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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Medieval Renaissance Courses: The Ancient World

Spring 2021

Linked course titles have extended descriptions. Syllabi provided where available.
Course Title Day Time Instructor Room Syllabus Description
LIT 102 Introduction to Classical Literature MoWe 12:45-2:05 van der Meer IN PERSON This course surveys the history of the classical Latin literature and explores its Hellenistic context as well as its influence on later literatures. We will study the origin and development of various genres (drama, comedy, philosophy, theology, epic, lyric poetry. The course will emphasize reading and discussion of primary sources, in order to provide a window into the thought-ˇworlds and value systems of past societies. This course will provide you with a broad overview on the history of Roman literature. You will read (sections of) key classical texts;; you will learn how to analyze primary sources and how to express your thoughts and insights in an aca-demic manner. You will learn how to trace and understand the classical roots of our own culture. This course will form the basis of any higher division course on Ancient history or classical culture. This course counts towards the Majors and Minors in Classics and Classical Civilization.
JSP/REL 114 The Bible in History, Culture and Religion TuTh 3:30-4:50 Watts ONLINE SYNC The Bible has been the most widely read literature in Western culture. It has influenced literature, law and politics as well as religious traditions. This survey of Jewish and Christian scriptures in English translation pays particular attention to the literary form of biblical books, their origins and original ancient Near Eastern and Hellenistic contexts, and their role in the development of Western religions and cultures.
ARC 133 Introduction to the History of Architecture I MoWe 3:45-5:05 Bédard ONLINE SYNC Themes, concepts, and problems in architectural history from ancient Egypt to 1500. The first part of a two-course sequence that serves as an introduction to a global history of architecture, this class begins with the monumental architecture of Ancient Egypt and ends around 1500 CE, a period which saw the waning of the Middle Ages in Europe. ARC 133 focuses in particular on architecture defined as the “art of building,” distinct from functional shelters or vernacular structures. Special attention is placed on the theoretical notions that ground this distinction—issues such as ritualistic use, transcendental geometry and proportion, symbolic ornament—elements that link architecture to other sciences and arts in a common pre-modern “world-view.” This course counts towards the Majors and Minors in Classics and Classical Civilization and the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
REL 186 Buddhism MoWe 10:35-11:30 Fisher IN PERSON Buddhism as a world religion: its origin in India, its spread to other parts of Asia, and conse-quent changes in doctrine and practice through the ages.
LIT 200 Greek and Roman Mythology TuTh 12:30-1:50 van der Meer IN PERSON This course offers an introduction into the nature of myths in general and ancient Greek and Roman myths in particular. How and why they were used, interpreted, adapted, depicted, cele-brated or rejected by audiences ancient and modern? Our aim is to understand myths not just as free-floating fanciful stories—though the sheer narrative pleasure of mythological tales will not be ignored—but as complex, challenging accounts of human existence that were deeply and meaningfully woven into the very texture of ancient social life. In addition to reading liter-ary texts, we will also look at material culture and analyze the importance of myths in classical architecture and other material media. We will see, furthermore, how myths were manipulat-ed in the interests of power and special interest groups. Moreover, the course will introduce you to several theories, ancient and modern, that analyze myths. The class is designed to im-part skills in critical and analytical reading, writing, and thinking as well as to provide extensive knowledge of and analytical reading, writing, and thinking as well as to provide extensive knowledge of specific aspects of Greek and Roman mythology. The subject matter of this course is profoundly relevant to our lives today since our society is saturated with references to an-cient Greece and Rome, and we all use stories on a daily basis to construct meaning while pur-suing our personal interests. This course counts towards the Majors and Minors in Classics and Classical Civilization by petition.
HST 210 The Ancient World Champion ONLINE ASYNC This course surveys the history of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, and explores the classical roots of modern civilization. We will begin with the first civilizations of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, the roots of western religion in ancient Israel; then proceed through Bronze Age, archaic and classical Greece, the Persian wars, the trial of Socrates, the conquests of Alex-ander the Great, the Hellenistic world, the rise of Rome, and end with the fall of the Roman Empire and the coming of Christianity. The course will treat political, social, cultural, religious and intellectual history. We will focus on issues that the ancients themselves considered im-portant – good and bad government, the duties of citizens and the powers of kings and tyrants – but we will also examine those who were marginalized by the Greeks and Romans: women, slaves, so-called "barbarians." The course will emphasize reading and discussion of primary sources, in order to provide a window into the thought-worlds and value systems of past socie-ties. This course counts towards the Majors and Minors in Classics and Classical Civilization.
