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Skidmore College
First-Year Experience

Scribner Seminar Program
Course Description

The Empire Strikes Back: Imperial Ambitions of Greece, Rome, Britain and the US

Instructor(s): Michael Arnush, Classics

How would YOU rule an empire? What kind of empire would you oversee, how long would it last, and would people hold it in esteem? The city and museums of London provide a rare opportunity for students to examine four distinct yet similar empires that left an indelible mark on western culture and, indeed, the entire world. Students begin their study of empire with ancient Athens, whose emblematic imperial expressions appeared on the Elgin Marbles, now housed in the British Museum. From there we travel to the Roman empire, which stretched from Syria to Britain and is captured in full at the BM, the Museum of London and in sites outside of London. These two ancient cultures then provide the backdrop for our study of the rise of imperialism in 18th century Britain, specifically the creation of Neo-Classical architecture and fine arts as captured in the streets of London and the Victoria & Albert Museum. Students conclude their study of empire through a comparison of these examples with the American empire of the postwar era, culminating in discussions centering on the contemporary status of America’s presence overseas.

Course Offered