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Courses in Classics and Letters

Here is the current course list for Spring 2020 courses in Classics and Letters. Please refer to ClassNav or One for locations and enrollment.


CL C 1123 Gods and Heroes in Art (Davis)

MWF 10:30–11:20 a.m. | Letters: History | Gen-Ed: IV-a

Students will be introduced to stories of ancient gods, goddesses, heroes, and lovers as they have been depicted by various art forms through the ages. Examples of these art forms will include sculptures, mosaics, frescoes, and paintings. Through exposure to a variety of artistic time periods, students will craft educated opinions about artistic works, both ancient and modern.

CL C 2413.995 Medical Vocabulary (Walker-Esbaugh)


Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Designed to be of special use to students planning a career in the Allied Health professions. Study of the basic Greek and Latin elements of medical terminology through the analysis of select vocabularies and word lists.

CL C 2383.001 Classical Mythology (Braden)

TR 1:30–2:45 p.m. | Letters: History, Literature | Gen-Ed: IV-b

Long before Brad Pitt embodied Achilles or Logan Lerman was a modern day Perseus, Greco-Roman myth delighted readers. Thiscourse gives particular emphasis to the characters, plots, and motifs portrayed in these stories from antiquity. How these stories have influenced western art and culture is a highlight of the class. Grades are based on exams, a short paper, and class participation.

CL C 2613.001 Rise and Fall of Rome (Watson)

MWF 11:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m. | Letters: History | Gen-Ed: IV-b

“Who is not amazed that the Romans, in just over fifty years, managed to conquer all of the inhabited world… an accomplishment that is unparalleled in the course of human history?” so the ancient historian Polybius remarked as began his monumental history of one of the world’s great civilizations that had recently overtaken his own. How did a small village on the banks of the Tiber river come to be the greatest power of the Mediterranean world and leave and indelible mark on western culture in its government, laws, language, literature and arts? The course will survey the rise and fall of Rome in which one finds the victories of Caesar, the architectural marvels of the Colosseum and the Pantheon, the intrigues of Cleopatra, the advent of class warfare, the tragedies of civil war, the oratory of Cicero, the famous eruption of Vesuvius, the poetry of Vergil and Horace, the rise of Constantine and Christianity–all in the creation of the world’s first multi-ethnic and multicultural state.

CL C 3053.001 Origins of Christianity (Harper)

TR 10:30–11:45 a.m. | Letters: Philosophy or History | Gen-Ed: IV-b

This course will explore the first five centuries of Christian history and the ways that Christian history intersects with the history of the Roman Empire. The course aims to enrich your understanding of early Christian literature by placing it in its historical and cultural setting. We will read the Christian scriptures alongside contemporary Greek and Roman literature. We will study the history of Judaism in the late Second Temple period, the effects of Roman imperialism on political and spiritual movements in ancient Palestine, the influence of Greek philosophical ideas on Christianity, and the development of the church as it became a powerful institution in the Empire.

CL C 3113.001 Gods and Heroes in Ancient Epic Poetry (Russell)

TR 12:00–1:15 p.m. | Letters: Literature | Gen-Ed: IV-b

Calling something “epic” in any genre, from novels to films to comic books to video games to poetry, not only celebrates it for being big and bold and thrilling, it labels it as a prime example of what the genre is. Epic films like Gone with the Wind, The Godfather, or The Dark Knight define cinema, and epic poetry like the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid defined what literature was for the Romans and Greeks. By reading these works (along with other, lesser-known ancient epics) this class will not only confront the issues they raise about the human experience, the struggle to reconcile self with family and society, and the definition of what it means to be Greek or Roman. We’ll also listen in on antiquity’s ongoing conversation about literature itself: Is love as worthy a subject as war? Are women allowed to have the same roles as men? Should literature celebrate a society’s history and culture, or question them? How well can a book really capture reality? Should great literature be serious or silly? Asking these questions is part of the definition of “epic”, and this class will be a guide to how Greek and Roman epic operates on all this levels at once.

