About the Department

Classics at SF State

We aim to make the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome accessible and exciting to students. We cover all aspects of the ancient Mediterranean world: languages (ancient Greek and Latin, sometimes Egyptian hieroglyphs), archaeology, history of ancient art, philosophy, literature in translation, influence of the ancient world on modern culture, and more. We do not idealize the ancient world. Our culture has inherited much from Greece and Rome (the idea of democracy, Western philosophical inquiry, Western art forms, etc.), but how are we to explain away ancient slavery or the disenfranchisement of women? So we try to present our students with the ancient Greeks and Romans as they actually were, believing that we can use these ancient cultures to help us interrogate our own modern values and aesthetics. We feel that this is one of the main benefits of studying Classics: rigorous training in critical thinking. There was a time when a classical education was a privilege restricted to society's elites; but we believe this is a right belonging to all students.


We are the only freestanding Classics department in the California State University system, and offer the only M.A. in Classics in the CSU. And we are one of only two departments in the State of California to offer the teaching credential in Latin. We are able to support some students with our Richard Trapp Scholarships and Raoul Bertrand Scholarships. We encourage our students to study abroad, and many have participated in our own departmental excavation in Pompeii Italy.

From the Chair:

The Department of Classics is unique in many ways. First, we have always tried to give equal billing to material culture (art and archaeology), on the one hand, and language and literature, on the other. Few Classics departments around the country give material culture the emphasis that we do.

Second, we are a youthful department, brimming with energy and enthusiasm. We have been at the forefront of the digital humanities, among the earliest adopters of technology of various kinds in our classrooms and in our research.

Third, and perhaps most important, we are all about the big picture, about making connections to the larger world of humanities and to the 21st century society in which we live: ancient Greece and Rome for the modern world. There are a number of excellent Classics departments around the country. Some of these are highly specialized departments: they have the world’s premier expert on one obscure subject, another world authority on another obscure subject, and so on. Our faculty have specialties also, but we tend to think of ourselves as generalists, interested in the big picture. We all know about the distinction between the forest and the trees. We are definitely forest people.

David Leitao
Professor, Chair
Classics Department

Spring Lecture Series

2021: The 28th Annual Spring Lecture Series: Conversations with Greece and Rome from Home: Research on the Ancient Greco-Roman World at San Francisco State

  • Dr. David Leitao, Department of Classics, San Francisco State University
    Thinking Multiculturalism through Greco-Roman Coins

  • Dr. Doug Bailey, Department of Anthropology, San Francisco State University
    Beyond Interpretation and Explanation in the Archaeology of Art

  • Dr. Fred Astren, Department of Jewish Studies, San Francisco State University
    Post-Roman Jews: The Legacy of Rome at the Transition from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages

Department History

The Department of Classics at San Francisco State University was originally organized by Richard Trapp and Andreina Becker-Colonna in 1965/66. At present, SF State is the only member of the CSU system to offer the M.A. degree in Classics and is one of only three that offers the undergraduate degree.

Pithos Students' Journal

Spring 2019, 18th annual volume of Pithos, a Journal of the Classics Students Association, was released in May 2019 and is already available for download.

"It is an easy pattern to fall into to compare our own civilization with those of the ancient Greeks and Romans and to eek out the similarities between ours and theirs..." Adriana Javier, former Editor-In-Chief

Classics Students Association

The department's autonomous student group, the Classics Students Association, also contributes actively to the vibrant culture of the department by organizing its annual Spring Lecture Series, now the longest-running event on campus, and by editing and publishing the journal Pithos, the most recent volume of which is now available.

Tenure-Track Faculty History

History of Tenure-Track Faculty Appointments
Name Year
Andreina L. Becker-Colonna 1950
Raoul Bertrand 1958
Richard L. Trapp 1965
Edith F. Croft 1966
Thanasis Maskaleris 1967
Phillip V. Stanley 1975
Barbara McLauchlin 1985
Pamela Vaughn 1993
David D. Leitao 1995
David G. Smith 2004
Michael A. Anderson 2006
Gillian E. McIntosh 2007
Alexandra Pappas 2012


Raoul Bertrand Lecture

Since 2005, the department has sponsored the annual Raoul Bertrand Lecture, which aims at introducing the scholarship of a nationally renowned Classical scholar to the department, campus, and community.