One of the requirements for my PhD is to write a sample syllabus for a course I could imagine teaching. It’s a useful exercise which forces you to think about what you want to teach in the long term, and how you want to teach it. In a sense it’s an exercise in creating an academic “persona”. What kind of teacher will you be, heavy on lecture and light on readings, little assessment or lots? There are many ways to present the material and now I’m forced to choose a path and go down it.
I’ve opted to create a syllabus for a course on Hellenistic Babylonia. I did this partly out of the desire to learn more about that particular time period as my own research focuses on material from Seleucid Uruk and Babylon. The course was intended to be a survey of Mesopotamian history with a focus on the later half of the 1st millennium B.C.E. I was keen to include both cuneiform and classical sources and use the class as a way to teach a method of combining the two. However, as I read more on the classical sources I become interested in the way this course could be used to teach issues around history. I read Luke Pitcher’s book “Writing Ancient History: An Introduction to Classical Historiography” which I found very engaging and interesting. While the book entirely focuses on the classical world, I found many of his chapters useful in designing my course. I’m now working through my initial outline of the syllabus to add more readings and content on the act of reading and writing history. My tentative title is currently:“Hellenistic Babylonia: Perspectives on the Writing of a History”.