Rhetoric & Performance in Ancient Greece

Location: Athens, the Greek Islands, and Delphi and the Peloponnese

The communication discipline has its origins in the study of the spoken word and its power to influence political decisions and shape human communities. Greece is the site of much of the history of the spoken word, from epic storytelling, to democratic deliberation, to dramatic performances to the messages of the oracles.

This five-week, 6 - credit summer program allows Communication or related majors and minors (Classics, Honors, Humanities, etc.) 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 2018 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 rhetoric, myth and ritual, with attention to the rhetorical shaping and performance of myth in Greek culture. The other focuses on the place of performance in ancient Greece from the time of Homer through the height of theatre in 5th century BCE Athens, with attention to the powerful relationships among performer, text, audience, and place.

The majority of the instruction will occur in outdoor 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 The Performance of Greek Literature, 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 and dramatic traditions and contemporary cultural and political issues.

The students’ primary work—analysis and performance of significant rhetorical, literary, and mythic texts—will be grounded in the specifically historical, social, and cultural contexts, and much of this is gleaned from the physical spaces that we visit as we travel across mainland Greece and the Greek Islands. Thus, travel to these sites is an integral part of the academic program.

In particular, these field trips:   

  • Offer students a chance to tour locations that figure prominently in the history and theory of Greek rhetoric and democracy, and to experience how the locations are engaged in a contemporary world
  • Offer students a chance to be taught in an “open air” classroom-style, in the very manner used by Plato, Aristotle and the Sophists
  • Offer students a chance to experience and reflect upon Greek rhetoric, drama, 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 Education Abroad and attendance at all orientations; interview with Program Director upon submitting application; non-Villanova students must contact Dr. Susan Mackey-Kallis for orientation information. **Applications will be accepted until the March 1, 2018 deadline. Priority will be given to students who apply by the "early action" application deadline of Dec. 15, 2017**
  • 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

  • Democracy in Ancient Greece (Dr. Jared Bishop): Taught collaboratively with COM 3208. 3 credits. 

  • COM 3208 Rhetoric and Myth in Ancient Greece (Dr. Susan Mackey-Kallis):  This course explores the mythology of the ancient Greeks from a rhetorical and performative perspective. Reading and performing from ancient Greek poetry and drama, we will examine the rhetorical function of myth in archaic and classical Greece and its connection to the culture’s evolving values, beliefs, and challenges. How and why does myth (both ancient and contemporary) continue to have rhetorical significance? Taught collaboratively with COM 3246.  3 credits

The Villanova University summer program is located in three and four-star hotels in Athens, Crete, Santorini, Mykonos, Delphi, Patras and Tolo. Students will take their breakfast in the hotels with the exception of the hotel in Crete which is an all-inclusive (breakfast, lunch, dinner).

Field Trips

Scheduled field trips may include:  

  • The Athenian Acropolis, Agora, Theatre of Dionysus, and Pnyx, island of Delos (Mykonos), Akrotiri (Santorini), The Palace of Knossos (Crete), Ancient Delphi, Mycenae, The Theatre of Epidaurus, and ancient Corinth and Eleusis
  • 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 festivals and currently the site of ongoing summer performances of important ancient Greek plays) and Eleusis (the site where religious initiation into the rites of Demeter, the Eleusinian Mysteries, took place for close to 2000 years)
  • Thus, Greece is an ideal site for instruction in theatre, performance, rhetoric, and myth in ancient Greece

Program Dates: May 20 – June 24, 2018

*Departure from USA on May 19*

May 19: Depart Philadelphia, PA to Athens Greece

May 20: Arrival in Athens Greece

May 20 - May 24: Athens

May 25 - June 21: Following the days in Athens, the program will move to Mykonos, Delos, Santorini, Crete, Delphi (overnight ferry), Tolo, which allows trips to Mycenae, Eleusis, Ancient Corinth, among others. The program will conclude following a brief final stay in Athens.

June 21 - June 24: Athens

June 24: Breakfast, then transfer to airport for departure flight.

*Schedule is tentative, and subject to change.  


Program Fee: $7400

For a breakdown of the expenses, click here

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. Mackey-Kallis will coordinate an optional, highly encouraged group flight, please consider this option.

Upon acceptance, student will have 2-weeks to submit a $450 non-refundable commitment fee. Program balance is invoiced directly to the VU student account during the first week of April, with final balance due May 1.

Students interested in financing should first review the OEA Scholarship page. Should there be a need to secure additional funding through loans, Villanova University students should contact the Office of Financial Assistance.

Students with a Federal Pell grant should consider applying for the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship!

Villanova University has the right to make cancellations, substitutions, or changes in case of emergency or changed conditions, or in the interest of the program.

Program Snapshot

  • Program Duration: 5-weeks Long
  • Credits: 6
  • 2018 Program Fee: $7,400
    This program has an early-decision deadline of Dec. 15, 2017. After Dec. 15, admissions will be rolling and final deadline will be March 1. **It is expected that this program will fill prior to the March 1, 2018 deadline.

Faculty Coordinator

image from Delphi


Susan Mackey-Kallis, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Garey Hall Rm 23
800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085
Email: susan.mackey-kallis@villanova.edu
Phone: (610) 519-7460