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Courses Spring 2024

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 7203 Ancient Economies

W 1:45pm-4:44pm

Kim Bowes/Cam Grey

Scholars have long debated the nature of the ancient economy, the terms in which it can best be approached, and the decision-making processes that underpinned economic behavior in antiquity. In particular, controversy has surrounded the extent to which the economies of Greco-Roman antiquity can be modeled using contemporary tools of analysis. In recent scholarship, many of the tenets laid down by Moses Finley in his The Ancient Economy have been re-evaluated, with the result that the field is currently in a state of intellectual ferment. It is the purpose of this course to explore the terms in which contemporary debates over ancient economic systems are formulated, with reference to a variety of societies and periods, from the palace economies of the Mycenaean period to the system of taxation introduced in the early fourth century by the emperor Diocletian and his colleagues in the Tetrarchy.

ANCH 7210 The Principate under Pressure: Gaius Caligula
R 1:45pm-4:44pm
Cynthia Damon/Julia Wilker
Hactenus quasi de principe, reliqua ut de monstro narranda sunt (Suet. Cal. 22.1). Suetonius here captures the view of ancient sources (and some modern scholarship) that the principate of Gaius, which began with great expectations, degenerated into a crisis with a madman as the head of state. Revisionist scholarship has argued, however, that the empire functioned according to design during the brief but disconcerting principate of Gaius. In this seminar, we will look at the contemporary literary, documentary, and material sources for Gaius' principate (and slightly beyond, both before and after), with a focus not on the biography of the princeps but on the institutions constitutive of the principate. Sessions will be devoted to: the provinces and cities of the empire, Italy, literary and material cultural productions and spectacle, the army and praetorian guard, social groups and social mobility, the senate, client rulers, the ruler cult, the fiscus and imperial holdings, the treasury and taxation, the courts, the domus Augusta. Readings will be drawn from Suetonius, Philo of Alexandria, Josephus, Seneca, the Garland of Philip, Tacitus, and others. The documentary and material record for this period is richly varied, so we will be looking at papyri, inscriptions, coins, and archaeological discoveries.
LATN 5801 Advanced Latin Language and Composition
TR 12pm-1:29pm
James Ker
Study of Latin grammar, vocabulary, and stylistic features, combining exercises in analysis, composition, and sight translation. Intended for graduate students and advanced undergraduates.
AAMW 5500 Archaeologies of Subalternity
T 8:30am-11:29am
Kim Bowes
This course addresses the various areas and approaches to "otherness" in ancient Mediterranean archaeology, and the power dynamics of oppression. We'll not only examine disempowerment around cultural identity, class, gender and sexuality, and race/ethnicity, but we'll spend equal time pondering how those subjects have been studied - or ignored - by classical archaeologists. The power relationships both inherent in the subjugation of various kinds of people in the ancient world, and in the academic discourses around them, are the themes of the course. While this course will be focused on the Bronze Age through late antique Mediterranean, those with other period/interests are most welcome. Students will be asked to bring their own interests to the course, which help shape the course. Upper-level courses in archaeology, anthropology, or ancient history are recommended prior to enrollment.
AAMW 5280 Hellenistic Cities Seminar
M 5:15-8:14 PM
Mantha Zarmakoupi
A new form of city and of urban life developed and spread during the Hellenistic period. The new political social and economic conditions resulting from the victories of Alexander the Great and the emergence of the Macedonian kingdoms deeply affected civic life and form. Hellenistic cities were not independent poleis but subject to absolute monarchs and were open to all residents regardless of their geographical origins. Civic life assumed a cosmopolitan character and the urban setting became an arena for the propaganda of the Hellenistic rulers. This course will examine the architectural and urban developments of the Hellenistic period together with central political institutions and religious and social practices that were associated with them. In studying a diversity of visual, material and textual evidence—such as urban form, architectural and sculptural monuments, as well as literary sources and epigraphic evidence—the course will address both the structure of the urban fabric and the socio-political situation of the Hellenistic polis. The purpose of the course will be to shed light on the principles of urban planning as well as the realities of civic life in the Hellenistic period.
