CANE Summer Institute

The Classical Association of New England Summer Institute 2017

July 10–15, 2017 / Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island

The View from a Distance: Perspectives on the Greeks & Romans from across Space & Time

The organizers of the 2017 CANE Summer Institute invite you to join us for a weeklong exploration of the Classical Greek and Roman worlds from the perspectives of outsiders — in both space and time. We will consider the views and responses to Greece and Rome by contemporaneous “others” from around the ancient world, as well as reactions and adaptations of Greek and Roman culture in later literature and physical art.

Whether you are a high school or college teacher of Latin and/or Greek, History, English, the Arts, or other related disciplines, an undergraduate or graduate student, or a devoted lifelong learner, you will enjoy a thoughtful and enriching experience that includes a wide variety of mini-courses, lectures, workshops, reading groups, and special events while also offering many opportunities for conversation and collegial interaction among participants.

Information about the lectures and courses can be found below, and for updated information (as of 6/20/17) on the reading groups, workshops, and the program as a whole, click on this link.

Registration for the 2017 institute is now closed. (For future reference, there were two ways to register:

(1) Download, print, and fill out, and mail in the print registration form. Click here.


(2) Follow instructions on our online registration page. Click here.)

• Tuition for 2017 is $250. This covers a morning course and an afternoon course, each of which meets five times (Mon.-Fri.). The lectures, reading groups, and professional development workshops are also included in this tuition. Participants must be members of CANE in order to register for the summer institute (join or renew here). The organizers of the institute are thankful to an anonymous donor and to the executive board of CANE for their support in keeping the tuition for the institute at this level.

• Room and board for five days and nights is $400. This includes an air-conditioned single room in a Brown University residence hall, linen service, and daily lunch and dinner at the Brown dining halls. There will be receptions for participants on the evenings of July 10 and July 12, and a banquet for the group on the evening of July 14 (see below).

Additional options:

Friday evening banquet – $40

Parking pass on the Brown campus (Mon.-Sat.) – $90

Sunday night arrival – $50

Sunday night parking – $15

Scroll down for a list of the public lectures and the scheduled courses. Please note that all lectures and courses will be given in English; participation in the institute does not require knowledge of the ancient languages. Put another way, we welcome and encourage interested “outsiders” to the field of Classics to join us at the institute. The organizers provide a “Continuing education tracking sheet” to those who are attending the institute for professional development.

There will be professional development workshops on “Practical Classics Across the Curriculum,” led by Ruth Breindel (Emerita, The Moses Brown School); on “Enriching the Classroom Through the Artistic Tradition,” led by Eileen Strange (The Hopkins School); and on “How We Can Make a Difference: Classics, Outreach and Social Justice,” led by Dominic Machado (Brown University) and Roberta Stewart (Dartmouth College)

A Latin reading group will be led by Elizabeth Baer (Lenox Memorial High School); and a Greek reading group by Erin Cummins (Ursuline Academy).

With questions, please contact the 2017 CANE Summer Institute director, Tim Joseph of the College of the Holy Cross, at And follow the CANE Summer Institute on Twitter @CSI2016

Public Lectures

Mon., July 10, at 7 p.m. “Justifying genocide? Caesar’s conquest of Gaul in the context of Roman imperialism”

Kurt Raaflaub, Brown University

• Tues., July 11, at 10:30 a.m. “Parthian Shots: The Parthians in the Roman Literary Imagination”

Jeri DeBrohun, Brown University

• Tues., July 11, at 7 p.m. “The Aeneid in America: From First Contact to Final Frontier”

Meredith Safran, Trinity College

• Wed., July 12, at 10:30 a.m. “Mussolini’s Roman Empire”

Ellen Perry, College of the Holy Cross

• Wed., July 12, at 7 p.m. “Non-Greeks in Herodotus Consider the Hellenes”

Deborah Boedeker, Brown University

Thurs., July 13, at 10:30 a.m. “Cato and the Reception of Roman Tradition”

