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.
- Begin by reading the catalogue entry for this portrait found in *Richard
De Puma, Roman Portraits (Iowa City 1988).
- Read the chapter(s) from Fantham and *Pomeroy, Goddesses, Whores, Wives,
and Slaves, relevant for this woman.
- Consult primary sources that may illustrate the life of this woman. A few
useful starting places:
- *Lefkowitz, Mary R., and Maureen B. Fant. Women's Life in Greece and
Rome. A Sourcebook in Translation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1982.
- *Gardner, Jane F. The Roman Household: A Sourcebook. Routledge,
- *Shelton, Jo-Ann. As the Romans Did. A sourcebook in Roman Social History.
New York: Oxford, 1987.
- *Kraemer, Ross, ed. Maenads, Martyrs, Matrons, Monastics: A Sourcebook
on Women's Religions in the Greco-Roman World. Philadelphia: Fortress,
- Consult works on Roman portrait sculpture for artistic background of the
- *D'Ambra, Eve. Roman Art in Context: An Anthology. Englewood Cliffs:
Prentice-Hall, 1993. Several good essays on portraits, copies, and gender.
- *Kleiner, Diana E. E. Roman Sculpture. New Haven: Yale, 1992. The
standard work in English. Good bibliography.
- *Walker, Susan. Greek and Roman portraits. London: British Museum,
1995. Good introduction.
- Consult Bibliographic Sources:
- 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.
- Humanities Index listed as WHUM on Cole On-line. Conduct a keyword
search under particular topics.
- Library Catalogs: Cole On-Line, OASIS (U. of Iowa), other libraries. Conduct
a keyword search under particular topics.
Materials for the Study of Women and Gender in the Ancient World. Check
Essays and Bibliography.
- Consult the books on reserve for relevant articles and bibliographic references
as well as:
- 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
- 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
- Follow-up references cited in any previous source to primary or secondary
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:
- legal status (e.g. slave, freedwoman, freeborn)
- age (child, adolescent, matron)
- life cycle
- family, relationship with natal
- marital status (unmarried, married, divorced, widowed)
- husband, children, and household slaves, relationship with
- women to women relationships
- women to men relationships
- typical day (when and where)
- public life
- ideal vs. reality
- cf. the chapter headings in Lefkowitz and Fant, Women's
Life in Greece and Rome
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
- Clarke, John R. Houses of Roman Italy, 100 B.C.-A.D. 250. California,
- Gazda, Elaine K., ed. Roman Art in the Private Sphere. Michigan,
- Hermansen, Gustav. Ostia: Aspects of Roman City Life. Alberta, 1981.
- Laurence, Ray. Roman Pompeii: Space and Society. London: Routledge,
- Rawson, Beryl, and Paul Weaver. The Roman Family in Italy: Status, Sentiment,
Space. Oxford, 1997.
- Richardson Jr., L. Pompeii, an Architectural History. Johns Hopkins,
- Stambaugh, John E. The Ancient Roman City. Johns Hopkins, 1988.
- Thébert, Yvon. "Private Life and Domestic Architecture in Roman
Africa," in History of Private Life 1. From Pagan Rome to Byzantium.
Ed. Paul Veyne. Belknap, 1987. Reprinted in *D'Ambra, Eve. Roman Art in
Context: An Anthology. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1993.
- *Wallace-Hadrill, Andrew. Houses and Society in Pompeii and Herculaneum.
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,
- students will learn to do research on the internet, i.e.
- to search for information
- to evaluate suitability of information
- to integrate web materials with print materials in the final product
- learn to create web pages using a template, specifically
- create textual links
- (create image links)
- (import images from other sites onto student's web page)
- upload web page
- learn to use the MOO
- learn basic MOO communication commands in order to talk on the MOO
- learn to build domestic spaces on the MOO that are concise, evocative,
and historically accurate
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