Mythical Journeys - Then and Now

Term: Fall 2008

Subject Code: GLIB

Course Number: 5501

This course in World Literature surveys some of the great myths that originated in the Mediterranean basin. After distinguishing between myths, epics, and fairy tales, and will focus our attention on narrative journeys, beginning with Gilgamesh (3rd millenium B.C.E.), and proceeding to Isis and Osiris. We will spend time with Homer�s Odyssey and Dante's Divine Comedy. Since many of these classic narratives of journeys are informed by a religious or quasi-religious underpinning, it may seem surprising that mythical journeys continue into the "secular" 19th and 20th centuries. In the course of our readings we will have to strive for a new definition of the term "myth" and arrive, by way of comparison with the older narratives, at a more nuanced understanding of who we are today. Modern works will include Joseph Conrad, The Heart oft Darkness; Alejo Carpentier, The Lost Steps;Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky; Andre Brink, The Other Side of Silence; Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses; and Franz Kafka, The Castle. Our discussions of these texts will take the form of an intellectual journey, in quest of new insights into ourselves and contemporary culture.

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