Graduate Course Descriptions

Course Registration

Please visit the Office of the Registrar to register. 

Graduate Course Lists

For previous course listings, please contact Alison Blaszak.

In addition to the graduate courses offered by the Department of Classics, students can enroll in Independent Studies with a sponsoring faculty member.

Independent study is personalized student work under the guidance of a faculty member. These courses are intended to pursue topics that are not currently offered through regular coursework at the Department of Classics. Independent study may be the focal point in the design of an individual program, or it may merely add desired depth or breadth to a student’s research project.

Typically, the independent study project is created by the student. Before approaching faculty members for an independent study, consider writing a project proposal that includes a brief explanation of why you want to complete an independent study, along with a short list of suggested readings. This will give the instructor a starting point from which to negotiate the course requirements.

Please note that faculty members are not obligated to advise a student on an independent study project. They may be unable to, due to other commitments, even if they are excited about the topic. Students should seek out a faculty supervising instructor as early as possible.

To enroll in independent study, students must identify a member of the faculty willing to sponsor their project and work with them to complete the independent study form. Then the form must be submitted by the student with faculty signature to Alison Blaszak ( by the add/drop deadline of the semester students wish to be registered. Independent study typically is taken for 3 credits and will count towards the student’s elective requirements.

A maximum of two independent study courses are allowed each semester, with a maximum career total of ten.

CL 506: Problems in Greek Archaeology
Several different courses are taught under this general listing:

  • Ancient Greek Houses & Households
    The aim of this seminar is to introduce advanced students to the study of Greek domestic architecture, both in terms of the principle examples thereof and to the variety of methodological approaches to them.  We will take up issues ranging from the use, function, and decorative elaboration of domestic space, to the domestic economy, to issues of status, ideology, and gender in the Greek house. (Ault)
  • Classical Urbanism
    Aspects of the city, city-state, and urbanism have long been a focus for scholars of ancient Greece. Historical and archaeological studies abound. Relatively recent important works include Murray and Price (1990), Hoepfner and Schwandner (1994), the numerous publications of the Copenhagen Polis Centre (cf., and, most lately, Hansen (2006). This semester we will address and explore issues related to the Greek city and urbanism. Our approach to studying ancient cities should be diverse and interdisciplinary, oriented towards conceptual entities as well as physical realities. Topics for consideration will include case-studies of individual cities themselves, and may also take up the rise of the polis; varieties of public and sacred spaces, buildings and civic amenities (for example, the need for defense and measures of fortification), as well as aspects of their development, design and placement; orthogonal planning and Hippodamos of Miletus; urban development and design in the colonies; the relationship between the city and its countryside; and may also include allied, particularly ancient Near Eastern, Italic, and Roman manifestations of similar phenomena. (Ault)
  • The Iconography of Greek Painted Pottery
    This seminar should provide both a broad overview and in depth coverage of the study of painted pottery from the Greek world.  Starting from the proposition that we can and should be reading material culture as a text, the iconography of and on Greek pots provides a singularly rich source for shedding light on numerous aspects of ancient Greece simply not recoverable through other avenues of exploration. (Ault)
  • The Greeks Overseas
    The aim of this seminar is to introduce students to the history of Greek settlements in Magna Graecia and Sicily from the eighth century BCE to the Roman conquest of Sicily. We will focus first on the history of the Greeks overseas and ongoing debates between different schools of thought and approaches to this topic. Secondly, we will analyze some of the material and cultural aspects of Greek colonies/apoikiai, such as urban development, houses and households, sanctuaries, relations between Greeks and native populations, and concepts of identity and ethnicity. (Trotta)

