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: 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 interdisciplinary course investigates that premise and introduces you to facts and concepts that will help you interpret the material on this syllabus (and, indeed, other ancient literature as well) within its historical context. Oral poetics, the notion of symbolic culture, the importance of reciprocity and exchange in pre-industrialized societies, the dynamics of an oral tradition, and the morphology of traditional narrative are all central concerns. Special emphasis will be placed on how the relative literacy or orality of a given culture affects the form of its thought and art. In short, this course is about traditional cultures from the past and the modern appreciation of those cultures in the present, epic poetry being the point of entry. The coverage is broad and ethnically/linguistically diverse: We will be reading works from Greece, the Ancient Near East, Iceland, Africa, Finland, and India.

CRN: 14815

Section: A

Enrolled/Seats: 13/40

Days Time Location
MWF 09:40 - 10:30 VOTEY BLDG 254

Instructor(s): Mark David Usher

Meeting Dates: 14 Jan 2019 - 03 May 2019