Course Description & Goals

The purpose of this seminar is twofold: first, to prepare you to write your senior thesis in the spring; and second, to help you situate your work within the broader discipline of Classics.

To prepare you to write your senior thesis, we’ll work through a series of exercises together that help you develop your research concept, establish a bibliography, and draft sample sections of the thesis. You’ll also be in charge of class for a day, during which you’ll guide the rest of us through a conversation about your project. Finally, you’ll delivery a symposium presentation of your work.

To situate your work in the discipline of Classics, we’ll begin the semester by confronting one of the central ethical questions of our field: can Classics be, or become, anti-racist? Racism and anti-racism have become increasingly pressing concerns in our field in recent years – in many ways, we are only at the beginning of a reckoning that is long overdue. Together we’ll read some key works of and about Black Classicism. We’ll use this reading as a model to consider various ways work in Classics – including your thesis work – can be a force for justice.



This course utilizes specifications grading. This means that there are a variety of assignments available for you to do throughout the semester, and it’s up to you to decide what grade you want to earn and to do the requisite assignments for that grade. Individual assignments will not receive a score or grade: if you fulfill the instructions and the high standard we will set together for our work, you will receive credit. The goal of this method is to increase transparency around grading and to provide you more agency in determining how you’d like to participate in the course; it can be a little complicated, however, so if this is the first specifications course you’ve taken, make sure you understand how the system works early in the semester. In the first week of the term, you’ll be asked to complete a survey for the course that will help us both have a clear sense of your intentions and expectations for the semester.

Required Assignments

There are two types of assignments in this course: Required Assignments, and Elevation Assignments. My expectation is that everyone will do all of the Required Assignments: these are the fundamental activities you’ll need to complete to participate in our discussions and make progress on your thesis. If you complete all of the Required Assignments, but do nothing else, you will receive a 3.0 final grade in the course.

Elevation Assignments

If you’d like to earn a higher grade, you’ll complete a series of Elevation Assignments. These are additional pieces of work, each with a specific deadline, that will deepen your experience of the topics and projects we’re considering. Some are tied to our exploration of Black Classicism; others will enhance your own thesis work; some will ask you to help other students in the class with their thesis projects. You must complete all Required Assignments to receive credit for any Elevation Assignments. If you complete two Elevation Assignment, your grade will rise to 3.3; if you complete three, you’ll earn a 3.7; and if you complete four, you’ll earn a 4.0.

If you feel that any of the Required Assignments are irrelevant or unhelpful for your thesis, you may request to do one of the Elevation assignments instead. This will require a discussion with Prof. Farmer substantially in advance of the assignment’s deadline.


If you submit a Required Assignment that makes a genuine attempt to fulfill the instructions but falls short of the expected standard, you may be given an opportunity to revise. Elevation Assignments generally cannot be revised. In either case, you should begin your work early whenever possible, so that you can ask Prof. Farmer or your advisor for help or clarification while you are working.

The final Portfolio cannot be revised: begin working early, and keep in touch with Prof. Farmer, to make sure your Portfolio meets the required standards.

Grading Scheme

This chart summarizes the grading policy for the seminar:

Final GradeRequired AssignmentsElevation Assignments
2.7missing 10
2.3missing 20
2.0missing 30
1.0missing 4+0

Important Statements and Policies


I am committed to partnering with you on your academic and intellectual journey.  I also recognize that your ability to thrive academically can be impacted by your personal well-being and that stressors may impact you over the course of the semester.  If the stressors are academic, I welcome the opportunity to discuss and address those stressors with you in order to find solutions together.  If you are experiencing challenges or questions related to emotional health, finances, physical health, relationships, learning strategies or differences, or other potential stressors, I hope you will consider reaching out to the many resources available on campus. These resources include CAPS (free and unlimited counseling is available), the Office of Academic Resources, Health Services, Professional Health Advocate, Religious and Spiritual Life, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the GRASE Center, and the Dean’s Office.  Additional information can be found at

Additionally, Haverford College is committed to creating a learning environment that meets the needs of its diverse student body and providing equal access to students with a disability. If you have (or think you have) a learning difference or disability – including mental health, medical, or physical impairment – please contact the Office of Access and Disability Services (ADS) at The Director will confidentially discuss the process to establish reasonable accommodations.  It is never too late to request accommodations – our bodies and circumstances are continuously changing. 

Students who have already been approved to receive academic accommodations and want to use their accommodations in this course should share their accommodation letter and make arrangements to meet with me as soon as possible to discuss how their accommodations will be implemented in this course. Please note that accommodations are not retroactive and require advance notice in order to successfully implement.

If, at any point in the semester, a disability or personal circumstances affect your learning in this course, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I want to be sure you are aware of the full range of resources and options available to you.

It is a state law in Pennsylvania that individuals must be given advance notice that they may be recorded. Therefore, any student who has a disability-related need to audio record this class must first be approved for this accommodation from the Director of Access and Disability Services and then must speak to me. Other class members need to be aware that this class may be recorded.

Academic Integrity

In a community that thrives on relationships between students and faculty that are based on trust and respect, it is crucial that students understand a professor’s expectations and what it means to do academic work with integrity. Plagiarism and cheating, even if unintentional, undermine the values of the Honor Code and the ability of all students to benefit from the academic freedom and relationships of trust the Code facilitates. Plagiarism is using someone else’s work or ideas and presenting them as your own without attribution. Plagiarism can also occur in more subtle forms, such as inadequate paraphrasing, failure to cite another person’s idea even if not directly quoted, failure to attribute the synthesis of various sources in a review article to that author, or accidental incorporation of another’s words into your own paper as a result of careless note-taking. Cheating is another form of academic dishonesty, and it includes not only copying, but also inappropriate collaboration, exceeding the time allowed, and discussion of the form, content, or degree of difficulty of an exam. Please be conscientious about your work, and check with me if anything is unclear.