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Reading the Faces of Ancient Cultures

Semester and Year FA 2017
Course Number IDSEM-UG1562
Section 001
Instructor Hallie Franks
Days MW
Time 9:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   HUM, PREMOD



In this class, we will investigate the form, development, and role of images of people in ancient Egypt, the Near East, Greece, and Rome. Using visual and literary sources, we will focus on how we define a portrait and will confront the variety of problems that the representation of the individual in the ancient world entails. How essential are the concepts of “likeness” and “realism” to the definition of a portrait, and to its function? How are ancient portraits manipulated to serve specific public or private roles? Who does the manipulating, and who is the audience? Does there exist, in pre-modern cultures, a correlation between the portrait of an individual and that individual’s character? We will address these questions and others, concentrating on the use of portraiture in shaping personal, political, and cultural identities. Texts may include the Stele of Naram-Sin; Aristophanes, Clouds; Pseudo-Aristotle, Physiognomics; images of Alexander the Great and his Successors; the Prima Porta Augustus; and Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray. We will make use of objects in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)