Home >> Academic Programs >> Undergraduate >> Modern Greek Studies

Modern Greek Studies

For twenty-five years, the Classics Department has offered courses in Modern as well as Ancient Greek. Our Modern Greek offerings have grown from one course per semester in 1989 to a range of seven to eight courses per academic year, covering the full range from beginning to advanced levels. In addition to courses in the Modern Greek language, we offer courses in English translation on the classical tradition in Modern Greek Literature and on classical myth in Modern Greek drama and film. We also offer a four-week study abroad course in Greece, which is entitled “History and Archaeology of Corinth” and is led by Professor Jorge J. Bravo--the course combines fieldwork at an excavation site in Kenchreai with guest lectures and trips to other parts of the Peloponnese . 

The department's minor in Greek Language and Culture has been revised (as of December 2013) to include a track in Modern Greek; see the full description of the minor at http://classics.umd.edu/academicprograms/undergraduate/minor.

In the frame of the Modern Greek minor and research opportunities for students of Modern Greek Studies, the Modern Greek Program offers the GREK 499 "Independent Study on Greek Language" course. Topics vary every year--examples include: “Cavafy and the Greek World;” “Classical Past and Modern Greek Identity;" and "Greek Thought and Democracy: Past and Present." In academic year 2015-2016, six undergraduate students of the GREK 499 "Independent Study on Greek Language" (Section: Modern Greek) class presented their papers at the one-day conference on the "The International Context of the Greek World in the 19th Century: Κλασική νθοδέσμη, a 'Classical Bouquet.'" The event was co-organized by the Department of Classics' Modern Greek Program and the Smithsonian Institute, and it was held at College Park on April 2nd, 2016.

We are grateful to the government of the Hellenic Republic for an endowment that helps to fund the salary of our instructor of Modern Greek, Dr. Polyvia Parara. We also depend on the generosity of our annual donors, the Friends of Hellenic Studies, to keep our program strong.

Regarding the placement test, if you have some knowledge of the language but are not certain which course is right for you, please contact Dr. Parara at pparara@umd.edu.

 

FACULTY

All of our courses in Modern Greek Language, History, and Literature in Modern Greek are currently taught by Visiting Assistant Professor Polyvia Parara. A native of Athens, Dr. Parara received her B.A. from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, School of Philosophy, with a major in History.  She also holds a M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Paris X-Nanterre. You can read more about Dr. Parara on her individual web page in the faculty directory on this website at http://classics.umd.edu/users/pparara.

CLAS 309A and 309C on the classical tradition in Modern Greek literature are taught by Dr. Mary Pittas-Herschbach, who established our Modern Greek program and taught all of the courses until her (semi)retirement in 2011. For many years, Dr. Pittas-Herschbach also led our former study abroad tour to Greece, “The Living Legacy."

 

COURSES

 

COURSES IN THE MODERN GREEK LANGUAGE

GREK 111 Elementary Modern Greek I (3 credits)    

Offered every fall; taught by Dr. Polyvia Parara.

An introduction to the language and culture of modern Greece. Students learn about modern Greece as they begin to acquire the basic tools of the language and communicate and function in simple, everyday situations as well as read, write, and understand simple texts and dialogues. This course contributes to the fulfillment of the Global Engagement requirement of the College of Arts and Humanities.

GREK 112 Elementary Modern Greek II (3 credits)  

Offered every spring; taught by Dr. Polyvia Parara.

Prerequisite: GREK 111 (formerly FOLA 108G) or equivalent. This course is designed for second-semester beginners who desire instruction in fundamentals of grammar and structure, in development of vocabulary and language skills. Students practice listening, reading and writing. The course puts emphasis on both conversational Greek and instruction in the grammatical and syntactic structure of the language. It also focuses on aspects of Greek culture and civilization. The course contributes to the fulfillment of the Global Engagement requirement of the College of Arts and Humanities.

GREK 211 Intermediate Modern Greek I (3 credits)  

Offered every fall; taught by Dr. Polyvia Parara.

