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Fall course highlights

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Published Date

May 21, 2020


This Fall, Princeton will offer language classes in Akkadian, Latin and Ancient Greek. Here are some of the other courses from the Classics department next semester. For the full list please visit the Registrar's website. 

Undergraduate courses

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CLA 310 / CHV 314 / AAS 311 / POL 310: Citizenships Ancient and Modern

Dan-El Padilla Peralta

Recent developments in the United States and throughout the world have exposed fault lines in how communities design and regulate forms of citizenship. But current debates over the assignment, withholding, or deprivation of citizen status have a long and violent history. In this course we will attempt to map a history of citizenship from the ancient Mediterranean world to the 21st century. Questions to be tackled include: who/what is a citizen? (How) are exclusion and marginalization wired into the historical legacies and present-day practices of citizenship?

CLA 232 / HLS 232 / POL 363: Rhetoric and Politics

Emmanuel Bourbouhakis

What are the features of persuasive political speech? The reliance of democratic politics on memorable oratory stems from traditions dating back to ancient Greece and Rome which were revived in the modern era of parliamentary debates and stump speeches. This course will analyze the rhetorical structure of famous political speeches over time in a bid to better understand the potent mixture of aesthetics and ideology that characterizes political rhetoric, as well as the equally long tradition of regarding political rhetoric as insincere and unscrupulous. Students will try their hand at political speech-writing and oratory in class.

CLG 213: Tragic Drama: Helen, Desire and Reality

Joshua Billings

We will be reading texts connected to Helen of Sparta/Troy, primarily Euripides' Helen and Gorgias' Encomium of Helen. Both works deal with the aftermath of the Trojan War and try to come to grips with Helen's role in it, in different ways: Euripides by following an alternate tradition in which Helen did not go to Troy at all (!), Gorgias by defending her from blame for having caused the war. Both present a complex, if largely sympathetic picture of the most reviled woman in Greek mythology, and show their authors dealing with questions of desire, truth, responsibility, and the senses.

COM 222 / CLA 222: Read Like an Egyptian

Thomas Hare

A first course for students in reading ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. Serious work in ancient Egyptian grammar, vocabulary building, etc. (the staples of a classical language course) plus work on the relation between hieroglyphs and Egyptian visual arts.

Graduate courses

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CLA 547 / PAW 503 / HLS 547 / HIS 557: Problems in Ancient History: Ancient Lives

Andrew Feldherr and Brent Shaw

Questions of how and why individuals mattered, even of what constituted an individual, are among the most complicated and challenging asked of Greco-Roman civilization. Our seminar considers the historical development of biography from the pre-Hellenistic Greek world to late Antiquity. Through studying the representation of individual lives and asking what makes them worth narrating and what ancient discourses shape their reception, we aim to develop a better understanding of both the texts within this tradition and the changing conceptions of identity and social agency that inform them.

HUM 597 / CLA 590: Humanistic Perspectives on History and Society: Classics and Activism

Brooke Holmes and Dan-El Padilla Peralta

This course brings together different forms of disciplinary knowledge in the humanities and social sciences with the intellectual and practical resources of activism in order to reconceptualize the study of classical antiquity both within the university and outside its gates. We move back and forth between exploring the contributions that ancient Greco-Roman texts might make to contemporary social and political problems and examining the disciplinary history of academic Classics as a site for critical reimagination. This course is a collaboration with the Activist Graduate School, an online school by, and for, experienced activists.

CLA 564: Problems in Indo-European Linguistics: Greek and Latin Compared

Joshua Katz

Why do and how should we compare Greek and Latin? This seminar considers three reasons: (1) the two tongues share a linguistic and cultural patrimony in the distant past; (2) they are spoken at the same time in the wider Mediterranean world; and (3) there is a tradition in the literary culture of the one of translating, adapting, and alluding to material in the other. Each is associated with a different methodology or approach: (1) the diachronic perspective of Proto-Indo-European; (2) the synchronic perspective of language contact and bilingualism; and (3) the learnèd perspective of intertextuality. We work toward a synthesis.

HIS 528 / CLA 544 / HLS 544: The Reception of the Classical Tradition in Early Modern Europe

Anthony Grafton and Barbara Graziosi

This seminar examines the ways in which philosophers and imaginative writers, historians and philologists, antiquaries and collectors interpreted texts and objects from the ancient world. We begin by raising methodological questions, examining "reception" as a concept and setting it in the larger context of hermeneutical theory and practice. Then we carry out a series of case studies. We examine major texts and works of art and architecture, while also attending to the institutional and disciplinary contexts within which the study of the ancient world was carried on.