Democracy and Law: Ancient and Modern

2014 to 2015
Emerging Networks
Classical studies is in some ways one of the first structurally interdisciplinary fields in the modern academy. For years, its productive ties to fields such as literature, philosophy, political science, or law were an automatic result of traditional liberal arts curricula. Today, however, classical studies is at once smaller and larger. The field has spawned a mass of specialized subdisciplines. At the same time, peer disciplines have grown and changed in productive ways and so have the traditional curricula that nourish fields and their interrelationships. As a result, classical studies’ substantive relationship to other branches of the liberal arts is no longer an automatic fact. Those relationships must now be built, with thought and care, in a spirit of open experimentation.
 
Democracy and Law: Ancient and Modern is part of an effort to strengthen ties between Classical Studies and Political Science and to build new connections to the wider Duke community. During the 2014-15 academic year, Classical Studies will offer a pair of courses: Greek & Roman Law (CLST 308) in the Fall and Democracy: Ancient & Modern (CLST 275) in the Spring. The two courses will address topics central to democratic thought and practice in both America and Athens, including freedom, equality and rights, constitutions and institutions, citizenship, rhetoric, decision-making, foreign policy, corruption, religion, and hope. Each course will feature a seminar series open to the wider Duke community.
 
In some sessions teams of students will lead discussions that explore key questions arising from the courses. In others—between three and four per semester—discussions will be led by distinguished visitors, including Robin Osborne, Adriaan Lanni, Bob Connor, Charles Hill, Ryan Balot, and Melissa Schwartzberg. Speakers will have opportunities to engage with the students and others in informal settings outside of the classroom. Some will also be sharing their work in other fora during their stay, such as the Kenan Monday Seminar Series and the Political Theory Workshop. Their presence will contribute greatly to a year-long conversation that is rich and challenging.
 
In order to tie the conversation to the contemporary public sphere, former Director of Speechwriting for President Barack Obama John Favreau will be brought in, as well, in collaboration with the Kenan Institute for Ethics.
 
The Network conveners are Jed Atkins and Josh Sosin (both in Classical Studies), in collaboration with colleagues Michael Gillespie, Ruth Grant, Alex Kirshner, and Nora Hanagan.
 

People

Assistant Professor of Classical Studies
Associate Professor of Classical Studies and History

Highlights

Athenian Democracy and Us
-- Aug 15 2014

What light can Athenian democracy, as conceived and practiced 2500 years ago, shed on our own? During the 2014-15 academic year, two interrelated courses answer this question: Athenian Law (Fall)... Read More

Ancient Rhetoric Meets Post-Modern Politics
-- Aug 9 2016

Writing for Duke Magazine's special late-summer issue on storytelling and language, classical studies professor Jed Atkins traces the Roman roots of some recent presidential campaign rhetoric.... Read More

Presidential Rhetoric Comes to Duke
-- May 6 2015

Jon Favreau, former chief speechwriter for President Obama, brought his incomparable experience to Duke on April 21. Favreau had his “stamp on all the great speeches from 2005 to early 2013,”... Read More