Alma College Assistant Professor Danny Wasserman is among 20 faculty from across the nation selected by the Council of Independent Colleges and Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies to participate in a seminar on teaching ancient Greece in the modern classroom.
The seminar, titled “Traveling with Pausanias through Greece,” will take place June 17-25. The faculty participants will visit historical locations in Greece, including Argos, Olympia, Delphi and Athens.
“Strengthening the teaching of the classics at colleges and universities is of critical importance,” says CIC President Richard Ekman. “This seminar addresses the challenge of keeping alive in undergraduate education classical texts that a generation ago were read and understood by every college graduate.”
The seminar will visit many of the places Pausanias, a second century Greek traveler from Ionia, saw and made note of in his Periēgēsis Helládos (Description of Greece). In addition to Pausanias’ descriptions, participants will read a selection of poetic, historical and philosophical works related to each site.
The seminar also will provide participants with a background in the development of Greek material culture, such as the evolution of sacred, domestic and civic architecture, funerary practices, sculpture and the two-dimensional representations of traditional narratives and daily life in vase paintings.
“I am not a specialist of ancient Greece or the ancient world,” says Wasserman, who teaches courses in Medieval and Renaissance history and related fields. “But as a generalist of European history, many of my courses contain units on classical antiquity. For this reason, I am particularly interested in learning more about ancient Greece, so that I can help my students to understand the lasting contributions that Greeks made to the modern world.
“In these classes, I often lead discussions about famous texts, such as Plato’s Apology, as well as some lesser-known writings,” he says. “Though these authors lived well over two thousand years ago, students repeatedly find them fascinating. These writings tell us about big questions that interest people of every generation. I hope to become better equipped to help students understand what these profound writers have to share with us.”
Gregory Nagy, Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature and professor of comparative literature at Harvard University, and Kenneth Scott Morrell, associate professor of Greek and Roman studies at Rhodes College, will lead the seminar. The program is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.