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Encounters with Latin Texts

CX 114-15


Module convenor: Dr Nicolas Liney

module contributors: Dr Nicolas Liney, Dr Joe Watson, Lucrezia Sperindio.

Introductory Description

This module, taught in translation, introduces students to many different kinds of Latin texts written in a variety of genres and forms, including historiographical, epigraphic and rhetorical texts, and literary texts in poetry and prose, from the canonical to the marginal and ‘sub-literary’ (e.g. epigraphic and epigrammatic texts), categories whose definitions may have changed over time. As well as expanding awareness of the Latin texts classicists study across different sub-fields (for instance, philology, archaeology, ancient history), the module will explore critically the range of methodologies and approaches used in the interpretation of ancient texts in their cultural and political contexts, and allow students to test out these skills in their own responses to texts. What is it to read a Latin poem, for example, as a historian? What kinds of intellectual-emotional encounters might we potentially have with ancient texts? What can they do for us, as classicists? But also, what might they do to us, in terms of exposing us to different experiences and different ways of viewing the world that matter to us now? What do we know, and what can we never quite know, about ancient experiences of reading, listening to, or coming across a text, which might be studied in a library, performed in a theatre or recitation hall, or spotted on a wall or monument? The module presumes no previous knowledge and is designed to fire students’ minds and imaginations so that they might be better informed in choosing an individual path of study at honours level. Each weekly 2-hr lecture/seminar will introduce a series of texts, themes and approaches, and look at one case study in depth.

Module Aims

This module aims to introduce students from diverse backgrounds to the range of themes, genres, and styles in Classical Latin literature, the interpretative challenges it presents, and the diverse methodologies used to investigate and attempt to understand it.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module, students:

  • will have gained knowledge and understanding of the range of ancient written texts (in Latin) that classicists can study, including knowledge of important authors and literary genres;
  • will have gained knowledge and understanding of the range of methodologies and approaches used in the interpretation of Latin texts of all kinds, in their artistic, cultural and political contexts;
  • will have developed an ability to engage critically with classical scholarship on ancient texts across different sub-fields in Classics (e.g. philology, archaeology, ancient history);
  • will be able to put their knowledge about interpretative approaches and strategies into practice in their own responses to classical texts;
  • will be able select and present material clearly, with coherent argumentation and appropriate referencing, both orally and in writing.
  • will be able to reflect critically on their own learning process during the module.