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Level 6

6AACHI15 The History & Theory of Ancient Slavery

Credit value: 30
Module convenor/tutor: Dr Ellie Mackin (Semester 1) & Sofia Piacentin (Semester 2)
Teaching pattern: 20 x 2-hour lecture (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 1 x 3-hour exam (100%)

Assessment pattern for single semester Study Abroad students
  • 6AACH15A The History of Ancient Slavery (Study Abroad) - Semester 1 only

A Semester 1 only version of the module may be available in certain years to Study Abroad students. Students should check the Study Abroad module catalogue for the relevant year for availability.

Assessment: 2 x essay of 2,500 words (the higher marked essay is weighted at 70% while the lower is weighted at 30%)

  • 6AACH15B The Theory of Ancient Slavery (Study Abroad) - Semester 2 only

A Semester 2 only version of the module may be available in certain years to Study Abroad students. Students should check the Study Abroad module catalogue for the relevant year for availability.

Assessment: 1 x gobbet exercise of 1,500 words (30%) and 1 x essay of 3,500 words (70%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Assessment pattern for Graduate Diploma students

Assessment: 3 x 3,000-word essays (100%, essays worth 1/3 each)

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand, there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

Historically there have been few slave societies, but the ancient world provides two examples in Greece and Rome. This course will examine the phenomenon of ancient slavery from a variety of perspectives. The question of how to find a slave voice in our literary and material evidence will be addressed, as will the range of experiences of slaves in different Greek poleis and different parts of the Roman empire. We will investigate the importance of slavery for the ancient economy, and consider the ‘decline’ of slavery at the end of antiquity. A major part of this course will be an exploration of the political, philosophical and legal justifications for slavery made by an array of thinkers from Aristotle to early Christians. We will also look at how ancient theories and justifications of slavery have been adopted and adapted in later ages, particularly in early modern and modern America. Throughout we will be engaging closely with a range of sources and establishing a comparative basis for examining the institution of slavery across space and time.

Suggested introductory reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of these books is not mandatory.

  • K. R. Bradley, Slaves and Masters in the Roman Empire (1984)
  • K. R. Bradley and P. Cartledge (eds), The Cambridge World History of Slavery: volume I, The Ancient Mediterranean World (2010)
  • E. Dal Lago and C. Katsari (eds), Slave Systems: Ancient and Modern (2008)
  • G. E. M. de Ste Croix, The Class Struggle in the Ancient World (1981)
  • M. I. Finley, Ancient Slavery and Modern Ideology (1998, revd ed)
  • M. I. Finley, Classical Slavery (1999, revd ed.)
  • W. Fitzgerald, Slavery and the Roman Literary Imagination (2000)
  • P. Garnsey, Ideas of Slavery from Aristotle to Augustine (1996)
  • D. Goldenberg, The Curse of Ham: Race and Slavery in Early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (2005)
  • C. Hezser, Jewish Slavery in Antiquity (2005)
  • K. Hopkins, Conquerors and Slaves (1978)
  • O. Patterson, Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study (1982)
  • T. J. Wiedemann, Slavery: Greece and Rome (1987)
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