CANE Summer Institute

The Classical Association of New England Summer Institute brings together students, educators, and lifelong learners for an intensive week of lectures, mini-courses, reading groups, professional development workshops, and special events. Each institute considers the literature, history, and arts of the ancient Greeks and Romans — and how we engage with those cultures today.

The Institute was founded in 1983 by Edward Bradley, Phyllis Katz, and Matthew Wiencke of Dartmouth College and Gloria Duclos of the University of South Maine. After being based at Dartmouth from 1983 until 2011, the institute moved in 2013 to Brown University, under the leadership of Jeri DeBrohun of Brown. At the bottom of this page you will find a list of institutes from the past several years.

Please note that lectures and courses at the institute are given in English; participation in the institute does not require knowledge of the ancient languages. CANE welcomes interested individuals who are new to the study Classics to attend the Institute as well as graduate and undergraduate students.  Participants may board at Brown University for the Institute or commute to campus for the week.

CANE is thankful to the Onassis Foundation USA for its generous support of the Onassis Lecture Series. The 2019 Onassis Lecturer was Dr. Rebecca Futo Kennedy, Professor of Classics at Denison University.

With questions, please contact the CANE Summer Institute director at



                         Summer Institute            

The Empire and the Individual

July 13-18, 2020, Brown University, Providence, RI

Please join us for the 37th Classical Association of New England Summer Institute on the theme The Empire and the Individual.

graduate credit available– Email the director for more information.

The organizers of the CANE Summer Institute invite you to join us for a weeklong examination of peoples and cultures that comprised the Classical Greek and Roman worlds. We will consider what it meant to be (but) an individual amid the greater whole of an empire and what that can tell us about living in today’s world.

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.


Featuring public lectures by:

Deborah Boedecker, Brown University, “How Individual Persians ‘Resisted’ Their King”

Kathleen Coleman, Harvard University, “Staffing the Provincial Bureaucracy: Pliny in

Dan-El Padilla Peralta, Princeton University, “Epistemicide: The Roman Case”

Sasha-Mae Eccleston, Brown University, “The Cost of Belonging”

Kurt Raaflaub, Brown University, “War, Peace, and the Individual in the Ancient World”

Sailakshmi Ramgopal, Columbia University, “The Mithridatic Massacre: Genocide and Identity in 88

Aaron Seider, College of the Holy Cross, “Confounding Empire: Ovid’s Wife and the Spaces
of Exile”

Elizabeth Vandiver, Whitman College, will give a 3 lecture series on Classical reception in English literature of the early 20th century.
“Striving After Learning: The British Working Class and Classical Knowledge in the Edwardian Age”
“Individual Responsibility and Collective Guilt: Orestes and Odysseus as Paradigms in Richard Aldington’s War Novels”
“Modernists Versus Scholars: Ezra Pound, Richard Aldington, H.D., and Translating the Classics”


MORNING COURSES (9:00-10:15 a.m.)

1.Milton’s Lycidas and Pastoral Elegy
Bill Morse, The College of the Holy Cross

While individuality can mean many things, for the poet it is intimately linked to poetic immortality: in elegy, the poet’s consolation for grief over the lost one can, paradoxically, create immortality for the poet. Thus the elegy has been a privileged poetic genre since the Idylls of Theocritus. How does any great elegy have as much to say about its creator as the lost soul memorialized in its lines? What is the relation of the poetic consolation of grief to a poet’s own poetic immortality? And why should the artifice of pastoral be so often wedded to the elegy proper? In this seminar, we will focus on the greatest English pastoral elegy, John Milton’s Lycidas, in the context of the classical tradition that defined it, to explore these and many related questions. Language Teaching Standards: Connections

