[Milton-L] Final lines -- an observation

Ryan Paul ryanspaul at gmail.com
Thu Feb 24 12:41:41 EST 2011


One resource I forgot to mention:

The Illustrator/writer Eric Shanower is working on a 7-volume graphic novel
adaptation of the *Iliad *called *Age of Bronze*. It is meticulously
researched and quite engaging. It goes far beyond Homer's story, however,
incorporating just about every tale related to the cause and aftermath of
the war that you can think of: the youth of Achilles, the rape of Helen, the
feigned madness of Odysseus, the sacrifice of Iphigenia, through to the fall
of Troy and the death of Achilles. Unfortunately, he's only through the
first part of volume 3, getting us to the Achaeans arrival at Troy.

http://age-of-bronze.com/

Best,
Ryan Paul

On Thu, Feb 24, 2011 at 12:33 PM, Ryan Paul <ryanspaul at gmail.com> wrote:

> Jim,
>
> As a graduate student I once gave a presentation on teaching the epic. I
> made some notes from a number of sources on the subject, and I've pasted the
> appropriate ones in this email. They are not at all comprehensive, but they
> may give you a few ideas and point you in the right direction.
>
> Best,
> Ryan Paul
>
> *Myrsiades, Kostas, ed. Approaches to Teaching Homer's "Iliad" and
> "Odyssey." New York: Modern Language Association, 1987.*
>
>
>
> Prose or Verse translation? <#12e58bb47631e906__ftn1>
>
>    - Prose: Accessibility; student literacy issues; more accurate
>    rendering of text; English verse not suited to Greek poetic style.
>    - Verse: Maintain distinction between epic as a poetic form rather than
>    an early novel; preserve lofty tone, elevated style, emotional impact and
>    intensity.
>    - (Approximately 75% of faculty polled at the time prefered verse
>    translations. Richard Lattimore is the top *Iliad* choice with
>    Fitzgerald a distant second (Lattimore's *Iliad* praised for its
>    stateliness and authenticity over Fitzgerald's more "impressionistic"
>    translation). Fitzgerald's *Odyssey *takes the top spot by far over
>    Lattimore's, and is praised for being more fun to read. )
>
> *McLeod, W. "The Iliad and the Odyssey as Great Literature." 34-40.*
>
>
>
> McLeod asks the obvious question raised by the title of his article: what
> makes literature "great"? The greatness of Homer generally is taken for
> granted by us literary types, but that doesn't mean that students (whose
> knee-jerk reactions often will be to think of Homer as old, dusty, and
> irrelevant) will agree. One criterion McLeod offers: the emotional impact of
> the poem in its portrayal of universal human nature.
>
> *Zaslavsky, Robert. "On Recovering Homer." 41-46.*
>
>
>
> Zaslavsky takes the opposite stance, that the reader must be as Odysseus,
> wandering through an exotic landscape. The goal is to preserve the
> strangeness of the texts (even though they deal with values and issues not
> totally foreign to modern readers) and understand that the appeal of the
> poems lie in their exotic nature. He insists on reading the poems together
> as the multi-faceted presentation of a complex and alien culture, rather
> than reading them as precursors to modern literature or culture.
>
>
> [J. Frank Papovich takes a similar approach in "Focusing on Homeric Values"
> (47-56); he argues that one way for students to approach the poems is to
> attempt to use them to recover the moral codes governing Homer's world.
> Ditto for Michael N. Nagler's "Homeric Epic and the Social Order" (57-62).
> John E. Rexine's "The Concept of the Hero" (71-76) also suggests focusing on
> Homer's somewhat alien texts, in particular their anthropocentric character
> vs. the Hebrew Bible's theocentric character.]
>
>
>
> *Economou, George D. "Teaching Homer in Honors Composition." 84-88.*
>
>
>
> Economou writes about his experience teaching both of Homer's epics to a
> freshman composition class: "My position . . . was that to read Homer is not
> only an educational necessity but a special privilege as well and to think
> and write about his poems a unique pleasure" (85).
>
>
>
> Schedule: ~3 books per week.
>
>
>
> Assignments:
>
> 250-word journal assignment due every class, un-graded but required, used
> to launch discussion.
>
>    - First journal: On Keats' "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer":
>    analyze the progression of metaphors and similes in the poem. Which one best
>    expresses the poet's euphoria?
>    - Some other journal themes: character description; the role of the
>    gods; Achilles' character arc; interactions between men and women; Achilles
>    vs. Odysseus; unfamiliar poetic conventions; social customs; moments of
>    humor or extreme pathos; moments of insight into human nature; the
>    importance of Homer to later writers; Odysseus in Hades; defenses of the
>    Achaians/Trojans & debates between "champions" of each side.
>
>
>
> Papers, including:
>
>    - Describe a personal experience analogous to the one in Keats' poem.
