European Studies


Early Modern (1450-1789)

Fall Quarter (F19)

Dept/Description Course No., Title  Instructor
Emphasis/Category: Early Modern (1450-1789), Modern Europe (1798-)

People call movies like Avatar (dir. James Cameron) (2009) “epics.” Do post-modern movies like Avatar mimic the ancient Greek poet Homer’s pre-modern epic, the Odyssey? What can we learn about any nation’s interests and concerns today from its engagement with the masterpieces of either its own tradition or with other traditions from a different time and place? How do the world’s literatures circulate around the globe? In Comparative Literature 60A, we will read some of the greatest texts of World Literature – from the ancient Greek, Argentine, English, French-Caribbean, German, Irish, Nigerian, Persian, and U.S. traditions – in dialogue with one another as a way of answering these questions. Texts will include the poems of the 14th century Persian poet and mystic Hafiz in various translations and as they were read by the 19th century German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; the Persian poet Firdowsi’s 10th century epic, the Shahnameh, and its afterlife in miniature illustrations, oral recitations in coffee houses, and re-significations as Iran’s national epic; the British medieval poet Geoffrey Chaucer’s 14th century Canterbury Tales as they have been taken up by the British-Nigerian rapper and performance artist Patience Agbabi (b. 1965); the ancient Greek tragedian Sophocles’ Antigone (442 b.c.e.) as it is retold in Argentine playwright Griselda Gambaro’s Antígona Furiosa play (1986); Sophocles’ Philoctetes (409 b.c.e.) as it dialogues with Irish playwright Seamus Heaney’s The Cure at Troy (1990 /1991) and the U.S poet Adrienne Rich’s “Twenty One Love Poems” (1974-76);  Euripides’ Bacchae (405 b.c.e.) in conversation with Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka’s The Bacchae of Euripides: A Communion Rite (1973), and Shakespeare’s Tempest (1611) in dialogue with French Caribbean writer Aimé Césaire’s A Tempest (1969) and as it was performed by inmates at the Luther Luckett Correctional  Complex in La Grange, Kentucky, in 2005.  - These dialogues will help us understand the many ways that the traditions we study can have multiple afterlives across traditions and around the world.

Comparative Literature 60A is the first quarter of the “World Literature” track in the Comp. Lit. major, but the course is open to all students. It fulfills the GE IV and VIII campus-wide requirements.

Requirements for this course include: Doing the assigned readings, watching the lecture videos, watching supplemental (not optional) videos, Quizzes, Discussion Board posts on the readings, and Workshop Exercises on the readings. There is no midterm and no final in this course.
Days:   12:00-12:00 AM

Emphasis/Category: Early Modern (1450-1789)

European Queens served as models of piety for their people. They also often drew the criticism of religious leaders. Some saved dynasties through their shrewd regencies and some were blamed for leading their countries into destructive civil wars. Sent as vulnerable young girls to be peacemakers in foreign lands, they worked as cultural ambassadors between their birth families and their royal husbands. For many, however, their foreign manners and family connections remained suspect. Only by great fortune and with great care could they ever rule independently and in their own name. As exceptional women, they had access to more power than was available to most of their male contemporaries. At the same time they were forced to work tirelessly to protect their own reputations and to build networks of support and loyalty. By studying several queens, including famous queens (like Elizabeth I of England) and infamous queens (like Catherine de Medici), this class will explore what it meant to occupy such a politically charged and exceptional social position and what the realities of queenship tell us how families, royal institutions, religious ideals, and gender worked together to shape European politics from the early Middle Ages through the early modern period.
Days: MO WE  11:00-11:50 AM