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Space and Place in Ancient Greek Literature

cave, exit and journey image

Module tutor: Dr Emmanuela Bakola

Module code: CX269/CX369

Module value: 30 CATS

Lectures: Mondays 4-7pm, OC0.01 (5-6pm break and preparation of passages/reading material)

Seminars: please see Syllabus

Sessions for working with the original Greek: Tuesdays 11-12, H204

This module explores images and ideas through which Greeks conceptualised space, and the ways that certain spaces and places were imagined, constructed and characterised in Greek poetry and literature from Archaic to Hellenistic times. Students will get an understanding of theoretical approaches to space in humanities and gain an in-depth overview of Greek literature from the Archaic to the Hellenistic period through the angle of space. They will be able to make crossovers between genres usually taught and thought of separately and will be encouraged to think innovatively on traditional questions of Classical scholarship.

The questions which this module will ask include: how was the underworld imagined in different periods and what does this say about Greek understandings of space? Why do journeys, returns and separations form the heart of so much poetry and literature, and how have these motifs helped the Greeks to think about themselves? When was cartography invented and what influence did it have on the ways poets constructed and represented spaces? How did the Ionian philosophers think about the universe and its coming-to-be? How was the relationship between the human body and the cosmos imagined? Is the centre point a significant space in Greek drama? How did the sea and the mountains of Greece capture the imagination of poets and travellers, and what connotations were attributed to them? How useful is the concept of gendered space in Greek poetry and literature? What is so philosophical about caves? How did Greeks (and Athenians in particular) think about, and represent, the spaces of Athens and those of other city-states? What were the poets’ reactions to early formation of urban spaces?

The module will be examined through one 10-minute video presentation (term 1, 10% of the total mark; presentation recorded with Office Powerpoint Screen Capture, submitted as video file on Tabula; training will be provided through a workshop); one 1500-word practical criticism on a text relevant to the presentation (term 1, 15% of the total mark); one 2500-word essay (term 2, 25% of the total mark); one 2-hour exam paper (50% of the total mark).
This module will be offered as a Greek text option.