking about artworks, images, poets in the polis, beauty, the visual world, the senses, subjectivity and criticism be viewed coherently as an aesthetic theory? Does his style and dramatic mode of writing interact significantly with these views? How have they been received, and to what extent are they right?  A. Pop. Winter.

40820.  Hymns and Sanctuaries in Ancient Greece.  (HIST 50300) This two-quarter seminar, which fulfils the seminar requirement for graduates in History and Classics, seeks to explore how we might reconstruct the religious experience of the ancient Greeks through texts in translation (especially hymns), inscriptions, and material culture, paying particular attention to issues of methodology. The first quarter will be devoted to guided reading and discussion, focused on individual sanctuary sites, while the second quarter will be reserved for writing a major research paper. Non-Classics students will also be permitted to enroll for just the first quarter by arrangement with the instructors. C. Faraone. J. Hall. Autumn.

40821.  Hymns and Sanctuaries in Ancient Greece. (HIST 50301) This two-quarter seminar, which fulfils the seminar requirement for graduates in History and Classics, seeks to explore how we might reconstruct the religious experience of the ancient Greeks through texts in translation (especially hymns), inscriptions, and material culture, paying particular attention to issues of methodology. The first quarter will be devoted to guided reading and discussion, focused on individual sanctuary sites, while the second quarter will be reserved for writing a major research paper. Non-Classics students will also be permitted to enroll for just the first quarter by arrangement with the instructors. C. Faraone. J. Hall. Winter.

42020.  Seminar: Greek Tragedy and Philosophy.  Prerequisite: An undergraduate major in philosophy or some equivalent solid philosophy preparation, plus my permission.  This is a 500 level course.  Ph.D. students in Philosophy, Classics, and Political Theory may enroll without permission.  Law students with ample philosophical background are welcome to enroll but should ask me first.  Undergraduates may not enroll.Ancient Greek tragedy has been of continuous interest to philosophers, whether they love it or hate it.  But they do not agree about what it is and does, or about what insights it offers.  This seminar will study the tragic festivals and a select number of tragedies, also consulting some modern studies of ancient Greek tragedy.  Then we shall turn to philosophical accounts of the tragic genre, including those of Plato, Aristotle, the Greek and Roman Stoics (especially Seneca), Lessing, Schlegel, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Iris Murdoch, Sartre, and Bernard Williams. If we have time we will include some study of ancient Greek comedy and its philosophical significance. Admission by permission of the instructor.  Permission must be sought in writing by September 15.  M. Nussbaum.  Autumn.

42720. The Return of Migration: Mobility and the New Empiricism.  (This seminar questions the prerogatives of disciplines in framing and explaining social change via mobility. Following earlier theories of diffusion to understand diachronic cultural change, and the subsequent contextual critiques that privilege historical contingencies and human agency, advances in identifying past human movement through techniques like ancient DNA genome testing have increasingly led to the revival of migration as a subject of focus and explanation. As growing interest in contemporary refugee and forced migration studies is showing, migration represents not just a wide-ranging practice of different types, but is a semantically charged and ambiguous term whose recent applications provide new opportunities to assess its interpretive advantages and limitations. Is the new empirical emphasis on migration re-racializing antiquity? What do we gain by studying concepts of diasporas, transnationalism, and border crossings in the premodern world? Why does migration matter? Divided into two parts, the course covers the conceptual and theoretical work in current literature on migration as well as applications to specific historical problems from ancient and modern Eurasia. J. Osborne & C. Kearns. Winter. (Meeting Fridays from 1:30-4:20pm in JRL TBA Enrollment Limit: 18

49000. Prospectus workshop.  A workshop for students who have completed coursework and qualifying exams, it aims to provide practical assistance and a collaborative environment for students preparing the dissertation prospectus. It will meet bi-weekly for two quarters.  Autumn, winter.