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Classical Views of Literature & the Visual Arts - Organization


The module is taught primarily in a two-hour meeting which will normally combine a lecture and seminar format. The preparatory material for the meetings will usually be in the form of a series of questions on the text(s) to be scrutinised, and will be distributed to students some days in advance.

Meetings are scheduled as follows:

Tuesdays 12-2pm rm H2.04

Students offering the course with Latin are expected to participate in additional seminars from Week 4 of the first term. These will be scheduled and times posted in due course.

For a subject of this range and importance, not all the material can be presented in lectures or seminars. Students are therefore expected to read the relevant set texts and secondary reading in addition (see Bibliography) between lectures and to have thought sufficiently about the issues in order to make constructive oral contributions.




Week 1 Thurs 6 Oct: Introduction to course

Wk 2 Tues 11 Oct: What is literature? Classical approximations of modern ideas

Wk 3 Tues 18 Oct: What is a genre? Ancient and modern conceptions

Wk 4 Tues 25 Oct: Inspiration: Early Greek ideas and their legacies

Wk 5 Tues 1 Nov: Morals, politics and imitation. Ancient and modern thinking


Wk 7 Tues 15 Nov: The importance of Aristotle’s Poetics

Wk 8 Tues 22 Nov: Rhetoric and rhetorical criticism: Longinus and Quintilian [Week 8 22 November First assessed essay due]

Wk 9 Tues 29 Nov: Figures and tropes

Wk 10 Tues 6 Dec: Plato on Painting: Philosophy of Art



Week 1 Tues 10 Jan (i) Consolidation: Ancient parallels and analogies between art and literature

Wk 2 Tues 17 Jan: (i) Comparison between painting and poetry: Homer, Virgil, Lessing

(ii) Introduction to Ecphrasis

Wk 3 Tues 24 Jan: (i) Literature on art in Augustan Rome

(ii) Ekphrasis, description and interpretation

Wk 4 Tues 31 Jan: (i) The role of the artist: Ovid’s Pygmalion, Lucian, Pausanias

(ii) Plato, ideology and the art of seeing

Wk 5 Tues 7 Feb: The role of the author: genius, intention and persona: Catullus, Horace, Ovid, Apuleius

READING WEEK[22 February 2012. 2nd assessed essay]

Wk 7 Tues 21 Feb: Lecture on Ars Poetica; Alexandrian and Roman influences in Horace’s literary epistles

Wk 8 Tues 28 Feb: Suetonius and literary biography. Seminar on biography.

Wk 9 Tues 6 March: Role of the poet in literature and criticism: Virgil and Ovid  [Read Ovid Tristia 4.10] Role of the canon.

Wk 10 Tues 6 Dec: Consolidation/ Theories of art and literature in later periods


Term 3 Summer 2012 

Wk 1 Tues 24 April Imitation and expression/Revision questions

Wk 2 Tue 1 May Form and pragmatic effects/ Revision questions

Wk 3 Tue8 May Revision/Set texts (if required)

Wk 4 Tue 15 May Revision/ Set texts (if required)


classical painting