Backgrounds of Western Lit

We will study a variety of monumental Western
texts, all “big” super-canonical names that you should know as an English major or simply as a literate
person and that you will from henceforward bump into with joyful recognition
for the rest of your life. You will encounter enduring “people” such as
Odysseus, Job, Lancelot, Guinevere, Oedipus, Dante, Antigone, Daphne, Apollo,
Jesus, Penelope, Orestes, and so on. I am interested in the protean nature of
story, the way fictions change, evolve, and yet retain an identity across time
and culture, so we will consider certain key problems, such as the relation of
the self to physical and spiritual worlds, the problem of power, and the motif
of the quest as they work themselves out in what have become archetypal texts.
You may expect to read Homer (The Iliad), selections from the Old and New Testaments of The Bible, Aeschylus (The Oresteia),
Sophocles (The Theban Plays),
Aristophanes (Lysistrata), Sappho (fragments),
Dante (The Inferno) and selections from The Purgatorio
and The Paradiso), Ovid (selections from The Metamorphoses), and Malory (selections from Le Morte

There will be three in-class mid terms, a
presentation or maybe an essay on an image pertinent to
the course, and a final exam. Reading quizzes will be inflicted if necessary.
We will read from paperback single texts; you will view on-line historical and
cultural slides relevant to the readings. This course fulfills a
Diversification Literature requirement and the English major’s Pre-1700