Undergraduate English Courses

358:302 Classical Backgrounds of Literature in English


01  MW6   CAC   19274  WALKER   SC-205


Cross-listed with: 01:195:346:01

The classical authors of Greece and Rome had an enormous influence over the course of the centuries on the literatures of England, America and Europe. We will examine just a few cases where the classical subtexts were most inspiring and where the modern texts are most provocative and interesting in their use of classical themes and models. In the genre of tragedy we will look at Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra in relation to its historical source in Plutarch, and at Racine's Phaedra, which is more than just a remake of Euripides' Hippolytus, although the two are extraordinarily close in structure. By contrast, although T.S. Eliot's comedy The Cocktail Party owes much to Euripides' Alcestis, nobody guessed this until the Old Possum revealed the secret himself. As for Joyce's Ulysses (of which we will consider carefully only selections), its debt to Homer is obvious, but what Joyce did with the Odyssey is quite astounding.

Grading will be based on" to class participation and quizzes (20%), Midterm (25%), paper (25%) and final examination (30%).