Fred Drogula, Providence College

• Thurs., July 13, at 3 p.m. “36 Hours in Rome: Outsiders’ Views of the Ancient City”

Geoff Sumi, Mt. Holyoke College

• Fri., July 14, at 10:30 a.m. “Allure without Allusion: Quoting a Vergilian Epitaph in a 9/11 Memorial”

Aaron Seider, College of the Holy Cross

• Fri., July 14, at 3 p.m.  “Caryatids and Their Cultural Meaning: From the Erechtheion’s Maidens to Disney’s Seven Dwarfs

Darryl Phillips, Connecticut College

• Sat., July 15, at 10:30 a.m. “Latin as a Second Language in the Roman Empire”

Kathleen Coleman, Harvard University


Five-day Mini-Courses

Please note that the courses do not require knowledge of Latin or Greek; all readings are in English.

Morning Courses (9-10:15 a.m.)

1. Elegies from the End of the (Roman) World: Ovid’s Exile Poetry

Jeri DeBrohun, Brown University

Some of Ovid’s most moving poems are those he composed during his unhappy exile in Tomis, on the Black Sea, where by the order of Augustus he spent the final decade of his life. We will read selections from Ovid’s Tristia (“Sorrows”) and Epistulae Ex Ponto (“Letters from the Pontus”), as well as his violent invective poem, the Ibis. Particular attention will be devoted to Ovid’s vivid depiction of his (“barbaric”) place of exile, especially as he compares it to (“civilized”) Rome, to which he longs to return; and we will examine what he tells us concerning the reasons for his removal from his beloved city. We will also explore examples of the influence of Ovid’s exile poetry on later writers and artists, especially those who themselves experienced exile.


2. The “Other” in the Ancient World

Fred Drogula, Providence College

This course will examine the Greek and Roman views of ‘other peoples’ in the ancient world, and it seeks to understand how these ‘others’ engaged with, and participated in, the Greco-Roman world. The ancient Mediterranean was a very diverse world, and people from different regions, ethnicities, and religions moved freely around the Roman Empire, but they are often under-represented in the study of classical civilization. This course will study Greek and Roman views of Africans, Jews, Germans, Persians, and other groups, and it will seek to understand how concepts like ‘race’ or ‘ethnicity’ operated and were used in the Greco-Roman world.


3. Encounters Between Jews and Romans

Dr. Alice K. Lanckton, Newton South High School; and Rabbi Van Lanckton, Temple B’nai Shalom

Jews constituted up to ten percent of the ancient Roman population. Jews recorded observations of Rome and Romans in rabbinic works such as Talmud and Midrash. Many Roman writings about Jews exist, including those of Augustus, Josephus the historian (born a Jew but a defector to Rome who was granted Roman citizenship) and Tacitus. Using English translations and some Latin and Hebrew texts, we will explore complexities in the ways these two great peoples saw each other and themselves.


4. Caesar the Brutal Destroyer and Clement Conqueror: How do we react to Roman imperialism, its methods, and its consequences?

Kurt Raaflaub, Brown University

Even if the numbers are exaggerated to enhance achievement and glory, the statistics of the Gallic War are staggering and depressing: perhaps one million persons (out of six million?) killed, countless towns and farmsteads destroyed, immeasurable losses in property and animals, profound and pervasive disruptions of lives and happiness, etc. Some modern scholars speak of genocide. How does one justify actions that produce such results? And how, as a modern reader of Caesar’s Gallic War, does one deal with and assess such actions, the policies that prompt them, and the culture that tolerates and encourages them? Our students will and should ask such questions, and as teachers we need to be able to answer them. Our seminar will (a) examine relevant sections of Caesar’s Gallic War from the perspective of the problems of Roman imperialism, (b) study other ancient texts that are relevant in this context, and (c) discuss a selection of modern reactions to the issues involved.


