Cy Twombly, Shield of Achilles (from Fifty Days at Iliam)

Critical Ancient Greek

Instructor: Bruce King
This is an online course (Eastern Time)

What can the study of ancient Greek teach us about canonical texts, from the Iliad to Heraclitus to Plato’s Republic, that have made the language a recurring touchstone for thinking about poetics, politics, philosophy, and psychology? In Critical Ancient Greek, students will undertake the formal acquisition of ancient Greek, while attending, throughout, to reception history, keywords, and approaches to reading and interpretation. We’ll begin with the alphabet and basic morphology, before proceeding to complex grammar and syntax, rhetoric, the history and theory of textual transmission and reception—and, by program’s end, the translation of canonical texts. As we go, BISR faculty in philosophy, literature, and psychoanalysis will lead seminar sessions exploring critically the contexts in which literary and philosophical Greek emerged and its utilization across discourses. Our aim is not only to learn a language, but also to learn how to read: How can we understand the linguistic strategies, keywords, and concepts that structure classical Greek, and that remain central to philosophical, political, and psychoanalytic thinking today?

Critical Ancient Greek is organized across three, 12-week trimesters: Winter (February 11th-April 29th), Summer (May 20th-August 5th), and Fall (September 2nd-November 18th). Students may enroll in the program in its entirety or on a trimester-by-trimester basis. Our textbook will be C. A. E. Luschnig’s An Introduction to Ancient Greek, to be supplemented throughout by readings from Greek philosophical and tragic writers. The class size is capped at 12 students. Enrollees will have the opportunity to enroll in specialized reading groups, set to debut in Fall 2023. Payment plans are available; email for more information. 

Course Schedule

Monday, 6:30-8:30pm ET
February 13 — November 27, 2023
12 weekly sessions per trimester (36 sessions), not including guest faculty seminars
Guest faculty seminars will be held in addition to the 12 weekly sessions. Schedule TBD.