CL C 3183 Hellas (Chambers)

Online | Letters: All | Const. Studies: 1 | Gen-ed: IV-b

Hellas is an online course that surveys the evolution of the classical ideal beginning with the Pre-Greek Minoans and the Early Greek Mycenaean Kings through the Age of Pericles to the rise of Macedon and Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC. Hellas traces the human factor dominating western history, philosophy, literature, and the rise of democracies as Greek civilization chronologically evolves. It traces and examines the lessons of all Greek literature, art, philosophy: accountability for actions, responsible behavior, balance and control. Readings include HDF Kitto’s The Greeks, four historical novels by Mary Renault, four Greek dramas, the Apology of Socrates from The Dialogues of Plato and selections from Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. Internet Research of specific historical topics is required for every unit.

Because Hellas is an online course with an extensive writing element, enrollment is limited to 20. Permission of the Instructor is required. For more information and permission, contact Peggy Chambers in person in Rm 106 Carnegie Bldg;

CL C 3213.900 Greek Art to the Death of Alexander (Stanley)

MW 4:30–5:45 p.m. | Letters: History | Gen-ed: IV-a

It goes without saying that ancient Greek civilization affected the development of western civilization. This course is about the rise and evolvement of that civilization. The course involves a survey of the period between the 14th century BC and the early 4th century BC. The topics under study will be architecture, sculpture, painting, urban-development, and varied minor arts, which collectively serve to define the cultures prior to Greek civilization as well as describe the varied phases that constituted the civilization of the ancient Greeks. The ancient Greeks came to reside in several regions of the Mediterranean world, but the story of their development began with the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete. Following a consideration of the Minoan civilization, attention will turn to an analysis of the next important civilization, the Mycenaean civilization that developed on the Grecian peninsula. These two cultures were instrumental in establishing the cultural foundations for what came next in the development of the varied phases of early through mature Greek culture that evolved before the appearance of Alexander the Great.

CL C 3233.001 The Roman Forum and Monuments (Stanley)

MW 3:00–4:15 p.m. | Letters: History

Few cities of the ancient world had more of a colorful history than Rome. This course is about the development of this great city and the course provides a detailed study of how Rome evolved from its humble beginnings, as little more than a village on the banks of the Tiber River, to the huge metropolis that represented the power of the Roman Empire. This course examines the phases of the city’s physical development as reflected in the architectural remains of the Roman Forum (the central part of the city). The time period covered extends from around 500 BC to approximately AD 300. Among the features of the city that receive assessment and discussion are the topography of Rome’s location, important individuals, historical events, and the purposes that led to the construction of the buildings that survive today in the ruins of the famed Roman Forum. The study of what the ruins represented contributes an insight into the significance of Roman urban development and to the greatness of the ancient city and the people who inhabited the city, some of whom played critical roles in guiding the destiny of one ancient city that play.

CL C 3613 Classical Influence on Modern Literature - Comedy (R. Huskey)

TR 10:30–11:45 a.m. | Letters: Literature | Gen-ed: IV-b

Think bad puns (aka Dad Jokes) are a new phenomenon? Think again! Come learn some of the best/worst jokes from antiquity to modern day. Special bonus!! Two mistaken identity plays, 5 bawdy Renaissance drinking songs, one plate-spinning act, and plenty of stand-up shtick.* Readings include works from Catullus, Juvenal, Plautus, Aristophanes, Shakespeare, and modern day satirists such as David Sedaris and Tina Fey.

*also, learn why comedy acts are called ‘shtick’ 😃

CL C 3803 The World of Late Antiquity (Johnson)

MWF 10:30–11:20 a.m. | Letters: History | Gen-ed: IV-b

This course will introduce you to the fascinating historical period called Late Antiquity, a transitional world from c.300 to c.800 CE that was a hinge between Antiquity and the Middle Ages. It will first ask you to question the popular model of “Decline and Fall”, inherited from Edward Gibbon, and to consider in its place a model of vitality and creative evolution. The geographical area covered will be immense — from Ireland to China — so early on you will get a grasp of the whole of the inhabited ancient world (the oikoumenē as the Greeks called it). The Mediterranean will, of course, be the center of our attention, but Mesopotamia, Arabia, the Caucasus, the Balkans, and Western Europe will also be considered in turn. We will focus in particular on the rise and development of Christianity during this period. In this context, you will be asked to consider the disappearance of Greco-Roman paganism as it related to the institutionalization of the Church in the late Roman empire. Finally, you will be investigating the related phenomena of the formation of Europe and the emergence of Islam as a permanent presence in the East. The theological and linguistic context of the Qur’ān will be a topic of close study, especially in its relations to Judaism, Syriac Christianity, and the doctrinal divisions of the eastern churches. This course will thus give you a firm foundation in a period that impacted both Europe and the Middle East profoundly. Indeed, the history of Late Antiquity still reverberates in many regions and effects many individuals’ lives throughout the world today.

