Classics and Film

Classics and Film (CC-245)
Tues-Fri 9.30am – 10.45am ~ McDermott 307

Students will explore the cinematic classics of the Classics, by comparing the original materials with their motion picture counterparts. We will study films from different periods, countries, and schools .We will view and analyze films from both ancient and contemporary perspectives; compare the sensibilities and preferences of both ancient and modern audiences; analyze films about the past for their commentary on contemporary political, sociological, and other events and ideas.


Kristina Chew, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Classics
Dept. of Modern & Classical Languages & Literatures
Hilsdorf Hall (51 Glenwood Avenue), Room 203
Saint Peter’s College
Tel. 201.761.6295
Office Hours: Monday, Thursday: 11am-12noon, 1-2pm

Course Goals and Objectives
By the end of this course, the student will have achieved the following:

  • The ability to analyze, critique and interpret a contemporary film.
  • The ability to analyze, critique and interpret an ancient work of literature (in translation).
  • The ability to analyze, critique and interpret a contemporary film in relation to the historical and other sources it draws upon.
  • A basic critical vocabulary of film and film studies.
  • Basic knowledge of ancient Greek and Roman history and mythology.
  • Familiarity with various Internet resources for the study of ancient Greece and Rome, classical mythology, and film studies.

Homer, Odyssey

Aeschylus, Oresteia

Sophocles, Theban Plays

Ovid, Metamorphoses

In addition, we will be reading some selections from Aristotle’s Poetics, Plato’s dialogues, and contemporary writings on film studies. You can find the classical texts all on the internet (I’ll be providing links) and I’ll provide the contemporary texts.

You are expected to view each film in full. The instructor will have copies of each film in DVD format for you to watch.

***Please check the professor’s website, daily for all homework and writing assignments, links to online resources, and information about the class.
***Other technologies used will be films (from online sources and DVDs) and computer presentations.

Class Participation and Homework ~ 20%
Writing assignments/Short Essays ~ 25%
Two Oral Presentations ~   25%
Mid-term ~ 15%
Final exam ~ 15%

(subject to change at the instructor’s discretion)

January: Odysseys
21. Friday. Ulysses (1954)
25. Tuesday. O Brother, Where Art Thou?–go here to see Part 1 of the movie
28. Friday. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000).   — The question of authenticity: How ‘faithful’ to the original ancient text does a movie need to be?

February: Athens in History and Tragedy
1. Tuesday. The Warriors—RHODA
4. Friday. 300—-AARON
8. Tuesday. Iphigeneia.—ROSEMARIE
11. Friday. Protagonist
15. Tuesday. Protagonist
18. Friday. Medea—-JILL

22 Tuesday. Clash of the Titans I—CHARLES
25. Friday. Black Orpheus—–ASHIA

1. Tuesday. Midterm
4. Friday. Clash of the Titans II
8 Tuesday. Guest lecture? ***NO CLASS on 11 March, Friday***
22. Tuesday. Alexander: Theatrical Cut—SCOTT
Friday. Alexander: Theatrical Cut

Rome and Roman History
29. Tuesday. Iphigeneia.—ROSEMARIE

1. Friday. Gladiator—-DAMARIS
Tuesday. Medea—-JILL
8. Friday. Clash of the Titans I & II—CHARLES and SEAN Fellini’s Satyricon
12. Tuesday. Alexander: Theatrical Cut—SCOTT
Fellini’s Satyricon
15. Friday. Black Orpheus—–ASHIA Agora / Ben-Hur
19. Tuesday. Spartacus—-TOM
Agora / Ben-Hur
22 Friday. GOOD FRIDAY–no class

Mythologies 2
26. Tuesday. Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope—JAMES
29. Friday. Nashville–FRANCISCO

3. Tuesday. Troy — DAN
6. Friday. LAST DAY OF CLASS. Review
10. Tuesday. Reading Day

Class Participation and Homework
This course will be taught in a seminar/lecture format. Students are expected to have prepared all assignments (reading, writing, and presentations) before coming to class and to be prepared to engage in thoughtful discussion and to answer questions concerning the assigned reading and the films. There will be homework assignments everyday.

