This course explores ancient authors’ views of ‘others’ (foreigners, ‘barbarians,’ people on the margins of their known-worlds, slaves, etc.) alongside the current scholarship on ancient perceptions of race and identity. It probes the various ways that Greeks and Romans defined and delineated human difference. While contemporary societies consider ethnicity a cultural difference and race as biological, the ancients viewed identity differently. As we analyze readings selected histories, medical texts, ethnographies, exploration accounts, drama, novels as well as art and architecture, we will try to piece together the variety of theories from antiquity that constitute what we today call race/ethnicity. In the second part of the course, we will turn our attention to how different groups/nations in the 19th-21st centuries used their views of Greek and Roman societies to make modern claims about race, white privileges, and power. We will also read recent article written by people of color, who study the ancient Mediterranean world (some undergraduates, graduate students, and professors) and consider the struggles they face as they attempt to engage a discipline that has been perceived as ‘classist’ and predominantly defined by white scholars. Finally, we will look at the reception of ancient ideas about race in the modern films.
- Become familiar with theories of race and ethnicity from Classical Greece and Rome through a reading of histories, medical texts, ethnographies, exploration accounts, drama, novels, art and architecture.
- Explore and understand the impact of these texts on the developments of modern theories of race and ethnicity through classical education and modern entertainment based on the ancient world.
- Learn the methods used in reading, analyzing and discussing ancient primary texts and integrate this with analysis and discussion of secondary scholarship.
- Improve writing skills for essays in the discipline of history
- Practice different formats for public speaking
Rebecca F. Kennedy et al. Race and Ethnicity in the Classical World (abbreviated RECW)
Course Reader (available on Course Website)
For entire syllabus (including grade scale), please see: HSTAM CLAS 231 Syllabus Winter 2020.pdf