280A/285A Fall 2015 Advanced Studies in Ancient History

On Wealth.  As exemplified by the publication of Peter Brown's Through the Eye of a Needle, questions relating to the conceptualization and treatment of poverty and the poor in a Christianized later Roman Empire have been of considerable importance in recent scholarship.  A closer look -- for example at the subtitle fo Brown's work -- makes it clear that wealth rather than poverty lies at the heart of these issues.  Phrased differently, since most of our sources were written by persons who possessed things, who were in fact wealthy,

106A Fall 2015 The Roman Republic

This course offers an introduction to the history of the Roman Republic, from the foundation of the city in the 8th century BC to the cataclysmic civil wars that destroyed the Republic in the 1st century BC.  The central theme of the course is Rome’s imperial expansion, first within Italy and then throughout the Mediterranean, with special attention to the political, economic, social, and cultural impact of Roman imperialism, both on conquered territories and on Rome itself.

4A Fall 2015 Origins of Western Civilization: The Ancient Mediterranean World

This course offers an introductory survey of the history of the ancient Mediterranean world, from the rise of city states in Mesopotamia circa 3000 BC to the emergence of the Byzantine Empire in the sixth century AD.  The course has three main foci.  The first is to survey the major events and developments in the social, economic, and political history of the ancient Near East, Egypt, Greece, and Rome.   The second focus is to consider, very much along the way, the origins and development in the ancient world of ideas, practices, and institutions that have had an enduring influence on the d

N106B Summer 2015 The Roman Empire - Session A

This course offers an introduction to the history of the Roman empire, from the advent of monarchy in Rome in the first century BC to the breakdown of central state authority in the fifth century AD.  Major themes include the overlapping networks of social power in the Roman empire (institutional and personal); the unity and diversity of Roman imperial culture; the changing relationship between state and society; the political economy of the Roman empire; and the geography and ecology of the Mediterranean world.

101.009 Spring 2015 The Pre-Modern Mediterranean and Middle East

This research seminar will guide students through the process of writing a senior thesis on pre-modern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern topics. A selection of themes and methodological problems in classical, late antique, Byzantine, and Early Islamic political, economic, social, cultural, and intellectual history will be considered. Readings will include both primary sources and modern scholarship.

103A.002 Fall 2014 The Power of the People: Participatory Politics in the Ancient World

This seminar will focus on two very different ancient states with a strong participatory element: Athens and Rome. In Athens, a vigorous, even radical, direct democracy developed over the course of the 5th century, as Athens itself transformed into an aggressive imperial power. In Republican Rome, citizens' assemblies practiced a form of deferential democracy, electing candidates to powerful magistracies from a narrow range of aristocratic contenders; this phase of moderated participatory engagement took place at a time when Rome likewise rocketed to Mediterranean hegemony.

281 Fall 2014 Paleography and Other Auxiliary Sciences

This course is designed as a general introduction to the use of primary documents pertinent to Mediterranean history and culture during the ancient and medieval periods.  It will address issues of paleography, codicology, textual tradition, and the critical edition of sources. The main focus will be on Greek and Arabic documents,  but the issues covered will be of interest to anyone interested in the manuscript culture of the medieval Mediterranean even beyond these two languages. We will mainly study books, but will also refer to administrative documents.


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