K Liebowitz/J. Bulger
“Modernism” coarsely describes a cultural movement that began in the sunset of the 19th century and continued through the first half of the 20th century. Modernists experimented with new ideas and forms in order to liberate their arts from tradition. Yet as artists strove headlong into the future, they also expressed interest in the distant past – in antiquity. Greek and Roman ideas, forms and texts litter the modernist literary canon as modernist authors translate and transmute the works of classical antiquity in order to inform their artistic projects.
This course will examine the modernists’ engagement with classical Greek and Roman works in literature, film, and opera. Why does the modernist author use the ancient in a project to make something new? How can ancient material refer to a modern context? What is lost and gained in the shuttling of material between 2000 years? Does knowing the ancient sources change our experience as readers of modern texts?
Course materials will introduce us to figures such as Odysseus, Tiresias, Helen, and Medea as both classical and modernist characters. We will first examine how 19th-century authors use classical texts so as to frame what we will discover regarding the Modernists. As we engage with different texts and their respective heroes, we will focus on not only how the authors rethink “stories” or characters, but also how and why they rework genres, such as epic, lyric and drama.
As we bounce between millennia on the hunt for ancient voices and modernist re-vocalizations in this R1A class, you will be developing your own voice through a number of in-class and take-home writing assignments. You will learn to read texts closely and analyze them critically. With respect to your writing skills, you will master the basics of sentence structure, paragraph development and essay composition. Above all, in the spirit of this course, you will write and revise, revise, revise your old work.
Euripides, Euripides II: The Cyclops and Heracles, Iphigenia in Tauris, Helen; Homer, Odyssey; Kafka, The Metamorphosis; Ovid, Metamorphoses; Sophocles, Antigone, Oedipus the King, Electra; and Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Additional materials in a course reader, including T.S. Eliot, Freud, H.D., Ezra Pound, and Tennyson.
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