Syllabus Archive for Ancient History Courses

 

The AAH’s Committee on Teaching has solicited and collected these syllabi, which span the amazing breadth of ancient history. In this archive, the Committee strives to reflect the diversity of course types and institutions that AAH members represent. Each syllabus is preceded by a cover letter contextualizing the course. We hope that these courses are helpful for members in designing and refreshing their own.

 

We welcome new submissions! If you would like to submit a syllabus of your own for consideration, please do so via this form.
You can also contact the Committee at teaching@associationofancienthistorians.org.

 

***Please note that copyright remains with the original author of the syllabus.***

 

Historical Surveys

 

World Civilizations to the Beginning of the Modern Era (Dry)

In this course we will trace human civilizations from their origins to the era of global interaction (the 16th century) by exploring their cultural, social, religious, economic, and political institutions. We will draw comparisons in order to illustrate the diversity and similarity among civilizations and in order to develop a global view of world systems.

 

The Ancient Mediterranean World (Blouin)

An introduction to the main features of the Mediterranean world from the development of agriculture to the spread of Islam. Long term socio-economic and cultural continuities and ruptures will be underlined, while attention will be dedicated to primary sources and disciplinary issues.

 

The Rise of Ancient Greece (LaBuff)

Political, social, and cultural development of the Greek-speaking world from the Early Iron Age to the reigns of Philip and Alexander “the Great” of Macedon.

 

Ancient Greece (Dry)

In this seminar-style course will we explore the political, economic, social, and cultural experiences,
achievements, and failures of the ancient Greeks from their origins to the rise of Macedon. We will examine
their development over time, their place within wider Mediterranean and Eurasian systems, and their enduring
legacies.

 

Archaic and Classical Greece, 750-323 BCE (Lee)

This course provides an overview of Archaic and Classical Greek history, with an emphasis on Athens during the era of the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC). We will employ textual and archaeological evidence to study ancient Greek politics, warfare, society, and culture. Class lectures focus on the analysis of ancient sources and the discussion of major historical problems in Archaic and Classical history. In addition, the class will reconstruct the experience of citizens in Classical Athens by taking part in assemblies and law courts.

 

Achaemenid Persia, ca. 550-330 BCE (Lee)

This course provides an overview of ancient Persia from the time of Cyrus to Alexander. Topics include the development of Achaemenid imperialism, economic and social history of the empire, art and architecture, and cultural interactions amongst Persians, Greeks, and others. We will employ textual and archaeological evidence to study Achaemenid politics, warfare, society, and culture.

 

The Hellenistic World from Alexander to Cleopatra (LaBuff)

Political, social, and cultural development of the multi-cultural Hellenistic world that emerged in the wake of Alexander of Macedon’s conquest of the Persian Empire, stretching from Spain in the west to India in the east, until the Roman and Parthian conquests of these regions, culminating with the death of Cleopatra.

 

Ancient Rome (Clark)

This course is an introduction to the history of ancient Rome, from its origins as a small village through its growth into a Mediterranean empire (and, ultimately, collapse). We will approach Roman history chronologically, discussing developments in politics, culture, economics, and military expansion, and thematically, exploring Roman religions, laws, and daily life.

 

The Roman Empire (Gettel)

The Roman Empire was massive by the 2nd century CE: its provinces stretched from Britain to Egypt to Syria and beyond. This course covers the expansion and transformation of the Roman state between the 3rd century BCE and early 5th century CE. Along the way, it explores the diverse lives and experiences of individuals who were touched by Roman power. We will read biographies of emperors, but we will also learn about queens who challenged Roman authority at its borders. We will meet massively wealthy individuals who lived in the provinces, as well as the farmers, soldiers, and slaves that lived alongside them. Case studies based on literary accounts as well as material evidence will bring these individuals back to life. Along the way, we will raise questions about how the Roman state handled the diversity of groups that fell under its hegemony and about how these groups in turn viewed Rome.

