I have not drafted full course syllabi for these courses, but these are courses I would love to teach one day.
Ancient Myths, Modern Myths, and Why We Need These Stories
This course pairs a few ancient mythological works (primarily Greek tragedy, but the specific texts can be adapted easily) with two striking genres of modern mythology–fairy tales and comic books. Students will be asked to critically approach recent movies and comic books/graphic novels and read the ancient texts against modern texts to explore what stories mean to societies and why mythological stories have such an enduring presence throughout human literary culture.
Potential texts include:
Film: Into the Woods, Marvel’s Civil War (and the rest of the Avengers movies), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Watchmen.
Television: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Supergirl.
Comic Books/Graphic Novels: Black Panther (Ta‑Nehisi Coates), Watchmen (Alan Moore), Irredeemable (Mark Waid).
Tragedies would be chosen to suit the modern texts, but prime candidates include: the Oresteia, Antigone, Trojan Women, Oedipus at Colonus, Trachiniae, Philoctetes, Iphigenia at Aulis, Medea, Bacchae.
Women’s Voices of Strength and Lament
This course would focus on poetry written by women throughout history and would also ask the students to produce their own poetry at points throughout the course. It will look at the topics that are considered appropriate (by external critics) for women authors and the different responses that female poets make to the imposition of a specifically female genre. It will also look at the traditionally “feminine” topic of love and heartbreak and look at how queer and heterosexual love manifest in female poetry and what, if anything, marks the female poetic voice as something distinct.
Potential authors include:
- Adrienne Rich
- Maya Angelou
- Sylvia Plath
- Audre Lorde
- Elizabeth Alexander
Lyric, Invective, and the Voice of the Poet
This course will ask students to read ancient and modern lyric and invective texts against each other to help them gain an understanding of abuse as a genre. By the end of this course, students should feel comfortable distinguishing the poet’s constructed persona from the author and analyzing the complex rhetorical choices around self-presentation made by agonistic poets.
Potential texts and authors include:
- Alexander Pope
- Eminem (and the movie 8 Mile)
- Selections from competitive poetry contexts: symposium games (skolion and other types of ritualized abuse), Norse flyting, rap battles, capping, playing the dozens,” and others.