Designated Emphasis in Classics and Classical Receptions

What is a Designated Emphasis (DE)?

A Designated Emphasis is a specialization that might include a new method of inquiry or an important field of application which is related to two or more existing Ph.D. programs. A DE acts like a minor for graduate students.

Why enroll in the DE in Classics and Classical Receptions?

Classics is the study of ancient Greece and Rome in all their aspects. It is a wide-ranging, multidisciplinary field, embracing not only history and literature but also philosophy, linguistics, religious studies, art, archeology, and even areas outside the traditional humanities such as medicine and science. Classics has long served as the foundation of all intellectual endeavor classicsin the West, and up-to-date methodological training and research capability in Greek and Latin sources are extremely valuable in many disciplines.

Classical Receptions is a new and rapidly growing sub-field within Classics that studies the images and memories of ancient Greece and Rome as they have been transmitted, adapted, and exploited in later cultures. Sometimes these adaptations, like the detail from the Capitol dome in Washington, D.C., illustrated here, strike us as amusingly incongruous; sometimes, like the classically inspired architecture of Nazi Germany, they seem intimidating or soulless. More often the effect is reassuring and pleasing, as when we contemplate Jefferson's Monticello. Always, however, they tell us much about the preoccupations and values of the society that produced them. Scholars of Classical Receptions have studied the representations of Greece and Rome in areas ranging from the Caribbean to Japan, and from Nigerian theater to Hollywood. Classical Receptions, by the nature of its subject, has been engaged in exciting dialogues with medieval culture, modern world history and literature, Postcolonialism, race and gender studies, and film studies, just to mention a few.

The Classics Program at UC Davis has faculty members uniquely qualified to train students in both traditional classical studies and Classical Receptions. The Designated Emphasis in Classics and Classical Receptions fills an important need by offering a program of study at the graduate level which is flexible enough to respond to the different needs of students coming from a variety of academic backgrounds.

The DE has two goals:

  1. To provide graduate students with an overview of the history, theory, and methods of Classical scholarship, and to familiarize them with the primary and secondary sources needed to evaluate those aspects of Greek and Roman antiquity connected with their own research.
  2. To equip students with the tools, including advanced study in Greek and Latin language, needed to conduct research on the reception of Greek and Roman culture in their own fields of study.

To date, the following Ph.D. programs are affiliated with the Designated Emphasis in Classics as follows: Comparative Literature, English, French, German, History, Philosophy, Spanish, and the Study of Religion.

The Academic Program

A. Admissions Criteria

Any student admitted to a participating doctoral program is eligible for admission, provided that:

  • The candidate has begun the study of either Latin or Greek; and
  • The candidate intends to complete a dissertation in which the topic relates to, and incorporates, some aspect of Classics, Classical scholarship, or Classical reception.

B. Curriculum

1. Required courses:

  • Three upper division courses in either Latin or Greek - 12 units
  • CLA 200A - 4 units
  • CLA 200B - 4 units
  • One (1) additional course to be selected in consultation with the student's DE advisor. This course may be another course in Classics or a course in another department which emphasizes the connection of Classics and Classical receptions with the student's field of study. - 4 units

Total Required Units: 24

2. Elective courses

Students may add courses in Classics or a related field, but we do not anticipate that many students will have schedules that allow this option.

3. Qualifying Examination

The student's Qualifying Examination Committee must include at least one member of the DE faculty. The DE member of the Qualifying Exam Committee shall be recommended by the Executive Committee of the DE. The Chair of the DE and the student's Ph.D. program Graduate Adviser must co-sign the Qualifying Examination Committee form, which is submitted to Graduate Studies for approval by the Dean of Graduate Studies.

