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Courses Fall 2021

The following list includes graduate courses taught by faculty members of the Graduate Group and graduate courses offered by other programs and departments. Graduate students are also strongly encouraged to explore courses in other fields and disciplines that align with their scholarly interests.

ANCH 534: Problems in Greek History

Jeremy McInerney

M 01:45 PM-04:45 PM

This course will explore some of the pressing and problematic scholarly debates in the historiography of the Greek archaic and classics periods.


ANCH 608: Worlds of Late Antiquity

Cam Grey – Reyhan Durmaz

T 01:45 PM-04:45 PM

The period between the third and eighth centuries - from the Tetrarchy led by Diocletian to the rise of Umayyad Caliphate - is characteristically regarded as a period of ferment and change, whether that be on the still-influential model of Decline and Fall first proposed by Edward Gibbon in the eighteenth century or the somewhat less deterministic account of transformation favored by Peter Brown in the late twentieth. These narratives tend to emphasize the large-scale processes that played out over these centuries, such as the florescence and fragmentation of two world empires; the emergence of two highly influential monotheistic religions of the book; and the codification of legal systems that continue to dominate contemporary practices and theories of law. Equally, what characterizes these centuries is the particular granularity and character of the textual and archaeological evidence that exists for the functioning of this world at the micro-scale, as against the periods that preceded and followed. This course traces the social, economic, cultural, and religious institutions and processes that make this period distinctive, explores the nature of the evidence for those institutions and processes, and exposes to scrutiny the assumptions and preconceptions that underpin the scholarly narratives that have been constructed about them.


CLST 504: Classical Studies in Philadelphia Schools

James Ker

TR 12:00 PM-01:30 PM

This course will focus on classical studies as a school resource, with a focus on present-day schools in the Philadelphia area. Our readings and discussions will focus on historical investigation, educational theory, and project-design. The course invites Penn undergraduates and graduate students to rethink how the field traditionally known as "classics" or "classical studies" (both in general and in specific sub-areas such as Latin language, ancient history, mythology, literature, etc.) is presented to school audiences and how classical studies itself must change to meet present social-justice concerns, with special attention given to diversity, equity, and inclusion. This is an Academically Based Community-Service Course (ABCS), in which students will be required to consult with one or more local school personnel (teachers and/or students) as part of the coursework. The main assignments will be several short papers and presentations and a longer paper or curriculum-development project. Undergraduates should register for CLST 204, graduate students for CLST 504.


CLST 728: Topics in Roman Architecture and Topography

Brian Rose

T 10:15 AM-01:15 PM

This seminar offers a critical assessment of digital Roman architecture studies. What has been accomplished and learned over the last generation since the Digital Turn, and where is the field of Roman architecture being taken? Points of focus include several landmark case studies, such as digital reconstructions of the city of ancient Rome, and threatened cultural heritage sites in Syria. The course will involve readings of significant texts, in class discussions and presentations lead by the seminar s participants, and testing and critiquing of a limited set of digital tools.


AAMW 526: Material & Methods in Mediterranean Archaeology

Lauren Ristvet

T 10:15 AM-01:15 PM

This course is intended to provide an introduction to archaeological methods and theory in a Mediterranean context, focusing on the contemporary landscape. The class will cover work with museum collections (focusing on the holdings of the Penn Museum), field work and laboratory analysis in order to give students a diverse toolkit that they can later employ in their own original research. Each week, invited lecturers will address the class on different aspects of archaeological methodology in their own research, emphasizing specific themes that will be highlighted in readings and subsequent discussion. The course is divided into three sections: Method and Theory in Mediterranean Archaeology; Museum collections; and Decolonizing Mediterranean Archaeology. The course is designed for new AAMW graduate students, though other graduate students or advanced undergraduate students may participate with the permission of the instructor.


NELC 638: Approaches to Islamic Law

Joseph E. Lowry

M 01:45 PM-04:45 PM

This course aims to introduce students to the study of Islamic law, the all-embracing sacred law of Islam. In this course we will attempt to consider many different facets of the historical, doctrinal, institutional and social complexity of Islamic law. In addition, the various approaches that have been taken to the study of these aspects of Islamic law will be analyzed. The focus will be mostly, though not exclusively, on classical Islamic law. Specific topics covered include the beginnings of legal thought in Islam, various areas of Islamic positive law (substantive law), public and private legal institutions, Islamic legal theory, and issues in the contemporary development and application of Islamic law. 


AAMW 521: Mesopotamia 2200-1600 BCE

Stephen J. Tinney - Holly Pittman

T 03:30 PM-06:30 PM

This seminar style class will focus on two canonical periods of Mesopotamian history from 2100-1600 BCE. It is structured to examine fundamental institutions of kingship, religion, economy, law and literature. Practices well established in Sumer by the end of the third millennium evolved during the first half of the second millennium BCE when Amorite speaking peoples assume central roles in Mesopotamian institutions. The class will be structured around case studies engaging key monuments of art, architecture and literature. It will be team-taught by Prof. Pittman, focusing on material remains and visual arts and by Prof. Steve Tinney who brings expertise to the rich cuneiform textual traditions.


