Fall 2013 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions

Derdeyn, LeeAnn
Discipline and Number
LIT 2331 Section 002
TR Time 1:00 PM - 2:15 PM
Course Title
Masterpieces of World Literature

Description of Course:

The canonical works we will be looking at this semester have survived for thousands of years. They are constantly being revisited, adapted, re-translated because they remain among the best in our literary tradition. The ‘best’ literary works may be the best for various reasons. An aesthetic masterpiece may surprise us, intrigue us, invite insight. It may enable us to stand in for someone who is similar to or different from ourselves, to experience a world that is familiar or one which seems not our own. It may cause us to notice, to appreciate, sympathize, empathize, question, judge or withhold judgment. It may stir us with the power of our language: a shining detail, a beautiful sentence, a luminous paragraph or descriptive passage. The ‘best’ works of literature explore--in some way--what it means to be human, the ways in which we find and lose ourselves, the ways in which we understand and misunderstand each other.

All that being said, how do we (or can we) come to know more about ourselves and to better think and express ourselves through worded works of art? How do we become better persons—better readers, better thinkers, and better writers? This section of Masterpieces of World Literature will focus on a series of tragic plays and epic poems that explore creatively-rendered historical accounts of what led up to the Trojan War and what occurred in its aftermath. We will look at synopsi of the Greek Myths to further understand the texts and their contexts. We will also look at filmic adaptations made in each of the last three decades.

Since knowledge has been classed as declarative (what you know) and procedural (what you do with what you know), the organization of each class and the organization of the grading structure will take both into account. Thus, we will come at these different genres through two modes: careful reading of our primary and secondary texts, and critical assessment, interpretation, and application through quizzes and the final essay. Each class will begin with a 5-minute opportunity for questions or clarifications of the particulars of the outside readings or previous class discussion, followed on Tuesdays by the quiz and on Thursdays by short answer group assignments. We will then proceed with the class agenda, whether close critical reading and textual development, or films.

Required Texts:

Required Texts
• Homer. The Iliad and the Odyssey – Boxed set. Fagles, Robert , trans. NY: Penguin,
1999. ISBN 978-0-14-771255-4 (or individually—The Iliad ISBN 978-0-14-027536-0,
The Odyssey ISBN 978-0-14-026886-7)
• Aeschylus. The Oresteia. Fagles, Robert, trans. NY: Penguin, 1984. ISBN
• A Grammar Guide of some sort.

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

See complete syllabus posted on Coursebooks.

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