CLA 25 (HONORS): Classics and America: Why Ancient Greece and Rome Still Matter (4 units)

imageCLA 25 (HONORS): Classics and America: Why Ancient Greece and Rome Still Matter (4 units)

Colin Webster

TR, 1:40-3:00P, Wellman 101

*Open to students in the University Honors Program*

Course Description: The founding fathers crafted the constitution while looking directly at Rome and Greece as models for American democracy, citizenship and the rule of law. Classical marble columns provide the literal supports for many of our civic institutions, functioning as visual reminders of the ideological foundations laid by the ancient world. Yet the adoption of Classical Antiquity as an archetype has simultaneously been part of establishing racial hierarchies and defining a notion of the “West” that excludes other cultures as irrelevant and dispensable to the trajectory of history. In recent years, white nationalists have continued to pick up iconography from Greece and Rome, whether marching with Spartan shields or Roman weapons, even as anti-racist protestors chant slogans invoking universal civil rights that are themselves indebted to ancient ideas. The legacies of Classical Antiquity are complicated, conflicting and growing ever more crucial in the present moment. This class will provide a brief overview of ancient Mediterranean history and establish why we still talk about Greece and Rome in modern America. Moreover, it will allow students to explore how particular versions of history are used to justify political actions and how historical fictions about the nature of the ancient world still structure many of our assumptions today. No prior knowledge or coursework is required.

Prerequisite: Open to students in the University Honors Program


Format: Lecture/Discussion - 3 hours; Term Paper