Program in Early Cultures

Relevant Courses (2022-2023)

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 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.

Parker VanValkenburgh


ANTH 2325:The State and the Circulation of Meaning
This course is designed as a disorientation of the State. Rather than seeing the State as a fixed, absolute entity that exists on a separate plane of existence, this course analyzes the state as an effect-producing abstraction that arises in contested circulations of meaningful signs. Viewing the state as a material abstraction (a complex sign) rather than as an absolute entity, we turn to theories of differentiation in circulation and movement. We attempt to answer the questions: What is movement? What moves? And what does movement create, break down, and change? Thinking about the implications of such questions, we will consider the extent to which differentiations in movement carve out units of governance, how the differences produced in those units might generate change, and how forms of difference might partially escape and alter such movement (or not).

Michael Berman



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


ANTH 1910B: Anthropology of Place
The anthropology of place serves as a unifying theme for the seminar by bridging anthropology’s subdisciplines and articulating with other fields of knowledge. Through readings and discussion, students will explore how place permeates people’s everyday lives and their engagement with the world, and is implicit in the meanings they attach to specific locales, their struggles over them, and the longings they express for them in rapidly changing and reconfigured landscapes. Enrollment limited to 20.

Patricia E Rubertone


ARCH 2157: Subaltern Communities: Archaeological Perspectives Beyond Domination and Resistance
Mediterranean (pre)history is usually cast in terms of an inexorable rise of state domination and colonial exploitation under the euphemistic label of ‘social complexity’. This seminar will examine and highlight the role of ‘people without history’ not by simply pitching them as rebels against dominant powers but by exploring the subtle and manifold connections that interweave subaltern communities with hegemonic groups.

Peter Van Dommelen


ARCH 1500: Classical Art from Ruins to RISD: Ancient Objects/Modern Issues
Our class will use RISD Museum’s ancient Greek and Roman collection as a framework to discuss art history, museum studies, heritage management, and world affairs. We will move beyond the pleasing aesthetics of classical art to grasp the objects’ social and cultural contexts, and their role in structures of power, privilege, and colonialism – particularly examining issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, migration, and cross-cultural contact. What are the ethical responsibilities of museums – and universities – within this discourse?

Cicek Beeby



ARCH 1622: Art, Secrecy, and Invisibility in Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt is well known for having produced large and eminently visible art and architecture. But a persistent theme in Egyptian visual culture is that of invisibility, of art made and then deliberately hidden or destroyed. The range of examples is vast and varied, suggesting a complex relationship between visibility and meaning. This seminar will explore how unseeable art intersects with themes of audience, agency, and time in ancient Egypt, utilizing examples from other cultures - including our own - to examine the meanings of the invisible.

Laurel D Bestock


ARCH 1870: Environmental Archaeology
From Neanderthals on the brink of extinction to the smog of the Industrial Revolution, humans have been impacted by the environment for millions of years. How has climate change affected the development of human society? How have people adapted to their environments in the past? What does "sustainability" mean over the long term? Environmental archaeology is the study of these questions through the use of scientific techniques to analyze soils, plants, artifacts, and human and animal remains from ancient archaeological contexts. These methods will be introduced with an eye toward how they allow us to interpret human-environmental interactions in the past, as well as the present and future.


ASYR 2100: The Ancient Near East: Early Modern Intellectual Histories
This course explores how the early modern study of the ancient Near East took shape, paying particular attention to relevant debates from the 17th to the 19th centuries. Students will engage in thorough analysis of topics such as the history of decipherment of cuneiform; the development of systematic archaeological excavation; the rise of historical linguistics; debates about the historical value of classical Greek and Roman sources on the ancient Near East; the entanglement of European imperialist projects beyond Europe and the expansion of first-hand knowledge about Mesopotamia; the role of local collaborators in the production of academic knowledge; the place of non-western cultures in European constructions of ancient history; etc. The course is primarily aimed at graduate students (or advanced undergraduates) interested in the history and archaeology of the region in antiquity and/or early modern intellectual history.

Felipe A Rojas Silva

John M Steele


ASYR 1000: Introduction to Akkadian
An intensive introduction to the cuneiform writing system and the basic grammar and vocabulary of Akkadian, a language first attested over four thousand years ago in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq). The earliest known member of the Semitic family of languages (like Arabic and Hebrew), Akkadian was in use for over two thousand years across a wide expanse of the ancient Near East. Students will learn the classical Old Babylonian dialect of Akkadian (ca. 1800 BCE) and read Mesopotamian texts in the original, including selections from the Laws of Hammurabi, as well as excerpts from myths, hymns, prayers, historical documents, and letters.

Matthew T Rutz



ASYR 1900: Introduction to Hittite Language and Literature
This course is an introduction to Hittite language, literature, and culture. Hittite, the earliest attested Indo-European language (thus related to Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit) was used in Anatolia during the second millennium BCE. It survives in tens of thousands of tablets written in cuneiform script. Students will learn the basic grammar of the language and read in the original or in translation specimens from the fascinating textual legacy of the Hittites, which includes myths, prayers, laws, diplomatic texts as well as formal and informal letters. They will also become familiar with the cultural environment in which those texts were composed.

