Program in Early Cultures

Relevant Courses (2018-2019)

The following courses have been suggested by Early Cultures faculty as especially relevant to interested students. Courses marked with an asterisk have also received PEC funding for additional programming. Many of our Affiliated Departments also include course listings for the current year, as well as past or future years, on their websites. To view all courses being offered at Brown University in the current academic year, visit the university's online listings, Courses@Brown.

ANTH 1201: Introduction to Geographic Information Systems and Spatial Analysis

This course offers an introduction to the concepts and techniques of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Through weekly lab assignments and work on independent projects, students develop skills in cartography and coordinate systems, spatial database design, image processing, basic spatial analysis, hydrological modeling, and three-dimensional modeling. Discussions and case material draw primarily from the application of GIS in archaeology, anthropology, and cultural geography, including the study of archival materials and the ethics of geographic representation. Provides foundation forupper division coursework in spatial analysis. Software focuses on ESRI products (ArcMap,ArcScene, ArcCatalog, ArcGIS Pro).

Parker VanValkenburgh


ANTH 2560: Lived Bodies, Dead Bodies: The Archaeology of HumanRemains

Bioarchaeology is the study of human remains fromarchaeological contexts. We will survey the "state of the art" in bioarchaeology, while exploringits relevance and application to the archaeology of complex societies. We will survey arange of bioarchaeological methods and applications, including paleopathology, stable isotopeanalysis, population affinity/ancient DNA, perimortem trauma, and body modification. In turn,we will explore how bioarchaeology can be used to approach a wide range of archaeological problemsrelative to complex societies, including subsistence, economy, migration, urbanism,social inequality, conflict and warfare, and identity. Open to graduate students only.

Andrew K Scherer


ANTH 2501: Principles of Archaeology

Examines theoretical and methodological issues in anthropological archaeology. Attention is given to past concerns, current debates, and future directions of archaeology in the social sciences.

Robert W Preucel


ANTH 1720: The Human Skeleton

More than simply a tissue within our bodies, the human skeleton is a gateway into narratives of the past--from the evolution of our species to the biography of individual past lives. Through lecture and hands-on laboratory, students will learn the complete anatomy of the human skeleton, with an emphasis on the human skeleton in functional and evolutionary perspective. We'll also explore forensic and bioarchaeological approaches to the skeleton. By the course conclusion, students will be able to conduct basic skeletal analysis and will be prepared for more advanced studies of the skeleton from medical, forensic, archaeological, and evolutionary perspectives.

Andrew K Scherer 

Joshua Schnell


ARCH 1178: Archaeology and Social Justice: Un-disciplining the Past, Changing the Present

The contemporary world is at a breaking point. Deepening social inequality, environmental crises, and neo-colonialism exacerbate global injustices. The stories that archaeologists tell about the past, more often than not, contribute to these injustices. In this course, we will use global case studies to explore the possibilities for other, decolonial archaeologies which can liberate the material past from its colonial/racial disciplinary straightjacket, and at the same time provide essential tools for the necessary struggles for social justice today.

Yannis Hamilakis


ARCH 1492: The Priest-Kings and Village Life of Ancient Pakistan and India 

The Indus Civilization was the largest culture in the Bronze Age, extending over Pakistan and much of India. It produced sculptures of priest-kings and dancing girls, seals imprinted with magical beings, vast water systems, and monumental structures. But it remains such a mystery that archaeologists can’t even read its texts: the Indus script is still undeciphered. This course will look at the remarkable material culture of the Indus and famous sites like Harappa and Mohenjo Daro, but will also introduce current research examining grassroots change effected by villagers in their daily lives.

Jennifer Bates


ARCH 1500: Classical Art from Ruins to RISD: Ancient Objects/Modern Issues

The RISD Museum's collection of Greek and Roman art will be studied first-hand and in light of recent scholarship in art history, archaeology, and museum studies. Through the lens of bodies in Classical art, the course will take a critical look at the materiality of art, particularly around issues of representation and display. Students will explore original contexts for museum objects; issues of cultural property and museum ethics; visitors’ perception and experience of exhibitions; and notions of historical interpretation in museum display.

