• Classical Studies
  • Classical Studies
  • Classical Studies
  • Classical Studies

Major Description

Department/Program Description.

The Department of Classical Studies is dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of the societies of ancient Greece and Rome. Our faculty offer a wide array of courses in language and literature, art and archaeology, history, mythology, and religion. Courses in classical civilization require no knowledge of Latin and Greek and range from introductory lecture courses to smaller seminars that consider critical approaches and scholarship central to the study of the ancient world. Recent courses have covered diverse topics including medicine and health in antiquity, gender and sexuality, Roman law, death and the afterlife in Greece and Egypt, Rome and the Caesars, Alexander the Great, and the archaeology of Pompeii. Latin and Greek are offered at all levels, so students can either start the languages at Wesleyan or build on high school preparation. Introductory courses enable students to begin reading original texts by the second semester, and advanced courses engage with both ancient texts and critical approaches to those texts in modern scholarship. Many of our majors choose to complement their course work at Wesleyan with a summer or semester spent in Greece or Italy.

Studying classical antiquity is not only rewarding in itself; it is also excellent preparation for many academic and professional pursuits. The department has sent recent majors to top graduate programs in classics, classical archaeology, and ancient history. Our alumni have also gone on to successful careers in such varied areas as law, medicine, business, journalism, music, arts administration and museum work, and education at all levels, both as teachers and administrators.

Major Description.
Classical civilization courses fall into four categories:
  • 100-199: FYIs are small, topical seminars reserved for first- or first- and second-year students.
  • 200-275: Survey courses provide an introductory overview of one aspect of the ancient world. These courses generally have high enrollment limits and have no prerequisites.
  • 276-299: Lower-level seminars are smaller courses that focus on special aspects of the ancient world and provide opportunity for discussion and specialized research but do not require any previous knowledge of classical civilization and thus have no prerequisites.
  • 300-399: Advanced seminars are small courses that explore special aspects of the ancient world and provide opportunity for discussion and specialized research. These courses may have prerequisites or may require permission of instructor.
Courses in Greek and Latin fall into three categories:
  • 101-102: First-year language courses that are intended for those with little or no prior training in the languages provide basic training in Latin and Greek and some exposure to the culture of the ancient world.
  • 201-202: Second-year, or intermediate, courses, intended for those with a year of college training or the equivalent high school training (typically four years), introduce students to selected texts in their literary and historical contexts and provide an introduction to critical approaches to classical literature.
  • 203-299: Advanced language and literature seminars focus on a rotating set of authors, genres, or periods and provide greater opportunity for discussion and specialized research.

Students unsure of what level of language course to take should consult with a member of the department.

Major Description.

Classical civilization major. The classical civilization major is designed to provide students with a basic knowledge of at least one ancient language and a comprehensive understanding of Greek and Roman civilization. Since the field of classical studies encompasses many different disciplines, students have the opportunity to adapt the program to their particular interests. Students interested in ancient Mediterranean archaeology may major in classical civilization or in archaeology (see listing for the archaeology program). Because of the heavy language requirement for graduate school admission, however, students interested in graduate work in classics should give serious consideration to the classics major.

Major Requirements.

Requirements for classical civilization major

  • A minimum of 10 courses in classical civilization, Greek, and Latin, including at least:
  • Two courses in Latin or Greek at the intermediate level or above.
  • One introductory ancient history survey (CCIV231 Greek History; CCIV232 Roman History). This requirement should be completed by the end of the junior year.
  • One course at any level in material culture.
  • Two classical civilization seminars (CCIV courses numbered 276-399). An advanced Greek or Latin course (numbered above 202) may be substituted for one of the classical civilization seminars.

The first year of Greek or Latin (courses numbered 101 and 102) may not be counted toward the required minimum of 10 courses, but a full year of the student's second classical language may count as one course toward that minimum.

Study Abroad.

See Classics major.

Honors.

See Classics major.

Major Description.

Classics major. A major in classics will concentrate on Greek, Latin, or a combination of both languages. Students considering graduate school in classics should choose the classics major track and are strongly urged to acquire a firm grounding in both languages. It is recommended, though not required, that students considering graduate work in classics learn a modern foreign language (preferably Italian, French, or German) and that they take courses in other subjects related to their particular area of interest (literature, history, philosophy, religion, art, archaeology).

Major Requirements.

Requirements for classics major

A minimum of 10 courses in Greek, Latin, and classical civilization, including at least:

  • Six courses in Greek or Latin beyond the introductory level (courses numbered 201 or higher).
  • One introductory ancient history survey (CCIV231 Greek History; CCIV232 Roman History). This requirement should be completed by the end of the junior year.
  • One classical civilization seminar (CCIV courses numbered 276-399).

The first year of Greek or Latin (courses numbered 101 and 102) may not be counted toward the required minimum of 10 courses, but a full year of the student's second classical language may count as one course toward that minimum.

Study Abroad.

Majors in both classics and classical civilization are encouraged to apply to study abroad, usually in the junior year. Wesleyan’s list of approved programs includes two that are particularly appropriate for departmental majors.

In Rome, the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies provides regular college credit and the opportunity to study firsthand the monuments and culture of ancient and modern Italy. Students interested in applying to the Center are urged to take CCIV232 Roman History, which is generally offered every other year, and to begin the study of Latin and/or Greek before the year in which they hope to be in Rome, since no first-year Latin or Greek courses are offered at the Center. Applicants with a strong background in Greek and/or Latin will have a better chance of admission. Applications for spring term are due in early October and for fall term, in early March.

The College Year in Athens (CYA) program offers either a full year or one semester of study in ancient and modern Greek language, history, art, and archaeology; the program also offers advanced Latin and numerous courses in postclassical and modern Greek culture, politics, and history. CYA has a rolling admissions policy, but to avoid paying a large deposit with admission, applications must be received by mid-October for spring term and by mid-May for fall term.

Other options are also available. Students should consult with a faculty member well in advance of the term in which they hope to be abroad to discuss credit, the application process, and how their plans will influence their selection of courses at Wesleyan.

Honors.

Majors interested in completing a senior thesis for departmental honors should consult with the faculty as early as possible and must submit a senior thesis proposal to the department by April 15 of their junior year. Enrollment in the senior thesis tutorial in the Fall will be contingent upon the department's approval of the proposal.

Advanced Placement.

Students who receive a 4 or 5 on the Latin Advanced Placement exam may receive one Wesleyan credit after having completed with a passing grade a Latin course at Wesleyan at the level of LAT 201 or higher.

Prizes.

The department awards three prizes annually, the Ingraham prize for "excellence in a Greek elective for juniors and seniors," the Sherman prize for "excellence in classics," and the Spinney prize for "the best original essay in Greek or Roman civilization."

Additional Information.
Notes for both classics and classical civilization majors:
  • As a practical matter, students who have had no classical languages before coming to Wesleyan and who wish to major in classics should begin Greek or Latin in their first year or take an intensive summer course before the sophomore year. Students interested in the classical civilization major are also urged to begin language study as soon as possible.
  • Students interested in studying at the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome (see above under Study Abroad) should plan to take CCIV232 Roman History before the term in which they plan to study abroad.
  • Where appropriate, students may ask to have courses in other departments substituted for classical civilization courses.
  • Students interested in teaching may have an opportunity to serve as teaching apprentices in introductory Latin or Greek courses.