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CLASSICS 320 - Prof. L. Doherty
Spring 1995

You can and should work on both parts of this assignment at the same time; I'm describing the two separately for the sake of clarity.

As a first step, write a paragraph describing a possible topic that appeals to you and turn it in to me, if possible on Fri. Mar. 31 or at latest by Mon. Apr. 3. I will read the paragraphs and let you know which students have interests related to yours.


In class on Mar. 31 and/or April 3, and in some further group meetings outside of class time (to be arranged at your convenience):--

Decide on a topic of mutual interest involving a comparison between a specific issue or problem in the ancient material we have studied and a specific issue or problem in the contemporary world. ("Contemporary" can be extended backward in time somewhat, but the issue should at least have contemporary relevance.) Draw on your own prior study and experience as much as possible; build on what you already know. The issue should be reasonably focused and specific; e.g., the relationships between "citizen"-class women and their women slaves in 5th-century Athens compared to the relationship between middle or upper-class women and their women housekeepers and daycare providers in late 20th-century America.--

Decide on specific sub-topics that can be researched by the individual members of the group. (These will be the topics for your final papers.) The most efficient way to do this may be to divide the ancient evidence into categories, with each person handling one category or one major piece of evidence--for example, the law court speeches, or just the speech "Against Neaira," which is a very rich source in itself. If your topic is based on a single category of evidence, say the vase paintings, you might subdivide the category ("romantic" sex scenes on symposium vases versus more explicit or coercive sex scenes, as compared with "soft core" and "hard core" pornography in 20th-century America). Remember to consider the special problems with various categories of evidence, as we have discussed them in class.--

Meet with me as a group to discuss your group topic and sub-topics and to compile a research bibliography. With help from me and from each other, identify specific points of comparison to research. You will want to read some contemporary articles or books analyzing your issue, but be sure you also find specific primary sources (textual, visual, or both) in the contemporary world to compare with specific ancient sources: poems to compare with poems, plays or films to compare with plays, etc. By focusing your comparisons in this way, you should be able to limit your reports and papers to a reasonable length and still come up with valuable conclusions.--

As the time for your report approaches, have a final meeting to decide on the conclusions you will present, and to divide the material among those of you who will be presenting. (There will be no regular class on April 28, as I will be out of town; this would be a good time for your final meeting.) Rehearse your presentation and make sure it doesn't go over 20 minutes. You may also submit an outline of your points for me to review in advance. In past classes some students have put together handouts which have enhanced their reports. It's not necessary for every member of the group to participate in the presentation; everyone should contribute to the group conclusions, though, because everyone will receive the same group grade for this work. If a member of your group doesn't participate, be sure to let me know.



During the month of April, pace yourself to complete the necessary research on your topic. Use the bibliographies in Fantham, and consult me (or other faculty) about further bibliography if necessary. Rather than reading many secondary sources right away, it may be preferable to focus on your primary sources (ancient and modern) and to generate a number of important similarities and/or contrasts between them. Then use secondary readings to explore the reasons for the similarities and differences. Build the best case you can for your individual conclusions, feeling free to express your point of view in the first person. --

Share drafts of your papers with the others in your group. Get feedback on your ideas as well as your writing. Ideally the group discussions should result in stronger individual papers, as you share information and insights.--

After the group report, incorporate any helpful responses from your classmates, plus my feedback on the report, into the final draft of your paper. It is due by noon of the day scheduled for the final exam: Tuesday, May 16.


Use these as starting points, if they are useful, but feel free to develop other topics that occur to you. If necessary, check with me to make sure there are enough ancient primary sources to make your topic find them--

Portrayals of women in visual media. How are these related to portrayals of men? to the normative gender roles in the cultures involved? Do some portrayals subvert the normative roles?--

GROUP [If you are interested in this topic, I strongly recommend a visit to the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, which has an excellent collection of ancient Greek and Roman art.] Women poets. To what extent can we speak of a "women's tradition" in Greek and Latin poetry and in modern poetry? Do women poets speak of their female predecessors? What do they have to say about their relationships to their male peers and predecessors?

Even if you use these topics, try to refine them and make them more specific. chosen The sexual double standard and the division of women into "respectable" and "not respectable" categories. How did the double standard contribute to the creation of these categories in the Greek and Roman world? Do we have any evidence of how it affected the self-perception of women of different groups, or the interactions among these groups? Has "sexual liberation" in 20th-century America done away with the double standard? Does it still affect the relationships among groups of women?