University of Kent at Canterbury

1. The title of the module:
Words are Weapons: Insults in Classical Literature (CL358)
2. The School which will be responsible for management of the module:
3. The Start Date of the Module:
September 2015
4. The number of students expected to take the module:
minimum 40, maximum 100.
5. Modules to be withdrawn on the introduction of this proposed module and consultation with
other relevant Schools and Faculties regarding the withdrawal:
6. The level of the module (e.g. Certificate [C], Intermediate [I], Honours [H] or Postgraduate
7. The number of credits and ECTS value which the module represents:
15 credits (7.5 ECTS)
8. Which term(s) the module is to be taught in (or other teaching pattern):
Autumn Term or Spring Term.
9. Prerequisite and co-requisite modules:
10. The programmes of study to which the module contributes:
Any BA programmes in Classical and Archaeological Studies, including Classical & Archaeological
Studies and Ancient History. Also available as a wild module to students in the Faculties of Humanities
and Social Sciences.
11. The intended subject specific learning outcomes:
On successful completion of the module students will be able to:
1. Show a broad understanding of the importance of invective and other forms of confrontational
speech in classical culture.
2. Critically evaluate the role of insults in a range of written sources from antiquity.
3. Employ academic skills fundamental to their future learning – including the evaluation of
ancient evidence, modern representations, and the evaluation of modern scholarship.
4. Locate the ancient material studied in the context of European intellectual, cultural and
historical traditions.
5. Understand the opportunities and challenges involved in using literary sources as documents
of ancient societies.
6. Show increased ability in thinking critically and communicating about invective and related
forms of communication in classical literature.
7. Recognise that debates often arise in academic scholarship, and be able to take an individual
12. The intended generic learning outcomes:
On successful completion of the module students will be able to:
1. Apply the skills needed for academic study and enquiry, through guided discussion and
independent study within a structured and managed environment.
2. Select, gather and synthesise relevant information to gain a coherent understanding, be
involved in problem-solving, and reach conclusions independently.
3. Extract key elements from complex data, select appropriate methodologies and show
awareness of the consequences of the unavailability of evidence.
4. Marshal argument lucidly and communicate ideas, both orally and in writing, using the
appropriate academic conventions.
5. Show ability in problem-solving, taking responsibility for their own learning, use of IT
resources, and working on a task collaboratively.
13. A synopsis of the curriculum:
Whether cruel or funny, hostile speech has a pervasive presence in the wealth of textual evidence
from classical antiquity. Insulting communications, both formal and informal, reveal social values in an
unusually succinct way, while their dependence on situation and context presents complex
interpretative challenges.
In this module, insults form the basis for a wide-ranging investigation of classical literature inviting
comparison of their literary treatment in different works and/or genres. The module is designed to
accommodate various selections of material, which may include Greek literature, Roman literature, or
a combination of both. It provides a variety of examples of invective to show the diversity of classical
literature and, through the analysis of these examples, raise current debates in classical literary
studies. So, for example, the insults found in Catullus may be used to explore the issue of authorial
persona and ‘sincerity’. Topics covered may include obscenity, debate and competition, laws
governing slander and treason, the aesthetics of beauty and ugliness, construction of social
categorisations (gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and status), and the conventions of specific genres.
14. Indicative Reading List:
Ancient and modern sources will be selected according to the specialisms of teaching staff, but may
include selections from the following:
Ancient Sources:
Homer, Iliad Book 2, Odyssey Book 17.
Archilochus, Poems.
Aeschylus, Eumenides.
Sophocles, Electra, Ajax, Oedipus.
Euripides, Hippolytus.
Aristophanes, Acharnians, Lysistrata, Wasps, Clouds.
Aeschines, Speeches.
Demosthenes, Speeches.
Catullus, Poems.
Cicero, Against Piso, Against Catiline, In Defence of Caelius.
Horace, Epodes and Satires.
Petronius, Satyricon.
Seneca, Letters to Lucilius; On Anger; Apocolocyntosis.
