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UC Online Course Highlight: “Women and Power in the Ancient World”

By Adriana Conte

Dec. 13, 2020 10:53 p.m.

"Boadicea and Her Army" 1850 Engraving

All across the globe, women have historically been underrepresented in positions of power. There exists little evidence of long-term female leaders in the ancient world; historical civilizations were inherently patriarchal and bound to male dominance, forcing females into a subservient role. While some women were able gain power temporarily, their leadership status was merely a placeholder until circumstances permitted a male to rule again.  This social reality in ancient societies depicts a long history of gender inequality, which leads many to question how women negotiated their limited leadership roles, and how we are able to find a woman’s power when it was so habitually cloaked by a man’s dominance. Introducing Ancient Near East 15w: Women and Power in the Ancient World; this is an online course offered by UC Online designed to answer these questions and address the root causes of this social inequality that still affect us today.

Women and Power in the Ancient World examines how and why women’s power was compromised from the onset and inspires analysis into complex ideas and theories on the perpetuation of gender inequality.

Students will learn to evaluate similarities and differences in the ways women were able to achieve power and evaluate how their given social systems influenced their mobility. By synthesizing and debating the work presented by various scholars as well as formulating their own opinions, students will be able to understand the obstacles that femininity alone presented to attainment of political and social power.

This course is open to all UC students who have completed English Composition 3 or have satisfied the entry-level writing requirement. It is conducted completely online, and lectures are pre-recorded to be watched on the students’ own time. Lectures are accompanied by readings, articles, and supplemental video assignments. Students will also be assigned to a Teaching Assistant who will help them approach the readings and weekly lecture videos, as well as provide instructional videos on the writing process. Students will also be required to answer weekly discussion questions, which are available on their TA’s website. This course contains one major writing assignment that culminates into a final research project. Each week, students will work on their project through smaller writing assignments that help them to engage in the writing process. These writing assignments constitute a significant portion of the grade breakdown (70%), therefore it is important for students to be diligent about meeting deadlines. Participation makes up the remaining portion of the final grade (30%); this includes watching TA videos, weekly Discussion Forum posts (answering TA questions and responding to fellow classmates’ posts), and peer reviews. Please see the syllabus for more information on the grade breakdown and course expectations.


Women and Power in the Ancient World is a wonderful course for students looking to learn more about the roles of women in historical civilizations and what factors affected their access to power. This course provides the research and writing skills needed to develop a strong and effective argument that deepens students’ understanding of female power in the ancient world.

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Adriana Conte | Alumna
Conte joined the Bruin as a freshman in 2018 and contributed until 2019. She spent time on the women's basketball beat.
Conte joined the Bruin as a freshman in 2018 and contributed until 2019. She spent time on the women's basketball beat.
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