4A Fall 2014 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 endurin

2 Fall 2014 Ancient Empires

At the dawn of the first millennium, nearly one half of the world’s population lived within one of two extensive imperial systems, the Roman empire in the Mediterranean basin and the Han empire in East Asia (ruling roughly the territory of today’s China).  This course examines these two durable and far-flung empires in comparative perspective, and also considers the nature of empire as a particular type of polity in the premodern world.  Structurally similar in some ways but strikingly different in others, the Roman and Han empires form an ideal subject for sustained,

84 Spring 2014 The Origins of Historical Writing in the Ancient West

The first historians of western civilization emerged in Israel, Greece, and Rome in the first millennium BC. They preserved information about the great empires, major personalities, and crucial events now lost to us; they established our major narratives of archetypal events such as the battle of Marathon, the foundation of Rome, and the spread of Christianity; and they have all been accused repeatedly of gross dishonesty in their portrayal of events.

185A Spring 2014 History of Christianity to 1250

Like adherents to many (but probably not most) religions, Christians looks to its origins to determine its essence. In this course we will attempt to understand those origins, from the early Roman Empire until Charlemagne’s revival of a “Roman Empire,” particularly in relation to the wider political, economic, and cultural conditions in which Christianity developed.

106A Spring 2014 The Roman Republic

“I found Rome city of brick and left it a city of marble,” boasted the first Roman emperor, Augustus. It was to be the end of the Republic. In this class, we shall investigate how Rome grew from a village of farmers into an Empire of provinces between the eighth and first centuries BCE, but not without destroying its beloved Republic in civil war. The lecture course familiarizes students with Rome’s expansionist success into an empire, first within Italy, and later across Europe and throughout the Mediterranean.

101.002 Spring 2014 Research Topics in Ancient Greek and Roman History

This course is a research seminar for students who want to write a thesis on any topic in ancient Greek and Roman history. From the start, the course is designed to accommodate students as much as possible in terms of research and writing. We shall meet as a group to present and discuss each other’s work with positive criticism regularly (6 times); or to introduce new research and writing strategies, as the students’ need requires. But most of the time students will spend on independent research and writing, but again in one-on-one consultation with the instructor.

100.002 Fall 2013 Jews in the Greco-Roman World

Under both Greek and Roman empires Jews lived both in Palestine and throughout the Mediterranean in Diaspora. This course will study the variety of Jewish experiences--their cultures, societies, political systems, and religion--from Alexander the Great's conquests until the formation of Rabbinic Judaism (from around 330 BCE to 200 CE). Special attention will go to Jewish literature such as the so-called apocrypha, Dead Sea Scrolls and New Testament, the Hasmonean kingdom, and traces of the daily life of Diaspora communities.

103A.002 Fall 2013 Public Opinion in the Greek Polis: Debate and Decline from 431 BCE to 104 CE

The polis or “city-state” is arguably the most cardinal topic in any textbook of Greek history, where it is granted but a burst of vitality in what we now call the Classical period. This course, however, takes the unorthodox view that the notion of “decline” is vital for the century-long history of the Greek polis, whose democratic institutions are the outcome of debate and conflict.


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