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Life in a Multicultural Society: Historiographic Debates and Perspectives on Hellenistic Egypt


Admission requirements

This course is part of the (Res)MA History Programme. Students from within the specialization the course belongs to have right of way. It is not accessible for BA students.


The world created in the aftermath of Alexander’s conquests had rapidly changed pre-existing landscapes. These provided a fertile ground for the interaction and evolvement of cultures, practices, and institutions. Egypt was one of the dominant political, economic, and religious centers of the Hellenistic world and home to a multicultural society, the various aspects of which offer rich material for critical observation and examination of the mechanisms underlying these interactions and developments.

Focusing on representative case studies and relevant literature, the seminar will provide a succinct overview of historiographic trends related to the study of selected institutional, cultural, and socio-economic aspects of Hellenistic Egypt. The critical discussion of key contributions on the selected topics will be used to gain insight into scholarly methodological approaches, concepts, and interpretative frameworks used to debate issues related to identity, perceptions of ethnicity, intercultural communication encounters, and evolution of practices and beliefs. For the discussion of the selected domains, the seminar will also implement concepts from sociology and anthropology.

Course objectives

General learning objectives

The student has acquired:

  1. the ability to analyse and evaluate literature with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;

  2. the ability to give a clear and well-founded oral and written report on research results in correct English, when required, or Dutch, meeting the criteria of the discipline;

  3. the ability to provide constructive feedback to and formulate criticism of the work of others and the ability to evaluate the value of such criticism and feedback on one’s own work and incorporate it;

  4. the ability to participate in current debates in the specialisation;

  5. (ResMA only:) the ability to participate in a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the discipline.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

The student has acquired:

  1. thorough knowledge and comprehension of one of the specialisations or subtracks as well as of the historiography of the specialisation, focusing particularly on the following; in the specialisation Ancient History: unification processes in the Graeco-Roman World, 400 BC – 400 AD; insight into the recent large-scale debates in the field with respect to both the history of mentality and socio-economic history.

  2. (ResMA only): thorough knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical foundation of the discipline and of its position vis-à-vis other disciplines.

Learning objectives, pertaining to this Literature Seminar

The student:

  1. acquires knowledge of key contributions in the study of institutional, cultural, and socio-economic aspects of Hellenistic Egypt;

  2. gains a deep understanding of concepts, methodological approaches, and interpretative frameworks proposed by recent and current scholarly debates;

  3. develops the capacity to apprehend the ways in which scholarly research develops its theoretical positions in accordance with data and information provided by written evidence and material remains;

  4. apply developments and insights from scholarly debates to his/her own research work;

  5. (ResMA only) can evaluate the influence of broader societal change on the sorts of questions asked by ancient historians and social scientists more generally and develop new questions;

  6. (ResMA only) can relate developments in debates about ethnicity, identity, intercultural communication encounters, and evolution of practices and beliefs to broader academic developments outside the discipline of Ancient History.


The timetables are available through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar (compulsory attendance)
    This means that students must attend every session of the course. If a student is not able to attend, he is required to notify the lecturer beforehand. The teacher will determine if and how the missed session can be compensated by an additional assignment. If specific restrictions apply to a particular course, the lecturer will notify the students at the beginning of the semester. If a student does not comply with the aforementioned requirements, the student will be excluded from the seminar.

Assessment method


  • 6 written weekly essays (1000 words)
    measured learning objectives: 1-4, 6, 8-11 (ResMA also: 5, 7, 12-13)


  • Weekly essays: 100%

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average and all assignments must be completed.


If one of the essays is “insufficient”, it is possible to compensate with another essay on a new topic of the student’s choice that must be related to the seminar.


All of the assignments and essays must be delivered within the set deadlines, as defined in the course’s outline that will be announced on Brightspace.

Reading list

The reading list will be announced on Brightspace. It consists of monographs and papers. For the first session, there is preparation to be done. The relevant information will be available on Brightspace in advance.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.

General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.


  • For course related questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga.


Not applicable