Voices from Below: A Multivocal Approach to Teaching Petronius’ Satyrica

Vennarucci, Rhodora
Reeber, Joy
Abstract of Article: 

This article outlines a multivocal approach to teaching Petronius’ Satyrica in intermediate Latin at the college level. By blending dialogism and critical literacy with GTM, we demonstrate how to use a standard Latin text to push back on the traditionally negative view of freedpeople in ancient literature and modern scholarship. We facilitate egalitarian dialogue and subversive talk in the classroom to center student voices alongside those of the freedpeople in the novel to challenge the authoritative voices of author, narrator, and editor. Students also complete active learning assignments that are designed to foster their voice and a critical examination of past and present social inequalities from diverse perspectives. This results in a deeper understanding of how different groups in Roman society used language to construct status and identity and prepares students for interrogating power structures in other Latin texts. A multivocal approach to Latin learning is more inclusive of diverse students and successful at improving student engagement and investment in the language, but another goal of this approach is to enhance our students’ respect for difference, a concept we hope they carry with them beyond our classroom and into society.