Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024

Module CLAS3821: Small Literary Forms

Department: Classics and Ancient History

CLAS3821: Small Literary Forms

Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Not available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • Monuments and Memory in the Age of Augustus (CLAS1301) or Introduction to the Greek World (CLAS1601)


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide an introduction to a variety of Greek and Latin authors and literary text types subsumed under the category of 'small forms',
  • to analyse the literary characteristics of the texts discussed,
  • to get an idea of ancient and modern theoretical approaches to literary genre, and
  • to explore the cultural and socio-political functions of the text types discussed.


  • The module will be dealing with text types such as epigrams, fables, letters, anecdotes, exempla literature, ‘impromptu’ poetry (e.g. Statius’ Silvae), maxims (dicta) and proverbs.
  • The module will consider small literary forms as elements of miscellaneous writings, anthologies and compilations. It covers both prose and poetry ‒ in Greek as well as Latin.
  • In addition, ancient and modern theoretical approaches to literary genre will be discussed. The reception of small forms in later (medieval and modern) periods will also be analysed.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge of some major examples of 'small forms' in Greek and Latin literature,
  • familiarity with the diversity of text types within a specific group, and
  • knowledge of the cultural and socio-political functions of the literature defined as “small forms”
Subject-specific Skills:
  • An ability to handle a wide range of diverse and complex text types,
  • to place them in their socio-cultural and historical context, and
  • to discuss in an informed and sophisticated way the issues raised by diverse modern approaches.
Key Skills:
  • An ability to engage in an informed and sophisticated way with diverse and challenging texts,
  • an ability to compare and assess different interpretative approaches and methodologies, and
  • a capacity to sustain a clear, well-structured and well-defended argument in written form.

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

  • Classes focus on the main texts and topics covered in the course and enable students to discuss and develop their ideas in an interactive environment.
  • Student presentations (ideally in smaller groups) provide an impulse for further discussions.
  • The summative essay will assess the students’ familiarity with the evidence and the sophistication of their analyses. It will test the students’ ability to focus on relevant issues and organise knowledge and argument appropriate to questions raised.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Classes 14 1 per week (7 in Michaelmas Term, 7 in Epiphany Term) 1 hour 28
Preparation and Reading 172
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Summative Essay 4,000 - 5,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

One formative exercise

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