Department Goals and Learning Objectives
The major and minor in Classical Studies focuses on the histories and cultures of Greco-Roman antiquity within their context in the ancient Mediterranean. Courses cover the ancient languages, histories, rhetoric, law and politics, literary and performance arts, race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, and modern receptions of antiquity. They encourage creativity, civic and social awareness, critical and analytical inquiry, ethical reasoning, and embracing global perspectives.
The minor in Greek focuses on the ancient Greek language within its cultural and historical context, beginning in the 8th century BCE through the 2nd century CE. The study of Greek language enables students to read in the original language works of literature that have deeply influenced the modern world, including Homer, Herodotus, the New Testament, Plato, Hippocrates, orators, and tragic and comic playwrights.
The minor in Latin focuses on the Latin language within the cultural context of ancient Rome from its origins as a small village in central Italy, through its transformation into a Mediterranean empire that spanned three continents and diverse populations. The study of Latin enables students to read major Roman authors such as Vergil, Ovid, Cicero, Tacitus, Plautus and others in their original language, while also exploring them within their historical contexts and as a foundation for many modern European languages and cultures.
Classical studies majors and Classical Studies, Greek and Latin minors should learn both content knowledge of the ancient Mediterranean, the Greek and Latin languages, and various modes and methods of inquiry and analysis used to study them. Students engaged in the academic study of Classical Studies, Greek, and Latin will:
- Learn to write clearly and convincingly
- Develop strong oral communications skills
- Learn different approaches to engaging human diversity in global contexts
- Develop intermediate ability in reading either ancient Greek or Latin
- Learn to interpret texts and other artifacts in their historical and other contexts
- Develop interdisciplinary approaches and methods for engaging diverse types of sources including literary, visual, and physical evidence
- Develop ethical and moral reasoning through the study of complex societies
- Develop civic awareness through the study of ancient governments and societies that have served as a reference for many modern civic institutions
- Understand how ancient Greek and Roman societies have influenced and continue to influence the modern world
The Department of Classical Studies offers courses in the languages and culture of ancient Greece and Rome. Students are introduced to the intellectual, social, political, and cultural histories of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Our curriculum engenders a critical exploration of how the ideas and works of the ancient Greeks and Romans remain relevant in the modern world. We study both how the ancient Greeks and Romans understood their world and how modern societies have reconstructed them. Through the study of the languages, histories, cultures, and contexts of the ancient Mediterranean, our program emphasizes the ability to use diverse types of evidence, interdisciplinary approaches to knowledge, the development of critical and analytical skills, and an appreciation for how ancient and modern intersect in ways that show the continued influence of the Greco-Roman past on our lives today.
Classical Studies offers courses in the languages and civilization of the multi-ethnic Greco-Roman world, from the Bronze Age of Greece to the Principate of Rome. Whether through courses in Ancient Greek and Latin, or through Classical Studies courses focusing on history, culture, literature, and the arts, the study of classical antiquity invites a valuable and critical examination of the foundations for western society, as it inculcates a lucidity of expression and a predilection for reason, as well as inspiring productive dialogue, ethical behavior, and global awareness. The curriculum of Classical Studies emphasizes interdisciplinary approaches to knowledge and the development of the critical skills that are the foundation of a liberal arts education.
For students wishing to major in Classical Studies, it is recommended that they take the two courses in either Ancient Greek or Latin as early as possible. For students with no previous knowledge of Ancient Greek or Latin, this means the 111-112 sequence in either language; the 111 level is only offered in the fall, the 112 level is only offered in the spring.
Ideally, students would complete the classical language requirement (two courses in either GRK or LAT) during their first year; the three 200-level CLAS courses during sophomore year; the 300-level CLAS course and one “related elective” course from another department during junior year; the second “related elective” course and Senior Research during senior year.
Note that the classical languages requirement is based on courses, not levels, so that students who may place into the Direct Study level (tutorials) are still required to complete two courses of the language (or 8 credits).
Our current curriculum includes the possibility of a minor in Ancient Greek and/or Latin; however, it is no longer possible to major in the languages. For students finishing the 111-112 sequence of a classical language at Denison, or for those placed beyond the 111-112 sequence, the department offers a 211 level course, followed by Directed (361-362) or Independent (363- 364) Studies. Faculty members in the department supervise Directed or Independent Studies, following a ‘tutorial’ model. There is a syllabus for these courses (361-362- 363-364) based on the author, topic, or genre being studied; to qualify as a course toward the minor, it must be taken for 4 credits. For Directed or Independent Studies in Ancient Greek or Latin, students must receive permission from the department Chair who will then notify the Registrar’s Office.
First-year students without any background in the classical languages, but who are interested in Classical Studies, should consider enrolling in either the 111 level of Ancient Greek or Latin offered only in the fall semester; for students with previous study of Ancient Greek or Latin at the secondary level, it may be appropriate to enroll in the 211 level of either language. First-year students interested in Classical Studies may also wish to consider the W101 course on a classical topic, normally offered every semester by the department. There are no prerequisites for any CLAS course, so a first-year student could also consider either a 200-level or 300-level CLAS course; essentially the 200-level CLAS courses are broader surveys, and the 300-level courses are more topical.
Students wishing to continue Ancient Greek or Latin at Denison, after studying it in secondary school or at a previous college or university, must meet with the department Chair to determine placement.
Guidelines for placement in LATIN or ANCIENT GREEK are as follows:
- 111 level: one to three years of study in secondary school or a score of 1 or 2 on the AP Latin exam
- 112 level: three or four ears of study in secondary school or a score of 3 on the AP Latin exam
- 211 level: four-five years of study in secondary school or a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Latin Exam or completion of the IB curriculum in Latin
Students cannot place out of the General Education foreign language requirement (K) in Latin or Ancient Greek unless they are transfer students who have completed two or three level at a college or university.
All ‘related electives’ must be approved by the department. In some cases, a student may take a course that can count as a ‘related elective’ before declaring a major or minor, and the department will indeed be willing to approve and accept such courses.
Typically, such courses are those that are broadly related to Classical Studies in terms of topics, readings, or emphasis. For example, a course that includes works by classical historians, philosophers, poets, or playwrights in its syllabus may be approved, or a course in which there is specific attention to the influences of the classical world.
Most frequently such courses may come from Art History and Visual Culture, History, Philosophy, Political Science, and Religion. But in the past the department has also accepted courses from other disciplines, such as English and Theater, as well as interdisciplinary seminars.
Students interested in pursuing graduate study in Classics should understand that such programs normally focus on the languages. Therefore, in addition to majoring in Classical Studies, students should also minor in both Ancient Greek and Latin, preferably taking a language course every semester as an undergraduate. A Ph.D. in Classics is the terminal degree for a combination of Ancient Greek and Latin; however, it is also possible to get a Master’s degree in only Ancient Greek or only Latin. Students should consult with a member of the department as early as possible, if they have any interest in graduate school in Classics or related fields, such as Classical Archaeology.
Aside from graduate school and teaching in the areas of the classical languages, ancient history, or archaeology, students in Classical Studies have gone on to careers in banking, investment, law, medicine, business, museum work, publishing, advertisement, service, as well as successful entrepreneurship. Major or minors in the area of Classical Studies are as well prepared for a variety of careers as any other graduate with a liberal arts education and bachelor’s degree from Denison.
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