North Island College Winter 2015

Meeting Time: T-TH: 11:30 am - 12:50 pm

Meeting Place:  DIS 204

Instructor: Dan Hinman-Smith

Office: Village G6

Office Hours:  Tues. 1:00 pm - 2:20 pm; Wed. 11:30 am - 12:50 pm

Office Phone:  334-5000, Extension 4024

Home Phone250-336-0238 

Web- Site for Course:  


Course Description

LIB 210 is designed as an introduction to the culture and history of a particular world region or to a comparative global theme.  The topics vary from year to year.  For Winter 2015, all roads lead to Rome.  This edition of the course will survey Rome as a civilization from its eighth century BCE historical and mythical origins through to the decline of the Western Empire more than a millennium later.  Emphasis will be placed upon  the late Republican and early Imperial eras, and upon the complex image of Rome both during its heyday and down to the present.  Rome From Romulus To The Renaissance will be interdisciplinary in nature and will combine lecture, documentaries and intensive seminar discussion.


Virgil.  Aeneid, trans. Robert Fitzgerald.  New York: Vintage Books, 1984.

Livy.  Early History Of Rome, trans. Aubrey DeSelincourt.  New York: Penguin Classics, 1971.

Suetonius.  Twelve Caesars, trans. Robert Graves.  New York: Penguin Classics, 2007.

Beard, Mary.  Fires Of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost And Found.  Cambridge: Harvard, 2008.

Pliny.  Letters Of The Younger Pliny, trans. Betty Radice.  New York: Penguin Classics, 1969.

Perrottet, Tony.  Pagan Holiday: On The Trail Of Ancient Roman Tourists.  New York: Random House, 2002.

Optional Textbook:  For a variety of reasons I have not included a survey textbook as a core reading.  For those of you who would like to have a popular textbook to complement class lectures, I can recommend the following: Nigel Rodgers, Rise And Fall of Ancient Rome (London: Hermes House, 2008).  National Geographic has recently issued Rise And Fall Of The Roman Empire as a special magazine volume.  Although the NG material is much more condensed than that in the Rodgers text, it still offers a basic overview of Roman civilization.

Tentative Class Schedule


Tuesday, January 6

a)  Course Introduction

b)  On Facing Janus -- Of Doorways And New Beginnings

Thursday, January 8

a)  Video: "All Roads Lead To Rome," Episode 1 of Meet The Romans (Mary Beard, BBC, 2012) [59 minutes]

Reading Assignment:

Mary Beard, "Do The Classics Have A Future?," New York Review Of Books (January 12, 2012).

"40 Maps That Explain The Roman Empire," Vox (August 19, 2014).


Tuesday, January 13

a)  Lecture: Romulus Is From Mars And Aeneas Is From Venus -- The Mythic Foundations Of Rome

Thursday, January 15

a)  Discussion:  Aeneid, Books 1-6

Reading Assignment:

Virgil, Aeneid, Books 1-6

Optional Listening Assignment:

"The Aeneid," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, April 21, 2005 [45 mins.]


Tuesday, January 20

a)  Finish Lecture: Romulus Is From Mars And Aeneas Is From Venus -- The Mythic Foundations Of Rome

b)  Start Lecture: "Carthage Must Be Destroyed" -- The Punic Wars

Thursday, January 22

a)  Discussion:  Aeneid, Books 7-12

Reading Assignment:

Virgil, Aeneid, Books 7-12


Tuesday, January 27

a)  Discussion:  The Etruscans

b)  Finish Lecture: "Carthage Must Be Destroyed" -- The Punic Wars

Reading Assignment:

Browse extensively in  Etruscans  Discussion Topic.

Listening Assignment:

"The Ghosts Of Cannae," Ideas, CBC, October 13, 2011 [54 mins.]

Optional Reading Assignment:

Richard Miles, "Carthage: The Lost Mediterranean Civilisation," History Today, 60 (July 2010): 10-17.