Felipe A Rojas Silva


CLAS 2011A: Critical Approaches to Classical Texts: Theory and Methods
These seminars will examine categories fundamental to the study of ancient literature and historiography, highlighting the relevance of ancient philosophy, rhetoric and poetics to modern critical/theoretical approaches. Topics can include: text, author, context, literature, genre, representation, emulation, narrative, historiography, commentary, reception. Contradictions in the idea of ‘classics’ can also be considered, in connection with questions of diversity and ethical approaches to Greco-Roman texts. The course aims to draw on participants’ needs and experiences to offer firm and constructive guidelines for professional academic writing, eliminating common errors and misconceptions (intentional and biographical fallacies, confusion between allusion and intertextuality, ‘topoi and ‘tropes’.)

Andrew Laird


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 over time. Authors include but are not limited to Sappho, Pindar, Catullus, Horace, Augustine, and Fortunatus.

Joseph Michael Pucci


CLAS 1140: Classical Philosophy of India

This course introduces the classical traditions of philosophy in India. After presenting a general overview of this discourse and its basic Brahminic, Buddhist, and Jain branches, the course will examine the ideas and debates between various schools on issues of epistemology (the nature of perception, inference, testimony, etc), metaphysics (the nature of the self and ultimate reality, the question of the reality of the world, etc), and ethics (the theory of karma, non-violence and asceticism, and devotion).

David Buchta


CLAS 1330: Roman Religion
Explores the religions of Rome, from the animism of King Numa to the triumph of Christianity. Topics include: concepts of religion and the sacred; sacred law; ritual space and the function of ritual; festivals; divination; magistrates and priests; the imperial cult; death and the afterlife; mystery cults; astrology and magic.

John P Bodel


COLT 1210: Introduction to the Theory of Literature
An historical introduction to problems of literary theory from the classical to the postmodern. Issues to be examined include mimesis, rhetoric, hermeneutics, history, psychoanalysis, formalisms and ideological criticism (questions of race, gender, sexuality, postcolonialism). Primarily for advanced undergraduates. Lectures, discussions; several short papers.

Susan Bernstein


COLT 1410S: Classical Tragedy
This course will read the great Greek tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, and some Senecan tragedy. We will then read Renaissance and later tragedies that use the classical world as a setting, such as Antony and Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, and tragedies that rewrite classical themes, including O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra.

Molly Ierulli


EGYT 2210: Introduction to Coptic
Coptic, the last stage of the ancient Egyptian language, was written with essentially Greek alphabetic characters. An introduction to Sahidic, which is perhaps the best represented of the Coptic dialects. Sahidic grammar is explained, and some texts, mainly of a biblical and patristic nature, are read. Open to undergraduates with the consent of the instructor. No prerequisites, but a knowledge of Middle Egyptian or Greek would be helpful.

Leo Depuydt


EGYT 1310: Introduction to Classical Hieroglyphic Egyptian Writing and Language (Middle Egyptian I)
Learn how to read ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs! The classical language of ancient Egypt, Middle Egyptian was spoken ca. 2000–1600 BCE and remained an important written language for the rest of ancient Egyptian history. Students will learn the hieroglyphic writing system, vocabulary, and grammar of one of the oldest known languages and read excerpts from stories, royal monuments, tomb inscriptions, and amulets. By the end of this course, students will be able to decipher textual portions of many monuments and objects in museums. This course may also be taken on its own, and it also serves as the first of a two-semester sequence. No prerequisites.


EGYT 1330: Selections from Middle Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts
Readings from the various genres of classical Egyptian literature, including stories and other literary texts, historical inscriptions, and religious compositions. Students will be expected to translate and discuss assigned texts. Prerequisite: EGYT 1310, 1320.

James P Allen


GREK 1080: Attic Orators, Seeing Slavery in Athenian Lawcourt Speeches
We study Athenian lawcourt speeches (in Greek) that exemplify the way slaves are present in them. Slaves may have approximated at least a third of the population of Athens; their lack of legal status, however, meant they had no right to sue others or to defend themselves—not even, if murdered, to find a post-mortem justice for their deaths. They are visible in disputes and often enmeshed in the very process of trials—as informers against masters who could win awards for so doing or more likely as witnesses who were subjected to torture for their testimony. At other times they are the objects of legal disputes from their ‘workplace’: as bankers sued for appropriating vast sums of money, as managers of shops that change ownership, as prostitutes under contract who are fought over by citizen men.

Adele C Scafuro


GREK 1150:Greek Prose Composition
Survey of Greek grammar and an opportunity to reflect on problems of translation. Main goals: to improve the students' command of prose syntax (both in reading and writing), and to develop a keen sensitivity towards issues of translation. A variety of texts written in Attic prose are read and analyzed in class. Students are expected to write two to three compositions a week in good Attic prose. Advanced knowledge of ancient Greek is a prerequisite for this course.

