Courses Supported by the Program in Early Cultures

From 2022-3 onwards, a designated PEC graduate seminar is offered each semester. These fulfill requirements for our Graduate Certificate in Early Cultures, as well as providing interdisciplinary and comparative training in Early Cultures for students across the University. A larger list of relevant current and past courses open to graduate students can be found in the sidebar. To view all courses being offered at Brown University in the current academic year, visit the university's online listings, Courses@Brown.

List of current and past PEC seminars

Fall 2023

CLAS2822M/COLT2822M: Thinking through Comparison: Han and Roman Empires. Prof. Tamara Chin (Comp. Lit.) and Prof. Amy Russell (Classics and History)

This seminar introduces students to comparative methods in the study of antiquity, with a focus on Han China and the Roman Empire. We will consider how and why we do comparative history, through the examples of the Han Chinese and Roman Empires. Sessions will consider existing examples of comparative work on these two ancient cultures from the eighteenth century to today, asking what questions the scholars involved were asking and what methodologies they brought to bear to answer them. Using a balance of ancient and modern readings, we will ask what the purpose of comparison is and what methodologies comparisons demand, as well as conducting our own comparative research informed by the most recent scholarship on both civilizations. No knowledge required of ancient European languages or ancient or modern Chinese languages.

Spring 2023

ANTH 2515: Material Matters. Prof. Robert Preucel (Anthropology, Haffenreffer Museum)

In the past decade there has been a growing interest in the study of material culture as an explicitly interdisciplinary endeavor involving the fields of anthropology, archaeology, art history, literary theory, museum studies, and philosophy, among many others. These perspectives exhibit a range of approaches to interrogating how people make things, how things make people, how objects mediate social relationships, and how inanimate objects can be argued as having a form of agency. This graduate seminar is designed to encourage reflection upon material culture and its influence in shaping our lives.

Fall 2022

ASYR 2100: The Ancient Near East: Early Modern Intellectual Histories. Prof. Felipe Rojas (JIAAW) and Prof. John Steele (Assyriology and Egyptology)

This course explores how the early modern study of the ancient Near East took shape, paying particular attention to relevant debates from the 17th to the 19th centuries. Students will engage in thorough analysis of topics such as the history of decipherment of cuneiform; the development of systematic archaeological excavation; the rise of historical linguistics; debates about the historical value of classical Greek and Roman sources on the ancient Near East; the entanglement of European imperialist projects beyond Europe and the expansion of first-hand knowledge about Mesopotamia; the role of local collaborators in the production of academic knowledge; the place of non-western cultures in European constructions of ancient history; etc. The course is primarily aimed at graduate students (or advanced undergraduates) interested in the history and archaeology of the region in antiquity and/or early modern intellectual history.

Funding for course development and enhancement

The Program in Early Cultures also offers funding to Brown University faculty members for developing or enhancing courses relevant to the study of antiquity. The following is a list of recent and upcoming courses that have been supported by grants from PEC: