The Major in Ancient and Modern Greek
Offered by the Classics Department

The major in Ancient and Modern Greek is designed to offer students an opportunity to integrate the study of post-classical Greek language, history, and culture into the departmental program in Ancient Greek and Classical Civilization. The program covers Hellenic civilization from the Bronze Age to the modern day, and traces the development of the language and the culture across traditionally-drawn boundaries. The study of both ancient and modern Greek allows the student to appreciate how familiarity with one enriches understanding of the other, and to chart the development of a language which has one of the oldest continuous written traditions in the world. The literature, history, philosophy, religion, and art of the ancient Greek and Greco-Roman worlds are studied both as an end in themselves and also as a foundation for appreciating later (medieval, Ottoman and modern) developments in these areas. Students are encouraged to develop a sense of the continuity of Greek language and culture, and an understanding of how Byzantine and modern forms relate to their ancient forebears.

Admission to the major. There are no formal pre-requisite courses. Students may start both Ancient and Modern Greek from scratch at Yale. Students who take MGRK 130 must either have completed MGRK 115, or must be able to satisfy the director of the program in Hellenic Studies that they have the required proficiency. All students interested in the major should meet with the program directors of both Classics and Hellenic Studies as soon as possible to discuss a program of study.

The Standard Major. The requirements for the standard major are:

Candidates must complete at least ten term courses as follows:

* No fewer than six term courses at the level of 390 or above in Ancient Greek, of which four are the double-credit Survey for the Major in Ancient Greek. The language courses should include GREK 390.
* One additional course in Ancient Greek history.
* No fewer than two term courses in Modern Greek must be elected, at the intermediate level (MGRK 130) or above
* At least one term course in the history, art history, literature or culture of the Greek-speaking Balkans (or the Hellenic diaspora) in the medieval, Ottoman, or modern period.

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Hellenic Studies Program Course Descriptions

Fall 2015

Elementary Modern Greek I, Maria Kaliambou
MGRK 110
M-F 9.25-10.15
An introduction to modern Greek, with emphasis on oral expression. Use of communicative activities, graded texts, written assignments, grammar drills, audiovisual material, and contemporary documents. In-depth cultural study.

Intermediate Modern Greek I, Maria Kaliambou
MGRK 130
M-F 10.30-11.20
Further development of oral and written linguistic skills, using authentic readings and audiovisual materials. Continued familiarization with contemporary Greek culture.

Dionysus in Modernity: the Irrational in the Age of Reason, George Syrimis
Thursday, 9:25-11:15
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The seminar examines modernity’s fascination with the myth of Dionysus by focusing on questions, of agency, identity and community, psychological integrity and the modern constitution of the self. The course examines various manifestations of the ‘Dionysiac mode” in literature, anthropology, and music and historicizes the Apollonian-Dionysiac dichotomy as a modern configuration and constitution of the tension between rationality/law and emotion/chaos, its cultural manifestations as the antithesis of the Enlightenment and Romanticism as well as 20th century variations of the same themes in psychoanalysis, surrealism, and magical realism.

Surveillance, Paranoia and the Modern State, George Syrimis
LITR 347/MGRK 234
Friday, 1:30-3:20
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The seminar examines the cultural and artistic reaction to the collection and control of information and the tension that arises between these practices and liberal claims to privacy rights. The course will focus primarily on literary and cinematic works whose main topic is the control of information as it is manifested in the technologies of behaviorism, the political and economic regimes of totalitarianism, liberal democracy and corporate capitalism, as well as in more theoretical speculation about the relationship between writers and authors and spectators and their objects. Though the contemporary experience is the contested arena for this debate, the majority of texts and films addressing this issue also project it onto a dystopian future. The promise of the information revolution for free and unlimited access to information harkens back to the Enlightenment’s promise of human liberation from obscurantism. Nevertheless, the art of modernity suggests that lurking behind this utopia is a state of paranoia, purposely manufactured to monitor, eliminate and ultimately forestall dissent.