Eva Mol


ARCH 1837: The Origins of Things: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Early Human Worlds

Were the first architects in the Orkneys subterranean-dwelling dwarves? What did Greek and Roman intellectuals have in mind when they spoke of ages of gold, silver, and bronze? Why did pots and brooms revolt against their owners in the ancient Americas? Accounts of bygone time shave existed for millennia offering insightful, perplexing, and often astonishing glimpses into early human experience. Using a combination of literary, visual, and archaeological evidence from around the world, students will explore the epistemological challenges and ethical dilemmas that people have confronted when imagining life in the remote past.

Felipe A Rojas Silva


ARCH 2020E: Economy and Trade in the Later Bronze Age Aegean and East Mediterranean 

Beginning with an examination of the workings of theMycenaean palace economy, including the evidence of Linear B documents, this seminar will then turn to a more inclusive consideration of trade and exchange involving Aegean states and their counterparts further east, and of the nature and extent of cultural interaction between them during the later Bronze Age (ca. 1600-1100 BC).

John F Cherry


ARCH 2535: The Levant and Egypt: Cultural Contacts and Connections

A land steeped in story and history, the Levant (now Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, and Jordan) was a dynamic crossroads of ancient civilizations, from Mesopotamia and Anatolia and stretching across Europe. But this region is nearly always viewed through the lens of its larger, well-known neighbor: Egypt. This course will shift this viewpoint by exploring the nature and agency of trade, colonization, diplomacy, migration– and even war – between the Levant and ancient Egypt, paying particular attention to the archaeological record in reconstructing these interactions and cultural interconnections.

Carl Walsh


ARCH 2630: Global Romans and Indigenous Persistence

The military expansion of the Roman Republic has long been regarded as the starting point for profound cultural transformations around the WestMediterranean, as conquered indigenous societies were assumed to be "becoming Roman" as a result. In contrast with that traditional, profoundly hegemonic interpretation, this seminar will trace the longevity and influence of indigenous traditions -- particularly those of Gallia Narbonensis, the Hispaniae, Africa, and the major islands -- that began well before and extendedfar beyond the Roman conquests.

Peter Van Dommelen


CLAS 1120G: The Idea of Self

Literature gestures us toward a certain kind of knowledge not quite psychological, not quite philosophical. We read widely in the classical and medieval traditions in order to gauge the peculiar nature of what this knowledge tells us about experience and the ways in which expressions of selfhood abide or are changed overtime. Authors include but are not limited to Sappho, Pindar, Catullus, Horace, Augustine, and Fortunatus.

Joseph Michael Pucci


CLAS 1120Q: Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

"Everyone has heard of the Seven Wonders of the World,"wrote Philo of Byzantium two millennia ago, and it's still true today. But what's a "Wonder"? And why seven of them? Why make such a list anyway, then or now? This class will use ancient texts, explorers' accounts, and archaeological investigations to travel through several thousand years of history in the Mediterranean and Near Eastern world. We will consider how the Seven Wonders captured past imaginations; the aura of technological achievements; the intersections of history, memory, invention, and myth; and how members of one culture view another culture's monuments.

John F Cherry


CLAS 1145: Goddesses and Women Gurus in South Asian Religious Traditions

Indian Religions have featured some prominent female figures: fierce goddesses, domestic goddesses, legendary women sages, and historical women poets. These figures can be used to empower female authority and agency, but can also be used to construct normative gender roles that limit societally accepted agency for women.This course will explore the canonical narratives of these prominent female figures and the reception of these narratives in various historical contexts. It will also examine the contemporary reception of these figures, looking both at those who champion the progressive possibilities they represent as well as feminist and subaltern critiques.

David Buchta


CLAS 1310: Roman History I: The Rise and Fall of an Imperial Republic Fall

The social and political history of Ancient Rome fromits origins to the death of Augustus in 14 CE. Focuses on the social conflicts of the early Republic; the conquest of the Mediterranean and its repercussions; the breakdown of the Republicand the establishment of monarchy. Readings emphasize ancient sources in translation.

John P Bodel


CLAS 1750H: Heroes and Heroism in Graeco - Roman Antiquity and Beyond

Examines the concept of hero, an ancient Greek word, which had a wide variety of meanings and was employed to designate a series of diverse characters of myth. We will trace the evolution of this idea through a detailed analysis of its uses in Greek and Roman texts, and also contrast its ancient sense with present day conceptions of the hero and heroism. All readings will be in English. The course is open to all undergraduates, but preference will be given to juniors and seniors.

Pura Nieto Hernandez


CLAS 1750L: Erotic Desire in the Premodern Mediterranean

Erotic desire may be a universal human phenomenon.How we explain, depict, express, or experience desire is, however, not a universal, uniform matter. The premodern Mediterranean (from roughly the fifth century BCE to the fifteenth century CE) gives us a variety of forms of sexual experience and expression. We will study the history of these forms through texts, images, and objects: from Platonic love or eros toRoman tales of romance, from Judeo-Christian mysticism to Islamic literature, from sexual diets to erotic amulets.

Efstratios Papaioannou


CLAS 1750U: Greek Life: Athens as a College Town Under the Roman Empire

This course focuses on the role of Athens as one of the most important educational centers of the Roman Empire to examine themes in the cultural history of the Eastern Mediterranean from the 2nd to the 6th century CE. Students traveled from all over the Roman world to study in Athens, celebrity professors competed to attract the biggest classes, and freshmen joining fraternities were subjected to bizarre hazing rituals.Course topics include the Second Sophistic, the educational curriculum, Paganism and Christianity in Late Antiquity, Neoplatonism, and the fate of Athens as an urban center. All readings inEnglish translation.

Byron D MacDougall


CLAS 2000: Proseminar in Classics

Introduction to standard research methods and tools in major subdisciplines of classical philology and ancient history. Required of entering graduate students. Survey of various subdisciplines in order to become familiar with field and scholarly principles.

Graham J Oliver


EGYT 2521: Problems in Amarna History

The Amarna Period of ancient Egypt (ca. 1350-1300BC) is one of the most debated, and variously interpreted, in ancient Egyptian history, in terms of people, events, and intellectual movements. In this course, students will research both the evidence and interpretations, and discuss their findings in class, to try to reach a consensus about the most likely scenarios. The instructor will act as a resource for the problems and sources of evidence, and as moderator in class discussions. Grades will be based on the depth of a student’s research and on a student’s contribution to class discussions.

James P Allen


ASYR 1110: Literature of Ancient Iraq

Introduction to rich and varied compositions surviving from ancient Mesopotamia (Iraq) and beyond, including selected myths, epics, hymns, prayers, rituals, oracles, elegiac poetry, fables, proverbs, riddles, debates and more. We will consider what they can tell us about people’s lives and values in ancient times and the processes by which written knowledge was preserved and passed on, where the texts were collected and how they come to be scattered in museums. The definition of “literature” adopted in this course considers aesthetic intent but also the subjects (e.g. love, death, heroism, gods) and forms of writing meaningful to an ancient audience.

Shiyanthi Thavapalan


ASYR 2710: Babylonian Astronomy

An advanced seminar on Babylonian astronomy, takingboth a technical and a cultural perspective on the history of this ancient science.

John M Steele


ASYR 2950: Scribal and Scholarly Practices in Babylonia and Assyria

This seminar will explore the development of written traditions among the cuneiform scribes of ancient Babylonia and Assyria. Topics covered include the mechanics of writing on clay tablets, the training of scribes and the school curriculum, the status of scribes in society, the development of literary and scholarly traditions, the creation of tablet archives, the circulation of scholarly knowledge, and the range of scholarship(e.g. science, medicine, ritual, literature) found in Babylonia and Assyria.

John M Steele


HIAA 2920: Methods of Research and Art Historical Interpretation

Required of first-year and second year history of art and architecture A.M./Ph.D. students. 

Douglas R Nickel


RELS 1000: Methods in Religious Studies

Intensive introduction to classical and contemporary theories of religion and the principal methods for the study of religion. Junior seminar for religious studies concentrators.

Stephen Bush


RELS 1405: Buddhism in Chinese History

This is an advanced course concerning the modern study of Buddhism in Chinese history. Weekly readings include content from major movements over eighteen hundred years. In-class seminar discussions emphasize modern methods, sources, and scholarly assumptions. We will revisit foundational debates from the 20th century, such as the competing models of ‘Sinification of Buddhism’ and ‘Buddhist conquest of China.’ We will also read recent publications that study Buddhism in China through lenses of cultural and material history. Students will lead book discussions each week, and complete a final seminar paper.

Jason A Protass


RELS 1440: Themes in Japanese Buddhism

An exploration of critical themes and debates in the study of Japanese Buddhism. Participants become conversant with the key features of medieval Japanese thought as well as the strengths and weaknesses of established conceptual models in Japanese Buddhist studies. Readings include primary texts in English translation and modern secondary interpretations. Recommended: a course in Buddhism or East Asian religions.