Pura Nieto Hernandez


GREK 1810: Greek Literature Survey to 450 BCE
Surveys early Greek literature to 450 BCE. Works studied include the Iliad, Odyssey, the Hesiodic poems, Pindar, Bacchylides, and Aeschylus. Emphasis on literary interpretation, the poetics of oral poetry, and the early history of various literary genres. Extensive readings in the original.

Pura Nieto Hernandez


HIAA 2215: Geoaesthetics and the Environmental Humanities
This seminar critically examines recent formulations of “the planetary” in the environmental humanities. Proceeding from close examination of historically-specific artistic practices, ranging from the medieval sculpture of China’s “Mountain that Flew” to the land art of the 1960s, it excavates the predispositions and assumptions embodied in particular “geoaesthetics,” and situates these aesthetics in the long history of human efforts to transcend the temporal and spatial scale of the human body. Moving from the “climatic artistry” of the medieval Deccan and the thinking forests of the Amazonian Runa to the formation of modern geological science and the creation of the metric system, it considers the challenge of a deep history of geoaesthetics to contemporary theorizations of hyperobjects, planetarity, and the Anthropocene.

Jeffrey Moser


HIAA 1440F: Architectural Reuse: The Appropriation of the Past
This seminar will consider the survival, revival and adaptive reuse of older objects, texts and built spaces in the visual and material culture of successor cultures. We will look critically at the literature on the archaeology of memory, “Renaissance and revival” spolia studies and adaptive reuse. The seminar will examine selected case studies, including the reuse of sculptural elements in the Arch of Constantine, the conversion of Pantheon into a church and Hagia Sophia into a mosque, appropriated elements in the Qutb mosque in Delhi and the adaptation of the Bankside Power Station as the Tate Gallery.

Sheila Bonde


HIST 2971P: Diaspora, Displacement, Transnationalism
This reading seminar is designed to familiarize students with the most cited and current theories on these three transhistorical terms that capture the global phenomenon of human mobility across time and space, from antiquity to the present day. Related concepts include migration, emigration and immigration; exile, expulsion, repatriation and deterriorialization. The class will examine a few exemplary case studies; then students will develop their individual reading lists around these broad themes towards an exam field or a thesis/dissertation prospectus, and share their findings with each other by circulating papers online followed by discussion and critique in class.

Evelyn Hu-Dehart


HIST 2981V: Histories of Time
History, we are often told, is the study of change over time. In this seminar, we turn this notion on its head by considering varied histories of time itself. Utilizing historical, philosophical, religious, and ethnographic works, we examine diverse understandings of time, together with the social contexts in which they operate. Discussions touch upon: modern and premodern cosmology from diverse societies; calendars, chronology, chronometry, timelines, and scales of time; time and power relations involving class, race, and gender; aesthetics of the representation of time; and problematics of time in history as a modern academic discipline.

Shahzad Bashir


HIST 1101: Chinese Political Thought from Confucius to Xi Jinping
Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, cites the ancient political thinker Han Feizi (280-233 BCE) as an important influence on his approach to governance. He has also embraced (as have several leaders before him) some of the political and social ideals of Confucianism—ideals first stated in the sixth century BCE. This lecture-and-discussion course traces the history of Chinese political thinking from the first Chinese state to the present, emphasizing first, those ideas that continue to shape Chinese notions of governance, and second, comparisons between these and American political ideals. P

Cynthia J Brokaw


HIST 1360: Amazonia from the Prehuman to the Present
This course merging lecture and discussions will examine the fascinating and contested history of one of the world’s most complex fluvial ecosystems: Amazonia, in equatorial South America, from its pre-human history to the present day. The course will include readings and discussions on the region’s ecological origins; the social history of its diverse Indigenous and immigrant populations, including African-descended peoples; exploration myths and European colonial projects; and more recent efforts to exploit and protect Amazonia’s extraordinary natural and human resources. The course will use tools and resources from archaeology, anthropology, biology, and social and cultural history, and will also examine popular representations of the Amazon through novels, newspapers, podcasts, and film.

Neil F Safier


HIST 1553: Empires in America to 1890
In this class, we’ll consider some of the forms of empire-building by various groups of indigenous and colonizing peoples in what is now the United States in order to understand the development of imperial U.S. power in both domestic and international contexts. Rather than resting upon a foregone conclusion of European settler colonial “success,” the course explores the contingent and incomplete nature of empire-building even within unbalanced power relationships.

Naoko Shibusawa


HIST 1800: Religion and Power in North America to 1865
This course explores the relationship of various forms of religion and power in North America from the pre-Columbian period through the US Civil War and Reconstruction. We explore the confluence and conflict of Indigenous, African, and European beliefs and practices. Topics include: native agency and settler colonialism; race and slavery; war and politics; gender and patriarchy; soul-craft and statecraft; domination and empowerment.

