Hellenic Studies

Academic Year 2023 – 2024

General Information

Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies

Program Offerings:

  • Certificate

Director of Graduate Studies:

Graduate Program Administrator:


Hellenic Studies is an interdisciplinary field engaged with the humanities and select social sciences. It engages with one of the longest standing and most pervasive cultural traditions, those originated in classical Greece. Equally, it attends to the states, peoples, cultural, and social production in the Eastern Mediterranean from the end of the classical period. The field encompasses variously the study of the Byzantine Empire in all its aspects, and the Ottoman Empire, especially minorities within that empire, and the modern state of Greece situated within its Mediterranean, European, and Near Eastern contexts. History, Literature, Art and Archaeology, Visual and Material Culture, Religion, Anthropology, Sociology, History, Politics, Philosophy, Architecture, Music, Economics, European Studies, Near Eastern Studies, and International Relations relating to the region of Greece all receive attention within the field.

The Program in Hellenic Studies offers a broad range of graduate seminars in Hellenic studies that are complemented by graduate courses in several departments and programs, with opportunities for doctoral research on Late Antique, Byzantine or Modern Greek studies.

The Program in Hellenic Studies also offers the Graduate Certificate in Hellenic Studies.  

Program Offerings

Program Offering: Certificate

Program description

This Graduate Certificate recognizes advanced training in Hellenic Studies. Award of the Certificate will attest: (i) linguistic competence to support research in Hellenic Studies, (ii) competence in interdisciplinary approaches to Hellenic Studies, (iii) familiarity with a sufficiently broad range of subjects under the Hellenic Studies umbrella.

If a student obtains a certificate in Hellenic Studies, this will appear on their graduate transcript. Graduate students who have this on their transcript as a credential show that they have met standards of competency in the field of Hellenic Studies as accepted by Princeton University. The Certificate has the standing of an academic qualification, which may enhance the candidate’s professional profile.

The certificate is awarded to those who have fulfilled its requirements by the time of their Final Public Oral Examination (FPOE).


Eligibility is limited to graduate students admitted to a Princeton University department. Students cannot be admitted to Princeton University by application to the Graduate Certificate in Hellenic Studies.

Ph.D. students in all departments are eligible for the Certificate.  Students enrolled in the Classical and Hellenic Studies Ph.D. track in Classics are not eligible for this Certificate. Admission to the certificate will ordinarily coincide with admission to a graduate degree program of a student to the University, but students may enter at any time prior to the end of regular enrollment if they find their interests veering towards Hellenic Studies. Students are advised to enter the Certificate program in time to fulfill the requirements, notably while they are still in an enrollment status that allows them to complete course requirements. Potential Certificate Students should contact the Hellenic Studies Director of the Graduate Certificate to indicate their intention to pursue the certificate. The Director will offer advising to all candidates for the certificate toward meeting its requirements.

Academic requirements

(1) Seminar Requirement

The Executive Committee of the Program in Hellenic Studies will designate a number of seminars every semester from amongst current course offerings as being ‘eligible’ Hellenic Studies seminars. Certificate students must complete three such courses to earn the certificate, at least one of which must be a seminar outside their home department, which should be taken for a grade when that option is offered. Courses counted toward the Certificate may also be counted toward elective requirements in the home department, if the home department permits this.

(2) Language requirement.

Certificate students are required to demonstrate competence in Modern Greek to support research in Hellenic Studies. Competence will be demonstrated by passing an examination or through enrolled completion of HLS 101-107 over four semesters. Students may request consideration by the Director of the Graduate Certificate for the use of ancient or medieval Greek to meet this requirement in extraordinary circumstances. Such circumstances may include cases where research interests have compelled a student to learn ancient or medieval Greek over and above normal curricular requirements. In cases where this variance is permitted, candidates must pass an examination to demonstrate competence.

(3) Interdisciplinary co-curricular requirement

Candidates for the Certificate are required attend a Reading Group in Hellenic Studies for a minimum of two semesters at five sessions per semester prior to their FPOE. Students must designate in advance the semesters they will elect to apply to this requirement to the Director of the Graduate Certificate for tracking purposes. Semesters may be non-consecutive and must include attendance at no fewer than ten sessions. For each Reading Group session, students will typically read a designated book and prepare to participate in its discussion. Students will be expected to lead a session of the Reading Group presenting the results of their research under (4) below. Students are also encouraged to attend Hellenic Studies scholarly events such as lectures and workshops whenever practicable.

