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UC Berkeley Greek Workshop

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UC Berkeley Greek Workshop

Postby Superavi » Thu Feb 05, 2009 4:33 am

I am a Classics major and will be transferring to a UC (University of California) in the Fall '09. I need to get my lower division Greek out of the way as quickly as possible. As a result, I have to take the highly intensive ten week Greek summer workshop at UC Berkeley. I was wondering if anyone here has been through it, and if so has any advice or comments about his/her experience so that I can have an idea of what I am getting myself into.
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Re: UC Berkeley Greek Workshop

Postby benissimus » Sun Feb 08, 2009 12:03 am

Hi Superavi,

I don't want to seem as though I'm trying to scare you away from the workshop, but I do want to make it clear how scary it is. If you think you're brave enough, go for it, but don't, for your own sake, go into it unprepared.

I took Intensive Greek (1 hr / a day x 5 days / week) myself last Spring, but the Summer Workshop is a lot more intense (3 hrs / a day x 5 days / week). Let me just advise you, that you cannot have any other major commitments this summer if you plan to succeed in this class. That means no job and no other classes, and you'd better stay on top of your homework too. But going to your class and doing your work will not get you through this class; you'll have to spend hours a day at home trying to understand the concepts (unless you've already studied Greek), and you won't get a break from that till the semester ends. If you haven't already studied Greek (or maybe even if you have...), then you should get in advance whatever book they are going to be using (maybe Mastronarde's?) and try to get the gist of as many of the major points as possible before the class begins. Also, I hate to say it, but if you haven't studied an inflected language, such as Latin or Greek before (at least to a beginner level), you will probably find it difficult to pass this course. Just in my intensive course which was only 1/3 as intensive as the summer version, the class was reduced from ~25 people at the beginning of the semester to just 5 at the end, and I heard only 2 of those five got better than a C.

Finally, as I expect you are aware, this class is a crash course, and you will have your work cut out for you if you plan on jumping into Greek the next semester. Assuming you retain all the grammar, your vocabulary will pretty pathetic (like mine was). This puts you at a disadvantage, but not a major one. To compensate, you can study as much as possible in the break between summer and fall semesters. If you're like me, you won't study over break and will end up using your dictionary a lot until you catch up in vocabulary to the rest of your class, which also works.

It looks like the class might be taught by Professor Kurke, whom I've never had as a language teacher but she is an excellent Classicist. I believe her specialties are lyric poetry and sexuality in Greece, but I doubt there will be time to talk much about Sappho in your class unfortunately.

Anyways, if I haven't been too grim feel free to contact me about courses in the future. I've taken most of the undergraduate classes and there are some instructors you should try to avoid, and some who are absolutely wonderful.
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae
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Re: UC Berkeley Greek Workshop

Postby Superavi » Mon Feb 09, 2009 5:12 am

Thank you so much for the reply!

I understand how brutal this course is going to be. I have been researching it for a while, but the undergraduate advisers at both Berkeley and UC Davis (I will go there in the unfortunate event of not getting into Berkeley) and both schools agree that it will be the best possible solution to complete my lower division Greek while maintaining enough time to be able to take enough upper division Greek courses to be a good candidate for grad school. It is not something I am looking forward to but something I will have to endure. I already understand that it will consume me this summer and that any other commitments are just impossible.

I am in my third semester of Latin now, so I already understand how an inflected language operates. I am also taking my first semester of German which uses the same case structure as Greek (from what I understand). I think as far as understanding the inflection of the language I should thus be fine. I am currently attempting to memorize the Greek alphabet and their corresponding sounds. I will take your advise though and begin doing even deeper research into the language.

I am actually supposed to sit in on Professor Kurke's Classics 161 course, when I can find an available time, so at least I should have some familiarity of the professor. This Friday I am going to Berkeley to sit in on a class of Professor Bulloch and a class of Professor Long.

Are you a student at Berkeley now, did you already graduate, or are you a grad student?
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Re: UC Berkeley Greek Workshop

Postby thesaurus » Mon Feb 09, 2009 4:17 pm

I have no experience with this seminar, but to put a positive spin on things, I think intensive crash courses are the ideal way of getting through the beginner level of Greek and Latin. Since you've been doing Latin (I presume on the normal semester track), you're aware of how the grammar is slowly trickled down to you through a full year of study. Add on the inevitable atrophy that results from school breaks and you've progressed at a very slow place by the time you enter the second, intermediate year of studies. I took Latin on a crash course, 1.5 hours a day/5 days a week for six weeks and I have zero regrets. Yes it was hard, and yes the Berkeley course looks much harder. But despite the rate at which you're receiving the information, I think you'll be all the better for it because you'll receive it as a 'gestalt' rather than a bunch of discrete elements widely separate in time and application. You'll come out reeling and totally unconfident, but you'll have the tenacity and killer instinct to rocket your way through the language and achieve high results. By contrast, I feel that the traditional introductory pace leaves one sluggish in habits and without the ability to process large amounts of text. If you don't believe me, I think comparing the abilities of those who have had crash courses with those who have done the traditional pace will prove my point. Grammar should be like a band-aide, just get it over with. An additional plus is that you don't have any of the atrophy that accompanies the summer between Spring and Fall semesters. I find that most people fail to keep up with their studies and have to make up for lost time at the beginner level when they should be doing intermediate work. Go for it! I wish my school had offered intensive Greek in addition to Latin...

Addendum: I think you're pre-seminar time will be best spent mastering the alphabet, and then memorizing declensions and conjugations. No matter how well you understand the concepts, it requires many hours of out-of-class practice to remember all the paradigms. The concepts will also fall into place more easily if you can easily recognize the verb/noun forms illustrating them. The old-school 'write them down a million times' approach is the most efficient in this regard.
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
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Re: UC Berkeley Greek Workshop

Postby benissimus » Tue Feb 10, 2009 12:32 am

Superavi,

Yes, I'm an undergrad at Cal (graduating spring '10). Don't get your hopes up, Classics 161 is not as sexy as it sounds (I sat in on it once this semester). She is wonderfully insightful though. Anyways, maybe I will see you on campus (if you don't go to Davis).

ut ualeas!
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Re: UC Berkeley Greek Workshop

Postby Superavi » Tue Feb 10, 2009 12:55 am

Awesome. Thanks.
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