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Digging up the Classics at Rochester

by Sara Kowalski, Class of 2017, Humanities Fellow

What are the “classics?” The Odyssey and the Iliad? Anything written in Latin? Or are they something more—not only the texts, but the people who wrote them, the lives those people lived, the places those lives occurred, the cities those places comprised, and the history that happened there. To the classics program in the Department of Religion and Classics at Rochester, the answer is even broader.

The Classics Program

Religion and classics group photo

Students fascinated by the ancient world can major, minor, or cluster in classics. Or perhaps you may just want to take a couple classes. This year, the course Democracy: Past and Present was the most in-demand Meliora Humanities Seminar, and next year the department is offering another Meliora Seminar centered around the study of famous buildings.

Classics students on archaeological site

Exciting things are happening in the department, which has just received a grant to design a new curriculum. They hope to soon be able to offer a classics major that is not language-based. It will instead be more like an “area studies” major taking a close look at western civilization and/or the ancient world. Students will have the chance to study various aspects of antiquity—sports, medicine, theater, race and ethnicity, and more!—as well as delve into historical, anthropological, and archaeological studies.

Students on archaeological site

For those who love language, the department’s language offerings will still stand. Latin and Greek are the staples of a classical education, but Rochester’s program also offers Arabic, Turkish, Hebrew, and even Sanskrit! Speaking of which, students can also minor in Latin, Greek, Arabic, Turkish, Hebrew, and Jewish Studies.

Students on archaeological site

The department also offers many opportunities for students like short but intensive summer and winter semester study abroad excursions led by Rochester faculty. Similarly, students can spend a summer getting hands-on experience at an archaeological dig in Torano di Borgorose, Italy!

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