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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Classical Literature in Translation

Undergraduate Course: Beauty and the Greeks: Aesthetic approaches in Greek literature (in translation) (CLTR10025)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course explores the concept of beauty in texts written in Greek from the Classical Antiquity to Medieval Byzantium. It aims to bridge the gap between word and image, and seeks for a common understanding of aesthetics changing over time.
Course description What is beauty? Are there many beauties? Can beauty be dangerous or will beauty save the world, as Dostoyevsky asserts? This course explores the transformations of this key notion in literature written in Greek (in translation) from the seventh century BC to the fourteenth century AD. Drawing comparisons with products of the visual culture, the course invites a parallel understanding of art and literature throughout the centuries and seeks to understand how literature written in different forms of the Greek language shaped our modern aesthetic concepts. Can pre-modern literature written in Greek help us reshaping our reception of the sensible world and shake modern idea(l)s about beauty?

Placing texts (and artefacts) in their respective socioeconomic circumstances the student will become familiar with changing social structures and values from Classical Greece to Late Byzantium. The student will discover why visual aspects were given a priority in aesthetic experiences and how beauty was to be felt by all senses. The student will further explore various forms of beauty (everyday, human, natural, and artistic beauty) and the ramifications of the terms kállos and kósmos (both often mis-translated as "beauty"). Is beauty different from the sublime? What is the relation between beauty and desire, and can religions control its force? How does memory define beauty? And, is bodily beauty an exclusively female attribute? All are questions to be addressed in the eleven weeks of the term. By the end of the course, the student will be able to speak about aesthetics and argue on the transformations of this fundamental but elusive notion.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements This course is available to all students who have progressed to Honours.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should usually have at least 3 courses in Classics, History or Archaeology (at least 1 of which should be in Classical Art and Archaeology) at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this) for entry to this course. We will only consider University/College level courses.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  20
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 11, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 11, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 172 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 40 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 20 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework: 4,500 words (40%), and
in class oral presentation of a text (20%)
Exam: 2 hour paper (40%)
Feedback Students are expected to discuss their coursework with the Course Organiser at least once prior to submission, and are encouraged to do so more often. Meetings can take place with the Course Organiser during their published office hours or by appointment. Students will also receive feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate, through coursework and examination, that they have developed appreciation for different understandings of a universal abstract cultural notion;
  2. demonstrate, through coursework and examination, that they have enhanced skills relevant to critical and close reading of texts in translation;
  3. demonstrate, through coursework and examination, that they have developed the ability to interpret literary passages and products of visual culture;
  4. demonstrate, through coursework and examination, that they are able to form reasonable arguments on the basis of his/her observations and ideas;
  5. demonstrate, through coursework and examination, that they have become familiar with problems on the reception of the ancient concept of beauty in a premodern culture.
Reading List
Gammel, I. (2015). On the Aesthetics of Homer, Plato, and Cicero. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press.

Hatzaki, M. (2010). The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. In A Companion to Byzantium, ed. L. James. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 93-107.

James, L. (2004). Sense and Sensibility in Byzantium. Art History, 27, 523-37.

Jenkins, I. (2015). Defining Beauty: The Body in Ancient Greek Art. London: The British Museum Press.

Konstan, D. (2015). Beauty: the Fortunes of an Ancient Greek Idea. New York: Oxford University Press.

Mariev, S., & Stock, W.-M. (2013). Aesthetics and Theurgy in Byzantium. Berlin & Boston: De Gruyter.

Papaioannou, S. (2011). Byzantine Enargeia and theories of representation. Byzantinoslavica, 69, 48-60.

Porter, J. I. (2010). The Origins of Aesthetic Thought in Ancient Greece: Matter, Sensation, and Experience. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.

Pentcheva, B. V. (2010). The Sensual Icon: Space, Ritual, and the Senses in Byzantium. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.

Sartwell, C. (2004). Six Names of Beauty. New York & London: Routledge (p. 85-108).

Squire, M. (2011). The Art of the Body: Antiquity and its Legacy. London: I. B. Tauris.

Scruton, R. (2011). Beauty: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Foteini Spingou
Tel: (0131 6)50 3846
Course secretaryMiss Annabel Stobie
Tel: (0131 6)50 3783
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