CLAS 3381

From Homer to Hollywood04_lr

This course integrates literature and film as an introduction to ancient Greek literature and culture. With one or two exceptions, these films do not adapt particular works of Greek literature, but make use of important themes developed in antiquity, shed light on complex structures embedded in the literature, or otherwise translate and allude in meaningful ways to the texts that we will discuss in connection with the films. As students you will be asked to read several works of Greek literature, watch films and discuss them in class, and post regularly to an on-line discussion board; in so doing you will learn to analyze imagery, trace metaphors and themes, and interpret crucial scenes and passages in the context of a work as a whole.

*This course counts for the Creative Arts/Visual and Performing Arts Core*

There is no background in Classical literature or mythology required for this class, but it certainly won’t hurt you to have some.

University of Houston, Fall 2016 Syllabus

Professor: Casey Dué Hackney (e-mail: cdue-hackney@uh.edu). Office hours: 11-1 Mondays or by appointment, Agnes Arnold Hall room 601.

Expectations: This course is being taught as a hybrid (this concept will be discussed further on the first day of class), and important components of the course are delivered through Blackboard. You should log in to Blackboard regularly to participate in weekly on-line discussions, watch film clips, and check for email and announcements. Most every week you must post at least once to that week’s on-line discussion (10 postings total). Most weeks you are also required to watch a film outside of class.

It is expected that students will acquire all required reading and obtain or borrow all films well in advance of the date assigned. The assigned films are all available at the Language Acquisition Center (2nd floor, Agnes Arnold Hall). They can also be found on Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes or You Tube (not all are available in all places). Many of the assigned readings may be obtained for free on-line. Failure to obtain assigned readings or films in advance will not excuse late work.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for this course. If you have never taken a Classics course, however, or if you have never read any Greek literature before, you will need to put in extra effort in order to succeed in this class. In the early weeks, it will be essential for you to devote a significant amount of time to reading (and rereading!) the Iliad and Odyssey. This course is best suited to those with some experience in Classics or reading Classical literature or those with experience studying film who like literature as well.

Required Reading:

The Iliad of Homer, in any translation. I recommended the translation of Stanley Lombardo (1997, ISBN: 0872203522), available at the UH bookstore. A free electronic translation is available here.

The Odyssey of Homer, in any translation. I recommended the translation of Stanley Lombardo (2000, ISBN: 0872204847), available at the UH bookstore. A free electronic translation is available here.

The Histories of Herodotus, in any translation. I recommended the translation of Aubrey de Selincourt (ISBN: 0140449086), available at the UH bookstore.

The Agamemnon of Aeschylus (the first play in the Oresteia trilogy), in any translation. A free electronic translation is available here. The translation of Christopher Collard (ISBN: 0192832816) is available at the UH bookstore.

The Iphigeneia at Aulis of Euripides, in any translation. Note, however, that the ancient manuscripts present us with two different endings, and translators sometimes choose one or the other, and sometimes include both. We will discuss both endings. A free electronic translation (containing only the first ending) is available here. The translation of Morwood (in a volume entitled Bacchae and other Plays) is available at the UH bookstore.

The Lysistrata of Aristophanes, in any translation. I recommend that of Jeffrey Henderson (ISBN: 0941051587) or Douglas Parker (ISBN: 9780451531247). (Warning: Humor is extremely hard to translate. The translation you choose will make a big difference in whether or not you enjoy this play. Avoid old/archaic or overly British translations – or anyone that translates the dirty parts into Latin!)

Components of Course Grade: Weekly Participation in Web Discussion (10 postings total) 50%; Essay 25%; Test 25%

Schedule of Readings, Lectures, and Discussions
* NOTE: All reading assignments must be completed in advance of the day to which they are assigned.

Week 1 (8/24): Introduction to the course and the Homeric Iliad

Week 2 (8/31): Iliad (cont.)
ASSIGNMENT: Read Iliad books 1, 6, 9; Watch Blade Runner
Additional assignment: Post to the discussion board for this week on Blackboard by Tuesday at noon.

Week 3 (9/7): Introduction to the Odyssey
ASSIGNMENT: Read Odyssey 1-5
Additional assignment: Post to the discussion board for this week on Blackboard by Tuesday at noon.

Week 4 (9/14): Odyssey (cont.)
ASSIGNMENT: Odyssey 6-12; Recommended, but not required films: Cold Mountain and Spirited Away
Additional assignment: Post to the discussion board for this week on Blackboard by Tuesday at noon.

Week 5 (9/21): Odyssey (cont.)
ASSIGNMENT: Read Odyssey 13-18; Watch O Brother Where Art Thou?
Additional assignment: Post to the discussion board for this week on Blackboard by Tuesday at noon.

Week 6 (9/28): Odyssey (cont.)
ASSIGNMENT: Read Odyssey 19-24; Read “Odysseus’ Sister”; Watch Chunhyang
Additional assignment: Post to the discussion board for this week on Blackboard by Tuesday at noon.

Week 7 (10/5): The Histories of Herodotus and The English Patient (part 1)
ASSIGNMENT: Read the Histories of Herodotus, books 1 and 2

Week 8 (10/12): The Histories of Herodotus and The English Patient (part 2)
ASSIGNMENT: Watch The English Patient
Recommended Reading: Harrison, “Herodotus and The English Patient” (Classics Ireland 5 [1998]: 48-63)
Additional assignment: Post to the discussion board for this week on Blackboard by Tuesday at noon.

Week 9 (10/19): Introduction to Greek Drama and the Agamemnon of Aeschylus
ASSIGNMENT: Read Agamemnon; Watch The Shining
Additional assignment: Post to the discussion board for this week on Blackboard by Tuesday at noon.

Week 10 (10/26): Iphigenia
ASSIGNMENT: Read Iphigeneia at Aulis; Watch Iphigenia
Additional assignment: Post to the discussion board for this week on Blackboard by Tuesday at noon.

Week 11 (11/2): Aristophanes, Lysistrata
ASSIGNMENT: Read Aristophanes, Lysistrata; Watch 9 to 5
Recommended Reading: Baron, “Tricksters and Typists: 9 to 5 as Aristophanic Comedy”
Additional assignment: Post to the discussion board for this week on Blackboard by Tuesday at noon.

Week 12 (11/9): Chi-raq
ASSIGNMENT: Watch Chi-raq
Additional assignment: Post to the discussion board for this week on Blackboard by Tuesday at noon.

Week 13 (11/16): The Iliad revisited
ASSIGNMENT: Read Iliad 18, 19, 22, 24; Watch Troy

Week 14 (no class meeting): THANKSGIVING BREAK

Week 15 (11/30): Test
*Essay due by Sunday, 12/4 at midnight

Core Curriculum Learning Outcomes: In this course students will enhance their critical thinking and communications skills by reading several works of Greek literature, watching films and discussing them in class, and posting regularly to an on-line discussion board; in so doing they will learn to analyze imagery, trace metaphors and themes, and interpret crucial scenes and passages in the context of a work as a whole. By studying ancient Greek literature and demonstrating their understanding of its themes through various writing assignments students will develop intercultural competence. In the area of teamwork, on the weekly discussion boards students will be required to read and consider each other’s interpretations of ancient texts and modern films and to respond to one another.