HUM/UWS 4A — Epic Literature

[ hum uws ]

Enrollment limited to Humanities Fellows.

Zeroes in on the most foundational of “foundational” texts. This course will study the evolution of the epic, beginning with its solemn ancient origins, in Gilgamesh, following through with the panoramic martial epics of Greece and Rome, and then investigating how Dante, a Christian Medieval poet, adapts his “pagan” predecessors to tell the story of his voyage through Hell, in The Inferno. At the end we will turn to Milton’s engagement with the entire tradition - in his epic treatment of the story of the Fall - and then to the 18th-century “mock-heroics” that parodied them all. The course will necessarily touch on wide-ranging interdisciplinary aspects of history, anthropology, comparative religion, philosophy and myth. But it will focus on intertextuality: it will scrutinize the ways in which later authors reframed, reshaped, honored and challenged the work of their predecessors. Usually offered every year.
Laura Quinney