HIST 586 - The Ancient World in Film 001




Karl Freund directing Boris Karloff on the set of The Mummy (1932)

Found at Wikimedia Commons
This work is in the public domain because it was published in the United States between 1923 and 1963 and although there may or may not have been a copyright notice, the copyright was not renewed. 
  • TuTh 2:00PM - 3:15PM

  • ModLang 503



This course will explore the ways in which the ancient Mediterranean has been represented in film, from Ben-Hur (1925, 1959) to The Mummy (1932, 1999) to HBO's Rome (2005, 2007). The course will begin with a brief introduction to the visual language of film, how the framing and editing of shots and the movement of camera convey particular meanings about character motivation and emotional overtones of human interactions. Successive weeks will then focus on ancient events and narratives as depicted in individual filmed narratives, analyzing how choices made for plot and character development affect producers¿ selection and interpretation of ancient material. Some specific issues to be investigated include the role of the archaeologist in connecting to the ancient past, the meaning of graphic violence (realism? Social decay?), the presentation of Egypt as a font of mystic (and doomed!) power, the Roman past as a site of voyeuristic seduction and the presentation of Roman spectacle as an emblem of ruthless imperialism. Readings will include both ancient authors in translation and modern analyses of specific films.


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College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

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