Cultural Transformations in Late Antiquity (CLAM104)

StaffDr Richard Flower - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level7
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module will give students the opportunity to engage closely with important texts from late antiquity, including many with which they were probably previously unfamiliar. It will help students to think about the subtleties of change and continuity during this period through a nuanced exploration of both the literary products that were created and also the competing influences and concerns that contributed to their formation. This format will therefore allow the students to marry the ‘historical’ and the ‘literary’ in their analysis of the ancient material.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Knowledge and critical analysis of a range of different forms and examples of literature from late antiquity.
  • 2. A broader understanding of the history and culture of this period and the ways in which it has been interpreted.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Development of skills in reading and interpreting sophisticated classical texts and placing them within a historical context.
  • 4. Comprehension of the impact of radical redefinitions of ideologies on social and political discourse and behaviour.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. Development of analytical close-reading skills of different types of text and identification and pursuit of the implications of their most significant characteristics within their cultural context.
  • 6. Ability to present ideas within a clear and focused discussion of a particular topic, combining detailed discussion of a particular theme/issue with an awareness of modern scholarly debate and interpretations.

Syllabus plan

Each of the five two-hour seminars will cover a different genre (or genres) of literature, with particular texts being explored in each of the five one-hour reading groups. The students will be introduced to histories and chronicles (both ‘religious’ and ’secular’); biographies and hagiographies; panegyrics, invectives and heresiologies; law codes and compilations; and a variety of different poetic innovations (including rewritings of Homer and Virgil in centos).

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 & Teaching activities15Intensive seminar and reading group teaching
Guided independent study135Students working independently & in groups in preparation for seminars and essays

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Close study of primary texts and images and of secondary material both individually outside class and in class; whole group discussions and debates arising from these and designed to address issues more broadly1-5Oral feedback in seminars; further discussion in office hours, if required.

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
Essay804000 words1-6mark; written and oral comment
Oral Presentation2015-20 mins1-6mark; written and oral comment

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-6Refer/Defer period
PresentationEssay1-6Refer/Defer period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

P. Rousseau (ed.), A Companion to Late Antiquity, Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

S. Johnson (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity, OUP, 2012.

C. Kelly, R. Flower and M. S. Williams (edd.), Unclassical Traditions, Volume I and II, Cambridge Philological Society, 2010-2011.

M. Whitby (ed.), The Propaganda of Power: The Role of Panegyric in Late Antiquity, Brill, 1998.

R. Rees (ed.), Latin Panegyric, OUP, 2012.

J. Harries and I. Wood (edd.), The Theodosian Code: Studies in the Imperial Law of Late Antiquity, Duckworth, 1993 (2nd edn, 2010).

S. McGill, Virgil Recomposed: The Mythological and Secular Centos in Antiquity, OUP, 2005.

T. Hägg and P. Rousseau (edd.), Greek Biography and Panegyric in Late Antiquity, California UP, 2000.

J. Howard-Johnston and P. A. Hayward (edd.), The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, OUP, 1999.

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Available as distance learning?


Origin date

Feb 2013

Last revision date

July 2013