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CLASSICS 2E03 Ancnt Wrld In Film (C01)

Academic Year: Fall 2018

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Amanda Devitt



Phone: 905-525-9140 x

Office Hours: Tuesday & Wednesday 11:00am-12:00pm

Course Objectives:

The emphasis of this course is on history and myth, studied through Greek and Latin literary accounts (in translation) and cinematic versions. Over the course of the term, students will study 20th and 21st century cinematic adaptations of Greek and Roman epic poetry, drama, historiography and biography and will examine the ways that films and written narratives are constructed and the messages they convey. On successful competition of this course students will be able to identify and critically assess the key concepts and themes raised by ancient literary texts and the depictions of the ancient Mediterranean world in the artistic medium of film.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

• Reeves, J. et al. (eds.), The Ancient World in Film (Radix Antiqua, 2017) [vols. 1 & 2] • i-clicker

Method of Assessment:

1. Attendance: 10% 2. i-clicker quizzes: 25% 3. Midterm: 20% (Tues. Oct. 16th) 4. Final Exam: 45% (to be scheduled by the Registrar)

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Regular attendance of lectures is critical to success in this course. Careful attention to lecture material and films presented in class is critical to your success on the midterm and final examination, so remember to take notes during class. Moreover, basic attendance is worth 10% of the course grade. A further 25% of the grade will come from i-clicker quizzes taken in class. Questions asked during these quizzes will normally concern the assigned readings of classical literature and their relation to the film being viewed. There will be a midterm and final examination, the particulars of which will be discussed in class.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

1. Sept. 4 Introduction Beginnings and Origins Film: Ex Machina (2015 – dir. Alex Garland) Reading: Chapter 1 - Hesiod, Works and Days and Theogony; Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 2. Sept. 11 Epic I Film: Troy (2004 – dir. Wolfgang Peterson) Reading: Chapter 2 - Selections from Homer’s Iliad 3. Sept. 18 Epic II Film: O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000 – dirs. Joel and Ethan Coen) Reading: Chapter 3 - Selections from Homer’s Odyssey 4. Sept. 25 Greek Tragedy Film: Trojan Women (1971 – dir. Michael Cacoyannis) Reading: Chapter 4 - Euripides, Trojan Women 5. Oct. 2 History on Film Film: The 300 Spartans (1962 – dir. Rudolph Maté); selections of 300 (2006 – dir. Zack Snyder) Reading: Chapter 5 - Selections from Herodotus 6. Oct. 9 No Class – Mid-Term Recess (Oct. 8-14th) 7. Oct. 16 MIDTERM: TUESDAY OCT. 16th Athenian Comedy Film: Chi-Raq (2015 – dir. Spike Lee) Reading: Chapter 6 - Aristophanes, Lysistrata 8. Oct. 23 Historical Biography I Film: Alexander (2004 – dir. Oliver Stone) Reading: Chapter 7 - Plutarch, Life of Alexander 9. Oct. 30 History on Film II Film: Spartacus (1960 – dir. Stanley Kubrick) Reading: Chapter 8 - Selection of ancient sources 10. Nov. 6 New Comedy Film: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966 – dir. Richard Lester); Plebs (2013 – ITV) Reading: Chapter 9 - Plautus, Pseudolus 11. Nov. 13 Historical Biography II Film: selections of I, Claudius (1976); Quo Vadis (1951 – dir. Mervin LeRoy); Reading: Chapter 10 - Selection of ancient sources 12. Nov. 20 Sword and Sandal for the 21st century Film: Gladiator (2000 – dir. Ridley Scott) Reading: Chapter 11 - Historia Augusta, Life of Commodus 13. Nov. 27 Adaptation and Reception I Film: Coriolanus (2011 – dir. Ralph Fiennes) Reading: Chapter 12 - Plutarch, Life of Coriolanus 14. Dec. 4 Adaptation and Reception II Film: The Hunger Games (2012 – dir. Gary Ross) Reading: Chapter 9 - Selection of ancient sources Discussion of Final Exam