    We shall consider Greek colonial and other activity abroad from an archaeological as well as an historical perspective.  We will take up significant examples of where the Greeks left their mark as well as instances where others influenced them.  Many avenues present themselves for study as part of our wide-ranging topic, from detailed considerations of settlements themselves, the foreign populations impacted by Greek culture, of relations between colonizers and the colonized, or between mother city and colony, as well as the phenomenon of the Greek apoikia within the larger historical framework of colonization, colonial and, more recently, post-colonial scholarship.  Moreover, I would like to stage the seminar itself within the overarching framework of Braudelian and post-Braudelian Mediterranean Studies generally. (Ault)
  • The Topography of Athens and Attica
    We will spend the semester engaged in a diachronic survey of the urban and rural landscapes of Athens and Attica, considering not only the physical manifestations of cultural behaviors (i.e., sites, monuments, and artifacts), but their associated institutional, social, historical, and ideological aspects.  That we may gain a deeper appreciation for how the discipline conducts itself, I would also like to take up issues impacting upon the history of Classical Archaeology, especially as practiced out of the omphalos of Athens. (Ault)

CL 508: Roman Archaeology 1
This course is designed to provide entry-level graduate students in Classical studies with a general introduction to the archaeology of the ancient Romans from early Iron Age down to the end of the Republic (ca. 1000-27 BC)

CL 512:  End of Rome & Birth of Europe
This course will look at the history of Italy and Western Europe from the reign of Constantine through the reign of Charlemagne. It will also consider Rome’s successor in the East, Byzantium, and its relationship to the ‘old empire’. The class will address larger themes in classical and early medieval history and will question traditional views on the ‘decline and fall of the Roman Empire’ and the ‘Dark Ages’. We will study topics such as the Migration Period, Christianity in the Roman Empire, pilgrimage, monasticism, changes and continuity of the cities and countryside of Europe, the rise of the new order in Merovingian and Carolingian Europe, and Byzantium’s relationships with Islamic and ‘barbarian’ lands, using a wide variety of literary, archaeological, and artistic evidence.  (Salvo)

CL 527: History of Greek Literature
A survey of Greek literature covering the principal genres of the archaic and classical periods.  The course begins with Homeric questions and the production of literature, continues through Hesiod and early Greek poetry, philosophy, and the invention of prose, followed by Greek drama (both tragedy and comedy) and the writing of history, oratory, and philosophical theory. Concentration on developing reading skills and becoming familiar with the conventional and digital research tools available for studying Greek literature. (Teegarden)

CL 528: History of Latin Literature
This course provides an intensive survey of Latin literature, primarily poetry, from its beginnings to the early Empire.  Through extended readings from a variety of authors, students will improve their understanding of the Latin language, including verse forms, and gain an overview of the history and development of Latin letters.  In class, the instructor and students will address problems of comprehension, discuss literary history, and analyze poetics.  (Coffee)

CL 530: The Ancient Economy
A topical survey of the economy of the Roman Empire (offered jointly with an undergraduate section) that combines lectures, in-class presentations by students, and the discussion of readings.  Emphasizes the different forms of textual and material cultural evidence available for the elucidation of the Roman economy and the ways in which historians and archaeologists employ these for economic analysis.  The course is organized around weekly topics, including general models of the Roman economy, the free market versus the command economy, rationality, productivity and growth, money, labor and occupations, the economic role of towns, agricultural production, marketing, bankers and traders, consumption, and quantitative approaches to economic analysis.  Written assignments are aimed at developing students’ skills in the summary and critical evaluation of scholarly literature and the execution of a literature survey.

CL 537: History of Latin Literature
In this course, students will survey Latin verse from its origins to the present day and increase their reading proficiency through the reading and discussion of extended passages of Latin.

