New and highlighted Classics courses for Spring 2022

September 20, 2021

Listed below are some of the new and highlighted Spring 2022 course offerings from the Department of Classics.

Egyptomania: Imagining Egypt in the Greco-Roman World (CLASS 2685)

Instructor: Caitlín E. Barrett and Stephen Sansom

Course Time: TR 2:45-4:00 (discussions: W 1:30-2:20 or R 10:10-11:00)

Throughout Greek and Roman history, the idea of Egypt inspired powerful imaginative responses ranging from fascination to fear. This course investigates Egyptian interactions with the Greco-Roman world and the changing Greek and Roman attitudes towards Egypt. Readings will cover subjects including the earliest Egyptian-Aegean trade, Herodotus’ accounts of Egypt, Greco-Macedonian kings on the throne of the pharaohs, Roman perceptions of the notorious Cleopatra, the worship of Egyptian gods in the Greco-Roman world, and the incorporation of Egypt into the Roman empire (among other topics). Through an examination of Greek and Roman representations of Egypt, we will investigate how Greeks and Romans conceived of their own societies and cultural identities. Finally, we will also address images of Egypt in modern popular culture; how have Greco-Roman portrayals of Egypt helped shape today’s view of the Pharaonic world?

The Aegean and East Mediterranean Bronze Age c. 3000-1000 BCE (CLASS 2770/7770)

Instructor: Sturt Manning

Course Time: TR 11:25-12:40

An exploration of the archaeology and art of the Aegean region and of its neighbors during the Bronze Age, ca. 3000-1000 BCE: the origins and precursors of the Classical World. The course will investigate the emergence of the first complex societies in the Aegean region in the third millennium BCE, and then the development and story of the Minoan and Mycenaean worlds and their neighbors in the second millennium BCE. Topics will include: the Early Bronze Age and the first complex societies in the Aegean (Cyclades, Crete, Greece, Anatolia); the collapse and reorientation around 2200BCE and links with climate change; the first palace civilization of (Minoan) Crete; the Santorini (Thera) volcanic eruption and its historical impact in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean; the rise of the Mycenaean Greek palaces and the shift into proto-history; the development of an international east Mediterranean trade system; Ahhiyawa and the Hittites; the ‘Trojan War’; and the collapse of the Late Bronze Age societies and links with climate change.

Hieroglyphs to HTML: History of Writing (CLASS 2812)

Instructor: Athena Kirk and Stephen Sansom

Course Time: MWF 1:30-2:20

An introduction to the history and theory of writing systems from cuneiform to the alphabet, historical and new writing media, and the complex relationship of writing technologies to human language and culture. Through hands-on activities and collaborative work, students will explore the shifting definitions of “writing” and the diverse ways in which cultures through time have developed and used writing systems. We will also investigate the traditional divisions of “oral” vs. “written” and consider how digital technologies have affected how we use and think about writing in encoding systems from Morse code to emoji.

Ancient Beginnings of The Enlightenment: Lucian of Samosata (CLASS 3636)

Instructor: Michael Fontaine

Course Time: MW 9:40-10:55

Lucian of Samosata (in modern-day Turkey) is one of the most influential and interesting but least read authors of the classical world. Lucian lived in an age of superstition and bunkum and he saw through it all. Instead of getting angry, he trolled his targets in satirical essays that are shot through with unmistakable irony, but that make a serious point. Accordingly, this course is devoted to reading the great majority of Lucian’s own writings. Special attention will be given to the most influential pieces, namely A True History (the world’s first science/speculative fiction novel), Death of Peregrinus, Zeus Rants, Momus, Alexander the False Prophet, and Slander: A Warning. These pieces are fascinating and their influence is profound. Moreover, this course situates students in the crossroads of intellectual, spiritual, and multicultural life in the high Roman Empire in which Lucian lived and moved. Students will be exposed to selected portions of relevant classic texts from Plato, the Bible, and Epicurus and Lucretius, as well as a range of Renaissance and Enlightenment thinkers—Erasmus, Voltaire, Swift, Schopenhauer, and others—whose works are written in the Lucianic mode.  All texts will be read in English.

Beginning Homeric Greek (GREEK 1104/5114)

Instructor: Todd Clary

Course Time: MTRF 12:25-1:15

This course offers a ground up introduction to the vocabulary and grammar of Homeric Greek with the goal of reading Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey as soon as possible. Once students learn the language of the Iliad and Odyssey, they can move on to other works written in roughly the same formulaic diction, ranging from Hesiod’s Theogony to the early philosophical verses of Empedocles and Parmenides. Teaching Beginning Homeric Greek at Cornell, affectionately known as 'baby' Greek, harkens back almost 100 years to the influential and popular courses of Professor Harry Caplan. In fact, this course uses an updated version of the same textbook used in Caplan’s beginning Greek courses.

Students interacting with professor