L: Literary Masterpieces
A sampling of literature considered masterworks by the societies that nourished and celebrated them. We will read, largely in translation, two works from each society. In each case the two works rise from differing contexts or moments in the histories of these societies: ancient Greece, medieval England, Japan, China, the Muslim East, and modern Africa and Brazil. We will examine the historical context around the composition of each work, how these works reflect often contrasting moments in the histories of these societies (and the world), and how the formal choices the writers made in these works both reflected and transcended the literary traditions from which they sprung. We will look carefully at issues of translation, canon and genre, as well as representations of gender and class and their impact on the works. Finally (and obviously), we will read for pleasure and inspiration as well as understanding.