Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Classical Antiquity and English Literature: <i>The Odyssey</i> and Its Afterlife

ENGL 029.601
instructor(s):
fulfills requirements:
Sector 5: 19th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major

Fulfills Distributional Course in Arts & Letters (for students admitted before Fall 2006)

[Formerly ENGL 096]Crosslisted with: CLST 167 601, COML 167 601

 

The Odyssey is one of western civilization’s great adventure stories. Cast about on the “wine-dark sea,” Odysseus battles gruesome weather and meets fierce antagonists: jealous seductresses, one-eyed cannibals, drug-grubbing islanders, drunken suitors overstaying their welcome. Taking this rich tale as our centerpiece, we will explore several important modern readings of The Odyssey, among them Erich Auerbach’s famous essay on Odysseus’s scar. As the course unfolds, we will dip into a variety of modern works inspired by The Odyssey, from films loosely reminiscent of Homer’s epic such as Borat and The Empire Strikes Back to specialized textual responses such as Alexander Pope’s controversial eighteenth-century translation, Alfred Lord Tennyson’s classic “Ulysses,” and James Joyce’s innovative modernist narrative Ulysses, dubbed obscene by American censors. Course requirements include short response papers and two essays.