Making Classics Current: Student-friendly Magazines as Supplementary Materials

Kate Fedewa

Michigan State University

Students of classical culture, history and language at both the high school and college level often voice a common compliant:  the memorization of lists of ancient names and dates seems tedious and completely unrelated to modern life.  With further study, students realize that classical studies provides not only relevant but often enlightening correlations with the contemporary world.  However, creating interest in students which encourages further study is a dilemma facing teachers and students alike.

I believe that a greater access to classical information in a modern format would help to generate immediate engagement and interest among students of classics.  To that end, I would like to present two original magazines that depict classical culture.  These magazines—organized and composed in the style of Time or Newsweek—aim to provide students with information on topics ranging from political leaders to popular hairstyles. 

The magazines incorporate a variety of ways by which information is presented.  Articles and interviews provide detailed reporting of specific subjects.  Letters to the editor and short summaries give students basic information on a variety of cultural topics.  Advertisements (selling chariots and other classical commodities) and comics provide a light-hearted glimpse at classical culture.  A bibliography details further sources of study for interested students.  Full color illustrations, maps, and charts also allow visual references to accompany the reported material. 

There are numerous ways in which these magazines can be used to generate classroom discussion and assignments.  The articles are designed to encourage comparison between classical events and modern ideas, and could be read individually, in pairs, or as a class.  In addition, the magazines could be used as a starting point for collective and independent research, creative and analytical writing, reading and creating charts, and several other assignments.

These magazines could serve as useful and exciting supplementary sources for the secondary Greek and Roman history and language classroom.  My immediate hope is that the material found in them could be useful in ending the complaints of frustrated students; it is my long-term goal that these sources could encourage a lively and continued interest in classical languages and history at all levels of instruction.

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