(4) Study or research in or on Greece

In order to earn a graduate certificate in Hellenic studies, graduate students must complete a significant amount of academic work in or on Greece. This requirement may be fulfilled in two ways. Ordinarily graduate students meet this requirement by studying in Greece for a minimum of five weeks. Study in Greece may include summer courses, including language study, participation in an archaeological project, archival research, etc. In special cases, with permission from the Director of the Graduate Certificate, students may satisfy this requirement by studying in other parts of the Hellenophone Mediterranean. Students must receive pre-approval of their proposed plan to meet the requirement from the Director of the Graduate Certificate. Students may also, with permission of the Director of the Graduate Certificate, meet this requirement on campus through research on Hellenic material culture drawing on the resources of the Princeton Art Museum and/or the Library’s Special Collections.

Students will submit a report on their activities to the Director of the Graduate Certificate, normally by the beginning of the following academic year. The report should explain in what way their work in Greece (or in Princeton) contributes to their doctoral research, and/or their professional development, including their teaching. The report could take the form of a short research paper (c. 10 pages), a syllabus for a proposed course, or some other form by prior agreement with the Director of the Certificate. Students will be required to lead a session of the Hellenic Studies reading group (item (3) above), with a presentation based on their report.

Administration and Academic Oversight

Students should address their inquiries about the Certificate to the Hellenic Studies Director of the Graduate Certificate. The Director will oversee the progress of students enrolled in the Certificate and assure that eligible courses are identified in good time for student enrollment. Award of the Certificate will follow review by the Executive Committee of the Program in Hellenic Studies at the time of the candidate’s Final Public Oral Examination.


  • Director

    • Jack B. Tannous
  • Executive Committee

    • Mark R. Beissinger, Politics
    • Joshua H. Billings, Classics
    • Emmanuel C. Bourbouhakis, Classics
    • Marina S. Brownlee, Spanish & Portuguese
    • Elizabeth A. Davis, Anthropology
    • Dimitri H. Gondicas, Council of the Humanities, <i>ex officio</i>
    • Molly Greene, History
    • Eric S. Gregory, Religion
    • Johannes Haubold, Classics
    • Melissa Lane, Politics
    • Hendrik Lorenz, Philosophy
    • Efthymia Rentzou, French & Italian
    • Michael A. Reynolds, Near Eastern Studies
    • Teresa Shawcross, History
  • Associated Faculty

    • M. Christine Boyer, Architecture
    • Eduardo L. Cadava, English
    • Marc Domingo Gygax, Classics
    • Karen R. Emmerich, Comparative Literature
    • Barbara Graziosi, Classics
    • Brooke A. Holmes, Classics
    • Samuel Holzman, Art and Archaeology
    • Michael Koortbojian, Art and Archaeology
    • Spyros Papapetros, Architecture
    • Helmut Reimitz, History
    • Jamie L. Reuland, Music
    • Katerina Stergiopoulou, Classics
    • Carolyn Yerkes, Art and Archaeology
  • Sits with Committee

    • David T. Jenkins
    • Carolyn Laferriere
    • Nikolaos Panou
    • Alan M. Stahl

For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.

Permanent Courses

Courses listed below are graduate-level courses that have been approved by the program’s faculty as well as the Curriculum Subcommittee of the Faculty Committee on the Graduate School as permanent course offerings. Permanent courses may be offered by the department or program on an ongoing basis, depending on curricular needs, scheduling requirements, and student interest. Not listed below are undergraduate courses and one-time-only graduate courses, which may be found for a specific term through the Registrar’s website. Also not listed are graduate-level independent reading and research courses, which may be approved by the Graduate School for individual students.

ART 504 - Studies in Greek Architecture (also ARC 565/CLA 536/HLS 534)

This seminar explores topics in Greek Architecture from thematic perspectives and focused analysis of individual structures. Trends in ancient building practices and their cultural legacies are investigated in a holistic manner, from the drawing board and quarry to modern reception.

ART 512 - Death in Greece: Archaeological Perspectives (also CLA 516/HLS 524)

Chronological and thematic survey of the major funeral monuments, assemblages, and cemeteries of ancient Greece, from the Late Protogeometric to the Hellenistic periods. Course examines how material culture at the grave memorialized the deceased, comforted the living, and negotiated status. Students evaluate grave goods, tomb rituals, grave markers, cemetery layout, and the treatment of the body in their historical, social, and political contexts. Topics include: memory, gender, family, mortuary variability, the afterlife, the senses, ethnicity, and the dialectic presence/absence. Close work with objects from the PUAM collection.

ART 518 - The Roman Villa (also CLA 531/HLS 539)

A seminar devoted to the long-standing problems concerning the tradition of Greek sculpture, most of which survives in later Roman copies. Replication was fundamental to ancient artistic practice and remains central to both its critical evaluation and its broad appreciation. Emphasis is on stylistic comparison of the surviving copies (Kopienkritik); critical engagement with the ancient written sources that attest the most famous works (opera nobilia); and the historiographic tradition in modern scholarship devoted to these works and the problems they pose.