Comparative Populism, Paris Aslanidis
MGRK 235/ PLSC 386
Tuesday and Thursday, 1:00-2.15
Populism is a trending political term in Europe and the Americas, employed to denote a wide spectrum of political phenomena, originating from both right and left. The course will disambiguate this interesting concept and help students identify its presence and intensity in the political field by use of a mixture of methodological approaches. Significant current and historical instances of populist politics across Europe and the Americas will be studied comparatively, from the US Populist Party to Argentina’s Peron and Greece’s SYRIZA. Students will be given the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the distinctive nature of populist discourse through textual as well as video material.  Moreover, populism’s relationship with (liberal) democracy will be analyzed and their compatibility debated.

The Eurocrises, Paris Aslanidis
MGRK 236/PLSC 138
Wednesday 2:30-4:20
The United States of America managed to survive the Lehman Brothers collapse that sent shockwaves around the globe in 2008. However, Europe is still struggling with the grave repercussions of the Great Recession and the sovereign debt crisis that strangles its economy. This course sheds light on the many facets of the Eurozone crisis and focuses debate on its impact on countries such as Portugal, Ireland, Spain, and, especially, Greece. It discusses this topic within the general framework of the feasibility of the Euro as a viable common currency area. Employing a political economy perspective, students will learn why and how the Eurozone crisis erupted and spread, who are the main actors of the drama, and whether this catastrophe could have been averted.

Spring 2016

Elementary Modern Greek II, Maria Kaliambou
MGRK 120
M-F 9:25-10:15
Continuation of MGRK 110.

Intermediate Modern Greek II, Maria Kaliambou
M-F 10:30-11:20
Further development of listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in modern Greek. Presentation of short research projects related to modern Greece.

European Cold War Culture, George Syrimis
MGRK 233/HIST 275J/FILM 368
Friday, 1:30-3:20
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The course examines the common assumption that culture mirrors or reflects its historical circumstances by focusing on the diverse ways the experience of the Cold War informs the literature and film of the period in Europe. In examining European culture during and after the Cold War, the course seeks to assess and question the interconnectedness of politics and dominant ideologies with their correlative literary and cinematic aesthetics models and with popular culture. Though the historical milieu is the primary mimetic object of such politicized art, the course argues that artistic expression also reflects and negotiates the conventions of its own tradition. At the same time it questions the cliché universality of the Cold War experience by focusing on the specific local factors and divergences of certain countries particularly in southeastern Europe. Themes explored include totalitarianism, Eurocommunism, decolonization, espionage, state surveillance, the nuclear threat, sports, propaganda, as well as literary and cinematic aesthetics.

The Olympic Games: Ancient and Modern, George Syrimis
MGRK 302/HIST 242J/WGSS 300/CLCV 319
Thursday, 9:25-11:15
This seminar is an introduction to the history of the Olympic Games from antiquity to the present. The first third of the course will focus on the mythology of athletic events in ancient Greece and the ritual and political and social ramifications of the actual competitions. Specific emphasis will be placed on the artistic representation of athletic culture in epic, lyric poetry, sculpture and vase painting. The rest of the course will trace the revival of the modern Olympic movement in 1896, the political investment of the Greek state at the time and the internationalist argument of Pierre de Coubertin, and subsequently focus on specific games as these illustrate the convergence athletic cultures and sociopolitical transformations in the 20th century. The study of the modern Olympic Games offers a global platform through which students can investigate the evolution of social, political and economic movements and trends which have become definitive of the modern age. Special attention will be paid to questions of social class and economics, gender equality, racism, doping and the issue of “the natural body,” as well as media exploitation and the spectacular representation of the hosting country through a number of opening ceremonies.

The Greek Civil War, Stathis Kalyvas and Paris Aslanidis
PLSC 392/MGRK 303
An in-depth look into the Greek civil war, one of the major European civil wars of the twentieth century, including its relation to World War II and the Cold War. Focus on readings from the field of history, with some attention to other disciplines and areas such as anthropology and fiction.


Past Courses