Classics provides a rigorous environment to improve critical thinking and communication. Studying Latin and Greek in particular equips students with a greater facility in understanding the potential and limitations of language.
Studying Classics has helped prepare our graduates for a number of different careers after graduation. Some have pursued advanced degrees in Classics or related fields (e.g. Archaeology and Religion); others have studied medicine, public policy, dentistry, or law; still others have chosen careers in journalism, in business, in publishing, in social work, in museum curatorship, and in secondary education.
- Students will learn ancient Greek or Latin (or both), cultivating an urgent connoisseurship of the word. Through this “love for words upon words, words in continuation and modification” (Eudora Welty), we acquire the power to analyze and interpret the foundational texts of western philosophy, history, oratory, fiction, and poetry in their original forms.
- Students will connect with thought-provoking and influential texts from antiquity, embracing “this rich source of delight” (Thomas Jefferson) and considering the benefits of the canon—and its dangers.
- Students will confront the most persistent questions about the nature of the human condition, heeding the Socratic warning that “the unexamined life is not worth living” (ὁ δὲ ἀνεξέταστος βίος οὐ βιωτὸς ἀνθρώπῳ, Plato, Apology 38a).
- Students will carry their education with them, becoming speakers of words and doers of deeds (μύθων τε ῥητῆρ’ ἔμεναι πρηκτῆρά τε ἔργων, Homer, Iliad 9.443), striving to become human beings to whom nothing human is foreign (homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto, Terence, HT 77).
- Students will not strive to amass a cache of the trivial or ephemeral but will forge a community of learning in partnership with faculty and students in the full spirit of Haverford’s motto (non doctior sed meliore doctrina imbutus).
- Students will, at the culmination of their studies, answer an important question about Classical culture or its reception with theoretical rigor, in dialogue with the work of other scholars, and under the auspices of a faculty mentor.
The major programs in Classics reflect the diversity of the field: students may major in Classical Culture and Society, Classical Languages (Greek and Latin), or Greek or Latin (with a related modern field). We encourage majors to study abroad during a semester of their junior year in Greece, Italy, or any other country with a strong tradition in Classical studies. Students may choose from three minors, each of which requires six courses: Greek, Latin, or Classical Culture and Society. Students may also major or minor in the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology at Bryn Mawr.
Classical Culture & Society
Haverford’s major and minor in Classical Culture and Society offers students the opportunity to explore life in Classical antiquity in all of its dimensions—from language, to literature, to history, philosophy, archaeology, and more—as well as its impact on later cultural traditions. It is designed to allow the student to use a strong foundation in Greek or Latin as the springboard for a focused study of the culture and society of Classical antiquity, concentrating in one of the following areas: archaeology and art history, philosophy and religion, literature and the Classical tradition, history and society.
Classical Culture & Society Major Requirements
- Two semesters in either Latin or Greek beyond the elementary level.
- One course in Greek or Roman history.
- Three courses in an area of concentration (Literature & the Classical Tradition, Philosophy & Religion, Archaeology & Art History, or History & Society), at least two of which must be at the 200 level or above.
- Three electives in Classical Studies, at least one of which must be in history & society (except in the case of History & Society concentrators).
- Completion of the Majors' Reading List
- Senior Seminar and Thesis (398/399).
Haverford’s Classical Languages major offers students the opportunity to gain proficiency in both Greek and Latin and to explore Classical texts and the literary, historical, and philosophical contexts in which they emerged.
Greek or Latin
Students who major in Greek or Latin pursue an intensive curriculum in one of the two languages, and in addition do work at the advanced level in an allied field which might itself be Classical Studies, but might also be English or another language, comparative literature, philosophy, religion, history, art history, archaeology, computer science or music—indeed, almost any discipline that the student can connect to their intellectual interests as complementary of their language studies.
Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology
Haverford students often pursue coursework and research on the material culture of the ancient world within one of our major programs. Our students may also complete a major or minor in Archaeology or a component of the Concentration in Geoarchaeology through the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology at Bryn Mawr. The archaeology program is interdisciplinary and encourages students to take advantage of related offerings in Departments of Anthropology, Classics, Geology, History, History of Art, and the Program in the Growth and Structure of Cities. The Ella Riegel Memorial Collection of over 6,000 artifacts is used in instruction. In collaboration with the Departments of Geology, Biology and Anthropology, the Concentration in Geoarchaeology is offered together with coursework and laboratory training in geographic information systems.
Classical Culture & Society Minor Requirements
Six courses drawn from the range of courses counted towards Classical Culture and Society. Of these, two must be in Greek or Latin at the 100 level or above and at least one must be in Classical Culture and Society at the 200 level.
Six semester courses in Greek, at least two of which must be at the 200 level or above. The department may reduce the number of required courses for those who are already beyond the elementary language when they begin the minor.
Six semester courses in Latin, at least two of which must be at the 200 level or above. The department may reduce the number of required courses for those who are already beyond the elementary language when they begin the minor.
The senior experience in the Department of Classics builds towards the writing of a senior thesis (typically 35 to 45 pages) on a topic of the student's choice, under the guidance of two faculty members..
In senior year, all majors at Haverford and Bryn Mawr come together for Senior Seminar, a weekly course conducted during the fall semester, that provides a forum in which to develop your ability to read and critique scholarship, as well as an opportunity to craft an interesting and appropriate question that you will answer in the thesis you write during the spring semester. In the spring semester, students write a senior thesis on a topic of their choice, working closely with a faculty advisor from Haverford or Bryn Mawr.
A detailed description of the format, goals, and assessment criteria for the senior experience can be found in the complete departmental statement in the Catalog (PDF).
Requirements for Honors
Students demonstrating superior performance in course work in the major and on the senior thesis will be eligible for departmental honors. To qualify for honors, students must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.7 in their major courses (3.85 for high honors) and earn a grade of at least 3.7 on the senior thesis (3.85 for high honors).
The Classics Department encourages its students to study abroad in Greece or Italy, usually for a semester in their junior year. Students interested in studying abroad should talk to a member of the Classics faculty. For further information about studying abroad at Haverford, visit the Study Abroad website.
The most popular programs in Greece and Italy include:
College Year in Athens
College Year in Athens, or CYA, is a study abroad program focused upon the history and civilization of Greece and the East Mediterranean region. Its mission is to offer each student an academically rigorous program of studies combined with the vibrant experience of day-to-day contact with people, monuments, and landscape of Greece.
Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome
At the “Centro” students can study Latin, Greek, Italian, art history, and the ancient city in Rome; they also take field trips in Rome, Pompeii, and Sicily.
Students planning on studying abroad at the Centro are strongly encouraged to take Roman History (or equivalent) before applying.
The department awards a number of prizes, grants, and fellowships.
Departmental Classics Prizes
- The Daniel Gillis and Joseph Russo Prize is awarded for the best essay in Classical Studies.
- The William K. Baker Prize in Greek is presented by the Classics Department.
- The Howard Comfort Prize in Latin is presented by the Classics Department.
- The Class of 1896 Prize in Latin for Sophomores is awarded to the sophomore who has done the best work in Latin.
- The Class of 1902 Prize in Latin for First-years is awarded to the first-year who has done the best work in the Department.
- The Mark L. Hepps Prize is awarded in memory of Mark Larry Hepps ‘79. This prize is awarded for diligence in the study of elementary Latin.
- CAMWS Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in Classical Studies.
Utraque Lingua Grants: The Utraque Lingua Grants support further study of Latin and Greek by Haverford students.
- Augustus Taber Murray Research Fellowships
- Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship
The department’s extra-curricular life includes visiting speakers, occasional expeditions to plays or museums in Philadelphia and New York City, the annual Bi-College ORALiTea (an occasion for the recitation of Greek & Latin literature), annual public marathon readings of Classical texts, Latin scavenger hunts, student reading groups and other departmental convivia.
The faculty encourages and supports events that are organized by students. Bryn Mawr hosts a weekly Classics Tea and Colloquium featuring visiting lectures.