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Conquest, Control, and Interconnections: The History of the Roman Empire

Course enrollment will be available for this course once it is scheduled.

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Course Description

Spanning from Britain to Iraq, the Roman Empire connected vast areas and different cultures in a time before the internet, telephones, or mass media. How did the Romans gain such an Empire, how did they govern it, and ultimately why did it fall? This course examines the history of the Roman Empire and considers the unique social, cultural, and political concerns of an imperial world.

There will be an overlapping set of questions that will be the focus of the course:

  1. What is the nature of Empire? This is a broader theme that will form the methodological and theoretical basis of the historical questions being asked. In this sense, the course contributes greatly to the students’ understanding of how historians approach complex questions. For this reason, the course is a benefit for students interested in any historical field or period.
  2. How did the Romans acquire, govern, and lose their Empire? These are the specific questions that will be examined throughout the course. Here, there will be a focus on the ‘techniques of the Ancient Historian.’ Students will look at primary sources from antiquity (including, texts, archaeology, coins, and inscriptions) and learn about the particular challenges facing Ancient Historians, such as, "How can we use small bits of lots of different types of evidence to fill in a more complete historical picture?” In the process, students will develop critical thinking and analytical skills. All texts will be taught in English.

These learning goals will be achieved through lecture, discussion, and “practical skills” units that are mini workshops on different techniques used by historians who study the Ancient World (e.g. “What information can an ancient inscription tell us?”).

The two goals most important for the course are reading critically and gaining a realistic knowledge of how historians, and other scholars, actually use data to form larger arguments about the past. The first of these will be achieved through daily assigned reading of both modern and ancient texts, as well as the active discussion of those texts. The students will, throughout the course, take turns at presenting the readings (probably in small groups) and will be required to come up with discussion questions for the rest of the class. The second goal will be achieved through the mini workshops on techniques used by historians and through the continual focus on the "facts behind the arguments" of secondary readings.

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