Eng 107–Survey of Western Literature I

WOU Moodle — complete course support materials and discussion site (requires WOU password/course enrollment)

The English department recommends Eng 107-108-109 for English and Language Arts majors; since these majors go on to take full sequences in British and American literatures, the Western literature sequence minimizes its inclusion of those texts, focusing instead on continental Europe.

The Fall quarter covers the literature of ancient Greece and Rome. Topics and texts include the epic, the origins of drama (tragedy and comedy), myth, and satire. Since literature by its nature invites the study of the culture which produced it, we will be examining the values of the Greek and Roman societies as we discuss their literature. Students should expect to develop a basic vocabulary for literary study alongside the vocabulary relevant specifically to classical texts.

While we can only touch on a select few texts as we whiz through 1000+ years, the goal is to develop your acquaintance with the forms of literary expression used by artists and thinkers in the ancient world. At times, this may seem like a history course, but we’ll examine the expression of human nature in the texts which transcends the historical context as well as try to understand the cultural differences. Literature teaches us about people, about ourselves as a species: in figuring out where to go, it helps to know where we’ve been.  Keep in mind that ‘the past is a foreign country’ — and in this case, we’re dealing with both foreign countries and our collective cultural past.

Let me encourage you to explore some of the web sites I’ve linked to — see the “Eng 107 Resources” page — to supplement and expand on what we can cover in class. Several of the linked sites offer additional background to, for example, the Trojan War or the Greek gods, while others take you on a virtual guided tour of Athens or invite you to view a theater mask inside and out. On this site, too, you will find study questions, handouts on reading hints, character lists, lists of terms (useful for review for the tests), and more. I’ve put the pages together to help you, not for my own benefit, so please explore what’s there and feel free to offer suggestions as to what else might be helpful. (And please, let me know if any links go “dead”!)