Prerequisite: Grade of C or better in Elementary Modern Greek II (GREK 112) or permission of the instructor. This course continues to develop communicative competence and self-assurance in all areas of the language with an increasing emphasis on vocabulary enrichment and writing. The cultural landscape of Greece is explored through the use of readings as well as audio-visual material. This course contributes to the fulfillment of the Global Engagement requirement of the College of Arts and Humanities.

GREK 212 Intermediate Modern Greek II (3 credits)  

Offered every spring; taught by Dr. Polyvia Parara.

Prerequisite: GREK 211 or permission of instructor. This course is designed to develop students’ ability to communicate in Modern Greek and to help them acquire the skills necessary to produce oral and written expression. Grammar, structure, vocabulary, listening and reading comprehension are included in the teaching. Aspects of Greek culture will be introduced in reading passages. More specifically, the general objective is that students be able to use the language in order to express feelings and thoughts, describe ordinary situations, exchange information, communicate about a significant number of everyday events, and understand the main cultural features of the Greek people. Successful completion of this course fulfills the Global Engagement requirement of the College of Arts and Humanities.

GREK 398 and 399 Advanced Modern Greek I and II (3 credits each)

Offered each year, in fall and spring respectively; taught by Dr. Polyvia Parara.

Prerequisite:  Grade of C or better in GREK 212. Students practice communicative skills and learn to read, to understand and to write advanced texts relating to a wide variety of themes and situations. Students will be in a position to use appropriate morphological, syntactical, lexical and other linguistic elements which correspond to the level of advanced instruction. Last, students will become acquainted with the characteristics of the Modern Greek culture in regard to interpersonal relations, social and folklore life, and related topics.

GREK 411  Modern Greek History and Literature (3 credits) 

 Taught by Dr. Polyvia Parara.

Prerequisite: GREK 398 and permission of instructor. This course is designed for students who have completed at least one modern Greek course at the 300 level or have reached this level through other means. Course objectives include the improvement of oral and written expression and the development of confidence and fluency in the expression of ideas and arguments on a variety of historical and literary topics through selected readings and material from Non-Print Media.

GREK 499 Independent Study on Greek Language ( 3 credits)

Taught by Dr. Polyvia Parara.

Topics vary every year--examples include: “Cavafy and the Greek World;” “Classical Past and Modern Greek Identity;” and "Greek Thought and Democracy: Past and Present.”

 

COURSES TAUGHT IN ENGLISH TRANSLATION

CLAS 309 Classical Tradition in Modern Greek Literature (3 credits)

Offered every other fall, in alternation with CLAS 309C; taught by Dr. Mary Pittas-Herschbach.

This course explores the influence of classical tradition upon the literature of modern Greece and examines its role as an agent of continuity and discontinuity in the definition and negotiation of a modern identity and its evolving relationship with the past. Readings and discussion will focus on a representative selection of works, including examples from poetry, drama, and fiction, with reference to specific classical texts (e.g. the Odyssey, Oedipus Rex, Lysistrata, Iphigeneia in Aulis, among others).  Taught in English.

CLAS 309C Classical Myth in Modern Greek Cinema and Theatre (3 credits)   

Offered every other fall, in alternation with CLAS 309; taught by Dr. Mary Pittas-Herschbach.

Can the myths of antiquity live again on the modern stage and screen? And how? Modern Greek filmmakers and dramatists, like their American and European counterparts, have contributed some distinctive as well as provocative answers to these questions. In this  “cine-mythology” course, a series of modern films featuring themes from ancient myth and classical drama, along with a sampling of comparable plays by modern Greek dramatists, will allow us to explore the  “dialogue” between the classical past and our own times. Greek films will include English subtitles, and all plays will be read in English translation.

 

CO-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

  • This year, the Department co-organized a one-day conference with the Smithsonian Institution on the unique and rare volume entitled  “Classical Bouquet” (1855), the work of the learned Cretan Elisavet Contaxaki. The volume is valuable evidence for the study of  the contribution of the Classical Past to the formation of Modern Greek Identity in the 19th century.
  • The Language House sponsors a coffee hour once a week during the semester, during which students are invited to converse informally in the languages they are studying. Dr. Parara has continued Dr. Pittas-Herschbach’s tradition of participation in this activity.
  • From time to time, the department hosts lectures on topics related to the history and literature of modern Greece.