Department of Classical Languages & Literatures
The Department of Classical Languages & Literatures offers advanced
study in the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome, including literature
and literary theory, history, philosophy, science, art, and archaeology.
The programs of the department lead to A.M. and Ph.D. degrees and seek
to prepare students for careers in teaching and research. They allow students
to explore areas with which they are unfamiliar, as well as to strengthen
their knowledge in those in which they have already developed a special
interest. The curriculum emphasizes excellence in the Greek and Latin
languages and training for scholarly investigation through two intensive
survey sequences, prose composition courses, language competency examinations,
and seminars. These few but important requirements make explicit this
emphasis and allow considerable flexibility for students to cultivate
special interests, both within and outside the department.
The classics faculty consists of active scholars, expert in one or more areas of classical studies. Apart from their influence through books and articles, the faculty has long been identified with the publication of Classical Philology, one of the leading journals devoted to classical antiquity. The diverse graduate students at the University include a number in programs outside the Department of Classics also engaged in the study of the ancient world. The Oriental Institute, the Committees on the Ancient Mediterranean World and on Social Thought, and the Departments of History, Linguistics, Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations, and New Testament & Early Christian Literature all have programs that focus on different aspects of the classi-cal period. Graduate student-faculty workshops, where graduate students, faculty, and visiting scholars present work in progress, are a further means of scholarly collaboration and training. The department currently sponsors workshops entitled Ancient Societies and Rhetoric and Poetics: Ancient and Modern, both of which involve participants from other areas as well.
Applicants to the Department of Classical Languages & Literatures should have a strong background in Greek and Latin. Students with undergraduate degrees in other fields are encouraged to apply if their scholarly interests lie in classics and if they have begun intensive study to make up any deficiencies in Greek and Latin. All graduate students are expected to demonstrate proficiency in reading French and German, one language for the A.M. degree and the second for the Ph.D.; entering students should have begun this preparation if they are not already competent.
Research and Library Resources
The library system of the University contains over six million volumes.
Classics has been one of the strongest parts of this collection since
its first formation in 1891, when the University purchased the entire
stock of an antiquarian bookstore in Berlin which specialized in classical
philology, archaeology, and science. Apart from current monographs, the
library receives more than seven hundred serials devoted to ancient Greece
and Rome. Major editions of classical texts printed from the Renaissance
through the eighteenth century are available in the Department of Special
Collections, which also houses collections of Greek and Latin manuscripts
and a large reference library devoted to paleography, manuscript catalogues,
The database of the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae and the software needed to use it are accessible over the campus network; the Latin texts prepared by the Packard Humanities Institute, the CETE-DOC database of ancient and medieval Christian Latin texts, and several other electronic databases useful to the study of the classics are mounted on workstations in the Regenstein Library; and additional computing resources are available in the departmental computer cluster in the Classics Building.
A wide variety of fellowship aid is available, from tuition scholarships to grants that also include a generous stipend for living expenses. Aid is awarded primarily on the basis of merit, and students entering with aid have the assurance that it will be renewed without competition if they make satisfactory progress in the program. All fellowships are for four or five years, including those for students who enter with an A.M. Graduate students in classics may also apply for fellowships which aid students during the writing of Ph.D. dissertations and for travel fellowships that support visits to libraries, collections, and archaeological research sites in Europe and the Near East
Programs of Study
The department offers various kinds of courses to meet the students needs and desires. Some are devoted to the reading of texts, with emphasis on the linguistic structure. Others stress literary, historical, or philosophical interpretation. Several seminars each year, which deal with Greek and Latin texts and are often related to current research interests of the faculty, invite students to think deeply about an aspect of antiquity and provide training in the writing of scholarly research papers. A synoptic view is furnished by a year-long sequence devoted in alternative years to Greek and to Latin literature. These survey courses are designed to help the student acquire skill in the rapid reading of Greek and Latin. Students may also pursue individual interests by taking courses offered outside the department, and may, in special circumstances, arrange for independent study.
