CLAN4107 The Written Word

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Honours option in Classics and Ancient History [Bachelor of Arts (Honours)]
The adoption of writing by the Greeks and Romans was transformative of their own cultures and came to dominate them in fundamental ways. Our understanding of their civilisations and histories is overwhelmingly reliant on their written records, and on the processes of survival of these records—from inscriptions and speeches, to poems, narrative histories and philosophical investigations—up to the age of printing and beyond. This unit focuses on the technology of writing from its earliest beginnings in Mycenaean Linear B, through to the development of Greek and Roman alphabets, and the different materials used to preserve writing, such as stone, animal skin, metal and papyrus. The physical nature of books and libraries in the classical world is studied, with particular attention to the transition from roll to codex, the book format which remains the standard today. Finally, some attention is paid to the different forms of writing from antiquity to the beginning of printing, especially the emergence of minuscule in the eighth and ninth centuries.
Students are able to (1) demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of the emergence of the Greek and Roman alphabets; (2) to describe, and synthesise the scholarship on, the physical nature of ancient writing materials, especially books, and the commercial and scholarly networks which distributed and preserved them in the ancient world; and (3) evaluate the scholarship on the changes of book forms and writing from late antiquity through to the early modern period.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) tutorial participation; (2) essay; and (3) exam. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Neil O'Sullivan
Unit rules
Enroled in the Classics and Ancient History honours programme.
Contact hours
2 hour per week for 12 weeks
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.