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Classics Major?

memaw12memaw12 Posts: 158Registered User Junior Member
edited January 2012 in University of Alabama
How is the Classics dept at Bama? On the website it says don't expect to go onto Grad School; why? Is the Classics dept lacking or do they just choose a different non-Grad geared curriculum? Any input from curtain or past Classics majors greatly appreciated!
Post edited by memaw12 on
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Replies to: Classics Major?

  • robotbldmomrobotbldmom Posts: 2,122Registered User Senior Member
    I do not see what you are referring to. If you check out the Classic Department's page there is plenty of info on graduate level study opportunities. There is a link to a page which shows what some students have gone on to study. (it does look like the page should be updated).

    This quote is from the page:
    "RECENT GRADUATES: The perennial question remains, "What can I do with a Classics degree?" The answer is, "So much!" Rather than tying you down to any one skill or career, a degree in Classics offers you endless possibilities. The training afforded by the major is widely respected among graduate and professional school recruiters. Our majors who have applied for law school or medical school have had a 100% acceptance rate. Look at the recent graduates page and see what they are doing to get an idea what you can do with a Classics degree."
  • memaw12memaw12 Posts: 158Registered User Junior Member
    I think I read it wrong:
    "Students who choose the Classical Civilization track of the Foreign Language major will have an interest in the fundamental ideas and structures of Western Civilization. Students are expected to gain a rudimentary knowledge of Greek or Latin, if not both. Students who pursue this track should not expect to continue on in Classics on the graduate level (though Ancient History is an option), but are preparing themselves for various professional degrees by acquiring a broad understanding of the humanistic issues we have faced and addressed throughout history."

    It sounds like it was only talking about Classics on the foreign language track, not the whole dept. Do you know if that's true?

    Thanks for helping clear that up!
  • robotbldmomrobotbldmom Posts: 2,122Registered User Senior Member
    Yes, I do believe that you did read it wrong, explore all the links and then send off an email with your questions. I am sure that you will get answers in a timely fashion.

    If you care to share the answers here, that would be helpful.

    Looks like a fascinating program...
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Posts: 60,433Registered User Senior Member
    LadyDianeski's son is a Classics major and really likes it. It's challenging and very good.

    I think she also said that the students get along well.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Posts: 60,433Registered User Senior Member
    Students who choose the Classical Civilization track of the Foreign Language major will have an interest in the fundamental ideas and structures of Western Civilization. Students are expected to gain a rudimentary knowledge of Greek or Latin, if not both. Students who pursue this track should not expect to continue on in Classics on the graduate level (though Ancient History is an option), but are preparing themselves for various professional degrees by acquiring a broad understanding of the humanistic issues we have faced and addressed throughout history.




    I think that particular track doesn't have a Master's degree version. This track has another purpose...such as studying law or going into medicine.

    Are you looking at The Classics website? HOME
  • memaw12memaw12 Posts: 158Registered User Junior Member
    Thanks m2ck! I actually just got off the website and after browsing through the program tabs and the critical language web page, I'm confident in the strength of the program.

    Sidenote: To any other language lovers like me, check out all the critical languages; they seem really interesting and their taught by native/ near native speakers!
  • ArchaeologistArchaeologist Posts: 112Registered User Junior Member
    How is the Classics dept at Bama? On the website it says don't expect to go onto Grad School; why? Is the Classics dept lacking or do they just choose a different non-Grad geared curriculum? Any input from curtain or past Classics majors greatly appreciated!
    A good friend of mine graduated from the classics program at Alabama a few years ago. On a positive note, he loved the university itself and thought the professors and students in the department were wonderful.

    On a negative note, he was less pleased with the course offerings. He had a very strong background in Latin and a rudimentary grasp of Greek when he matriculated at Alabama, and he ran into the problem of maxing out the available courses. His other complaint was that the professors were often teaching well outside their comfort zones due to the tiny size of the department. The professor teaching a course on Egypt was using a 50 year old textbook!

