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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions


Into the Labyrinths: Amazing Myths Meet in Crete

NOTE: This program is not currently being offered. To learn about similar opportunities, please visit our Off-campus programs page.

May 29 - June 23, 2006



This program offers you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich multifaceted culture of Greece as it is expressed today on Crete, an island at the southernmost part of the country. The "bride" of the Mediterranean, Crete serves as a connecting link between the East and the West--a cultural crossroad that connects Greece to Africa on the south, to Asia on the east, and to Europe on the northwest.

Field trips give you a broad exposure to Eastern Mediterranean history, culture, traditions, and society. Through an interdisciplinary approach, you develop skills in problem solving and in foreign languages. Not only do you have the chance to experience "the other"--those who process information differently--you will also make professional contacts and gain a new appreciation of your lives in the United States.

Students of all majors are welcome to apply.


All students in this program are enrolled in Near Eastern Studies 378, Into the Labyrinths: Amazing Myths Meet in Crete for four credits. The course covers Greek culture as exhibited through its rich archaeology, history, and visual art sources, as well as the poetry, fiction, memoirs, and letters of people who have visited, studied, or lived on the island. Students are guided through the techniques of participant observation as a research field method and are urged to apply them. We attend festivals and observe the rituals of family, village, and city customs, as these all are valuable mechanisms for learning the social, economic, cultural, political, and religious practices that underlie Greek culture and make it distinctive.

Elementary Modern Greek knowledge is helpful but not required. Many of the students will have taken a semester or two of Modern Greek prior to the program and are encouraged to speak Greek whenever possible.

The proram is highly recommended for students of Greek heritage who are thinking of visiting their families and/or working in Greece, as well as for students who envision studying Greek civilization, traditions, and culture. Instruction is in English. Short sessions in Greek are also offered to enhance students' immersion in, and understanding of, Greek culture. Some flexibility in selecting texts according to fields of interest is offered.


Maria Hnaraki (Ph.D. Ethnomusicology, Folklore & Cultural Anthropology, Indiana University, 2002) joined Cornell University in the Fall of 2003 as a Lecturer of Modern Greek. She has researched music and dance events in Greece, specifically those of her native Crete. Her intellectual interests are focused on cultural identity and how that is defined through and informed by the arts we create.

Class details

Classes meet daily, Monday through Friday, for approximately four hours. The town of Iraklio and the island of Crete itself provide the principal texts for the course. Many assignments are given in association with major site visits, such as to the palace of King Minos in Knossos. In addition to occasional field trips, there are guest lecturers, film showings, and conversation tables.

Students read the poetry and prose of the English painter-illustrator and poet Edward Lear and Harvard professor and anthropologist Michael Herzfeld. They also "meet" with important Cretans: artists Theotokopoulos and Damaskinos; writers Kornaros, Hortatsis, Kondylakis, Prevelakis, Kazantzakis, and Elytis; musicians Leontaritis, Xylouris, Hatzidakis, Markopoulos, and Theodorakis; and the politician, Venizelos.

Students are expected to actively participate in the discussion of all the readings and classroom materials. Dr. Hnaraki views discussion both as an opportunity to explore and expand upon ideas and experiences, and as a complement to, and clarification of, the lecture material in preparation for projects.

Optional trips around the island and/or to the volcanic island of Santorini are also offered. In such cases, extra fees apply.


The course is conducted at the teaching facility of the "George Mamidakis" conference and exhibition center in the Arina Sand Resort with breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea, where students will also be housed. Encompassing over 10 acres of beautiful gardens on the famous and private Kokkini Hani sandy beach, the hotel provides its guests with a unique atmosphere of cultural, sporting, and relaxing activities. It is conveniently located 8 km from the airport and with easy access to the capital city, Iraklio (12 km).


U.S. and non-U.S. citizens need a valid passport both to enter other countries and to return to the United States. If you already have a passport, make sure it is valid until at least six months after your return date. If you must apply for or renew a passport, APPLY EARLY; a minimum of five to six weeks are usually required for processing. During peak travel seasons, more processing time is required. Passport forms are available at many federal and state courts, probate courts, some county/municipal offices, and some post offices. They can also be downloaded from the Web.


A visa is official permission granted by the authorities of a country where you will study or travel that allows you to enter and remain in that country for a specific purpose. The visa itself is frequently a stamp in your passport, not a separate document. You will need a passport before applying for a visa and the passport plus visa process may take several months, so start early. It is your responsibility to inquire about visa requirements for all countries you plan to visit while abroad; this includes countries that you plan to visit before or after this program.

Health and safety

Once you have been accepted, you will complete a Student Health/Emergency Treatment Authorization. It is your responsibility to ensure that your routine immunizations are up-to-date, to inquire whether there are recommended and/or required immunizations for the country/countries you wish to visit (including any countries you will visit that are not part of this program's itinerary), and to review educational issues relevant to your personal health and safety.


The deadline for applying to the program is April 30; or until the program is full. Applications will be accepted after that date on a space-available basis only. Early application is strongly encouraged.

You must be in good academic standing, with a grade point average of at least 2.7 at the time of application. (Meeting this minimum grade point average does not, however, guarantee admission.)

To apply, please submit the following:

  • the course enrollment form,
  • an essay stating why you wish to participate in this program,
  • one academic letter of reference, and
  • a nonrefundable deposit of $1,000, applicable towards tuition. This deposit is refundable only if you are not accepted into the program.

The total program charge is $4,510. This includes a tuition fee of $3,340 and a program fee of $1,170, which covers housing (double occupancy), full board, course materials, and all field trips. Students are responsible for their own air travel.

Application materials should be sent to Special Program in Crete, Cornell University, B20 Day Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-2801.

Note: Your participation may be denied or your participation approval may be revoked if your conduct before departure raises doubts as to your suitability for program participation.

For more information

Contact Dr. Maria Hnaraki at 607.255.1075 or 607.257.9386, or e-mail