Learning Goals

1. Become critical readers of complex texts; develop research and analytical skills; learn and practice effective strategies for working both independently and collaboratively.

Every course we offer in the Classics Department, whether in the original language or in translation, invites the student not only to appreciate the cultural achievements of Greece and Rome through reading from the literatures and studying the material remains, but to recognize the vital traces of the classical tradition that have informed the lives of later generations and are still influential and vital in our lives today. Classical Studies are a crucible for developing the critical and analytical skills we want our students to achieve.  Although the subject matter of Greek and Latin texts remains essentially the same, the quality and depth of these texts offer the student continuing opportunities for rigorous and sustained exploration and analysis of present-day issues. Learning, moreover, to view these issues in the context of two civilizations so similar and yet so different from our own leads to greater awareness and self-discovery.  At the same time, the study of Classics allows students to connect directly with the foundations of Western Civilization in art, literature, history, and science and appreciate how these seminal influences have shaped and continue to shape our culture, our ideas, our traditions.  Thus, through Classics, a student can begin to find coherence in the face of rapid change that is a hallmark of our times. Students work closely with faculty and their peers, developing their research and analytical skills independently and in collaboration with one another in seminars, tutorials, independent studies and in the year-long senior seminar in which they write a thesis. Moreover, students are encouraged to participate in archaeological digs and in site visits in order to gain first hand knowledge about the methods and practices of fieldwork with other scholars and students.

2.  Develop the ability to communicate clearly, coherently, and effectively in written and oral expression.

Classics students develop the ability to communicate clearly, coherently, and effectively in written and oral expression in two major ways:  by studying authors who have served as models of effective oral and written expression for millennia; and, by consistent practice in both written and oral argumentation through class papers, presentations and discussions.  The capstone of the Classics experience is the senior seminar, in which students present their own research both orally and in writing, a process which culminates in a critically developed monograph on a subject of the students’ choosing.

3. Develop artistic literacy.

An interdisciplinary approach to examining the world of the ancient Greeks and Romans is central to Classical studies, and so students learn to master varieties of evidence. Written texts, archaeological remains and the visual arts are equally important in forming a comprehensive understanding of antiquity.  Thus, almost every Classics course integrates the study and analysis of art and material culture into its course content.  In addition, Classics students specifically study ancient architecture, sculpture, painting, art and other material remains in both required and elective courses.

4. Attain competency in a language other than English.

At the heart of Classics, as in the study of any foreign culture, is the development of competency in the languages of our subjects of examination.  Classics students study at least three years of ancient Greek and/or Latin and thus have the privilege of engaging directly, through unmediated readings, with many of the greatest minds of the Western canon.

5.   Students in Classics will cultivate the ability to make informed ethical judgments.

In studying the literature of ancient Greece and Rome, students encounter a foundational chapter of the history of moral thought in the West. From Homer to Plutarch, the poets and historians of ancient Greece and Rome confront their readers with illustration and analysis of complex ethical choice, and classical philosophers transform traditional beliefs about right and wrong into systematic moral ideologies. Study of the classical world introduces students to the varied role of ethical thinking within classical literature and ancient society. Students learn to value the role of literature and education in preserving, transmitting, and questioning society’s ethical norms. While appreciating ancient value systems as phenomena characteristic of their time, students also explore their deficiencies and limitations in order to develop greater understanding of their own ethical principles and judgments.

6. Students will acquire knowledge of diverse cultural traditions and global perspectives.

Students of classical antiquity exercise ethnographic thinking. In addition to learning about the cultural traditions of the Greeks and Romans, they study cultural diversity within the Greek and Roman worlds, the cultural impact of Greece on Rome, and cultural interaction between the classical civilizations and their Mediterranean and Near Eastern neighbors. By reading ancient literature that highlights cultural conflicts, students learn how the Greeks and Romans themselves perceived cultural identity and cultural differences, and they thereby gain a deeper appreciation for the role of culture in shaping their own communities and their own identities.