Comparative Literature | Culture and the Modern Experience: Tracing the Odyssey Through Time and Space
C155 | 17647 | Marie Valverde


MW 9:30-10:45
fulfills A&H and CS requirements
*2nd 8 weeks class only*


“Odyssey,” according to Merriam-Webster, is “a long wandering or
voyage usually marked by many changes of fortune” and/or “an
intellectual or spiritual wandering or quest .”  The English word
“odyssey” derives from the Greek Odusseia, which simply means “the
story of Odysseus,” a Greek hero who took ten tumultuous years to
travel from Troy after the end of the Trojan War to his home in Ithaca
on the western coast of Greece.  The Odyssey, the tale of Odysseus, is
attributed to the bard Homer in the 8th century BCE.  The exact date
that Homer’s epic tale of Odysseus was formally written down and by
whom is still debatable, but since its creation in the archaic period
The Odyssey has witnessed an endless variety of recreations and
representations in different cultures and throughout different time
periods.  Indeed, The Odyssey implicitly and explicitly creeps up in a
number of genres from novels to plays, from science fiction to
cartoons, from animated comedies to musicals, and from films to short
stories, and it appears in a number of diverse cultures from South
Africa to the Caribbean, from the English Renaissance to modern day
Greece, from Germany to Russia, and on and on.

Beginning with The Odyssey itself, we will take a close look at the
plot, themes, characters, and structure.  We will then examine a
variety of recreations in different times and cultures.  As we explore
various representations, we will seek to answer the question, why The
Odyssey?  What can it offer us today?  Why are there so many
recreations of The Odyssey, and what does each one suggest about the
particular culture that produced them?  By examining numerous
recreations, we will learn about different cultures, about our
culture, and ultimately about ourselves.  To be sure, by surveying
representations of The Odyssey, we will engage in a voyage through
time and space and unravel the “many changes of fortune” that define
who we are.