Sparta: Mirages and Realities

History 103A.002

Fall 2011
Instructor (text): 
205 Wheeler
Day & Time: 
M 2-4
<p>Timothy Doran received his PhD in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology from UC Berkeley in 2011. His dissertation concerned the cultural causes and foreign policy effects of the demographic crisis in ancient Sparta. His research interests include ancient Greek and Roman cultural, political, and demographic history.</p>

NOTE: this section is currently full. If you are interested in this class please see notes above. Sparta and the evolution of its unusual (and in some cases bizarre) political, cultural, social, and economic institutions is the focus of this undergraduate proseminar: its intense militarism, its system of helotage or serfdom, the heightened status for female Spartiates, its unusual retention of kingship, the demographic decline of the Spartiates, its deprecation of coinage, and its desperate efforts to regain power in the Hellenistic period. Throughout the course, we will constantly scrutinize the reliability of our evidence, not only for the comparatively undocumented Archaic period but even for the Classical and Hellenistic periods; a prevalent strand of twentieth-century thought has judged many ancient attestations of Spartan practice to be useless at best. A grasp of ancient Greek history will be very useful; everything will be read in English. In many of the weekly sessions presentations based upon the week's readings will be led by students. Short writing assignments include an argumentative paper from ancient sources; a book review; a written analysis of modern scholarship on a problem in Spartan history and culture; and, for History students planning on taking a 101 in Spring, a prospectus for a research thesis paper.