Announcements

Bookmark this page as your main entry point to the course website. That way that you’ll be sure to see any changes and other information I’ve posted here.
Current Announcements (3)

Alpha list of all readings added to the PDF/Print page

6 February 2023

For ease of reference, the PDF/Print page on the course website has been updated to include an alphabetical list of all of the primary and secondary readings available in PDF form for the semester.

The readings are also linked under the week they’re assigned on the schedule page.

Link to PDF/Print page

Welcome to Week 2!

5 February 2023

Ishtar holding a symbol of leadership. Terracotta relief, early 2nd millennium BCE. From Eshnunna.
Ishtar holding a symbol of leadership. Terracotta relief, early 2nd millennium BCE. From Eshnunna.

This week we’re talking about one of the oldest civilizations of the ancient world, the harsh lands of Sumer, and their most famous bequest to later generations, The Epic of Gilgamesh. We’re reading a few chunks from it, and although the protagonists of this story are two very manly men, in these passages we get three very vividly drawn women: Shamhat the prostitute, Ishtar the bratty goddess, and Ninsun, Gilgamesh’s mother archetype.

As we talk about this, I’m interested in hearing what stands out to you about these passages. How does the people’s anger at Gilgamesh relate to gender? Why is Shamhat written as being so critical to the story of Enkidu? And why do you think it’s important she’s a prostitute rather than another kind of woman in society? What role does Ninsun play in Gilgamesh’s story? What is Ishtar all about? Given what we see of other women in the Epic, do you think she’s being painted by her actions as a woman, or as a god? And on the testosterone side, what do you think the dudebro attitudes and goals of Gilgamesh and Enkidu tell us about how the author saw the differences between men and women within a community?

We had a great discussion last time, and this time we have some really meaty (or juicy, if you want vegetarian metaphors) stuff to discuss. When we get together this week, I especially want us to talk a lot about Gilgamesh and what it tells us. Also, I want to hear your reactions to the article you read. The discussion on this is important, since only some of us will have read the one you chose. What was the author trying to convince you of? What did you think of his or her arguments, and the evidence used to support it? What insight does this give us into how the Sumerians thought about gender?

Remember, before each class you’ll watch video lecture to provide a foundation; read a handful of required readings; and then pick one of the scholarly articles on this week’s subject. This week you have (a) one short video about Gilgamesh; (b) two excerpts from the Epic (plus a bit of the introduction to set the stage); and (c) your choice of a few articles on specific subjects related to Gilgamesh and Sumer, all of which we’ll talk about in class.

Also: If you haven’t signed up for your presentations, please do so now! Go to the sign-up #1 page on the course website and claim one of the remaining readings, then do the same for sign-up #2. Email me with any questions.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and reactions. See you Tuesday!

Link to Schedule page

New Gilgamesh Transcriptions

4 February 2023

I’ve uploaded new transcriptions of the assigned sections of The Epic of Gilgamesh—namely the excerpts from the Introduction; Tablets I and II; and Tablet VI. These are all linked on the Schedule page under next Tuesday's class meeting.

Hopefully these will be easier to work with. Note the remarks at the end of the Introduction PDF on the different meanings assigned to brackets, italics, and so on to show how the defects in the original clay tablets were dealt with by the translator.

Link to Schedule page

Archive

Thanks for a great first meeting

1 February 2023

Thanks for a great first meeting—lots of ideas and contributions put out there. I’m looking forward to more of that as we progress through the semester. Everyone should feel comfortable adding their reactions and perspectives to the mix as we hear from the various cultures of the ancient world.

Make sure you’ve looked through the syllabus carefully so that you have a good sense of how things work. Remember, for each class we’ll be having videos and readings before our meetings, discussion and presentations during, and quizzes after. Attendance and participation in our meetings is critical, because that’s where we make sense of things and assemble the conclusions and take-aways you’ll use in your papers, quizzes, and the final exam.

Any questions, ask! I’m available by email or in my office hours (Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:00 to 5:45 p.m. in CA-292). I’ll also be around after class on Tuesday nights for anything you want to ask or discuss.

See you next week!

Welcome to Week 1!

30 January 2023

Minoan fresco of a Lady with the sacral knot at the back of the neck that seems to indicate that she is a priestess or even a goddess, ca. 1400 BCE. The Herakleion Archaeological Museum, Crete.
Minoan fresco of a Lady with the sacral knot at the back of the neck that seems to indicate that she is a priestess or even a goddess, ca. 1400 BCE. The Herakleion Archaeological Museum, Crete.

This is a quick note to welcome you all to the beginning of Women in Antiquity. I’m looking forward to exploring gender in the ancient world with all of you, starting with our first meeting on Tuesday. The meeting is in-person, 6:00 – 7:15 p.m., in Carman 209.

Syllabus and video: As a reminder, the syllabus, assignments, and requirements are all on the course website, which is on my website, markbwilson dot com. Make sure you’ve looked through the site and that you’ve watched the welcome video, which talks about how the course works and answers some common questions.

Books: Also make sure you have the book. The Pomeroy will be getting regular use starting in a couple of weeks, and it shouldn't be hard to find. The reading assignments on the Schedule page of the website are what you need to have read (and thought about) before coming to class.

