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Greek and Latin are hard: Oxford classics faculty proposes dropping Homer and Virgil from required curriculum so female students will do better on the tests

February 19, 2020
Amphora, c530BC (detail), showing Achilles killing Penthesilea.

Photo: British Museum

From The Oxford Student:

The Oxford Student has been notified about a proposal by the Classics faculty to remove the study of Homer’s Iliad and Virgil’s Aeneid from the Mods syllabus, a decision which has surprised many across the faculty.

This proposal forms part of a series of reforms aimed to modernise the first stage of the Classics degree, known as Moderations (Mods), which take place during Hilary term of second year for all students taking Classics courses across the university.

The Mods course, which is assessed by a set of ten exams at the end of Hilary, has been increasingly criticised in recent years, due to the attainment gaps found between male and female candidates, as well as between candidates who have studied Latin and/or Greek to A-Level (Course I) and those who have not (Course II).

The removal of Virgil and Homer papers, which take up two out of the ten Mods papers, have been marketed as a move that will reduce the attainment gaps and thus improve access to the subject.

Evidently girls just can’t get into the Trojan War.

The Oxford Classics course, known more formally as litterae humaniores is thought to be one of the oldest at the university, with Classical texts, including those of Homer and Virgil having been taught here since the University’s foundation.

Since it’s [sic! This is Oxford???] founding, the course has gone through a number of changes, the most recent one being the introduction of ab initio language teaching almost five decades ago….

The new decade presents the degree with new challenges, with Classicists saying it must adapt to a constantly evolving demographic of students and their needs.

I don’t know how Oxford plans to pull off teaching classics without, um, teaching any classical literature–but maybe, so as to close those “attainment gaps” for female students, the dons can devote a few units to Helen of Troy’s body-positivity issues.

Update: Thanks, Glenn Reynolds!

Posted by Charlotte Allen

From → Uncategorized

6 Comments
  1. Bernard Hassan permalink

    Jane Ellen Harrison is spinning in her grave and is invoking the presence of the Eumenides in this benighted and illiterate university.

  2. Paul Bohlig Margaret Aten permalink

    In general woman outscore men on reading and verbal tests. Men outscore women in math. So this proposal makes no sense.

  3. Sabrina Davis permalink

    Sweet Jesus.

  4. No. It’s to keep EVERYONE illiterate and unaware of the “Justinian Deception” of our SLAVERY to the Crown.
    https://justiniandeception.wordpress.com/

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