English 180E

The Epic

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2012 Altieri, Charles F.
Nolan, Maura
Nolan, Maura
MWF 2-3 126 Barrows

Book List

Ciardi, J: Dante's Inferno; Fagles, R: Aeneid; Fagles, R: Iliad; Fagles, R: Odyssey; Hollander, R: Dante's Paradiso; Joyce, J: Ulysses; Milton, John: Paradise Lost


This course will be team-taught by Professors Altieri and Nolan. Our primary concern is to read carefully and discuss intensely most of the major epics in Western European literature. We love these texts and we are convinced that students will find the substantial reading well worthwhile. We love each text as its own encounter with history. And we love how epics use their predecessors to understand the historical tasks that face them. In the epic, some of the finest minds in our culture engage each other in highly concrete, imaginatively interesting ways. These adventures are worth pursuing because they produce intense and rich human situations, and because—after centuries have passed—they still challenge readers in profoundly complex ways. The epic demands that we find languages for what it accomplishes, a task that calls on all of our mental and psychological resources. Anything that presents Western culture at its best, and gives a chance for professors and students to be at their best, promises to be a unique and possibly mind-blowing experience.  We will read the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Aeneid, the Inferno and the Paradiso, Paradise Lost, and about ½ of Ulysses.

This course satisfies the pre-1800 requirement for the English major.




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