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Study information

Text and Context: Roman Love Elegy

Module titleText and Context: Roman Love Elegy
Module codeCLA1406
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Professor Sharon Marshall (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module addresses key issues of Roman love elegy, a genre that had a lifespan of just 50 years, but a profound and lasting influence on the way in which love is conceptualised and represented. Exploring the poems of Catullus, Propertius, Ovid, Tibullus and the female elegist Sulpicia, we will consider what it means to be ‘in love’ and to write poetry about being in love. How does poetry transform the world and create its own world? How do our elegists interact with previous love poets and with each other? How does their poetry communicate their playful personae, their idealised yet realistic lovers, and their rejections of Roman social ideals?

Module aims - intentions of the module

  • You will learn how to analyse, evaluate, and use texts and how to relate their style and content to the wider socio-historical context in which they were written.
  • You will explore love elegy’s sophisticated poetic play, and its concern with politics and patronage.
  • The module will also introduce you to modern literary theory and its application to classical texts.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Describe and identify the main features of Roman love elegy and the intertextual relationships between the love elegists
  • 2. Demonstrate an understanding of a variety of critical approaches possible in the study of love elegy and current trends in criticism
  • 3. Analyse love elegy in relation to its socio-historical context

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Relate texts to their socio-historical context and demonstrate appreciation of the issues involved in using ancient texts as historical source material
  • 5. Demonstrate advanced academic and library skills specific to Classics and Ancient History, as well as a critical ability in evaluating published literature
  • 6. Reflect deeply on literary-critical skills in a widely applicable sense

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Demonstrate independent and group study skills in research and the presentation of findings
  • 8. Select and organise relevant material and present this in a strong and coherent argument

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Introduction
  • Tropes and the elegiac mistress
  • Catullus
  • Gallus and proto-elegy
  • Tibullus
  • Propertius
  • Ovid
  • Sulpicia

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching2211 x 2 hour lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching55 x 1 hour seminars
Guided Independent Study123Private study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Participation in debates in seminarsOngoing1-8Oral feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay602000 words1-8Mark and written comments
Gobbet test401 hour1-8Mark and written comments

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-8Referral/Deferral period
Gobbet testGobbet test1-8Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Set texts:

  • Catullus, The Complete Poems (Oxford World’s Classics) trans. Guy Lee.
  • Ovid, The Erotic Poems (Penguin Classics), trans. Peter Green.
  • Propertius, The Poems (Oxford World’s Classics) trans. Guy Lee.
  • Selections from Gallus, Tibullus and Sulpicia will be provided.

Further reading:

  • Hallett, J. P. (1984) ‘The Role of Women in Roman Elegy: Counter-Cultural Feminism’ in J.Peradotto and J. P Sullivan, eds. Women in the Ancient World: The Arethusa Papers.Albany: State of New York University Press. 241-264.
  • James, S. L. (2003) Learned Girls and Male Persuasion: Gender and Reading in Roman Love Elegy. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Kennedy, D. F. (1993) The Arts of Love: Five Studies in the Discourse of Roman Love Elegy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Sharrock, A. (1991) ‘Womanufacture’, The Journal of Roman Studies 81: 36-49.
  • Thorsen. T. ed. (2013) The Cambridge Companion to Latin Love Elegy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Wkye, M. (2002) The Roman Mistress: Ancient and Modern Representations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Love Elegy, Propertius, Tibullus, Ovid

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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