About the Program
In the discourse of cultural origins, the eastern Mediterranean holds a seminal place. The arts and sciences, history, philosophy, and theology all have long cultivation and dissemination traditions in the region. Geographical and environmental factors, not least the unique connectivity supplied by millennia of Mediterranean seafaring, have shaped the transfer of ideas and people across material and symbolic borders. This is the place of the initial flourishing and later preservation and transmission of the Greek, Roman, and Byzantine civilizations and the birthplace of three major monotheistic traditions. The exchange of ideas and populations, often voluntary, at other times violent and forced, has been a persistent feature of the region’s histories. This course will explore some of the major cultural traditions, their points of overlap, mutual influence, and divergence at critical points in the history of the region. The course will also analyze important political formations such as Ancient Athens, the Kingdom of Macedonia and the Hellenistic commonwealth, the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires, attempts at modernization in the late Ottoman empire, and the rise of nation-states in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the Balkans and the Middle East. At the heart of our inquiry will be the ways in which political formations, epistemologies, religious and artistic traditions have shaped and been shaped by the movement of people in the Eastern Mediterranean and beyond.
You will reside in Olympia and Nafplio, visiting many iconic historical and cultural sites along the way. The program will also travel to Athens and offer additional weekend excursions to visit sites and museums of major importance.
Due to its location and the wealth of the historical, artistic, and archaeological record, Greece enables an exceptionally fruitful study of the seminar topics. The program takes place mainly in two sites of prime historical and symbolic significance:
- Nafplio, the first capital of the modern Greek state
- Olympia, the ancient center of cult and athletic competition
For additional information, visit the Greece program website and watch the video from its program’s last iteration. You can also read about the program’s joyful anniversary of a 20-year milestone since its first iteration back in 2002, which was celebrated in summer 2021 by bringing together virtually the program’s broad community (alumni, fellows, guests, and associates).
All seminars are in English, and you are always surrounded by proficient users of the English language. You will have the opportunity to pick up some Greek, if you wish. Practice your skills during meetings with the coordinators, interactions with Greek students and faculty, and through immersion in the towns and experiences of Olympia, Nafplio, and other sites around Greece.
COMP S-107 counts as one full-year course (8 credits) of degree credit.
COMP S-107 Study Abroad in Greece: Migration and Boundaries—Reconceptionalizing Mobility in the Eastern Mediterranean and Beyond
This five-week course consists of eight interrelated seminars. Each week-long seminar meets daily (Monday through Thursday), for a total of four two-hour periods. Seminars run in pairs over the first four weeks of the course; students write two short response papers (two pages) per week. The fifth week is devoted to the writing of the final ten-page paper. Students are contacted about book purchases and preparatory reading in late spring; other material is available online and through access to Harvard digital resources. Seminar topics are listed below.
There are no prerequisites for this course and its seminars.
2022 Course Seminars
Borders, migration, and ethnicity in historical perspective (Dimiter Angelov)
This mini-seminar will provide a general framework in order to understand the topics of border, migration, and ethnicity in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans. We will be asking the following questions: What is a border? How have borders been understood and how have they functioned throughout the history of the region? What is the role of ethnicity and citizenship? To what extent did ancient city-states, empires, and nation-states have a different understanding of borders? Examining these questions will allow us to better understand the role of mobility and migration in the Eastern Mediterranean, from Antiquity through the Byzantine Empire until the modern era.
Greece and its History: Empires, Nations, Migrations (Dimitri Kastritsis)
The mini seminar introduces students to key themes for understanding the history of Greece and its people, which is largely one of empires and vast movements of people and ideas. We will begin with an introduction to the modern Greek state and its historical ‘baggage’, from antiquity to independence from the Ottoman Empire. In our second meeting, we will consider the role of empires in history and in the movement of people and ideas. In our third meeting, we will briefly examine the Ottoman Empire from which Greece was born, an empire which stretched from Asia to Europe and from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. Finally, in our fourth meeting we will discuss the material heritage of the Ottomans and other medieval and early modern civilizations in Greece.
