T C E603A • Composition and Reading in World Literature
10:00 AM-11:00 AM
This course will explore the classics-Homer, Greek tragedy, Dante and so on, primarily selecting works that are both exalting and appalling. At least some of them scare me. Readings will begin with The Iliad, an epic that (like contemporary gang culture) turns on notions of honor, disrespect, and violence. Greek drama will then throw us into dilemmas between contradictory and perhaps incommensurate conceptions of undeniable and horrific passion versus submissive and reasoned justice. In particular, we will look at Sophocles' Antigone and Euripides' Medea, two works that present powerfully conceived tragic women, and debate the significance of our responses to them. Afterward Anne Carson's translation of Sappho helps us to explore the intensities of desire. We will then inhabit the poignantly imagined worlds of Dante's Inferno, Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, and Shakespeare's Othello and King Lear. And we will complete the fall with A Book of Love Poetry-which, in the interest of truth in advertising, I should note contains some poems that are mainly about sex.
A commentary (1 page) on every work in the course, due the day we start it, which you should be prepared to dramatically read and defend. These should be papers with edge, not handbook stuff.
Two papers (5 pages each) analyzing or arguing with a passage in one of our readings.
A description of the term paper topic and thesis (3 pages), including a preliminary account of the reading planned for the project. I will comment extensively on how the project may be further thought out (or rethought) rather than grade the description.
A first draft of the term paper. Again, no grade will be given (except for not doing it), but extensive comments and editorial suggestions will be provided.
A term paper, incorporating research, of 10+ pages.
Most of my criticism will be on the prospectus and first draft rather than telling students on their final version how they could have done it better. Students will receive the editorial advice that their professors routinely seek from their peers before final submission of a project. I find this structure facilitates superior papers.
Homer, Iliad (trans. Lombardo) David Greene and Richard Lattimore, Greek Tragedies Aeschylus, Agamemnon Sophocles, Antigone Euripides, Medea Sappho, If Not Winter: Fragments of Sappho (trans. Anne Carson) Dante, Inferno (trans. Mark Musa) Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales (Norton Edition): The General Prologue, The Miller's Tale, and The Pardoner's Tale Shakespeare, Othello Shakespeare, King Lear Jon Stallworthy, ed., A Book of Love Poetry