The Qualifying Examination will assess the student's depth and breadth of knowledge within the area of the DE, as well as the Ph.D. program area. Satisfactory performance on the Qualifying Examination for the Ph.D. will be judged independently from performance on the DE. Thus, an allowable outcome of the Qualifying Examination is that the student's performance may be "passing" for the Ph.D. but "not passing" for the DE. In the event that a student passes the

icarus Ph.D. qualifying exam, but receives a "not pass" for the DE, the Executive Committee of the DE will define a plan for remediation. The plan may include, but is not limited to re-examination by the DE Executive Committee, coursework, teaching, or preparation of a paper. If the student is re-examined, the remediation outcome will be assessed as "pass" or "fail." If the student receives a "fail," a recommendation will be made to the Dean of the Office of Graduate Studies for disqualification from the DE.


4. Dissertation Requirements

The student's Dissertation Committee shall be selected in accordance with the regulations of the Ph.D. program, but must include at least one member of the DE faculty. The DE member may be the Dissertation Committee Chair. The dissertation topic will be relevant to the area of the DE.

5. Degree Conferral Process:

The Designated Emphasis will be awarded solely in conjunction with the Ph.D. and will be signified by the degree designation "Ph.D. in X with Emphasis in Classics and Classical Receptions," where X is the Ph.D. program.

C. Student Advising

The DE will appoint a faculty adviser for each student admitted. This adviser may be different from the adviser appointed by the student's department, and if so will serve the candidate only in matters relating to the DE. The student's DE adviser and / or the DE chair will meet with the student each quarter to assess progress, consult, and offer advice. At least once a year the DE adviser will review the programs of all students in the DE.

D. Impact on Time to Degree

If students come to graduate study with some training in Latin or Greek, or if they begin language training in their first year of graduate study, the DE should not significantly prolong their time to degree. We have created the DE for students who need facility in Latin or Greek and who therefore would be studying the languages intensively even if the DE did not exist. The revised DE gives these students advice and training in the languages from the beginning of their graduate careers and will ideally streamline their studies. The required courses offer the essential tools for dissertation research. We have planned CLA 200B to facilitate the writing of an early draft of one chapter of the dissertation under the direction of DE faculty.

Faculty participating in the Designated Emphasis

The Classics Program at Davis has eleven active scholars participating in the DE: Emily Albu, Tim Brelinski, C.M. Chin, Ralph Hexter, Valentina Popescu, John Rundin, Carey Seal, Rex Stem, David Traill, Anna Uhlig, and Colin Webster. All the scholars in Classics take a broad, interdisciplinary view of the field. Their specialties and interests include literature, history and historiography, religion, philosophy, history of science, art and archaeology, and Medieval Latin.

In addition, there are numerous faculty members in other departments whose research and teaching involve them deeply in various aspects of Classics and the Classical Receptions in their respective disciplines. The complete roster of faculty participating in the Designated Emphasis in Classics is as follows:

Art History
Lynn Roller (active emerita)
Alexandra Sofroniew

Emily Albu (active emerita)
Tim Brelinski
C.M. Chin
Ralph Hexter
Valentina Popescu
John Rundin
Carey Seal
Rex Stem
David Traill (active emeritus)
Anna Uhlig
Colin Webster 

Comparative Literature
Stefan Uhlig

Seeta Chaganti
Fran Dolan
Matthew Vernon
Claire Waters

French and Italian
Noah Guynn
Margherita Heyer-Caput

German & Russian
SvenErik Rose

Sally McKee
Daniel Stolzenberg

Michael Subialka

Darian Shanske

Performance Studies
Seeta Chaganti
Lynette Hunter

Jan Szaif

Political Science
Shalini Satkunanandan
John Scott

Religious Studies (Study of Religion, Graduate Group)
Naomi Janowitz 
Jamal Jones
Eva Mroczek
Mairaj Syed

Spanish & Portuguese
Leo Bernucci
Robert Blake
John Slater

University Writing Program
Brad Sekedat

Further Resources


  • Anna Uhlig, DE Director.
  • For assistance with DE paperwork, you can contact Nancy Masson, Graduate Program Coordinator.