Classics Department

Classics at Reed is the interdisciplinary study of the Ancient Mediterranean world, encompassing Greek and Latin language and literature, history, and archaeology. The study of ancient language and literature is crucial to the discipline, offering direct insight into the intellectual and literary world of the Greeks and Romans. Examining the history and material culture of the Ancient Mediterranean reveals its political, social, and religious structures, as well as aspects of people’s daily existence long ago. In classics, students develop critical and imaginative thinking by working with and writing about texts, people, places, and objects that are at the same time both familiar to us and distant.

Overview of the major

The classics program at Reed has two major tracks. Students primarily interested in language can major in Greek and Latin language and literature, which places an emphasis on coursework in both Greek and Latin language. Students drawn to history and material culture are encouraged to major in the history and archaeology of the Ancient Mediterranean, with the majority of courses focused on history and material culture, with less of a focus on ancient language. The classics department also has a standing interdisciplinary classics-religion major, which allows students to explore aspects of ancient religion.

During their junior year, classics majors are strongly encouraged to study abroad, and many spend a semester in Rome, Athens, England, or Ireland. Students are also encouraged to engage in archaeological fieldwork abroad during the summer, and Classics majors have excavated in Italy, Greece, and Cyprus.

The classics major involves significant independent research. All classics majors complete a junior qualifying exam, centered on a 20-page research paper in one of their major courses. Classics majors have an opportunity to work closely with faculty mentors throughout their time at Reed, particularly during the senior thesis process. Reed classics alumni have pursued a wide variety of careers, including high school and college teaching, law, medicine, journalism, library science, and more.

The department also offers three minors: Greek, Latin, and Greek and Latin.