Thursday, January 29

a)  Student Mini-Presentations:  Places Assignment (I)


Tuesday, February 3

a)  Student Mini-Presentations:  Places Assignment (II)

Thursday, February 5

a)  Video:  "Killing Caesar" (When Rome Ruled National Geographic Series, 2010) [46 mins.]

Listening Assignment:

"Caesar: Life Of A Colossus," On Point, NPR, September 15, 2006 [45 mins.]

"The Roman Republic," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, December 30, 2004 [45 mins.]


Tuesday, February 10

a)  Video: "Street Life," Episode 2 of Meet The Romans (Mary Beard, BBC, 2012) [59 minutes]

Thursday, February 12

a)  Discussion: Early History Of Rome

Reading Assignment:

Livy, Early History Of Rome (Books I-III)

Reading Break, February 16-20


Tuesday, February 24

a)  Lecture:  Rise And Fall Of The Roman Republic (I)

***First Half Journal Due

Thursday, February 26

a)  Introduce Faces Assignment and Second Half Preview

b)  Lecture:  Rise And Fall Of The Roman Republic (II)

c)  Discussion:  Julius Caesar And The Fall Of The Roman Republic

Reading Assignment:

Browse extensively in  Julius Caesar And The Fall Of The Roman Republic  Discussion Topic.


Tuesday, March 3

a)  Video:  "Ancient Superpower" (When Rome Ruled National Geographic Series, 2010) [45 mins.]

Thursday, March 5

a)  Discussion:  Twelve Caesars

Reading Assignment:

Suetonius, Twelve Caesars (Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero)

Optional Reading Assignment:

Robert Draper, "Rethinking Nero," National Geographic (September 2014).

Optional Viewing Assignment:

"Caligula With Mary Beard," (BBC) [60 mins.]



Tuesday, March 10

a)  Lecture:  "I Found Rome A City Of Bricks And Left It A City Of Marble" -- The Augustan Age

Listening Assignment:

"The Augustan Age," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, June 11, 2009 [43 mins.]


Thursday, March 12

a)  Video:  "The Other Pompeii -- Life And Death In Herculaneum" (BBC, 2013) [59 mins.]

Optional Reading Assignment:

Stephen S. Hall, "Vesuvius: Asleep For Now," National Geographic (September 2007).


Tuesday, March 17

Class Cancelled

Thursday, March 19

a)  Discussion:  Fires Of Vesuvius

Reading Assignment:

Mary Beard, Fires Of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost And Found


Tuesday, March 24

a)  Discussion:  Roman Britain

b)  Lecture:  Of Rome And Jerusalem

Reading Assignment:

Browse extensively in  Roman Britain  Discussion Topic.

Optional Reading Assignment:

Neil Faulkner, "Apocalypse," History Today, 52 (October 2002).


Thursday, March 26

a)  Lecture:  Under The Volcano -- Pompeii And Herculaneum

WEEK 12: 

Tuesday, March 31

a)  Discussion:  Letters Of The Younger Pliny

Reading Assignment:

Pliny, Letters Of The Younger Pliny

Optional Listening Assignment:

"Pliny The Younger," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, December 12, 2013 [43 mins.]


Thursday, April 2

a)  Video:  "Rise Of Christianity" (When Rome Ruled National Geographic Series, 2010) [45 mins.]

Listening Assignment:

"The Cult Of Mithras," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, December 27, 2012 [43 mins.]


Tuesday, April 7

a)  Discussion:  Women In Roman Society

b)  Lecture:  Women In Roman Society

Reading Assignment:

Mary T. Boatwright, "Women And Gender In The Forum Romanum," Transactions Of The American Philological Association, 141 (Spring 2011).

