Menlo School Faculty & Staff


Countless literary and cultural motifs can be traced back directly to Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, and this course aims to do just that. Whether we speak of Campbell’s somewhat problematic “Hero’s Journey,” coming of age, the nostos (homecoming), hubris (overweening pride), temptation, or sacrifice, The Odyssey has it all. What is more, there is probably no single text that has been more frequently and creatively reimagined in all its complexity, whether retold from another perspective (as in Maragaret Atwood’s Penelopiad) or completely transformed (as in Stanley Weinbaum”s A Martian Odyssey or Arthur Clarke’s and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey). This course aims to help students to read ancient Greek epic poetry closely and critically in English translation; to understand it in its social, historical, material, religious, and performance contexts; to relate the cultures which produced it to our contemporary culture in its diversity; to speak and write clearly and coherently about the issues that emerge from critical reading and comparison of cultures. Most days will be occupied by Socratic-/seminar-style discussion of assigned readings and/or viewings, and the course will be capped by a research project in which students either analyze a modern text with Odyssean echoes not covered in class or write an original short story (screenplay, etc.) of their own that is informed by The Odyssey and/or other texts that have followed in its rich tradition in the almost three millennia since its initial creation.

Instructor: Dr. Garvey