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CL AR 541 A: Seminar in Greek and Roman Art

Meeting Time: 
TTh 2:30pm - 4:20pm
* *
Joint Sections: 
ART H 541 A
Headshot of Sarah Levin-Richardson
Sarah Levin-Richardson

Syllabus Description:

CLAR 541: Approaches to Latin Inscriptions and Graffiti

Spring 2021

T Th 2:30-4:20pm via Zoom


Prof. Sarah Levin-Richardson

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Zoom conference hour ( Tuesdays 1:30-2:30pm or by appointment; just send me an email if you’d like to schedule a meeting!


Class google doc:



In this course, we briefly survey some of the most recent trends in the study of Latin inscriptions and graffiti. Topics to be discussed include writing in the lives of women, enslaved individuals, and freedfolks; writing and sexuality; writing and power, memory, and protest; and writing and culture contact (among other topics). The course culminates with individual research projects (a research paper of 15-20 pages, plus in-class presentation of the project during Week 10). Knowledge of Latin is required.


Participation: 60%

Homework Assignments: 10%

Research paper preparation: 10%

Research Paper: 20%


Schedule of Topics/Readings:


Week 1

T March 30: Introduction


Th April 1: Literacies

  • Bodel, John. 2014. “Inscriptions and Literacy,” in The Oxford Handbook of Roman Epigraphy, ed. C. Bruun and J. Edmonson. Oxford. Pp. 745-763.
  • Franklin, James L., Jr.. 1991. “Literacy and the parietal inscriptions of Pompeii,” in Literacy in the Roman World. Ann Arbor: Journal or Roman Archaeology Supplementary Series. Pp. 77-98.
  • Levin-Richardson, Sarah. 2013. “fututa sum hic: Female Subjectivity and Agency in Pompeian Sexual Graffiti.” Classical Journal 108: 319-45. [read pp. 321-327 (stop before section on subjectivity)]
  • Jensen, Minna Skafte. 2019. Review of Anne Kolb, ed. 2018. Literacy in Ancient Everyday Life. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, in Bryn Mawr Classical Review:


Week 2

T April 6: Poetic graffiti

  • Schmidt, Manfred. 2014. “Carmina Latina Epigraphica,” in The Oxford Handbook of Roman Epigraphy, ed. C. Bruun and J. Edmondson. Oxford. 764-781. [read only section on The Carmina Latina Epigraphica on pages 5-7 of the document on Canvas]
  • Haley, Shelley. 2009. “Be Not Afraid of the Dark: Critical Race Theory and Classical Studies,” in Prejudice and Christian beginnings: investigating race, gender, and ethnicity in Early Christian Studies, ed. L. Nasrallah and E. Schüssler Fiorenza. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. Pp. 27-50.
  • Milnor, Kristina. 2014. Graffiti and the Literary Landscape in Roman Pompeii. New York: Oxford University Press. [read chapter 3 pp. 137-159, 175-189]


Th April 8: NO CLASS (but see assignments below)

  • READ: Bruun, Christer and Jonathan Edmondson. 2014. “Appendix III Roman Onomastics,” in The Oxford Handbook of Roman Epigraphy, ed. C. Bruun and J. Edmondson. Oxford.
  • DUE by end of the day: do an EDCS (Epigraphic Database Clauss-Slaby) search for a term, and write up a paragraph summarizing your experience:
    • 1) what term(s) you searched for and why you chose that/those term(s)
    • 2) which locations you chose (e.g., Roma? Pompei? Other?) and why you chose that place (or if you chose to keep the search open to all places)
    • 3) how many results you got and if you were able to glean anything from the search (frequency [or lack] of the term? A particular example that caught your eye? Appearance mostly in one place?).
    • You do not need to include the results or translate them. Depending on how many results you get, you may be overwhelmed—that’s okay! I encourage you to play around with the terms and locations to see how that changes the number of results!


Week 3

T April 13: Texts on enslaved bodies

  • Trimble, Jennifer. 2016. “The Zoninus Collar and the Archaeology of Roman Slavery.” American Journal of Archaeology 120: 447-472.
  • Baird, Jennifer. 2015. “On Reading the Material Culture of Ancient Sexual Labor.” Helios 42: 163-175.
  • Kamen, Deborah. 2010. “A Corpus of Inscriptions: Representing Slave marks in Antiquity.” Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome 55: 95-110.


Th April 15: Epigraphy of enslaved and freed folks

  • Joshel, Sandra. 1992. Work, Identity, and Legal Status at Rome. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. [read chapters 1 and 4]
  • Huemoeller, Katharine. 2019. Review of MacLean (below) in Journal of Roman Studies 109: 380-382. [read only first half, on MacLean]
  • MacLean, Rose. 2018. Freed Slaves and Roman Imperial Culture: Social Integration and the Transformation of Values. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press. [read chapter 5]


Week 4

T April 20: Sexualities in Graffiti

  • Williams, Craig. 2014. “Sexual Themes in Greek and Latin Graffiti,” in A companion to Greek and Roman Sexualities, ed. T. L. Hubbard. Blackwell. Pp. 493-507. [start on p. 494 with “Most graffiti are…”]
  • Levin-Richardson, Sarah. 2013. “fututa sum hic: Female Subjectivity and Agency in Pompeian Sexual Graffiti.” Classical Journal 108: 319-45.
  • Milnor, Kristina. 2014. Graffiti and the Literary Landscape in Roman Pompeii. New York: Oxford University Press. [read chapter 4]


Th April 22: Relationships through Epigraphy

  • Ivleva, Tatiana. 2020. “Coming out of the provincial closet: masculinity, sexuality, and same-sex sexual relations amongst Roman soldiers in the European north-west, first-third centuries A.D.,” in Un-Roman Sex: Gender, Sexuality, and Lovemaking in the Roman Provinces and Frontiers, T. Ivleva and R. Collins. Routledge. Pp. 241-273.
  • Sandon, Tatjana and Luca Scalco. 2020. “More than Mistress, Less than Wives: The Role of Roman Concubinae in Light of Their Funerary Monuments.” Papers of the British School at Rome 88: 151-184.


