Greece and Italy: An Artistic and Literary Odyssey


Fall 2014, Winter 2015 and Spring 2015 quarters

Taught by

visual arts, art history, photography
classics, archaeology

The legacy of the Greek and Italian cultures in the Western world—from the Minoan world to that of the Italian Renaissance—continues to hold considerable sway over contemporary cultures. The great writings and powerful visual arts that were produced in Greece and Italy established standards of excellence that succeeding generations have both struggled against and paid homage to up to the present day. In this program, we will study two of the most dynamic and seminal cultures in Western history: Classical Greece and Renaissance Italy. We will read primary texts from the periods we study (e.g., Homer's Iliad , Aeschylus' Oresteia and Dante’s Inferno ), as well as contemporary offerings like Mary Renault's The King Must Die . By coming to a greater understanding of this rich and often controversial legacy, we expect to learn a great deal about ourselves as well. We do not approach the pots, poems or palaces of the past as mere artifacts, but as living expressions of ideas and ideals that deserve serious consideration—not only in terms of their influence, but also in terms of their contemporary viability. Thus, Plato and Michelangelo (to name a couple of examples) can help us deepen our understanding of the nature of human love; Virgil and Dante have much to teach us about the intersection of piety and politics.

Fall quarter ("Naissance"), we will investigate the rise of the Greek polis , or city-state, from the ashes of the Bronze Age Aegean civilizations. In addition to reading primary source materials, both literary and archaeological, we will study the architecture, archaeology, sculpture and painted pottery of the ancient Greek world. To further our understanding, students will also elect to study either the Latin language or the basics of drawing.

Winter quarter ("Renaissance"), our focus will be on the Roman appropriation of Greek art and thought and the later Florentine rediscovery and interpretation of the Classical past. We'll study how 15th-century Italians used the ideas they found in classical literature and learning as the basis for revolutions both in artistic practices and the conception of humanity. In order to learn more about the legacy of Western art and its conception of the visual world, we will also learn the basics of photography.

In spring, we will build on the previous two quarters' work. Our work will combine studies of both the ancient Greeks and Romans and the Renaissance Italians and students will be expected to produce a major research paper dealing with some aspect of those worlds.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

classical studies, archaeology, studio arts and careers in the humanities.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

No Required Online Learning: No access to web tools required. Any web tools provided are optional for students.

Required Fees

$15 in fall and $150 in winter for museum entrance fees and art supplies.

Study Abroad

In spring, students traveling to Greece, Crete and Italy will be responsible for approximately $5,000 for 6-weeks study abroad (local instructional fees, room and board, local transportation, and lodging).  This figure does not included airfare to and from Europe nor daily eating expenses.  


Date Revision
October 29th, 2014 Stephen Beck will join the program winter quarter.
April 17th, 2014 This program is accepts enrollment at all levels (Freshmen through Seniors).

Registration Information

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

Class standing: Freshmen–Senior; 25% of the seats are reserved for freshmen

Maximum enrollment: 48


Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16 credits): 10104
Fr (16 credits): 10212

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Accepting New Students

Signature Required

Students must have an interview with the faculty at the Academic Fair in December 2014 in order to obtain a signature.  Acceptance into the program will depend on one's background in Greek art and literature.  Students unable to attend the Fair should call 360-867-6474 to schedule an interview appointment.

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16 credits): 20062
Fr (16 credits): 20160
(1-16 credits): 20407

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Enrollment Closed

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16 credits): 30047
Fr (16 credits): 30117
(1-16 credits): 30211

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