    I think Alabama would be a good choice for someone interested in medicine or law or someone in-state or with a big scholarship. For someone seriously interested in classics, especially an out of state student, there are better options available. Although it's obviously possible to get into a good classics graduate program from Alabama, as my friend did, I think there are places where it is easier to do so. UNC-Chapel Hill, UVA, and UGA are a few similar universities with much stronger classics programs.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Posts: 60,433Registered User Senior Member
    A good friend of mine graduated from the classics program at Alabama a few years ago


    then your info may be out of date.

    LadyDianeski's son is a current Classics major and really likes it. He's being seriously challenged and learning a lot. And, he had a strong background to begin with.



    The professor teaching a course on Egypt was using a 50 year old textbook!


    While this may sound odd, it doesn't say anything. The class is on ANCIENT EGYPT....it's not as if there would be any updates. There are some old texts that are still used in cases like these.

    More to the point, that class has TWO required textbooks.


    BTW....as to that "50 year old" book....it is used by many other universities as well....and do you know why? Because it was written by the late Oxford-educated Sir Alan Gardiner, who was one of the world's most distinguished Egyptologists. That book was his seminal work.

    I realize that you wrote that statement as some kind of proof that the Bama dept was somehow weak or "behind the times". The schools that you named may be using that text as well.
  • ArchaeologistArchaeologist Posts: 112Registered User Junior Member
    then your info may be out of date. LadyDianeski's son is a current Classics major and really likes it. He's being seriously challenged and learning a lot. And, he had a strong background to begin with.
    If that is the case, then I retract my statement. As I have no personal experience, I can only relay what I've heard. Alabama may have added additional professors or courses since my friend graduated.
    While this may sound odd, it doesn't say anything. The class is on ANCIENT EGYPT....it's not as if there would be any updates. There are some old texts that are still used in cases like these. More to the point, that class has TWO required textbooks.

    BTW....as to that "50 year old" book....it is used by many other universities as well....and do you know why? Because it was written by the late Oxford-educated Sir Alan Gardiner, who was one of the world's most distinguished Egyptologists. That book was his seminal work.
    There have actually been many updates. Egyptology is a thriving discipline, and as in any scholarly discipline, things are added to our knowledge and old beliefs are constantly challenged. To suggest that it is static is akin to recommending that a student read Darwin and therefore learn everything there is to know about evolutionary theory. Gardiner was a fine scholar in his day, but his history, like his grammar, is woefully outdated.

    Advances made in Egyptology over the last 50 years include the debunking of the heiress theory, the debunking of several coregencies, the pushing back of literacy by several hundred years, the excavation of several dozen sites in previously unexplored upper Egypt and Nubia as part of a salvage mission, the discovery and excavation of many Predynastic and early dynastic royal tombs at Abydos, the discovery of the only surviving Bronze Age shipwrecks (indeed, the entire discipline of nautical archaeology has since been invented), the discovery and excavation of the Hyksos capital, and many other discoveries that have fundamentally changed how we view ancient Egypt.

    I would be interested in learning what the second book is. It may be a more up to date book.
    I realize that you wrote that statement as some kind of proof that the Bama dept was somehow weak or "behind the times". The schools that you named may be using that text as well.
    That was not my intent. Rather, it was to illustrate the disadvantages of having a small faculty with limited expertise. An Egyptologist or someone more familiar with Egyptology would have used a much more updated book like the Oxford History or Van de Mieroop's history. A professor using an outdated textbook may be teaching ideas that have been out of vogue for decades.

    Any department with only a few faculty members, regardless how distinguished they are, runs into the fundamental problem that it is difficult for professors to teach outside their areas of expertise. A large department allows professors to teach courses in their own areas of Roman art and architecture, papyrology, Latin poetry, Aegean Bronze Age archaeology, Greek philosophy, etc. In a small department, a professor must teach several courses, of which many are bound to be somewhat unfamiliar to him/her. To invoke a biology analogy once more, it is akin to forcing a biochemist to teach a course in ichthyology. This is why Bryn Mawr has the most reputable department of classics among small colleges; many are simply too small to offer coursework in many areas or do an inferior job in doing so.

