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Instructor: Megan Sweeney



Why language matters in Rome

CIV 379: Course counts towards Civilization or Society requirements, or

advanced studies.

Reading, Writing, and Rhetoric

Why language matters in Rome
In order to assess the ways in which language plays a role in Roman identity across time, we
will consider the development of language in Rome, literature produced in Rome, and progression
and variation of language from ancient Rome to the present. The course will be aimed at answering
a set of guiding questions: 1. In Rome, what is the role of the development of language in
defining and displaying Roman-ness and Roman identity? 2. How do the languages spoken and the
ways in which these languages are used in Rome impact concepts of identity and status from
ancient times to contemporary?
We will begin with an analysis of language in Rome from the development of Latin. It will be
important here to recognize the various suggested reasons for the development and value of Latin.
Beyond the development of language, this course will assess the varied uses of language and how
literature and rhetoric were active in forming identity and status in Rome. We will consider the role
of patrons in the production of literature and what kind of influence such literary material had on
the literate in Rome as well as the way literature could be used to send cultural and political
messages. Finally, we will look at a series of more specific case studies. The students will use the
skills and knowledge gained through our study of language in Rome to assess how each historical
moment or subject works to display the value of language and its uses in Rome

Course Objectives: students will be able to

1. describe how language developed within Rome and out of Rome.
2. describe the various ways language is used
across time in Rome.
3. approach texts effectively with an eye for
Engagement: 30%
pertinent information.
Papers: 40%
4. articulate how a text informs and helps us
Project/Presentation: 30%
understand cultural issues and significant
5. participate in individual research and
present materials and information in a new and relevant way.
6. be able to apply learned information and lines of inquiry to specific case studies.

Course Goals: By the end of the semester students ought to have gained comfortability with the
issues surrounding our guiding questions. Students will learn that in early Rome, language
was essential in defining and displaying Roman-ness and Roman identity. Students will
also learn that the languages spoken and the ways in which these languages are used in
Rome impact contemporary concepts of identity and status.