Email me: Most of you replied back to the welcome-to-the-course email I sent you after you enrolled, confirming that I have a good email address for you. If you didn’t, could you do me a favor and reply back to this one and let me know that I can use this address, or that that a different email is better for you? Thanks.

Sign ups: There are two sign-up pages on the course website, one for a primary source presentation and one for a secondary source presentation. Everyone needs to sign up for one of each for the semester. You can get that out of the way now and choose the ones that seem interesting to you. If you have questions, we’ll talk more about presentations and the rest of the course components on Tuesday.

That’s it for now. Let me know if you have any questions. I’ll see you all on Tuesday!

Link to Schedule page

Sign up for your presentations

30 January 2023

For this class, you need to do two presentations: one on one of the primary sources we’ll be reading, and one on one of the scholarly articles that will be supplementing our discussions with. For each of these, you need to claim the one you want on the appropriate sign-up page.

Each presentation will give the class your perspective on (a) what this reading means, (b) the author’s perspective on the topics, and (c) how it relates to the material being discussed in the course. A write-up is posted to BlackBoard afterwards. Details are on the Essays page.

Please sign up for both presentations now before the start of classes. As always I am grateful to those who choose the earlier ones!

To sign up for your first presentation, go to the Signup #1 page. To sign up for your second presentation, go to the Signup #2 page.

Revised Schedule – Update

25 January 2023

As previously announced, the History Department has converted Women in Antiquity to being a hybrid course, rather at the last minute. This means we will still have our weekly meetings for discussions and presentations, but some other elements of the course will now be online.

I have now updated the Schedule Page to reflect this. The main changes are as follows.

Videos to watch before the meeting. A lot of people come to this course not having much background in history, especially ancient history. Normally, when this course is taught fully in-person, I would start each meeting with some background on the time and place we’re looking at that week. For example, the week we talk about women in ancient Egypt, I’d start with some basics about Egypt as context before we went on to discuss Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, Cleopatra, and so on.

However, the conversion to hybrid means our in-person time has been shortened by half, and I want to use that time for our in-class discussions of ideas and issues. To make that possible, I've assigned videos for each week to provide the crucial background info for us to better understand and make sense of the readings. That means each week there will be one or two short, self-contained videos you need to watch before moving on to the assigned readings.

Online quizzes. Instead of taking up our limited time in class, the quizzes that would normally be given at the start of our in-person meetings will now be assigned to be taken online after our class meetings. The quizzes are all due no later than the Sunday following our meeting.

More on all this at our first meeting, which will be Tuesday, January 31 in Carman 209, from 6:00 to 7:15 p.m. Please look over the updated schedule page and email me with any questions—or stop by my office hours in Carman 292, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:00 to 5:45 p.m. (starting this Thursday). I’m looking forward to starting our journey together!

Link to Schedule page

Change in Modality for Women in Antiquity

17 January 2023

The History Department has changed the modality for Women in Antiquity (HIA 311/WST 311/LEH 354-XT81) from full in-person to hybrid.

What this means in practical terms is that we will still meet in person every week on Tuesdays, but the meeting times will be 6:00 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. Some of the course material that previously would have been in person will now be online; I expect this will mean that I’ll use videos to cover some of the things I would have covered in lecture, and the previously in-class quizzes will now be taken online instead.

Class discussion and presentations will still take place in person during our weekly meetings in Carman 209.

I will finalize the revision of the course soon and will send you all an email when the online course syllabus (which is on my website, markbwilson dot com) is updated.

Please email me with any questions or concerns at mark.wilson@lehman.cuny.edu.

Presentation sign-ups are available

11 January 2023

The sign-up pages for your in-class presentations are now available.

For this class, you need to do two presentations over the course of the semester: one on one of the primary sources we’ll be reading, and one on one of the scholarly articles assigned each week. For each of these, you need to claim the one you want on the appropriate sign-up page.

You should sign up for both of them now before the start of classes. As always I am grateful to those who choose the earlier ones!

To sign up for your first presentation, go to the Signup #1 page. To sign up for your second presentation, go to the Signup #2 page.

Welcome to Women in Antiquity!

10 December 2022

Welcome to Women in Antiquity! I’m looking forward to a great semester exploring ideas of gender in the ancient world.

This course is in person. Physical attendance in our class meetings is a critical part of the course, so if that’s not something you’re up for this course may not be for you.

Right now, I need you to do three things.

  • First, look over the course web page, which will be our base of operations. Watch the quick welcome and orientation video (also linked below). Look through each of the pages on the website to see how the course will work, and make sure to click through to the schedule page to see how the readings, videos, and discussions are set up. Any questions about how it works, please send me an email.
  • Second, get the books now if you can. A lot of you will be ordering books online, and you need to make sure you have the books and are ready to go when the course starts on January 31. On the “Books” page I’ve tried to give you lots of different options for getting what you need, but consider ordering now if there’s going to be any kind of shipping involved. (If you come across a legitimate online/e-text version of one of the assigned readings that’s not already listed, please let me know.)
  • Finally, send me an email so that I know I have a working email address for you. You can just send a blank email, email and say “hi”, or email with a question or concern, but I want to make sure I can contact everyone. If you receive an email from me but there is an email address you prefer I use instead of this one, please definitely reply and tell me that.
Email me anytime with questions. I’m looking forward to starting our journey together.