Overview of Classics at Carleton

Classics is the study of the ancient Greco-Roman world in all its various manifestations. The evidence from the classical past derives primarily from texts and artifacts that have survived from antiquity. The work of Classics as a discipline is to understand these texts and artifacts in as full a cultural context as possible, especially given the often fragmentary or limited evidence available. Therefore, the study of Classics comprises several complementary areas of knowledge, including language, history, politics, social institutions, literature, material culture, and art; it is a multidisciplinary field.

Within these knowledge areas, classicists use many discrete skills of inquiry and analysis to recover cultural contexts. Many of these skills are common to other disciplines, but we tailor them to the needs and conventions of the evidence from classical antiquity. Successful classicists develop habits of mind that allow them to bring fresh approaches and apply evidence in new ways in order to analyze and interpret elements of the classical world. 

Carleton’s Classics Department offers a flexible major in which students study Greek and/or Latin, as well as aspects of ancient civilization as understood through archaeological, historical, and literary analysis. We seek to provide a suitable introduction to all of these skills and areas of knowledge for our majors and minors, while also allowing for specialization within them, depending on student interests. Specific learning outcomes are listed below.

We also offer three minors, in Greek, Latin, and Classics, which allow students to develop demonstrable skills in either language or more broadly in classical studies. Our aim is to provide our students with multiple opportunities to gain the knowledge and practice the skills we have identified, recognizing that learning is an iterative process that involves a variety of challenges as opportunities for growth.

Our senior integrative exercise (for majors only) requires integration of the skills and knowledge to analyze original source material and to engage in scholarship in the discipline and gain a sense of the wider world of intellectual inquiry. Through this experience, we attempt to foster the higher order thinking skills necessary for this type of research, which are also relevant well beyond the world of classical studies.

Student Learning Outcomes for the Department of Classics

Classicists ask questions and construct arguments and interpretations concerning the ancient Greek and Roman world and its reception in later times and cultures.

Classics majors will graduate with foundations for the skills that will enable them to pursue this endeavor. 

By the time they graduate, students will be able to:

  1. Evaluate and analyze primary evidence from the ancient world, both textual – in the original language(s) as well as in translation – and material. 
  2. Combine different types of primary evidence (e.g. textual and material, or imaginative and epigraphical texts) in support of larger arguments.
  3. Locate, evaluate and engage with secondary sources to situate those arguments in the context of the discipline.
  4. Communicate these arguments orally and in writing to varied audiences.