 

Thematic Courses

 

Ethnic Identity in Antiquity (LaBuff)

This section of the History Senior Seminar will explore how notions of collective self were formed, evolved, and contested through the encounters of various societies in the ancient world. We will seek to understand how identity as a “people,” or ethnic identity, was conceived of, formulated, and expressed in several pre-modern contexts, including the Greek world, Egypt, Judea, and East Asia.

 

Sexuality and Politics in Antiquity (LaBuff)

Explores the ways in which sexual behavior and identity intersected with power relations in various ancient societies, shaping “citizen” identities and socio-political relations within democratic and other institutional contexts, as well as setting and challenging limits imposed upon non-dominant gender groups. While a major focus of this course will be devoted to ancient Greek sexuality, equal emphasis will be placed on developing a trans-regional and comparative approach to the erotics of power. As such, we will also investigate the sexual politics of ancient Rome, China, India, Japan, and the Americas.

 

Gender and Sexuality in the Roman World (Köster)

This course uses literature, art, and archaeology to study, from a contemporary feminist point of view, the status of women and men Roman history and literature, the attitudes expressed toward them, and their daily life. Special emphasis will be placed on the representation of Roman women and their activities both historically and in modern literature.

 

Environmental History in the Preindustrial World (Jones)

This course provides an introduction to global environmental history from the Neolithic into the modern period with a focus on the Near East, Mediterranean Basin, and Europe. It explores the complex and ever-changing interrelationship over time between human society and the natural environment. The course is arranged chronologically in order to illustrate the importance of this relationship through the entire period, but we will be examining this history through three thematic lenses: how the natural environment shaped the patterns of human life in these regions; how different cultures in different periods of their nation’s histories view the natural world and their interactions with it; and how these ideas and human activities regarding nature combined in ways that reshaped the
landscape.

 

Science and Technology in Ancient Greece and Rome (Connolly) [Online course]

The primary focus of the course will be on the scientific knowledge and technological skills of the Ancient Greeks and Romans and their importance for the development of science and technology from the medieval period through to today. We will explore the foundations of science and technology of the ancient Mediterranean world within their cultural context to examine the impetus for them and explore them within their professional context to explain the development of science and technology as professions, their division into disciplines, and the development of scientific methods and approaches.

 

Athens on Trial (Gorman)

We will use forensic Attic oratory to reconstruct public and private law and legal procedures in democratic Athens in the 5th to 4th centuries BCE. Topics include: assault, homicide, theft, hubris, slander, legitimacy of marriages and children, inheritance disputes,
prostitution, and false witnessing.

 

Alexander(s) the Great (LaBuff)

This course will use the figure of Alexander of Macedon as a lens to comparatively study how cultures throughout the world and across time have used a common past in similar and different ways. Students will investigate how Alexander serves as an important hero
(or anti-hero) for Greeks, Romans, modern academics, Persians, Jews, Arabs, Indians, Europeans, and Africans, and they will seek to understand why he is the focus of current debates about Greco-Macedonian national identities and the history of sexuality.

 

Ancient Greece in Literature and Film (Abrecht)

In this class, we’ll study Greek history by analyzing novels, film, and television set in ancient Greece. As we do so, we’ll ask ourselves what separates history from fiction and what we mean when we argue about “accurate” representations of the past. We’ll assess the conventions of literary works and visual media to think about how a good (or not so good) piece of historical fiction is crafted, as well as how different creative processes produce different understandings of the history behind the drama. Finally, we’ll discuss whether Greek history has been used or abused, and decide whether historical fiction enhances or distorts our understanding of the past.

 

Roman History in Literature and Film (Abrecht)

In this class, we’ll study Roman history by analyzing novels, film, and television set in ancient Rome. As we do so, we’ll ask ourselves what separates history from fiction and what we mean when we argue about “accurate” representations of the past. We’ll assess the conventions of literary works and visual media to think about how a good (or not so good) piece of historical fiction is crafted, as well as how different creative processes produce different understandings of the history behind the drama. Finally, we’ll discuss whether Roman history has been used or abused, and decide whether historical fiction enhances or distorts our understanding of the past.

 


 

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