Classics 720: Syllabus

General Information

Instructors: Caroline Stark (Howard)
Kenny Morrell (Rhodes)
Meeting Times: Howard: 9:40 am-11:00 am EST
Rhodes: Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:30-10:45 am CST
Meeting Place: Howard: Wonders Plaza Breakout Room
Rhodes: Language Learning Center, Palmer Hall
Office Hours: Stark: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:00-9:30 am EST and by appointment.

Morrell: Mondays from 9:00 to 10:00 am CST; Tuesdays from 11:00 to 12:00 pm CST; and Wednesdays from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm CST and by appointment.

Joint: Wednesdays 7-8 pm EST (tentative)

Office Locations: Stark: Locke Hall 268
Morrell: Haliburton 403
Telephone: Stark: 202-806-5220
Morrell: 202-257-6269
Email: Stark:

Tuesday lectures will introduce the play of the week, the historical context, and certain themes in performance/reception. A portion of class will be spent examining ancient sources and discussing how these plays reflect historical circumstances, or we will view excerpts of modern performances or adaptations and discuss how these performances address specific aspects and themes of the play or recast historical concerns to reflect contemporary ones. You should read the play at least once before class on Tuesday. A short online quiz on the play for the week will take place at the beginning of class on Tuesday.  Be sure to be on time, as there are NO MAKEUPS. 

Thursdays will be spent focusing on writing and developing your writing skills, both for creative writing assignments and analytical essays. We will explore essential components of writing successfully, from pre-writing phases to drafts and essential rewriting. Since this is a drama course, we will also focus on how understanding the creative process and the varied aspects of performance influence our reception and analysis of the play. We will be doing many interactive assignments in class, both for writing and performance.

There are TWO tracks: both tracks require some creative and some analytical writing, but whichever track you choose will determine whether your final writing assignment is the script or a research essay. The final week will consist of presentations and performances.

Exams will be comprehensive, covering everything we have read and discussed in class (including lecture notes). Use the weekly self-evaluations to organize your notes and to make sure you understand everything from the reading and lectures for the week.  Ask if you do not understand. These evaluations are meant to help you synthesize the material in preparation for the exams.

Course Policies

This class meets approx. 3 hours a week (two 80 min. sessions). Students can expect 7-10 hours per  week of preparation — reading, taking notes from the reading, studying, reviewing notes, writing exercises, preparing for quizzes, exams, etc. Every week you will fill out a Self-Evaluation Report that documents how many hours you have spent each week and how you are performing. This report tracks your progress, so it is in your interest and mine that you report honestly.

I will be available for assistance with course material during office hours (I do not, however, repeat lessons via email or in office hours; if you miss a class, you must get notes from your classmates). If you need to see me and cannot make scheduled office hours, please make an appointment.

Note carefully the dates for exams as listed on this syllabus. If you miss an exam without a valid excuse (illness, family emergency), you will receive a zero for it. See ABSENCES, below.

• Foodstuffs: Since we are in Wonders Plaza, beverages and food (coffee, soda, or water in covered containers) are not allowed.

• Electronics: Cell phones, pda’s, iPods or like items must be turned off and put away while in class.

• Recording devices of any kind (including recording pens) may not be used in class.

• Computers/e-readers/ipads may only be used for taking quizzes, writing notes, and/or for consulting assigned readings. Abuse of this privilege will result in computers no longer being allowed for the rest of the term for EVERYONE.

Attendance Policy

Attendance is MANDATORY. Your success in this course is based on your punctual arrival, attendance for the entire class, preparedness for discussion, and active participation (including answering and asking questions). See the Rubric for Attendance and Participation for more details. Lectures will introduce the author and texts of the week, the historical context, and important themes for that week. You should come to class having read the text at least once and be ready to discuss passages and themes from the reading. Some class time will be devoted to discussion of key passages and questions or to group-related activities. Class discussions and group activities will help you solidify in your own mind concepts from the assigned readings (for which reason you must keep up). If you do not attend, you cannot participate, and your grade will suffer.


Absences due to accidents, medical emergency, military service, or a death in the family, may be excused only with appropriate documentation (e.g., police report, doctor’s note, draft letter, obituary, etc.). A Medical Excuse must consist of an original (not Xeroxed) letter on appropriate letterhead, signed and dated by your physician. If you have a medical issue that will require absences, tell your teacher privately after class or during office hours, no later than the first week of classes. Please see University Policy on Disability, below.

Policy on Religious Holidays: If you will be observing any religious holidays that will prevent you from attending a regularly scheduled class, or interfere with fulfilling any course requirement, you may have the opportunity to make up the course requirement only if you make arrangements by informing your instructor of the dates of your religious observance(s) within two weeks of the beginning of the semester (or three days before holidays that fall in the first two weeks).