Janine T Anderson Sawada


RELS 1530B: Heresy and Orthodoxy in Islamic Thought

Orthodoxy is defined as "right belief" while Heresy is just the opposite, but those definitions have always been in tension with society and culture. This course will interrogate theory and history to ask "What are Islamic Orthodoxy and Heresy?" FromIslamic Law to who is or is not a "heretic" we will uncover interpretations of religious law, practice, and culture to learn how scholars apply orthodoxy or heresy to disrupt and unsettle notions of what "Islam" was at different moments, and how their interpretations force us to think of new ways to envision the formation of communities.

Nancy Khalek


RELS 1610: Sacred Sites: Law, Politics, Religion

Sacred sites have long been flashpoints for inter-communalconflict the world over, as well as posing challenges to sovereign State authority. Suchsites range from natural landscapes to architectural masterpieces. They often come to symbolizethe perennial clash between the religious and the secular, the sacred and the political, tradition and modernity. We will discuss a diverse array of specific disputes and ask whetherone may even speak of “sacred sites” cross-culturally. Can legal frameworks embrace differentnotions of the sacred? We will also examine the historical contexts that provoke suchdisputes, particularly the aftermath of colonialism.

Nathaniel A Berman


RELS 2705: Sufism Seminar

A survey of Sufism—as an Islamic religious phenomenon as well as a modern academic field—from the earliest sources to expressions in contemporary Muslim contexts. We will discuss Sufi mystical philosophies, liturgical practices, social organization, and historical development in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.Readings consist of translations and academic treatments from various perspectives in the humanities and the social sciences. There will also be an optional weekly session dedicated to reading materials in original languages pertinent for course participants’ research agendas.

Shahzad Bashir


HIST 1202: Formation of the Classical Heritage: Greeks, Romans,Jews, Christians, and Muslims

Explores essential social, cultural, and religious foundation blocks of Western Civilization, 200 BCE to 800 CE. The main theme is the eternal struggle between universalism and particularism, including: Greek elitism vs. humanism; Roman imperialism vs. inclusion; Jewish assimilation vs. orthodoxy; Christian fellowship vs. exclusion, andIslamic transcendence vs. imminence. We will study how ancient Western individuals and societies confronted oppression and/or dramatic change and developed intellectual and spiritual strategies still in use today. Students should be prepared to examine religious thought from a secular point of view. There is no prerequisite or assumed knowledge of the period.

Kenneth S Sacks 


HIST 1963Q: Sex, Power, and God: A Medieval Perspective

Cross-dressing knights, virgin saints, homophobic priests, and mystics who speak in the language of erotic desire are but some of the medieval people considered in this seminar. This course examines how conceptions of sin, sanctity, and sexuality in the High Middle Ages intersected with structures of power in this period.While the seminar primarily focuses on Christian culture, it also considers Muslim and Jewish experience. 

Amy G Remensnyder


HIST 2971I: New Perspectives on Medieval History

Over the past several decades, the field of medieval history has been reshaped radically. New approaches have changed the ways in which medievalists think about old subjects. Our understanding of medieval society itself has expanded as previously marginalized or unexplored subjects have become central to medievalists’ concerns.This seminar explores the ways in which medievalist historians have altered how they practice their craft in response to these developments. Readings in classic older works are juxtaposed with newer ones on the way to becoming classics themselves.

Jonathan P Conant

ANTH 1126: Ethnographies of Heritage: Community and Landscape of the Mediterranean and Beyond

Archaeologists study objects and (socio-cultural)anthropologists investigate culture is how stereotype and conventions have long had it. As material culture studies have increasingly blurred these boundaries, the distinction is entirely meaningless when it comes to archaeological heritage. Taking its cue from material culture studies, this course explores how local communities experience the material remains from the past and (re)incorporate them into their contemporary lives.

Peter Van Dommelen


ANTH 1240: Religion and Culture

Global events in recent years seem to defy the commonsensical idea that religious traditions would decline or disappear in the modern epoch. We examine classic theories and methods in the study of religion to understand the continuing vitality of spiritual contemplation, asceticism, myths, rituals, magic, witchcraft, experiences of healing, and other ways of thinking and acting that are typically associated with (or against) the concept of religion.

