NOTE: THIS SECTION HAS AN ENROLLMENT MAXIMUM OF 60.
IT IS DESIGNED TO INTEREST NON-ENGLISH MAJORS, BUT IT CAN APPLIED TOWARD THE
MAJOR OR MINOR AS WELL.
In this course we will read a range of ancient and
medieval texts to get acquainted with some of the genres, myths, themes, and
characters that influenced Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton and a host of other
authors from the Middle Ages to the present day. The course will address the
social, historical, and even technological issues that are crucial for
understanding the various roles writing and reading have played in the
consolidation and critique of European cultures. These materials will include
THE EPIC OF GILGAMESH (one of the earliest works of imaginative literature on
record), selections from the Hebrew Bible and the Gospels, Homer’s THE ODYSSEY,
selections from Hesiod’s THEOGONY, Sophocles’ OEDIPUS THE KING and ANTIGONE,
Virgil’s AENEID, selections from Ovid’s METAMORPHOSES, selections from
Augustine’s CONFESSIONS, and poetry by Archilochus, Sappho, Catullus, and
Horace. We will wrap up with an exploration of the sources of the King Arthur
legend. The course will also give you a basic introduction to some central
problems in literary research: establishing the text, relating the text to its
historical context, dealing with translations, and discerning the strengths and
limitations of our interpretive methodologies.
The format of the course will be primarily lecture with some class discussion
and group activities. Semester grades will be determined based on in-class
written responses to the readings, quizzes, a midterm exam, and a final exam.
GILGAMESH: A NEW ENGLISH VERSION (Free Press,
2006); Homer, THE ODYSSEY (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998); Sophocles, THE
THREE THEBAN PLAYS (Penguin, 2000); Virgil, THE AENEID (Penguin, 2008); Lupak,
Alan, THE OXFORD GUIDE TO ARTHURIAN LITERATURE AND LEGEND (Oxford UP, 2007);
and a course packet. You will also need a copy of the Bible, but I am not
specifying one for you to buy. We will be comparing translations in class, so
whatever version you can find will work.