Department of Classics

Pramit Chaudhuri


Ph.D., Classics and Comparative Literature, Yale University

Associate Professor

Contact

Biography


Pramit Chaudhuri is Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Texas at Austin. He received his B.A. (Hons.) in classical literature and philosophy (Literae Humaniores) from Balliol College, Oxford University; an M.A. in the history of art from the Courtauld Institute; and a Ph.D. in classics and comparative literature from Yale University. He specialises in the Latin poetry of the early Roman empire set within a broader study of classical and early modern epic and tragedy. His recent book, The War with God (Oxford 2014), explores literary depictions of ‘theomachy’ (conflicts between humans and gods) and their mediation of issues such as religious conflict, philosophical iconoclasm, political struggle, and poetic rivalry. Articles on subjects ranging from Vergilian wordplay to Shakespeare’s collaborative work have appeared in journals such as Classical Quarterly and ELH: English Literary History. His current book project is a study of the representation of debate and diplomacy in Roman epic and historiography.

Chaudhuri is also co-director of the Quantitative Criticism Lab, a collaborative project to apply computational and biological approaches to the study of literature. Research by QCL has appeared in various journals across Classics, the Digital Humanities, and sciences. His work has been supported by a New Directions Fellowship from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a Digital Humanities Start-up Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a Digital Innovation Fellowship from the American Council for Learned Societies, besides various other grants. He is also the co-founder and co-president of the Society for Early Modern Classical Reception (SEMCR), an affiliate group of the Society for Classical Studies and Renaissance Society of America.

Courses


C C 303 • Intro To Classical Mythology

33514 • Spring 2020
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WCP 1.402
GC VP

Myths accompanied Greek and Roman culture as a constant from the pre-literate era before the Homeric epics through the hyper-literary myths of the Roman period. These myths helped the ancient Greeks and Romans to make sense of their world and to address issues with regard to religion, philosophy, and even early attempts at natural science. In different forms, myths still inform our understanding of the world, and Classical mythology in particular has continued to influence western art and literature up to the present day. This class begins with an examination of the Greek understanding of the creation of the world, the pantheon of gods, and the creation of humanity. Time will also be spent on the origins of Greek mythology, looking to the mythologies of Near Eastern cultures, which have influenced Greek thought. Throughout the course attention will be given to particular gods, goddesses, heroes and heroines and the myths which surround them in both the Greek and Roman traditions. Classical Civilization 303 and 352 may not both be counted.

Fulfills the Visual and Performing Arts requirement.

Carries the Global Cultures flag.

Fulfills the Cultural Expression, Human Experience, & Thought Course area requirement.

C C 348 • Intro To Classical Lit

33574 • Spring 2020
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM CBA 4.338
GC

This course introduces students to classical literature (a shorthand for the literature of ancient Greece and Rome), its relationship to other literatures and arts, and the main current approaches to research in the field.

Classical literature has exerted a profound influence on the form and content of cultural production over two millennia and across the globe. Comprising major categories of writing, including epic, drama, history, philosophy, and the novel, and encompassing a period of over fifteen hundred years, writers from Homer to Augustine provide a view onto the seismic historical shifts of their own day and offer an important context for understanding processes of cultural evolution. Diachronic, cross-cultural, and multimedia interactions with classical literature take a wide variety of forms, including direct dialogue with ideas; text reuse, adaptation, and translation; and constructions of personal and collective identity. Although often assumed to be a strictly European or Western tradition, as well as the preserve of an elite, classical literature engages a much greater diversity of regions, classes, and individuals. Besides introducing the major genres and periods of classical literature and its subsequent reception in Europe, therefore, the course will also address responses to the tradition in the US and Latin America, including works by modern African American and Latinx authors and Hispanophone writers of the early modern New World. We will also place the Greek and Roman classics in the context of world literature, especially comparisons with other classical traditions as well as colonial and post-colonial receptions of Greco-Roman texts in the Caribbean and India.

In addition to the literary texts themselves, the course will introduce students to a selection of resources and scholarship for research in the field. The course will therefore prepare students for pursuing more in-depth study of classical literature as well as literary and cultural studies in general, though the approaches examined will naturally touch on a number of other disciplines, including in the sciences and social sciences. We will also consider models of collaboration between specialists inside and outside the humanities to illustrate the possibilities for research for all students, whatever their primary academic training.

