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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: Women, Writing, Greece: From Sappho to Virginia Woolf and Beyond (PGHC11606)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course explores the history of engagement by women writers and artists with the place, idea, and myths of Greece. We first read ancient female writers -- preeminently Sappho -- and examine the representation of women in ancient texts; we then trace the multiple strategies through which "Greece" allows later women writers to assert their authority and authorship, question gender hierarchies and political/sociocultural paradigms, and lay a claim to the classical tradition. We consider how ancient writing affects contemporary understandings of identity and gender, and how modern works, from novels to plays to films, shape our view of the ancient world.
Course description In "Women, Writing, Greece" we'll be looking at the history, influence, and reception of Greek literature through a female point of view. As we make our way through this history, the course will highlight the different perspectives and positions (in terms of gender identity, race, or even academic discipline and literary genre) from which women authors approach the "classics." One important guiding figure throughout the course will be ancient poet Sappho, and the way in which her example informs -- even allows or authorizes -- later literatures, arts, identities, and sexualities; we'll be looking, for example, at the late-nineteenth-century Sapphic poems of "Michael Field" (joint penname of the lovers Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper) and at the lesbian communities of Paris in the early twentieth century. By unraveling the complex gender and power dynamics of the past we will develop a better understanding of such issues in the present.

We'll be thinking a lot about questions of access to a "classical education" -- as raised, e.g., by Virginia Woolf in A Room of One's Own and in "On Not Knowing Greek," but also, in a different way, by the exceptional eighteenth-century example of the enslaved Phillis Wheatley or the nineteenth-century Greek writer Elisavet Moutzan-Martinengou. Similarly, we'll be thinking about who can claim a "Greek" identity, particularly through the examination of Modern Greek female writers. Consideration of translation, seen as a creative act but also often a gendered one, will form a large part of such conversations; all reading from languages other than English will be done in translation and we will be using female translators, examining their self-positioning towards Greek literature while also comparing selected excerpts with older and/or more traditional translations.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Women, Writing, Greece: From Sappho to Virginia Woolf and Beyond (CLGE10017)
Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should usually have at least 3 courses in Classics, History or 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 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 33, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 163 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 90 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework:
5,000 word research essay (90%)

Non-Written Skills:
Participation (10%)
Feedback Students will be asked to produce an outline and annotated bibliography well before the research essay is due; they will receive written feedback on that submission and can additionally meet with the instructor to discuss their work. (If time and number of students allow, students may also have the opportunity to informally present their final paper topic in class and will receive feedback on that as well).
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Master a wide-ranging body of material from antiquity to the present day and reflect critically on Greek culture in its own day and on its impact on the subsequent development of a number of different cultures, traditions, and writers.
  2. Plan and execute written analyses of a great variety of literary and historical texts studied in class.
  3. Think critically about how gender has been involved in the formation of cultures and literary traditions from antiquity to the present day as students expand their knowledge of the classical tradition beyond canonical male writers to include significant female writers sometimes overlooked in survey and introductory classes.
  4. Be effective oral communicators on a variety of topics (gender, the relationship between antiquity and modernity, the relevance of classics to the contemporary world, etc.) -- a skill practiced in the course of class discussion, informal presentations, and participation.
  5. Extend their knowledge of Greek culture into the modern-day period through the study of modern and contemporary Greek authors and artists.
Reading List
Atwood, Margaret. The Penelopiad. Edinburgh: Canongate, 2005.

Balmer, Josephine, trans. Classical Women Poets. Bloodaxe, 1996.

Cha, Theresa Hak Kyung. Dictée. Berkeley: UCLA Press, 1982.

Dove, Rita. The Darker Face of the Earth. London: Oberon, 1999.

Giannisi, Phoebe. Homerica. Trans. Brian Sneeden. World Poetry Books, 2017.

Homer. Odyssey. Trans. Emily Wilson. New York: Norton, 2017.

Plath, Sylvia. The Collected Poems. New York: Harper Perennial, 2008.

Sappho. If Not, Winter. Trans. Anne Carson. New York: Knopf, 2002.

Sappho. A New Translation. Trans. Mary Barnard. Berkeley: UCLA Press, 1958.

Schwartz, Selby Wynn. After Sappho. New York: Norton, 2022.

Shamsie, Kamila. Home Fire. New York: Riverhead, 2017.

Woolf, Virginia. Jacob's Room. Oxford: OUP, 2022 [1922].
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Ability to read and synthesize complex, wide-ranging, diverse material

Ability to process complex material and to develop a coherent arguments in clear analytical prose

Ability to analyze, assimilate and deploy critically a range of secondary literature

Ability to discuss ideas and insights respectfully and attentively with peers
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Benedikt Eckhardt
Tel: (0131 6)50 9110
Course secretary
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