HMN 300: Graecia Capta: Ancient Greek Literature and Culture in Rome and Southern Italy (4 credits)
It is well known that Ancient Greek and Roman Culture are the twin pillars of Western Civilization. Typically, the two cultures are studied together but separately: Classical Athens and the Roman Empire. What is assumed but rarely considered explicitly, however, is the fact that Rome and Southern Italy were already under the cultural sway of the Greeks long before the Romans conquered them. This course offers students the opportunity to investigate the cultural conquest of the Romans by the Greeks through an on-campus seminar in the Spring semester followed by a travel seminar in Rome and Southern Italy. On-campus, students will study the historical background of the two great phases of Greek cultural expansion in the Mediterranean: the Colonization period (8th-6th century BCE) and the Hellenistic period (3rd-1st BCE). They will study ancient texts by or about ancient Greeks in Italy alongside important scholarly work that illuminates these periods. A special focus of the course will be the Villa dei Papiri, the Greek and Roman Library, which was buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 78 CE and the attempt to reconstruct the Herculaneum scrolls which survived the destruction. In addition to reading some of the ancient works, students will hear presentations from scholars who have been trying to reconstruct and decipher the scrolls. The work the students will in the on-campus seminar will prepare them for the travel seminar. We will travel to Rome and Southern Italy where students will visit most of the sites that they will have studied on campus, e.g. the Roman Fora, Pompeii, Herculaneum, Paestum etc. Students will visit the major museums as well some of the locations and settings of the ancient texts where they will make individual on-site presentations and will write a short response about the experience of reading the work in context. Through this immersive study of the literature and material culture of Rome and Southern Italy, students will come away from this course with a deep understanding and appreciation of the roots of the West in ancient Italy.
All applicants will be notified by Dec. 1, 2015
About Bingham Seminars in the Humanities
Every other year, the Center holds an open competition among University of Kentucky faculty who wish to offer a special humanities-oriented seminar that includes a travel experience. Ten students are then selected by way of competitive application for participation in this 300-level seminar. The Bingham Seminar in the Humanities provides faculty and students a chance to explore a subject not in the university's regular course offerings and to do so on-site, since the seminar provides funding to offset the cost of two to four weeks' study either in the US or abroad. The seminar meets on campus according to a regular course pattern during spring term, and then the travel portion typically begins in May, not long after final exam week.