Christopher Grasso


HIST 1968A: Approaches to the Middle East
When and why did the Middle East emerge as a field of study? What are the competing approaches to framing our understanding of this pivotal region? How did these approaches change over time? This upper-level seminar explores these questions within the larger context of colonial, national, and other ongoing encounters that have shaped modern regimes of knowledge production. The class features visits by leading scholars from different disciplines who reflect on the questions they ask and how they go about answering them. Readings range from canonical works to innovative new scholarship. No pre-requisites but previous coursework on this region recommended.

Alexander D Winder


LATN 2010E: Virgil: Aeneid
We will read through the whole of Virgil’s Aeneid in the original Latin, raising and discussing interpretive questions that can include—but are not limited to—the poem’s political dimension and its representation of Roman identity, its relation to Augustan culture and the wider cultures of the ancient Mediterranean, its Greek and Roman models and how it changes them, its narrative and narratological style, and its reception in later cultures, including the Aeneid’s influence on European and other imperial discourses and the 20th- and 21st-century contestation of its ideological thrust.

Joseph D Reed


LATN 1110L: Medieval Latin Lyric
Close reading of a representative sampling of the personal poetry of the Latin Middle Ages, paying attention to what constitutes the lyric mode in the fourth through the twelfth centuries, developments in metrics, the effects of Christianity on vision and voice, the pressures of vernacular traditions, lyric rhetoric.

Joseph Michael Pucci


LATN 1110O: Roman Satire
Survey of the genre of Roman verse satire, with special attention to Horace and Juvenal and additional readings in Lucilius and Persius.

John P Bodel


LATN 1110S:Catullus
We will read all the extant poetry of Catullus with an emphasis on close reading of the Latin text and discussion of linguistic, literary, and cultural problems.

Jeri B Debrohun


LATN 1120G: Reading Humanist Latin Texts
The course will explore in depth some important Renaissance or 'early modern' works of Latin literature, many of which have not been translated into English. As well as opening up a new field of Latin writing, the course will extend general knowledge of classical literature by involving some less commonly studied ancient sources. It will also introduce some early imprints, enabling you to consider texts directly in the original form in which they first appeared.

Andrew Laird


RELS 1315: Religious Authority in an Age of Empire
How does one live in a hostile Empire? How do you carve out a niche? Where do you allow the Empire in and where do you draw a hard line? Such were the questions that both Jewish and Christian communities faced at various times in the Roman Empire. In this course, we will look at the variety of ways that both communities negotiated with and against Empire. We will read texts across religious lines, including gospels, gnostic texts, Rabbinic literature, apocalypses, and Church orders. To sharpen our thinking, we will also read literature associated with post-colonial critical thought.

Jae Hee Han


RELS 1530H: Problems in Islamic Studies: Shaking up the Study of the Islamic World
This course examines exciting new approaches to the study of Islam. In the form of a weekly salon, in each seminar we will examine recent and exciting paradigm-shifting works from a variety of perspectives (including but not limited to religious studies, anthropology, and history). We will consider these works within the broader context of how Islam has been studied in the past, and discuss why and how methods for the study of religion are changing. Themes include secularism, orientalism, gender, and politics.

Nancy Khalek



URBN 1871A: Heritage in the Metropolis: Remembering and Preserving the Urban Past
Urban heritage – from archaeological sites and historic architecture to longstanding cultural practices – is increasingly threatened by the exponential growth of cities around the globe. Most critically, the complex histories and lived experiences of the diverse communities who have inhabited and shaped cities are often in danger of being erased and forgotten today. This course examines how we might remember and preserve this urban past – and the tangible sites and artifacts that attest to it – ¬in light of the social and political dynamics of cities in the present.

Lauren E Yapp

ANTH 2020: Methods of Anthropological Research

A seminar on the methodological problems associated with field research in social and cultural anthropology. Designed to help students prepare for both summer and dissertation research.

Sarah Williams


ANTH 2515: Material Matters

In the past decade there has been a growing interest in the study of material culture as an explicitly interdisciplinary endeavor involving the fields of anthropology, archaeology, art history, literary theory, museum studies, and philosophy, among many others. These perspectives exhibit a range of approaches to interrogating how people make things, how things make people, how objects mediate social relationships, and how inanimate objects can be argued as having a form of agency. This graduate seminar is designed to encourage reflection upon material culture and its influence in shaping our lives.

Robert W Preucel


ANTH 2800: Linguistic Theory and Practice

An introduction to theoretical and methodological issues in the study of language and social life. We begin by examining semiotic approaches to language. We turn to classical research on language as a structured system - covering such topics as phonology and grammatical categories - but we focus on the implications of such work for broader social scientific and humanistic research. We then consider areas of active contemporary research, including cognition and linguistic relativity, meaning and semantics, pronouns and deixis, deference and register, speech acts and performativity, interaction, verbal art and poetics, reported speech, performance, and linguistic ideology.

