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. While certain courses are considered mandatory, we are committed to enabling our students to develop their own scholarly profiles, and there is great flexibility in crafting an itinerary through the program. All course choices are made in consultation with the Graduate Group Chair.
Materials and Methods. Proseminar in Classical Studies and Ancient History
This is the required proseminar for first-year graduate students in Classical Studies and Ancient History. It will introduce you to some key methodological, practical and theoretical tools for beginning a scholarly career in these fields.
Material and Methods in Mediterranean Archaeology
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.
This is research seminar in which students will be expected to prepare translations of and commentaries on a wide range of lesser-known and fragmentary historians of the Hellenistic and Imperial periods, ranging from Duris of Samos to Dexippos of Athens. Students will use the model of Jacoby's Die Fragmente der Griechischen Historiker for the presentation of their work and will report on the major genres of later Greek historiography: ethnography, regional history, universal history, genealogy ands horography. The semester will consist of three units. In the first part, the emphasis will be on acquiring familiarity with and confidence in working with Jacoby’s brilliant but idiosyncratic masterwork. Students will be assigned short entries from FGrH in order to practice translation, writing commentaries and mastering the format of the genre. In addition, students will be reading a wide range of contemporary historians on the general subject of Greek historiography and will be expected to acquire a broad grasp of the development of Greek history writing in the Hellenistic and Imperial periods. Topics to be discussed will include the development of Universal histories, geographic and periegetic literature, local histories, genealogy, mythography and Greek writing by non-Greeks. In the second unit we will work on longer entries in Jacoby. Each student will have responsibility for an historian for whom we have approximately 20-30 pages of testimonia and fragments. Each week each student will present a portion of the overall FGrH entry and will be receive comments and help from the other seminar participants. Students will be free to choose which historian they wish to work on and will be encouraged to find authors whose interests intersect with the students’ proposed course of research. In the third unit the entire seminar will work collaboratively on a single, lengthy entry in Brill’s New Jacoby. Each student will be assigned a portion of the text and commentary and will produce a segment of approximately eight pages of translation and commentary.
Latin Literary History
In this course we survey an extensive range of readings in a variety of authors in both prose and poetry, and consider the problems and opportunities involved in literary history.
This course will explore heterogeneous responses to ancient Greek and Roman Classics in the literature, art, and political thought of Africa and the Black Diaspora, ranging from the late eighteenth century to the present day and encompassing Africa, the Caribbean, and North America. We will analyze how African and black diasporic writers, artists, and thinkers have engaged with and re-imagined Greco-Roman Classics, both to expose and critique discourses of racism, imperialism, and colonialism, and as a source of radical self-expression. Throughout, we will consider the reciprocal dynamic by which dialogues with ancient Greek and Roman classics contribute to the polyphony of black texts and these same texts write back to and signify on the Greek and Roman Classics, diversifying the horizon of expectation for their future interpretation. Writers and artists whose work we will examine include Romare Bearden; Dionne Brand; Gwendolyn Brooks; Aimé Césaire; Austin Clarke; Anna Julia Cooper; Rita Dove; W.E.B. Du Bois; Ralph Ellison; Athol Fugard, John Kani, and Winston Ntshona; C.L.R. James; June Jordan; Toni Morrison; Harryette Mullen; Marlene Nourbese Philip; Ola Rotimi; William Sanders Scarborough; Wole Soyinka; Mary Church Terrell; Derek Walcott; Booker T. Washington; Phillis Wheatley; and Richard Wright. We will study these writers in the context of national and transnational histories and networks and in dialogue with relevant theoretical debates. Work for assessment will include a 15-page research paper and the preparation of a teaching syllabus for a course on an aspect of Black Classical Receptions.
Plato and Aristotle on Human Nature
The place of humans in the order of things was a perennial question for ancient philosophers. The puzzle typically begins with questions of humans' place within a hierarchy, setting them between inanimate things and non-human living things on the one side, and the divine on other. These categories, along with others like metabolism, growth and decay, death, sentience, cognition, and knowledge, will form the background against which we look closely at Plato's and Aristotle's views. We will read sections of Phaedo, Republic, and Timaeus, along with On the Soul, On the Motion of Animals, and On Divination During Sleep. The course will invite both broad synthetic thinking, and focused textual analysis. Students will be responsible for a class presentation, a stint as lead questioner, a presentation of work toward a research paper, and a final research paper.
