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The Greek Symposion an exemplary learning module

“The Greek Symposion“ will serve as a model learning module for studying Classical Archaeology/Classical Philology/Ancient History and for the undergraduate/BA course “Culture of the Antiquity.“ The material is organised at various levels of information (including further questions/research assignments) and connected to a course-based communication platform. eLearning provides students with a thematic introduction and basis for presentations and assignments, in-depth study of sources, as well as individual exam preparation, and independent assessment of results; At the same time, the lecturers are given a means of scheduling (submission of papers, work assignments), of providing supplementary materials and organizing cooperative courses with other universities/educational institutions (schools, museums).

“The Greek Symposion“ is designed as a virtual learning module that can be used in combination with conventional lectures (blended learning) or independently. It will be made available through the Institute’s website to reach a broad public with this form of innovative learning opportunities.


Why Symposion?

The symposion (the “drinking together”, the evening banquet circles of the urban elite) was one of the central institutions of the ancient Greek society and was an integral part of the public-political and religious life. It was also a multi-media event with music and literary recitation, drama and acrobatics. The importance of the symposion for art and literature cannot be overestimated. On the one hand, vases with pictures were used as drinking vessels, and literary texts were recited, on the other hand, the symposion is a central theme on painted vases and in literature. Through the learning platform, this performativity and multimedia nature of the symposion can be experienced in conventional lectures.




The learning module connects text and image media that users can navigate through on different levels or can be directly selected – linked to the topic block of the parallel conventional lecture. Explorative structures for general overview information are combined with direct research on individual aspects, fields of interaction and communication. The databases in which the text and image objects are organised can also be expanded for students and lecturers in the course of the seminar. Free choice from the multimedia range or its modifiability, encourages students to do their own research. The possibility of open communication in connected discussion forums supports peer learning.

The decisive advantage of the digital media is their ability to illustrate the playful aesthetic aspects as well as the visual and acoustic effects that are at the heart of the ancient symposia. Both the text and the image documents are presented in a way that comes close to their original realities of usage. The texts are visible in Greek as well as translated and repeatedly made audible via recorded audio documents. The room for the symposion and the visual media within it, primarily the vase paintings, can be perceived in three-dimensional movement – to this day innovation in the field of didactic visualisation of vases.

For students, the learning module is interesting because, in addition to the seminar-related use, it is also suitable for independent forms of learning, e.g. for exam preparation. It is also useful for cooperative lectures using existing contacts with other universities (Heidelberg, Erfurt, Göttingen, Exeter and Basel), and for pre-vocational internships and the extramural adult education in schools and museums.



The Greek Symposion The Institute for Classical Studies and its partners

The interdisciplinary project is based on the network of the individual disciplines (Classical Archaeology, Ancient History, Classical Philology) within the Institute of Classical Studies (since the 2004 summer semester), the goal of which – teaching Classical Antiquity using all media – is pursued completely and innovatively. At the same time, the intended module is integrated into the future undergraduate/BA course “Culture of the Antiquity“, both in terms of its subject modules and its general focus towards strengthening media literacy among students. Furthermore, the project will intensify the activities of the institute in the field of “New Media“ (image digitisation, prometheus) as well as competencies from eLearning projects (see below), which were already realised in the framework of the JLU Giessen Promotion Fund 03/4, in a new direction towards a complete, independent eLearning range.

The project is based upon activities of the Institute even outside of the narrow scope “New Media“: During a public Homer recitation (Ancient Greek/German) in cooperation with the Hessian Broadcasting Corporation (summer semester 04), competencies and contacts were developed thanks to which audio documents can be professionally produced and integrated into the planned project. In a didactic course on visual media in Latin lessons (winter semester 04/05, conducted by U. Egelhaaf-Gaiser/Thorsten Fuchs [Goetheschule Wetzlar], the didactic preparation of content-blocks as well as their application in a group of students from senior classes will be tested in the segment. On a scientific level, the groundwork on bibliography, material analysis, and text interpretation has been done through two dissertations (K. Lorenz, I. Petrovic) and one post-doctoral thesis (U. Egelhaaf-Gaiser).