Erin Yerby


ANTH 1621: Material Culture Practicum

Combines theory with hands-on study of artifacts from historical archaeological contexts in North and Latin America. Students will gain skills and experience in artifact identification, dating, recording, analysis, and interpretation, and will conduct individual or team research projects on material things as products of everyday life and history.

Patricia E Rubertone


ANTH 1900: History of Anthropology: Anthropological Theories

Looks at the way anthropological methods and theories have interlaced through history to understand the dominant concerns in present-day anthropology.What were the important issues that influenced the discipline's history? Who were the significant, and not so well known, historic personalities who shaped anthropological practice and gave it its identity?

Erin Yerby


ARCH 1125: Building an Empire: The Sacred and Civic Architecture of Ancient Rome

The Colosseum, Pantheon, and imperial palaces loom large in our impression of Roman civilization. Roman architecture set the standard for some of the most iconic buildings in the West. This course will examine the rise and development of Roman architectural principles and analyze how they were employed to create such a lasting image of empire. We will consider technological advancements and territorial expansion, as well as the shifting political and religious dynamics that shaped Rome’s buildings.

Katia Schorle


ARCH 1153: Cities by the Sea: An Economic, Structural, and Social Examination of Mediterranean Ports

Athens, Alexandria, Carthage, Ostia. Ports circled the ancient Mediterranean, and the sea infused these cities’ hierarchies, structures, and daily patterns. This course will analyze the architecture and economy of key harbor cities of theRoman Empire by discussing their genesis or antecedents, their dynamics, and their role in the imperial era. To contextualize urban maritime landscapes across both time and space, we will consider issues pertaining to urbanism, trade, production, infrastructure, epigraphy, and iconography. Students will evaluate the traditional “port model” and other theoretical approaches, to reach a more complex understanding of these cities by the sea.

Katia Schorle


ARCH 1475: Petra: Ancient Wonder, Modern Challenge

The rose-red city of Petra in southern Jordan is amovie star (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade). It is a tourist mega-hit (over half a million visitors annually). It was recently voted one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. This class will explore the history and archaeology of Petra and debate how best to present and preserve the site, as well as discussing (and planning!) Brown's ongoing fieldwork at this beautiful, but fragile, place. 

Felipe A Rojas Silva


ARCH 1494: Southeast Asia’s Entangled Pasts: Excavated, Curated, and Contested

Behind the caricature of Southeast Asia as an exoticized land of temples and tradition lies a conflicted past entangled with competing claims to power, identity, and territory. This course explores the history of that region (Indonesia, Singapore,Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and the Philippines), examining how ancient ruins were used to justify postcolonial national states; how museums and monuments have bolstered authoritarian regimes and sparked democratic protests; and how circulation of artifacts and artworks sets off diplomatic disputes and connects diasporic communities.Students will also engage with relevant material cultures and artistic practices in the Providence area.

Lauren Yapp


ARCH 1670: The Beginning of the End? Neolithic "Revolutions"and the Shaping of the Modern World 

How did the first farmers and settled human communities live their lives? How did they reshape the landscape, invent new forms of elaborate dwelling, and establish new relationships with plants and animals? And are the roots of some of our contemporary problems, including social inequality and patriarchy, to be found in the Neolithic?These are some of the questions we will be exploring in this course, using material from the European and Anatolian Neolithic and other, global, contexts.

Yannis Hamilakis


ARCH 1775: Animals in Archaeology

Food, foe, friend: animals play all these roles, and more, in their relationship to humans, in the past as well as the present. This course will explore how zoo archaeology -- the study of animal remains (bones, teeth, and shells) -- allows us to reconstruct ancient human-animal-environmental interactions. We will cover a range of topics and analytical techniques, including hands-on sessions for the identification and quantification of faunal remains. Additional topics will include ancient DNA in zoo archaeology, bone stable isotope analyses, human-caused extinctions, animal domestication, bone artifact production, and animal sacrifice.

Katherine Brunson


ARCH 2151: Slow Archaeology: Thinking Things through in Archaeological Theory and Philosophy

This course questions the so-called paradigm shifts in archaeology -- "the spatial turn", "the material turn", or the "the ontological turn" – and analyzes the way archaeological theory has developed in our discipline. Students will explore theoretical angles other than the "usual suspects" in archaeological theory to creatively rethink individual research. We will take a philosophical approach to critically and carefully discuss academic archaeology and our roles, our engagement, and future as scholars within an institutional culture that often seems to be dominated by individual achievement, speed, and efficiency. What ideas might emerge if we all just slowed down?

