Greek and Latin Linguistics: Syntactic, Rhetorical and Discourse Pragmatic Units


Course Objective

Students will be introduced to current views on meaningful units of
syntactic, rhetorical, narratological and discourse-pragmatic analysis,
and, especially, on the relationship between these different types of
units. They will be trained to analyze larger stretches of Greek and
Latin texts along these different lines and to recognize the markers
that signals the boundaries involved. In addition, they will be trained
in corpus research, advanced academic presentation and critical debate.

After completing this course, students should be able to:
- apply the relevant theoretical concepts concerning various types of
linguistic units in their own research and analysis of Greek ad Latin
- recognize meaningful linguistic markers that signal syntactic,
pragmatic, cognitive and rhetorical units in Greek and Latin texts, and
recognize the units involved on the basis of various relevant linguistic
- critically evaluate and discuss literature relevant to the topics of
this course;
- prepare, organize and stimulate discussions among their fellow
students in class;
- carry out individual research, under supervision of the teachers,
related to the topics discussed;
- and present the results to their fellow students.

Course Content

Units of linguistic analysis vary according to the goals of analysis.
Thus, e.g. syntactic analysis is usually based on constituents, clauses
and sentences, while pragmatic analysis proceeds along the lines of
discourse acts and moves, and cognitive approaches have paid much
attention to so-called ‘idea units’, which are not unlike rhetorical
cola. Narratological analysis, finally, is usually based on even larger
units, such as paragraphs and episodes. Starting from these various
types of units, students will gain more insight in the ways in which
syntax, rhetoric, and narratology interact in shaping our understanding
of how classical texts and discourse are shaped and structured. We will
read and discuss in class recent literature on different types of
analyses and the corresponding units, as well as literature on text
types and the differences between oral versus written discourse and on
the various markers that are used by speakers and writers to demarcate
units. Besides, the students are invited, right from the start, to apply
the insights gained by analyzing stretches of texts, esp. passages taken
from Greek and/or Latin narrative, speeches and dialogue. The
responsibility for the discussions in the classroom of literature and
analyses is given to the students themselves, who are requested to hand
in questions and observations before each session, and are taking turns
in presiding over the discussions. The seminar is concluded by
individual research assignments; the results are shared in oral
presentations; besides students write an conference abstract, describing
the research they conduct in agreement with the conventions of
linguistic conferences.

Teaching Methods

Seminar, 2x2 hours per week.

Method of Assessment

The course will be concluded with individual oral presentations that are
supported by an informative hand out and (preferably) a Power Point
presentation. An extended and revised hand out (on the basis of the
presentation and the discussion) will be handed in after the
In preparing the presentations, students will write an abstract, which
will be revised on the basis of individual feed back by the teachers and
two fellow students.

The grading of the course is based on:
• preparation of and presiding over (at least) two discussions
in class (20%)
• abstract (20%)
• oral presentation and extended hand out (60%)
(the presentation itself, the content and the underlying research are
graded separately)

Entry Requirements

Bachelor degree Griekse en Latijnse taal en cultuur, Latijnse taal en
cultuur or Ancient Studies (with Greek and/or Latin)


Syllabus with primary and secondary texts (in CANVAS).

Target Audience

MA students Classics and Ancient Civilizations.

Additional Information

Students who have been trained in only one of the two languages involved
will be offered sufficient material to focus their attention on that
language only (usually Latin, but Greek is also possible), and devote
their assignments, research and presentation to texts written in that
language. Core texts in the other language will be offered in
translation and/or alternative texts and assignments will be available.

Custom Course Registration

This module is taught at the UvA by dr. R. Risselada (UvA) and dr. R. Allan (VU) (UvA subject code 172411466Y). Module registration with a UvaNetID at the UvA is required. Please note that course registration periods at the UvA and VU differ. For a ‘step-by-step guide to course and exam registration’ and the ‘dates for course and exam registration’ please consult the ‘course and exam registration’-page via the ‘A-Z list’ of your MA programme on

Recommended background knowledge

Students should be acquainted with basic insights into Greek and Latin
syntax, Pragmatics, Rhetoric and Narratology, and have experience in
(close) reading of Classical Greek and/or Latin prose at the level of
the BA exam.

General Information

Course Code L_AAMAOHS040
Credits 6 EC
Period P2
Course Level 400
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinator dr. R. Risselada
Teaching Staff dr. mr. R.J. Allan
dr. R. Risselada

Practical Information

You cannot register for this course yourself; your faculty's education office carries out registration

Teaching Methods Seminar, Lecture
Target audiences

This course is also available as: