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CLST 2230: Alexander and the Hellenistic World (Knapp)

Term Paper: Assignment Overview

For your term paper, you will have the opportunity to do original research on an object from the Hellenistic period. The objects we are researching are held in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the British Museum in London, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Getty in California, and Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, and the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver.

You will have to work with photos of your objects. Your paper will be evaluated for the strength of your argument, your demonstration of critical thinking, and the quality of your writing. 

Your paper will need to include three major elements:

  1. Object description
    • Introduce your object with a short, detailed description. This will be difficult as you are working from an image, but do your best. Some information may be given to you with the piece, some you will have to observe.
    • Consider (but do not limit yourself to) such elements as: material, dimensions, shape, decoration, and colour. Include where your object came from and how the museum acquired it. 
      • Note: Museums are not always right! When objects are procured or donated, museums often ‘inherit’ inaccurate information about the object.
  2. Presentation of your research
    • What is your object? What is its date? What is its cultural context? What was its purpose? How and why was it made? Why does it look the way it does? If it has decoration, what does the decoration represent? What are the influences? What are some of other examples of art/objects that are similar? What messages are communicated by the subject matter and decoration? 
    • Note: You should start by confirming the identification and information provided by the museum. 
  3. Hellenistic context
    • A discussion of how your specific object fits into the Hellenistic period. 
    • What makes it uniquely Hellenistic? To flesh out this section, you will first need to produce your own definition for the Hellenistic period. What characterizes this period such that everything produced during it is considered connected? 

Cite your sources in Chicago style. See the Citing Your Sources section of this guide for details.