Thematic Seminar Slavery and Society in the Roman World
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleLET-GESB2220
Credits (ECTS)10
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Arts; History;
PreviousNext 2
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
A.M. Hamelink, MA
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2023
PER 3-PER 4  (29/01/2024 to 01/09/2024)
Starting block
Course mode
RemarksAccessible to exchange students
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesNo
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-
After the successful completion of this course:

You will be able to conduct historical research under the supervision of the lecturer, which means that you can:
  • find, select and process relevant literature and historiography on a historical topic, in the form of a status quaestionis;
  • formulate a relevant, well-defined research question within the theme provided, and compose a research plan;
  • choose and apply a relevant research method;
  • conduct empirical research by means of finding historical source material in archives, libraries and/or databases; you are able to select, analyse and interpret those data
You will be able to
  • formulate and execute a research plan;
  • report orally about your activities in a convincing and scholarly manner;
  • report your findings in a scientific paper with a clear argumentation structure and adequate annotation, in correct English or Dutch;
You will be able to provide constructive feedback on the arguments of fellow students, and to process feedback from others in your own work.
During the Thematic Seminar, students will work their way through a complete research cycle mapping the historiographical debate around a given topic, designing a research question, analysing sources and literature, and present an interpretation based on a sound methodological framework. This presentation will take the form of a scientific paper in correct Dutch or English. The topic of the course closely mirrors the research interests of the teachers. Your paper will be part of your Writing Portfolio.

Roman society would have looked very different without slavery. Enslaved and freed persons blended with the free Roman population everywhere, and they were thus an integral part of  the development of historical Rome. Enslaved people did not just work on the land and in the mines, but also in shops and in households, as personal servants or bankers, and so on. In recent years, scholarly approaches to enslaved people have seen some important developments. Scholars have started to move away from a legal definition of enslaved people as property and away from a top-down approach emphasizing social death. This allows room for investigating the lived experiences of enslaved and freed people, the ways in which they were able to express a sense of self and develop communities of their own.

Based on historiographical sources and ancient literary, documentary and material evidence, this thematic seminar will start from recent developments in the field of Roman slavery for understanding the lives of the individuals concerned, both during and after their enslavement. In a notoriously hierarchical society, slavery was one end of a large spectrum of dependencies which in itself consisted of a wide range of interpersonal relationships. The historical reality of slavery had an impact on the understanding of age, class, gender and race in society for centuries to come.


Presumed foreknowledge
Admission to themed lectures in B2 and B3 is contingent on successfully completing the following course, which is part of the writing and research skills track: Writing History.
See the Education and Examination Regulations (EER) 2023-2024.

Exchange students: Only admitted if you are in a BA-degree program in History (USA: majoring in History).
Test information
Paper kan in Engels of Nederlands geschreven worden.

Paper may be written in English or Dutch.
The lived experience of historical slavery still resounds in the experiences of people living today. The legacy of slavery makes historical slavery an urgent but also a challenging endeavor that can invoke powerful reactions and the students should be aware of that. 
Required materials
Secondary literature (articles and book chapters), source texts and source images will be made available via BrightSpace. In addition, the booklet by Kamp et al should be consulted for practicalities and tips concerning the written paper (Dutch or English version, English version available online via RUquest).
Title:Writing History! A companion for historians
Author:J. Kamp et.al.
Publisher:Amsterdam University Press

Instructional modes
Attendance MandatoryYes

Test weight30
Test typeProject
OpportunitiesBlock PER 4, Block PER 4

Minimum grade

Test weight70
Test typeProject
OpportunitiesBlock PER 4, Block PER 4

Minimum grade

Paper may be written in English or Dutch.

Paper kan in Engels of Nederlands geschreven worden.