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Unit information: Pompeii in 2015/16

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Unit name Pompeii
Unit code CLAS32345
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Hales
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Classics & Ancient History
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

Pompeii has played a major part in the way we imagine and relate to the ancient world. The urge to resurrect the city prompted the invention of archaeology and evidence from Pompeii is used in a range of disciplines from ancient history to psychoanalysis. At the same time, the human tragedy of the eruption of Vesuvius has inspired artists of all kinds. The city is at once the backdrop for erotic paganism and Christian judgement. She appeals to the intellectual elite but also to popular culture. This unit explores popular and intellectual responses to Pompeii since its rediscovery in the eighteenth century and how contemporary preoccupations have affected the way that Pompeii has been viewed in academic scholarship, art, fiction and film. We will also ask what we want from Pompeii at the beginning of the twenty first century (a century that Pompeii may well not survive).

Intended Learning Outcomes

  • be familiar with a range of responses to Pompeii formed from the eighteenth to the twenty first century. Students should be aware of the contexts that have fuelled those responses and their development and evolution over time.
  • have had some experience of evaluating and comparing material across a range of media, and of developing their own interpretations of this material and its relevance to the topic.
  • be able to use the knowledge acquired in class and through their own reading to construct coherent, relevant and persuasive arguments on different aspects of the topic.
  • have had the opportunity to develop their oral and written communication, in seminar discussion and in essays and written exams.

Teaching Information

2 hours per week, seminars

Assessment Information

one essay of approx. 3,000 words (50%), one 2 hour exam involving passages and images for comment and essay questions (50%).

Reading and References

  • R. Etienne, Pompeii. The Day a City Died (1992)
  • A. Cooley, Pompeii (2003)
  • I. Jenkins, Vases and Volcanoes (1996)
  • P. Zanker, Pompeii: Public and Private Life (1998)
  • Lord Lytton, The Last Days of Pompeii (1834)