The Epic Hero in Ancient Literature—the Odyssey

Spring 2015

The purpose of this course is to read the Odyssey while at the same time developing and practicing methods and approaches to close reading and interpretation. We will practice reading carefully and well—as well as reading the same text quickly and slowly—all with the intention of learning how to read out of a text, instead of into a text.

This course will be inter-institutional involving faculty members and students from a number of colleges and universities. Some portion of this course’s materials will be based on Professor Greg Nagy’s work as found in his published material and his HeroesX online course.

Each week, we will all read two books of the Odyssey. A member of each working group will post an answer to the assigned writing prompt between Thursday morning and Saturday at midnight. After Saturday at midnight, the rest of the group will respond twice with substantial responses either to that initial post or the other responses in the forum.  One of these responses must be done before Monday at noon.  The second response must be done by Tuesday midnight, and then the group member who wrote the initial response to the prompt will revise that initial post incorporating feedback from the thread and the Monday common session.  In addition, during the week, participants will watch videos or read additional material as it is assigned, and will complete a reading quiz on the Sakai site by Monday at noon.

In our inter-institutional, synchronous sessions, which will take place on Monday evenings in a Google Hangout, representatives from two different working groups will summarize the threads from the forums that week.

For philology is that venerable art which exacts from its followers one thing above all — to step to one side, to leave themselves spare moments, to grow silent, to become slow — the leisurely art of the goldsmith applied to language: an art which must carry out slow, fine work, and attains nothing if not lento. Thus philology is now more desirable than ever before; thus it is the highest attraction and incitement in an age of ‘work’: that is, of haste, of unseemly and immoderate hurry-skurry, which is so eager to ‘get things done’ at once, even every book, whether old or new. Philology itself, perhaps, will not so hurriedly ‘get things done.’ It teaches how to read well, that is, slowly, profoundly, attentively, prudently, with inner thoughts, with the mental doors ajar, with delicate fingers and eyes.

—F. Nietzsche Daybreak, Preface 5
trans. J.M Kennedy