Sunoikisis, pronounced Sun-oy-kiss-iss, is the ideal chance for classics students to broaden their educational horizons.
Organized by the prestigious Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C., Sunoikisis is a national consortium of classics programs that provides students and faculty with Greek and Latin courses that can be taken via the Internet.
“Sunoikisis” comes from Thucydides (3.3.1) in reference to the alliance formed by the cities of Lesbos (Methymna excluded) in their revolt against the Athenian empire in 428 B.C.E. Likewise, this collaborative program seeks to develop a set of common goals and provide opportunities that go beyond the capacity of a single program.
“The Department of Classics and our students benefit greatly from the opportunity to participate in this national program and to be affiliated with the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C., a major American research institution,” said Dr. Aileen Ajootian, chair and associate professor of classics.
In fall 2009, two students and Dr. Molly Pasco-Pranger, assistant professor of classics, participated in the program for the first time. Meeting once a week for 12 weeks, the three were able to attend an inter-institutional collaborative Latin course that offered live online lectures by renowned classics professors from around the country. An online chat room also was set up so those viewing could ask the lecturer questions.
“The most important element of [Sunoikisis] was the opportunity to get various viewpoints from professors of different backgrounds within classics,” said senior classics major Alex Vega, who participated in the program. “Wherever one professor lacked expertise on some subject, usually another was able to chime in with an answer or a relevant point.”
Sunoikisis’ curriculum is determined by a panel of professors from Harvard University, Princeton University, Rhodes College and other institutions, including The University of Mississippi, who meet in Washington D.C. annually to discuss potential course topics and develop a syllabus.
“The idea is to provide the resources available in much larger classics departments to those in smaller classics departments,” said Pasco-Pranger, who was invited to the D.C. seminar. “It is a graduate-level experience that costs the university nothing to join.”
The course offered in fall 2009 was “Late Republican Literature.” This fall, the offered course will be “Literature of the Age of Nero.”