An Open Letter to Classics students

Chair of the Department of Classics, Professor Garrett Jacobsen, introduces the essentials of an education in the Classics.

Welcome to Classical Studies!

The curriculum in Classical Studies, whether in the languages, civilization, or history of classical antiquity, enables students to develop the skills necessary for critical thinking, analytical interpretation, and clarity of expression. Our courses provide students with knowledge essential for understanding how the past has shaped many of the political, societal, and cultural issues confronting 21st century western society.

In the courses focused on Ancient Greek and Roman civilization (CLAS), students engage with materials that require critical analysis and the subsequent articulation of a student's interpretation of those sources. A syllabus in this area of our curriculum emphasizes a nuanced understanding of classical antiquity from a variety of perspectives, whether how the Greeks and Romans formulated a sense of identity or the machinations of politics, domestic or foreign, in the multicultural classical world.

In Ancient Greek (GRK) and Latin (LAT), students learn to read languages that require an understanding of the relationship between the form and function of vocabulary and syntax, as well as learning to discern meaning beyond the literal translation of a text. Reading Greek and Roman authors in the original language provides greater insight into fundamental questions about the interrelationship of language and culture, as it emphasizes the richness of comprehension derived from a direct interaction with an author, independent of the potential bias inherent in another person's translation.

For students wishing to become more involved in research and deepening their understanding of classical antiquity, we regularly sponsor and supervise projects in the Denison Summer Scholars Program, and we encourage students to participate in the many study abroad programs offered by the college's Off-Campus Study office. Students who major or minor in the department also have the opportunity to become Departmental Fellows; these paid assistants work with the faculty on various research projects, or act as tutors for other students. We also sponsor an active chapter of Eta Sigma Phi, the national Classics honorary society for undergraduates.

I hope this letter gives very brief idea of what to expect in Classical Studies at Denison University. Of course, the best way to find out more is to visit campus and sit in on classes! Whether in Classical Studies or any other major here at the college, I am confident that a liberal arts degree from Denison can provide the necessary foundation for success in any endeavor or profession. Please feel free to contact me by email or stop by my office when visiting campus, and I will be happy to answer any questions.


Garrett A. Jacobsen, Associate Professor and Chair,
Department of Classical Studies
Denison University
Granville, OH 43023

August 23, 2016