The Body in Ancient Greece and Rome
The Museum of the Unclothed Body, located in a place of your choosing, is about to host an exhibition on the body in the ancient Greek and Roman world. The exhibition will include all the relevant visual material discussed in class in Weeks 3-4 from the Classical Age (not material from the Paleolithic to the Bronze Age). The director of the department for community outreach has asked all volunteer interns, including you, to submit a web-based essay which outlines how to present the highlights of the exhibition to museum visitors, focusing on how depictions of the naked body reflected and promoted socio-cultural identities and roles of gender, sexuality, class, and race. The best web essay will be used on the official website and will be used to train the docents in providing guided tours to museum visitors.
Write your essay according to the following guidelines:
- Focus the discussion on the Doryphoros, Aphrodite of Knidos (aka Knidia), and at least one Roman example of a Mars and Venus group from the age of Imperial Rome, which are the exhibition highlights.
- Keep in mind all readings, PowerPoints, lecture notes and videos on this material from Weeks 3 and 4 pertaining to the ancient Greek and Roman world of the Classical age (ie 8th century BC to 6th century AC). Reference the broader socio-cultural context of the material (for example, what we know from other sources about the roles of men and women at that time; differences in the dress code and representation of men and women, in relation to socio-political developments, cultural trends, etc.).
- Support the analysis with specific visual and other contextual observations about the three specific statues considered as well as the selected work of art. Think especially about body language/pose/movement/gestures, body definition and body type, objects held or worn, expression, interaction with the viewer or lack thereof, original location if known, later popularity -e.g. through copies, etc.
- Comparing and contrasting the male and female figures is necessary for a more comprehensive discussion of this subject.
- It is advisable that you discuss the material in chronological order, e.g. the Greek material first and then the Roman material based on previous Greek examples.
- Include images with the web essay. Use ArtStor to locate images. To access ArtStor, use this guide.
Tips for Success:
- Please note that even if the assignment guidelines give a specific thesis statement to work with (ancient naked status advanced specific socio-cultural identities and roles), develop that very generic statement into something more specific and present it as a unique thesis in the introduction of the essay. Please review the basic guidelines for writing essays included below (with references to the thesis statement).
- Do not copy-paste text from the PowerPoints. Discuss the material in your own words.
- Keep the audience of the essay in mind (besides the instructor and the grading TAs)
- The prompt asks you to write for the director of community outreach, to demonstrate how you would explain the theme of the exhibition to museum visitors, by using clear language and by providing all necessary information to somebody without prior knowledge of the material (references to the socio-cultural context and visual analysis grounded in a careful observation of the material).
- Although you would not be expected to mention specific reading material to museum visitors, you might want to demonstrate to the director that you have studied this subject and you are drawing information from specific sources (besides our lecture PowerPoints and videos, which are our common knowledge in the course and do not have to be cited when you use them to develop your essay). If you make direct references to any class readings or if you use other sources to develop your essay, you must acknowledge them with proper citations.
- Consider the location of the museum. How will the members of the broader community react to the exhibition?
- Remember that writing is a social act: we write in order to share ideas. Always provide all the information readers need to follow the arguments and understand the thesis. Readers cannot “read your mind”, they can only read what you put in writing, so lay out your trail of thoughtfully and with clarity in your paper.
Length specifications and submission:
- The essay must be 750-1000 words, double-spaced, 12-point letter size. Do not exceed the maximum word limit!