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Courses in Classics and Letters

Here is the current course list for Spring 2023 courses in Classics and Letters. Please refer to ClassNav or One for locations and enrollment.


Davis, MWF 12:30-1:20pm
Pawlowski, TR 10:30-11:45

Gen-Ed: Art Form; Letters Category: History

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, that represent mythological themes.

Alcock, TR 3:00-4:15

Category: History

Admit it — you wanted to be an archaeologist when you grew up. This course builds on that enthusiasm while exploring the world of classical archaeology: the art, architecture, and material culture of the ancient Mediterranean world. We will study the long history behind the archaeological discovery of Greece and Rome (and others) while also learning how the field has radically changed and expanded over time. We will experience archaeology’s hands-on nature using class exercises, case studies, and museum visits. Our goal by the end of the course is to have you ‘thinking like an archaeologist and fully aware of the often-fraught present-day politics behind the archaeology of the ancient world.

Williams, MWF 11:30-12:20pm
Pawlowski, TR 1:30–2:45

Gen-ed: Western Civ.; Letters category: Literature

This course is an introduction to the world of Greek and Roman mythology. By reading both poetry and prose we will explore the traditional stories of the Greeks and Romans and how they reveal the values and beliefs of the people who told and retold them over the centuries. Through this extensive reading, students will develop both an appreciation for Classical mythology and their abilities to analyze both primary and secondary sources.

Walker-Esbaugh, Online

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.

Watson, MWF 11:30–12:20

Gen-Ed: Western Civ; Letters Category: History

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 greatest 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 an 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 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.

Harper, TR 10:30–11:45


Gen-Ed: Western Civ; Letters Category: History, Philosophy
Prerequisite: English 1213.

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.

Greene, MWF 1:30–2:20

Gen-Ed: Western Civ; Letters Category: Literature
Prerequisite: sophomore standing.

Focuses on Virgil's influence on Dante. Virgil celebrates, in both The Georgics and The Aeneid, the outcome of the struggle against external furor and passion and those elements within the individual. Dante, with Virgil as his spiritual guide in The Inferno, presents a series of spiritual exercises.

Chambers, WEB

Gen-Ed: Western Civ; Letters Category: Literature, History, Philosophy; Constitutional Studies Area: 1

Hellas, the Civilization of Ancient Greece" surveys the evolution of the classical ideal beginning with the Pre-Greek Minoans and the Early Mycenaen 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 political science as Greek civilization chronologically evolves. It also traces and examines the lessons of all Greek literature, art, and philosophy: 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 will also be required.

Williams, MW 3:00-4:15

Gen-Ed: Western Civ; Letters Category: History

This course is about the development of the ancient city of Rome. It is a detailed study of how Rome developed 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 each phase of the physical development of the city as reflected in the excavations of the architectural remains of the Roman Forum (the central part of the city). The course will include an assessment of the topography of Rome, the 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 ruins represented offers insight into the significance of the 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 Rome.

Zainaldin, TR 12:00–1:15

Letters Category: History

This course will provide an introduction to science in the ancient Greek and Roman world. We will investigate the emergence of scientific thought in early Greek antiquity and trace the continued influence of philosophy on the aims and methods of ancient science. We will study in some detail the major branches of Greco-Roman science, including cosmology, physics, astronomy, and biology, as well as related disciplines, including mathematics, medicine, mechanics and engineering. Besides surveying some of the outstanding achievements of the Greeks and Romans, we will reflect on the notion of “science” itself and try to appreciate the historical character of scientific thought and practice. There will be a comparative unit on Greece, Rome, and China.

Greene, MWF 12:30–1:20

Letters Category: History

All of the readings in this course provide perspectives on gender in classical antiquity, a period spanning roughly from about 800 BCE to 16 BCE. The societies of ancient Greece and Rome were marked by strong gender segregation. Gender, along with class and ethnicity, determined many aspects of an individual’s life. The works we will read tell us a great deal about ancient attitudes toward women and men, the lives they lived, the social roles they played, and the laws that governed them. They also show how the Greeks and Romans defined normative gender categories and how writers used these categories as a vehicle for social and political critique.

In the last several decades, the study of women, gender, and sexuality has become one of the most significant and exciting sub-specialties within the field of Classics. By reading ancient writings in translation and some selected examples of modern research, we will address the following questions: How did ancient Greek and Roman societies understand and use the categories of male and female, masculine and feminine? How may we derive from the Greeks and Romans the ideological bases of Western attitudes toward sex/gender categories? How are notions of gender represented in the surviving literature of ancient Greece and Rome?