You are allowed two (2) unexcused absences per semester. Use them for problems due to car or METRO breakdowns, obtaining auto licenses, court dates, or academic advising meetings. See the Attendance and Participation Rubric. These 2 absences will only be “forgiven” at the end of term. If you must miss a class, get notes from a fellow.


Missed exams may be made up only for excused absences (see above).

Procedure for Missed Exams:

1. You must contact me, by email, written note in my mailbox, or phone message left with the dept. secretary before any exam you will miss (except if the absence is due to a car crash or medical emergency).

2. Makeup exams must be taken during the scheduled office hour on the day you return to class, so prepare yourself and schedule your time accordingly. If you are unable to make office hours because of another class, you MUST take the exam during class on the day of your return (unless prior arrangements have been made). NO EXCEPTIONS.

3. When you come to take the makeup exam, you must present appropriate documentation for your absence (if you have not already done so). If you do not, you will not be allowed to take the makeup exam.

NB: Medical emergencies do not consist of routine doctor’s appointments. If you do not notify me ahead of time about missing an exam (except as outlined above), you will not be allowed to take a makeup. If you miss the scheduled date of your makeup, you will not be allowed to take it. If you cannot make office hours and do not take the exam during class, you may not make it up.

Course Requirements

Given the nature of the course as lecture and writing and performance workshop, regular attendance and participation is essential. There is almost always a direct correlation between active participation and success in the course. The grade takes into account participation (in class and online), modern staging and performance of a Greek play, and 2 exams. The relative weight of each portion of the grade is as follows:

Component Percentage of Final Grade
Participation (includes weekly assignments, quizzes, self-evaluations, groupwork) 20%
Scene & Peer Review 10%
Short Essay & Peer Review 10%
Script/Research Essay 20%
Presentations 10%
Exam I 15%
Exam II 15%

Missed assignments and quizzes may not be made up. See below for due dates and specific rubrics for all online assignments. Missed exams may not be made up except in the case of extreme emergencies (see Excused Absence policy above). Exams will consist of short passages to identify and discuss as well as essay questions on the passages and important themes. Exams are 75 minutes, but you will have 2.5 hrs to complete the exam within a 24 hour period.  Once you start the exam, you must finish it, as it will automatically submit it at the end of the 2.5 hrs.  More detailed instructions will be given in due course.



Topics & Readings (see calendar for specific assignments and due dates)

Jan. 14-18

T: Introduction to course; Olympian gods

R: Introduction to Ancient Theater & Background Myths: Jason and the Argonauts and the House of Cadmus; Quiz 1

“Athenian Theater and Performance” in Theban Plays

[Apollodorus], Library 1.8.16-1.8.28, 3.4.1-3.7.3

Diagnostic Writing (in-class)

Jan. 22-25

T: Euripides Bacchae; Quiz 2

R: Wetmore, “Introduction to Greek Tragedy and the African Diaspora” in Black Dionysus: Greek Tragedy and African American Theatre

Introduction to Writing for the Stage

Writing to Learn: Short Synopsis of Play (WWWWWHW); Brainstorming Strategies

Jan. 28-Feb. 1

T: Wole Soyinka The Bacchae of Euripides: A Communion Rite; Quiz 3

R: Learning to Write: “Good Writers are Good Readers”: Dissecting a scholarly article and mapping the argument

McConnell, J. (2016) “Postcolonial Sparagmos: Toni Morrison’s Sula and Wole Soyinka’s The Bacchae of Euripides: A Communion Rite,” Classical Receptions Journal, Oxford, pp.133-54.

Feb. 4-8

T: Sophocles Oedipus Tyrannus; Quiz 4

Learning to Write/Writing to Learn: Message

Feb. 11-15

T: Rita Dove The Darker Face of the Earth; Quiz 5

R: Play Choice due

Writing to Learn/Learning to Write: Structure & Plot

Feb. 19-22

T: Sophocles Oedipus at Colonus; Quiz 6

 R: Short Essay and Script for Scene due (section; scene)

Writing to Learn/Learning to Write: Perspective & Evidence

Feb. 25-March 1

T: Lee Breuer The Gospel at Colonus (1985); Quiz 7

 R: Peer Reviews for essays and scripts due

Learning to Write/Writing to Learn: Audience

March 4-8


Workshop Scripts

March 11-15


March 18-22

T: Sophocles Antigone; Quiz 8

W: Exam I

Learning to Write: Rewriting Strategies

March 25-29

T: Nambi Kelley Xtigone; Quiz 9

Writing to Learn/Learning to Write:

