14437 - History of Women in the Classical World (1)

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: First cycle degree programme (L) in History (cod. 0962)

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will know the main sources outlining the history of the female condition in the classical world. They will be able to read, comment on and contextualize specific sources with direct knowledge of a group of original sources collated for their didactic value. They will be familiar with the various lines of thought in gender studies and apply them to study of the classical world. They will have learnt to listen, understand and debate respectfully with different viewpoints, spotting tie-ups with other disciplines. They will be able to speak and write using terminology appropriate to their scientific discipline. Working independently and in an orderly fashion, they will have acquired self-criticism and an ability to learn from mingling with others; they will also know how to choose the learning tools best suited to their own skills and purposes.

Course contents

The course will be dedicated to the comparison with current themes of the history of women, such as: participation in political and social life, inclusion and exclusion, the role of women in the family, education, violence against women. Group work and group readings are planned in class to debate different viewpoints. In the course we will investigate the history of women as a fundamental aspect of Ancient History, with special reference to the roman period, with the awareness of the specificities of the female condition in each period and of the transformations carried out over the period under consideration. Issues connected with ancient source analysis do not require knowledge of Greek and Latin, since a translation in Italian will always be provided. A basic knowledge of classical languages is however recommended.

First week: Gender History and some of the main aspects relevent for classical studies: work, culture, religion, marriage.

Second week: Study of the condition of women from the Roman Republic to the Early Imperial period. The legal status of women; women's wealth.

Third week: The (public?) space of women in roman imperial courts. Stereotypes in womens’ stories: The need to identify "interpretative categories", "structures", "models" through the analysis of historical and historiographical sources.

Fourth week: Inclusion and exclusion: women and work

Fifth week: Women, body and sex, the violence on women.




For students attending class:

M.P. Castiglioni, La donna greca, Il Mulino, Bologna 2019;

F. Cenerini, La donna romana, II edizione, Il Mulino, Bologna 2013;

Notes and slides from lessons. Additional materials will be downloadable from the online page.


M.P. Castiglioni, La donna greca, Il Mulino, Bologna 2019;

F. Cenerini, La donna romana, II edizione, Il Mulino, Bologna 2013

L. Capponi, Cleopatra, Roma 2021 (only chapters 4,5,7,8)

TWO (2) chapter/essay by choice from the following book:

F.Cenerini- F. Rohr, Matronae in domo et in re publica agentes, Trieste 2016, scaricabili dal sito


2 essays (articles) among those listed and available in pdf in the teaching materials online

Non-attendants: Please contact the teacher by e-mail.

Teaching methods

Lectures consist in presentations by the teacher and in class discussion on reading of documents and sources.

Student participation is required when reflecting on documents.

Assessment methods

The exam will be oral: the student will have to answer questions concerning both the study of the manual and the ancient and modern topics and texts analyzed during the lessons. Literal translation of any text is NOT required, although basic knowledge of Latin is recommended.

The exam consists in a verification of the knowledge acquired during the course through the comment of some texts (bibliography) chosen from all those present in the program and in the teaching materials and in the verification of the ability to synthetically and critically expose the topics covered in the course on the basis the content of the exam bibliography and the teaching materials provided.
A solid basic knowledge of the discipline will emerge from the interview.

The assessment will therefore be based on:
- Ability to comment on the text, which is the ability to identify, date and contextualize the passages from ancient authors;

- Mastery of content;

- Synthesis and analysis of issues and problems;

- Capacity to apply the main lines of thought in Gender History to Classical studies"

- Ability to express themselves adequately and with language appropriate to the subject matter.

The achievement by the student of the ability to fully comment on the ancient sources and to express an organic vision of the topics addressed in class with a good command of expression and specific language will be assessed with marks of excellence. A mnemonic knowledge of the subject, together with synthesis and analysis skills articulated in a correct language, will lead to discrete evaluations. Knowledge gaps and / or inappropriate language - albeit in a context of minimal knowledge of the exam material - will lead to marks that will not exceed the sufficiency. Knowledge gaps, inappropriate language, lack of orientation within the bibliographic materials offered during the course will be assessed negatively.

Teaching tools

Slides, photocopies and more will be shown in lesson. Therefore, non-attending students are invited to contact the teacher.

Office hours

See the website of Beatrice Girotti


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This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.