AAMW 529: Eco-Critical Approaches to Roman Ideas of Landscape

Mantha Zarmakoupi

R 10:15 AM-01:15 PM

In the Roman period, landscape was singled out as a theme for the first time in Greco-Roman visual culture. Writers described it accurately in texts and treatises, its qualities were praised and sought out in everyday life, and images of the natural world permeated the public and private spheres. This attention to landscape found an architectural expression in Roman luxury villas. It is primarily in the luxurious country-house residences that ideas about landscape were fully explored and shaped. In designing for luxury, Romans engaged in a sophisticated interplay of architecture and landscape - an interplay that Renaissance architects discovered and reinvented, and which persists to this day. This course will analyze the architectural design and wall-painting decoration of Roman villas, the cultivated landscapes around them, and their literary representations in order to address the ways in which ideas about and the idealization of landscape contributed to the creation of a novel language of architecture and landscape architecture. And while Roman luxury villa architecture and decoration showcase sophisticated ideas about landscape, they silenced and beautified the dependence of their surrounding cultivated landscapes and agricultural estates on enslaved labor. Moving beyond post-Renaissance ideas of landscape and canonical considerations of Roman wall-painting, the course will adopt an eco-critical lens to shed light on the ideas and idealization of landscape that were shaped in this period. It will draw on a diverse body of evidence (archaeological, art historical, and literary) in order to prioritize perceptions of ecology, environment and human-nature relationships and uncover a broader relationship between architecture, landscape architecture and design.


CLST 607 The Iliad and its Receptions

Emily Wilson

W 01:45 PM-04:45 PM

We will read selections from the Greek poem together, alongside some modern scholarship on it. We will also read Plato's Ion and the Battle of the Mice and Frogs, as evidence for Homer's ancient philosophical, rhetorical and poetic receptions. We will discuss the history of the poem's translation into English, focusing on earlier translations (Chapman, Hobbes, Pope) and discussing the instructor's goals and challenges in producing a new re-translation. We will also talk about two recent novelizations of the poem, Pat Barker's Silence of the Girls and Madeline Miller's Song of Achilles. The course is primarily intended for graduate students in Classical Studies and Ancient History, but it is also open to students in other programs, including those whose Greek might be less advanced.


LATN 540: The Latin Text: Language and Style

Kate Meng Brassel

R 01:45 PM-04:45 PM

What do we need to read texts in Latin? In these courses we read just one prose text and one poetic text, or a very limited number of texts and passages, with a focus on language and formal analysis (such as diction, grammar, stylistics, metrics, rhetoric, textual criticism). A range of exercises will be used to develop this, including composition, lexical studies, recitation, memorization, exegesis, written close-readings, and sight-translation.


LATN 504: Medieval Latin

Rita Copeland

TR 10:15 AM-11:45 AM

This course will be an introduction to the literature of the Latin Middle Ages. Our readings will range from the early Christian era (beginning with the Latin Vulgate translation of Scripture) and early medieval poetic philosophy (Boethius) to medieval receptions of classical myth, funny and poignant Latin poetry of the later Middle Ages, literary love letters, autobiography (Abelard), and other selections from the rich fields of medieval Latin literature. The purpose of this course is to offer a big picture of the Latin literature of the Middle Ages and to engage with some key themes that medieval Latinity offers up to us: how to engage with antiquity, how to imitate and innovate, how to be persuasive, how to value poetic effect for its own sake, how to negotiate the sacred and secular domains of Latinity. We'll be particularly interested in how medieval teachers taught Latin to non-Latin speakers (students whose native languages were French, English, German, etc.), a parallel to our modern situation.


AAMW 539: Archaeobotany Seminar

Chantel E. White

T 01:45 PM-04:45 PM

In this course we will approach the relationship between plants and people from archaeological and anthropological perspectives in order to investigate diverse plant consumption, use, and management strategies. Topics will include: archaeological formation processes, archaeobotanical sampling and recovery, lab sorting and identification, quantification methods, and archaeobotany as a means of preserving cultural heritage. Students will learn both field procedures and laboratory methods of archaeobotany through a series of hands-on activities and lab-based experiments. The final research project will involve an original in-depth analysis and interpretation of archaeobotanical specimens. By the end of the course, students will feel comfortable reading and evaluating archaeobotanical literature and will have a solid understanding of how archaeobotanists interpret human activities of the past.


AAMW 562: Intro to Digital Archaeology

Jason Herrmann

MW 03:30 PM-05:00 PM

Digital methodologies are an integral part of contemporary archaeological practice, and demand that archaeologists to hold a new set of skills and knowledge fundamentals. This course will expose students to a broad range of digital approaches through a review of relevant literature and through applied learning opportunities centered on a course project. The technological underpinnings, best practices, and influences on archaeological practice and theory will be discussed for each method covered in the course. Applied learning opportunities in digital data collection methods will include: aerial and satellite remote sensing, global navigation satellite system (GNSS) survey, 3D scanning methods, close-range photogrammetry, and near-surface geophysical prospection. Students will also have opportunities for practical experience in digital database design and management, geographic information science (GIS) and 3D modeling and visualization. Students will communicate the results of the course project in a digital story that will be presented at the end of the term. Prior archaeological classwork and/or experience preferred.