Learning through performance

Bringing the script to performance

April 1-5

T: Aristophanes Lysistrata; Quiz 10

Creative Staging Workshop


April 8-12

T: Spike Lee Chi-Raq (2015); Quiz 11

R: Final Papers/Scripts due

Prop/Mask/Costume Workshop

April 15-19

T: Euripides Medea; Quiz 12

R: Idris Cooper The Tragedy of Medea Jackson

Sound Design

April 22-26

T: Presentations

H: Presentations

F: Undergraduate Research Symposium

(NB: for graduating seniors, deadline for final reflections is Monday midnight and productions in class Tuesday)

Final Reflections (due by Friday midnight)

May 2



  • Friday, January 25: last day to add/drop a course
  • Thursday, February 14: Play Choice due
  • Thursday, February 21: Short Essay and Script of Scene due
  • Thursday, February 28: Peer Reviews for essays and scripts due
  • March 4-8: Rhodes Spring Break
  • March 9-16: Spring Break Trip to Memphis, TN
  • Wednesday, March 20: Exam I
  • Friday, April 5: last day to withdraw from a course or total withdrawal from the university
  • Thursday, April 11: Final Papers/Scripts due
  • Tuesday-Thursday, April 23-25: Presentations
  • Friday, April 26: Undergraduate Research Symposium in Washington, DC
  • Thursday, May 2, 11:00 AM–1:00 PM: FINAL EXAM

Selected Bibliography

The following materials will be used in lectures/class discussions and will be helpful launching pads for your papers and own creative reworkings. This list is only a selection; please see me for further bibliography on your individual projects.

Bosher, K, et al (eds)(2015). The Oxford Handbook of Greek Drama in the Americas. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Conteh-Morgan, J. and T. Olaniyan (eds)(2004). African Drama and Performance. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Cook, W.W. and J. Tatum (2010). African American Writers and Classical Tradition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Goff, B. and M. Simpson (eds)(2007). Crossroads in the Black Aegean: Oedipus, Antigone, and Dramas of the African Diaspora. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hardwick, L. and C. Gillespie (eds)(2007). Classics in Post-Colonial Worlds. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

McConnell, J. (2016). “Postcolonial Sparagmos: Toni Morrison’s Sula and Wole Soyinka’s The Bacchae of Euripides: A Communion Rite,” Classical Receptions Journal, Oxford, pp.133-54.

Rankine, P. (2009). Ulysses in Black: Ralph Ellison, Classicism, and African American Literature. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.

Rankine, P. (2013). Aristotle and Black Drama: A Theater of Civil Disobedience. Waco: Baylor University Press.

Roynon, T. (2013). Toni Morrison and the Classical Tradition: Transforming American Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Söderbäck, F. (2010). Feminist Readings of Antigone. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Stark, C. (2016). “Spike Lee’s Didactic Lens of Aristophanes,” Center for Hellenic Studies Research Bulletin 4.2.

Stark, C. (2018). “Lysistrata(s): Aristophanes and Spike Lee,” Classical Receptions Journal 10.3, Oxford, pp.249-74.

Walters, T. (2007). African American Literature and the Classicist Tradition: Black Women Writers from Wheatley to Morrison. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Wetmore, K. (2002). The Athenian Sun in an African Sky: Modern African Adaptations of Classical Greek Tragedy. London: McFarland & Company, Inc.

Wetmore, K. (2003). Black Dionysus: Greek Tragedy and African American Theatre. London: McFarland & Company, Inc.

Wetmore, K. (2012). “Black Skin, Greek Masks: Classical Receptions, Race Reception, and African-American Identity on the Tragic Stage, Revue de littérature comparée, no. 344, pp. 487-93.

Williams, D. (2009). “Contemporary African American women writers,” in The Cambridge Companion to African American Women’s Literature, edited by A. Mitchell and D.K. Taylor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 71-86.

Young, H. (ed.) (2013). The Cambridge Companion to African American Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have. Post your questions in the discussion forum. I will check this forum at least twice a day between 9am and 5pm Eastern Standard Time on business days during the semester and respond so that everyone in the class can see my answers.  Save any private concerns for email. My office hours are listed above, or email me to set up an appointment in person or via Googlehangout. Also take advantage of the resources available at the Writing Center, which has resources and tutors to assist you.

“Writing Matters”:

Writing is an essential tool for thinking and communicating in virtually every profession. Therefore, in this course I expect you to produce writing that is not only thoughtful and accurate, but also organized, clear, and consistent with the rules of Standard English. If your writing does not meet these standards, I may deduct points or ask you to revise. For assistance with your writing, go to the student section of the Writing across the Curriculum (WAC) website

Center for Academic Excellence

The Center for Academic Excellence provides tutors to assist undergraduates with a variety of subjects. You can request a tutor online ( The center also provides academic counselors and student success workshops to help you stay in school and excel.

