Department of Classics

Why study classics?

Because knowledge of Greek and Roman antiquity is fundamental to understanding the ancient and modern world.

What is classics?

Classics is the integrated study of ancient Greek and Roman civilization through its languages, its literature, and its artistic and archaeological remains. This broad field includes the study of the great texts of classical antiquity, such as Vergil's Aeneid, Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Plato's Symposium, Sophocles' Antigone, and the love poems of Sappho and Catullus, but also encompasses research into everyday life in the societies that produced those great works.

In addition to training in the classical languages (Greek and Latin), the department introduces students to a range of work in literary criticism and cultural studies.  Topics include archaeology and ancient art, ancient theatre, mythology, women's history, Greek and Roman humor, cultural exchange across the Mediterranean, the translation of Greek and Latin poetry, and the history of slavery, sexuality, and ethnicity in ancient society.

A commitment to teaching and learning

Our curriculum is diverse, innovative, and responsive to students’ needs. We offer a variety of topics as mentioned above, and an array of course structures and formats, including small in-person language courses, hybrid ancient Greek and Latin that combines face-to-face instruction with online exercises, mid-sized discussion courses on archaeological or literary themes, online offerings during the summer and the academic year, and one large energetic lecture course.

Our faculty members have won nearly all KU’s teaching awards, including the HOPE, Kemper, and Ned Fleming awards, and a wide variety of other university-level teaching and advising awards.  The department as a whole received the first ever Center of Teaching Excellence (CTE) award for Department Excellence in Teaching at the University of Kansas.

Beyond KU:

In addition to the rich and interdisciplinary content, the Classics degree teaches strong and widely useful critical skills such as clear writing, effective interpretation and use of evidence, and evaluation of sources.  Classics graduates bring all these to bear in a variety of careers. Our students have gone on to careers in law, business, library science, journalism, medicine, museum studies, education, writing and publishing, and technology.

Innovative scholarship:

KU Classics Faculty members conduct research on a variety of ancient topics, from Greek tragedy to Roman architecture.  Their research engages some of the world’s most enduring questions, such as: How did the Greek and Roman societies envision happiness? How does knowledge of the past affect one’s choices and identities? How do modern theories about gender and sexuality intersect with ancient concepts?  How are cultural values encoded into art, architecture, literature, language, law, religion, and politics?  And, who “owns” the classical past?

Classics students can work with faculty as research assistants or can develop their own research projects, and many Classics courses count toward KU’s Research Experience Program.  Our undergraduate students have received Undergraduate Research Awards and McNair Scholarships, and many write undergraduate honors theses.

Study Abroad

The Classics Department offers a variety of study opportunities for its students to study in Greece or Italy, the UK, and elsewhere in Europe.  Recently we have also been able to send students to participate in archaeological digs in Turkey. We offer scholarships to students who participate in overseas programs that focus on the ancient world.