The students will:
1. Broaden his or her literary experience, and acquire a first reading
acquaintance with some of the classics of the Western literary
tradition, and thereby be able to read and write more knowledgeably
and competently about other works belonging to that tradition.
2. Become aware of some of the major themes and issues that have
concerned that mos influential writers of early Western civilization.
3. Also, it is hoped, acquire a greater sensitivity to the depth and
range of cultural differences.
4. Acquire greater sophistication about the processes of reading,
writing, interpreting, the making of meaning and the construction
of literary and cultural histories.
1. The Ancient World.
A. Egyptian, Hebraic and other early religious writings: the
origins and uses of literature.
B. Homer: heroic values and literature.
C. Greek tragedy: the classical age in Greece, and the origins of
D. Virgil, Ocid: Roman epic, heroic and fabulist.
E. Love songs: from the Greek, by Sappho and Alcaeus; from Latin,
by Catullus and Horace; from the modern era; also, perhaps,
F. Early Christian meditational and didactic writings: New
Testament, St. Augustine.
2. The Middle Ages.
A. Icelandic Saga.
B. Medieval Romance.
C. Dante: the medieval world view, and the birth of vernacular
D. Tale Cycles: Boccaccio.
3. The Renaissance.
A. Love poetry: Petrarch.
B. Didactic and Descriptive literature revelatory of the values
and modes of the time: Machiavelli, Castiglione.
C. Ribald tales and the new questioning of tradition: Rabelais.
D. Cervantes: the ironic-herioc view of human institutions.
Note on Range of Topics and on Multicultural Literacy - The above list
of authors and topics includes both too much and too little. There is
too much literature to be treated adequately in seventeen weeks;
instructors are expected to make a representative, but robust selection.
There are too few topics to give an adequate idea of the range of
possible approaches the faculty may bring to the course. The prospective
student can nevertheless expect any approach to be both critical and
broad-minded. Instructors can also be expected, at their individual
discretion, to include works from outside the Western tradition, for the
sake of cultural and literary contrast (the list above hints at this
possibility by the inclusion of Manyoshu, an ancient collection of
Note on Critical Thinking and Metaconcepts as applied to Literary
Study - As a means to accomplishment of Objective No. 2 (above), the
student will be exposed to more than critical approach to one or more
texts, and will be exposed to competing cultural and literary histories
(histories that might give meaning to such terms as "Renaissance,"
"Middle Ages", and so on).
1. Regular reading assignments.
2. Notebook or other written preparation for class.
3. Class discussions and group work, in which each student is expected
4. Occasional leading of class discussions, and preparation appropriate
to this task.
5. Carefully composed and typed (or wordprocessed) papers that
interpret the course texts, or expound their cultural contexts.
6. Library research into historical backgrounds or critical response
to the course texts.
7. Oral readings or other performance exercises.
8. Examinations and quizzes involving the writing of reasoned
interpretive arguments as well as simple factual responses.
9. Attentive, critical viewing of video material illustrative of
THE NORTON ANTHOLOGY OF WORLD MASTERPIECES, 5th ed. Vol. 1. Maynard
Mack et al., eds. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1985.