AAMW 6269 Classical Myth and the Image
Ann Kuttner
MW 3:30pm-4:59pm
The peoples of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds shared a vast body of stories about human and not-human beings set in a legendary deep past or supernatural present - "Classical myth." Even their neighbor cultures took up those stories (or, sometimes, gave them). The stories as spoken, read, or performed turn up in surviving ancient literature. But from the very point when Greek myth began to be written down, those stories were told with images also. Many arts of the Mediterranean world explored myth at temples and sanctuaries, in civic spaces, theaters, parks, houses and palaces, for tombs and trophies - and even on the body upon weapons, clothes and jewelry. Love and desire and hate, hope and fear and consolation, war and peace, pleasure and excitement, power and salvation, the nature of this world and the cosmos, justice and duty and heroism, fate and free will, suffering and crime: mythological images probed the many domains of being human in order to move the emotions and minds of people (and of gods). Our class samples this story art to ask about its makers and viewers and contexts. What, also, were relations between images and texts and language? What about religious belief vs invention, truth vs fiction? What might it mean to look at this ancient art today, and to represent the old stories in post-ancient cultures? The class introduces ways of thinking about what images and things do; we will read in some relevant literature (drama, epic, novels, etc); and our Penn Museum will be a resource. No prerequisites--no prior knowledge of art history, archaeology, myth or Mediterranean antiquity is assumed.
CLST 7405 Late Antique Art and Artifact Seminar
T 1:45pm-4:44pm
Ann Kuttner
What is 'Late Antiquity'? In 312 when Roman emperor Constantine inaugurated a Christian empire, 'Roman' culture was centuries old. The period ca. 200-650 CE saw profound transformations that launched Medieval, Byzantine and Islamic traditions. In this epoch of upheaval destruction was frequent but partial: Rome long survived, Constantine's 'new Rome,' Constantinople flourished, and around the Empire both proto-global visual culture and local forms prospered. Roman cultural models authorized both innovation and passion for tradition: we critique art-historical models for Late Antique 'decline', analyse habits of material reuse and curation, and look at new Christian and Jewish roles for Roman things as well as polytheist visual survival. Foreign allies and enemies interacted with Greco-Roman Late Antiquity; we visit them too, as in the early Islamic palaces. Media discussed include not just 'monumental' painting, mosaic, sculpture, but also silver, ceramic, ivory, figural textile, glass, painted books, jewelry, coins and more. We look too at Late Antique texts on art, objects, space and viewership. This seminar is open to graduate and undergraduate students.
NELC 6410 Age of the Sultans: 1100-1500
TR 1:45pm-3:14pm
Paul Cobb
After the “golden age” of the Islamic Near East in the early Middle Ages, the empires controlled by the caliphs began to fragment and political power devolved to a constellation of local dynasties, princelings, and entirely new ethnic and religious groups. This course traces the changes wrought by this fragmentation in the Islamic Near East’s political, social, and cultural history. It is a period rivaled in its creativity only by the early Islamic era that preceded it. It was in this period that saw the arrival of Turkish groups in large numbers, and saw the cosmopolitan Islam of earlier centuries challenged by the arrival of European Crusaders, pagan Mongol hordes, and movements of reform from within. In many ways, much of what we think of today as “Islam” or “Islamic” are products of this period. Special topics include: the Eleventh-Century Transformation; Crusades and Jihads, the Mamluk Institution; Knowledge and Power; The Mongol Invasions; Timur and His Legacy; Gunpowder Empires.
CLST 7713 Vernacular Epistemologies
M 1:45pm-4:44pm
Rita Copeland/Emily Steiner
