Poems in the Classical Tradition: translation, transformation, transcendence
A graduate seminar course designed to explore, test and tweak ideas of ‘Classical Tradition’ through comparative case studies in ancient and modern poetic practice. My ‘home’ field of Latin literature has always been constituted by its relationships with other languages and traditions: for ancient readers by its ever-changing relationship with Greek; for modern readers by no less constitutive relationships with the European vernaculars.
Whether at the centre or at the margins, whether among reading communities steeped in the Classics, superficially familiar with them, or actively resistant to them, Greek and Roman traditions have endured as a constitutive element of poetic discourse in the West. Modern approaches to reception history can allow us to talk about all this without just replicating old assumptions about the Classical Tradition as a universal decoder or as a touchstone for taste.
I expect to build the class around comparative ancient and modern readings in epic, elegy, lyric and pastoral (using a classicist’s definition of ‘modernity’ = anything more recent than the mid 1300s). Canonical texts and authors will be emphasized. Especial attention will be paid to transformations of myth, religion and culture, (dis)continuities of time and place, changing modulations of poetic voice, and thematizations of movement across languages.
The overall goals of the course are to foster and to complicate a sense of literary history and, through hands-on engagement with a suggestive range of primary texts, to build some interdisciplinary competences useful for future teaching and research.
The class is intended to be accessible to graduate students in Classics and in literary studies across the Humanities, with all required primary readings accessible in English, but with opportunities for students of classical and modern literatures to deploy and share their several language expertises in discussion and in writing. The intention is to foster a collaborative atmosphere. Since noone in the class will have a specialized command over all the literatures and periods to be sampled (I certainly do not), we can all educate one another. Graduates from outside the Department of Classics who are thinking of enrolling should feel free to contact me for further information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Enrolled students will have access to the Classics seminar room, Denny 210, where the class will meet and where a course-shelf of books and xeroxes will be maintained; the Classics office (Denny 218) will provide an access code to the room. Most course materials will be made available on line through a Catalyst CommonView site, but there will be one required textbook (containing a useful anthology of ancient and modern readings), available through the University Bookstore:
Robert DeMaria and Robert Brown, eds., Classical Literature and its Reception: An Anthology Blackwell 2007
There will be a test involving passage identification and comment, short class reports, and a paper on the scale of an APA- or MLA- conference paper (i.e. 8-10 succinct pages excluding footnotes and quotes).