Text and Context: Roman Laughter (CLA2405)

StaffDr Sharon Marshall - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.50
NQF Level5
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

Students will learn how to analyse and critically evaluate texts and how to relate their style and content to the wider context of Roman literary culture.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Be able to independently analyse texts which put Roman humour on display
  • 2. Understand and engage critically with a variety of approaches possible in the study of classical literature and current trends in criticism

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Be able to use, analyse and evaluate ancient texts in relation to other sources and their socio-historical context

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 4. Develop advanced academic and library skills as well as a critical ability in assessing published literature
  • 5. Demonstrate advanced independent and group study skills in guided research and presentation of findings
  • 6. Demonstrate an ability to select critically and organise effectively relevant material and to present this in oral and written form
  • 7. Be able to discuss and debate critical issues in a peer group

Syllabus plan

Introduction: Theories of laughter

Comedy and rhetoric: Cicero’s In Pisonem

Epigram: Catullus and Martial

Phaedrus’ Fables

Satire: Horace,Juvenal and Persius

Laughter in visual material

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities22Lectures (11 x 2 hours)
Scheduled learning and teaching activities4Seminars (4 x 1 hour)
Guided124Independent study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Oral presentation5-10 minutes1-8Written and verbal feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay402000 words1-6, 8Mark, written and oral feedback
Exam602 hours1-6Mark, written and oral feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-6, 8August ref/def period
ExamExam1-6August ref/def period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Catullus (a selection)

Phaedrus (Book 5)

Horace, Satires

Juvenal, Satires

Martial, Epigrams

Cicero , In Pisonem


Recommended Reading:

Fitzgerald, W. Martial: The World of the Epigram. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Freudenburg, K. ed. (2005) The Cambridge Companion to Roman Satire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Henderson, J. (2001) Telling tales on Caesar: Roman Stories from Phaedrus. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jäkel, S. and A. Timonen. eds. (1997) Laughter down the Centuries. Turku: Turun Yliopisto.

Sullivan, J. P. (1991) Martial: The Unexpected Classic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Module has an active ELE page?


Available as distance learning?


Last revision date


Key words search

Classics, Latin, Humour