Classics Department

Prospective Students

Why study Classics?

The study of Classics is central to the Humanities. Studying Classics at Reed is an interdisciplinary experience, one that allows Classics majors to achieve both breadth in the field as a whole and depth in their preferred areas. Students study both Latin and ancient Greek as well as the history and archaeology of the ancient Mediterranean. The study of Greek and Latin language and literature develops skills in close reading and interpretation, skills that are foundational to critical reading in many other languages as well. Core courses in archaeology focus on archaeological method and theory, preparing students to approach material culture analytically and to form social and and historical arguments from material evidence. Core courses in ancient history examine key social, political, economic, and cultural developments in the Mediterranean world through the close study of texts from a variety of genres as well as relevant material culture.

Faculty specialties and topics of courses taught in translation include women and gender, ancient philosophy, animals, ancient ideas about ethnic difference, and the archaeology of death. Classics students also take courses in other fields of literature, history, art history, philosophy, religion and anthropology.

The Classics and Religions Departments support a standing interdisciplinary in which students take courses in both departments. This major is ideal for students who want to study Greek or Latin as well as various methodologies in Religion. Many Classics/Religion majors have produced their own translations of and commentaries on ancient religious texts for their senior thesis projects.

“I chose to major in Classics not only because I really enjoy studying the ancient world but also because the Classics department at Reed cares so indescribably much about their students. They foster an incredibly welcoming environment—both in and out of the classroom.” (Lex Ladge ‘19)

“What if you don't know what exactly you want to do? Philosophy? History? Language? Literature? Poetry? Classics is the discipline that covers all these things. And to a lesser extent, some early concepts of science and music theory as well! It's easy to be put off by the supposed difficulty of the languages, and the slow pace of beginner reading. But this is just part of the fun: for reading slowly you actually notice so much more in the syntax of the words.” (William Wu ‘18)

What are the requirements?

Students majoring in Classics at Reed choose one of two concentrations when they declare their major (usually at the end of sophomore year): Greek and Latin Language and Literature or History and Archaeology of the Ancient Mediterranean. Both concentrations are designed to familiarize students with the diverse cultures of the ancient Mediterranean.

First-year students interested in Classics are strongly advised to enroll in either Greek or Latin in their first semester. (A Latin placement exam is administered during Orientation week for students with previous experience. When evaluating the exam the faculty also consider previous coursework and AP results.) In their second year, before they declare a major, they should continue language study and take one or two history or archaeology courses in the department.

Reed also offers an interdisciplinary major in Classics/Religion (link to those requirements). This program is for the student whose interests are divided between the two fields and whose goals are not served by a major in either classics or religion. The primary fields for which the program is well suited are early Christianity (including Byzantine and medieval Christianity), Judaism in the Hellenistic period or under the Roman Empire, and pagan Greek and Roman religious practice.

“When I was a prospective student, I fell in love with the classics department. I sat in on a Latin class and the passion and energy among the students and the professor resonated with me. This was the kind of classroom setting I was looking for: hands-on, engaged, and communal.” (Elliot Menard ‘19)

“Classics at Reed is magical. The incredible passion of the teachers, students, the texts, and the languages themselves makes it impossible to not have fun.” (Marnie Leven ‘19)

Can I study abroad?

Absolutely. Study abroad fits in very well with the Classics major. The department maintains a list of yearlong, semester-long, and summer opportunities for study abroad.

Are there summer research opportunities?

Classics students have successfully applied for college grants such as the Ruby-Lankford and President’s Summer Fellowship. For more information on these and others, please visit the Fellowships and Awards page.

For summer study opportunities, please consult the Study Abroad page.

What can I do with a degree in Classics?

Reed classics alumni have pursued a wide variety of careers, including high school and college teaching, law, medicine, journalism, library and information science, and more. For more information, visit the Classics page at the Center for Life Beyond Reed.

How can I get more information?

Prospective students who would like to talk to Classics faculty or students should get in touch with one of the faculty members. Students visiting Reed are highly encouraged to visit a class and to meet with a faculty member. You may also read our blog for some glimpses into department life and faculty interests.