The wind is starting to pick up and the nights are getting coolers, which means it’s almost certainly fall. New students, new classes, and new beginnings (all beginnings are new) await us in the term. It’s worth examining some of our course offerings this term from a student’s perspective, to get a picture of why you might take them, which ones are good, and which ones to be cautious of in your first few years as a classics student or enthusiast. This is a two part post, so you can look for more fall course offerings next week, but today I’ll start with the basics.
CLAS 100: Introduction to Classical Studies
This year’s introduction to classics is taught by Professor Sheila Ager, the chair of the department and an accomplished scholar. This course usually features a number of lectures by other professors in the department and gives an overview of ancient life, cities, mythology, religion, philosophy, and art, while also giving you the greatest hits of famous figures in both Greece and Rome. Take this course if you have even a passing interest in ancient history. There’s no prerequisites, the workload is usually proportional to a normal first year course, and it can help you get acquainted not just with various aspects of the ancient world, but with various members of our faculty. Even if you’re not registered, take a little time after lunch (12:30-1:30) on Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays and stand in the back. I guarantee you’ll learn something. This course fills one of your humanities requirements for a BA.
CLAS 105: Introduction to Medieval Studies
Taught by world class hermetic scholar Professor David Porreca, this is the medieval counterpart to the course above. It doesn’t feature lectures by all of the other professors, but does dig deeply into the traditions and social norms of medieval life, the practices of medieval warfare, and important elements of medieval history. You’ll talk about knights, fiefdoms, and serfs in this intro course, and if you have even a passing interest in the time of King Arthur and Robin Hood, you should pick this up. This course fills one of your humanities requirements for a BA, as well.
LAT 101: Introduction to Latin
Taught by Professor Riemer Faber, director of the Institute for Hellenistic Studies, this course is the beginning of anyone’s studies in Latin. Don’t be intimidate by the six cases and five declensions of nouns, the textbook is very straightfoward and will give you the tools you need to move on. Even if you’re not destined to be a Latinist, this course will teach you a lot about the roots of English words, and you’ll learn the stories of the ancient world by translating them from the original tongue. Like Greek, this will fill a language requirement for your BA, and it’s entirely worth the experience.
GRK 101: Introduction to Greek
I’ve talked about how much I love Greek, a language of philosophy and ambition from a place which had the highest number of geniuses per capita than any other in history. And this is where my love for it began. Taught by literature scholar and marathon runner Professor Andrew Faulkner, this course will initiate you into the Greek language by teaching you the structure and vocabulary, and by the end you’ll be translating short stories in Greek. Also, the Adventures of Phillip will get a whole lot funnier, just saying. Greek courses count as Classics courses for Classics majors, and also fulfill the language requirement for a BA, so it’s worth picking up. If you need a little help, be sure to talk with your TA or stop by the lounge and some of our other students will help you.
If you have any questions about these courses or other ones offered by the Classical Studies department, don’t hesitate to contact the professors. With the fall coming on, Labyrinth will be moving to some more utilitarian posts. Here you’ll find out about some of the course offerings, events and talks going on in the department as well as around the university, other resources the department offers to students, and tips on writing papers, learning languages, and studying for tests. I look forward to helping you through the year, and wish you all the best this fall.
Jim Tigwell is a freelance writer currently pursuing his Master’s degree in philosophy at the University of Waterloo, specializing in philosophy of social media, games, and professional ethics. He is the creator of Concept Crucible, a blog focusing on applying philosophy to everyday life. You can find him on Twitter as @ConceptCrucible, or on Steam.