Alcock, TR 10:30–11:45

Letters Category: History

Athletics and sports were just as popular and significant in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds as they are today. And as with sports today, they offer a way to explore and understand the worlds of the people who played (and watched) them. We will use primary texts, art, archaeology, and modern comparisons to explore topics such as the development of ancient athletic contests, the nature of individual events, the social implications of athletic professionalism, sports diets, women and athletics, sports and religion, the Olympic Games, gladiators, and more. The sheer spectacle of ancient sporting events, such as those taking place in Roman amphitheaters, not unlike the Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, will also be investigated.

Johnson, MW 1:30-2:45)

Letters Category: History, Philosophy

This course will introduce students to the fascinating history of Syrian Christianity, a “lost” (or at least unknown) Christian tradition for most Westerners. From the Roman Empire, to Persia, Africa, Central Asia, and even China, this class explores the expansion of Christianity towards the East. There, Christians encountered new empires and new religions for the first time, such as Buddhism. We will study their history from a number of angles: language, literature, art, theology, mysticism, and politics. We will relate it to medieval Christianity more generally and to the rise of of Islam. The course will also examine how Christian minorities have found themselves persecuted in the 21st century and what their future may hold.

R. Huskey, MWF 9:30–10:20

Gen-Ed: Western Civ; Letters Category: Literature

One of the most basic and universal aspects of being human is laughter and comedy. This course is a survey of various types of comedy (e.g., physical comedy, satire, puns, and language games, mistaken identity, and stand-up) as they arise in literature from antiquity through the Middle Ages and into the 21st Century. Students will experience the serious hilarity of Plautus, Aristophanes, Juvenal, Shakespeare, George Carlin, Charlie Hill, Tina Fey, and others.

S. Huskey, MWF 10:30–11:20

Gen-Ed: Western Civ; Letters Category: Literature, History

This is an opportunity for students to pursue in-depth a topic in Classics that interests them. They will learn about research methods in Classics as they develop their topic and share their knowledge with others in the class. Each class period will include discussions and presentations about topics to be decided upon by the students during the first week of the semester.


Davis, MTWRF 9:30–10:20

As a continuation of GRK 1115, students will further build a foundation in the fundamental grammar, syntax, and vocabulary of Attic Greek. With the aspiration of translating authentic texts from classical antiquity, students who complete the course will be one step closer to reading the works of some of history’s greatest authors in their original language.

Davis, MWF 12:30–1:20

As an intermediate translation course, students will read authentic Greek passages from New Testament authors and early church writers. While the emphasis will be placed on translating with speed and accuracy, students will also be introduced to the history of the early Christian Church, scholarly interpretations of difficult passages, and the use of an apparatus criticus.

Zainaldin, TR 10:30–11:45

Plato is widely regarded as one of the most profound and original thinkers in the history of philosophy. It is easier to forget that he was also a master prose stylist—among the greatest in Greek and indeed in any language. In this course we will aim to read the whole of one of Plato’s best-known dialogues in the original language. In so do doing, we will become familiar with and scrutinize some ideas central to Plato’s philosophy, develop an appreciation for his distinctive style, and hone our skills in reading Attic Greek. Possible texts for reading include the Apology, Crito, Phaedrus, Protagoras, and Symposium.


Walker-Esbaugh, sec. 001 M-F 10:30-11:20am
Hansen, sec. 002 M-F 11:30-12:20pm
Williams, sec. 003 M-F 1:30-2:20pm

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.

Walker-Esbaugh, sec. 001 M-F 11:30-12:20pm
Hansen, sec. 002 M-F 1:30-2:20pm
Williams sec. 003 M-F 12:30-1:30

Prerequisite: 1115, or the equivalent, with a grade of C or better.

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.

Watson, MWF 1:30–2:20

Prerequisite: 1215, or equivalent, with a grade of C or better. May be repeated with a change of content; the maximum credit is six hours.

This course focuses on the reading and understanding of continuous prose passages in 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. The readings include selections from the Vulgate, Caesar, and Livy. Roman history and culture will be an important part of the class. 

Hansen, MWF 10:30–11:20

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. This course contains rotating material from Ovid’s poems; therefore, the course may be repeated for a maximum of 6 hours.

Chambers, TR 9:00–10:15

Gaius Plinius Secundus (AD 23-79), best known today as Pliny the Elder, was a wealthy nobleman of equestrian rank who maintained an extremely active public career, ultimately becoming commander of the Roman fleet in Misenum, the port city for the Roman navy in the Western Mediterranean. It was here in the Bay of Naples that he met his death in the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79; an event immortalized by Pliny the Younger in correspondence with Tacitus the historian. His Natural Histories, dedicated to Emperor Titus in 77 AD, represent a survey of the knowledge of the natural world as seen by an educated Roman of the 1st century. The broad topics of the original work include cosmology and astronomy, geography, biology, zoology, botany, medicine, and finally, metals, minerals, and precious stones. From among these, I have chosen excerpts for translation that I found entertaining, enlightening, and revealing of Roman thought, character, philosophy and even prejudice.