2. Dido, Hannibal, Carthage: “Necessary” Victims of Rome’s Imperial Destiny? Jeri DeBrohun, Brown University

What if, in an alternative mythological world, Aeneas had chosen to stay with Dido? Or, in a more realistic scenario, what if Hannibal, one of history’s greatest military strategists, had succeeded in conquering Rome? In this class, we will examine Roman literary and historical depictions of Dido and Hannibal both as individual figures (mythological and historical, respectively) whose abandonment or defeat was required for the Roman Empire’s foundation and continued survival, and as representatives of Carthage, the state whose destruction Cato the Elder famously demanded (Carthago delenda est) for the sake of Rome’s security. Our primary readings (in English translation) will be selections from Vergil’s Aeneid, Livy’s Ab Urbe Condita, and Silius Italicus’ epic poem Punica. We will consider also the later receptions of Dido and Hannibal, as well as of the phrase Carthago delenda est, with its political and ideological implications.  Language Teaching Standards: Cultures

3. “He Longed for the Desert:” Turning Your Back on Rome
John Higgins, Smith College

The most radical individuals in the Roman Empire were the earliest Christian monks. They rejected everything about Roman civilization, not only the traditional religion. They walked away from family structures and economic life, from the military, from the intellectual tradition of paedeia, and eventually from human society itself, and went to live in solitary poverty in the desert. In this course we will read in translation several early Latin accounts of these, the most unusual Romans, from Antony of the Desert to Martin of Tours and try to understand them in the context of the world they rejected.  Language Teaching Standards: Cultures

4. Vote Catiline!
Joanna Kenty, Radboud University

Are all populists demagogues? Is populism a bad thing? Were the urban plebs of Rome a seditious and violent mob, or a systemically oppressed demographic, desperately in need of representation and support? In this course, we’ll read about the populist Catiline (and argue about whether he was a populist or not) in the works of Sallust and Cicero. The conspiracy of Catiline is a great case study for issues of socioeconomic class, good governance, factionalism, and historiographical bias.  Language Teaching Standards: Comparisons

5. Pindar’s Victory Odes: Songs and Contexts
Hanne Eisenfeld, Boston College

Pindar’s victory odes are complex and vibrant, filled with an intricately structured combination of praise, warning, history, and myth. These qualities have earned them centuries of admiration, but also a reputation for difficulty. In this course we will make sense of five of these odes by examining them as products of their own times and places. By reading the odes through the lenses that Pindar’s audiences had at their disposal, including contemporary politics, athletics, and religion, we will see that their variegated elements cohere into powerful and unified compositions which participated in a rich fifth-century conversation about gods and men, power and fame, life and death.  Language Teaching Standards: Cultures

AFTERNOON COURSES (1:30-2:45 p.m.)

1.Tragedy’s Empire: Individual Agency in Antiquity and Beyond Aaron Seider, College of the Holy Cross

Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides wrote their tragedies in the fifth-century BCE, a period that saw the rise and fall of Athens’ military and political power. Performed in the charged environment of the City Dionysia, their masterpieces raise provocative and indeed timeless questions about the relationship between individual and empire. These questions will form the center of our course, as we explore how both ancient playwrights and modern artists turn to mythology to interrogate the conflicts of values, identity, and control that arise when individual and empire collide. Our readings (all in translation) will include ancient plays like Sophocles’ Antigone and Euripides’ Medea as well as contemporary works like Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire and Luis Alfaro’s Mojada.  Language Teaching Standards: Comparisons

2. Affect and Matter in the Roman Empire
Sasha-Mae Eccleston, Brown University

If one of the goals of this summer’s institute is to consider how the individual cultivates a sense of belonging in an empire, this course will interrogate the other emotional states bound up in the formation and maintenance of empire. What feelings does the stuff of empire create? Control? Ignore? Excerpts will range from the parodic (Lucian) and prosaic (Pliny the Elder) to the romantic (Chaereas and Callirhoe).  Language Teaching Standards: Comparisons

3. Problems in Roman Slavery: Texts and Contexts
Roberta Stewart, Dartmouth College

This course selects representative texts from the Roman slave society (Republic and Empire) and explores methodologies for identifying and interpreting the evidence for the history of slave experience. Texts include Cato, On Agriculture (De Agri Cultura); Plautus, Persian; Cicero, Letters to Tiro; Apuleius, Met. 1-3.  Language Teaching Standards: Cultures

