AcademicsJun 27, 2022
— updated Jul 14, 2022
Passion Project — The Ancient World
Building the skills of a historian
Language Department Chair Dr. Sarah Nix spends at least part of every day in the ancient world — first or second century Rome or fifth century BCE Greece.
“I have devoted my professional career to the language and cultures of the ancient Roman and Greek worlds, but there is a lot more out there,” says Dr. Nix, who has turned that passion into a new upper-level elective. “Civilizations of Imperial China and Rome” makes its debut at MHS this fall.
The course was partially inspired by student interest in learning about Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the diaspora. Further inspiration came from Dr. Nix’s own fascination with ancient culture and civilizations, and the course presents an opportunity to explore two of them together, rather than in isolation.
The course asks the essential question: How do we know what we know about peoples who lived more than 2,000 years ago? The first semester will explore ancient China through the Han Dynasty. The second will look at the height of ancient Roman civilization, a period corresponding to the Han Dynasty.
“We will work on building the skills of a historian to analyze and interpret historical evidence,” Dr. Nix adds. And, as with many of her courses, Dr. Nix will lay out topics and evidence the class will explore, but leave space to explore student interests.
Dr. Nix traces her passion for the ancient world to junior- year Latin in high school. “The teacher said, ‘Something, something, something Rome,’” Dr. Nix recalls. “Before that, a teacher had never put a place and a time to the language, which was spoken by millions of people, and with that, a whole new world opened up to me. I remember thinking, ‘I want to know more,’ and I’m still fascinated by the Romans, to be honest.”