CL C 4503 Classics Capstone (S. Huskey)

MWF 9:30–10:20 a.m. | Letters: All | Gen-ed: V

This class is intended to be the culmination of the curriculum in Classics. In addition to reviewing and reflecting on what you have learned already, you will have the opportunity to identify a particular interest of yours in the field of Classics, develop a research project, and pursue it over the course of the semester, with individual feedback from the instructor and group check-ins and updates on your progress. You will also have an opportunity to learn more about other areas of research and scholarship in Classical studies in general and the various career paths available to you after graduation.

CL C 4970.001 Introduction to Digital Humanities (Schroeder)

W 3:00–5:40 p.m. | Letters: All | Listed concurrently with LTRS 4970.001

In the very course of being human, we often turn to literature, the arts, religion, philosophy, and history as we seek meaning, beauty, and connection in our lives. Increasingly, we have also turned to technology. How might we use computers and digital media to make new discoveries in the arts and the humanities? How might we use digital methods to communicate or share our explorations of what it means to be human? What do human factors such as race and gender have to do with tech? Can digital media and computational research help solve problems of social inequities, or do they mostly exacerbate them? We will explore these questions by experimenting with tools and methods in digital humanities and by addressing critical questions about the role of digital technology in society. This is a collaborative, hands-on project-based course.


GRK 1215 Beginning Greek II (Davis)

MTWRF 9:30–10:20 a.m. | Gen-Ed: I-b

As a continuation from GRK 1115, this second semester course will build on the foundation established in the first semester and complete the overview of the basic grammar and vocabulary for Attic Greek. At the end of the course, students will be able to translate a variety of authentic passages from ancient Greek authors.

GRK 2213.001 Homer (Russell)

TR 3:00–4:15 p.m. | Gen-Ed: I-b

This class is for any student who has completed introductory Greek and wants to see why the literature which the ancient world universally agreed was the best is worth reading in the original. As we read the Iliad in English and Greek, you’ll get to know its weird, quirky dialect with its epithets like “cow-eyed Hera” and “goat-skin-holding Zeus”, see Achilles question whether eternal fame is really worth losing his life for, and observe Dr. Russell’s delight at being able to talk about his favorite subject: Homer.

GRK 3213.001 Ancient Greek Drama (Johnson)

MWF 3:30–4:20 p.m. | Letters: Literature

In this course we will read the Clouds by the Greek comic playwright Aristophanes. The primary surviving representative of Old Comedy, Aristophanes offers a fantastic view of Athenian society during the Peloponnesian War, an especially difficult period in the history of Athens. The fundamental goal of the class is to understand Aristophanes as an author and stylist by paying close attention to the language of the Clouds. As we read through the play you will strengthen your knowledge of ancient drama, including the importance of staging, choruses, competition, and audience. The depiction of society in Aristophanes — social life, politics, religion, etc. — will also be addressed. To gain a broader appreciation of the corpus of Aristophanes’ writing, you will be asked to read all of his plays in translation over the semester.


LAT 1115 Beginning Latin I

Gen-ed: I-b

  • Section 001 Cheryl Walker-Esbaugh, MTWRF 10:30 a.m.–11:20 a.m.
  • Section 002 John H. Hansen, MTWRF 12:30 p.m.–1:20 p.m.
  • Section 003 Darin Davis, MTWRF 2:30 p.m.–3:20 p.m.

Introductory study of the vocabulary and grammar of the Latin language, with practice in the reading of sentences and connected prose from selected Latin authors.

LAT 1215 Beginning Latin II

Gen-ed: I-b

  • Section 001 Cheryl Walker-Esbaugh, MTWRF 11:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.
  • Section 002 John H. Hansen, MTWRF 1:30 p.m.–2:20 p.m.
  • Section 003 Darin Davis, MTWRF 12:30 p.m.–1:20 p.m.

Prerequisite: 1115, or the equivalent, with a grade of C or better. As a continuation from LAT 1115, this second semester course will build on the foundation established in the first semester and complete the overview of the basic grammar and vocabulary for classical Latin. At the end of the course, students will be able to translate a variety of authentic passages from ancient Latin authors.