HST 213 Africa: Ancient Times to 1800 Shanguhyia ONLINE ASYNC This course is a survey of pre-modern African history, presenting an overview of the main themes and chronology of the development of African culture and society. It provides an exposi-tion of the regional and continental diversity and unity in African political, economic, social and cultural histories with special emphasis on major African civilizations, processes of state for-mation, encounters with the Euro-Asia world, Africa’s role in the international Trans-Saharan, Indian Ocean and Atlantic trades, ecology, and urbanization. This course counts towards the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies by petition.
JSP/REL 300 Rabbinic Sex Stories in Talmud TuTh 3:30-4:50 Schwartz ONLINE SYNC Do rabbis have sex? Is knowledge erotic? And what is “Talmud”? This course will explore these questions in relation to the rabbis of late antiquity (200-700 CE) through narratives, ethno-graphic accounts and stories about rabbinic sex in the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds. To-gether, these Talmuds are some of the primary corpuses of rabbinic Judaism. Through this class, you will learn to expand the definition of what constitutes “sex” or “desire” by examining ancient rabbinic forms of gendered, sexual and bodily knowledge. Students will learn to be-come curious about bodily norms that are quite removed from the contemporary worlds that we inhabit. The course will also open up possibilities of connection across the vast time differ-ences of the ancient and contemporary. This is a deep-reading, discussion-based course. It will provide students with an opportunity to learn how to read rabbinic texts in translation, and to generate conversational learning through Jewish textual practices like questioning and part-nered study, also known as hevruta. We will focus our attention continuously and deeply on a few key rabbinic texts, plumbing the many layers of rabbinic literature and the dynamic quality of their interpretive possibilities.
PHI 307 Ancient Philosophy MoWe 12:45-2:05 Noble ONLINE SYNC Development of Western philosophy from the Presocratic Greek philosophers to the Hellenistic period. Major figures such as Parmenides, Zeno, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. This course counts towards the Majors and Minors in Classics and Classical Civilization.
HST 310 The Early Middle Ages MoWe 2:15-3:35 Diem IN PERSON This course provides a survey of the most important political, cultural and social developments in the period between 300 and 900, or roughly between the reign of Constantine and end of the rule of the Carolingian kings, mostly focusing on Western Europe. In this period falls one of the most dramatic historical breaks: the “Fall of the Roman Empire” and the “Beginning of the Middle Ages.” But was there really a “Fall of the Roman Empire?” When, how and why did the Roman Empire come to an end? This still ferociously debated question will play a central role in the course. Other topics will be the rise of Christianity, the development of medieval institu-tions (such as kingship, church structures, and feudalism), and the continuity and discontinuity of intellectual traditions. A special emphasis will be laid on reading and interpreting (translat-ed) primary sources and on methods of historical research. This course counts towards the Majors and Minors in Classics and Classical Civilization and the Minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
HST 352 The History of Ancient Greece Champion ONLINE ASYNC Survey of ancient Greek political, economic, social and cultural history based on interpretation of primary sources, both literary and archaeological, from the Bronze Age through Alexander the Great. This course counts towards the Majors and Minors in Classics and Classical Civilization.
HST 353 The History of Ancient Rome TuTh 9:30-10:50 Champion ONLINE SYNC A comprehensive survey of ancient Roman political, economic, social and cultural history based on the interpretation of primary sources, both literary and archaeological, from the foundation of the city through the dissolution of the Empire in the west. Special focus is given to important topics and themes in Roman history, including Roman foundation legends, the interrelationship of Roman statecraft and Roman religion, Roman aristocratic ethical values and imperialism, the Roman reaction to Greek culture and literature, the imperial cult of the Roman emperor, the position of women in Roman society, the Roman institution of slavery, the origins and early growth of Christianity, the third century CE military and economic crises, and modern ideas on Rome's transformation into medieval Europe. Short paper, mid-term and final examinations. This course counts towards the Majors and Minors in Classics and Classical Civilization.
HST 358 Democracy Ancient and Modern TuTh 12:30-1:50 Champion ONLINE SYNC Among the ancient world’s most enduring legacies, democracy and democratic society contin-ues to exert a powerful influence over the modern world’s political imagination. This course will examine the shapes and forms of ancient democracy and democratic participation in gov-ernment to help understand and problematize the ways the modern worlds claims an ancient pedigree for its own forms of participatory self-governance. Throughout the course, we will probe questions like why Democracy arose, why it failed, what factors limited participation, and who benefited most and least from its implementation. In doing so, we will examine if ancient and modern democratic governments experience similar challenges, and, if so, how ancient and modern societies faced them.