Rhetoric & Performance in Ancient Greece

Location: Athens, the Greek Islands, and Delphi


Trip Dates: May 20– June 26, 2014
*Departure from USA on May 19.*
Orientation Dates: TBD


The communication discipline has its origins in the study of the spoken word and its power to move and persuade. Greece is the site of much of the history of the spoken word, from epic storytelling, to oratory, to drama and lyric poetry, to the messages of the oracles. This five-week, 6 - credit summer program allows Communication majors and minors and honors students to gain important insights into the roots of the discipline and make contemporary applications through hands-on experience in Greece. Students can gain additional intercultural insights by observing and participating in a contemporary culture that continues to surround itself with, and to be influenced by, its ancient history.

The 2014 program consists of two interdependent courses that will engage students in understanding connections between the ancient and contemporary Greek worlds: one focuses on ancient Greek theatre as a way to understand rhetorical constructions of myth; and the other focuses on tourism and places of public memory as rhetorical and performative sites.

Course instruction takes place primarily in outdoor, nontraditional spaces, and as much as possible on or near specific ancient sites. The students’ primary work—analysis and performance of significant rhetorical, dramatic, and myth texts—needs to be grounded in the specifically historical, social, and cultural contexts, and much of this is gleaned from the physical space. Thus, travel to these sites is an integral part of the academic program.

In particular, these field trips:

  1. Offer students a chance to tour locations that figure prominently in the history and theory of Greek rhetoric and performance, and to experience how the locations are engaged in a contemporary world
  2. Offer students a chance to witness professional performances of classical plays by such playwrights as Euripides, Sophocles, and Aeschylus.
  3. Offer students a chance to be taught in an “open air” classroom-style, in the very manner used by Plato, Aristotle and the Sophists
  4. Offer students a chance to debate and discuss Greek rhetoric and myth at these important rhetorical and performance sites.

Program Requirements

  • 2.75 or better on a 4.0 scale; non-Villanova students must submit a recent official university transcript of undergraduate work.
  • University student status without disciplinary probation.
  • Completed Villanova application to the Office of International Studies and attendance at all orientations; interview with Program Director upon submitting application; non-Villanova students need must contact Dr. Heidi Rose for orientation information. **Applications will be accepted until the March 1, 2014 deadline. Priority will be given to students who apply by the "early action" application deadline of Dec. 15, 2013.**
  • No language proficiency required.
  • Open to Communication majors and minors and all Honors majors at Villanova University. It is also open to Communication majors and minors from other universities. Special permission may be granted for students who are not COM majors or minors or in honors but who can demonstrate coursework that provides a comparable background and preparation for this program of study.

The Courses

The majority of the instruction will occur in outdoor classroom space (including beaches, when available), with the remainder actually occurring on ancient historical and archaeological sites. In addition, students in the two distinct courses, Rhetoric and Myth and Rhetoric and Democracy, will learn about course topics in a unique team-taught fashion. Since the same group of students will be taking both courses simultaneously, the program fosters close collegiality between students and faculty, as well as theoretical and applied connections between the rhetorical tradition and performance studies. Students are required to take both courses for a total of six credits.

  • COM 3246: Performance of Greek Literature: Focusing on the relations between text and performance, literature and speech, literacy and orality, the stories we tell and both why and how we tell them, we explore the place of performance in ancient Greece from the time of Homer through the height of theatre in 5th century BCE Athens. Central to our work together is to discover and experience the powerful relationship among performer, text, and audience—and what this means in the moment of performance. The texts are experienced from page to stage in their place of origin. [Prior performance experience is not necessary but welcome!] 3 credits
  • COM 3290: Performing Place, Space, and Public Memory: In this course, as we inhabit the ancient, historical, and contemporary sites of Greece, we will ask how places and spaces communicate and perform, how we perform within and through them, and how we can use performance as a method through which to understand and articulate their cultural meanings. Engaging rhetorical and performative theories of place, space, public memory, and tourist performance, we will work together to understand ourselves and our environments as material and textual, and to create performances that highlight, interrogate, and even re-make our sense of place. 3 credits

Field Trips

Scheduled field trips include the Athenian Acropolis, Agora, Theatre of Dionysus, and Pnyx, Delos (Mykonos), Ancient Thira (Santorini, The Palace of Knossos (Crete), Ancient Delphi, Mycenae, The Theatre of Epidaurus, and ancient Corinth. A number of ancient theatres, for example, such as the Herodian Atticus and the Theatre of Dionysus, both located at the foot of the Athenian Acropolis, are still relatively intact. The Pnyx, where Pericles, Socrates and other statesmen addressed the Athenian citizens, will be the site of a class. Outside of Athens are a number of other important  rhetorical sites, such as the island of Delos (the sacred birthplace of Artemis and Apollo), Delphi (the most important oracle of the ancient world), Ancient Corinth (the governing seat of a neighboring important city-state), Ancient Mycenae (center of the Mycenaean world and the palace of Agamemnon), The Palace of Knossos on Crete (the center of the Minoan civilization), and Epidaurus (the site of ancient annual rhetorical and theatrical contests and currently the site of ongoing summer performances of important ancient Greek plays). Thus, Greece is an ideal site for instruction in democracy, rhetoric, and myth in ancient Greece.

Faculty Coordinator

image from Delphi

Dr. Heidi Rose
Department of Communication
College of Arts and Sciences
Garey Hall 24


Payment Information

Applications are due no later than April 1, 2014, Priority will be given to students who apply by the "early action" application deadline of December 15, 2013; the non-refundable commitment fee of $450 is due upon receipt of acceptance letter. Final payment due prior to the departure of program.
*Enrolment is based on rolling admission, program will likely fill prior to April 1st deadline.

Total: $6,050.
The comprehensive fee includes tuition, room and breakfast, all transfers and land transportation between cities and archaeological sites, health/accident insurance, and museum and theater fees. The program fee does not include the trans-Atlantic ticket, personal expenses or optional travel. *Dr. Rose will coordinate an optional group flight, please consider this option.


The Villanova University summer program is located in three and four-star hotels for one week in Athens, while spending the remaining four weeks in Crete, Santorini, Mykonos, Delphi, and Tolo. Students will take their breakfast in the hotels.


May 19: Depart Philadelphia, PA to Athens Greece

May 20: Arrival in Athens Greece, program begins.

May 20 - May 24: Athens

May 25 - June 22: Following a few days in Athens, the program will move to Mykonos, Delos, Santorini, Crete, Delphi (overnight ferry), Tolo, which allows for trips to Mycenae, Eleusis, Ancient Corinth, among others. The program will conclude following a brief final stay in Athens.

June 23 - June 25: Athens

June 26: Breakfast, then transfer to airport for departure flight.