Paja L Faudree


ANTH 1505: Vertical Civilization: South American Archaeology from Monte Verde to the Inkas

This course offers an introduction to the archaeology of indigenous south American Civilizations, from the peopling of the continent around 13,000 years ago, to the Spanish Invasion of the 16th Century C.E. Throughout, we seek to understand the often unique solutions that South America indigenous peoples developed to deal with risk and to make sense of the world around them. Course lectures and discussions focus on recent research and major debates. Weekly sections draw on viewings of artifacts and manuscripts from the Haffenreffer Museum and the John Carter Brown Library.

Parker VanValkenburgh


ANTH 1730: Violence of the Past

This course is both a study of the evidence used by anthropologists, archaeologists, and historians for reconstructing patterns of war and violence in the past and also the implications for that research on contemporary peoples. Scholars continue to be pre-occupied with the question of whether war and violence has escalated or declined in modern times, often embedding their interpretations in notions of progress and the supposed success of western nation-states in curtailing violence. Less well-acknowledged is both the shakiness of the data on which such claims are made and the stereotyped perceptions they reinforce regarding the peoples subjugated by the colonial powers from which modern nation-states descend. We will consider both foundational tests and recent scholarship regarding the anthropological, archaeological, and historical evidence for violence in the human past while critically examining how that research is consumed in popular discourse.

Andrew K Scherer


ANTH 1840: Indigenous Languages of the Americas: An Introduction

This course introduces students to the past and present of Indigenous languages of the Americas. A collaboration between faculty from Linguistics and Linguistic Anthropology, the course synthesizes both fields with Indigenous studies and other disciplines. We examine how the distinct grammatical properties of these languages intersect with various aspects of their social contexts -- from the politics surrounding their use to their presence in popular culture – as we grapple with the complex current realities of these languages in the lives of the Indigenous people who speak them and others whose investments span diverse interests.

Paja L Faudree

Scott H AnderBois


ARCH 2610: From Hilltop to Caput Mundi: The Archaeology of the Roman World

From an iron age village atop a hill overlooking the Tiber to the largest land empire prior to the Mongols of the 13th century, Rome has a deep and storied past. This class examines the current methods, theories, and major debates in Roman archaeology. We especially focus on material from outside the city of Rome and emphasize the geographical and chronological breadth of the Roman Empire. Topics may include colonialism, imperialism, Romanization, settlement, economy, religion, environmental change, violence, technology, and military life.

Tyler V Franconi


ARCH 1155: Cities, Colonies and Global Networks in the Western Mediterranean

How did cities develop? This course will explore the connections between colonialism and urbanism in the West Mediterranean of the first millennium BCE. Should we see the profound changes in Iron Age societies of the western Mediterranean primarily as a response to external contacts and colonial interference, or did they represent long-term indigenous developments? How can we understand regions, where urban development was much more limited or absent?

Peter Van Dommelen


ARCH 1515: The Fair Sex: Female Body and Sexuality in Ancient Greece and Beyond

Maidens, wives, goddesses, prostitutes, monsters. This course will explore gender and sexuality in ancient Greece through art, archaeology, and literature. Topics include representations of the female body in art; notions of aesthetics, beauty, and perfection; nudity and taboo; emotions; burial practices; tropes of femininity; zones of female agency and authority, such as funerals and festivals; notions of bodily decorum and clothing; archaeological evidence for women’s presence in domestic and public spaces; sexual violence in Greek art and literature, and multiply marginalized women (immigrants, enslaved workers).

Cicek Beeby


ASYR 2710: Babylonian Astronomy

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

John M Steele


ASYR 1010: Intermediate Akkadian

This course is the second semester of an intensive, yearlong introduction to the Akkadian (Babylonian/Assyrian) language. Students will deepen their knowledge of the cuneiform writing system and continue to develop their grasp of Akkadian grammar. Readings from Mesopotamian texts in the original language and script will include, among others, selections from the Laws of Hammurapi, Assyrian historical texts (such as the accounts of Sennacherib's siege of Jerusalem), and the story of the Flood from the Standard Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh. Prerequisite: Introduction to Akkadian (ASYR 0200 or ASYR 1000) or permission of the instructor.

Marc Alexandre Nicolas Chapuis


CLAS 2010B: Roman Topography

That actions occur in place is obvious, but how does place define action, and how do actions define place? How does the accretion of meanings assigned to a place through repeated use provide significance to the current actions, affect reinterpretations of past events, and effect future uses? Topography explores not only the history of monuments but also the constellation of meanings shaped by the interaction of monuments with each other in the cultural landscape. Topographical relationships serve as an imprint of a particular community's social, political, economic, and religious behavior within and across space and time. Ancient Roman case studies.

Amy Russell


CLAS 2930A: Alexandrian Poetry

We will read extensive selections in the original languages from Hellenistic Greek poetry and Latin poetry with Hellenistic influence, with an eye to their historical and cultural context and to their intertextual dimension.

Joseph D Reed


CLAS 1120E: Slavery in the Ancient World

Examines the institution of slavery in the ancient world, from Mesopotamia and the Near East to the great slave societies of classical Greece and (especially) imperial Rome; comparison of ancient and modern slave systems; modern views of ancient slavery from Adam Smith to Hume to Marx to M.I. Finley. Readings in English.

