Pompeiian fresco, 1st c. AD

MWF 1.25-2.20 (Ladd 307)

Prof. Michael Arnush Ladd 209 x5462
marnush@skidmore.edu Hours: TuW 11


Schedule - Full
Web Resources
Classics Department
Skidmore College
The study of the history of Rome, or of any civilization, calls upon a set of distinct skills that require time and patience to cultivate. History is neither a collection of facts lacking careful and critical analysis, nor an analysis devoid of factual information; indeed, the historian needs to have the facts at his or her fingertips in order to build a cogent and thoughtful analysis. The assignments for this course will help you develop both skills: the exams will test your ability to grasp and recall salient information, while the short responses, essay, and research paper will ask you to craft arguments based upon that information. The classroom will serve as an informal laboratory where you can test your own abilities to coordinate these two sets of skills.

Over the course of the semester you will develop an understanding of ancient Roman geography. A basic grasp of Roman topography and settlements is indispensable to understanding what's going on in your primary and secondary sources. You will also hone your writing skills to help you craft clear and cogent prose, and study skills that will assist you in doing fine work on an exam. The course requirements are designed to help you sharpen these skills. You will write one short (500-750 words) analysis and one long (2500 words) research paper as the final project: the first will ask you to analyze a primary source on a particular subject; the second offers you a broader choice of topics. Having selected one of several subjects, you will study the primary sources, identify and research secondary sources relevant to the paper, and construct a thesis and conduct an analysis. This final project will focus on building your research skills so that they culminate with the successful completion of this 2500-word paper.

You will take two exams: one midterm and one final. The midterm will cover the lectures, readings and class discussions through the middle of the semester, and the final exam will be comprehensive but focus on the latter half of the course material.
All assignments will have due dates specified in advance, and you yourself must turn each one in, on time and in person. Failure to hand any assignment in on time will result in an "F" for that assignment. This is not open to negotiation.
EXAMS: 40%
To help you master ancient Roman geography, there will be three short (c. 5 min.) map quizzes over the course of the semester, on 9/26, 11/7 and 12/8. In each, I will give you a blank map and ask you to give the location of 10 places, drawn from a pre-announced list.

The Ancient World Mapping Center contains down-loadable versions of all the maps in your textbook, plus many others that may prove helpful, including the blank maps I'll use for quizzes.

MIDTERM 15% Short i.d.s, source analysis, essays, on 10/27
FINAL 15% Short i.d.s, source analysis, essays, on 12/18, 6-9pm
You will write one short (500-750 words) paper that asks you to analyze a primary source, Livy's From the Founding of the City 1.1-17. The complete assignment and excerpts are available here. Due in class on 9/22.

Research paper: 2500-word essay

The final project is an opportunity for you to combine your research and writing skills and develop a project that reflects aspects of Roman history that interest you. Your main source of material is Shelton's As the Romans Did. You are to select one chapter, read all of the primary source materials and Shelton's commentary, and over the course of the rest of the semester write two short essays (each 500-750 words) and one long paper (2500 words). All three components of the project will count toward your final grade.

  • 5%: Write a short (500-750 words) essay stating which chapter you have chosen and which issues you intend to address. Feel free to write the paper in the first person if you so choose. Compose it as you would any paper, with an introduction, a body of a few paragraphs and a conclusion. In that essay, explain why you have chosen that chapter and what issues you intend to consider. Due in class on 10/31.
  • 5%: Submit a sample (750-1000 words) of your final paper. This could consist of the introduction or any other part of the final version. It should include your own prose, crafted to form a portion of the final thesis you will present, and some of the primary sources either as quotations or as citations, to substantiate your arguments with evidence. This last issue is critical: the second essay is not only an opportunity to demonstrate your thinking and your cogent writing, but as well that you know how to use, cite and analyze evidence to persuade your audience. Click here to access databases endorsed by the Classics faculty. To assess any webresource, apply the checklist maintained by Scribner Library. For proper citation of ancient sources (the primary evidence) and modern scholarship (Shelton's book), follow the Classics Dept. guidelines. Due in class on 11/21.
  • 15%: The final, polished version of your paper (2500 words). Due on Friday, 12/12 by 5pm. No late papers will be accepted; this is absolute.

    If you wish, you may take a fictional stab at papers two and three. That is, you may utilize the sources just as you would in a research paper, but could do so in a creative way. You might, for example, reconstruct the life of fictional slave, or create your own Roman historical source (a letter, an excerpt from a novel or history, an inscription, a material object, etc.). If you choose this path, you still must use, cite and analyze the evidence to persuade, but can do so in a more creative fashion. If this is the tack you decide to take, please let me know in the first essay.


CLASS MEETINGS - 10%: Class participation is an essential aspect of this course and consists of the preparation of all readings before class, participation in discussions in the classroom, and the responses you provide to the CASE STUDIES and TEXTUAL ANALYSES scattered throughout the semester (see below for details; your participation in these components will be graded separately from your CLASS MEETINGS grade). To earn class participation points you need to come to class on time, contribute regularly and thoughtfully, and demonstrate a grasp of the readings and lectures. You must be respectful and tolerant of others' views.

Obviously, if you do not attend class you can not participate in the in-class discussions. You may take TWO absences from the classroom during the semester without penalty - no questions asked, no explanation necessary, although if you miss a class on which an assignment is due you will fail that assignment. After two absences, each absence will result in a significant lowering of the CLASS PARTICIPATION component. If you do not participate in classroom discussion you will earn 0 points for this component of your final grade. Come to class and participate.

CASE STUDIES: - 10%: On 9/17, 10/15, and 11/19, we will discuss case studies that explore particularly complex issues raised by the study of Roman history. The first compares Roman elections to US elections; the second explores the challenges presented by an attempted coup d'etat in Rome; the third examines the "archaeology of a text" and "the archaeology of a culture." Your participation in these case studies will be graded, so come prepared to contribute substantively to these discussions.

As you hone your skills as an historian you will develop your own perspectives, methodologies and solutions to some of the vexing questions that the study of Roman culture raises. It is absolutely essential that you take credit for your own work, and give credit to others when you draw upon their ideas and words.

Accordingly, plagiarism and cheating of all sorts will not be tolerated in this course and are grounds for an "F". Be sure to read carefully the Academic Integrity and Ethics of Scholarship webpages.

All members of the College community are bound by Skidmore's Honor Code, included here:

"I hereby accept membership in the Skidmore College Community and, with full realization of the responsibilities inherent in membership, do agree to adhere to honesty and integrity in all relationships, to be considerate of the rights of others, and to abide by the college regulations."