Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module CLAS44130: Romosexuality: Homosexuality in Latin Literature and its Reception

Department: Classics and Ancient History

CLAS44130: Romosexuality: Homosexuality in Latin Literature and its Reception

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Not available in 2019/20 Module Cap None.


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • In accordance with the general aims of the MA programmes in the Department of Classics & Ancient History, to promote self-motivated and self-directed research, in the sub-disciplines of Latin Literature and Classical Reception.


  • Ancient Roman same-sex eroticism and the way in which it has been received in the post-classical world have profoundly influenced modern concepts of homosexuality, although scholarship until recent years has focused upon the reception of Greek antiquity in this respect.
  • This module examines what is distinctively different about Roman 'homosexuality' (as depicted in Latin literature) and its reception, from Greek homosexuality and the way that this has been regarded by later audiences, and the impact that this has had upon modern understandings of sexuality.
  • The module builds on previous knowledge of ancient literature to show how same-sex eroticism is presented in Latin literature from the Republic to the second century BCE.
  • The module also builds on previous knowledge of classical reception to explore how Roman texts relating to homosexuality have influenced modern ideas about homosexuality and its representation.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module, students should have acquired a close familiarity with a range of Roman works in translation which depict same-sex eroticism, including Catullus, Cicero, Plautus, Suetonius, Tibullus, Ovid, Martial, Petronius and Juvenal, and be capable of using them to consider how same-sex love is represented in different genres and how its representation responds to social ideas and historical realities.
  • By the end of the module, students should also have acquired a close familiarity with some key post-classical texts which respond to Roman homosexuality, and should be able to understand their influence on modern ideas about sexualities, ancient and modern. Students should be able to understand and appreciate the major trends and debates in modern scholarship, and some of the theoretical material on which these modern debates rest.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will develop the literary and historical skills relevant to the handling of Latin literature, the history of sexuality, and classical reception in general. In particular, they will be asked to develop an understanding of the distinctive features of different genres and of Roman and modern ideas about sexuality
Key Skills:
  • The analytical and interpretative skills required for the successful completion of this module are transferable to any field which demands close attention to written detail, the analyses of others, and historical study. The module also requires students to understand and evaluate scholarly debates, including theoretically dense materials. It also requires the effective use of library and IT resources; good oral and written presentation skills; independent research skills.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Teaching will be by fortnightly seminar (4 in term 1, 4 in term 2), structured around a student presentation on the topic for the week. This will ensure that individuals engage in independent research and thought on the topics for which they make a presentation, as well as providing the opportunity to develop oral presentation skills and articulate arguments. The presentation will be followed by a discussion in which there is an onus on everyone to engage in thought about the scope of the evidence and the coherence of the interpretation presented, encouraging critical reflection. The seminars are fortnightly and 2 hours long rather than (e.g.) weekly and one hour sessions in order to allow and encourage significant preparation, and detailed discussion.
  • Students will be encouraged to attend undergraduate lectures in appropriate subjects (particularly Classical Reception) where available and an appropriate source of material.
  • Formative assessment will be based on an essay written up from the seminar presentations – one during the year. Summative assessment will be by one 5,000 word essay on Roman texts on homosexuality and/ or their reception, to be submitted at the end of the year. These exercises will foster the ability to provide clear and detailed written articulation of the literary themes and techniques of our authors and of the history of sexuality and of classical reception, and provide practice for the use of appropriate conventions and style in setting out written research, and ensure that research and assimilation of secondary literature is carried out at the appropriate level.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 8 4 in Michaelmas term, 4 in Epiphany term 2 hours 16
Preparation and Reading 284
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 5,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

• Oral presentation and participation in class debates. • One essay (to be submitted in Michaelmas Term). This essay is to be written up from oral presentations made in the seminar.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University