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Addressing Race and the Legacy of Slavery in the Latin Classroom

Louise Michaud

Hunter College

Our current political landscape is rife with anti-immigrant sentiment, fears of terrorism and economic threat from foreign nations, as well as issues related to civil rights and race relations. But none of this is unique to our era. We know that the population of the ancient world was constantly changing as a result of extensive emigration and colonization, warfare and associated importation of slaves. These facts provide us with opportunities to explore contemporary topics through the lens of the ancient world as opposed to whitewashing the “traditional” classical world. Our classrooms are multicultural. The ancient world was also multicultural, a fact that standard Latin textbooks did not highlight enough until the recent publication of Suburani. In the absence of pedagogical resources, this paper examines the experience of one teacher serving many immigrant students and students of color in the public high schools of New York City. Specifically, it explores a pedagogical project that was developed over ten years, which employs an inductive method and Socratic dialogue to help students uncover their assumptions of issues related to race and slavery, and approach those topics from economic and sociopolitical standpoints, not just moral ones.

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Race Classics and the Latin Classroom

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