What you will study
This module is arranged in two parts: a subject section and a dissertation section.
In the subject section, you will focus on a specific but wide-ranging topic: the body in antiquity. Some of the most innovative and exciting classical research is currently being done in body studies, and many of the scholars involved are Classical Studies staff at The Open University. The subject section will give you the chance to explore some of this new material at the hands of those experts, at the same time honing your skills in source analysis, grappling with secondary literature and constructing your own arguments. The topics chosen cover such diverse material as Greek and Roman literature, human remains, art and artefacts. You will learn to combine different types of evidence and to explore both classical scholarship and modern theoretical approaches.
The subject section is divided into four teaching blocks:
Block 1 - the Introduction - will get you thinking about the body in antiquity, how we define it and the different ways that we might approach the fact that it is at once both a very familiar topic, and one that reveals striking distances between cultures. It will begin by inviting you to confront your own cultural assumptions about the body, before moving on to look at the senses in antiquity and the history of body research in Classical studies, focussing on how the different sub-disciplines have approached it. It will finish by looking at a selection of themes in which the differences in ancient and modern ideas of the body are drawn into particularly sharp contrast.
The theme of Block 2 is The Body and Cultural Ritual, and this block focusses on the way ancient societies dealt with the universal human events of birth and death. You will look at cultural assumptions and medical approaches surrounding childbirth, before moving on to ancient beliefs surrounding death, the way people disposed of and commemorated their dead and dealt with corpses, and the role of the body in the process of mourning.
Block 3 focusses on The Body as Biological Entity by exploring the world of sickness and health in antiquity. You will study the latest scientific methods of analysing human remains to gain information about diet, illness and injury, as well as looking at the way that ancient societies approached illness, both from a medical and from a religious healing perspective.
In Block 4 you will look at the Body as a Cultural Canvas by examining ancient ideals of beauty and sexual attraction. While allowing you to gain new insights into the ancient world through the subject of the body, the main objective of the subject section is to steadily prepare you for the writing of your dissertation. The TMAs at the end of each block build in increasing levels of independence in the way that you go about your work, and they are designed to give you training in the essential skills you will need to plan your dissertation, conduct your own research and structure your arguments. The TMA in Block 4 serves as a ‘practice run’ for planning your dissertation and writing your dissertation proposal. In this way, by the end of the subject section, you will be ready to conduct your own independent research on a subject of your choice. TMA04 also includes an Outline Dissertation Proposal, in which you will run your proposed topic and your initial ideas past your tutor, so that any problems can be dealt with before your dedicated dissertation time begins.
In the dissertation section you will conduct your own independent research over roughly four months on your chosen topic. At the end, you will submit your 10-12,000-word MA dissertation. In this time you won’t be entirely alone, however, as your tutor will supervise you along the way, both through giving you feedback on your Comprehensive Dissertation Proposal (due several weeks into the dissertation section) and a sample chapter, and in less formal one-on-one supervisory meetings. Part 2 of the MA in Classical Studies aims to complete the journey you began in Part 1 of gradually transforming you from a student into an independent researcher.
You will learn
The classical studies MA part 2 will consolidate and build on the learning and research skills that you have acquired in the MA part 1 or Postgraduate Foundation Module. You will be asked to evaluate and combine ancient source material as well as engaging with modern scholarly debates. The tasks are structured such that you gradually acquire more independence in your study, preparing you step by step for your dissertation.