University of Vermont

UVM Course Directory

CLAS 145 – D2: Comparative Epic

Credits: 3.00

Course Description: Interdisciplinary introduction to epic poetry and performance, from Gilgamesh and the Homeric poems to the Kalevala traditions of Finland to the griot poetry and music of West Africa. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing. Cross-listed with: WLIT 145.

Section Description: This seminar is an interdisciplinary introduction to epic poetry and performance, from Gilgamesh and the Homeric poems to the Kalevala traditions of Finland to the griot poetry and music of West Africa. Epic poetry is a repository of the values of the society that produces it, and, in turn, shapes the culture in which it flourishes. This course investigates that premise and introduces you to facts, concepts, and methods that will help you interpret epic and other ancient literature within its historical context. We will look at several of the world’s great epics from various angles and consider, for example, how the pressures of oral performance shape traditional narrative; how, in traditional societies, mythology is itself a kind of language; and how and why poetry (and song) is the primary vehicle used to confer honor and transmit cultural lore. Because the stories of these epics are foundational to a range of great civilizations— European, Middle Eastern, South East Asian, and African—students can expect to come away from this course with a wider knowledge and deeper understanding of our cultural and psychological heritage as human beings.

CRN: 14071

Section: A

Enrolled/Seats: 23/36

Days Time Location
TR 10:00 - 11:15 VOTEY BLDG 367

Instructor(s): Mark David Usher

Meeting Dates: 14 Jan 2013 - 01 May 2013