Crossings of boundaries between social order and disorder in the East Mediterranean, from the Bronze Age to the era of Alexander (Gregory Nagy)
Boundaries between social order and disorder in the East Mediterranean were crossed in many different ways during a period lasting over a thousand years of prehistory and history as surveyed in this seminar. Of special interest are (1) the emergence of a hybrid Minoan / Mycenaean civilization in the second half of the second millennium BCE and (2) the intensification of Hellenic and non-Hellenic differentiations in the “dark” and then “archaic” and then “classical” ages of the first millennium BCE. The seminar will highlight evidence for (a) cultural fluidity, in the late “archaic” and early “classical” ages, involving Greeks living inside and outside the Persian Empire and (b) contested models, operating in the earlier “dark” ages, of civilization as transmitted by mobile artisans who were juridically immune as they crossed boundaries from one petty kingdom to another. Primary sources to be read will include selections, in English translation, from epic and from “wisdom” poetry, together with prose accounts by historians like Herodotus and Thucydides, as also by antiquarians like Pausanias. In such ancient Greek sources, as also in non-Greek counterparts, the modern reader will find moral problems being posed about dysfunctionalities experienced by gods as well as by humans in the heroic era of myths—as opposed to the functionalism of social orders as they existed in the “post-heroic” era of rituals that recapitulated the myths.
Rome and China: boundaries, identities and outsiders before the nation state (Emma Dench and Michael Puett)
The Roman and Han empires interacted only through intermediaries, and each had only a vague notion of the other, despite the fact that they were at their height at roughly the same time (between the 200’s BCE and the 200’s CE). Comparing and contrasting these two ancient empires offers us great insight into the different ways in which boundaries, identities and migration were conceptualized before the formation of the nation state. We will focus particularly on ancient conceptualizations of the world and of the extent of Han and Roman power within it, on notions and enactments of imperial communities, and on ideas about and behavior towards outsiders.
Migrants, Exiles, and Refugees in the Modern Eastern Mediterranean (Ilham Khuri-Makdisi)
The expansion of empire, and the unraveling of empire, have generated mass migrations. Our point of departure will be the break-up of the Ottoman empire and accompanying nation-state formation in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which created vast movements of people in the eastern Mediterranean. The course will analyze pivotal moments in the voluntary or forced exchange of people and ideas in the region against the backdrop of nineteenth-century Ottoman modernization efforts, growing nationalism, and the aftermath of the Balkan and World Wars, with particular emphasis on the exchange of populations following the Greek-Turkish war of 1920-22. We will then build on the insights drawn from philosophical and literary texts about hospitality, exile, and cosmopolitanism to grapple with the contemporary treatment of refugees as one of the crucial political and moral questions of our time.
Olympism: From the Ancient Panhellenic Games to the Modern Megaevents (George Syrimis)
No idea has travelled through the ages and throughout the globe as much as the ever-evolving concept of Olympism. From the religious context of Archaic Greece to the modern megaevents, we examine the Games’ mythology in Ancient Greece and the ritual and political and social ramifications of Panhellenism. Specific emphasis will be placed on the artistic representation of athletic culture in epic, lyric poetry, sculpture, and vase painting. The rest of the course will trace the revival of the modern Olympic movement in 1896, the political investment of the Greek state at the time, and the internationalist argument of Pierre de Coubertin. We will pay particular attention to the pivotal 1936 Berlin Games when the convergence of Hellenism and Nazi ideology brought an end to the Games’ first phase marred by racism and eugenics. In the aftermath of WWII, the Games became the battleground of the Cold War and validation of newly decolonized nations and indigenous cultures. They remain embedded in the global fabric of nationalism as the spectacle of nations is staged in lavish opening ceremonies. In addition to the cultural samples from ancient Greece, we will also be parsing Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia documentaries of the Berlin Games and those of Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Summer Games.
