Classics 44/CompLit 18.5/English 50.91: Makings of Pastoral Myth

3 hours; 3 credits [Tuesday & Thursday, 1:40-2:55, but in addition active in Blackboard on-line]

Description: Pastoral, a powerful mode of mythic imagination, studied in its roots & transformations, including ramifications all over the W{orld-}W{ide-}W{eb}: plots & themes (herdsmen as lovers, rulers, & poets; kings as herdsmen & poets [David]) originating in ancient Mediterranean cultures & still at work in imagination today. Return & change of basic mythemes to meet the challenges of new times & worlds.

Prerequisite: Core Studies 1 or permission from the instructor.

Discussion: The course will introduce the social & geographical matrix in which the pastoral comes into being as a special form of work, distinct from the city, hence available as a point of reference & comparison for the analogies & metaphors of mythic thought.
    Students will look at early occurrences of pastoral motifs & learn characteristic motifs & patterns, so as to recognize them in the new forms they assume in later cultural moments.
    Students will thus acquire a powerful analytical & synthetic tool for the work of cultural criticism, enhanced, too, by careful attention to their writing.

Course requirements, in addition to assignments to read & discuss, will include two essays on topics arising from reading & discussion.

Syllabus

Week 1 [January 28 & 30].

Look for motifs of time, place, kinds of work (special roles in country & in city, e.g. weaving, herding, ruling the unruly), the arts (song which joins poetry & music). Look for sets of motifs that recur in different contexts & how they resemble yet differ (similarity yet difference).

Readings: Read before coming to class so that we can discuss the following:
Jan. 28: Sumerian mythology [very present on the world-wide web, also by some kooky kults, so beware]:
        Inanna & Dumuzi [compare to Psalm 23, "prepareth a table"), also Inanna & her lover, the shepherd king Dumuz.
    Jewish tradition: Moses [very present, but a basic text]: his birth & marriage also in another version;
        Moses as shepherd & what he sees & hears;
        David, shepherd, psalmist & king: some background, not required but fascinating,
        Roman Catholic encyclopedia &  also an unorthodox view) together with fuller scholarly background for it.
       Psalm 23
Jan 30: Greek:
        Homer, shield of Achilles Iliad 18(th book=scroll or volume).(lines) 478-607 [as translated by Richmond Lattimore]
               another text of the shield [also outline of motifs by JVS & many discussions on the web.
              Homer, The Cyclops Polyphemus Odyssey 9(th book=scroll or volume)
       Hesiod, Theogony, Invocation to the Muses [lines 1-29 lines 30-51 lines 52-62 lines 63-102]


Weeks 2 & 3 [February 4 & 6, 11 & 13]
2. Theocritus. Readings:, Idylls 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 11
    Feb. 4: Idyll  1
    Feb. 6: Idyll  2, 3, 4
    Feb. 11: Idylls 6, 11
    Feb. 13: Idyll 7

Week 4, 5, & 6 [February 18 & 20, 25 & 27, March 4 & 6]

3. Virgil. Readings: Bucolics 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
    Feb. 18:    1 [recursive to Theocritus (Idd. 7 & 3 & 1; also Hesiod, Theogony 1-102]
    Feb. 20:    2 & 3 [recursive to Theocritus (Idd. 11, 2, 6; Homer, Odyssey 9]
    Feb. 25:    4 & 5 [recursive to ???]
    Feb. 27:    6 & 7 [recursive to previous eclogues? to Theocritus? to Homer?]
    Mar. 4:    8 & 9   [recursive to previous eclogues? to Theocritus? to Homer?]
    Mar. 6:    10    [recursive to previous eclogues? to Theocritus? to Homer?]

Working essay due: on a topic arising from reading & discussion.


Week 7, 8, & 9 [March 11 & 13, 18 & 20, 25 & 27]

4. Spenser. Reading: Shepheardes Calendar, 1, 4, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12; Fairie Queene, Sixth Book 1-7; Cantos IX-XII
    Mar. 11:    SC 1
    Mar. 13:    SC 4 & 6
    Mar. 18:    SC 9-10
    Mar. 20:    SC 11-12
    Mar. 25:    FQ



Week 10

6. Milton

Reading: Lycidas

Working essay due: on a topic arising from further reading & discussion

Week 11 7. Wordsworth

Reading: Preludes, Book 1

Week 12

Selections from Dickens, Bleak House.

Weeks 13 & 14

8. Frost

Reading: North of Boston

Working essay due: on a topic arising from further reading & discussion

Week 15

Final examination: a final, comparative report will be handed in.

Required Texts:

Bible

Theocritus, Idylls

Virgil, Eclogues

Spenser, Shepheardes Calendar, Faerie Queene

Milton, Lycidas

Wordsworth, Preludes

Charles Dickens, Bleak House,

Frost, North of Boston.

E-mail Professor Van Sickle