John P Bodel


CLAS 1210: Mediterranean Culture Wars: Archaic Greek History, c. 1200 to 479 BC

From the end of the Bronze Age to the end of the Persian Wars is a period of considerable change in the Mediterranean and beyond. The Greek polis challenges the powers of the ancient Near East. Over seven centuries we meet Greek writing, Homeric epic, and the first historian (Herodotus). But the Greek world lay on the edges of the Ancient Near East and this course tries to offer a more balanced approach than the typically Hellenocentric perspective of the standard textbooks. CLAS 1210 addresses cultural, political, social, and economic histories. Literary, epigraphical and archaeological cultures provide the evidence. There are no written exams for this course. No previous knowledge of the ancient world is required.

Graham J Oliver


CLAS 1770: Ancient Law, Society and Jurisprudence

After a brief survey of modern legal systems (USA, common and civil law systems), we return to Athens and Rome. Topics: sources of law, its evolution, (e.g., feuding societies); procedural law (e.g., how to bring cases); legal reasoning; rhetoric; substantive law (e.g., regarding marriage, religion, homicide). Different approaches are used: historical, comparativist, anthropological, case-law study.

Adele C Scafuro


CLAS 1930F: Women Writing Epic

This course will introduce students to English translations and adaptations of Greek and Roman epic poetry to consider the politics of representing and publishing women in the modern (mostly) North American literary marketplace. Ancient Greek and Roman epic can be quite androcentric: a genre dominated by men about men talking with or fighting each other, all in the hopes of reproducing “great” men. Often, the women function as backgrounded appendages of the foregrounded men or, if significant, effect something catastrophic. We will revisit these dynamics in the ancient texts and read contemporary works that address them. We will thus explore how literary genre genders authors and readers in relation to war, citizenship, race, class, sexuality and/or celebrity. How does epic reify, reflect, and otherwise negotiate social identities or formations? What needs to happen for women to write epic? What happens when women write epic? Which kind of women does the publishing industry want/allow to write epic now?

Sasha-Mae Eccleston


COLT 1815U: Encountering Monsters in Comparative Literature

What is a monster? What happens when one encounters a monster? This literature-based seminar considers monsters in different literary traditions, including ancient epic, folktale, poetry, theory, science fiction, and cinema. Monstrous figures from different cultural traditions, places, eras, genres, and forms will guide us through various representations of monstrosity—a concept which both invites and defies definition. We will ask: What cultural and imaginative needs do monsters fill? How do monsters help us think about identity politics, and the cultural production of ideas of self and other? To what extent are monsters tools of ideological oppression, and to what extent are monsters liberatory figures that offer conceptual alternatives to systems of oppression and violence?

Hannah Silverblank


COLT 1310G: Silk Road Fictions

The course introduces students to cross-cultural comparative work, and to critical issues in East-West studies in particular. We will base our conversations on a set of texts related to the interconnected histories and hybrid cultures of the ancient Afro-Eurasian Silk Roads. Readings will include ancient travel accounts (e.g., the Chinese novel Journey to the West, Marco Polo); modern fiction and film (e.g., Inoue Yasushi, Wole Soyinka); and modern critical approaches to the study of linguistic and literary-cultural contact (e.g., Lydia Liu, Emily Apter, Mikhail Bakhtin, Edward Said). Topics will include bilingual texts, loanwords, race and heritage, Orientalism. No prior knowledge of the topic is expected and all texts will be available in English.

Tamara Chin


COLT 1815Q: Disability Studies and Premodern Literature: Gender, Politics, Health

This course will examine illness, diagnosis, and notions of “remedy” to theorize about what different understandings of disability, health, and the body portend for the individual and nation in premodern literature. We will analyze discussions of disability and bodily health in Classical and Medieval literature, tracing the development of medicinal, humoral, and spiritual theories to the Early Modern period and beyond. Particular attention will be given to sociopolitical and religious pressures linking the diagnosis of the body with political infirmity; bloodshed with cathartic transformation; purgation with spiritual health; and the corruptibility of exemplars with pathologies of contamination. Alongside contemporary concerns regarding theoretical and conceptual models of disability, a chief area of inquiry will be the interdependent relationship of disability, empire, class, gender, and race. Primary source readings will be paired with recent critical interventions in the field of Disability Studies.

Alani Hicks-Bartlett


EGYT 1030: Collapse! Ancient Egypt after the Pyramid Age

How does a civilization or a kingdom collapse after building some of the most enduring monuments from the ancient world? What happens in Egypt after the Pyramid Age? This course uses texts, objects, and monuments to delve into the history and archaeology of the Late Old Kingdom up to the beginning of the Middle Kingdom in Egypt (c. 2160–2055 BCE), often described as a Dark Age characterized by chaos, decline, and natural disasters. We will discuss how ancient history is written with a particular focus on the narrative of collapse in ancient cultures. The class will be based on presentations and discussions focused on controversies linked to the following topics: politics; kings, kinglets, and rulers; monuments and funerary architecture; climate change; religion and beliefs; (auto-)biographies; literature; and art. There are no prerequisites.

