Current Graduate Courses



Pro-Seminar in Ancient Mediterranean Studies: Approaches to Ethnic Identity in the Ancient Mediterranean World
Lisa Cooper
Term One, T 3:00-6:00

For many people in the world both past and present, ethnic identity has been and is an important aspect of their personal identity. Although studies have shown that ethnicity is fleeting, constructed, relational and contextual, and all social identities are historically contingent, nonetheless it is realized that the sense of identity and belonging that ethnicity inspires is highly influential in daily life and can be a powerful resource when mobilized in the pursuit of political goals.

This course endeavours to investigate ethnic identity and understand its relationship to history, archaeology and culture, and the formation of nationalism and colonialism. After having established a good working definition of ethnicity, we will then explore both modern and ancient cultural contexts around the world in which ethnicity seems to have played an important role in self or group identification. Through these examples, we will explore the means by which ethnicity first sprang to life (‘ethnogenesis’) and then how it has been moulded and manipulated to various ends. An important component of our study is to comprehend how and why ethnicity is reflected in material things, and where archaeologists have focussed their investigations of ethnicity in the ancient material cultural record. The final half of the class is dedicated to specific case studies of some of the most ancient manifestations of ethnic identity in the material cultural record of the Near East, Greece and Rome, and an investigation of the analytical tools that scholars have used that can best discern such identities. Important questions that we will need to ask of these ancient cases is why ethnic identity is discernible in the material evidence and whether these represent conscious or subconscious expressions of individual or group identities.

This course is open to all graduate students studying ancient Greece, Rome and the Near East. Although many of the case studies will come from the field of archaeology, there will be options for addressing the issue of ethnic identity in language and literature as well, if desired.


CNRS 502B (crosslisted: CLST 519D)
Studies in Law and Society: Pompeii: Temples to Toilets
Leanne Bablitz 
Term One, MW 10:30-12:00

In this seminar we will consider the ways in which the ancient city of Pompeii advances our knowledge of various aspects of Roman society. Topics which may be examined (depending on the interests of the students) include prostitution, gardening, politics, law, space utilization – both public and private, religion, art, death and burial, shopping, regional economics, government, social stratification, water utilization, bathing, hygiene, entertainment, banking and loans, gender, and daily life.


CNRS 503A 
Studies in Literature, Art and Society: Raw Comedy: Plautus and Mime
C. W. Marshall
Term One, T 11:00-2:00

This course provides a rich introduction to two performance genres from the ancient world: fabulae palliatae, “plays in Greek clothing” as represented by the Roman comic playwright Plautus, and mime, the improvised, unmasked street theatre as represented by Herodas and on papyrus fragments. Both of these are genres that were not originally performed in theatres, and both employed theatrical improvisation. The legacy of these rough genres – “raw comedy” – informs our understanding of the performance traditions of Greece and Rome.

Class discussion will consider a range of questions relevant to ancient performance:

  • What is the nature of the surviving text (script, transcript, translation, something else)?
  • How does “raw comedy” represent and engage with more serious genres?
  • How do we reconstruct performance practices from an ancient text?
  • What is the earliest history of theatrical improvisation, and how can we discuss it in a scholarly context?
  • How do these genres get preserved in the material record?
  • What is the latest research on these plays and performance traditions?
  • Can performed meaning be recovered today?
  • Were these plays actually funny?

No Latin or Greek is required, and students from outside of the department are welcome.

 Classical Studies

CLST 519D: See CNRS 502B above


GREK 501D 
Greek Prose: Herodotus and Thucydides
Franco De Angelis
Term One, MWF 1:00-2:00

This course will focus on translating selections from the historians Herodotus and Thucydides, who, as Leslie Kurke has put it (in O. Taplin [ed.], Literature in the Greek World [Oxford 2000], p. 115), were responsible for “charting the poles of history” for ancient, and by extension modern, historiography.  The course will be evenly divided between these two historians, with the first six and one-half weeks devoted to Herodotus and the second six and one-half weeks devoted to Thucydides.  Students will also be introduced to recent trends in modern scholarship on Herodotus and Thucydides, as well as to interpreting these historians, particularly through understanding the cultural backdrop against which they were writing and the possibilities and limitations of using them in modern historical reconstructions.  Instead of just seeing differences between the approaches of Herodotus and Thucydides, we will also investigate whether any similarities in their approaches existed.