5. The Other Within: Greek perspectives on Roman Rule

Geoff Sumi, Mt. Holyoke College

Greeks living in the Roman Empire had an in-between status: many were wealthy, well born, leaders of their own city-states, some even became Roman citizens and helped administer the empire. Yet they lived subject to governors’ edicts, with the boots of Roman soldiers poised above their heads, and were officials of the imperial cult—all local manifestations of the authoritarian rule of a distant monarch. How Greeks negotiated the delicate balance of supporting their hometowns while maintaining allegiance to the Roman emperor will be the subject of this course.


Afternoon Courses (1:30-2:45 p.m.)

6. Dangerous Women of Classical Myth, Then and Now

Hanne Eisenfeld, Boston College

Medea kills her children; Helen starts a war; Klytemenestra and Elektra tangle Agamemnon and each other in familial strife; even Penelope finds her dining hall turned into a slaughterhouse. In this course we will focus on these five figures in order to investigate how Greek and Roman mythmakers told stories about dangerous women as a way of communicating about the conflicts, tensions, and fears of their societies. We will focus on their representations in a selection of ancient texts (created almost entirely by men), but we will also look at how they have been reused in later periods (by men and women), while at the same time thinking more broadly about which stories we tell about women in 2017 – and why.


7. Philology: What was it and what can it be for the study of the Classics and the Bible?

Peter Machinist, Harvard University

Philology is etymologically the love of the word, and starting already in antiquity, it became the principal intellectual tool for the study of language and literature, history and culture – nowhere more important than in the appreciation of Classical and biblical literature. In this course we will read from some of the major works of philology, Aristotle and Nietzsche among them, and ask whether its importance in past scholarship still has something to teach us today in our approach to antiquity and in our concern for antiquity’s enduring values.


8. Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra: Its Perspectives on Rome and Modernity

Bill Morse, College of the Holy Cross

In Antony and Cleopatra, we seem to find two dimensions of our 2017 CSI theme: the Egyptian perspective in space on the emergent Rome of the early empire, and, through this, Shakespeare’s own perspective in time on that earlier epoch.  Appearances can be deceiving, however: how is the play a reflexive Renaissance work of art, using the ostensible issues of the early empire to present us with a provocative reflection on contemporary English culture, questioning and commenting on the nature of the playwright’s early modern England, with its rise of the “new man”– the selfish, calculating individual of early modernity?  How does the play’s Octavius Caesar say more about us than Rome?  And Antony and Cleopatra more about the passing world of the pre-Renaissance western tradition than either Rome itself or oriental Egypt?  We will spend our week together opening up this most complex and beautiful of Shakespeare’s late tragedies as we explore these questions, and those that arise from your own reading.


 9. The Subterranean Reception of Homeric Epic in Film and Television

Meredith Safran, Trinity College

Film and television have become the dominant media through which people around the world consume narrative. Sometimes without even realizing it, those same viewers are drinking from the spring of the classical tradition. Screen texts that trumpet their adoption of classical narratives are easy to spot, but the movies and television programs that build upon those foundations are more numerous, appeal to a wider range of tastes, and thus offer varied and rich avenues of interpretation. In this course we will examine the resonances of the Homeric epics in sports-melodrama, art-house period film, the Western, and science fiction. General familiarity with the Iliad, Odyssey, and Aeneid is expected; participants will view the widely-available films and television episodes prior to class, by streaming online and/or borrowing from local or school libraries. Details to follow.


10. Encountering the Other in the Odyssey and Beyond

Aaron Seider, College of the Holy Cross

Odysseus’ travels homeward and eventual arrival in Ithaca offer us a rich tableau of encounters between people previously separated by boundaries of space and time. In this course, we will explore how characters in the Odyssey react to those who have been separated from them before by an unbridgeable gulf. At the same time, we will also look ahead to modern pieces of literature that engage with some of the core themes of Homer’s epic, such as the homeward journey, the divide between domestic and martial, and the relationship between mortal and divine. Our readings (all in translation) will include lengthy selections from the Odyssey itself as well as shorter pieces from modern works such as Phil Klay’s Redeployment and Kate Tempest’s Brand New Ancients.