S. Huskey, MWF 11:30–12:20

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, 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.



Porwancher, MW 1:30–2:45

Gen-Ed: Western Civ; Letters categories: History or Philosophy; Constitutional Studies Area: 1, 2, 3, or 4

Provides a broad introduction to the theory and history of constitutional governance. Includes the classical roots of constitutional thought, the contribution of the English common law tradition, the origins and structure of the U.S. Constitution, along with a sense of the constitutional basis of contemporary political controversies.

R. Huskey, MWF 11:30–12:20

Gen-Ed: Western Civ; Letters categories: History, Literature, or Philosophy

This course provides a survey of the history, literature, and philosophy of the Middle Ages and Renaissance through reading and discussion of prominent books of this time, with particular emphasis on understanding the impact of these texts on modern-day thought. How do we talk about humans' wrongdoing, and how do we decide what is wrong? Can a poem or story change how someone thinks? What are some historical instances of clashes between church and state? This course can be applied to the Letters major’s requirement in history, literature, or philosophy. Readings include selections from Dante, Erasmus, Martin Luther, and Thomas More.

Garofalo, TR 3:00–4:15

Letters categories: Literature

Our study of the novel will take us from star-crossed lovers, fairies, and questing knights to ballrooms, bourgeois homes, and the US Senate. We will read Romance in Ancient Greece and Early Modern Korea, Realism in Nineteenth-Century England and Russia, and Modernism and Postmodernism in Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century African American Literature. While we will read short excerpts from great novels such as Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote, Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, and Murasaki Shikibu’s Tale of Genji, we will read the following texts in their entirety: Heliodorus, Aethiopica (3rd Century BCE); Kim Man-Jung, The Nine Cloud Dream (17th C.); Jane Austen, Emma (1815); Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilych (1823); Nella Larsen, Passing (1929); and Percival Everett, A History of the African-American People (Proposed) by Strom Thurmond, as told to Percival Everett & James Kincaid (2004). We will examine developments in the novel across cultures focusing on evolving forms and genres as well as historical context. Students will write several Short Papers (2 Pages) and a Final Paper (6-8 Pages).

Garofalo, TR 4:30–5:45

Letters Category: Literature

Jane Austen is a writer of global significance who continues to fascinate readers, writers, and filmmakers. Her fictional social worlds are peopled by lovers, rivals, arrogant aristocrats, gold-diggers, impoverished single women, and a variety of fools. Novels of conflict, competition, comedy and romance, her works respond to a time of Revolutions, agitation for Women’s Rights, War, and Class Conflict. They also introduce crucial developments in form and genre. We will study what she makes of comedy, character, marriage plot, narrative voice, and realism. Students will write several Short Papers (2 Pages) and a Final Paper (6-8 Pages).

Selinger, TR 1:30-2:45

Letters categories: History or Philosophy; Constitutional Studies Area

This course examines the philosophical tradition of liberalism and its critics on the left and right. We will consider classical nineteenth-century liberals like Benjamin Constant, Francois Guizot, and John Stuart Mill. We will also look at twentieth-century liberals like John Dewey and John Rawls who believed the liberal values of tolerance, representative government, constitutionalism, and individual freedom were compatible with a large and active state. Finally, we will be reading about several of the most perceptive opponents of liberalism such as Karl Marx and Carl Schmitt.

Porwancher, MW 4:30–5:45

Letters categories: History; Constitutional Studies Area: 3

From the Salem Witch Trials to Johnny Depp, the spectacle of a public tribunal determining questions of life and liberty has long captured the country's imagination. How has the conduct of trials shaped American attitudes about justice? Why have certain trials served as proxy battles for larger political wars? How 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 and cultural history. Students will also play the role of lawyers, delivering their own closing arguments based on real testimony from famous trials.

Selinger, TR 4:30–5:45

Gen-Ed: Western Civ; Letters categories: literature; Constitutional Studies Area: 3, 4


Examines the nation that Frenchmen Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont encountered when they came to the United States--its society, literature, politics, and culture. Explores, in depth, the two towering literary productions of their expedition into America: Tocqueville's Democracy in America and Beaumont's groundbreaking antislavery novel, Marie.

R. Huskey, MWF 1:30–2:20

Letters Category: History, Literature, or Philosophy


Two elements of life that every person has a stake in are food and aging. This class will ask students to combine their education in the areas of history, literature, and philosophy and apply their critical thinking skills to research related to one or both of these areas. Some possible avenues include:

       - environmental impacts of our current consumption practices

    - vegetarianism,     ‘manufactured’ meat and alternative protein sources

    - food insecurity in Oklahoma and on OU’s campus - potential solutions to     nutritional short-comings for children and adults

Students will have the option of participating in a service-learning project with the OU Food Pantry.