Eva Mol


ARCH 2156: Other Pasts: Alternative Ontologies in the Study of What Was

Archaeologists, historians, and anthropologists have become increasingly aware that “the past” is not a self-evident concept. What counts as a meaningful trace of former times is under constant negotiation, and strategies of exploring such traces are shaped by dizzyingly variable cultural norms and individual interpretations. This class asks what “the past” was (and is) in other times and places, especially among communities whose notions of materiality, temporality, causality, and agency differ fundamentally from modern western scientific ones. Can we study those pasts? If so, how?

Felipe A Rojas Silva


HIAA 1307: Politics and Spectacle in the Arts of Ancient Rome

This seminar investigates the intersection of politics and spectacles in the artistic production of ancient Rome. We will explore a variety of public monuments to reveal how they codify essential aspects of Roman culture. Topics include the architecture of entertainment spaces such as theaters, amphitheaters, and circuses, as well as the social functions of spectacles such as gladiatorial games and triumphal processions. We will look at expressions of imperial propaganda in monuments such as tombs and honorific arches. The class also considers how these ideas entered the private realm in the form of domestic wall paintings, mosaics, and sculpture gardens.

Gretel Rodriguez


CLAS 1120W: Aristotle

A close study of Aristotle's major works: his method, natural philosophy, psychology, metaphysics, with main emphasis on his ethics. Readings from original sources (in translation) and some contemporary secondary material. The class will combine lectures and discussion and is a writing course.

Mary Louise Gill


CLAS 1120Z: Literature of Empires

This course compares and contrasts the literatures of the ancient empires of East and West Asia (including the Mediterranean), with an emphasis on Chinese and Greco-Roman cultures. We will explore the literary discourses that grew up in support of and in opposition to imperialism and colonization; specific topics may include how empires use mythology, how tensions between centers and peripheries create imperial identities, how an empire assimilates a multiethnic past, the constitution of archives, and what “classic” means to different audiences. All readings will be in English.

Joseph D Reed


CLAS 1121A: Late Plato

This course investigates Plato’s response to difficulties posed in his Parmenides about the theory of Forms. To flesh out the theory we will look back at the Phaedo and Republic, and to understand his revisions we will read a series of dialogues responding to the Parmenides: Theaetetus (on knowledge), Sophist (on truth and falsehood), and Statesman (on method and politics). These dialogues present themselves as philosophical exercises to train the audience in philosophy and promise a final member to complete the series, but the Philosopher is missing. A question: can we find Plato’s philosopher in the series we have?

Mary Louise Gill


CLAS 1320: Roman History II: The Roman Empire and Its Impact

The social and political history of the Roman Empire (14-565 CE). Focuses on expansion, administration, and Romanization of the empire; crisis of the 3rd century; militarization of society and monarchy; the struggle between paganism and Christianity; the end of the Empire in the West. Special attention given to the role of women, slaves, law, and historiography. Ancient sources in translation.

John P Bodel


CLAS 1750T: Ancient Novel

Sex, pirates, powerful goddesses, and mistaken identities: these are just some of the aspects of the so-called Ancient Novel and its parodies. In this course we will investigate how a few fictional texts from the 1st-3rd centuries A.D. construct their characters' gender and sexuality, and therefore reflect concerns about wisdom, power, and difference within the Roman Empire.

Sasha-Mae C Eccleston 


EGYT 1410: Ancient Egyptian Literature

A survey of one of the most intriguing aspects of ancient Egyptian culture. Readings (in translation) of many of the most significant literary documents that survive from Egypt. Presentation of a reasonable amount of historical perspective. Class discussions concerning the nature, purpose, quality, and effectiveness of the works read.

Leo Depuydt

Silvia Stubnova


EGYT 1420 Ancient Egyptian Religion and Magic

An overview of ancient Egyptian religion from both a synchronic and diachronic perspective. Examines such topics as the Egyptian pantheon, cosmology, cosmogony, religious anthropology, personal religion, magic, and funerary beliefs. Introduces the different genres of Egyptian religious texts in translation. Also treats the archaeological evidence which contributes to our understanding of Egyptian religion, including temple and tomb architecture and decoration. Midterm and final exams; one research paper.