Writing Assignments/Essays/Oral Presentations
Each student will have at least one opportunity to analyze in class a 5-7 minute sequence from one of our films, explaining both its structure and its place within the film at large.

  1. 1st essay. Students will ‘translate’ their presentations into a 4-5 page essay.
  2. 2nd essay. Each student will write a one-page pitch and a 900-1200-word treatment for a putative film on classical antiquity, based on a myth or a historical event.  The pitch and treatment will take the form of letters to a movie studio.
  • You will be required to make specific reference to ancient primary sources in your essays.
  • Essays and all written assignments are due at the start of the class on the due date.
  • Essays may be submitted in hard copy format (i.e. printed out on paper) or via email.
  • I am glad to discuss your essay with you prior to your writing it and will read rough drafts (either in hard copy format or sent via email) if you get them to me at least three days before the due date (i.e., if a paper is due on a Tuesday, the last date that I will read a draft is Saturday evening).

Midterm and Final
These exams will require you to (1) identify mythological, historical, and other terms and concepts in short answer format; (2) respond to essay questions.

Plagiarism Policy
Plagiarism is the stealing, purchasing, or copying of someone else’s ideas, writing, or other original work and using them as one’s own. Plagiarism, intentional or unintentional, is considered academic dishonesty and all instances will be reported to the Office of the Academic Dean. Plagiarism and cheating of any kind are not tolerated under any circumstances.
The following are the College’s definitions of plagiarism and cheating (from the College’s webspage on Student Conduct,

Plagiarism is a most serious form of dishonesty. It may be defined as stealing or purchasing the ideas and writings of another and using them as one’s own. The most common form of plagiarism is the incorporation of whole sentences and paragraphs from published material into papers submitted as one’s own work or purchasing term papers and/or related materials and submitting them as one’s own work. The forms of plagiarism are many and varied, and it is not the intent of this policy statement, therefore, to give a complete catalog. Plagiarism is rarely the result of confusion or misunderstanding. If one conscientiously acknowledges the sources of one’s ideas and citations, plagiarism is effectively avoided. In cases of doubt, students should consult their instructors.

The College, as a matter of policy, does not condone or tolerate plagiarism. Students who submit plagiarized work are liable to receive a failing grade for the assignment and/or the course. In more serious cases, the student who plagiarizes is liable to be suspended or dismissed from the College by the appropriate academic dean.

Cheating is another extremely serious form of dishonesty, and is not tolerated by the college. It may be defined as the giving or accepting of unauthorized assistance with any assignment (including but not restricted to examinations and papers). The most common examples would be copying an answer on an examination (or knowingly allowing one’s answer to be copied, except when collaboration is authorized by the instructor), bringing unauthorized aids to an examination room for one’s own or someone else’s benefit, and providing test questions in advance (or receiving them from anyone other than the instructor in the course).
For further information on plagiarism and the policies regarding academic dishonesty go to the College’s websites on Student Conduct ( on Academic Conduct (

Attendance Policy
Students are permitted no more than four absences after which they are in danger of failing the course. After missing two consecutive classes, you must contact the professor by email or phone to provide an explanation of your absence and a plan for making up all missed work. After three absences, an Early Warning form will be sent to the Academic Dean, who will ask you to meet with her in person to discuss the reasons for your absences and your commitment to the class. Lateness to class (more than two times) will count as an absence.

• If you are absent, it is your responsibility to contact the instructor and to check the professor’s website to find out the assignment for the next class meeting.
• Always bring the following to class: our textbook, a notebook, and a pen or other writing implement.
• Students will help to make this class a community by being courteous and committed members of the class, speaking frequently and thoughtfully in class discussions, and collaborating in frequent group work with one or two other students.

Behavior in the classroom.
• The use of cell phones, beepers, or other communication devices is disruptive, and is therefore prohibited during class. Except in emergencies, these devices should not be used during classtime.
• If you have a laptop computer, you are required to turn it off and keep it closed during class, unless you have consulted in advance with the professor about using it. You are not permitted to check email or IM, visit websites, or send text messages during classtime. Failure to comply with this policy will significantly lower your class participation grade and, ultimately, your overall grade in the course.


About kristinachew

classicist | translator (of ancient Greek & Latin poetry & drama) View all posts by kristinachew

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