That's Classic(s)! Explorations in the Ancient and Modern World


Fall 2013, Winter 2014 and Spring 2014 quarters

Taught by

classics, archaeology

Why, after 2,000 years of historical perspective, do we still find meaning in the works of Homer and Aristotle, Julius Caesar and Virgil? What can we learn from Athenian experiments in democracy or the formation and fall of the Roman Empire, as an alternative to republicanism? Why are ancient Greek and Roman images and ideas still represented in so much of our contemporary culture? The principles of classical literature, architecture, philosophy, theater and politics still permeate our society in this increasingly multicultural and globalized world. In these three quarters, we will explore the significant and unassailable ways in which ancient Greece and Rome have influenced our understanding of the world and many more tangible aspects of our contemporary culture.

Each quarter will focus on a slightly different variation on our theme, and students may either stay in the program for the duration of the year, or join according to their interests in any one quarter. Continuing students over the three quarters will help organize and deliver content for new students, cementing the learning that they have already accomplished by sharing their knowledge with newcomers. On the other hand, new students in the winter and spring will actively participate in the formation of learning communities in which the faculty is not the sole provider of content. This program will support first year and sophomore students in their transition to college, while also providing a solid foundation in the origin of western civilization. It will be an intensive reading- and writing-based experience that will prepare students for upper-level work in the humanities and social sciences. Program activities will also include work on the Academic Statement Initiative.

The three quarters will be organized as follows:

Fall: Words and Things: History and Material Culture

In the fall, we will begin by learning the history of the ancient world. We will explore how this narrative has been handed down to us through historiography and archaeology, and what information and misinformation we can garner from it. We will study archaeological sites, art and architecture, and interrogate the uses of these visual canons in our own surroundings.

Winter: Clash of the Titans? The Ancient World and Hollywood

In the winter, we will explore the influence of classics in modern films of every genre, from I, Claudius to Clash of the Titans and O Brother, Where Art Thou ?. We will read and analyze the ancient myths and epics that form the basis for the film interpretations, and discuss both the universal and the not-so-applicable lessons, themes and morals contained in the modern adaptations.

Spring: Inventing Citizens: Experiments in Self-Government

The ancient Mediterranean was the stage for the earliest attempts in Western democracy and republicanism. Some of these experiments were more successful; some were less successful. We will examine these political innovations and compare them to our own contemporary systems of government. We will investigate the rights of citizens and the selection of who is allowed to participate in the political process and why. We will discuss the roles (or lack thereof) of foreigners, women and slaves. We'll read Aristotle, Plato and Cicero to understand ancient political ideologies and realities and to analyze how these have helped us build the foundation of our modern political system.  

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

upper division humanities and social science, especially history, classics, art history, archaeology and historiography.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Required Fees

$10 per quarter for entrance fees.


Date Revision
April 12th, 2013 This program has been cancelled.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall); 16 (Winter); 16 (Spring)

Class standing: Freshmen–Sophomore; 50% of the seats are reserved for freshmen

Maximum enrollment: 20


Course Reference Number not yet available.


Accepting New Students

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Accepting New Students

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