James P Allen


EGYT 1490: Calendars and Chronology in Ancient Egypt and the Ancient World

Time is the dimension of history. Chronology studies how we know when events happened. Chronology is much more important to "BC history"than to "AD history." History books state that the great Ramses II ruled around the thirteenth centuryB.C.E. But how do we know this? The focus of this class is on the answers to such questions through the study of the foundations of the history of Egypt specifically and of the ancient world in general. Some prior knowledge of Egyptian language or civilization might be handy but is by no means required.

Leo Depuydt


ASYR 1700: Astronomy, Divination and Politics in the Ancient World

This course will explore the relationship between astronomy, divination and politics in the ancient world. The sky provided ancient cultures with many possibilities for observing occurrences that could be interpreted as omens. In many cultures, celestial omens were directed towards the king and his government. As a result, interpreting and controlling celestial omens became an important political activity. In this course, we will explore how and why astronomical events were used politically in ancientMesopotamia, the Greco-Roman world, and ancient and medieval China. No prior knowledge of astronomy is necessary for this course.

John M Steele

Sara Mohr


ASYR 2120: Historiography of Exact Sciences

Introduces graduate students to the sources, problems, and methodologies of the history of astronomy and mathematics from Babylon to Kepler.Prerequisite: AWAS 0200. Open to graduate students only.

John M Steele


HIAA 1201: Brushwork: Chinese Painting in Time

How did the tenor of the individual brushstroke become the locus of value in traditional Chinese painting? What other possible standards of excellence—such as verisimilitude—were displaced in the process? This course pursues these questions by analyzing the great monuments of Chinese painting from the perspective of the aesthetic debates that defined them over the centuries. Proceeding from the famous Six Laws of Painting down to the aesthetic watershed of the Northern and Southern Schools, the course traces the fraught interplay of artistic practice and critical judgment in China over more than a thousand years. No prior knowledge required.

Jeffrey C Moser


HIAA 1307: Politics and Spectacle in the Arts of Ancient Rome

This seminar investigates the intersection of politics and spectacles in the artistic production of ancient Rome. We will explore a variety of public monuments to reveal how they codify essential aspects of Roman culture. Topics include the architecture of entertainment spaces such as theaters, amphitheaters, and circuses, as well as the social functions of spectacles such as gladiatorial games and triumphal processions. We will look at expressions of imperial propaganda in monuments such as tombs and honorific arches. The class also considers how these ideas entered the private realm in the form of domestic wall paintings, mosaics, and sculpture gardens.

Gretel Rodriguez


HIAA 1440E: The Body and the Senses in Medieval Art

The seminar considers the contradictory aspects of embodiment in the visual and material culture of the Middle Ages. We will examine the veneration of holy bodies through living holy individuals, and through body parts (relics) and the Eucharist enshrined in sumptuous containers. We will look at the iconography of death and resurrection, the representation of the body in painting and sculpture, attitudes toward sexuality, the performance of identity through clothing, and the sumptuary laws that governed clothing and behavior. We will investigate funerary rituals and burial, and the movement of living bodies in dance and in civic and religious processions.

Sheila Bonde


HIAA 2440E: The Body and the Senses in Medieval Art

The seminar considers the contradictory aspects of embodiment in the visual and material culture of the Middle Ages. We will examine the veneration of holy bodies through living holy individuals and through body parts (relics) and the eucharist enshrined in sumptuous containers. We will look at the iconography of death and resurrection, the represenetation of the body in painting and sculpture, attitudes toward sexuality, the performance of identity through clothing, and the sumptuary laws that governed clothing and behavior. We will investigate funerary rituals and burial, and the movement of living bodies in dance and civic and religious processions.

Sheila Bonde


RELS 1445: Sinners and Seers in Japanese Literature

This course aims to foster understanding of Japanese and Buddhist values by identifying characteristic themes in folk tales, drama, poetry, and fiction. We will concentrate on the literary expression of concerns such as purity, defilement, renunciation, atonement, karma, and Buddha-nature, and discuss selected issues in the study of Buddhism and the Japanese literary arts, such as the tension between poetic activity and the religious quest, the role of travel in the creative process, and the spiritual status of plants and animals.

