Comparative classics and classical reception: Sanskrit, Greek and Latin

Course Dates: 07/10/20 - 25/11/20
Time: 14:30 - 16:00
Location: Online
Elena Vacca

Learn about the ‘afterlife’ – and the unexpected connections – of Sanskrit, Classical Greek and Latin texts in the modern world!

This course will be delivered online. For more information please see our guide to online learning.


What is the course about?

The aim of the course is twofold: first – adopting the lens of ‘comparative literature’ – it seeks to trace connections between themes that emerge in the Classical Greek, Latin and Sanskrit literary traditions; secondly, the course explores the ‘afterlife’ of these themes in modern translations, adaptations, rewritings and reinterpretations as seen from the perspective of ‘classical reception’ studies.

This is a live online course. For more information please see our guide to online learning.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

The first two sessions of the course will be dedicated to an overview of the history of the reception of the Graeco-Roman and Sanskrit literary traditions in the West. The following six session will present a series of case studies dealing with the survival, re-interpretation and re-appropriation of key themes and figures of the Greek, Latin and Sanskrit traditions across different genres and times. Thus, we will discuss the ‘rewriting’ of tragic heroines from these ancient traditions, as well as such classical themes as the relationship between food and morality (‘physical food vs spiritual food’), and the notions of freedom, fear and spiritual death.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Show some familiarity with the notions of ‘classical reception’ and ‘comparative literature’;
- Show a good familiarity with a few case studies that illustrate the survival, re-interpretation and re-appropriation of key themes and figures of the Greek, Latin and Sanskrit traditions across different genres and times;
- Show a critical understanding of how classical themes are continually rewritten and creatively ‘contaminated’ by each other, and thus acquire new meanings in modern literary traditions.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

The course has been designed for a general audience who has an interest for classical literatures and cultures; since all the materials presented during the course will be in English, it is not necessary to have any knowledge of Classical Greek, Latin or Sanskrit.
As this course is taught in English, you should be able to follow verbal and written instructions in English and take part in group discussion.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

This is an online course and will be taught using Zoom; please be aware that the tutors will use Google Classroom, and you are expected to regularly check the course’s page to find materials (handouts, PowerPoint presentations, etc.), updates, homework and self-assessment forms. The students are expected to spend roughly 2 hours per week reading through a selection of texts in preparation for each session; such texts will be uploaded onto Google Classroom by the tutors.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

There is no extra cost, as all the course materials (PDFs, PowerPoint presentations and Word documents) will be prepared by the tutors and uploaded onto Google Classroom.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

This course is the first ‘instalment’ of a tripartite project that aims at adopting a comparative angle in dealing with the Classical Greek, Latin and Sanskrit traditions. The second part – “Love and erotic poetry from the Greek, Roman and Sanskrit traditions” – will take place in Term 2 and will be designed and convened by the same tutors.

Tutor Biographies
Maddalena Italia Tutor Website

Maddalena’s love for dead languages began at the Egyptian Museum of Turin, where as a child she would pretend-translate hieroglyphic inscriptions for the amusement of her mother – and the annoyance of her younger brother. Although she studied Greek and Latin at school, it wasn’t until her university years in Milan that she succeeded in deciphering her first inscription in what she thought was the most exciting ancient language – Sanskrit. It was because of Sanskrit that in 2011 Maddalena moved to London, where she completed a Master’s degree and a PhD in South Asian studies (SOAS). As she delved into Neo-Latin commentaries and translations of Sanskrit verses for her thesis, she realised that she still missed reading the Classics. Thus, Maddalena started teaching Greek and Latin at City Lit, where she feels she is constantly reminded why she embarked on a Classics degree more than a decade ago. What’s more, in 2018 she started a pilot Sanskrit course at the British Museum (in partnership with City Lit), which allows her to teach the rudiments of the language while sharing her passion for South Asian manuscripts and miniature paintings.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.

Book your place

Course Code: RT325

Wed, day, 07 Oct - 25 Nov '20

Duration: 8 sessions (over 8 weeks)

Full fee: £119.00
Senior fee: £95.00
Concession: £73.00

Or call to enrol: 020 7831 7831

Any questions?
or call 020 7492 2644

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online Help Center. You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.