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The comic plays that still survive all had their first productions within roughly forty years between 200 and 160 BCE, as Rome rapidly expanded its military, economic, and political reach beyond the Apennine peninsula. They present critically important evidence for how Roman literature and cultural identity developed in the second century, and they document formulas for slapstick action and low-brow jokes that remain in use even today. Staged in Greek costume and featuring ostensibly Greek characters, the comedies revel in mocking stereotypical Roman values but ultimately reassert them. Sometimes what the Romans found funny is all too familiar; sometimes it’s shocking. Our main focus will be on the Mostellaria of Plautus, often translated as “The Haunted House.” Characteristic of its genre, the Mostellaria focuses on generational conflict within a household, especially between father and son. To enrich our conversation, we will read several other comedies in translation as well as selected scholarly investigations of this play, its genre, and the historical context.
Format: seminar; Discussion/recitation. For the fall of 2020, this course will be taught online. The seminar will meet at the regularly scheduled time twice per week.
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
Evaluation will be based on class participation, several written assignments of varying length, and possibly short quizzes as well as a midterm exam and a final exam and/or essay.
CLLA 302 or permission of instructor
If the course is oversubscribed, preference will be given to majors and potential majors in Classics and Comparative Literature