CL 538: History of Latin Literature 2
In this course, students will survey Latin verse from its origins to the present day and increase their reading proficiency through the reading and discussion of extended passages of Latin. (Coffee)  

CL 540: Pompeii
The course aims to introduce both undergraduate and graduate students to the archaeology of the Bay of Naples with specific attention to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and other Roman settlements around Mount Vesuvius. The course will also analyze the history of archaeological research in this area of south Italy, its achievements, and the implications in terms of cultural heritage management of worldwide known sites. (Sebastiani)

CL 543 (LAT 443): Reading of Latin Literature

  • Livy
    A close examination of the Latin text of the first book of Livy’s Ab Urbe Condita. Particular attention will be paid to how Livy constructs Rome  in its earliest form; the theme of kingship and what may have been the historical realities of the regal period; and Livy’s relationship with the topography of the city of Rome. (Dugan)

  • Etruscan Presences in Latin literature
    We will read a broad variety of Latin texts that engage with the Etruscans. Topics covered will include Roman understandings of Etruscan history, culture, social organization, religious belief and ritual, divinatory practices (in particular the hauruspices), city planning, and temple and tomb construction. (Dugan)
  • Sallust
    We will consider the surviving Sallustian corpus in its entirety: Catiline, Jugurtha, the Histories (surviving in substantial and fascinating fragments), as well as the Pseudo-Sallustian ‘Invective against Cicero.’ Our goal is to achieve an over-all understanding of Sallust's contribution to Roman literature and historiography, and of his place within Roman cultural history. We will read the whole of Sallust in English translation, translate substantial portions of his Latin, and engage with pertinent secondary scholarship. (Dugan)                     
  • Roman Invective and Verbal Abuse
    An exploration of the world of Roman verbal assault. Readings in Latin will range from inscriptions on sling bullets and walls, to scurrilous pamphlets, to formal full-blown invective speeches. We will investigate especially how themes within Roman invective reveal broader cultural values. (Dugan)

CL 544 (GR 444): Reading Greek Literature

  • Callimachus & Apollonius
    This course will survey the poetry of two of the most influential poets of the Hellenistic age: Callimachus of Cyrene (c.305-240 BCE) and Apollonius of Rhodes (c. 276 BCE-194 BCE). Students will read selections of their poetry and consider the ways in which the “updated” the traditional genres of rhapsodic hymn, elegy, iamb, and epic, how the infused their poetry with the political and intellectual concerns of their age, and how they influenced each other and the trajectory of Greek and Latin poetry thereafter. The aesthetic of this era was profoundly influential, especially on the Roman poets, who translated (in some cases literally) the poetry of their Hellenistic predecessors into their own language and milieux. We will conclude by examining the influence of some of these Hellenistic poets on Catullus, Vergil, Ovid, and Valerius Flaccus. This course is an advanced to graduate level reading course; this is NOT a language acquisition course. This course will NOT focus on the morphology, grammar and syntax of Ancient Greek; it is assumed that the students in the class are already very comfortable with Attic Greek. However, since the poems we will study are not composed in Attic, a few class meetings will be devoted to the introduction of the two Greek dialects involved: Literary Doric and Epic. This course is meant to be an in depth study of literature from the Hellenistic period and the current state of the trends in scholarship. (Murray)

  • A close reading of Book 1 of Thucydides (Teegarden)

  • A close reading of Euripides​’ Helen (Teegarden)

  • A close reading of Aristotle’s Poetics (Woodard)

CL 580: Ancient Mediterranean Ceramics
Several different courses are taught under this general listing:

  • Roman Pottery & Small Finds
    The course aims at providing students with a general knowledge on the artefacts of the Classical Mediterranean, their production, and how to study them to reconstruct the past. The students will be then able to learn how to use archaeological materials to construct narratives and convey outcomes for museums and collections. The course will provide the opportunity to interact with objects belonging to the Kale Collection (Department of Classics - UB) and to set up an exhibition at the Anderson Gallery. (Sebastiani)
  • Roman Pottery
    A systematic survey of the physical characteristics, chronology, technology/production, function, and cultural significance of the more common classes of pottery used in the Roman world, including tableware, cookware, utilitarian wares, and amphorae.  Written assignments provide students experience in collecting information from the archaeological literature and writing this up in the form of reports.
  • Ceramic Analysis
    An intensive, hands-on introduction to some of the more important methods employed for the analysis of archaeological pottery and potting materials, including the analysis of the physical properties of clays, the evaluation of forming and surfacing procedures, the mineralogical and chemical characterization of pottery composition, the evaluation of pottery function, the quantification of pottery assemblages, and the evaluation of assemblage formation.  Students complete a series of eight labs aimed at providing experience with the application of various analytical methods.  They then apply the knowledge/experience gained in lectures/readings/labs to complete a research project involving the analysis of archaeological pottery and/or potting materials.
  • Material Culture in the Roman World
    An in-depth survey of material culture in the Roman world.  The course aims to familiarize students with theoretical approaches to the consideration and study of material culture, the various categories of material culture produced by the Romans, the technologies employed for the manufacture of these items, and approaches to the description, analysis, and publication of Roman material culture.  The course includes a visit to the Roman galleries of the Royal Ontario Museum, which contain the richest assemblage of Roman material culture on display in North America.

CL 590: Syntax and Stylistics
Comprehensive review of Greek syntax in the context of selections from Greek literature.  

CL 593: Sanskrit 1
A linguistic and philological examination of Sanskrit, the ancient Indo-European language of India and one of the earliest attested of all Indo-European languages. The course focuses on the study of Sanskrit grammar and Sanskrit readings from the Nala episode of the MahÅbhÅrata, one of the two epics of ancient India. (Woodard)

CL 594: Sanskrit 2
A continuation of the linguistic and philological study of Sanskrit. The course focuses on the study of Sanskrit grammar and Sanskrit readings from the MahÅbhÅrata and additional texts as time allows. (Woodard)

CL 595: Latin Syntax and Stylistics
This class is made up of two distinct, but ultimately complementary, activities: the reading and stylistic analysis of selected Latin prose texts from the 2nd cent. BCE to the 5th cent. CE; and a systematic overview of Latin prose syntax through composition exercises. The goals are to provide a survey of the range of Latin prose style (including Cato, Cicero, Sallust, Caesar, Livy, Seneca, Tacitus, Apuleius, and Jerome) and to compose Latin in order to achieve a firm grasp of proper Latin grammar and syntax. (Dugan)

CL 598: Indo-European Linguistics
A linguistic examination of the Indo-European language family and its parent, Proto-Indo-European.  The course surveys the family, focusing especially on the earliest members of each subfamily, examines in detail the grammar (lexicon, phonology, morphology and syntax) of the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European language, and investigates changes that occurred as the parent language evolved into the various attested Indo-European languages. (Woodard)

CL 611: Greek Historiography
The goal of this seminar is to introduce Classics and Art History students to Greek epic poetry, lyric poetry and drama, and how the stories they tell were depicted in Greek art.

CL 634: Catallus
In this seminar we will scrutinize Catullus’ appropriation and adaptation of Alexandrian poetics in order to arrive at a deeper understanding both of Catullus’ poetry and of Roman Alexandrianism as a whole.

CL 635: Hesiod
A seminar investigation of the epic author Hesiod, designed to acquaint the student with recent research in Hesiodic studies; to provide students with the opportunity to read the Greek text of Hesiod’s Theogony and Works and Days; and to provide students with the opportunity to undertake original research on some topic related to Hesiod. (Woodard)

CL 707: Greek Literature
Reading Aeschylus' Agamemnon. (Teegarden)

CL 708: Latin Literature
The Latin Literature Seminar offers graduate students an in-depth exploration of Latin texts at an advanced level.  The topic changes each semester; the seminar may focus on a single author, a genre, a time-period, or a theme. Recent seminar topics include Vergil and his Critics, Sallust, Livy, Tacitus, Exchange Ideologies in Classical Literature, the Age of Nero. The seminar typically requires extensive reading in Latin, a survey of scholarship, and some combination of article critiques, in-class presentations, and a research project.  (Coffee)

