Thematic Seminar Populism and Propaganda in the Roman World
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleLET-GESB2214
Credits (ECTS)10
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Arts; History;
dr. M.J. Groen-Vallinga
Other course modules lecturer
dr. M.J. Groen-Vallinga
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
dr. M.J. Groen-Vallinga
Other course modules lecturer
dr. M.J. Groen-Vallinga
Other course modules lecturer
dr. L.S. van Raaij
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2020
PER 3-PER 4  (25/01/2021 to 31/08/2021)
Starting block
Course mode
RemarksAccessible to exchange students
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesNo
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-
By the end of the course students are able to
  • critically review literature and scholarly debates on the theme of the course;
  • apply knowledge and insights derived from this literature in one's own historical research;
  • search, select and interpret the relevant information for the subject under review as well as choose and work with the relevant research methods;
  • formulate a relevant, well-defined research question;
  • answer this research question in a historical essay with a clear argumentation structure and adequate annotation;
  • present and discuss their own research, both orally and in writing.
  • peer-review other students' written and presented research and apply feedback to one's own work. 
In this Thematic Seminar students follow all the steps of the research cycle, ranging from mapping scholarly debates on a specific topic, to formulating a research question, the analysis and interpretation of sources and literature using a sound methodology, answering the research question and writing a scientific essay. The essay is part of your essay portfolio (in Dutch: schrijfdossier).

When Rome became the leading superpower in the Mediterranean its tremendous expansion came at a price. Its old institutions and ways of doing politics had been designed for a small-scale city state. Now, ever-growing conflicts of interests lead to an erosion of the unity with which leading families had run the Roman state. New forms of doing politics were tried, by mobilizing the masses, using popular assemblies instead of senatorial bodies and by stretching the (unwritten) rules for the power of magistrates. As a result, Rome faced early forms of populism and propaganda. These would remain part and parcel of Roman politics for centuries to come. Much later again, ‘the glory that was Rome’ was frequently put forward in post-Roman populism and propaganda.
Focusing on extended crises, such as the contested land reforms of the Gracchi, or major transformations, e.g. the army reforms under Marius or the start of the Principate, we will investigate the mechanisms and strategies that Roman politicians and emperors employed in order to gain, reinforce, or legitimize their positions. Our main focus will be the Late Republic and Early Principate, but we will also pay attention to the post-classical afterlife of some of these ‘Roman’ phenomena.

Presumed foreknowledge

Test information


Assumed previous knowledge
Admission to themed lectures in B2 and B3 is contingent on successfully completing the courses, which are part of the writing and research skills track.
See the Education and Examination Regulations (EER) 2020-2021.

Exchange students: Only admitted if you are in a BA-degree program in History (USA: majoring in History).

Required materials
Articles/texts to read
Title:Writing History! A Companion for Historians
Author:J. Kamp et al.
Publisher:Amsterdam University Press, 2018
Title:An Introduction to the Ancient World
Author:L. de Blois & R.J. van der Spek
Publisher:Routledge, 2019

Instructional modes
Attendance MandatoryYes

Test weight30
Test typeOral exam
OpportunitiesBlock PER 4, Block PER 4

Minimum grade

Test weight70
Test typeProject
OpportunitiesBlock PER 4, Block PER 4

Minimum grade