Syllabus

Introduction

This course runs from September 5th to December 9th 2013, meeting on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1.05 – 2.25 pm in LA B146.

Vindolanda Tablets, cc Staticgirl, Flickr
Vindolanda Tablets, cc Staticgirl, Flickr
This course addresses two related questions. One, how do archaeologists know what they know? Two, how do we as historians write history from this knowledge? Its content focus will be on the material culture of the Roman Empire (primarily the period of the High empire, but perhaps with forays back into the earlier Republican era or forwards into the Late Antique), and especially, the city of Rome itself. It may conclude with an exploration of the reception of Roman archaeology in the modern day, in fields as varied as politics, architecture, and video games.

In addition to grasping the specific content covered by this course, one of the central objectives is to introduce students to the methodological and interpretive issues involved in doing Roman archaeology.  Digital tools play a major role in both wrangling the data, and in its interpretation. Be prepared to engage with digital maps, networks, and simulations.

Much of the work that you do will be posted to this website (for an example of what this can look like, please see the posts by last year’s HIST3812 students). I encourage you to use your own name as a way of developing your online academic signal in the noise of the internet. However, if you have privacy concerns you may use a pseudonym. All posts must be respectful in tone and language, and in good faith. I reserve the right to delete any user account that uses obscene language, is defamatory, or otherwise contributes to creating an unsafe environment. Bullying will not be tolerated. Please see Dr. Graham if you do have privacy concerns.

Objectives

I firmly believe that the best learning comes from crafting knowledge with your own hands, what the digital humanities people sometimes call ‘hacking as a way of knowing’. That doesn’t necessarily mean writing essays, though that can be part of it. It does mean that each exercise in this class is meant to build upon earlier ones, towards a final goal. That goal is:

  • to introduce and explore key concepts in Roman archaeology
  • to explore the tensions between historical and archaeological ways of knowing about the past
  • to express history and archaeology in a way that takes advantage of the key affordances of digital media.

Why this last objective? I believe that archaeology and history should be ‘public’ – we should not always be ‘doing’ our craft for our peers but rather for and with the wider world that supports us. Roman antiquity resonates today in our laws, our architecture, our art, and our culture (even if you object to that notion of ‘our’: who’s in, who’s out? The Romans struggled with that too). Digital media have transformed the way we learn about the world, and so I want students who complete this course to be able to develop some media literacy to express history/archaeology this way.

Textbook

There is no set text for this course. I will provide links to readings that are as accessible as possible (for Carleton students, through our institutional subscriptions; for open participants, to appropriate open access materials when and where possible). Two fine books that cover many of the issues and ideas that we are interested in, which you may wish to purchase, are

Greene, Kevin The Archaeology of the Roman Economy UC Press, 1986.

Laurence, Ray Roman Archaeology for Historians Routledge, 2012.

Weekly Topics

(subject to change)
1. Introduction; classicists v archaeologists; history of Roman archaeology
2. Archaeological Theory, Historical Theory & points of intersection
3. Cities
4. Countryside
5. Trade
6. Military
7. Art & Architecture
8. Religion
9. Bread & Circuses
10. Romanization, Resistance, Creolization
11. Roman reception. Antiquities trade.
12. Student final work presentations. What do historians need to learn from archaeologists, and why?

Evaluation

(for assignment instructions, see the Assignment page)
Activity posts: 20%
In-class discussion leaders: 10%
In-class exercises: 20%
Major project: 40%
Attendance: 10%

Open participants: I will not be grading your work, but I will be providing the rubrics so that you may self assess. I will also do my utmost to provide you with feedback if you choose to try one of the major project options.

Online behaviour

All open participants must register with their real name, although they may have a different username if they desire. All Carleton students may use a pseudonymn, after discussion with me. All posts must be respectful in tone and language, and in good faith. I reserve the right to delete any user account that uses obscene language, is defamatory, or otherwise contributes to creating an unsafe environment. Bullying will not be tolerated.

If a Carleton student has concerns about privacy and posting materials online, they must speak with me before the first posts are due so that we may work out an alternative.

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