ART 519 - Greece and the Near East before the Persian Wars (also CLA 523/HLS 519)

A study of the origins, nature, and impact of Greek contact with the Near East in the Iron Age. Course examines chronology; regional variation and distribution; technology and innovation; differences across media; modes of communication and exchange; patterns of consumption and display; and the social function of the "exotic." Analyzed with a view to changes and developments in settlement and society, particularly migration, colonization, social stratification, and the rise of the polis.

ART 535 - Byzantine Art (also HLS 535)

Problems in art and architecture of the Eastern Roman Empire and culturally related areas from 300 to 1453.

ART 599 - The Greek House (also CLA 597/HLS 599/PAW 599)

A study of the archaeology of the Greek house (Early Archaic huts through Hellenistic palaces). Emphasis on the close reading of archaeological sites and assemblages and the integration of literary with material evidence. Topics include the discovery of houses, the identification of farms, the integration of the house with urban plans and natural landscapes, the organization and use of space, gender, domestic economies, and religious practice. Attention devoted to social, political, and regional dynamics; to the concept of the "private" in ancient Greece; and to questioning the heuristic value of the term "house".

CLA 502 - Survey of Selected Greek Literature (also HLS 502)

The course concentrates on reading selected texts within a particular genre or genres or period. Research paper not required for credit. Offered alternately with 503.

CLA 506 - Greek Tragedy (also COM 502/GER 507/HLS 506)

The origin and development of tragedy, the Greek theater, and the history of our texts. The course involves the reading and analysis of selected tragedies, with an emphasis on the language, meter, and interpretation of the plays. Lectures and report.

CLA 513 - Ancient Literary Criticism (also COM 516/HLS 513)

Study of a selection of critical texts, such as the following: Plato, <I>Republic</I> and <I>Phaedrus</I>; Aristotle, <I>Poetics</I> and <I>Rhetoric</I>; "Longinus," <I>On the Sublime</I>; Cicero, <I>De oratore</I>, etc.; Horace, <I>De arte poetica</I>; and Quintilian, <I>Institutio Oratoria</I>.

CLA 514 - Problems in Greek Literature (also HLS 514/PHI 527)

Special problems are selected for intensive investigation, such as the origin and development of a genre, analysis of form, and history of ideas.

CLA 517 - Problems in Post-Classical and Byzantine Literature (also HLS 517/MED 517)

As the late antique present began to dramatically assert its variance with the venerable Greco-Roman past, historical writing took on a significance hardly surpassed before, or after. Course surveys the diverse corpus of historiography in Greek from the 4th to the 7th centuries (and perhaps a bit beyond) when an unprecedented number of registers entered and enlarged the historiographic genre. Class reads texts in Greek (for accuracy and formal concerns) as well as in translation (for scope). Scholarship will buttress our weekly discussion.

CLA 520 - Greek History (also HLS 521/PAW 520)

A comprehensive introduction to central topics and methods of Greek history, offering a chronological overview of periods and significant developments; a survey of research tools and specialized sub-disciplines (e.g., epigraphy and numismatics); as well as important theoretical approaches to the study of the past (e.g., positivism, or the Annales School).

CLA 522 - Problems in Greek History (also HLS 531)

Special problems, such as Athenian imperialism, Sparta, political structures, and the political role of cults and festivals, are studied in rotation.

CLA 526 - Problems in Greek and Roman Philosophy (also HLS 527/PHI 522)

Special problems are selected for intensive investigation. The subject matter of the course changes to adapt to the particular interests of the students and the instructor.

CLA 529 - Topics in the Hellenic Tradition (also COM 527/HLS 529)

An interdisciplinary seminar devoted to the study of aspects of the post-classical Greek literary and cultural tradition, including modern Greek literature, and its relation to classical literature and civilization.

CLA 547 - Problems in Ancient History (also ART 527/HIS 557/HLS 547/PAW 503)

Study of a topic involving both ancient Greece and ancient Rome, such as imperialism or slavery, from a comparative perspective.

CLA 548 - Problems in Ancient History (also ART 532/HLS 548/PAW 548)

Study of a topic involving both ancient Greece and ancient Rome, such as imperialism or slavery, from a comparative perspective.

CLA 562 - Historical/Comparative Grammar of Greek (also HLS 562)

Introduction to Greek historical/comparative grammar, based primarily on early Greek epic material (including Hesiod), with special attention to topics in Homeric linguistics and poetics. (For Greek dialects and Mycenaean, see CLA 564.)

CLA 565 - Problems in Medieval Literature (also HLS 565/MED 565)

This course casts a wide net over Medieval literature, Greek and/or Latin, as well as in comparison with other medieval languages and cultures. Its aim is to furnish graduate students in a variety of fields, including Classics, History, Philosophy, Religion, and Art & Architecture, with proficiency in the primary texts of the Middle Ages, as well as the scholarship about medieval literary culture.