Thursday, April 9

a)  Discussion:  Pagan Holiday

Reading Assignment:

Tony Perrottet, Pagan Holiday: On The Trail Of Ancient Roman Tourists


Final Assignments are due on Thursday, April 16



Faces And Places Option: Details And %

Journal Option:  Details And %

Letter Of Introduction 1% 1%
Places Assignment 20% N/A
Faces Assignment 40% N/A
First Half Journal N/A 30%
Second Half Journal N/A 30%
Class Participation 39% 39%
Totals 100% 100%

a)  Letter Of Introduction (1%)

Who are you? Where are you from? What are your interests? Why are you taking this course? Do you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions as we start the course? Write two or three informal paragraphs for the second class of the semester to introduce yourself to me.

b)  Places And Faces Option (60%) or Journal Option (60%)

Pick either the Textbook Option or The Journal Option early in the course.  I do want you to be firm in your choice here.  The Places and Faces option is much less writing-intensive and should provide you with more time to focus upon core and supplemental reading.  Those who choose the Journal Option will engage in ongoing semester-long  critical commentary upon required and supplementary curriculum materials.  The Journal Option is clearly the more time-consuming option. I recommend choosing that option only if you enter the course with considerable intellectual enthusiasm about Roman History and if you think you could benefit from intensive writing about our subject matter.

Places And Faces Option (60%)

There are two distinctive components to the Places And Faces Option

i)  Places (20%)

You will complete a mini-research project about one particular Roman monument or historic site.  The finished product will consist of at least one large poster board and an accompanying informal but well-organized short class presentation about your topic.  This will be due at the end of Week 4.

ii)  Faces (40%)

This assignment will ask you to research assorted significant figures and terms from the Ancient Roman World and then to portray each in an over-sized bubblegum card biographical and informational format.

Journal Option (60%)

The purpose of the Journal for those of you who choose this option is to provide you the opportunity for frequent thoughtful, analytical and personal commentary upon course-related material.  The advantages of the Journal, to my mind, are that it breaks work down into regular and manageable chunks, and that it enables you to seize hold of the curriculum in a way which reflects your own interests and style.

The Journal will be graded in two installments.  It will be due at the mid-point of the semester.  This installment will count for 30% of the course grade.  The Journal will then again be due at the end of the semester.  That installment will also contribute 30% towards the course grade.

The excellent journal will:

be approximately 30+ pages long.

include a Places entry in either poster-board or mini-essay format.

include analytical Reading Responses to most of the core course books.

include a variety of Reading, Viewing and/or Listening Responses to the required and supplementary course material.

include other entries that draw upon class material and/or your independent research.

demonstrate that you are approaching the readings and the course with care and effort.

The embedded tension within the Journal assignment between structure and flexibility is deliberate.  The entries will, no doubt, vary in format, length and quality.   Do not hesitate to take risks and to express your own opinions.  It's fine if some entries read more like summary than analysis; it can be useful to put what you have learned from an article or a video into your own words.  Try, however, not to succumb to the temptation to write in an easy, stream—of—consciousness style.   There is no inherent tension between analytical rigour and personal insight.  This is an assignment designed to encourage and to reward extensive student effort and learning.  The work-load is heavy but my expectation is that a good-faith approach to the course will lead to strong success.  You can include print-outs from the internet in the journal or quote passages but are expected to identify that which is not your own original work.  Formal footnoting is not required but plagiarized/cut-and-pasted material will likely lead to a failing grade for the course.  Likewise, you should not recycle any writings from other classes.

c)  Class Participation (39%)

Participation is a critical part of Liberal Studies, and the skills of intellectual discussion among the most important it endeavours to foster.  Some important aspects of your seminar participation are the quality of your contributions to discussion, your helpfulness to others in maintaining a successful conversation within the seminar, and your ability to listen as well as to talk.  The seminar experience is central to what Liberal Studies is trying to achieve.  Any student who finds it difficult to speak up in group discussion should talk things over with me.  Particularly shy students may want to consider the Journal option.  The following scale gives a guide to how I will attempt to evaluate seminar participation:

A Note On Plagiarism

Everything that you hand in should be your original work unless otherwise indicated.  Violations of this policy may result in failing an assignment or the course in its entirety.  Please talk to me if you have any uncertainty  about what is permitted here.




web stats