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Unit information: The Legacy of Classical Literature in 2018/19

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Unit name The Legacy of Classical Literature
Unit code CLAS22364
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Emma Cole
Open unit status Not open




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


This unit considers the enduring legacy of texts from the classical world, and their changing popularity within literary, artistic, political, and philosophical circles. We will explore a range of ways that texts have been set up as models and drawn upon by later figures as authorities, inspirations, influences, and enemies, and will trace the changing values placed on ‘classics’ and the classical. We will consider the fates of various authors and texts at particular moments in time, and the different dynamics that govern their reception. We will study a range of texts from, for example, seventeenth century French neo-classical drama through to the contemporary avant-garde, and will analyse these texts in light of different theories and approaches, including reception theory, postcolonialism, and feminism. Post-classical figures covered may include Dante, Jean Racine, Friedrich Nietzsche, Derek Walcott, Federico Fellini, Judith Butler, Toni Morrison, David Malouf, Alice Oslwald, and Anne Carson.


  • To introduce students to key receptions of classical literature in the modern world, and to consider the relationships between these receptions and the circumstances which surround them
  • To introduce students to key theories for the study of classical reception, and to develop confidence in applying these theories to the texts under discussion
  • To strength written presentation skills through the course assessments

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students should:

  1. Have gained knowledge of a wide range of texts and/or images revealing the legacy of classical literature in later periods.
  2. Have developed an advanced understanding of the theoretical issues involved in studying the reception and legacy of the classical world in later times.
  3. Be able to use the knowledge acquired in lectures and through their own researches to construct coherent, relevant and persuasive arguments on different aspects of the subject.
  4. Have had an opportunity to develop their skills in oral and written communication appropriate to level I, in small groups and general discussion, and in an essay and a written exam.

Teaching details

3 hours of seminars per week

Assessment Details

1 x essay of c. 2,500 words (50%) and 1 x 90 minute exam (50%). Both elements will assess ILOs (1) (2) (3) and (4). The coursework essay in particular will offer students the opportunity to demonstrate ILO (3).

Reading and References

  • Bloom, Harold. 1997. The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry. 2nd ed. New York & Oxford.
  • Grafton, Anthony, Most, Glenn W, and Settis, Salvatore, Eds. 2010. The Classical Tradition. Cambridge.
  • Hall, Edith, and McConnell, Justine. 2016. Ancient Greek Myth in World Fiction since 1989. London.
  • Hardwick, Lorna. 2003. Reception Studies. Oxford.
  • Martindale, Charles. 1993. Redeeming the Text: Latin Poetry and the Hermeneutics of Reception. Cambridge.
  • Steiner, George. 1998. After Babel: Aspects of language & translation. 3rd ed. Oxford.