    You are correct that those universities or others may be using Gardiner's text as well, though for the students' sake I fervently hope not; as far as I know, none of them has an Egyptologist on faculty. My point was that those universities have much larger and more diversified classics faculty, and a student can reap the benefits of this by taking courses taught by faculty members who specialize in that subject.

    Whether I would call Alabama's department weak depends on a student's interests. For languages, probably not, though the lack of graduate courses may annoy some. Your statement above about that person's son suggests that the department is at least adequate for a philogist's needs. For classical archaeology, yes, it is quite weak. I do think it is fair to say that the classics faculty at Alabama are not nearly as numerous or distinguished as those at several other southern universities. This is more a simple statement of fact than a slam against a good and still improving university.
  • LadyDianeskiLadyDianeski Posts: 2,044Registered User Senior Member
    Hi, Archaeologist! Greetings and happy New year!

    As mom2ck observes, my son is a Classics major (double-majoring in History and Classics), and believe me, it is no walk in the park.

    His Greek professor is from Greece, so I doubt she will be beyond her comfort level in advanced Greek. ;) Her husband is DS's Latin professor, and he is awesome. Both professors have PhDs from the University of Illinois.

    This past semester, my son took Latin 301. There were 20 kids in the class -- which is HUGE for an upper-level Latin class. Classics are alive and well at Bama!

    WRT 50-year-old books: When my husband was completing his doctorate in Byzantine history at Harvard, one of his chief secondary sources was a book, "L'
  • LadyDianeskiLadyDianeski Posts: 2,044Registered User Senior Member
    For languages, probably not, though the lack of graduate courses may annoy some.

    ??? There are graduate-level classics courses at Bama. Not sure what you mean. (I mean--where do you think the classics TAs come from? Auburn? ;-))

    Graduate Latin and Greek students work one on one with the professor and/or in very small groups. Their classes are 400-level and above.

    Point well taken about Egyptology. I can't speak to that, because that's not what my son is doing (or most classics majors AFAIK).
  • LadyDianeskiLadyDianeski Posts: 2,044Registered User Senior Member
    Any department with only a few faculty members, regardless how distinguished they are, runs into the fundamental problem that it is difficult for professors to teach outside their areas of expertise.

    I heard the same argument last year from a CC-er who was trying to convince me that DS should attend UNC-Chapel Hill (where he had also been accepted) rather than Bama. (We are in-state North Carolinians.)

    UNC has a large and respected classics department. I would never gainsay that. However, it looks especially large partly because it double-lists professors from other disciplines (e.g., ancient history) as members of the classics department. Bama does not. Ancient historians are part of the history faculty, not the classics faculty, at Bama.

    Bama offers all the ancillary courses you mention -- but most are offered through professors in other departments. This makes the Bama classics department look deceptively thin. But it's not. It's just specialized. It does not double-list professors from other departments, as UNC does.

    I would not argue that Bama's classics department rivals UNC's.* But it's more than adequate for an advanced undergraduate classics student. And, if you think the classes are easy-street, I invite you to sit in on DS's Greek class next semester, when the kids will be translating Plato. As one student said, Plato's hard enough to understand in English, let alone Greek, lol.

    ladydi

    * P.S. I dunno, though...UNC is cutting costs like crazy, while Bama is flourishing and expanding. I'd put my bets on Bama's classics dep't vs. UNC's for the future! (IIRC, last year, after the NC state legislature mandated drastic budget cuts, UNC eliminated its doctoral program in Slavic studies [or maybe it was Slavic languages and literature; can't remember exactly]. Bama's on the upswing, not the downswing: It is adding programs, not eliminating them.)
  • ArchaeologistArchaeologist Posts: 112Registered User Junior Member
    LadyDianeski, that is very good to hear. Trust me, I have nothing but admiration for universities with dedication to classics in these cash-strapped times!
  • LadyDianeskiLadyDianeski Posts: 2,044Registered User Senior Member
    Thanks so much, Archaeologist! Yes, thankfully, UA is hiring new faculty. Deo gratias! :)
  • LadyDianeskiLadyDianeski Posts: 2,044Registered User Senior Member
    memaw12--mom2ck mentioned that UA classics students get along well. They are almost like family, actually, very close-knit. Hope this helps! :)
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