In this seminar we will consider the ways of knowing, the epistemologies, that were particular to vernacular cultures in medieval Europe, c.1100-1500. From the late twelfth century, knowledge that had hitherto been transmitted in scholarly languages and formats (Latin, for example, and in some contexts Arabic and Hebrew), began to be translated and reformatted for vernacular language speakers. This major shift in the transmission of knowledge responded to - and helped to create - a broader audience for subjects ranging from natural science, law, medicine, and astronomy to ethics, political theory, world history, and religious instruction. It also gave rise to vernacular cultures of knowledge or ways of knowing and transmitting knowledge within particular regions and languages. Together we will explore the following questions: how did vernacular cultures redefine what constitutes knowledge and what was worth knowing? Did medieval writers acknowledge a division between general and elite (“high-brow”) knowledge (questions that we still ask today)? And to what extent did they recognize a difference between “literary” and “learned” productions? How did vernacular writers develop their languages to bear the burden of learning? For example, what new genres of knowledge did they create, what styles did they invent in order to accommodate new readerships, and what formal choices (e.g. prose, verse, dialogue, exposition) did they make for transmitting and thematizing knowledge? In what ways was a broadening of audiences for learning accompanied by sensory appeals (visual, aural, imaginative)? Finally, how did the material vehicles of learning target vernacular audiences, from manuscript mis-en-page, diagrams, and illustrations to copying, compilation, and circulation? These are questions that bear on many theoretical issues, including form, poetics, hermeneutics, textual reception, visuality, the senses, readership, gender, class, encyclopedism, and translation. We welcome students from a variety of language interests and competences. While some of the basics of our reading will be medieval English texts, each week we will also put these side by side with texts from other language traditions (including, for example, French, Italian, German, Catalan and Castilian, Hebrew and Yiddish, Arabic and Persian, and other languages that the students in the seminar wish to see considered). We will be meeting in Special Collections in Van Pelt Library in order to have manuscripts at our weekly seminar meetings. We will also invite guest lecturers to speak to us about various language fields. Knowledge of one or more medieval languages is helpful but not necessary: all the readings will be available in translation.
AAMW 5120 Petrography of Cultural Materials
W 10:15am-1:14pm
Marie-Claude Boileau
Introduction to thin-section petrography of stone and ceramic archaeological materials. Using polarized light microscopy, the first half of this course will cover the basics of mineralogy and the petrography of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. The second half will focus on the petrographic description of ceramic materials, mainly pottery, with emphasis on the interpretation of provenance and technology. As part of this course, students will characterize and analyze archaeological samples from various collections. Prior knowledge of geology is not required.
AAMW 5520 Archaeometallurgy Seminar
F 8:30am-11:29am
Vanessa Workman
This course is designed to provide an in-depth analysis of archaeological metals. Topics to be discussed include: exploitation of ore and its transformation to metal in ancient times, distribution of metal as a raw materials, provenance studies, development and organization of early metallurgy, and interdisciplinary investigations of metals and related artifacts like slag and crucibles. Students will become familiar with the full spectrum of analytical procedures, ranging from microscopy for materials characterization to mass spectrometry for geochemical fingerprinting, and will work on individual research projects analyzing archaeological objects following the analytical methodology of archaeometallurgy.
AAMW 5720 Geophysical Prospection for Archaeology
M 1:45pm-4:44pm
Jason Herrmann
Near-surface geophysical prospection methods are now widely used in archaeology as they allow archaeologists to rapidly map broad areas, minimize or avoid destructive excavation, and perceive physical dimensions of archaeological features that are outside of the range of human perception. This course will cover the theory of geophysical sensors commonly used in archaeological investigations and the methods for collecting, processing, and interpreting geophysical data from archaeological contexts. We will review the physical properties of common archaeological and paleoenvironmental targets, the processes that led to their deposition and formation, and how human activity is reflected in anomalies recorded through geophysical survey through lectures, readings, and discussion. Students will gain experience collecting data in the field with various sensors at archaeological sites in the region. A large proportion of the course will be computer-based as students work with data from geophysical sensors, focusing on the fundamentals of data processing, data fusion, and interpretation. Some familiarity with GIS is recommended.