In this seminar, we explore how contemporary American literature articulates issues in diversity and identity via themes, stories, and images drawn from classical (Greek and Roman) antiquity. Far from being 'dead letters' belonging solely to 'dead white men,' the classics are important sources of inspiration and creativity--as well as controversy and debate--for authors representing diverse American identities today, including African-American, Latinx, LGBTQ, Native American, religious minorities, regional identities, and more. To consider diversity in such categories as race and ethnicity, social class, gender and sexuality, immigration, regional identity, and religion, we focus on American literature since World War II, in connection with the most relevant ancient sources, in comparison with films, and in contexts of scholarship and criticism. (Offered every other year.) Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or consent of instructor; coursework in, or demonstrated knowledge of, classical or contemporary literature and relevant scholarly methods desirable but not required.
The Capacities | Understanding Diversity