Latin Prose
Katherine Huemoeller
Term One, MWF 12:00-1:00

In 63 BCE an aristocrat named Catiline, a “monster” according to Cicero, orchestrated a conspiracy against the Roman state. The event has long been considered a critical moment in the dissolution of the Republic, and our two accounts of it, Cicero’s Catilinarian orations and Sallust’s The War with Catiline, are recognized as masterpieces of Roman prose. In this course we will read these canonical texts with three interrelated goals: to further develop fluidity, speed, and accuracy in reading Latin prose; to analyze the prose style of these two authors; and finally to examine how these texts have shaped our understanding of the historical event and its significance. In addition, we will consider how these texts have been (and could be) read against other textual evidence produced for different rhetorical purposes including Cicero’s epic poem on his consulship, his personal letters, and even election propaganda inscribed on drinking cups.


LATN 502A 
Latin Verse: Horace’s Odes
Cillian O’Hogan
Term Two, MWF 10:00-11:00

In the Odes, Horace perfected Latin lyric poetry, and produced a body of work that has had incalculable influence on later writers. The poems deal with a wide range of topics, including friendship, love and sex, politics, and philosophy. In this class we will read the first and third books of Horace’s Odes in their entirety. We will place the poems in their social, literary, and historical context, looking in particular at the use Horace makes of Greek lyric models, his relationship with Augustus/Augustan ideology, and his philosophical ideals. We will also look at the reception of the Odes, both within antiquity and in more recent English literature. Throughout the course, special attention will be paid to Horace’s language, metre, and style.



NEST 501B: See CNRS 500A above

NEST 506
The Archaeology of the City in the Ancient Near East: The Archaeology of Space and Place
Kevin Fisher
Term Two, T 2:00-5:00

This course explores the role of built environments – from single rooms to urban landscapes – in past societies.  Through lectures, seminar discussions and labs, we’ll examine theories linking prehistoric and historic built environments to human and material agency, daily practice, power, identity and social reproduction, as well as concepts such as place, house and household, community and neighbourhood, cityscape, monumentality and memory. We’ll also emphasize the application of methods that can help us understand how various types of buildings affect human behavior, experience and interaction by encoding and communicating meanings. This includes an introduction to emerging digital technologies for recording, modeling and visualizing past built environments as well as the use of space syntax, environmental psychology, visibility analyses and other approaches and methods that can shed light on people-place relationships.  Readings and case studies will be global in perspective and assignments will focus on the application of approaches and methods on local contemporary buildings and archaeological datasets within students’ area of interest. While the focus is archaeological, the course draws heavily on material from cultural anthropology, architecture, human geography, psychology, sociology, and urban planning, and should be of use to anyone interested in the relationship between people and built space, past or present.



Topics in Judaism: Religion and Material Culture in Judaism
Gregg Gardner
Term One, MW 1:00-2:30

This seminar will examine archaeological and textual sources from the Hebrew Bible and ancient Judaism (c. 1000 B.C.E. to 640 C.E.) to explore the role of material culture in religion. Through close, critical readings of primary sources (in English translation) such as the Hebrew Bible, Apocrypha, Josephus, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and classical rabbinic literature (Talmud and Midrash), we will examine methodological approaches on the use of archaeology and texts. We will study methods that can be applied to other areas of religious studies as well as the broader study of the ancient world. In this seminar, students will develop research, writing, and analytical skills, skills that are applicable across the academy and beyond. This course will also provide an overview of the history of ancient Israel and Judaism in the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine eras. No prerequisites or prior background required.


Topics in Islam
Rumee Ahmed
Term Two, T 3:00-6:00

Our class will begin with the origins of Islamic law and trace its trajectory alongside the political fortunes and misfortunes of the Muslim empire. We will read primary sources in translation to understand how Muslims historically conceived of Islamic law, and we will read secondary texts that will describe how Islamic law worked and continues to work in different socio-political contexts. By rethinking ideas about what is “Islamic” and what is “law”, we will engage with the Islamic legal discourse to critically assess its articulation and application in the modern day.