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Welcome to Classics at Yale

Yale’s Department of Classics places the principles and practice of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the heart of its educational mission and departmental life. We aspire to be a department that welcomes and affirms scholars and students from diverse races, ethnicities, national origins, genders, social classes, sexualities, religious beliefs, ages, and abilities. 

The ancient world was heterogeneous: many different actors created the history and culture on which we focus. Many of them have been silenced. As teachers, learners, and researchers, we aim to explore, interrogate, and celebrate the diversity of the past, even while we recognize the realities of past violence and oppression. 

With a critical eye towards our methods, our field, and ourselves, we acknowledge that all scholarship is a dialogue between antiquity and multiple presents, and that every present has been shaped by the circumstances of the past. In striving for a better community, we must confront the long, fraught history of appropriations of the ancient world in justifying ideologies and practices of oppression, hatred, and brutality. Recognizing the exclusions, past and present, that have animated the modern university and the field of Classics, we must reimagine what it means to study the histories, cultures, and literatures that have constituted the “classical” past. 

The Greco-Roman world does not belong to any self-proclaimed inheritors but is a common past that we explore, enliven, and share with the world, in all of its beauty and horror, wonder and contradictions.

We commit to:

Diversity in the curriculum

○ Make active choices in our teaching and course design to focus on the diversity and heterogeneity of the classical past

○ Commit in our pedagogical training, and particularly our graduate proseminar, to sensitizing students and faculty to respect and teach the value of equity, diversity, and inclusion

○ Highlight the historic and present uses of the classical in bolstering and defending oppression and exclusion

○ Host freestanding pedagogy and classroom community workshops on topics such as implicit bias and constructing inclusive syllabi and reading lists

Events that foreground issues of equity, inclusion, and diversity

○ Speaker series on teaching difficult topics in the classroom

○  Workshops on the ethics of using problematic scholarship

○  Workshops on sensitive and triggering topics in the study of the ancient world.

Diversity and inclusion in scholarly practice

○ Explore subjects that emphasize the complications and benefits of diversity in the ancient world

○ Actively seek to incorporate the work and viewpoints of scholars of diverse backgrounds and positionalities, in teaching, research, and invitations to speak

Taking a proactive stance towards equity in labor and its evaluation

○ Monitor and assess fairness and equity in teaching, workload distribution, and student evaluations

Making our spaces and areas of study more accessible, inside and outside the classroom

○ Offer courses with broad appeal that presume no prior expertise in the ancient world or its languages

○ Share Classics with Yale and the New Haven community through initiatives like the Yale Prison Education Initiative and work with area schools

Current members of the DEI committee (2022-2023): Ann-Marie Abunyewa (undergrad), Sydnie Chavez (grad), Andrew Johnston (faculty, Spring 2023), Jessica Lamont (faculty, Fall 2022), Pauline LeVen (faculty), Esther Reichek (undergrad), and Jasmine Sahu-Hough (grad).

The Classics Department at Yale has been a leading center for teaching and research into the cultures and societies of the ancient Mediterranean World for over a hundred years. In addition to the study of the ancient Mediterranean in all its aspects, we also study the complex afterlives of the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome and the ways in which the classical past has been, and continues to be, woven into narratives of the present. The department places a very high value on equality, inclusion, and mutual respect and on providing an intellectual community in which all members of the department feel at home.

The department exists to conduct original research, to train Classicists to the highest standards of scholarship at both undergraduate and graduate level, and to promote interest in the study of Greco-Roman antiquity. To this end, we are fortunate in enjoying unparalleled library resources and material holdings for the study of ancient Greece, Rome, and the Hellenistic World. We offer a wide range of undergraduate and graduate courses in the languages, societies, and cultures of the Greco–Roman world, and in classical reception.

Our approaches to teaching and research are informed by the knowledge that Classics is not an immutable body of knowledge, but that what Classics is, and how we do it, varies according to changing historical, social, and cultural contexts. The department offers students the opportunity to develop an overall knowledge of ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, as well as an appreciation of how, at different historical moments, Greco-Roman antiquity has been used and abused to serve the needs of the present. Our programs of study emphasize getting to grips with the history and cultures of Greece, Rome, and the Hellenistic World, in conjunction with intensive language training in Greek and Latin, which makes profound engagement with these societies possible. The department also undertakes to equip its students with the specialist skills needed for their study, such as papyrology, numismatics, and epigraphy, and we are fortunate to have experts in all of these fields.

The department has affiliations with the Yale Art Gallery, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale Divinity School, Yale Law School, and the departments/programs of African-American Studies, Philosophy, Comparative Literature, Hellenic Studies, History, Humanities, Linguistics, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Renaissance and Medieval Studies, Religious Studies, and ARCHAIA. Our outlook is international: in addition to the U.S., members of the teaching faculty come from Britain, Canada, France, Israel, Italy, and the Netherlands.

Many of the faculty have one or more joint appointments elsewhere within Yale and work closely with colleagues across the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. We offer a number of combined programs at the graduate level, for example with Comparative Literature, Renaissance StudiesPhilosophy, and History of Art.