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Module

CAC2050 : History, Literature and Truth: the case of the ancient historians

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Jakob Wisse
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semesters

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System

Aims

The Greek and Roman historians, from Herodotus to Tacitus and beyond, are very similar but also very different from modern historians. They are our main sources for ancient history (‘what happened’ etc.) but also great literary writers. What does this mean if we want to use them as historical sources, and if we want to look at them as literary texts? This module looks at about six of the great ancient historians to see what they thought about truth, about the proper way of writing history, etc.; and to see how we must interpret them both as historians and as literary writers.

The aims of this module are:

1. To make students aware of the actual nature of ancient historical writing, and of the ways in which the ancient historians can be best approached.
2. To encourage students to think critically about the nature of historical writing in general.

Outline Of Syllabus

We will study selections from historians, usually the following six – widely different in their personalities and approaches:
• Herodotus, sometimes called “the father of history” but sometimes “the father of lies”
• Thucydides, the merciless chronicler of the Peloponnesian War
• Polybius, who described the rise of the Roman empire and claimed to write the first “global history”
• Sallust, the pessimistic historian of Rome’s “moral decline”
• Livy, author of a complete history of Rome from its foundation to his own time in 142 books
• Tacitus, whose suggestive portraits have shaped our ideas about most early Roman Emperors

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion601:0060:00n/a
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture281:0028:00n/a
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading661:0066:006 hours reading/week (set texts and sec. literature)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching51:005:00Seminars
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities101:0010:002 hours prep per seminar
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study311:0031:00General consolidation activities
Total200:00
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
CAC3050History, Literature and Truth: the case of the ancient historians: Stage 3
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lecture materials are used:
1. to introduce the historians to be read and analysed
2. to highlight passages that throw light on the way that these historians saw and executed their task
3. to show in practice how to analyse passages of this kind as well as related passages
4. to discuss the relevance of such analyses for historiography in general
5. to discuss the students' reading and understanding of the historians involved
6. to discuss the students' reading and understanding of the prescribed secondary literature, the ways that this impinges on their understanding of the historians' views and methods, and the methods available to check and evaluate these secondary sources against the primary ones.

The seminars are used for giving students the opportunity for in-depth engagement with, and discussion about,
central historiographical problems as exemplified by the texts studied -- e.g., the structuring of historical works, the use of inserted speeches, the aims of ancient historians and their narrative techniques.

Private study is supposed to be used:
1. to read the prescribed (primary and secondary) literature
2. to complete the assessed assignments

Assessment Methods

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

Exams
Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination14401A8024-hour take-home exam
Exam Pairings
Module Code Module Title Semester Comment
History, Literature and Truth: the case of the ancient historians: Stage 31N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A20800 words on a subject chosen from list provided
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Essay1M600-word analysis of a passage chosen from a list
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Examination (even in a take-home format) is still the best way of testing whether students have come to grips (both in terms of knowledge and of skills) with the texts and with the genre of historiography as such. Specifically, the exam tests:
1. both intended knowledge outcomes
2. of the intended skills outcomes esp. the 1st, but also the 2nd and the 4th

Assessed essay tests (and offers practice relevant to):
1. both intended knowledge outcomes, but esp. the 2nd
2. the 1st, 2nd and 4th intended skills outcomes, but with more emphasis on the 2nd and 4th than in the formal examination.

The formative essay helps the students develop both intended knowledge outcomes (esp. the 2nd) and the 1st, 2nd and 4th skills outcomes. Thus, it also prepares them for the Examination and the assessed Essay.

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

Timetable