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Majors and Minors

Faculty and professional interests

Brenda Fineberg, chair
   Latin language and literature, ancient Mediterranean culture, critical theory
Stephen Fineberg (On leave Winter/Spring 2017)
   Greek language and literature, Greek art and architecture
Hilary Lehmann
   Greek oratory and tragedy; Women, sexuality and gender; Latin pedagogy

Cooperating faculty from other programs

Danielle Fatkin, History
Gregory Gilbert, Art History
Brandon Polite, Philosophy

The study of classical antiquity at Knox encourages students to develop their analytical, creative, and literary abilities, preparing them for careers in teaching, law, medicine, theatre, library science, museum curating, publishing, business, and many other fields—in other words, classics provides a solid and versatile foundation for life after Knox.

Classics is the study of the languages, societies, history and thought of the ancient Mediterranean cultures of Greece and Rome. Because the ancient evidence is fragmentary and dates to more than 2,000 years ago, information must be assembled from several disciplines to reconstruct a full picture. Accordingly, Classics takes an integrated, multi-disciplinary approach, using many different disciplinary lenses - literary, historical, philosophical, art historical, and others - in an attempt to recover what are, in effect, two lost cultures. Classics’ multidisciplinary character means constant interactions with other fields, making it ever new and exciting.

Classics offers three major (and minor) options: Greek, Latin, and Greek and Roman Culture. Greece and Rome mark the beginning of Western culture and so prove an especially valuable background for the study of literature, history, philosophy, and art history as well as creative writing, studio art, and theatre. More broadly, the Classics occupy a time-honored place in a liberal arts education because Greek and Roman thinkers, artists and writers have shaped Western thought for the last 2,000 years. Study of the ancient languages develops strong analytic skills and an eye for detail, and many of the issues that remain central to us in the 21st century--political, legal, social, artistic--were first articulated and deeply considered by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Indeed, the American Founders looked to the ancient authors as they laid out their plans for the new Republic.

In addition to the classicists in the department, members of other departments contribute courses to the program. This diversity in faculty and the wide range of disciplines embraced under the umbrella of classical studies, lend the program a special interdisciplinary character and serve to build bridges between classics and other areas of the curriculum.

Some Classics majors and minors spend a term studying in an off-campus program, including the College Year in Athens, the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome, and the Associated Colleges of the Midwest Florence and London/Florence programs. Summers have taken Classics students to archaeological excavations close to home in Southern Illinois and as far away as Jordan. One student worked as a summer intern at Global Informational Systems learning sophisticated computer mapping skills; another spent a summer working with a scholar on another campus to gain specialized knowledge prior to embarking on her senior thesis at Knox. Some of our majors, in their senior year, write an honors thesis - an extended, independent research project under close faculty supervision. Recent honors projects have included an analysis of the appropriation of classical imagery in the videos of Kanye West; a close study of the Roman satirist, Juvenal; work on the idea of place in the Roman poets of the Augustan period; a linguistic analysis of the New Testament book of Hebrews, and an interpretative commentary on a book of Homer's Iliad. These honors projects, as well as classroom research projects, are supported by an excellent library and a range of research technology. The Knox College library maintains subscriptions to TLG and PHI databases of Greek and Latin texts, Perseus, a broadly based collection of images and texts, and ArtStor, which includes images of art and architecture from ancient cultures.

Knox supports a local chapter of Eta Sigma Phi, the national honorary society for students of Greek and Latin. Knox has a flourishing Classics Club that enjoys participation from students across campus, including majors in philosophy, history, classics, English, and physics. All are welcome.

Courses in classics include Greek and Latin language courses as well as courses that require no knowledge of the ancient languages. The language courses develop a reading comprehension that opens the way to a deeper understanding of the ancient texts. The Classics courses that require no knowledge of Latin or Greek (listed as CLAS) are intended to develop skills of reading, seeing, and interpreting the texts and material remains of ancient cultures.

Teacher Certification in Latin

Knox offers State of Illinois certification in Latin (grades six through twelve). In general terms, students can qualify for certification by completing a major in Latin, completing a major in Educational Studies, and passing the State of Illinois Certification test in the Latin subject area.

Since the specific requirements are complex, it is important that students interested in certification in Latin consult with the Department of Educational Studies early in their college careers about current requirements.

The departmental curriculum contributes to the College's Key Competency Requirements as follows:

  • Writing Key Competency - All GRK and LAT courses at the 300-level, and CLAS 201 serve as writing-intensive courses for majors
  • Oral Presentation Key Competency - All Greek and Latin courses at the 200-level (except GRK 210 and LAT 210) satisfy the oral presentation requirement for majors
  • Information Literacy and Informed Use of Technology - Because of the multidisciplinary nature of the field of classics, our students must become familiar with several different kinds of information from the ancient world, including literary texts, art and architecture, coins, and inscriptions. Classicists have been at the forefront of the technological revolution from the start. Perseus, a digital library of texts and images (coordinated at Tufts University), exemplifies the excellence of what is available in the public domain, but it is only one of many such electronic resources. For this reason, students must learn to evaluate the quality of websites that purport to provide information about antiquity, and to make effective use of information in presenting their work in written form and in oral presentation. Knox subscribes to databases that contain all extant Latin and Greek literature (PHI for Latin texts, and Thesaurus Linguae Graecae for Greek texts). Most 200- and 300-level courses in Greek and Latin, and some Classics courses require students to make use of these tools.

Departmental Learning Goals

Students completing a major in Greek [or Latin] will be able to:

  1. Translate a passage of Greek [or Latin] into English, demonstrating knowledge of morphology and syntax.
  2. Demonstrate a general knowledge of both Greek and Roman cultures, with a more focused knowledge of one.
  3. Analyze primary source evidence from the ancient world.
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of the ways in which ancient mores are distinct from modern cultural constructions, and the capacity to reflect on these differences with particular attention to political, social, and ethical values.
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of ancient texts and contexts thoughtfully, creatively, and accurately both orally and in writing.

Students completing a major in Greek and Roman Culture will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a general knowledge of both Greek and Roman cultures, with a more focused knowledge of one.
  2. Analyze primary source evidence from the ancient world.
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the ways in which ancient mores are distinct from modern cultural constructions, and the capacity to reflect on these differences with particular attention to political, social, and ethical values.
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of ancient texts and contexts thoughtfully, creatively, and accurately, both orally and in writing.

Requirements for the Majors and Minors

Latin Course Descriptions
Greek Course Descriptions
Classics Course Descriptions

Knox College

Printed on Saturday, August 27, 2016

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