Week 5 [individual research-project meetings this week]

T April 27: Binding Spells

  • Gager, John, ed. 1992. Curse Tablets and Binding spells from the Ancient World. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [read Introduction]
  • Urbanová, Daniela. 2017. "Latin Curse Texts: Mediterranean Tradition and Local Diversity." Acta Ant. Hung 57:  57-82.


Th April 29: Women in the Epigraphic Record

  • Caldelli, Maria Letizia. 2014. “Women in the Roman World” The Oxford Handbook of Roman Epigraphy, ed. C. Bruun and J. Edmonson. Oxford. Pp. 582-604.
  • Hallett, Judith. 2002. “The Vindolanda Letters from Claudia Severa.” In Women Writing Latin from Roman Antiquity to Early Modern Europe. Volume 1: Women Writing Latin in Roman Antiquity, Late Antiquity, and the Early Christian Era, edited by L. J. Churchill, P. R. Brown, and J. E. Jeffrey. Routledge: New York. Pp. 93–9.
  • Witschel, Christian. 2013. “The Public Presence of Women in the Cities of Roman North Africa. Two Case Studies: Thamugadi and Cuicul,” in Women and the Roman City in the Latin West, ed. E. Hemelrijk and G. Woolf. Leiden: Brill. Pp. 85-106. [update: now in week 5 folder!]


Week 6

T May 4: Memory


Th May 6:  Resistance

  • Zadorojnyi, Alexei. 2011. “Transcripts of Dissent? Political Graffiti and Elite Ideology Under the Principate.” In Ancient Graffiti in Context, eds. J.A. Baird and C. Taylor. Routledge. 110-133.
  • Pandey, Nandini. 2014. “Reading Rome from the Farther Shore: Aeneid 6 in the Augustan Urban Landscape.” Vergilius 60: 85-116.


Week 7 [paper topic and bibliography due by end of this week; see assignment guidelines]

T May 11: Nuts and Bolts I: Reading and Editing Inscriptions

  • See Nuts and Bolts Assignment I for reading and homework due before class


Th May 13: Nuts and Bolts II: Dating Inscriptions and Using CIL

  • See Nuts and Bolts Assignment II for reading and homework due before class


Week 8

T May 18: (Im)migration and identity


Th May 20: Language and Culture Contact

  • Ashby (as Bumbaugh), Solange. 2011. “Meroitic Worship of Isis at Philae.” In Egypt in its African Context, ed. K. Exell. Oxford: BAR International Series. Pp. 66-69.
  • Trilingual Dedication by Cornelius Gallus at Philae [see Gordon #22 and pp. 29-30 of the article below on Egyptian Hieroglyphs]
  • Short presentations from The Oxford Handbook of the Literatures of the Roman Empire
    • Western Asia
      • Palmyrene: Read pp. 1-very top of p.10 (stop after the second line on page 10) and pp. 12 (from “Funerary Epitaphs”)-15
      • Nabataean: Skip section on Historical Works on pp. 4-7; skip from bottom of page 10, before paragraph “What is also important” and pick up on p. 12 with “This is also reflected”
    • Northern Africa
      • Egyptian Hieroglyphs: Read through p. 9 (skimming the text of the two litanies themselves), then read Hymn to Goddess Anuket on p. 17, the first paragraph of Myths section on p. 20, the Tomb of Osiris on pp. 27-28, “The Last Divine Buchis Bull” on p. 30, and “Judgement of the Dead on pp. 34-5
      • Punic: Start with paragraph beginning “This was not the case” on p. 3-top of p. 5 (stop before “some citations”), continue on 15 (the three full paragraphs on that page), then read Appendix 2A on pp 37-39 and Appendices 3  and 4 on pp. 42-55
    • Western Europe
      • Languages of Iberian peninsula: skip “Language diversity” and “Languages of the Iberian Peninsula’ on pp. 6-8; stop on p. 17 before section on Celtiberian Epigraphy
      • Celtic (read the whole article) and Gothic: read pp. 1-2 (stopping before section on Christianizition of the Visigoths]), plus table 1 on p. 6, the first paragraph of “The Manuscripts of the Gothic Bible” on pp. 11-12, the paragraph beginning “The only record” on 14, the section on “The Papyri of Naples and Arezzo” on p. 20, and n.4 on p. 32
    • Italy:
      • Etruscan: Stop before the section on Theatre and Visual Translation on p. 14; after this, read only the paragraph beginning at bottom of p. 15-top of p. 16 (“a great deal…”), and first paragraph of section on Etruscan influence in the Roman World


Week 9

T May 25: writing group

Th May 27: work day/ optional writing group [SLR out of town]


Week 10

T June 1: research paper presentations (sign up on google doc)

Th June 3: research paper presentations (sign up on google doc)


Research papers due by the end of the day (midnight) on Friday June 11th via uploading to Canvas


Catalog Description: 
In-depth study of selected topics and problems of the art of ancient Greece and Rome. Offered: jointly with ART H 541.
Last updated: 
January 29, 2021 - 4:25pm