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CC 223 : Syllabus
Introduction Objectives Instructor Textbooks Requirements

The comedians of ancient Athens and Rome were poets of elegance, anger, obscenity, and morality.

Despite these often contradictory messages, their plays have stood the test of time.


This course surveys the comedies of Aristophanes, Menander, Plautus and Terence from different perspectives and contexts — historical, cultural, political, and theatrical.

In addition, we'll augment our survey with the testimonies of a tragedian, Euripides, some of whose plays walk the line between comedy and tragedy.

NOTE: The world of ancient comedy is fequently vulgar, sexual, patriarchal and misogynistic. Please prepare yourself for text and images that might make you uncomfortable. If you have concerns about any of the materials in our class, please reach out to the instructor.


Students of CC 223 will

  -- explore the content, scope, and structure of ancient comedy;
  -- read comedy as vehicles for both humor and social commentary;
  -- discern how comedy operates as a genre; and
  -- compare the sensibilities of ancient and modern audiences.

Furthermore, students will develop critical reading and thinking skills through class discussion, performance, and written reflections.

Professor Dan Curley    
Office: 210 Ladd Hall
Hours: TuTh 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.
Telephone: 518.580.5463
email: dcurley@skidmore.edu

The following books are required (all edited by Slavitt and Bovie):

  -- Aristophanes 1 (Acharnians, Peace, Celebrating Ladies, Wealth).
  -- Aristophanes 2 (Wasps, Lysistrata, Frogs, Sexual Congress).
  -- Aristophanes 3 (Suits, Clouds, Birds).
  -- Menander (Grouch, Desperately..., Closely Cropped Locks, et al.)
  -- Plautus: The Comedies, Volume I
  -- Plautus: The Comedies, Volume II
  -- Terence: The Comedies

Texts for our readings on Euripides (Ion, Cyclops) are available online via the course Calendar.


Class participation (25%)

Class participation involves more than just attendance.  Students must also keep up with the readings and assignments, and participate actively during all sessions. Students are also expected to come to class on time and to maintain an environment that promotes the exchange of ideas.

The class participation grade also includes the Reflections due before discussions of each play.

Furthermore, some homework assignments will involve watching short videos (podcasts) that will substitute for in-class lectures. Study these videos carefully and take notes as you view, just as you would during a normal class session. The material from the videos will be fair game for our exams.

Midterm examination (20%)

The midterm exam, scheduled for Thursday, March 10, will test mastery of the authors, texts, themes, and motifs explored to date. Expect further information about two weeks before the exam.

Stagings (20%)

The class will be divided into small groups ("troupes"), each of which will perform scenes from plays on our reading list. The stagings will take place throughout the term.

Guidelines and schedule here.

Semester project (35%)

As a semester project students will rewrite an Aristophanean comedy, updating the play for a 21st-century Skidmore audience. Students will present the play to the campus community at 7:00 p.m. on May 2.

Professor Curley will assign a blanket grade to the project after the performance (e.g., a wobbly preparatory phase but a superb performance might garner a B+ overall). Students will reflect on their contributions and use the blanket grade as a baseline for their individual grade.

Further details and schedule here.

© 2016 Skidmore College Classics Department