Department Learning Goals

The field of Classics is by its very nature interdisciplinary, consisting of multiple interrelated sub-disciplines. This department offers study in two ancient languages (Greek; Latin), as well as courses covering the histories, mythologies, several genres of literature, and material cultures of the ancient Mediterranean world.

The study of language not only is a necessary foundation for erudition in this field but also is valuable in and of itself. The systematic acquisition of grammar and syntax and of the ability to read texts in an ancient language is not equaled or paralleled by any other educational experience, and students of Classics greatly improve their vocabulary skills, broaden their understanding of English grammar, and enhance their ability to communicate effectively in both speech and writing.

Through in-depth examination of classical literature students grapple with such issues as socio-political privileges, duties, and ethics on a public level and such weighty concepts as death, love, and morality on a personal one. The conflicting views of life and reality espoused by the works of ancient authors provoke close reconsideration of students’ own lives, cultures, and personal ideals.

History, mythology, and archaeology all combine the examination of texts with the consideration of material culture, thus providing a variety of approaches for studying the ancient Mediterranean world. Because the available source material is selectively preserved and incomplete, students engaged in these subfields by necessity exercise and improve their analytical reading, critical thinking, and creative problem-solving skills

  • Students should achieve a broad understanding and appreciation of the ancient Mediterranean world sufficient to allow them to continue serious study of it on their own or in graduate school.
  • Students should be able to perceive and to communicate effectively about the continuing influence of that world in the languages, beliefs, customs, art, literature, political institutions, and architecture of the modern era.
  • Students should be able to use the piecemeal but rich model of the ancient Mediterranean to test contemporary theories derived from anthropology, sociology, gender studies, political science, psychology, economics, comparative literature, or other disciplines.
  • Students who expect to satisfy the Gettysburg language requirement through the study of Greek or Latin should learn the fundamentals of ancient Greek or Latin and be able to read a significant quantity of edited, adapted, and authentic ancient prose and poetic texts.
  • Students should exhibit expertise regarding a selected body of ancient texts and/or material remains and modern approaches to the study of these materials.
  • Students who expect to study Classics in-depth should be able to engage in more intensive and extensive reading of texts in the original language and become fluent with scholarly tools for the analysis of texts.
  • Students should exhibit the following communication skills: the articulation of a central idea via coherent and meaningful argumentation; the identification and synthesis of suitable evidence and logical support for such an idea; the citation of texts and other evidence in conformity with typical conventions of the field; the proper use of idiomatic English according to traditional guidelines of grammar, style, tone, diction, and elegance; the integration of all of the aforementioned skills in complex essays and presentations that may persuade a thoughtful audience of the merit, plausibility, coherence, and utility of the central idea.

[March 2012]