Sources, Methods, and Theory for Ancient History

Module code: AH2012

Module co-ordinator: Dr Dan Stewart

  • What is the best way to approach ancient sources?
  • How do modern ideas influence the study of the past?
  • Are ancient texts only informative of the literate minority?

The past is everywhere. All around us are vestiges of history: under our feet in the streets we walk, in our buildings, on our screens, in our vocabulary. Ruins, stories, histories and memories help define the human experience, both positively and negatively. So how can we make sense of the layered past, and how have approaches to that past helped shape the way we view the world?

This crucial module examines the theories that have shaped the writing of ancient history in the modern world, introducing you to approaches to the discipline including Economic History, Social Status and Society, Gender and Material Culture. You will look at the ancient evidence on which modern interpretations are based, and consider the question of how we know what we say we know.

From fig-leaves and courtesans to Marx and Weber, this module showcases not only how thinking about the past changed over time, but how the way we think about the past changes the way we write about it. Teaching is delivered by academic staff who engage with these issues in their own research.

Topics covered

  • The relevance of Ancient History
  • How to write Ancient History
  • Status and Class in the Ancient World
  • Ancient and Modern Conceptions of the Economy
  • Identity and Ethnicity
  • Gender and Sexual Identity
  • The Historiography of Art
  • Ancient Religion
  • Reception and the Classical Tradition

Learning

  • 20 one-hour lectures
  • 6 one-hour seminars

Assessment

  • group panel discussion (10%)
  • essay, 2,000 words (40%)
  • exam, two hours (50%)