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Courses Fall 2023

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. 


ANCH 6000 Materials and Methods: Proseminar in Classical Studies and Ancient History

F 8:30am-11:29am

James Ker

This is the required proseminar for first-year graduate students in Classical Studies and Ancient History. It offers an up-to-date orientation to the professional academic fields conventionally known as classical studies and ancient history. The course is responsive to present debates within, and about, these fields.


ANCH 6101 Problems in Greek History

M 1:45pm-4:44pm 

Jeremy McInerney

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


ANCH 7207 Revolts in the Roman Empire

T 1:45pm-4:44pm

Julia Wilker

Provincial revolts were a common feature in the Roman Empire. Although many of these revolts have attracted much interest in modern scholarship, they are often analyzed as individual events and/or in their particular regional context alone. In this seminar, we will focus on the first and second century CE and discuss provincial revolts and resistance in Judaea, Egypt, Africa, Germany, Britain, Pannonia, Gaul and many more. Yet the aim of this course is not to come up with (another) narrative for each of these revolts, but a comparative analysis of their causes, the organization and goals of rebel movements, the imperial reaction, and the following reintegration process into the empire.


AAMW 6130 Landscapes and Seascapes of the Ancient Mediterranean

R 1:45pm-4:44pm

Thomas Tartaron

The Mediterranean environment is both diverse and unique, and nurtured numerous complex societies along its shores in antiquity. This seminar offers a primer on theoretical and methodological approaches to studying landscapes and seascapes of the Mediterranean from the Bronze Age to the early modern era, at scales from local to international and on land and underwater. Concepts from processual, post-processual, and current archaeologies will be considered, and field techniques including excavation and surface survey, remote sensing and geophysics, GIS modeling, and ethnography/ethnoarchaeology are examined. Course content and discussion focus on case studies that illustrate how these tools are used to reconstruct the appearance and resources of the natural environment; overland and maritime routes; settlement location, size, function, and demography; social and economic networks; and agricultural, pastoral, and nomadic lifeways. Seminar participants will develop case studies of their own geographical and chronological interest.


ARTH 6250 Greek Art and Artifact

TR 10:15am-11:44am

Ann Kuttner

This lecture course surveys Greek art and artifacts from Sicily to the Black Sea from the 10th century BCE to the 2nd century BCE, including the age of Alexander and the Hellenistic Kingdoms. Public sculpture and painting on and around grand buildings and gardens, domestic luxury arts of jewelry, cups and vases, mosaic floors, and cult artefacts are discussed. Also considered are the ways in which heroic epic, religious and political themes are used to engaged viewers' emotions and served both domestic and the public aims. We discuss the relationships of images and things to space and structure, along with ideas of invention and progress, and the role of monuments, makers and patrons in Greek society.


AAMW 5260 Materials and Methods in Mediterranean Archaeology

W 1:45pm-4:44pm

Lauren Ristvet

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.


GREK 6610 Reading Greek

TR 12:00pm-1:29pm

Sheila Murnaghan

Intensive reading in ancient Greek literature, focusing on the skills and practices required to read closely a 150-page “short list” of key texts and becoming familiar with authors, chronology, meters, dialects, and genres. Exercises include analysis, sight translation, and practice versions of the Qualifications Examination in Greek.


LATN 7403 Phaedrus and Aesopic Fable

R 1:45pm-4:44pm

Joseph Farrell

The Roman poet Phaedrus is author of the earliest surviving collection of Aesopic fables in Greek or Latin. His work, which dates from the reign of Tiberius or shortly afterwards, is foundational for later collections of animal fables in all European languages. In addition, and in contrast to most Greek and Latin literature, many of his fables are known in earlier and later versions in languages such as Sanskrit, Arabic, Syriac, Persian, and others. Phaedrus’ poetry therefore bears witness to the aesthetics and the sociopolitical realities of the early Roman Empire, and also belongs to a literary and cultural tradition that extends far beyond the limits of Greek and Roman indebtedness and influence. Students will become familiar with both aspects. Class meetings will be divided between group reading and discussion of Phaedrus’ poetry with reference to its closest Greek and Latin analogues, and individual student reports on related or similar material from other literary traditions.


AAMW 5390 Archaeobotany Seminar

T 1:45pm-4:44pm

Chantel White

n 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.


ANTH 5620 Intro to Digital Archaeology

MW 3:30pm-5:00pm

Jason Herrmann

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. 


NELC 6400 Age of the Caliphs

Paul Cobb

TR 1:45pm-3:14pm 

There are few moments of human history that were as creative as the seventh, eighth and ninth centuries in the Near East. Nor are there many such moments in history that pose as many questions to the historian. How do we know what we think we know about early and ‘classical’ Islamic history? In what ways is pre-modern Islamic history distinctive? How do we understand the role of religion in pre-modern societies? In this course, we will examine the social and political history of the Islamic Near East (with a few exotic pit-stops) in its formative centuries, from the rise of Islam to the coming of the Saljuq Turks. Special topics include: the rise of Islam; the early Islamic conquests; the expansion and disintegration of the imperial caliphate under the Umayyads and ‘Abbasids; religious authority in early Islam; ‘Abbasid successor states; Shi‘ism; provincial cultures. 


CLST 7711 People Out of Place Then & Now

with Elena Isayev

W 1:45pm-4:44pm

Encounters between hosts and strangers are at the core of some of our oldest surviving narratives through time. The actions and decisions taken over the threshold, whether in welcome or repulsion, serve to position society within a moral framework, and simultaneously re/define the framework itself. Asylum negotiations, by their nature, constitute the ‘host’ through pointing to the existence of bodies positioned external to it. Yet, the appeals for refuge also expose the ambiguity of who the host is. In this course we will seek to understand how value is drawn from persons, whose condition is reduced to being bodies out of place. That is whose physical position means removal from – a place of rights, protection and belonging – whether through expulsion or by being relegated to spaces of constrained mobility – asylum seekers, refugees, exiles, captives and those without effective citizenship. We will draw on ancient, on modern and on imaginary liminal settings to investigate the unique role of people in such states for articulating intra-community relations and the space between civil rights and human rights. Individuals and groups in such positions of liminality – whose state is considered one of exception and characterised by precarity, unsettledness and threat of violence have a significant role in articulating the parameters of the non-exceptional – the so called ‘norm’. Here the perplexities of sovereignty are revealed, not only for the host, but for those citizen-strangers, the stateless or people with non-effective citizenship, whose existence lies seemingly beyond the possibilities of sovereign action, and yet there is the power to invoke it