CLA260H1S: Method and Theory in Classics

Spring 2014
Monday Wednesday Friday 12-1 pm
Northrop Frye 003

Professor                    Dimitri Nakassis
Office                          Lillian Massey Building (125 Queen’s Park), room 123A
Office hours                Monday Wednesday 3-5 pm, or by appointment
Phone                         416-978-8716

Class description

This course builds on CLA160 (Introduction to Classical Studies), and is complementary to other CLA 200-level courses. It is intended to broaden your appreciation of the discipline and to prepare you to carry out effective research in 300- and 400-level CLA courses.

Course objectives

During this course you will experience the range of activities which are carried out within the discipline of Classics. By the end of this course you should be able to:

  • understand of the variety of the sources which are the basis for our understanding of the Greco-Roman world.
  • understand some of the most important theoretical approaches to the study of the Greco-Roman world.
  • identify and locate the important resources for a research project in classics, and to construct a useful bibliography (e.g. for an essay) for yourself.
  • communicate your own ideas about the ancient Greek and Roman world effectively in writing.
  • use appropriate techniques in the analysis of textual and archaeological data, and assess others’ use of them.

Required reading

D. Schaps Handbook for Classical Research (Routledge 2011)


Mid-term test (12 February)                                                               20%
Research paper                                                                                   45% total
Choice of research topic (due 24 January)                      5%
Research bibliography (due 3 February)                         5%
Resource review (due 28 February)                                5%
Research essay outline (due 7 March)                             10%
Final paper (due 4 April)                                               20%
‘Closing questionnaires’ (roughly one per week)                              10%
Final exam                                                                                         25%

  • The mid-term test will include short-answer questions and identifications.
    • Students who miss a test will receive a mark of zero for that test.
    • However, if the test was missed for reasons beyond your control you should, within one week of the missed test, submit to the instructor a written request for special consideration explaining your reason for missing the test, and attaching appropriate documentation, such as a medical certificate (the only medical certificate that will be accepted is the University's student medical certificate:, or a College Registrar's note.
    • Only illness, serious personal affliction, religious obligation, and unforeseeable duties of family care will be considered good reasons for missing a test.
    • No make-up tests will be given in this course; the weighting of other graded work will be increased by the amount of the missed test.
  • The research paper will be at least 2000 words long, on a topic chosen by you. Before you hand in your final paper at the end of the semester, you will need to complete several intermediate steps:
    • First, in week 3, you will choose a (fairly broad) subject area for your essay.
    • Second, in week 5, you will provide a written annotated bibliography for your essay.
    • Third, in week 8, you will write a brief review of a research resource that you have used as part of your research.
    • Fourth, in week 9 (after reading week), you will write a more detailed discussion of your paper, with a title and an outline of your argument.
  • 1 mark (out of 100 for the course) will be given for submission of a closing questionnaire at the end of certain sessions in the course; there will be ten in total, issued roughly once a week.
  • The final exam will include both short-answer questions and questions requiring longer answers (1 paragraph to a page).

Course schedule

Assignments should be completed before class. Readings in parentheses are optional.


In-class activity


Week 1

M 1/6



W 1/8

What is Classics?

Preface, 1, 27, 28, Mary Beard in the NY Review of Books (29, 30)

F 1/10

(My) Research in Classics


Week 2

M 1/13

Manuscript and text

14-19, 29, 30 (9, 10, 20)

W 1/15



F 1/17



Week 3

M 1/20

Research: where to start


W 1/22

‘Sources’ and bibliography


F 1/24

Communicating results

Essay topic choice due


Week 4

M 1/27

Literature: genre

10, 11 (9, 22)

W 1/29

Literature: author and reader


F 1/31

Literature: beyond structure and narrative


Week 5

M 2/3

History: myth and historiography

Essay bibliography due

13, 17, 24 (18, 25, 26)

W 2/5

History: fields of history


F 2/7

History: tragedy, farce, and writing about the past


Week 6

M 2/10

Philosophy: political animals

12, 23 (22, 24)

W 2/12

Mid-term test


F 2/14

[No class]


Week 7




Week 8

M 2/24

Philosophy: explaining the world


W 2/26

Archaeology: ‘Classical archaeology’?

