Greek Myth through the Ages [Full]
Renee M. Calkins, Visiting Assistant Professor
- Course: CLASSICS 192, SEM 001
- Class Number: 27208
- Credits: 3 HU
- Time: MW 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM
- Place: BOL B91
What could an athletic shoe company and a series of pop fiction novels have in common? Nike and the Percy Jackson stories were each in some way inspired by ancient Greek mythology. The fact is that ancient Greek mythology didn’t stay in ancient Greece. The stories have had a long afterlife during which they have been borrowed by many other cultures over the centuries. We’ll begin the course with an overview of the foundational myths of the ancient Greek culture. Then we’ll narrow our focus to the most famous witch in antiquity, Medea. What happens when Medea is taken out of Greece? Who took her and why? How they change the stories about her? We’ll take a close look at different versions of the Medea myth in order to develop some informed opinions regarding these questions.
We’ll be reading a variety of texts in translation. Class discussions will be focused on observing patterns in the stories and considering how the patterns change when someone from a different culture borrows a myth for their own purposes. Students will be responsible for participating in class discussions, keeping a reading journal, and for producing a sequence of very short writing assignments. Peer review and revision exercises will encourage students to approach writing as a self-reflective, multi-stage process, and to communicate their ideas in a compelling manner in written form.
- Required Work:
- Regular reading assignments
- Participation in class discussions
- Reading journal
- (3) peer review exercises
- (3) 2-3 paragraph writing exercises with draft and revision phases
- Midterm exam
- Final exam
We will be reading the majority of Homer’s Odyssey (Lombardo, trans.), as well as a selection of Classical Athenian tragedies, Roman works based on the story of Medea, and Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
About the Instructor:
Renee Calkins is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics within the Foreign Languages and Literature Department. I must admit that I’ve found the pace of life in Milwaukee to be a pleasant change from the traffic and intensely competitive atmosphere that are characteristic of life in Los Angeles. I’ve also lived in both Athens and Rome. But wherever I may be, I never cease to be amazed at the frequency with which references to Greek mythology pop up (I believe Milwaukee has a restaurant called ‘Bacchus’). And I love it when students bring to my attention references which they’ve noticed in various places and media as well. Part of the reason that these stories have had such a long afterlife seems to be that they invite adaptation. Is Medea still relevant? If her character as painted by Euripides no longer strikes a chord, then we can follow in the footsteps of many who have come before us in changing a few details to make her relevant.