Christelle Alvarez


EGYT 1320: Introduction to Classical Hieroglyphic Egyptian Writing and Language (Middle Egyptian II)

Continuation of a two-semester sequence spent learning the signs, vocabulary, and grammar of one of the oldest languages known. By the end of this introductory year, students read authentic texts of biographical, historical, and literary significance. The cornerstone course in the Department of Egyptology - essential for any serious work in this field and particularly recommended for students in archaeology, history, classics, and religious studies. Prerequisite: EGYT 1310.

Christelle Alvarez


EGYT 1400: Ethiopia Shall Stretch Forth Her Hands: Black Reception of Ancient Egypt and Nubia

This class explores how Black people have thought about, understood, and used the concepts of ancient Egypt and Nubia over the last few hundred years. The class will begin with a short introduction to ancient Egypt and Nubia with particular attention to questions of ethnicity. Then, we will cover the dominant (white) discourse of ancient Egypt from before the decipherment of Egyptian Hieroglyphs into early Egyptology. The third and longest section will be a chronological discussion of the literature, art, and scholarship produced by Black people in relation to ancient Egypt and Nubia. We will see how these pieces fit together to show the long history of Black thought on the subject. Primary sources range from 18 th century letters to modern music videos. All required readings will be in English.

Christopher Cox


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


ENVS 1916: Animals and Plants in Chinese History

Plants and animals are the basis of human civilization, providing us with shelter, clothing, medicine and, especially, food. While historians have traditionally put humans at the center of history, this course shifts the focus to species that have shaped Chinese society from prehistoric farming to global agribusiness. We will study wild animals, farmed fish, silk worms, crops like rice and soybeans, livestock like pigs and cattle, fruit like oranges and peaches, drugs like tea and opium, and building materials like wood and bamboo. We will examine the roles these species have played from Chinese villages to Brown’s campus, which is home to dozens of Chinese ornamental plants and was built in part from the profits of the tea and silk trades. Studying the histories of specific species will help students appreciate the central roles that plants and animals have played in Chinese civilization, and still play in our daily lives.

Brian G Lander


GREK 1050B: Euripides

Introduction to the study of Athenian tragedy. Thorough translation of one drama with attention to literary analysis. Rapid survey of other Euripidean plays.

Adele C Scafuro


GREK 1111D: Daphnis and Chloe

Goethe said that you should read Longus’ “Daphnis and Chloe” once a year (in Greek, of course!). So if you haven’t read it yet, it’s time. One of the first novels ever written, it offers pirates, erotic encounters, and numerous goat-filled landscapes. Discussions include the origins and development of the prose novel, the political and social context of the times, and the beauty of Longus’ idyllic narrative.

Stephen E Kidd


GREK 1120B: Plato's 'Phaedrus'

We will read in Greek Plato’s dialogue "Phaedrus" on love and rhetoric. We will attempt to understand the dialogue as a unified whole, and discuss such questions as the link between love and the art of persuasion, Plato’s denigration of writing, and the relationship between rhetoric and philosophy.

Mary-Louise G Gill


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 Moser


HIAA 1432: Borderlands: Art and Culture between Rome and Iran

We tend to think of borders as hard and fast lines on a map, separating two distinct spheres of territory under different political authorities. In the ancient world however, borders formed regions of uncertain control, places defined by zones of influence projected from cities, with authorities and actors adept at playing both sides. This was especially true in the Classical and Late Antique Middle East, a region contested by the great empires of Rome and Iran. This class examines the art and architecture produced both by and between Rome and Iran. By studying the depictions (and appropriations) of the other, and the visual and material record of liminal places such as Palmyra, Commagene, Hatra, and Dura-Europos, this course investigates the forms of cultural expression in contested places, and how they forged an international visual language of power, prestige, and sacrality.

Breton Langendorfer


HIAA 1625: Native American Architecture

Academic disciplines that discuss Native American pasts (such as archaeology, anthropology, and history) have historically characterized Indigenous peoples of North America by what they supposedly “lack.” Architectural history is no exception. Despite a deep continental history of Native American constructions—whether monumental earthen mounds or effigies, village complexes, roads, or megaliths—Native architecture is often ignored in histories of architecture. Combining archaeological, ethnographic, archival, and oral-historical sources, this course exposes the erasure of Native Americans from architectural history and celebrates the diversity and complexity of Indigenous built environments. We first examine how different academic disciplines have historically studied (and sometimes erased) Native American architecture. Then we will survey Indigenous architecture before settler colonialism. We end the course studying the violence of and resistance to colonialism in North America and how contemporary Indigenous architectural traditions have been shaped in response.

