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Writing Requirement in Classical Studies

Throughout the Classics Curriculum students write. They write to analyze primary evidence, critique scholarship, conduct original research, express their ideas, and reflect on their own core values. At each level of the curriculum, students in Classics study models of effective writing (ancient and modern) and partner with faculty to hone their writing skills. Because Classics courses investigate such a broad range of topics — including languages (Greek and Latin), literature, history, philosophy, and archaeology — students engage with and produce a wide variety of written genres. In courses completed during their earlier years at DePauw (both within and outside the Classics Department), students develop their strengths in reading, thinking, and writing about both primary sources and secondary scholarship. They also develop the skills necessary to identify, accurately evaluate, and integrate a variety of sources into their own work.

To demonstrate their competence as writers and complete the Classical Studies Writing in the Major requirement, students submit a portfolio in January of their senior year. Students should choose papers from their coursework in Classical Studies that highlight their best work and that tell their story as a writer. Students work closely with their advisors early in the Fall term to choose and revise the material they plan to submit for their portfolios.

Contents of the Writing Portfolio

The portfolio will include three polished writing samples from students’ course work, a reflective essay, and (for majors in Greek and Latin only) a translation of a passage from a Greek or Latin text.

For their three writing samples students may choose any papers from their coursework in Classical Civilization, Greek, or Latin that reflect their strengths as a writer and their learning as a major. These papers highlight students’ mastery of both of the following:

1. Close reading of primary sources, such as material culture, buildings, monuments, topography, and Greek and Roman texts in the original language or in translation.

2. Critical response to secondary sources, such as books, articles, archaeological site publications, and edited volumes of collected essays. Critical response to secondary sources means not merely reporting or summarizing their content, but evaluating authors’ selection of evidence and entering into current debates in the field of Classical Studies.

Greek and Latin majors also produce a translation of a passage from an original Greek or Latin text. The translation should demonstrate not only the student’s ability to read Greek and Latin, but also their grasp of the style and meaning of the original.

The reflective essay serves two purposes — to help students examine their own strengths and growth as a writer and to assist the department in evaluating its practices in teaching writing. Students are therefore asked to discuss, in 750-1000 words, the path they have taken to improve their writing and the kinds of assignments, readings, and activities that were especially useful in improving their writing. Students should also discuss their own strengths as writers and where they feel they still need improvement. These reflections do not need to focus solely upon students’ experiences in Classics courses.

Constructing the Portfolio

Early in the senior year, students should begin working with their advisors to construct the portfolio, choosing papers to include and planning revisions. By Fall Break, students should have chosen papers to revise, selected a translation passage, and made a plan for submitting their portfolio.

The Department assumes that, with the exception of the reflective essay, students will complete early drafts of all portions of the portfolio in their regular coursework within the department. All courses provide opportunities to practice close analysis of primary sources, and courses from the 200-level and above offer opportunities for analysis of secondary sources. Advanced courses in Latin and Greek will provide practice with translation.

Portfolio Submission and Evaluation

The department chair will provide detailed instructions on submitting portfolios before Fall Break of students’ senior year.

The portfolio should include both the original versions of the assignments and versions revised based on feedback from professors, peers and their major advisor. Students submit portfolios in PDF format to Mrs. Jennifer Plew (, the Department Secretary, by January 20 of their Senior Year.

The portfolios will be evaluated by at least two people including the students’ major advisors and the professor teaching the senior seminar. The portfolio will be marked as “Excellent”, “Satisfactory”, “Acceptable”, or “Needing Revision” and returned to the student within three weeks of its submission. Students whose portfolios need revision will submit their revised portfolios by March 31. Failure to submit the portfolio by January 20, and to receive “Acceptable” or above after revision, will prevent the student from receiving his/her major degree.