Course Materials: the Ancient World

Welcome to all of you who are interested in joining this discussion of the Ancient World.

Our aim, over the course of the fall and early winter term, is to read a selection of the most influential and remarkable classics produced by peoples living around the Mediterranean basin. The list includes writing from Mesopotamia, Israel, Greece, Rome and the Islamic world. In addition to considering the intrinsic wonder of each of these important texts - along with the distinctive forms of art and architecture of the various peoples who produced them - we also want to weave this all into a coherent account of the fundamental realities that underlie all the subsequent civilizations that have developed from these roots - which is to say all of western civilization.

What Can I Expect?
The Lectures:
Once you have signed up for the course by paying and giving us your name and an email address you will be sent a notification in an email from This will tell you how to download the text and audio files for each lecture to your computer. The text files with their color illustrations and hyperlinks are all in PDF format which you can save to any existing folder on your computer - or else you can create a new folder to hold the materials for this course. These PDF files are read with the Adobe Acrobat Reader which you can download for free from their website if you do not already have it installed. Similarly you can download the MP3 files which contain the audio version of the lecture and then listen to them on your computer or place them on any MP3 listening device (such as an iPod or smart phone) and take them with you wherever you go.

The lectures are posted to every two weeks according to the Schedule (posted below on a separate tab). They are available for you to download within 30 days from the time they were sent to you.

The Tutorials:
There will be a total of nine live, in-person, tutorials held every second week at a venue in one of the Metro Universities and at a time most convenient to the group’s participants – probably on Sunday afternoons. You will be notified of the time and place of the first meeting by email. These tutorials are usually conducted by the lecturer. Each one lasts about 2 or 21/2 hours and provides you with an opportunity to discuss the text you are reading with the lecturer or another member of faculty and to compare your notes, queries and insights with those of the other participants. In a pilot version of HALIFAXTHINKS! which ran from 2007-2009 these tutorials turned out to be one of the most exciting and delightful parts of the entire experience. They also provided the basis on which friendships were formed especially among those who ended up taking more than a single course.

As this is a not-for-credit course there are no exams, no tests, no papers to write, no competition, and no pressure. There is only the common desire of a group of like- minded adults from many walks of life to read, study, and enter into a conversation with these amazing works on their own terms and for their own sake. In that sense it is the only truly free learning - which is simply learning for learning’s sake.

Sample Lecture:
To get the flavor of the lectures you can download the first lecture, Before Civilization, by clicking here. It will open the PDF file of that lecture for you to glance through or to read. There is not an audio version (MP3 files) of this sample, but you can download and print it.

HALIFAXTHINKS! – The Ancient World – The Book:
The experience of the pilot project revealed that while reading the text files on a computer has many advantages - amongst which are its working hyperlinks (both inside the text and to outside resources), as well as the bright and glorious colors of the illustrations and the easy ability to change font sizes, nevertheless most everyone finds the backlighting of a computer screen tiring to look at. It is also the case that the truncated pages that make a screen legible also make it difficult to move back and forward with ease any text that is longer than a few pages. As a result almost everyone ended up printing out the pages so they could read them like a regular book. Since it is difficult to do this, back to back, on home printers many found themselves with an unmanageable stack of about 500 single-sided pages by the end of the course. These only fitted in the largest of ring-binder and were still difficult to read. They also found that this involved a significant cost in black ink cartridges while it was nearly ruinous for the few who did it in color.

For those who want, we have arranged to print all the PDF files of the course in order, back to back, in a single, 240 page, spiral-bound, black and white, landscape format, coffee-table style book that can be read like any ordinary text. The cost is $75. After paying for the printing, all excess funds realized from the sale of this book go directly to support to operating costs of HalifaxHumanities101.

Register now for The Ancient World" beginning in late September.. [more]

Live tutorials will be on Sundays 2 - 4pm.
Click here for a sample lecture from 'The Ancient World' (without audio).

Click here to view the Aug 2012 Halifax NewsNet article on us.
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