14, 15, 21

F 2/28

Archaeology: Doing Greek archaeology

Resource review due


Week 9

M 3/3

Archaeology: Doing Roman archaeology


W 3/5

Founding a new colony


F 3/7

Land surveying in the ancient world

Essay outlines due


Week 10

M 3/10

Designing an archaeological survey


W 3/12

Numbers and measures in antiquity


F 3/14

Decipherment by the numbers?


Week 11

M 3/17

Taxes in the Roman empire


W 3/19

Commemorating the dead


F 3/21

Interpreting human skeletal remains


Week 12

M 3/24

Tombstones and demography


W 3/26

Discovering new texts


F 3/28

Authenticating authorship


Week 13

M 3/31

Building the Athenian Acropolis

(23, 29)

W 4/2

Roman aqueducts and water supply


F 4/4

Research papers due



The last day to drop without academic penalty is March 9.

The final examination will be sometime during the exam period (April 9-30); the timetable will be posted on 14 February.

Academic Policies

Academic honesty: I take academic honesty very seriously and I expect you to do the same, if not for your own benefit, to be fair to your fellow students. You are not allowed to use or possess an unauthorized aid (including a cell phone), look at someone else’s answers, let someone else look at your answers, misrepresent your identity, or falsify documentation. You should acquaint yourself with the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters; the full text is available at

In general, all students should be familiar with the rules and regulations of the University and the Faculty:

Class etiquette: Be considerate of myself and your fellow classmates.

Remarking: If you believe that your work has been incorrectly or unfairly marked, you may ask for a remarking. You must make this request as soon as is reasonably possible after receiving the marked work. If an assignment is remarked, you are required to accept the remark, whether it goes up or down.

Communication: I will make announcements verbally in class and electronically via Blackboard ( and e-mail. It is your responsibility to check Blackboard and your University e-mail address on a regular basis.

I grade according to the U of T Faculty of Arts and Science standards printed in the Calendar:



Strong evidence of original thinking; good organization; capacity to analyze and synthesize; superior grasp of subject matter with sound critical evaluations; evidence of extensive knowledge base.



Evidence of grasp of subject matter, some evidence of critical capacity and analytic ability; reasonable understanding of relevant issues; evidence of familiarity with literature



Student who is profiting from his/her university experience; understanding of the subject matter; ability to develop solutions to simple problems in the material.



Some evidence of familiarity with subject matter and some evidence that critical and analytic skills have been developed.



Little evidence of even superficial understanding of subject matter; weakness in critical and analytic skills; with limited or irrelevant use of literature

Accessibility Services

The University of Toronto is dedicated to fostering an academic community in which the learning and scholarship of every member may flourish with vigilant protection for individual human rights, and a resolute commitment to the principles of equal opportunity. 

Students who request accommodations for their academic programs and related activities at the University are obligated to disclose their disabilities to the respective campus Service for Students with Disabilities, and request accommodations in a timely manner to facilitate the implementation of support and services. It is important that students discuss their needs as early as possible with the Service in order to put accommodations in place. Students must present relevant and up-to-date documentation, as outlined on our website, from an appropriate health care professional. Any information about a student’s disability is confidential and is not shared outside the Service unless the student gives permission. Students are encouraged to meet and discuss their academic accommodation needs with their instructors.

Accessibility Services, St. George Campus
Robarts Library, 130 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3H1
Voice: (416) 978-8060 / TDD: (416) 978-1902 / Fax: (416) 918-8246
web site:

How to succeed in this class

  1. Do the readings before class. This will enable you to come into the lecture already knowing the background information so you can focus more on analysis and the big picture.
  2. Take good lecture notes. Don’t copy down every word, but take note of the major points that are emphasized and discussed at length.
  3. Keep up to date. If you stay on top of the readings and lectures, then you won’t have to cram for the tests and to rush written assignments. There isn’t much assigned reading in this class, so that you have more time to work on your essay.
  4. Explore. Don’t be content to do the bare minimum. Don’t assume that your first attempt will always be successful. Spend time exploring the library, online resources (especially those available through the library’s website), unfamiliar topics, and so on. This class is about reading, asking questions, writing, re-reading, asking new questions, and re-writing, and so on, and so on.