Special Topics in Medieval and Early Modern Literature: Masterpieces of World Literature


This course intends to facilitate a better understanding of major literary monuments across a wide range of periods and cultures, including several with a religious orientation. We will begin with the four great Greek dramatists (Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes) and segments of the Bible as well as Hindu sacred writ (The Bhagavad-Gita) and perhaps a Hindu play of the fifth century (Shakuntala). The latter half of the course will (as time permits) cross European boundaries with Dante’s Inferno, Chaucer’s Tales, Montaigne’s Essays, and Shakespeare’s Othello. In passing, we shall observe instances of the influence of earlier writings on later artists and thinkers – for example, the impact of the Bhagavad-Gita on American Transcendentalists (Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman), and of the Bible in later millennia.

Examinations: Two or three hour exams (no three-hour final exam). Two term papers of 6-8 pages on topics relating to the course syllabus.

A major author, topic, or theme of the medieval and early modern period (excluding Chaucer). Satisfies the Area I requirement for English majors. Topics vary each semester. One course.

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