Comparative empires in the Eastern Mediterranean and Eurasia; a survey of cross-cultural interaction from ancient times to the present
Faculty: Gregory Nagy, Nicolas Prevelakis, Sahar Bazzaz, Emma Dench, Michael Puett, Dimiter Angelov, Dimitris Kastritsis, Yota Batsaki, Ilham Khuri-Makdisi, and Anna Stavrakopoulou
Located at an important Mediterranean crossroad between the East and West, the summer program in Greece (Nafplio, Olympia, Thessaloniki) examines comparatively the historical and cultural phenomenon of empire in the Eastern Mediterranean and Eurasia. For most of history, most people lived in empires—and in today’s world of nation states and multinational corporations, the effects of empire are still with us.
Greece is an ideal location from which to contemplate ancient empires and their successors in the region, especially the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, as well as their interactions with both Europe and Asia. Since antiquity, the East in particular has seen the rise and fall of empires that are remarkable for their duration, influence, and the distinctive political and cultural formations that they generated. The program, therefore, innovates by shifting the focus away from the Atlantic to those empires of the Eastern Mediterranean and Eurasia that are both significant within a global historical context and relatively unfamiliar to students.
Studying these empires comparatively enables you to address historical and still pressing issues of power, identity, and cross-cultural contact from a stimulating new angle. It also expands and enriches your understanding of the classical legacy and its modes of transmission and reinterpretation through the centuries. The program’s shift in focus away from the Atlantic is likely to become one of the hallmarks of the world of the twenty-first century.
Due to its location and the wealth of the historical, artistic, and archaeological record, Greece enables an exceptionally fruitful study of the different imperial layers and legacies in the region, and their interactions. The program takes place in the symbolic historical sites of Nafplio, the first capital of Greece, Olympia, the ancient center of cult and athletic competition, and cosmopolitan Thessaloniki, the most important city center in Northern Greece. Through focused and interrelated seminars by an interdisciplinary team of scholars who have conducted collaborative research and publication in the region, and a rich program of field trips and museum visits, you are introduced to the comparative study of empires—ancient, medieval, and modern—that dominated Greece for more than two millennia.
What can you learn about the ideology, representation, and exercise of power in the Empire in question? What kind of identities were available? What was their political significance? What kinds of interactions marked the cultures of the people? What was the role of territoriality and geography, both imagined and physical? How did the imperial core relate to the periphery? How did the empire in question relate to the outside world? What kinds of literary and cultural productions were characteristic of the period, and what was their significance?
Gregory Nagy, Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature in the Department of the Classics and Professor of Comparative Literature, Harvard University; Director, Harvard University Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, DC
Dimiter Angelov (Byzantine History), Visiting Professor of History, Harvard University; Professor of Byzantine History, University of Birmingham
Yota Batsaki, Executive Director of the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Associate of the Center for Hellenic Studies, Harvard University
Sahar Bazzaz (History, Middle East and North Africa), Associate Professor of History, College of the Holy Cross
Emma Dench, Professor of the Classics and of History, Harvard University
Dimitris Kastritsis, Lecturer, School of History, University of St Andrews
Ilham Khuri-Makdisi, (Middle East and World History), Associate Professor, Northeastern University)
Nicolas Prevelakis, Lecturer on Social Studies, Harvard University; Assistant Director of Curricular Development, Harvard's Center for Hellenic Studies
Michael Puett, Walter C. Klein Professor of Chinese History and Chair of the Committee on the Study of Religion, Harvard University
Anna Stavrakopoulou (Theater Studies and Modern Greek Literature), Assistant Professor of Theater Studies, Aristotle University, Thessaloniki, Greece
This program is available to all students, wherever you study—in the United States or abroad. In the past, participants have been undergraduates, graduate students, and independent scholars. Please note: You must be at least 18 years old, have completed at least one year of college or be a first-year student, and be in good standing to apply.
The application materials, outlined below, are due January 28, 2016:
- A completed online application (available in early December) that includes:
- A $50 nonrefundable application fee
- A statement of interest in the program, including information on relevant coursework and travel experience abroad (previous travel is not a prerequisite)
- Letter(s) of recommendation from a current or most recent teacher or advisor, mailed to the Study Abroad Office (Harvard Summer School, Room 312, 51 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA 02138) or emailed as a PDF directly from the recommender to firstname.lastname@example.org:
- Harvard College applicants: submit one recommendation
- Non-Harvard applicants: submit two letters of recommendation so program staff can learn about the applicant’s academic background and preparation for this program
- Transcripts (student record accepted for Harvard students)
Interviews may be requested.
You will be notified of admission decisions by mid-February.
There is a nonrefundable $50 application fee. The program cost includes the following:
- Room, breakfast, and dinner
- All scheduled excursions and extracurricular activities
In addition to the program fee, you are responsible for:
- A health insurance fee (waived if you have US insurance that provides coverage outside the United States)
- International airfare and transportation to and from Nafplio (if not joining the courtesy bus trips offered by the program)
- The cost of passports and visas (if the latter is needed)
- Any immunizations
How to pay and funding options
See Payment and Funding for payment deadlines, deposit amounts, and more information, including funding options for Harvard College students.
You share double-occupancy rooms. 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.
In Nafplio, we stay at Park Hotel. Classes take place at the state-of-the-art facilities of the Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies, located on the Nafplion waterfront, whose Greek branch was recently inaugurated in 2008.
In Olympia, accommodations are provided at Hotel EuropaHotel Europa. Classes take place in a fully equipped seminar room—including video projector, printer, computer, and Internet access— within the hotel. You share double-occupancy rooms and eat buffet breakfasts and dinners at the hotel; you make their own arrangements for lunch. You usually have dinner outside in the olive garden. The hotel provides a free wireless Internet connection in every room and a swimming pool.
In Thessaloniki, we stay at City Hotel. The hotel is centrally located, offering the chance to explore and get engaged with the city.
You are expected to be present in Nafplion on the morning of Monday, June 27, for the beginning of the program. Courtesy pick-up from Athens airport will be scheduled on June 25 and 26. Students can depart from Nafplion, after the end of the program, on July 31, in the morning.