4. What Happens When A Ruler is Replaced? The Problem of Succession in Antiquity
Peter Machinist, Harvard University

Rulership, especially in the centralized states of antiquity, but really of all periods of history, has always carried risks. One of the most potent is when rulership has to change – a liminal period between old and new that can be dangerous when there are major competing forces at work. We will look at this problem and how it has been handled in several different texts and cultures, both ancient and modern. Our major case study comes from ancient Israel and the Hebrew Bible, and concerns the rule of King David and the succession of his son, Solomon. This is presented to us in a particular narrative from the biblical books of 2 Samuel, chapters 9-20 and their sequel in 1 Kings, chapters 1-2 – a narrative to which modern scholarship has given several labels, the most prominent being The Succession Narrative. (For background, we will also glance at 1 Samuel 6 – 2 Samuel 8, 21-24.) Our discussion of this text as a piece of literature, possibly propaganda, and its historical background will be the foundation of our course. But we will supplement it with a modern historical novel that aims to revisit and rework this narrative and its politics, The King David Report, written by the East German Jewish author, Stefan Heym. What Heym is doing in his novel, published originally in 1972 in German and then in 1973 in English (we will be using the English edition), and how he handles the biblical narrative will be our challenge. In juxtaposing Bible and Heym, we shall also consider one or two other ancient texts about the succession of rulers from the ancient Near East and the Classical world. All together, these texts and the differing cultures they represent should give us plenty to think about as we consider our own politics of rule.  Language Teaching Standards: Connections

5. Romans and Italians: Building an Empire Before the Social War Sailakshmi Ramgopal, Columbia University

This course leaps into the thorny question of how Rome acquired its empire from the perspective of the social and political relationships that bound together the Roman and non-Roman peoples of the Italian peninsula before the Social War. We will look at translated excerpts from Appian, Diodorus Siculus, and Cato the Elder, as well as Latin and Greek inscriptions, to see how the dynamics of Roman rule in Italy shaped the position of Italians in Mediterranean geopolitics abroad and provoked how Italians demanded citizenship at home.  Language Teaching Standards: Cultures


Language Teaching Standards:Communication

Greek, 4-5 pm
Latin, 5-6 pm
New reading group this year Learn to Read Ancient Greek led by Ruth Breindel 4-5 p.m.

2020 costs

Basic Program $250

lodging (optional) $290

meals (optional) $190

parking (optional) $96

CANE membership (required) $50

Some photos from the 2019 Institute

Past CANE Summer Institutes

  • July 8-13, 2019, Brown University
    • E Pluribus Unum
  • July 9-14, 2018, Brown University
    • Empires Ancient and Modern: Reactions to Imperial Power from Athens to the Americas
  • July 10-15, 2017, Brown University
    • The View from a Distance: Perspectives on the Greeks & Romans from across Space and Time
  • July 11-16, 2016, Brown University
    • Quid Sub Sole Novum? Imitation, Innovation, and Creation in the Ancient World
  • July 13-18, 2015, Brown University
    • Exegi Monumentum. Creating the Everlasting in the Ancient World
  • July 14-19, 2014, Brown University
    • “On the Shoulders of Giants:” Greco-Roman Giants and their Modern Emulators
  • July 15-20, 2013, Brown University
    • America’s Founding Fathers and the Classics of Greece and Rome
  • July 11-16, 2011, Dartmouth College
    • Spectacles in and of the Ancient World. spectatum veniunt, veniunt spectentur ut ipsae.
  • July 12-17, 2010, Dartmouth College
    • “Not Athens But the World.” Why America is Still Listening to Ancient Voices
  • July 6-11, 2009, Dartmouth College
    • Expanding the Map: Cultural Exchange and the Peripheries of the Classical World.
  • July 7-12, 2008, Dartmouth College
    • Revolution and Reaction: Radical Changes and Continuities in the Ancient World
  • July 9-14, 2007, Dartmouth College (25th Annual)
    • Beyond Antiquity: The Legacy of the Classical World