Incomplete Grades and Withdrawals:

The last day to withdraw from this course is Friday, April 5. An incomplete will be considered only if a student has completed 70% of the coursework with a passing grade, and only in cases of extreme emergency or unusual circumstances that the instructor feels would warrant an extension. If an incomplete is granted, a temporary grade of IF will be entered. The student will establish a schedule to make up the work with the instructor, and it will be the student’s responsibility to abide by that schedule.

Disability disclosure statement:

Howard University is committed to providing an educational environment that is accessible to all students. In accordance with this policy, students in need of accommodations due to a disability should contact the Office of the Dean for Special Student Services for verification and determination of reasonable accommodations as soon as possible after admission to the University, or at the beginning of each semester. The Office of the Dean for Special Student Services, Dr. Elaine Borne Heath, can be reached at (202) 238-2420.

Any student who has a need for accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact me privately to discuss the specific situation as soon as possible.

Statement on Interpersonal Violence:

Howard University takes sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking and sexual harassment seriously. If a student reveals that he or she needs assistance with any of these issues, all Responsible Employees, which includes faculty, are required to share this information with the University Title IX Office (202) ‎806-2550 or a student can be referred for confidential services to the Interpersonal Violence Prevention Program (IVPP) (202) ‎238-2382 or University Counseling Services (202) ‎806-6870. For more information about these services, please go to www.CampusSafetyFirst.Howard.Edu.

Statement on Academic Freedom:

Freedom to teach and freedom to learn are inseparable facets of academic freedom. The University has adopted a policy on Intellectual Freedom and Responsibility and Student Rights available at the following link:

Howard University affirms that the central purpose of a university is the pursuit of truth, the discovery of new knowledge through scholarly research, the teaching and overall development of students and the transmission of knowledge and learning to the world at large. The establishment and maintenance of a community where there is freedom to teach and to learn, however, is dependent on maintaining an appropriate sense of order that allows for the pursuit of these objectives in an environment that is both safe and free of invidious disruption.

Policy on Academic Honesty:

The following statement is quoted from the Academic Code of Conduct available at the following link:

Howard University is a community of scholars composed of faculty and students both of whom must hold the pursuit of learning and search for truth in the highest regard.  Such regard requires adherence to the goal of unquestionable integrity and honesty in the discharge of teaching and learning responsibilities.  Such regard allows no place for academic dishonesty.  To better assure the realization of this goal any student enrolled for study at the University may be disciplined for the academic infractions defined below. 

Definitions of Academic Infractions 

  1. Academic Cheating—any intentional act(s) of dishonesty in the fulfillment of academic course or program requirements.  This offense shall include (but is not limited to) utilization of the assistance of any additional individual(s), organization, document, or other aid not specifically and expressly authorized by the instructor or department involved.  (Note: This infraction assumes that with the exception of authorized group assignment or group take-home assignments, all course or program assignments shall be completed by an individual student only without any consultation or collaboration with any other individual, organization, or aid.)
  2. Plagiarism—to take and pass off intentionally as one’s own the ideas, writings, etc. of another without attribution (without acknowledging the author). 
  3. Copy Infringement—Copy infringement occurs when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner.

Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of another person’s labor, another person’s ideas, another person’s words, another person’s assistance. Normally, all work done for courses—papers, examinations, homework exercises, laboratory reports, oral presentations—is expected to be the individual effort of the student presenting the work. Any assistance must be reported to the instructor. If the work has entailed consulting other resources—journals, books, or other media—these resources must be cited in a manner appropriate to the course. It is the instructor’s responsibility to indicate the appropriate manner of citation. Everything used from other sources—suggestions for organization of ideas, ideas themselves, or actual language—must be cited. Failure to cite borrowed material constitutes plagiarism. Undocumented use of materials from the World Wide Web is plagiarism.

Academic cheating is, generally, the thwarting or breaking of the general rules of academic work or the specific rules of the individual courses. It includes falsifying data; submitting, without the instructor’s approval, work in one course which was done for another; helping others to plagiarize or cheat from one’s own or another’s work; or actually doing the work of another person.

Students must assume that all graded assignments, quizzes, and tests are to be completed on their own unless otherwise noted in writing in this syllabus. I reserve the right to refer any cases of suspected plagiarism or cheating to the University Disciplinary Committee, and to assign a grade of “F” or “0” (zero points) for the assignment or for the course itself, if deemed necessary.

Any Academic Infractions in my course will result in a failing grade for the course.  

The material and methodology used in this course is the intellectual property of the instructor (Caroline Stark) and cannot be used for any purpose without written permission. Any duplication of this material will be considered an act of plagiarism.