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Classics-English

Applicable for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Classics-English Website

The Classics-English major provides the possibility for students to enhance their study of English and the Classics by learning the language(s) that most deeply influenced English (over 60 percent is either Latin or Greek), and the literary subject matter that is the primary material from which later centuries in the West created their literature. For example, reading the Odyssey in Greek cannot help but deepen one’s knowledge and appreciation of Joyce’s Ulysses, learning mythology, such as Ovid’s Metamorphoses in Latin, is of paramount importance in understanding Shakespeare and many other authors.

The joint major allows students to take advantage of Classics courses as well as one (or both) of the ancient languages to benefit their English literature training and vice versa.

This major starts from the observation that English and Classics reinforce each other. Classical genres underlie modern poetry, drama, and fiction, and most writers in English, into the 20th-century, have studied classical languages (at least Latin) and literature, so that classics is an important interpretive context for them. Moreover, English literature responds to Classics in ways that are important for Classics itself. We therefore allow students to complete slightly less work in each department than they would need to graduate with the single major. 

Major Requirements

Requirements: Normal requirements are between 9 and 12 units as follows:

  • Classical Language (Greek or Latin), including one block at the 300 level in one classical language (1 unit minimum)
  • Introduction to literary study and interpretation (2 units): English 250 (or Comparative Literature 210): Introduction to Literary Theory, and English 221: Introduction to Poetry
  • English courses at the 300 or 400 level covering at least two of the following five periods (2 units):
    • Medieval-Renaissance (excluding Shakespeare)
    • Shakespeare
    • 18th century
    • 19th century
    • 20th/21st centuries
  • At least two Classics courses covering the genres of literature, drama, or mythology (2 units minimum)
  • The department of classics written and oral examination over the department’s reading list
  • Senior Thesis (2 units minimum): English 480 (1 unit, the 1-block senior seminar) plus either English 499 or Classics 431 (Independent Senior Thesis, 1 unit minimum). The senior thesis project is to be co-directed and co-evaluated by two faculty members, one from Classics and one from English. It will be evaluated on the basis of its sophistication in the methodologies of both disciplines.

Total units required: 9-12.

Both departments also recommend study of a modern language to a level allowing literary reading.

Last updated: 01/21/2021