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The Gaines Center

Mary C. Bingham Seminar & Thomas D. Clark Lectureship

Graecia Capta: Ancient Greek Literature and Culture in Rome and Southern Italy (HMN 300:001 for 4 credits)

Professor Jackie Murray & Professor Valerio Caldesi Valeri
​WF 9:30-11:00am  Room 101, Bingham Davis House (218 E. Maxwell Street)

It is well known that Ancient Greek and Roman Culture are the twin pillars of Western Civilization. Typically, the two cultures are studied together but separately: Classical Athens and the Roman Empire. What is assumed but rarely considered explicitly, however, is the fact that Rome and Southern Italy were already under the cultural sway of the Greeks long before the Romans conquered them. This course offers students the opportunity to investigate the cultural conquest of the Romans by the Greeks through an on-campus seminar in the Spring semester followed by a travel seminar in Rome and Southern Italy.

On-campus, students will study the historical background of the two great phases of Greek cultural expansion in the Mediterranean: the Colonization period (8th-6th century BCE) and the Hellenistic period (3rd-1st BCE). They will study ancient texts by or about ancient Greeks in Italy alongside important scholarly work that illuminates these periods. A special focus of the course will be the Villa dei Papiri, the Greek and Roman Library, which was buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 78 CE and the attempt to reconstruct the Herculaneum scrolls which survived the destruction. In addition to reading some of the ancient works, students will hear presentations from scholars who have been trying to reconstruct and decipher the scrolls.
The work the students do in the on-campus seminar will prepare them for the travel seminar. We will travel to Rome and Southern Italy where students will visit most of the sites that they will have studied on campus, e.g. the Roman Fora, Pompeii, Herculaneum, Paestum etc. Students will visit the major museums as well some of the locations and settings of the ancient texts where they will make individual on-site presentations and will write a short response about the experience of reading the work in context. Through this immersive study of the literature and material culture of Rome and Southern Italy, students will come away from this course with a deep understanding and appreciation of the roots of the West in ancient Italy.

Summer Travel Grant For Students in the Seminar: $1100

**Students, apply here to enroll in the Bingham Seminar.**


About Bingham Seminars in the Humanities

Every other year, the Center holds an open competition among University of Kentucky faculty who wish to offer a special humanities-oriented seminar that includes a travel experience. Ten students are then selected by way of competitive application for participation in this 300-level seminar. The Bingham Seminar in the Humanities provides faculty and students a chance to explore a subject not in the university's regular course offerings and to do so on-site, since the seminar provides funding to offset the cost of two to four weeks' study either in the US or abroad. The seminar meets on campus according to a regular course pattern during spring term, and then the travel portion typically begins in May, not long after final exam week.

Compensatory benefit for faculty instructor

  • Research and study grant:                 $4,000.00
  • Summer travel expenses grant:  up to $2,000.00

Compensatory benefit for participating students (based on an enrollment of 10 students)

  • Summer travel grant:    approximately $1100.00

Students and faculty should visit the UK Education Abroad (EA) website for more information about international education programming. The Bingham Seminar is offered in coordination with the Education Abroad office. Students, please note that Education Abroad provides scholarships to UK students and has excellent information on a wide range of external funding opportunities, too. Bingham Seminar participants are highly encouraged to apply for EA support. Specific deadlines apply and many are quite early.

Poster of past seminar (2012)The seminar also includes the Thomas D. Clark Lectureship in the Humanities, which allows the seminar instructor to invite a distinguished person in the field of study to offer two lectures, one for the public and the other for the seminar. The Clark Lectureship provides an honorarium of up to $2,000 and also covers transportation and lodging expenses of the speaker.

The seminar and lectures will be offered in the 2016 spring semester and May. The instructor is responsible for documenting the Bingham Seminar experience, with documentation due by the beginning of fall semester 2016 according to a format mutually agreed upon by the instructor and director of the Gaines Center. Past documentation has been creative, including a journal of student and faculty experiences and a website featuring travel photographs and student comments about their educational experience.

View a list of past Bingham Seminars and Clark Lectures here.

Application Information

  • Faculty, apply online for the Bingham Seminar here.
  • You may also download the application (found at the bottom of this page) and submit it by email to Dr. Phil Harling ( or send a hard copy to The Gaines Center, 232 E. Maxwell Street, Lexington, KY 40506-0344.


September 14, 2015: Faculty application deadline

Late September 2015: Notification of results

Late September through November registration for spring classes: Advertise course, approve student enrollment, and plan Thomas D. Clark Lectureship with the assistance of the Gaines Center

Spring semester 2016: Bingham Seminar on-campus classes in session; Thomas D. Clark Lectures presented (specific lecture dates TBD by instructor in consultation with Gaines Center)

May term 2016: Bingham Seminar travel course (specific dates TBD by instructor)

Fall 2016 semester: Submit Bingham Seminar archive to Gaines Center