Modern Greek Landscapes: Movement and Stasis (Yota Batsaki)
The imagination can attach itself to any geography, infusing it with the play of emotion and association. Yet few locales have invited this imaginative work as readily and repeatedly as the Greek landscape, due to its classical associations, the accounts of travelers from antiquity to the present, and the demands of modern nation building. At the interface between nature and culture, landscape is a “text on which generations write their recurring obsessions” (Simon Schama), imbued with richness, antiquity, and complexity. Through a series of literary, visual, and critical texts on the Greek landscape we will begin to explore how imagined geographies are formed, how they are sculpted by human labor and culture, and how they in turn shape those who inhabit or traverse them. We will end with the island as a space replete with the tensions of human belonging: a figure for both adventure and homecoming; a prison and a place of exile; and, in its most recent incarnation, a refugee camp.
From Zeus to Sabetay Sevi: Religion, Art, and Public Life in Southeastern Europe (Eurydice Georganteli)
The seminar explores South-Eastern Europe as a rich palimpsest of religious and linguistic practices through the study of art and architecture from antiquity to the early modern period. Mobility and migration have shaped rituals, languages, and cultural geographies and resulted in remarkable heritage sites and visual art from the Bosporus to the Adriatic Sea. The sacred precinct at Olympia, the Parthenon in Athens, the rock reliefs at Philippi, the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople/Istanbul, the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, and the Dubrovnik Synagogue are some of the examples we will consider to unpack legacies of creation, destruction, and reconfiguration of sacred space and works of art. These legacies remain central to national and regional politics and aesthetics and permeate ongoing conversations about migration, mobility, and citizenship in 21st-century Europe.
Where You'll Live and Study
This program takes place in close proximity to some of the most celebrated archaeological sites in Greece and the Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies. Your studies will be enhanced by this rich setting, as well as by excursions throughout the country.
You share double-occupancy rooms in hotels located at the center of each city that you visit in the program. Buffet breakfast is offered in all hotels, while dinner is provided either in the hotel or in local restaurants and tavernas. You make your own arrangements for lunch. All the hotels provide a free wireless Internet connection in every room.
- In Olympia, accommodations are provided at Hotel Europa. Classes and dinners take place within the hotel.
- In Nafplio, we stay at Park Hotel. Classes take place at the state-of-the-art facilities of the Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies in Greece, inaugurated in 2008 and located on the Nafplio waterfront.
- In Athens, we stay at Amalia Hotel, located at the very heart of the Greek capital, close to the Parliament and the Acropolis.
You may apply to no more than two programs; if applying to two programs, you will be asked to rank your two applications in order of preference (first and second choice). Any applications submitted in excess of the maximum of two will be automatically withdrawn. You will be notified of your admissions status in each program by early March.
A complete online application includes:
- Basic personal information
- A statement of interest
- Your most recent transcript
- Program-specific requirements (if applicable; may include letters of recommendation, etc.)
Interviews may be requested at the discretion of the program.
Harvard College students applying for funding from the Office of Career Services (OCS): Please note that the OCS funding application is separate. OCS funding awards are tied to a specific program, and cannot be transferred to another program.
If you have questions about the application, please contact the Harvard Summer School Study Abroad Office by email at email@example.com.
Cost & Expenses
The program fee includes:
- Scheduled program activities
- Some meals (the program will provide further details)
You will also need to budget for a number of expenses not covered by the program fee. The amounts listed below for these out-of-pocket expenses are approximate, and you may incur additional expenses not noted here. Your actual expenses will depend on a number of factors, including personal spending habits and currency exchange rates. Note that expense categories–especially airfare–may be subject to significant fluctuations.
- International airfare ($1,200 – $1,600)
- Ground transportation ($100)
- Meals ($500)
- Personal expenditures, communications, course materials, and miscellaneous (including COVID-19 testing) ($400)
If you have specific questions about personal budgeting, please contact the program directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See Funding and Payment for information on how to submit payments and funding options.