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Study information

Ancient Texts and their Interpretation

Module titleAncient Texts and their Interpretation
Module codeCLAM077
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Dr Katharine Earnshaw (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Greece and Rome were literary cultures. They privileged, examined, questioned, and parodied a remarkably diverse and sophisticated range of literary output. This module aims to extend and enhance your previous study of ancient literature, further developing your skills in literary criticism. It entails the close analysis and interpretation of ancient texts in translation, chosen to reflect the specialisms and expertise of academic staff. Alongside developing your analytical skills, you will be introduced to a range of different critical approaches to literature and guided in your application of these approaches to your own interpretations. 

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module aims to:

  • Enrich and extend your knowledge and understanding of ancient literature through sustained focus on particular ancient texts, with an emphasis on discussion and debate
  • Develop your skills in literary criticism through close analysis
  • Engage where appropriate with a range of theoretical approaches

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the prescribed text(s), and evaluate and discuss their significance
  • 2. Identify and explain relevant theoretical approaches to ancient literature, and demonstrate how they may be appropriately applied
  • 3. Demonstrate awareness of the extent to which interpretations of ancient literature are shaped by changing modern concerns

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 4. Demonstrate sophisticated critical and analytical skills which can be applied to the analysis of texts from any culture
  • 5. Demonstrate appreciation of the issues involved in using ancient texts as historical source material and relate texts to their socio-historical context

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 6. Through research for seminars and written assignments demonstrate advanced independent and group study skills in research, critical analysis, and presentation of findings
  • 7. Through writing essays, delivering informal presentations, and preparing for seminars, demonstrate advanced ability to select and organise relevant material to produce an argument
  • 8. Through written assignments, informal seminar presentations and discussion, demonstrate advanced ability to present a strong, coherent argument in both oral and written forms
  • 9. Through online forums demonstrate ability to respond to the ideas and suggestions of others in a critical, constructive, and academically grounded way

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:

  • The module will take the form of week by week readings of selections from the set texts (to be decided by the module leaders). The emphasis will be on close reading, with consideration of different critical and interpretative approaches where appropriate, such as feminist theory, new materialism, postcolonialism etc.
  • Set texts will vary from year to year, but will focus on key literature not otherwise taught on undergraduate programmes in the Department of Classics and Ancient History (e.g. Horace’s Odes), supplemented by selections from other ancient literature.

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 Teaching 15Intensive seminar and reading group activity
Guided Independent Study135Students working independently and in groups preparing for seminars and essays

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Close study of key primary and secondary texts in class, with broader discussions of issuesIn class1-8Oral feedback from module leader(s) and peers
Weekly submissions to the online forums (to include some submissions of between 300-400 words)Weekly1-9Oral feedback in class from module leader(s) and peers

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
Essay804000 words1-8Mark; written and oral comments
Online forum comment (self-selected and submitted from those published in forum)10300-400 words1-9Mark; written comments from module leader(s)
Online forum comment (self-selected and submitted from those published in forum)10300-400 words1-8Mark; written comments from module leader(s)

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Forum commentForum comment1-9Referral/deferral period
Forum commentForum comment1-9Referral/deferral period
EssayEssay1-8Referral/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 50%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Indicative reading includes:

  • L. Dubreuil, ‘What Is Literature’s Now?’ New Literary History, Vol. 38 No. 1, 2007, pp. 43-70.
  • C. S. Kraus and C. Stray, eds. Classical Commentaries: Explorations in a Scholarly Genre. Oxford, 2015.
  • D. Schaps, Handbook for Classical Research. Routledge, 2010.
  • T. Schmitz, Modern Literary Theory and Ancient Texts: An Introduction. Wiley-Blackwell, 2007.
  • J. P. Sullivan and I. J. F. de Jong, Modern Critical Theory and Classical Literature. Brill, 2018.

Key words search

Classics, literature, literary criticism, theory

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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