CAC1014 : Tragedy, Comedy, History: The World of Greek Literature

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


Greek literature is said to be the cornerstone of Western culture: it has been interpreted, adapted, even twisted to fit as many different contexts as there have been generations since Marathon. But what was its original context? What sort of people were they, with what expectations and what preoccupations, who originally composed, heard, watched or (more rarely) read the masterpieces of Greek literature?
This module sets out to explore the world to which Greek literature originally belonged, a world where ‘high literature’ wasn't just the province of an intellectual élite; and to investigate, through a cross-section of works, the connections between the Greeks’ literature and what we can surmise about their way of life.
There is also the opportunity to consider the impact Greek literature has had when it has travelled beyond its own culture and influenced readers and writers of other times and places.

The aims of this module are:
1.To introduce students to the literary culture of Ancient Greece.
2.To introduce students to certain key issues of Ancient Greek society which are reflected in Greek literature.
3.To equip students to understand the connections between Greek literature and its social context.
4.To train students in essential skills of literary analysis, and develop flexibility in the application of these skills to the details of a range of texts.

Outline Of Syllabus

Works studied include Euripides’ ‘war play’ Trojan Women, Aristophanes’ legal comedy The Wasps, examples of Greek poetry composed for public festivals and other social occasions, and extracts from 5th-century historians’ accounts which shed light on the military, political and moral turmoil at the end of that century.
All texts are studied in translation. No previous knowledge of the Ancient World is required.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture261:0026:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion174:3074:3045% of guided independent study
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading751:0075:0045% of guided independent study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching41:004:00skills application and discussion session
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching12:002:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops12:302:30N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery21:002:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study141:0014:0010% of guided independent study
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures (i) introduce students to skills involved in detailed study of classical texts, including the application of basic language skills; (ii) introduce overall issues and themes regarding the study of Greek literature in relation to its social and historical context, and also regarding the impact which Greek literature has had in other cultural contexts; (iii) look in more detail at three representative works of Greek literature, exploring these both as literary creations and as reflections of their own time and world, and illustrating how skills of literary analysis may be applied to these.
Students develop skills in tackling these aspects for themselves by (i) preparing relevant tasks for group-work within selected lectures throughout the course, and participating in discussion at these sessions; (ii) preparing for the assessed assignment.

Many lectures involve the class dividing into sub-groups to discuss the texts; for six sessions, the class will divide into smaller groups for more in-depth discussion and feedback on prepared aspects of the texts and on skills application.

There is one extended 'drama in action' workshop session for the whole class, exploring visual and performance aspects of the texts.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M20Written assignment on text 1 (1000 words), due in the course of the semester
Essay2M802 part assignment on set texts 2 & 3.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assignment comprises 3 sections, each involving detailed analysis of a passage or passages from set texts.

The first section of the assignment is usually due around 2/3 of the way through the semester to allow time for feedback to be assimilated by students before submission of sections 2 and 3. Sections 2 and 3 are given extra weighting to allow due credit for improved performance in the light of feedback between the two submissions.

The assignment is designed to test students’ ability to put into practice the skills of and approaches to literary analysis encountered in the module.

There is the opportunity for students to apply in these exercises either or both of: linguistic skills and approaches introduced in the module; knowledge of the classical tradition as relevant to the works studied.

Submitted work tests intended knowledge and skills outcomes, develops key skills in research, reading and writing.

All Erasmus students at Newcastle University are expected to do the same assessment as students registered for a degree.
Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. This will take the form of an alternative assessment, as outlined in the formats below:

Modules assessed by Coursework and Exam:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be one essay in addition to the other coursework assessment (the length of the essay should be adjusted in order to comply with the assessment tariff); to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Exam only:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be two 2,000 word written exercises; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Coursework only:
All semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be expected to complete the standard assessment for the module; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.
Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending the whole academic year or semester 2 are required to complete the standard assessment as set out in the MOF under all circumstances.

Reading Lists