Classics, Ancient Studies, Medieval Studies at St. Olaf College

Classics at St. Olaf College

Classics is the study of the ancient Greeks and Romans—especially their languages (Greek and Latin) and literature—and of classical civilization in general.

Students choose to take ancient Greek or Latin because it improves their verbal and analytical skills, gives them tools for understanding the past, and, above all, provides an exciting intellectual challenge. What could be more thrilling—or more fun—than being able to decipher a text composed two or three millennia ago?

St. Olaf College offers:

  • A full range of courses in classical languages:  Beginning, intermediate, and advanced courses in both ancient Greek and Latin are taught every semester.  (Modern Greek is not offered.)  Completion of the third semester of ancient Greek or Latin satisfies St. Olaf’s foreign-language requirement.
  • Three majors that emphasize language and literature:   Students may complete a major in ancient Greek, Latin, or Classics (= Greek and Latin). Outstanding senior students are invited to pursue distinction in Classics.
  • Opportunity to go on stage: Every other year St. Olaf Classics students perform one of Plautus’ ancient Roman comedies in a musical mixture of English and Latin, taking the show on tour to other schools.  The play is an entirely extracurricular event, open to any student who has taken Latin or Greek.
  • Opportunity to belong to an honor society:   St. Olaf is home to a chapter of Eta Sigma Phi, the Classics honor society, and has twice hosted the national convention. The chapter’s activities include a weekly Classics Conversation Table.  In the annual Maureen Dallas Watkins Contests, St. Olaf has the best record of any college in the country.
  • Opportunity to win prizes, awards, and scholarships:  St. Olaf sponsors annual in-house Greek and Latin translation contests with monetary prizes and a competition for Groomis Awards that help defray the cost of summer projects related to Classics, Ancient Studies, or Medieval Studies.  The Scarseth and Grimsrud Scholarships are awarded to junior or senior majors with academic merit and financial need.
  • Nationally recognized faculty: St. Olaf Classics faculty are respected teacher-scholars. They have published numerous books and articles, delivered many guest lectures, served as officers in national and regional Classics associations, and been honored with distinguished professorships and national teaching awards.

Because a Classics major is demanding and requires determination, it is highly respected by graduate schools and employers.  It is great preparation for a career in virtually any field: education, journalism, law, diplomacy, medicine, theology, archaeology, museum studies, library science, business, military service, Peace Corps, missionary work—you name it!  St. Olaf students often combine a Classics major with a second major in another area of the humanities or in one of the sciences or fine arts.

To read the Classics Brochure, click here.


Ancient Studies at St. Olaf College

Founded in 1971, the Ancient Studies interdisciplinary program invites students to examine Greece and Rome in their ancient Mediterranean context and from a variety of perspectives—literary, historical, artistic, religious, and cultural.

Every student who majors in Ancient Studies completes the fourth semester of ancient Greek or Latin, an ancient history course, a Classics course, and five other courses selected from Art, Asian Studies, Classics, Great Conversation, History, Philosophy, Political Science, Religion, and Theater. One of the five electives must be an Independent Research on a topic of the student’s choice.  Off-campus programs and courses at Carleton College extend the range of possibilities.

St. Olaf students often combine an Ancient Studies major with another major like art history, English, history, philosophy, political science, or religion. Even science and fine arts majors sometimes double major in Ancient Studies. An Ancient Studies major marks a graduate as distinctive, well-rounded, and intellectually curious.

To read the Ancient Studies Brochure, click here.


Medieval Studies at St. Olaf College 

Founded in 1971, the Medieval Studies interdisciplinary program invites students to examine the European Middle Ages (5th-15th centuries) from a variety of perspectives—literary, historical, artistic, religious, and cultural.

Every student who majors in Medieval Studies completes the fourth semester of Latin, a medieval history course, a medieval literature course, and five other courses selected by the student from Art and Art History, Asian Studies, English, Great Conversation, History, Music, Norwegian, Philosophy, Religion, and Theater. One of the five electives must be an Independent Research on a topic of the student’s choice. Independent studies in medieval languages may be used as electives. Off-campus programs and courses at Carleton College extend the range of possibilities.

St. Olaf students often combine a Medieval Studies major with another major like art history, English, history, philosophy, religion, women’s and gender studies, or a modern language. Even science and fine arts majors sometimes double major in Medieval Studies. A Medieval Studies major marks a graduate as distinctive, well-rounded, and intellectually curious.

To read the Medieval Studies Brochure, click here.


Contact Information

If you have questions about Classics, Ancient Studies, or Medieval Studies, please contact Prof. Anne Groton (Tomson 367, x3387), who chairs the Classics Department and directs the two interdisciplinary programs.

You are also welcome to speak with any of the faculty on the Ancient and Medieval Studies Steering Committee:  Prof. Hilary Bouxsein (Classics), Prof. Chris Brunelle (Classics), Prof. Karen Cherewatuk (English), Prof. Tim Howe (History), Prof. Karen Marsalek (English), Prof. Prof. Kevin Mummey (History), Prof. Danny Muñoz-Hutchinson (Philosophy), Prof. Maggie Odell (Religion), Prof. Steve Reece (Classics), Prof. Jason Ripley (Religion), Prof. Nancy Thompson (Art History), or Prof. Charles Wilson (Religion).  We look forward to meeting you!

Return to Classics home page.