The End of the Aeneid

Vergil’s Aeneid is the most influential work of Latin literature, the central text of Roman ideals, and a unique store of knowledge about Roman culture. In this seminar, students will read the epic’s controversial book 12, against the background of the whole poem and the circumstances in which Vergil wrote. The recent publication of the first modern English commentary on Book 12 provides the opportunity to consider it in greater depth. Students will read the whole of the Aeneid in translation, and the Latin of book 12 over the course of the semester, discussing the readings in class. They will also be introduced to a variety of new digital approaches to exploring the provenance and legacy of the Aeneid. These will include tools that allow for tracing discussions of particular passages in secondary scholarship. The primary student work will be to present a set of lines to the class, participate in class discussion, and write a final paper. (Coffee)

Latin Literature - Sallust

We will engage in a wholistic analysis of Sallust, placing his works within their literary, historiographic, and cultural context. Rather than focus on one or another of his writings, we will consider the surviving Sallustian corpus in its entirety: Catiline, Jugurtha, the Histories (surviving in substantial and fascinating fragments), as well as the Pseudo-Sallustian Invective against Cicero. Our goal is to achieve an over-all understanding of Sallust's contribution to Roman literature and historiography, and his place within Roman cultural history. We will read the whole of Sallust in English translation, translate sizeable portions of his Latin, and engage substantially with pertinent secondary scholarship.  (Dugan)

Latin Literature - Seneca on Confronting the World

The younger Seneca was a towering figure in early Roman imperial politics and culture. In certain aspects of his career, he followed the example of his late Republican counterpart, Cicero. Seneca rose to prominence as a consummately skillful pleader in the courts, gained political power (in his case as advisor to Nero), wrote notable works on philosophy, and developed a style of speaking and writing that became canonical.

In other respects Seneca went farther than Cicero or diverged from him. Unlike the notoriously unquotable Cicero, Seneca’s pithy style, which rankled Caligula and Quintilian, gives us sharply perceived observations on human nature, such as veritatem dies aperit (“time discovers truth,” De ira 2.22) and quos laeserunt et oderunt (“whom they have injured they also hate,” De ira 2.33). Seneca shrewdly amassed phenomenal wealth. He advanced and propagated one particular school of philosophy, Stoicism. He was a brilliant playwright who gives us our only fully extant Roman tragedies. Seneca was also a kind of ancient scientist, who investigated and recorded natural phenomena.

In this graduate seminar, we will take the first few weeks to get acquainted with Seneca by surveying his life and works. We will then direct our focus to a topic that cuts across his life, philosophy, and tragedy: how to engage with others when the social or political environment is (potentially) adverse or hostile while remaining happy and well-balanced.

In his life, Seneca narrowly avoided death at the hands of Caligula, endured exile under Claudius, returned, then eventually lost favor with the emperor Nero, and was then ordered to commit suicide. It is no surprise that the question of how to deal with a challenging social environment became a recurring subject in his philosophical works. In On Anger (De ira), he addresses how to deal with anger (Nero’s we understand). And he devotes two treatises to the question of whether and how to retreat from public life, On Mental Tranquillity (De Tranquillitate Animi) and On Leisure (De Otio). Not coincidentally, Stoicism as a philosophy was one that instructed its adherents in various techniques of mental fortification in order to protect their psyches from the shocks of finding one’s way in the world. Seneca himself, with his practical Roman bent, is one of our main sources for these techniques. His tragedies touch more darkly on the same subject.

