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Fall 2013 Course Descriptions

English 2601  Backgrounds of Western Literature 
(2 Sections)

Section 001       CRN 90750
Backgrounds of Western Literature     1100-1150 MWF

This course introduces some of the enduring literature of what has come to be known as "Western Civilization." The material you will be reading has been read and re-read for centuries. Through these readings and a flexible, thoughtful reader's response to them, each of you will encounter writers trying to deal with some basic human problems: the substance of spiritual reality and the relationship between it and human beings in their cultures; definitions of love, of human interactions, of justice, of the ideal state and citizen. The issues are inexhaustible. The readings and writings (yours) and the discussions (ours) in this course should raise fundamental questions for you to think about critically. The texts we will examine include writers from the Bible, Homer, Greek and Roman poetry and drama, Aristotle, Virgil, Dante, De Pizan, Boccaccio, De Navarre, Shakespeare and others. Together we will explore these voices that continue to influence the imaginations of writers today—even the writers of super hero comic books. Grades will be based on unannounced quizzes, two short papers, mid-term, and a final. (Group 1)

Section 002      CRN 98178
Backgrounds of Western Literature     0930-1045 TR

This course is designed to provide an introduction to literary works considered central to the development of western literature. Writers throughout the centuries have responded to and incorporated aspects of works by their predecessors and their contemporaries into their own “new” creations. In this course we will especially explore various lines of artistic and topical influence that stretch from classical origins through literary works of the Renaissance.We will observe how ideas are adopted and adapted to suit the cultural and political times of the writers. Furthermore, we will discuss our own early twenty-first-century impressions of these works, addressing such questions as the following: What seems familiar or contemporary to us about these writers regarding their social milieux, their historical moments, and their texts? Why have these texts been so influential for so long? Why do they still fascinate? How should we, reading several of these texts in translation, think about the transitions they have gone through regarding the practices of translating and editing? Above all, by the end of the course you should have a greater understanding of the literary periods and genres of the western literary canon, as well as a sense of the historical shaping of some of your own ideas and values. (Group 1)