Majors and Minors
Faculty and professional interests
Brenda Fineberg, chair
Latin language and literature, ancient Mediterranean culture, critical theory
Greek language and literature, Greek art and architecture
Roman art and architecture, Roman epic poetry, visual and literary culture of classical antiquity
Greek philosophy, Roman satire, Greco-Roman medicine, historical linguistics
Cooperating faculty from other programs
Classical Studies focuses more on a period of time than on a specific subject matter - that period is the time when the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome flourished. Because the ancient evidence is fragmentary and dates to more than 2,000 years ago, information must be pooled from more than one discipline to reconstruct a full picture. Accordingly, Classical Studies takes an integrated, multi-disciplinary approach, using many different disciplinary lenses - historical, art historical, literary and others - in its attempt to recover what are, in effect, two lost cultures.
Classics offers three major (and minor) options: Greek, Latin, and Greek and Roman Culture. Some of our students have gone from Knox to graduate school in Classics to pursue careers in teaching, but many Classics students - indeed the majority - study the classics primarily for two reasons. Greece and Rome mark the beginning of Western culture and so prove an especially valuable background for students of literature, history, philosophy, and art history as well as creative work in writing, studio art, and theatre. More broadly, however, the classics have a time-honored place in a liberal arts education because study of the ancient languages and cultures has proven valuable as a way of thinking. 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, and others - 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, as well as the wide range of disciplines embraced under the umbrella of classical studies, lends the program a special interdisciplinary character and serves to build bridges between classics and other areas of the curriculum.
Classics students regularly spend a term on an off-campus program; among these are the College Year in Athens, the Intercollegiate Center 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 the summer working with a scholar on another campus to gain specialized knowledge in support of a research project completed at Knox. Often, in their senior year, students write an honors thesis - an extended, independent research project under close faculty supervision - recent honors work has included a close study of the Roman satirist, Juvenal, work on the idea of place as it is found in the Roman Augustan poets, 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 (machine readable databases of Greek and Latin texts, the broadly based collection of images and texts contained in Persius and ArtStor, and a variety of on-line bibliographic resources).
Knox supports a local chapter of Eta Sigma Phi, the national honorary society for students of Latin and/or Greek. Knox has a large membership in its Classics Club, which is comprised of students of philosophy, history, classics, English, and other departments across the campus.
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 more subtle understanding of the ancient texts. The courses that require no knowledge of Latin or Greek (listed as Classics) are intended to develop skills of reading, seeing, and interpreting the texts and material remains of the 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; a major in Educational Studies; and by 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 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 works in written form and in oral presentation. Knox subscribes to databases that contain all extant Latin and Greek literature (PHI and Biblioteca Tuebneriana Latina for Latin texts, and Thesaurus Linguae Graecae for Greek texts). All 300-level courses in Greek and Latin, and most Classics courses at the 200-level require students to make use of these tools.
Departmental Learning Goals
Students completing a major in the Department of Classics will be able to:
- Translate a Greek or Latin passage into English, demonstrating knowledge of morphology and syntax
- Demonstrate a general knowledge of both Greek and Roman cultures, with a more focused knowledge of one.
- Analyze primary source evidence from the ancient world.
- 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.
- Demonstrate an understanding of ancient texts and contexts thoughtfully, creatively, and accurately both orally and in writing.