T C 603A • Composition and Reading in World Literature
12:00 PM-1:00 PM
HEROES & ANTI-HEROES in ancient and medieval literary classics. A course about what I call the mythogenesis of heroes. Heroism is not a uniform phenomenon, but rather varies according to the persons or peoples delivered, redeemed, or rescued. There are many kinds of heroes and heroisms, and each is promulgated through heroic myth. The course focuses on those heroes who define themselves as saviors of persons and communities, as defenders of good people against the bad guys. The latter can be wicked foreigners, dastardly criminals, decadent Pharaohs, corrupt Pharisees, inhuman monsters, fiendish scoundrels, rapacious marauders. The three chief heroic types we will focus on will be: 1. founder heroes (who create a community); 2. savior heroes (who deliver an existing community); 3. superheroes (who endlessly defend all mankind, locally and globally). The stories, books, plays, and movies we will read or see will illuminate such relevant themes as fosterage (as in the case of royal foundlings, orphaned saviors raised among humble folk or animals); primitive rebellion (the bandit is often portrayed as a social orphan, the founder of a utopic new community); the role of sidekicks and accomplices, and the functions of heroic myth as propaganda; the elevation of designated figures as the personification of EVIL. Heroism is situated, throughout the course, in the context of communities, nation states and capitalist economies, and the smaller-scale social and economic realities that alternately resist or collaborate with them.
Students are expected to have read each class meeting's assigned readings, as indicated in the syllabus, before coming to class. There will be discussion and Q & A concerning relevant themes exemplified in the readings. The reading method is CLOSE READING. This means an approach that focuses on precise understanding of the text. The professor teaching this course believes one must first READ THE LINES before reading BETWEEN them.
TESTS: 2 QUIZZES (10%); 1 MID-TERM with take-home essay component (20%); one FINAL EXAM with essay component (30%). MT, FINAL & QUIZZES are open-book essay exams, & include ID's, terminological definitions, and brief essays.
PAPERS: 1 3-page research prospectus (with 1 rewrite; 5%); 1 5-page expanded prospectus (1 rewrite; 10%); 1 1O-page final research paper (1 rewrite; 25%)
NOTE 1: The prospectuses develop the concept, bibliography, and analytical structure of the final research project.
NOTE 2: "Excellent" writing means 2 things: A. error-free style and language; B. an expository essay that defends a thesis (i.e., that proves a point). Mere BOOK REPORTS do NOT constitute excellent writing.
NOTE 3: For purposes of this class, a PAGE is equal to 250 words.
Epic of Gilgamesh Old Testament, stories of Moses, David, and Solomon Homer, The Iliad Homer, The Odyssey Aeschylus, Agamemnon Sophocles, Oedipus Rex Euripides, The Bacchae Herodotus, The Histories (selections) Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War (selections) The Alexander Romance Virgil, The Aeneid New Testament, selections Chrétien de Troyes, Erec and Enide, The Story of the Grail Poem of the Cid Selected Robin Hood ballads Amadís of Gaul (first two books)