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Text and Context: Writing Women in Ancient Literature (CLA2410)

StaffDr Emily Hauser -
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level5
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

  • To explore the ways in which women were given voice and expression in the literature of the ancient Greek and Roman world, the subversive quality of the female voice and female sexuality, and the insights which feminist criticism can offer the modern reader of these ancient texts.
  • To analyse texts both within their ancient literary-cultural context, and from the perspective of modern feminist criticism, and to evaluate these approaches critically.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate a broad and detailed knowledge of a wide selection of primary texts relating to or written by women (in English translation)
  • 2. Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the realities of women's lives in ancient Greek and Roman society
  • 3. Analyse the representation of women in ancient Greek and Latin literature and evaluate critically the role of the female voice in the text from a range of theoretical perspectives

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Demonstrate advanced skills in the analysis and critical evaluation of ancient texts
  • 5. Demonstrate advanced academic and library skills specific to Classics and Ancient History
  • 6. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of and critical engagement with different approaches to classical literature, including New Historicism and feminist literary criticism

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Demonstrate advanced study skills in research and the presentation of findings
  • 8. Demonstrate advanced skills in the selection and organisation of relevant material
  • 9. Demonstrate an ability to produce a strong and convincing 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:

  • Women in medical texts (various)
  • Women in epic (Homer, Ovid, Virgil)
  • Women in elegy (Ovid)
  • Women in lyric (Sappho)
  • Women in the Greek novel (Achilles Tatius and Lucian)

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 Teaching22Lectures (11 x 2 hours)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching4Seminars (4 x 1 hour)
Guided Independent Study124Private study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Participation in seminarsOngoing1-9Oral feedback
Gobbet exercise1 hour1-9Written 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
Essay602500 words1-9Mark and written comments
Gobbet test401 hour1-9Mark 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
EssayEssay1-9Referral/Deferral period
Gobbet testGobbet test1-9Referral/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

All texts and material to be confirmed. A detailed list of prescribed texts and editions will be supplied by the lecturer.

Selected secondary reading:

  • Bulter, J. (2006) Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. London: Routledge.
  • Disch, L and Hawkesworth, M. eds. (2016) The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Fantham, E. et al. eds. (1995) Women in the Classical World: Image and Text. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Hooks, b. (2014) Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center. London: Routledge.
  • James, S. L. and Dillon, S. eds. (2012) A Companion to Women in the Ancient World. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Lardinois, A. and McClure, L. eds. (2001) Making Silence Speak: Women's Voices in Greek Literature and Society. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • McManus, B. F. (1997) Classics and Feminism: Gendering the Classics. New York: Twayne Publishers.
  • Richlin, A. (2014) Arguments with Silence: Writing the History of Roman Women. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Robbins, R. (1999) ‘Will the Real Feminist Theory Please Stand Up?’ in J. Wolfreys, ed. Literary Theories: A Reader and Guide. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. 49-58.
  • Rooney, E. ed. (2006) The Cambridge Companion to Feminist Literary Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Schmitz, T. A. (2007) ‘Feminist Approaches/Gender Studies’ in Modern Literary Theory and Ancient Texts: An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell. 176-194.
  • Skinner, M. B. (1996) ‘Woman and language in Archaic Greece, or, Why is Sappho a woman?’ in E. Greene, ed. Reading Sappho. Contemporary Approaches. Berkeley: University of California Press, 175-192.
  • Sorkin Rabinowitz, N. and Richlin, A. eds. (1993) Feminist Theory and the Classics. London: Routledge.
  • Whitmarsh, T., (2004) ‘A woman's place’ in Ancient Greek Literature. Cambridge: Polity Press. 177-195.

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Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

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Key words search

Women, literature, Greek, Roman, gender, sexuality