Recreating the Lives of Women in Antiquity:

Instructions for Research Project

Resources | MOO | Course Syllabus

This project focuses on the life of a woman from the time of the Roman empire. In order to see the lives of women of antiquity "from the inside," students in groups of 2-3 will adopt one woman whose portrait is part of the Riley Collection of Roman Portraiture at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. The project consists of four parts: bibliography, historical profile, first-person narrative, and domestic space. After stages 2-4, students will critique another group's project so that you can benefit from others' expertise and research.

I. A working bibliography for your subject is due on the fifth day of the block. List all the sources you have found that you think may be helpful for your report, using a standard bibliographical format (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.). Be sure to include page references for each citation (do not list works unless you are sure they include relevant information on your subject; also, do not list works written in languages other than English unless you can read these languages). Place an asterisk next to sources available in Cole Library. For information found on the World Wide Web, cite as much bibliographic information available, including the URL. If there is no copyright date, list the date (month and year) that you accessed the site. Please cite the most specific URL possible. Please consult the reference librarians if you need further help with preparing this bibliography. Items asterisked below are on reserve at Cole Library.

  1. Begin by reading the catalogue entry for this portrait found in *Richard De Puma, Roman Portraits (Iowa City 1988). 
  2. Read the chapter(s) from Fantham and *Pomeroy, Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves, relevant for this woman. 
  3. Consult primary sources that may illustrate the life of this woman. A few useful starting places:
  4. *Lefkowitz, Mary R., and Maureen B. Fant. Women's Life in Greece and Rome. A Sourcebook in Translation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1982.
  5. *Gardner, Jane F. The Roman Household: A Sourcebook. Routledge, 1991.
  6. *Shelton, Jo-Ann. As the Romans Did. A sourcebook in Roman Social History. New York: Oxford, 1987.
  7. *Kraemer, Ross, ed. Maenads, Martyrs, Matrons, Monastics: A Sourcebook on Women's Religions in the Greco-Roman World. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988.
  8. Consult works on Roman portrait sculpture for artistic background of the portrait:
  9. *D'Ambra, Eve. Roman Art in Context: An Anthology. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1993. Several good essays on portraits, copies, and gender.
  10. *Kleiner, Diana E. E. Roman Sculpture. New Haven: Yale, 1992. The standard work in English. Good bibliography.
  11. *Walker, Susan. Greek and Roman portraits. London: British Museum, 1995. Good introduction.
  12. Consult Bibliographic Sources: 
  13. Sarah B. Pomeroy, "Selected Bibliography on Women in Classical Antiquity," in *Women in the Ancient World, ed. J. Peradotto and J. P. Sullivan (SUNY 1984) 315-72.
  14. Humanities Index listed as WHUM on Cole On-line. Conduct a keyword search under particular topics.
  15. Library Catalogs: Cole On-Line, OASIS (U. of Iowa), other libraries. Conduct a keyword search under particular topics.
  16. Diotima: Materials for the Study of Women and Gender in the Ancient World. Check Essays and Bibliography.
  17. Consult the books on reserve for relevant articles and bibliographic references as well as: 
  18. Grant, Michael, ed. Civilization of the Ancient Mediterranean: Grece and Rome. 3 vols. Riverside, NJ: Scribner's, 1988. Covers all aspects of the ancient world with short, authoritative articles. Ref 938 C499
  19. Hornblower, Simon, and Antony Spawforth, eds. The Oxford Classical Dictionary. 3rd ed. Oxford, 1996. Brief, authoritative entries on nearly every aspect of the ancient world. Ref 913.38 Ox2 1996
  20. Follow-up references cited in any previous source to primary or secondary material.

II. writing an on-line (1-2 page) historical profile of this person that details her life and accomplishments and that is representative of her status and class. The profile of the Roman woman is meant to be the factual foundation on which you can write the first person narrative and other elements of the web site devoted to this woman. It will also include a page of further links to documentary sources and related materials that illustrate the life of this woman.

The profile may include details such as:

III. creation of a personality for this woman through a first person narrative, or "Who am I?" Each group will base the first person narrative on factual material ( the historical profile) but will give each woman a voice that allows her to discuss important relationships, explain what she values, and give voice to her aspirations. In short, what attitudes might each woman have had and how did she deal with the constraints of Roman society. There are several ways to organize the narrative: have her describe a typical day or write a letter to someone important in her life.

IV. In addition, each group will create this woman's domestic space in the VRoma MOO and link it to their web pages. The space would reflect living in this house from the Roman woman's point of view. Who spends time in various rooms, what happens there, how is the space gendered? There are several ways for writing the descriptions of each room: have the woman give a tour of the house, or pretend that the visitor is eavesdropping. The best descriptions will be concise, evocative, and realistic. Check out these useful guidelines for building on the MOO. Helpful sources for creating this web space:

Please read the VRoma Building Tutorial before you begin the process of building the women's house. In addition, keep this useful list of building commands (scroll down to the bottom of the screen) at you fingertips. After the "houses" are built, students may visit them and interact with each other by taking on the guise of a Roman woman.

Return to CLA 4-264-97

Goals for the Research Project:

In addition to the ones listed on the syllabus,

It would be nice if students, if they do this project, could integrate images, floor plan, and text on the MOO.

Last updated 29 Mar 2001