Fall 2020


History 180: Cities & Empires

This course introduces the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean -the vast, culturally diverse regions that have deeply influenced the modern world. The course begins by exploring the agricultural and urban revolutions - and the forms of kingship and divinity - that evolved in Mesopotamia and Egypt. It then looks to the globalization of the Bronze Age, to new interactions between "East" and "West," and to the concepts of citizenship, polis-structure, and Hellenic identity that developed in the Greek-speaking world. From there, it analyzes the conquests of Alexander the Great as forging a new internationalism - the Hellenistic - with transformed approaches to political power, urbanism, and identity. The focus then shifts, to Rome's meteoric rise to empire and position as arbiter of pan-Mediterranean citizenship - a citizenship ultimately defined in Christian terms. From about 3000 BCE to the fifth century CE, this course is therefore an investigation into grand-narrative processes and interpretations of continuity, change, and power. It also introduces the various forms of evidence encountered by historians of the ancient world, from literary to epigraphic and archaeological.

Prof. Davies, 4 credits, TTh 2:30-3:50pm

-Fulfills Social Science distribution.

-History major: pre-modern; Cultures & Ideas; Empires & Colonialism; Before Modernity


History 226: Meet the Ancient Greeks

This course surveys the history of the Greek-speaking world, from Bronze Age beginnings to the Roman occupation. Using a range of ancient sources, both archaeological and literary, we will examine the many definitions of "Hellenic" identity - from the Minoan and Mycenaean worlds, to the rise of the polis and the phenomenon of Greek colonization, to Alexander's conquests and "globalizing" visions of pan-Hellenism. At the same time, we will consider the reception of these Hellenic identities - not only in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, but also in the modern world, in the often-problematic framing of what it means to be male, female, human, beautiful, "civilized," or "democratic."

Prof. Davies, 4 credits, MWF 2:30-3:20pm

-Fulfills Social Science distribution and Classics elective requirements.

-History major: pre-modern; Cultures & Ideas; Before Modernity


History 330: Hail Caesar? The Roman Revolution

On the Ides of March, 44 BCE, the Roman world stood at a crossroads. Its newly minted dictator-for-life, Julius Caesar, lay dead, publicly slain by a group of senators, who declared that the Republic had been freed and restored. And yet, over the next few decades, the Roman state and the broader Mediterranean world continued to be racked by turmoil. Out of this crucible, a new "Republic" and world-imperium emerged, one headed by a "first citizen": the nephew and heir of Caesar, Octavian-Augustus. Over the millennia, it has proven overwhelmingly seductive to view Caesar and Augustus, and their "Roman Revolution" from a teleological perspective, with these men inevitably marking both the "fall" of the Republic and the rise of a Roman "Empire." This course seeks to explore the ancient origins of this teleological perspective and to delve more deeply into a remarkably complex chapter that shaped the history of a "Western" world. Using a combination of archaeological, art historical, literary and epigraphic evidence, this course will investigate the dramatic transformations of political and social life in the Roman world, from second century BCE to first century CE.

Prof. Davies, 4 credits, TTh 10:00-11:20am

-Fulfills Social Science distribution and Classics elective requirements.

-History major: pre-modern; Empires & Colonialism; Revolution, War, & Politics; Before Modernity


Spring 2021


History 225: Cleopatra - History & Myth

Cleopatra VII Philopator, the last Ptolemaic ruler of Egypt (69¬-30 BCE), has long intrigued the imaginations of her onlookers. She has been dubbed the "world's first celebrity," and her name and many guises have been immortalized in everything from perfume to cigarettes to the silver screen. And yet Cleopatra remains hidden in what has been called a "fog of fiction" - a multiplicity of meanings that the queen herself encouraged, but which have also resulted in a tangled profusion in her images and stories. At times a glamorous seductress, at others, a self-indulgent victim, a tragic romantic, or a power-crazed visionary, Cleopatra has been at once a worldly and alluring manipulator of men, the ruination of the last Hellenistic kingdom, and an inspirational rebel. This course explores the many "Cleopatras," from her own times to the present. It introduces the worlds of Hellenistic Egypt and Late Republican and Early Imperial Rome, and considers the ways in which the Ptolemaic queen constructed her own legend, as well as how her contemporaries responded in both writing and material culture. It examines the gendered nature of cultural politics between Egypt and Rome, as well as between Romans, in the wars between Pompey and Caesar, and Antony and Octavian. The course then reviews subsequent receptions of the Cleopatra legend, from later Greek and Roman authors to modern gendered, Orientalist, and racialist versions of "Cleopatra," as she continued to evolve as an icon of the exotic, enigmatic, and ill-fated woman-in-power. May be taken for credit toward the Classics/Classical Studies major or minor or the Gender Studies major or minor.

Prof. Davies, 4 credits, TTh 1:00-2:20pm

-Fulfills Cultural Pluralism, Humanities, and/or Social Science distribution and Classics and Gender Studies requirements.

-History major: pre-modern; Social Justice; Before Modernity