LAT 2113.001 Intermediate Latin Prose (Braden)

MWF 10:30–11:20 a.m. | Gen-ed: I-b

This course focuses on the reading and understanding of continuous prose passages of Latin. It begins with a review of word forms, and then moves on to further practice with more complicated sentence constructions. Through this class, the student will begin to read Latin prose with increased proficiency, and acquire a more thorough knowledge of Latin vocabulary and grammar. In the fall, the readings include selections from the Vulgate, Caesar, and Livy; in the spring, the selections are from Eutropius, Caesar, and Cicero. Roman history and culture will be an important component of both semesters. This class may be repeated, with a change of reading material, for a maximum of six hours credit.

LAT 2113.002 Intermediate Latin Prose: Attic Nights of Aulus Gellius (Chambers)

TR 9:00–10:15 a.m. | Gen-Ed: I-b

The Noctes Atticae (Attic Nights) is a collection of stories Aulus Gellius (ca. A.D. 123–170) had heard or read. He entitled this collection the Noctes Atticae (Attic Nights) because he began the project during the long nights of a winter he spent in Attica, the region of Greece in which Athens is located. The subjects are widely varied and include fables, philosophy, history, biography, antiquities, law, literary criticism, and grammar. From this collection, I have chosen for translation excerpts or complete stories I found especially enjoyable and revealing of Roman customs, beliefs, character, and codes of conduct. The text and class requirements include grammar review and text translations in addition to a report (in English) from a list of topics drawn from the assigned translation material.

Required Course Materials:

  1. Text: The Attic Nights of Aulus Gellius, An Intermediate Text and Grammar Review, OU Press, P.L. Chambers
  2. Workbook of the Sentences and Text Translations (Available at the Crimson and Cream Copy Shop in the Union)

LAT 2213 Intermediate Latin Poetry, Ovid et al. MWF 3:30–4:20 p.m. | Gen-ed: I-b

This course will introduce students to Latin poetry, both from Ancient Rome and from the European Middle Ages. It will cover a variety of poetic genres and authors, including Catullus and Martial. Half of the course will focus on Ovid and his Metamorphoses, tales of love and transformation from the ancient world. Students will learn how to read poetry aloud in several different meters and recognize figures of speech, such as allusion and chiasmus. These skills will increase students’ enjoyment of poetry in any language.

LAT 3213.001 Vergil (Braden)

TR 1:30–2:45 p.m. | Letters: Literature

The fall of Troy, the wanderings of a hero, the strains of love and duty, the founding of the Roman race—all in this: the most influential and controversial poem of all time. In this course, we will read and discuss Vergil’s Aeneid in the original language, and pay close attention to its place in the epic tradition and analyze its status as a work of Augustan literature. Join us and learn what makes this perhaps the greatest poem ever written.

LAT 3313.001 Latin Composition (Watson)

MW 1:30–2:45 p.m.

This course is a great way to reinforce your ability to read, understand, and appreciate Latin. By translating English texts into Latin, you will learn the finer points of grammar and style.


LTRS 2103 Introduction to Constitutional Studies (Porwancher)

MW 4:30–5:45 p.m. | Letters: History, Philosophy | Const. Studies: 1, 2, 3, 4

This course serves as a broad introduction to the history and theory of constitutional governance. What does it mean to live under a written constitution? What are the historical roots of the American Constitution? And how has the interpretation of the Constitution changed over time? How do the branches of government check and balance each other? What is the relationship between the federal government and the states? When can the government regulate the liberties of its citizens? Students in this course will acquire the core knowledgeand conceptual vocabulary to confront the foundational questions of constitutionalism.

LTRS 3510.001 Famous Trials in American History (Porwancher)

MW 1:30–2:45 p.m. | Letters category: History | Const. Studies: 4

From the Salem Witch Trials to O.J. Simpson, the spectacle of a public tribunal determining questions of life and liberty has long captured the imagination of the country. How has the conduct of trials shaped American attitudes about justice? Why have certain trials served as proxy battles for larger political wars? In what ways have representations of trials in art and theater informed popular memory? This course will grapple with these questions in the context of the nation’s legal, social, and political history. In a seminar format, we will explore notorious trials from colonial times to our modern era. Students will also write papers over the course of the semester on famous trials of their choosing.