Language Pedagogy Workshop
The Workshop is intended to serve as a forum for first-time teachers of Latin or Greek. This will include discussing course-plans and pedagogical theories and strategies, collaborating on course materials, and addressing any concerns in the language courses presently being taught.
Archaeological Field Methods
This seminar will prepare students for participation in the excavations at the site of ancient Lagash, modern Tell al-Hiba, in southern Iraq that are scheduled to take place in the fall semester. The topics to be considered are introduction to the recording methods, use of equipment, review of the ceramic sequence, methods of recording, drawing, photography. Permission of the instructor required for participation in the class.
The Syrian city of Aleppo is the oldest continually-inhabited settlement on the planet, situated at the intersection of routes connecting Asia, the Middle East, and the West. In the wake of the Syrian civil war, however, much of the city has been, it seems, utterly destroyed. While questions haunt us about the city's future, this seminar investigates Aleppo's past. Weekly readings and discussions will be organized as a "biography" of the city, culminating in a seminar paper on any aspect of Aleppo's history, from the Bronze Age, to the Hellenistic period, the Islamic Middle Ages, and the present day.
Tutankhamun’s Tomb: Its Treasures and Significance
This course examines the short life of the young boy king and what the discovery of his tomb and its contents mean in terms of Egypt’s long history and accomplishments.
Introduction to Paleography & Book History
Eva Del Soldato
Writing and reading are common actions we do every day. Nonetheless they have changed over the centuries, and a fourteenth century manuscript appears to us very different from a Penguin book. The impact of cultural movements such as Humanism, and of historical events, such as the Reformation, reshaped the making of books, and therefore the way of reading them. The course will provide students with an introduction to the history of the book, including elements of paleography, and through direct contact with the subjects of the class: manuscripts and books. Furthermore, a section of the course will focus on digital resources, in order to make students familiar with ongoing projects related to the history of book collections (including the "Philosophical Libraries" and the "Provenance" projects, based at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa and at Penn). The course will be conducted in English; a basic knowledge of Latin is desirable but not required.
Topics in Medieval Studies: Premodern Animals (c.500-c.1500)
From St. Cuthbert, whose freezing feet were warmed by otters, to St. Guinefort, a miracle-performing greyhound in 13th-century France, to Melusine, the half-fish, half-woman ancestress of the house of Luxembourg (now the Starbucks logo), medieval narratives are deeply inventive in their portrayal of human-animal interactions. This course introduces students to critical animals studies via medieval literature and culture. We will read a range of genres, from philosophical commentaries on Aristotle and theological commentaries on Noah’s ark to werewolf poems, beast fables, political satires, saints’ lives, chivalric romances, bestiaries, natural encyclopaedias, dietary treatises and travel narratives. Among the many topics we will explore are the following: animals in premodern law; comfort and companion animals; vegetarianism across religious cultures; animal symbolism and human virtue; taxonomies of species in relation to race, gender, and class; literary animals and political subversion; menageries and collecting across medieval Europe, the Near East, and Asia; medieval notions of hybridity, compositeness, trans-species identity, and interspecies relationships; art and the global traffic in animals (e.g., ivory, parchment); European encounters with New World animals; and the legacy of medieval animals in contemporary philosophy and media. No prior knowledge of medieval literature is required. Students from all disciplines are welcome.
This seminar explores the Byzantine icon and its legacy. Spanning nearly two millennia, from the emergence of Christian sacred portraiture to the reception of icon painting by the early twentieth-century Russian avant-garde, the seminar will introduce you to the history, historiography, and theories of the icon. While our focus will be on Byzantium and the wider world of Orthodox Christianity, especially in the Slavic Balkans and Eastern Europe, the seminar will also engage with fundamental questions concerning the nature, status, and agency of images across cultures. Topics to be addressed include iconoclasm and the problem of idolatry; the social and ritual lives of icons; authorship, originality, and replication; viewer response and the cultural construction of vision; the frontier between art and the sacred image; and the afterlife of the icon in modernity. Open to graduate and undergraduate students.
