Fall 2022


History 180: Antiqui-tea - Spilling the Ancient Mediterranean

This course takes a self-conscious approach to what has long been asserted (and weaponized) as a "foundational survey" of the "Ancient" histories of Western Asia and the lands bordering the Mediterranean. As such, it calls attention to, while reading against the grain of, a "civilizational" narrative that has hitherto privileged certain assumptions regarding "progress," sought to engrave a teleology ("from Ancient Near East [sic] to Egypt to Greece to Rome") used to underpin and define "Western modernity," and which actively manipulates, marginalizes, and dehumanizes millions of peoples - past and present - through its imperial/colonial framework. This course explores the contours of these interlocking processes, while also tracing the fractures, interstices, and ongoing struggles in the "surviving" evidence, usually boxed into categories of disciplinary "knowledge," literary as opposed to oral, voices heard over the silenced, and/or the archaeological/artifactual/art-historical - all of it curated by modern geo-politics. Spanning thousands of years, a broad geography, and a diversity of worldviews, this course seeks to dispel oppressive myths inscribed as "universal," be they linearities drawn from "Prehistory" to "History," discourses surrounding "Agricultural" and "Urban/Industrial" "Revolutions," "Empires" as cyclical inevitabilities, or essentializing narratives regarding humanity, social hierarchies, gender identities, place, and the peoples of a place (with an exploration across the labels of "Mesopotamia, Egypt, Levant, Greece, north Africa, Europe, the Roman Empire"). On a weekly basis, we will unpack the historicizing of hegemonic structures that have 'splained "Antiquity," while then countering those edifices with perspectives "traditionally" unseen in the textbooks.

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

-Fulfills Cultural Pluralism and/or Social Science or Humanities 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, TTh 11:30am-12:50pm

-Fulfills Social Science or Humanities distribution and Classics elective requirements.

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

History 393: A House of Mirrors - Roman Imperialism

This course unravels the complex layers of Rome's "great empire" - a phenomenon at once foretold, celebrated, bemoaned, mourned, and immortalized in antiquity. and beyond. The course searches for the deepest roots of Roman imperialism, navigating multiple definitions and debates surrounding "Roman-ness" and systems of power. In doing so, the course investigates a terrain of apparent (yet revelatory) paradoxes: the juxtapositions of traditionalism and innovation, flexibility and intolerance, autocracy and philanthropy, and of obsession regarding self-ruin coupled with a deep-seated faith in eternity. All the while, the course unfolds the modern/contemporary afterlives of the Roman empire, investigating the retoolings of an imperial "mission" into the foundations of Europe and the United States, the problematically linear links forged between Rome and a constructed "West," and an unnervingly durable legacy of nostalgia in historicizing narratives. Throughout the semester, we will continue to redefine "imperialism" and "empire" and ask the following questions (among others): what are the relationships between notions of "governance," "liberty," "order," and imperialism? What roles are played by how worldviews - from geographies to "universals" regarding human nature - have been mapped? What patterns of resistance and counter-revolution exist? What factors seem most decisive in an empire's collapse - and did Rome "fall" (and, perhaps, how often)? To what extent has Rome become a "template" for empire, and how are the imbricated histories of Rome and "the West" in conversation with thinking in decolonizing and anti-imperial ways, in potentially unlearning imperial modes that continue to persist?

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

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

-History major: 39x seminar and only one of the following -- pre-modern; Empires & Colonialism; Revolution, War, & Politics; Before Modernity


Spring 2023


History 280: The "Other" Greece & Rome

This course introduces the ways in which ancient Greeks and Romans defined themselves and represented various "others" in their understandings of human difference. From categories today defined under the labels of gender, race, ethnicity, and socio-economic status, this course explores the nature of diversity and identity in the Greek and Roman worlds and seeks to highlight groups traditionally silenced or marginalized in ancient and subsequent modern narratives. We will analyze ancient literary, archaeological, and iconographic evidence in our search, and in the process, we will not only uncover the ways in which various groups were "other-ized" and oppressed, but also find examples of resistance and self-empowerment. In the end, we will come to comprehend how much the "Classical" world was far from monolithic and thus cannot belong to any one group of people, past or present.

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

-Fulfills Cultural Pluralism and/or Humanities or Social Science distribution, as well as Race & Ethnic Studies and Gender Studies requirements. Cross-listed with Classics, as CLAS-280.

-History major: pre-modern; Social Justice; 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, MW 2:30-3:50pm

-Fulfills Social Science distribution and Classics elective requirements.

-History major: pre-modern; Empires and Colonialism; Revolution, War, and Politics