LTRS 3703 Law and Social Movements (Schumaker)

TR 10:30–11:45 a.m. | Letters: History | Const. Studies: 4

This course examines the history of American law and social movements in the United States from the Civil War to the present day. How has legal change shaped social movements? And have social movements, in turn, affected American law and the justice system? We will approach these questions from several different angles, including the struggles for racial and sex equality and the histories of the Chicano, American Indian, and LGBTQ rights movements.

LTRS 3813 Fate and the Individual in Lit. Part II (Harper, Anderson)

TR 12:00–1:15 p.m. | Letters Category: All | Gen-ed: IV-b

In 1941 W. H. Auden taught a course at the University of Michigan entitled “Fate and the Individual in European Literature.” In 2012 the course syllabus resurfaced and was circulated online. It provoked excitement, first because it allows us to see the list of texts that Auden, one of the greatest poets and critics of the twentieth century, considered central to the Western tradition. Second, because people were astonished by the immensity of the reading list. Auden had proposed nearly six thousand pages of reading for a one semester, two credit-hour class. We wish to rekindle the spirit—a mingling of seriousness towards and delight in the Western canon—that Auden’s syllabus reflects. Over two sequential classes we are going to explore some of the literature that has proven indispensable to understanding the set of intertwined traditions that gave birth to America and the modern world. The fall semester will run from the ancient Greeks, through the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. In the spring, we will focus on modernity, beginning in the Enlightenment and ending in the mid-twentieth century. Throughout we will be wrestling with the big questions conjured up by the course title: what is the role of destiny in human affairs? What is the role of God or the gods? What is the meaning of human freedom? What is the value of an individual person and what constitutes a meaningful life? How should we relate to those who surround us and to those in authority? We’ve omitted a few of Auden’s texts and added some others we think are important. While our reading list is perhaps not quite so daunting as his was, we nevertheless recognize that it demands a lot of you. We are asking you to read a good deal more than you would in most humanities classes. We hope you will see this as a valuable intellectual challenge and rise to it. Your professors believe that wrestling with Homer and Augustine, Dante and Milton, Goethe and Melville is essential to a true liberal education. We are looking for students – regardless of major – who are excited by the challenge. The class will be a mixture of lecture and discussion. Your three professors will all take turns leading the class on different days. When they aren’t scheduled to teach, they will be sitting alongside you as your fellow students, each of them eager to better grasp the books and ideas that have shaped our collective story.

LTRS 4503 Letters Capstone (R. Huskey)

TR 1:30–2:45 p.m. | Letters: All | Gen-ed: V

The goals of this course include

  • allowing students to work on a writing project that combines their understanding of history, literature, and philosophy
  • encouraging students to make use of the foreign language skills they have developed
  • further development of oral communication skills

With an anchor topic of ethics and food, students will research and write a senior paper on a specified topic chosen in consultation with the instructor. Papers will demonstrate students’ abilities to synthesize material drawn from among two or more of the areas included in the Letters program. Prerequisite: senior standing in major. May be repeated with change of content; maximum credit six hours.

Pending approval: This course will give students the option to complete a service learning component. This will entail students to complete ~30 hours of service work with a food-related organization on campus or in Norman, such as the OU Food Pantry, or the Earth Rebirth school gardens. The final paper will incorporate the student’s reflections on this experience with research related to the service work.

LTRS 4970.001 Introduction to Digital Humanities (Schroeder)

W 3:00–5:40 p.m. | Letters: All

In the very course of being human, we often turn to literature, the arts, religion, philosophy, and history as we seek meaning, beauty, and connection in our lives. Increasingly, we have also turned to technology. How might we use computers and digital media to make new discoveries in the arts and the humanities? How might we use digital methods to communicate or share our explorations of what it means to be human? What do human factors such as race and gender have to do with tech? Can digital media and computational research help solve problems of social inequities, or do they mostly exacerbate them? We will explore these questions by experimenting with tools and methods in digital humanities and by addressing critical questions about the role of digital technology in society. This is a collaborative, hands-on project-based course.

LTRS 4970.002 Children and the Constitution (Schumaker)

TR 3:00–4:15 p.m. | Letters: History | Const. Studies: ????

This course examines the changing relationship between children and the Constitution from the Founding to the present, focusing on how and why young people gained constitutional rights. This course is a discussion-based seminar that covers issues including education, juvenile justice, child welfare, and suffrage. Alongside relevant court cases, readings will also cover the history of childhood and youth from the 18th century to the present.