Juvenal, Satires.
Martial, Epigrams.
Modern Scholarship:
Bowie, Ewen, ‘Early Greek Iambic and the Importance of Narrative’ in Alberto Carvarzere, Antonio
Aloni & Alessandro Barchiesi (eds.), Iambic ideas: essays on a poetic tradition from Archaic Greece to
the late Roman Empire (Lanham, MD 2001) 1-28.
Bremmer, Jan N., ‘Verbal Insulting in Ancient Greek Culture’, Acta Antiqua Hungarica 40 (2000) 61-72.
Conley, Thomas, Toward a Rhetoric of Insult (Chicago 2010).
Corbeill, Anthony, ‘Dining Deviants in Roman Political Invective’ in Judith P. Hallett & Marilyn B.
Skinner (eds.), Roman Sexualities (Princeton 1997) 99-128.
Corbeill, Anthony, Controlling Laughter: Political Humor in the Late Roman Republic (Princeton 1996).
Richlin, Amy, ‘Invective against Women in Roman Satire’, Arethusa 17 (1984) 67-80.
Rotstein, Andrea, The Idea of Iambos (Oxford 2010) [especially Part V].
Thalmann, William G., The Swineherd and the Bow: Representations of Class in the Odyssey (Ithaca,
NY 1998).
Walters, Jonathan, ‘Making a Spectacle: Deviant Men, Invective, and Pleasure’, Arethusa 31 (1998)
Worman, Nancy, ‘Oedipus Abuser: Insult and Embodied Aesthetics in Sophocles’, Cahiers “Mondes
Anciens” 5 (2014).
15. Learning and Teaching Methods, including the nature and number of contact hours and the
total study hours which will be expected of students, and how these relate to achievement of
the intended learning outcomes:
Contact hours: 1 hour lecture and 1 hour seminar per week for 10 weeks, total 20 hours.
Remaining study hours are dedicated to coursework as well as to preparation for lectures and
Lectures will survey evidence and interpretation of a range of themes, with time for questions at the
end (11.1, 4, 5). The seminar discussions will allow students to explore problems in the use of
evidence, critique interpretations and ask questions (11.2, 4, 5, 7). The seminar takes the form of
guided discussion of source materials. This is the main opportunity to develop students’ understanding
orally, to establish good academic practices (11.3) and to test whether their comprehension of issues
and learning in relation to the study of insults in classical literature (as well as academic practice) is
developing effectively.
Students will be advised to do the following in their study time so as to achieve all the learning
outcomes: (a) read key texts as recommended by the lecturer (11.4); (b) take a critical attitude to
reading away from the seminar and raise relevant examples in group discussion (11.5, 7); (c) to
manage their time effectively in preparing work for seminars and in planning, drafting and writing
essays (11.3, 6).
Total study hours: 150 hours for a 15 credit module.
16. Assessment methods and how these relate to testing achievement of the intended learning
Students complete two written coursework assignments. The first is a practical criticism of a selected
written source in its literary and cultural context, with a word limit of 1200 words and accounting for
40% of the assessment (particular emphasis to be placed on 11.1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 12.1-5). The
second assignment is an essay involving the comparison of two or more selected ancient sources,
with a word limit of 2,500 words and accounting for 60% of the assessment (11.1-7, 12.1-5). Essay
questions will be set in advance and designed to test the ability of the students to research and think
independently, to ensure that the learning outcomes are tested.
17. Implications for learning resources, including staff, library, IT and space:
There are no special implications in terms of these resources.
18. The School recognises and has embedded the expectations of current disability equality
legislation, and supports students with a declared disability or special educational need in its
teaching. Within this module we will make reasonable adjustments wherever necessary,
including additional or substitute materials, teaching modes or assessment methods for
students who have declared and discussed their learning support needs. Arrangements for
students with declared disabilities will be made on an individual basis, in consultation with the
University’s disability/dyslexia support service, and specialist support will be provided where
19. Campus(es) where module will be delivered:
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