The Degree of Master of Arts
Three degrees are offered: classics, Greek or Latin, and classical archaeology. Students often complete study for the A.M. degree in a single year, but they may take longer. For classics and Greek or Latin, one year-long survey course in Greek or Latin, two quarters of seminar work, and two advanced courses in areas appropriate to the students interest are required; the remaining two courses can be used to develop a special interest. Students in archaeology write an A.M. thesis and take three courses in Greek or Latin, two quarters of seminars work, and appropriate electives. For the A.M. degrees in classics and Greek or Latin students must demonstrate competence in reading French or German. For the A.M. degree in classical archaeology reading competency in both French and German is required.
The Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Two degrees are offered: classical languages and literatures and classical
archaeology. Both programs are designed for five or six years, the first
two being devoted to a full load of nine courses, the third and fourth
to completing course work and examinations, and the final year or two
to the dissertation.
In the first year of the classics program, students regularly take one
of the survey courses, two seminars, at least two courses in the minor
language, and other courses (often in other departments such as Art, Linguistics,
Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations, etc.) to meet special interests.
Students are required to take the qualifying exam in the language of the
survey sequence at the end of this year. This is also the year to pass
the first modern language exam in French or German. Students who complete
their coursework and pass the French or German exam are awarded the A.M.
in classics. The second year is similar, usually with a major focus on
the second survey course and such courses as may allow students to explore
new areas; in the spring, students are required to pass the second language
qualifying examination. The third year is one of less formal course work,
in which students seek out those courses or seminars that pertain specially
to their own interests; they also prepare the special field exam (a study
of a particular text chosen by the student). In the fourth year and fifth
year students should expect to develop a topic for the dissertation, and
to write the dissertation.
Students in archaeology must take four more advanced courses in Greek
or Latin (at least one of which must be a seminar) and seven additional
courses in prescribed fields (at least one of these must be a seminar).
There is a comprehensive examination in classical art and archaeology,
usually in the fourth year, and examinations in two subfields in ancient
history and the history of classical literature.
The research and writing of a Ph.D. dissertation in classical antiquity take more than a full year to accomplish, and many students, especially those who engage in some teaching along the way, will need a sixth year to complete this work. The faculty also urge students to take advantage of opportunities in the department and in other parts of the University for training as university and college teachers. These are described below.
Undergraduates constitute only about fifty percent of the students at
the University, a fact that has a marked impact on the kinds of teaching
graduate students are recruited to do. Classes are small, the situations
in which graduate students take an instructional role are varied, and
teaching need not be a constant sideline to the detriment of their own
studies. Moreover, the department and the University have invested considerable
effort in training graduate students to teach effectively. The Center
for Teaching and Learning conducts a series of workshops and forums designed
to build skills in lecturing, leading discussions, and focusing writing
Teaching opportunities lie in three areas. The first is in classics, where students who have completed the first two years of coursework may apply to serve as course assistants alongside regular faculty in the beginning Greek and Latin and ancient civilization sequences. Experienced course assistants may apply to teach independently in the first- or second-year language courses. Graduate students also have a broad role in the summer Greek and Latin Institute, and in the Graham School of General Studies, for which they are encouraged to offer courses of their own design (some recent courses have been devoted to the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid). The second area of teaching is through The Little Red Schoolhouse, a nationally famous writing program in which graduate students are taught how to deal constructively with the confused prose they will encounter in undergraduate papers, and are then assigned as interns in the humanities and social sciences core courses of the College. Here they work in a small class with the professor, serving as special writing instructors and learning how to teach courses in which reading, discussion, and short papers are the chief ingredients. Finally, at the most advanced level, graduate students are eligible to teach sections of the humanities core sequence and the Western Civilization sequence. All teaching is recompensed by a stipend proportional to the teaching responsibility and can include remission of tuition.
Application forms and a brochure with fuller descriptions of the Department of Classics, its faculty, students, and specific lists of program requirements may be obtained by writing to the Dean of Students, Division of the Humanities, 1050 East 59th Street, Chicago IL 60637. Details about the application process are also available on the Classics Departments website at http://humanities.uchicago.edu/depts/classics. Applicants are expected to submit undergraduate transcripts, a short writing sample, three recommendations, and scores from the general Graduate Record Examination. For more specific information, please contact the Secretary, Department of Classics, 1010 East 59th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, telephone: (773) 702-8514.
This text was last revised on 9/03/2003.