LAT 390 • Debate/Diplomacy Classical Lit

33265 • Fall 2019
Meets T 2:00PM-5:00PM WAG 10

Debate and Diplomacy in Classical Literature

Classical epic and historiography are centrally concerned with war, against which context they feature scenes of councils and embassies in which characters argue for peace. These moments of tension and possibility have much to teach us not only about Greco-Roman attitudes to war and peace, rhetoric and negotiation, but also about the interpretation of literary texts - since interpretation can itself be viewed as a form of debate and diplomatic exchange with one’s predecessors, peers, and successors. Texts include selections from Homer through to Silius Italicus, especially Augustan and Flavian works, with a particular view to tracing out the nuances of their treatment of embassies and councils. In terms of theory and criticism, we will focus on the work of the early modernist Timothy Hampton as well as some recent scholarship on Roman diplomacy from a historical perspective. Graded assignments will include translation and components of the research project culminating in a final paper.

LAT 383 • Survey Of Latin Literature

32870 • Spring 2018
Meets TTH 1:00PM-2:30PM CBA 4.336

This course studies a wide range of Latin literary production from the 1st century AD with some selective forays into later periods. The treatment of material and assignments are partly designed to prepare students for graduate examinations, including a focus on literary history and translation of Latin. As well as getting to know major individual works and their place in the tradition, we will practise two skills crucial for anyone seeking to work in the field: 1) defining a literary problem and a plausible critical approach to that problem; 2) connecting a text or a feature of a text with illuminating comparanda. To that end the course will also introduce some major trends in the recent study of Latin literature, which will allow us to better contextualise our own approaches. By the end of the semester, students should be able to present their knowledge according to a variety of configurations suitable for answering a diverse array of questions about Latin literature. Since the course cannot be comprehensive in its coverage, it is expected that the methods and techniques learned will be applied to material beyond the syllabus.

UGS 302 • Paratext: Art Of Commentary

61955 • Spring 2018
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM BEN 1.106
GCWr ID

The Signature Course (UGS 302 and 303) introduces first-year students to the university’s academic community through the exploration of new interests. The Signature Course is your opportunity to engage in college-level thinking and learning.

LAT 383 • Survey Of Latin Literature

33425 • Spring 2017
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WAG 10

This course studies a wide range of Latin literary production from the 1st century AD with some selective forays into later periods. The treatment of material and assignments are partly designed to prepare students for graduate examinations, including a focus on literary history and translation of Latin. As well as getting to know major individual works and their place in the tradition, we will practise two skills crucial for anyone seeking to work in the field: 1) defining a literary problem and a plausible critical approach to that problem; 2) connecting a text or a feature of a text with illuminating comparanda. To that end the course will also introduce some major trends in the recent study of Latin literature, which will allow us to better contextualise our own approaches. By the end of the semester, students should be able to present their knowledge according to a variety of configurations suitable for answering a diverse array of questions about Latin literature. Since the course cannot be comprehensive in its coverage, it is expected that the methods and techniques learned will be applied to material beyond the syllabus.

LAT 390 • Silver Latin Epic

33450 • Spring 2017
Meets M 2:00PM-5:00PM WAG 10

In the past thirty years, few areas of Latin literature have enjoyed as much scholarly attention as Silver Latin epic. Three principal features account for this popularity: 1) themes of violence, excess, and subversion have appealed to contemporary tastes; 2) produced within a relatively brief period from Nero to Domitian, the corpus is remarkably coherent and invites detailed local comparisons; 3) unlike for Augustan literature, many of the primary models of Silver epic are extant: the Aeneid, Metamorphoses, and Senecan tragedy, besides Greek works. The corpus thus offers critics a rare opportunity to study the workings of Roman poets within near contemporaneous as well as longer timeframes, including reception studies focused especially on the high middle ages and early modernity. In this seminar we will survey portions of each of the surviving epics: Lucan’s Bellum Ciuile, Valerius Flaccus’ Argonautica, Silius Italicus’ Punica, and Statius’ Thebaid and Achilleid. As well as seeking to understand the key themes of these works and their place in literary history, we will also use the corpus as a means of practising methods of criticism, ranging from traditional philology to the digital humanities, and paying attention to literary theory.

LAT 323 • Year Of The Four Emperors

33320 • Fall 2016
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM WAG 112

The Fall of the emperor Nero in AD 68 brought to an end the reign of Rome’s first imperial dynasty, the Julio-Claudians, and sparked a year of civil war. Four generals in succession struggled to gain control of the Roman empire, from which turmoil would eventually emerge the Flavian dynasty, whose military and cultural accomplishments shaped the fabric of the city of Rome and the course of history. In this course we read selections from the major accounts of the civil war in Latin by the historian Tacitus and imperial biographer Suetonius. The course has two principal aims: 1) to develop the ability to read Latin prose through enhanced knowledge of vocabulary, grammar, syntax, and style; 2) to understand how literary language represents conflict and shapes the reader’s response to narrative and character.