Eric Johnson


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, and Islamic 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 1340: History of the Andes from Incas to Evo Morales

Before the Spanish invaded in the 1530s, western South America was the scene of the largest state the New World had ever known, Tawantinsuyu, the Inca empire. During almost 300 years of colonial rule, the Andean provinces were shared by the "Republic of Spaniards" and the "Republic of Indians" - two separate societies, one dominating and exploiting the other. Today the region remains in many ways colonial, as Quechua- and Aymara-speaking villagers face a Spanish-speaking state, as well as an ever-more-integrated world market, the pressures of neoliberal reform from international banks, and the melting of the Andean glaciers.

Jeremy R Mumford


HIST 1382: The Environmental History of Latin America

This course offers students an introduction to environmental history from perspectives that center the societies and ecologies of Latin America and the Caribbean. Thinking across different chronologies and spaces, we will draw from a range of historical and interdisciplinary scholarship, as well as primary sources, to examine changing relationships between Latin American environments and their attendant social, cultural, political, urban, agrarian, maritime, legal and economic histories. Our collective explorations on these topics will adopt various scales of analysis, from local and regional to continental, and will push us to approach key themes of Precolonial, Colonial, and Modern Latin American historiography from an environmental lens, including: Indigenous histories; colonialism, extractivism, and slavery; Afro-Latinx histories; capitalism and dependency theory; the politics of modern conservation.

Gabriel Rocha


HIST 1820B: Environmental History of East Asia

With a fifth of the world’s population on a twentieth of its land, the ecosystems of China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam have been thoroughly transformed by human activity. This course will explore the human impact on the environment from the first farmers to the industrial present, exploring how wildlife was eliminated by the spread of agriculture, how states colonized the subcontinent, how people rebuilt water systems, and how modern communism and capitalism have accelerated environmental change. Each week we will examine primary sources like paintings, essays, maps and poems. The course assumes no background in Asian or environmental history.

Brian G Lander


HMAN 1975W: Outside Philosophy

Outside of each philosophical system stands a non-philosopher who laughs at it. From Aristophanes’ mockery of Socrates, to Lucian’s mockery of the Stoic lifestyle, to Erasmus’ mockery of the Scholastics, to Voltaire’s mockery of Leibniz’ “best of all possible worlds,” it often seems that philosophy, no matter how seriously it may be taken, barely has a leg to stand on. And yet, the outsiders arguably fare no better: what are their beliefs? Why do they refuse to tell us? Are they just quasi-philosophers who simply are too cowardly to commit to what they believe? All texts in translation.

Stephen E Kidd


LATN 1050: Horace Satires, Epistles and 'Ars Poetica'

We will read selections from each of these collections of Horace's hexameter poetry, in which we learn much about the poet's life and education, his friendships with Vergil and others, his relationship with his patron Maecenas and eventually with Augustus, and his theories about the "Art of Poetry" as it should best be practiced and appreciated. We will also consider the place of Horace's poems in the development of the satirical and epistolary genres at Rome as well as the influence of these works on the later poetic (and literary-critical) tradition.

Joseph D Reed


LATN 1110H: Literature at the Court of Charlemagne

We will read widely in the Latin literature of the eighth and ninth centuries, paying attention to genre, meter, patronage, and the shifting uses put to poetry in the decades in which Charlemagne ruled.

Joseph Michael Pucci


LATN 1110P: Lucan's Civil War

We will read selected books of Lucan's Civil War (Bellum Civile) in Latin and the poem in its entirety in English. Alongside the primary goal of refining our facility with Latin language, we will also become increasingly familiar with and sensitive to Lucan's style, his poem's place within the development of Greco-Roman epic, and the socio-political context(s) of his poem's creation (e.g. Nero and the Pisonian conspiracy). Themes to be discussed may include, but are not limited to, the grotestque, epic's both complimentary and critical relationship to empire, ambition and Roman gender constructs, and the dynamics between art and politics.

Sasha-Mae Eccleston


LATN 1820: Survey of Roman Literature II: Empire

This course will survey the major authors of Latin literature in chronological order from Virgil.

Jeri B. Debrohun


MGRK 1220: Decolonizing Classical Antiquity: White Nationalism, Colonialism, and Ancient Material Heritage

Why do the material remnants of classical antiquity still attract public attention and exercise symbolic power? Why have such monuments been "used" by authorities and diverse social groups in the service of often totalitarian agendas? What are the cases where these monuments operate as weapons for resistance? How has colonial, racial, and national modernity shaped the way we understand and experience the materiality of the classical? Finally, how can we decolonize classical antiquity? We will use a diversity of global case studies, including modern Greece and Europe, and a variety of sources, from ethnographically derived performances to digital culture.

Yannis Hamilakis


RELS 1430: Buddhist Classics

An opportunity to read and understand the canonical texts of East Asian Buddhism. Through close reading, written analysis, and discussion, participants will become conversant with the major Mahayana Buddhist teachings in their original scriptural or literary articulations. Selected later interpretations may also be considered. All readings are in English translation. Previous study of Buddhism is recommended, but not required. Enrollment limited to 10 students.

Janine T Anderson Sawada