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Unit information: Historical Topic: Roman Imperial Culture in 2020/21

Unit name Historical Topic: Roman Imperial Culture
Unit code CLAS20062
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. O'Gorman
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Classics & Ancient History
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit will cover Roman imperial culture over the period from Augustus (31 BC) to Hadrian (AD 138). It will consider the development and expression of Roman imperial culture as a distinct quality, and a development from the culture of the Republic. Students will examine how the changed circumstances of the Principate manifested themselves in a shifting cultural economy, with the emperor at its head. A wide range of manifestations of “imperial culture” will be studied, including visual culture, intellectual and literary culture, and political and social ideas.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate detailed understanding of political and cultural history in the first two dynasties of the Roman empire;
  2. identify and use a range of ancient sources and cultural products to explain and interpret the period;
  3. demonstrate knowledge of the current themes and debates related to imperial culture and its dissemination;
  4. work effectively within and contribute individually to a group project;
  5. demonstrate skills in academic writing directed towards the general public, at a standard appropriate to level I.

Teaching details

This unit will involve a combination of independent investigative activities, long- and short-form lectures, and discussion. Students will be expected to engage with materials and participate on a weekly basis. Feedback will be provided for both formative and summative assessments, and this will be supported by meetings with tutors.

Assessment Details

1. Group project, creating a virtual exhibition. Formative. 2. Each student to write 1,500 word catalogue entry for one allocated object (100%). Summative. [ILOs 1-5].

Reading and References

  • Clarke, John. 2003. Art in the Lives of Ordinary Romans: Visual Representation and Non-elite Viewers in Italy, 100 BC – AD 315. Berkeley: University of California Press
  • Gallia, Andrew. 2012. Remembering the Roman Republic: Culture, Politics and History under the Principate. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Habinek, Thomas & Schiesaro, Alessandro. (edd.). 1997. The Roman Cultural Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Hingley, Richard. 2005. Globalising Roman Culture: Unity, Diversity and Empire. London: Routledge
  • Pandey, Nandini. 2018. The Poetics of Power in Augustan Rome. Latin Poetic Responses to Early Imperial Iconography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • König, Alice & Whitton, Christopher (eds.). 2018. Roman Literature under Nerva, Trajan, and Hadrian: Literary Interactions AD 96-138. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.