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Semester 1

Topic In Classical Literature 1 (CLTR10022)


Classical Literature in Translation





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Visiting students must have taken at least 3 courses in Classics related subject matter (at least 2 of which should be in Classical Literature) at grade B or above for entry to this course. We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum academic entry requirements does NOT guarantee admission. **Please note that 3rd year Classics courses are very popular and have strict visiting student quotas, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces.** These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces. Please note that this course may incur additional costs for course texts.

Course Summary

This course aims to introduce students to the study of a particular topic in Classical Literature, to be studied in English translation. The topic is chosen by the course organiser for each outing of the course. For 2022-23, the subtitle for this course is Greek and Roman Letter Writing. In this module students will study in English translation one of the most versatile and revealing genres of the ancient world, the letter. The module will engage students in the analysis of key themes of the Greek and Latin letter, its many forms and formulas, the importance of the letter collection, the development of the genre, its historical significance and the material aspects of ancient letter-writing.

Course Description

This course aims to introduce students to the study of a particular topic in Classical Literature. The topic is chosen by the course organiser for each outing of the course. Topics may include (but are not restricted to) authors (e.g. 'Herodotos'), genres ('Greek and Roman Letter Collections'), themes ('The Autobiographical Turn in Late Antiquity'), or periods ('Literature of Periklean Athens'); courses on the reception of Classical literature may also be taught under this rubric ('Milton and Classical Epic'). The core aim of the course is critical engagement with a coherent and substantial corpus of texts in translation, with consideration of relevant problems from the point of view of philology, literary criticism, and political, intellectual, or social history. A further aim is to teach students how to approach the study of a defined corpus of texts, in the context of other ancient literature, the history of the ancient world, and of modern scholarship, and how to identify important questions for study. For 2022-23, this course introduces students to ancient epistolography and its fascinating mixture of mundane everyday communication and high-brow literature. We will read a range of texts that deal with a wide variety of epistolary subjects: these will include Cicero's and Pliny's letters to friends and political allies, the philosophical letters of Plato, Epicurus and Seneca the Younger, the playful verse letters of the poets Horace and Ovid, and the less literary letters written by soldiers in Vindolanda in Northern England. The module will offer a chronological as well as thematic approach to ancient letters. We will discuss ancient epistolary theory and its limits, the authenticity of the material and the strategies of pseudepigraphical literature, parody and paratext, self-representation and biographical elements in letter-writing as well as the role of privacy and friendship. The module will pay particular attention to the organisation of ancient letters in collections and analyse the role that narrative, distance and chronology play in letter collections.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 60%, Coursework 40%, Practical Exam 0%

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