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Department Programs

Classics Department Writing Program

The Classics Department affirms the goals set out in the college’s Academic Writing Program: to improve the quality of students’ writing, to enhance their ability to learn through writing, to make them adept in the genres of writing most germane to their major discipline, and to develop proficiency in oral and visual rhetoric appropriate to the discipline.

We present the following guidelines with the understanding that instructors are free to adapt them according to their own pedagogical judgment. Similarly, since students develop their skills at different speeds and in various ways, we are prepared to accommodate those differences in a reasonable manner. At the same time, all faculty members in the department are expected to plan their syllabi with careful attention to the frequency, variety, and quantity of writing assigned in each course.

General Guidelines    

One of the four major learning objectives for all of our majors is that “Students majoring in classics will develop proficiency in doing the several kinds of writing that characterize scholarly writing in foreign languages and the humanities: i.e. written translations from Greek or Latin into English, some composition from English into Greek or Latin, informal journaling, brief essays for tests, formal critical essays, and research papers.” Therefore,

  1. Every course in the department will include writing assignments that factor significantly into the student’s grade.
  2. Each course will include exercises in a variety of oral, visual, and written rhetoric.
  3. The frequency of such exercises will ensure that students are always preparing, completing, or revising their writing or in-class presentations.   
  4. Each formal writing assignment will include an explanation of its purpose, clear guidelines for its form and content, and a rubric for grading.
  5. Students will receive prompt, personal, and detailed feedback on their formal writing.
  6. Copies of each major’s formal papers & exams will be retained in a portfolio for program assessment.

Guidelines for Core Courses 

  1. Greek and Latin courses at the 100- and 200-levels (foreign language core) will include reading aloud in the target language, daily written translations from Greek/Latin to English, daily oral recitations in class, some translations from English to Greek/Latin, informal writing-to-learn exercises in class, opportunities for audio-visual presentations, and essay questions on some tests.
  2. Classics 211, 221, and 231 (literature and fine arts core) will include formal writing assignments totaling at least 15 pages, beyond tests and informal exercises. Students will be trained to meet the requirements of clear expository prose, close analysis, rigorous argumentation, technical accuracy, and proper form. In mythology and classical art, particularly, students will be expected to demonstrate their skills in identifying and analyzing images from the material culture of Greece and Rome.

Guidelines for Greek & Latin courses at the 300-level 

  1. Like the lower-level language courses, these courses will include reading aloud in the target language, daily oral recitation and written translations from Greek/Latin to English, some translations from English to Greek/Latin, informal writing-to-learn exercises in class, opportunities for audio-visual presentations, and essay questions on major tests and exams.
  2. In addition, each of these advanced courses will include formal writing assignments totaling at least 15 pages in which students will be required to engage with both primary and secondary texts, so that they can develop and demonstrate “research literacy” appropriate to the discipline by the time of their graduation. These assignments may include critical book reviews, reflective essays, and/or a research paper. Faculty members may at their discretion schedule individual conferences, encourage or require revised drafts, or set separate deadlines for submission of topics, bibliography, and various drafts. Through these assignments students should become proficient in using the research tools and methods that are specific to the discipline (see appended “research literacy” Upper-Level Outcomes from the Academic Writing Program Advisory Board).
  3. Through their writing and reporting assignments in these advanced classes students will develop and demonstrate their knowledge of classical culture: i.e. of the main figures and movements in classical literature, history, religion, and material culture from Homer (8th century BC) to the early middle ages (5th century AD).
  4. Through their writing and reporting assignments in these advanced classes students will develop and demonstrate their ability to engage with classical culture: i.e. to demonstrate their proficiency in researching and interpreting ancient texts and material culture and to articulate some of the ways in which a Christian might reflect on that ancient world and its reception, particularly in contemporary culture.

Grading Rubrics

The department maintains a collection of grading rubrics that reflect the standards of our writing program and are suitable for assignments in our courses. Faculty may choose a rubric from this collection or devise one of their own that fits our shared goals for student writing & presentations.

Faculty Awareness and Development

The department chair and/or new faculty mentor will ensure that newly hired members of the department become versed in its writing policies and expectations. Allmembers of the department will commit themselves to adapting their own practices as needed to meet these expectations. In addition to the collection of rubrics mentioned above, the department will maintain a collection of writing/reporting assignments and course syllabi that have succeeded in accomplishing our goals.

Classics students will have access to this description of our writing program, including sample rubrics that reflect faculty consensus on the grading of written work in our department.

Assessment

The department maintains an assessment portfolio for each major with copies of graded tests, papers, and exams. This portfolio is stored in a locked file in the department office. Every year the faculty review the portfolio of each graduate and evaluate our success in helping them achieve the stated goals of the program. We mark each portfolio according to the rubric attached below (see the second objective: proficiency in writing), and we report a summary of this assessment in our annual State of the Department report.

The department’s writing program will be reviewed at least every ten years as part of its comprehensive program review.

(Revised July 2012)