With both primary and secondary readings, the bulk of the course will focus on the question of engagement in Seneca’s works. Although this is not primarily a Latin reading course, we will read selections from Seneca in Latin to gain direct access to his thought and expression. (Coffee)

Political and Legal Theory in late Republican Rome

A survey of political and legal thought in the last decades of the republic that will feature a close reading of portions of Cicero’s De Republica and De Legibus. (Dugan)

CL 711: Seminar of Greek History
Several different courses are taught under this general listing:

  • Persian Wars
    The core of the class will be a diachronic study of Greco-Persian relations from the Ionian Revolt (499-493) to the battle at Mycale (479).  But we also will discuss events that preceded the Ionian Revolt (e.g., Persian imperialism in the west), and I intend to conclude the class with an examination of the foundation of the Delian League in 478. (Teegarden)
  • Archaic Athens
    In this seminar we will conduct a diachronic analysis of Athenian political history during the archaic period.  Topics discussed include: Solon's reforms, the tyranny of Peisistratos, the democratic revolution, and the Persian War.  One of the overarching goals of the seminar is to better understand how the non-elite masses became the dominant political force in Athens. (Teegarden)
  • Dionysos
    Survey of representations of Dionysos in literature (concentrating on Euripides’ Bacchae and Aristophanes’ Frogs) and inscriptions found throughout the Greek world. Topics include Dionysian iconography as displayed on vases, coins, free standing sculpture, and votive reliefs; the varieties of archaeological evidence for the worship of this god; and the important inscriptions on stone, gold, bone, and ceramic relating to his cult. Covers material from Italy to Dura Europus and from Olbia to Egypt. Provides opportunities for students to use the methodologies of their graduate concentration and to develop new areas of expertise.

Several different courses are taught under this general listing:

  • The Roman Slave and the Roman Freedman
    Slavery was central to Roman economy and society from its origins through the Christian Late Roman Empire. The Roman war machine produced large numbers of slaves and they were used for everything from manuscript editing to field labor. It was a brutal, demeaning system. What made Rome distinct as a slave society was the numbers of slaves, who gained their freedom and integrated into free society, The ‘freedmen’ became an important element in Roman economy and society. Since Roman slavery is so well documented, it has played an important role in the developing debate over slavery in general. That larger picture will also be considered.

CL 721: Greek Epigraphy
Introduction to the study of Greek inscriptions and the research tools of Greek epigraphy, concentrating on the epigraphical evidence for Greek religious practice. Consideration of the traditional issues of Greek epigraphy (history of the alphabet, development of local scripts and letter forms, dialect variations, the major genres of inscribed texts, and problems of dating) in the context of the religious traditions of the Greek polis. Texts are chosen to illustrate the definition of ritual space, concern for pollution, requirements for sacrifice, organization of festivals, sanctuaries and priesthoods, and the recognition of the divine by the individual and the political community as expressed in dedications, sacred laws, the formulaic texts issued by cities, and tomb inscriptions.

CL 722: Latin Epigraphy
A general introduction to the study of Latin/Roman inscriptions. The principal goals of the course are to familiarize students with the various categories of inscribed materials from the Roman world and to provide them experience in the translation of these, to familiarize students with the various ways in which inscribed materials from the Roman world are analyzed and interpreted and to provide them experience with some of these approaches, and to familiarize students with the various printed and electronic resources available for the study of inscribed materials from the Roman world. Students complete a semester project that involves compiling the corpus of funerary epitaphs pertaining to one specific occupation, preparing these for presentation, and analyzing these from a social/economic point of view.

CL 730: Roman Ostia
An in-depth survey of the uniquely rich architectural, epigraphical, and material cultural remains of the ancient Roman town of Ostia and the research methods that scholars are currently employing to investigate these. Students complete a small GIS project in order to gain some familiarity with the application of GIS technology in archaeology and carry out weekly readings in Italian in order to improve their command of the scholarly literature in this language. For a semester project they complete a research design/mock grant proposal for a program of research at Ostia.

CL 787: Topics in Classical Archaeology

Several different courses are taught under this general listing:

  • The Roman Countryside
    The course presents various topics in classical archaeology related to the organization of the Roman countryside. The students will learn and investigate the development of rural infrastructures and economic features through the analysis of key archaeological sites, seminar discussions, and personal presentations. The focus of the course will be central Italy between the Etruscan and the early medieval periods. (Sebastiani)