Thursday, April 2, 2015

Greece: Democracy and Identity from the Classical to the Modern Era

I am pleased to announce that Paul Fuller, from the Sociology Department at Illinois College, and I will be leading a travel course (called "Breakaways" at Illinois College) to Greece in May/June 2016.  We are both very excited to return to Greece.  It has been way too long for me.

If you are an Illinois College student (returning or incoming), and you have stumbled upon this website, you may want to consider this.

While there is still much planning and editing of the itinerary, here is a preliminary peek at our (unedited) description:

Greece: the birthplace of democracy, history, philosophy, theater, and the Olympics.  It is the land of Socrates, Plato, and Pericles.  St. Paul traveled here.  Its history is etched into the ruins and archaeological sites that dot the landscape.  It is also the strongly tied to the modern developments, inspiring modern forms of democratic governance, participating in rapid urbanization and nationalization, and playing major role in the Euro Crisis.  How does its past relate to its present?  What does ancient Athens have to do with the modern nation?  How does its ancient democracy compare to its modern politics? 

In this BreakAway, we will explore several important ancient and modern Greek locations for their impact on religion and society, always keeping in mind how representations of the (ancient) past relate to contemporary circumstances.  We will explore the ancient ruins and ideas of Athens including a daytrip to the ancient religious center of Delphi to consider how its antiquity has been used to craft a modern nationalist Greek identity, and how Greek nationalism relates to the EU and austerity.  From there, we will turn to the island of Spetsis, a site of modern Greek feminist action centered around Laskarina Bouboulina who fought for Greek independence.  Next we turn to Corinth, Nafplio, Epidauros, and Mycenae, exploring sites associated with St. Paul, the first modern Greek government, ancient healing and theater, and the Iliad, respectively.  Finally, we will visit Greece’s second major city, Thessaloniki, which has an unbroken history from Alexander the Great to the present day as a thriving metropolis.  It is a place brimming with ancient, medieval, and modern significance, a place where Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived side-by-side under Byzantine and Ottoman rule.  It is an intersection between Greece, the Balkans, and Turkey with multiple cross-cultural influences from religion to cuisine.

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