10:30 AM to 11:45 AM TR
Thompson Hall 2022
Section Information for Fall 2022
This course offers a survey of some of the major genres, authors, and texts of the ‘Western Literary Tradition’ – that is, of the works that influenced the literary and philosophical development of what is now called ‘the West.’ But as we read some of the most influential works written during the period stretching from ancient Greece to the Renaissance, we will also devote time to studying the process of canon formation. Why do medieval authors portray themselves as the heirs of Roman rather than Greek culture? Why do Renaissance writers look for their roots in ancient Greece, rather than ancient Mesopotamia? What does it mean to have a ‘renaissance’ at all? What gets preserved, and what gets left behind?
To help us focus on these questions, the texts we read this semester will emphasize the relationship between literature and power. What makes a king ‘good’ or ‘bad’? How does literature shape our expectations and opinions of the political elite? And how does our definition of the ‘canon’ adapt in response to these concerns? By studying how literature shapes our understanding of the world, and how canons are constructed and reconstructed over time, we will gain insight into how our own contemporary concerns shape our conceptions of the ‘Western Literary Tradition.’
Image from BnF MS Fr 2195
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