The Department of Classical and Early Mediterranean Studies offers courses in the cultures, languages, literatures, history, and archaeology of ancient Greece and ancient Rome and the global and historical frameworks that have shaped their reception. These cultures and their products have been the object of scholarly inquiry were foundational in the formation of cultural identities in Europe and the Western Hemisphere. As aesthetic objects, these cultures continue to inspire critical response and popular imagination. As cultural forces, however, the legacies of Greece and Rome are complex, interwoven with historical patterns that include war, violence, and oppression as well as the spirit of the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and modern Humanism. As a modern discipline, Classical and Early Mediterranean Studies seeks to provide students with the ability to develop critical knowledge of the past and the inspiration to shape a better future.
A major in Classical Studies offers the opportunity to learn about all aspects of life in ancient Greece and Rome. Aside from its intellectual value, this study can have practical use as well: for example, the study of Latin and Greek can considerably improve communication skills in English and in the Romance languages; moreover, Latin and Greek have long been, and continue to be, sources of technical concepts and vocabulary in all fields of study, from medicine and biology to political theory.
A major in Classical Studies also enhances preparation for a wide number of professional fields, including law and medicine, as well as for the graduate study of literature, history, fine arts, archaeology, anthropology, philosophy, religion, and classics itself. The requirements for the major are designed to be flexible so that individual students can focus their program around a particular interest like art and archaeology, history, or literature.
The department offers an interdisciplinary degree program that allows students considerable flexibility to organize their course of study around those aspects of Classical and Early Mediterranean Studies that most interest them. There are two tracks within the Master of Arts program: Track 1 ("Ancient Greek and Roman Civilization") and Track 2 (Ancient Greek and Latin Languages and Literatures"). Track 1 is designed for preparation for elementary and secondary school education or advanced graduate work in Classical Archaeology or Ancient History with less emphasis on Greek and Latin languages. Students who have taken RSEM 161 (The Examined Life) at the Rabb School of Continuing Education may “count” this course towards their Master’s degree. Other practicing professionals in the area can continue their professional education in the Master’s program to gain professional development points, and to advance their school careers.
Track 2 is designed for preparation for advanced graduate work in Classics or Greek or Latin languages and literatures. The Master of Arts program offers a limited number of course teaching assistantships (assigned by merit to students in good academic standing, i.e. with a GPA of 3.25 or higher) that can defray the cost of graduate study. To obtain the Master’s degree, students must take a total of eight courses, five of which must be taught by CLAS faculty, including the proseminar course, CLAS 200A. See details below.
Stephen Guerriero, MA’16, is a leader in his department at Needham Public Schools. He uses his extensive expertise to design engaging social studies courses, which include curriculum based on archaeology, Ancient Greece and Rome, Egypt, and the Near East.