CLA 598 - Methods in Byzantine Literature and Philology (also HLS 598/MED 598)

This course emphasizes proficiency in post-Classical and Medieval Greek language through close readings and translations of literature. In addition to surveying the principal genres of literature and the questions surrounding them, it also introduces Ph.D. students to the instrumenta studiorum of Late Antique and Byzantine philology, such as palaeography, codicology, text editing, databases and bibliography.

HIS 536 - Cross-Cultural Encounters in the Medieval Mediterranean (also HLS 536/MED 536)

The littoral of the Mediterranean Sea has long been viewed as a major place of contact, conflict and exchange for groups belonging to the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This course approaches the encounters of different religions and ethnicities in such a manner as to introduce students not only to the classic historiography on the subject, but also to the main controversies and debates current in scholarship. Our discussions involve forays into the fields of transnational and global history.

HIS 540 - Themes in World History, 1300-1850: Ottoman History (also HLS 545/NES 548)

This course introduces students to the recent theoretical literature on the history of the sea as well as the current historiography on the early modern (1300-1850) Mediterranean. The Ottoman Empire, the Venetian Republic and North Africa all feature prominently. Students must be able to write a paper based on primary sources. Wide latitude is given in order to accommodate student interest.

HIS 543 - The Origins of the Middle Ages (also HLS 543)

Reading and research on the transition of ancient into medieval society, religion, and culture are the focus of the course.

HIS 555 - Monotheism and Society from Constantine to Harun al-Rashid (also HLS 555)

This seminar introduces students to some of the most important ideas and debates surrounding the major religious revolutions of Late Antiquity, including the triumph of Christianity over paganism and the advent of Islam followed by astonishing world conquests. The course focuses on reading both primary and secondary literature; texts may also be read in Greek, Syriac, and Arabic. No prior knowledge of Late Antiquity, Christianity, or Islam will be assumed in the course.

HUM 596 - Humanistic Perspectives on Literature (also CLA 596/EAS 537/HLS 596)

Marking the 10th anniversary of Derrida's death, this course provides an opportunity to "unpack" Derrida's library, to remember several of his lessons - about philosophy, literature, history, politics, religion, economics, ideology, law, rights, nationalism, racism, colonialism, the media, university institutions, capitalism, rogue states, the war on terror, justice, responsibility, language, friendship, love, life, death, and mourning - all of which are more urgent and necessary than ever before.

HUM 598 - Humanistic Perspectives on the Arts (also CLA 591/HLS 594/MOD 598)

The study of the arts at the intersection of the disciplines.

MUS 504 - Medieval Musical Style and Notation (also HLS 540)

Examines musical notation along paleographic, semiotic, and aesthetic lines, and addresses theoretical and practical problems of transcription. Focuses on earliest notations of the Christian east and west and later, the emergence of rhythmic notation.

PHI 500 - The Philosophy of Plato (also CLA 509/HLS 500)

The course is a study of the development of Plato's thought and an examination of the validity of his major contributions in the areas of metaphysics, epistemology, cosmology, and ethics.

PHI 501 - The Philosophy of Aristotle (also HLS 549)

The course is an historical and critical study of the major concepts of the metaphysics, theory of knowledge, and ethics of Aristotle. Particular attention is given to the <I>Metaphysics,</I> to parts of the <I>Physics, Categories, Posterior Analytics,</I> and the <I>de Anima,</I> and to the <I>Nicomachean Ethics.</I>

POL 507 - Topics in Plato (Half-Term) (also CLA 507/HLS 507/PHI 507)

A study of fundamental questions of political theory in Plato¿s works, focusing on one or another of those works (or some part of one or more of them) while attending to the broader thematic and historical frameworks in which they must be interpreted. Topics may include part or all of Plato¿s Apology, Crito, Gorgias, Republic, Statesman, and Laws.

POL 553 - Political Theory, Athens to Augustine: Graduate Seminar (also CLA 535/HLS 552/PHI 552)

A study of fundamental questions of political theory framed in the context of the institutions and writings of ancient Greek and Roman thinkers, from the classical period into late antiquity and the spread of Christianity. Topics include the meaning of justice in Plato's Republic, the definition of the citizen in Aristotle's Politics, Cicero's reflections on the purpose of a commonwealth, and Augustine's challenge to those reflections and to the primacy of political life at all in light of divine purposes. We consider both the primary texts and secondary literature debates to equip students with a working mastery of this tradition.

REL 504 - Studies in Greco-Roman Religions (also CLA 519/HLS 504)

Themes, figures, and movements in the religions of antiquity are examined.