Module Catalogue 2020/21

CAH2036 : Greeks and Barbarians (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Joseph Skinner
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



The aims of this module:
To explore ways in which the Greeks thought about both the wider world in which they lived and themselves.
To examine the history and origins of Barbarian stereotype and the degree to which this can/should be linked to the emergence of a wider sense of collective Greek identity.
To investigate the manner in which various different types of foreign peoples were represented in epic and lyric poetry, Attic drama and vase-painting, sculpture, and Historiography (Phoenicians, Thracians, Persians, Scythians, Amazons and the shaggy-haired, one-eyed Arimaspians).
To explore the degree to which these representations can provide us with an accurate reflection of day-to-day interactions between Greeks and non-Greeks.
To further develop your skills in source analysis and critical thinking in relation to current approaches to identity, race and ethnicity.

Outline Of Syllabus

The concept of ‘the Barbarian’ has proved hugely influential from antiquity until the present. To whom did the label ‘Barbarian’ typically apply, however, and what bearing did it have upon day-to-day interactions between Greeks and non-Greeks? The course will begin with a brief introduction to a variety of theories and methodologies in order to provide you with the intellectual tools necessary to successfully navigate the various case-studies e.g. theories of culture, gender, ethnicity and race, ‘Otherness’ and identity-construction, stereotypes and stereotyping.

The remainder (i.e. majority) of the module will consist of a series of case-studies examining topics such as foreigners in Athens, the representation of non-Greeks in iconography (vase painting and sculpture) and literature e.g. Trojans, Phoenicians and Thracians in Homer and Archilochus, Persians in Attic drama. Particular attention will be paid to the historical writings of Herodotus, Thucydides and Xenophon.

Seminars will explore topics such as the origins and function of ethnography in Greek thought, Greek attitudes towards People of Colour, the treatment of Trojans and Phoenicians in Homeric epic, Aeschylus’ Persians, Scythian archers in Athens, and whether Herodotus deserved to be styled philobarbaros (barbarian-lover).

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

During this module, you will:
•       gain knowledge of the range of Greek representations of non-Greek peoples, including a variety of peoples and a variety of forms of representation
•       develop an understanding of the complex nature of representations of those considered alien or ‘Other’ (in the modern world as well as the ancient) and of the relationship between the history of representations and the background history of events
•       deploy ancient evidence to answer historical questions, developing skills of critical analysis, interpretation and argument, whilst becoming aware of key problems in source interpretation and modern scholarship

Intended Skill Outcomes

The module will foster a variety of transferable skills (not all of which will be directly assessed), including: oral discussion, analytical reading of set texts, listening and note-taking, written exposition of a logically structured argument employing the appropriate primary and secondary materials, ethnographic description, critical self-reflection, and effective time-management.

Teaching Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

Module leaders are revising this content in light of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Revised and approved detail information will be available by 17 August.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2020/21 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2021/22 entry will be published here in early-April 2021. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.