Janine T Anderson Sawada


RELS 1500: From Moses to Muhammad: Prophets of the Ancient World

The figure of "the Prophet" forms the backbone to many of history’s major religions. From well-known prophets like Moses and Muhammad to more obscure figures like Mani, ancient prophets claimed to have unique access to God(s).Yet the concept of prophethood, and its twin, “prophecy,” was as diverse as those who claimed its mantle. This seminar will explore ancient discourses of prophethood and prophecy from the AncientNear East up to the early medieval era. Our reading selection will include the Hebrew Bible, apocalypses, Greek theories of divination, the Manichaean corpus, the Qur’an, and other “non-canonical” texts.

Jae Hee Han


RELS 1510: Islam in South Asia

A survey of Muslim presence in South Asia. We will trace historical development of communities, including the arrival of Muslims in the subcontinent, establishment of various polities in the medieval period, and the evolution of modern colonial and postcolonial states. Paying attention to religious ideas, literary expression in numerous languages, and art and architecture, we will treat Islam as a multidimensional factor embedded within diverse South Asian intellectual and cultural contexts. Readings include original materials in translation and academic studies from various humanities and social science fields.

Shahzad Bashir


RELS 2050: Religious Identities in Sasanian Persia

Sasanian Persia is rapidly emerging as a locus ofstudy among scholars of Syriac Christianity, Rabbinic Judaism, and Ancient Iran. This course synthesizes recent advances in scholarship within these individual fields and experiments with alternative modes of contextualization. Primary sources include the Talmud, the Hekhalot corpus,Syriac martyrdom narratives, Manichaean literature, and Mandaean texts. We will also interrogate broader methodological questions, including comparative projects between“Roman” and “Persian” contexts, models of scholarly representation, and the limits of agonistic/assimilative frameworks. Reading knowledge of one of the following languages required:Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, Greek, Coptic, Arabic, or Middle Persian.

Jae Hee Han


RELS 2350D: Studies in Japanese Religions

Intensive study of the history of Japanese religions with attention to major scholarly issues in the field.

Janine T Anderson Sawada


RELS 2400A: Orthodoxy and Heresy in Islamic Thought

This graduate seminar comprises advanced readings exploring the concepts of "orthodoxy" and "heresy" in a range of scholarly and theoretical contexts.We will explore the historiography of these two terms, their problematization and limits, and related concepts in primary and secondary literature. This course is best suited for graduate students with background training in Islamic Studies, and knowledge of Arabic and/or other relevant languages is preferred.

Nancy Khalek


HIST 1110: Imperial China/China: Culture and Legacy

As the current revival of Confucianism in the People’s Republic of China demonstrates, the past is still very much alive in China today. This lecture-and-discussion course surveys the history of China from the origins of the first state through the twilight of the imperial period in the nineteenth century. Lectures are designed and the reading assignments chosen to emphasize in particular those ideas and beliefs, institutions and government structures, and literary and artistic developments that have shaped (and continue to shape) China today. “Imperial China” provides the knowledge necessary for informed study of modern China. 

Cynthia Brokaw


HIST 1211: Crusaders and Cathedrals, Deviants and Dominance: Europe in the High Middle Ages

Popes named Joan, Gothic cathedrals, and crusaders-all these were produced by rich world of the western European Middle Ages. The cultural, religious, and social history of this period are explored with special attention to the social construction of power, gender roles, and relations between Christians and non-Christians.

Amy G Remensnyder


HIST 1835A: Unearthing the Body: History, Archaeology, and Biology at the End of Antiquity

How was the physical human body imagined, understood, and treated in life and death in the late ancient Mediterranean world? Drawing on evidence from written sources, artistic representations, and archaeological excavations, this class will explore this question by interweaving thematic lectures and student analysis of topics including disease and medicine, famine, asceticism, personal adornment and ideals of beauty, suffering, slavery, and the boundaries between the visible world and the afterlife, in order to understand and interpret the experiences of women, men, and children who lived as individuals—and not just as abstractions—at the end of antiquity.

Jonathan P Conant


HIST 2981O: Seascapes of History 

This seminar explores the recent “oceanic turn” in history, examining how and why the sea and the maritime matter to interpretations of the past.Key readings will include general works that theorize new maritime history and thalassography, and studies focused on the history of specific oceanic and maritime areas (e.g. the Atlantic, thePacific, the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean), which illuminate sub-themes such as migration, colonization, empire building, trade, sailors’ culture, piracy, cultural attitudes toward the sea, religion and sea, and maritime environmental history. Readings will be drawn from a wide range of chronologies as well as geographies.

Amy G Remensnyder