The Histories of Herodotus, the so-called father of history, will be the focus of the seminar, which will explore his description of the interactions between Greek-speaking peoples and other societies as a way to articulate a more precise understanding of what it meant to be a Hellene at a time of intensified cross-cultural interaction in the Mediterranean.
Accordingly, the seminar will be of interest to a wide variety of participants. For example, historians can gain insights into the formation of their field and the origins of historiography; anthropologists can trace their discipline back to the “field studies” about the Egyptians and Scythians; those specializing in literary history and theory can view the Histories as a set of thematically connected “tragedies” influenced in no small part by the Athenian playwrights and other artistic contemporaries of Herodotus; political scientists can see how biography evolved as a way of understanding and describing political organizations; and those in religious studies can trace the rise and significance of hero cult alongside the worship of gods, as both a local and a Panhellenic phenomenon. Although readers today tend to view the Histories as part of a textual or written tradition, this seminar will situate the work within a tradition of public performance. The overall goal of the seminar is to equip participants to use the Histories in a broad range of courses and to enrich the general education programs of their institutions.