Aegean Bronze Age Art Seminar: Minoan, Cycladic, and Mycenaean Architecture
In this class, we will explore the art and cultures of the Aegean Bronze Age in Greece, a period from roughly 3,300-1,100 BCE. From this time, we have the first evidence of complex society in Greece with three geographically and materialistically distinct groups of people located on the Greek Mainland, the Cycladic islands, and the island of Crete. Topics will vary from semester to semester, but may include and not be limited to the examination of the architecture, pottery, wall paintings, stone carvings, jewelry, seals, weapons and other metalwork, and the iconography of these prehistoric arts. We will also delve into issues of the organization of society and the distribution of power, the role of women and men, trade and the unique position of the (rather small) Aegean world as it existed between two huge powerhouses of the ancient Mediterranean: the Ancient Near East and Egypt.
Plants and Society
Interactions between humans and the living landscape around us have played - and continue to play - a fundamental role in shaping our worldview. This course is designed to introduce students to the diverse ways in which humans interact with plants. We will focus on the integration of ethnographic information and archaeological case studies in order to understand the range of interactions between humans and plants, as well as how plants and people have profoundly changed one another. Topics will include the origins of agriculture; cooking and plant processing; human health and the world of ethnomedicine; and poisonous and psychoactive plants. We will examine ancient plant material firsthand at the Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials (CAAM) and will handle botanical ecofacts from the Penn Museum's collections. Students will also carry out a substantial research project focused on an archaeological culture and plant species of their own interest.
Intro to Digital Archaeology
Students in this course will be exposed to the broad spectrum of digital approaches in archaeology with an emphasis on fieldwork, through a survey of current literature and applied learning opportunities that focus on African American mortuary landscapes of greater Philadelphia. As an Academically Based Community Service (ABCS) course, we will work with stakeholders from cemetery companies, historic preservation advocacy groups, and members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church to collect data from three field sites. We will then use these data to reconstruct the original plans, untangle site taphonomy, and assess our results for each site. Our results will be examined within the broader constellation of threatened and lost African American burial grounds and our interpretations will be shared with community stakeholders using digital storytelling techniques. This course can count toward the minor in Digital Humanities, minor in Archaeological Science and the Graduate Certificate in Archaeological Science.
Material World in Archaeological Science
Marie-Claude Boileau, Deborah Olszewski, Vanessa Workman
By focusing on the scientific analysis of inorganic archaeological materials, this course will explore processes of creation in the past. Class will take place in the Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials (CAAM) and will be team taught in three modules: analysis of lithics, analysis of ceramics and analysis of metals. Each module will combine laboratory and classroom exercises to give students hands-on experience with archaeological materials. We will examine how the transformation of materials into objects provides key information about past human behaviors and the socio-economic contexts of production, distribution, exchange and use. Discussion topics will include invention and adoption of new technologies, change and innovation, use of fire, and craft specialization.
Contemporary Archaeology in Theory
This graduate seminar addresses contemporary anthropological archaeology and considers the varied ways inferences are made about past and present human behavior from the archaeological record. It reviews such fundamental topics as the use of analogy, Middle Range theory, symbolism and meaning, social and cultural evolution, ideology and power, feminism and gender, and indigenous (non-Western) perspectives. It also foregrounds basic issues regarding heritage, looting, and ethics.
World Heritage in Global Conflict
Heritage is always political. Such a statement might refer to the everyday politics of local stakeholder interests on one end of the spectrum, or the volatile politics of destruction and erasure of heritage during conflict, on the other. If heritage is always political then one might expect that the workings of World Heritage might be especially fraught given the international dimension. In particular, the intergovernmental system of UNESCO World Heritage must navigate the inherent tension between state sovereignty and nationalist interests and the wider concerns of a universal regime. The World Heritage List has almost 1200 properties has many such contentious examples, including sites in Iraq, Mali, Syria, Crimea, Palestine, Armenia and Cambodia. As an organization UNESCO was born of war with an explicit mission to end global conflict and help the world rebuild materially and morally yet has found its own history increasingly entwined with that of international politics and violence.