LIT 106 — Reading Antiquity: Historical Fiction Book Club
Our reading planned for this quarter includes The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, a retelling of the legend of Achilles and the Trojan War; Marguerite Yourcenar’s Memoirs of Hadrian, a first-person reimagining of the life of the Roman Emperor Hadrian; and Lavinia, by Ursula K. Le Guin, which gives voice to the silent heroine of Virgil’s the Aeneid. Our scheduled film will be Stanley Kubrick’s classic epic of Roman slavery, Spartacus.
This course is the first in a series titled “Reading Antiquity.” Each quarter, we will read works of fiction and watch a film, all set in antiquity. We will range far and wide in our discussions both in our definition of antiquity and the themes covered, including the shape of history, the deep movements and structures of change, sexual representations, violence and politics, famous and marginalized voices, constructed realities, and the agendas that drive the writings of history. While these courses build upon one another, each course can be taken independently as well.
Michael Shanks is a specialist in long-term humanistic views of social change, design, and innovation. He is a senior faculty member in the Archaeology Center; the Program in Writing and Rhetoric; Science, Technology and Society; Urban Studies; and the Center for Design Research at Stanford. He pursues fieldwork into the Roman borders of Scotland, and he also advises businesses and organizations on managing change.
Professor of Classics; Professor of Archaeology, Stanford
Gary Devore has excavated in the ancient ruins of Pompeii and also at sites near Hadrian’s Wall in the north of England. He was one of the directors and principal investigators of Binchester Roman Excavations, and is a former director of the Pompeii Archaeological Research Project, Porta Stabia. Devore received a PhD from the University of Bradford (UK) and taught at Stanford for a decade.
Textbooks for this course:
(Required) Ursula K Le Guin, Lavinia (ISBN 0156033682)
(Required) Marguerite Yourcenar, The Memoirs of Hadrian (ISBN 0374529264)