Comparative Literature | Ancient Greek and Roman Literature: Foucault’s Virginity
C521 | 27537 | Prof. Kevin Tsai


TUE/THU 11:15-12:30

This is not a stereotypical survey of the tired
old Greats. Rather, this course proposes to
examine the ancient novel, a genre that has
been neglected by many literary historians
for whom fiction is a certain mark of
modernity. Our first task in understanding
this orphan is to survey the wide range of
Greek and Roman works it draws from,
including the Odyssey, Hesiod, Sappho,
Herodotus, Plato’s Symposium, Euripides’
Hippolytus, Thucydides, Theocritus,
Menander, Ovid and other epicists, and,
above all, the sophists and the rhetoricians.
Our second task is to tackle the erotic fiction
of Chariton, Longus, Heliodorus, and
Petronius. These works will enable us to
challenge and complicate Foucault’s
influential History of Sexuality, which neglects
such “unreliable” fictional sources for
prescriptive, non-literary sources. The course
concludes by contextualizing the ancient
novel (1) in the development of early world
fiction, and (2) in relation to theories of the
(modern) novel.
This course satisfies the pre-modern
requirement for CMLT students.