>    - Short research paper on some topic (birth of Aphrodite, Zeus vs. the
>    Titans, the building of Troy, etc.) and application of it to an
>    understanding of the poems. Research materials include not only scholarly
>    works but other classical texts.
>
>
>
> Caveat: Avoid the temptation to foist too much literary discussion or
> history on students; instead focus on the texts as spurs for writing.
>
>
> *MacEwen, Sally. "Homer as the Door to Critical Theory." 101-107.*
>
>
>
> Unit 1: The Historical Context
>
>    - Goals: To imagine the setting of the poem's composition, the
>    realities of life, the nature of the heroic mythology, the attitude towards
>    the past.
>    - The nature of the oral poet vs. the modern writer and the
>    implications that has for the nature of poetry, words, fiction vs. history,
>    the definition of literature.
>    - Since Homer's predecessors are unknown, how much of the literary
>    context do we need to understand the work? What makes it "original"? How
>    important are the epic conventions in understanding it?
>    - What is the relation of myth to truth? How much does
>    presentation/style influence perceptions of truth?
>    - What are the choices Homer has in creating his poem? (How) does he
>    overcome stylistic limitations?
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> Unit 2: The Significance of Style
>
>    - Goals: To explore the relationship of style to meaning in Homer's
>    poems.
>    - How do epic similes work to complicate the concrete and "superficial"
>    style of Homer's poetry? Can they spawn more abstract or complex ideas than
>    are carried in the literal, concrete words?
>    - How do moments of divine intervention function, as literal or
>    metaphorical events?
>    - How does Homer handle chronology?
>
>
>
> Unit 3: The Power of Writing
>
>    - What is the relation between the structural unity of the work and the
>    particular artistic choices made in the details?
>    - How do the large movements and the small moments work together?
>    - How do readers make connections between expression and idea?
>    - How do readers work to unify the text, and is it equally unified to
>    all readers in all times?
>    - <#12e58bb47631e906__ftn1>
>
> [In "What the *Iliad* Might Be Like" (108-113), George E. Dimock
> encourages a somewhat similar mode of analysis, with the focus on
> encouraging students to experience the poem on an emotional level through
> the close analysis of images/descriptions and what they evoke. Barbara
> Apstein makes a similar case in "Actively Engaging Students with Homer's
> Poetry" (114-118), saying that emotional engagement with the poem is the
> best way to overcome student apathy, and that only after this connection to
> the poem is made can true intellectual engagement with the work follow. In
> "The Study Question: An Avenue to Understanding Homer" (119-124), Elizabeth
> A. Fisher stresses the importance of guiding students with focused study
> questions prior to each class session, so that students will have examined
> particular elements of the text that prepare them for the larger themes of
> the lecture.]
>
>
> *Powers, Janet M. "Teaching War Literature, Teaching Peace." Journal of
> Peace Education 4 (2007): 181-191. <#12e58bb47631e906__ftn1>*
>
>
>
> Powers explores the ways in which various forms of war literature
> (including classical epics) can be incorporated into a "peace studies"
> curriculum, an emerging pedagogical method that assumes a human propensity
> towards goodness and cooperation.
>
>    - "An epic, by definition, must include a battle. Epics thus tend to be
>    written in the early stages of a civilization, when it first begins to flex
>    its muscles, savours victory, and seeks to celebrate its success" (182).
>    - Epics tend to be repeated across cultures. The British and American
>    educational systems in particular often have identified with Greek and Roman
>    epics, celebrating their glories as their own.
>    - Such traditional interpretations must be questioned, and the
>    subtleties and nuances of epic poetry encourage critical engagement. For
>    example, Homer and Virgil both offer detailed vignettes of those killed,
>    creating a sense of the unique human loss involved in each death.
>    - Such moments contrast with the ethos of heroic individualism and
>    reveal the complex realities of warfare. Yet, Homer's inability or refusal
>    to offer an alternative to the view that conflict is an inescapable part of
>    human life asks us to reconsider the adequacy of our own ways of thinking.
>
>
> [For a different pedagogical use of the *Iliad*, see Ted Westhusing and
> Tom Palaima's "Epic Tale of Facing Up to Achilles Heel," *The Times Higher
> Education Supplement*, June 11, 2004. This article describes an exercise
> at West Point wherein cadets re-enacted various battles from Homer's epic.
> Among the lessons learned: the importance of chance in battle (Hektor
> sometimes died during his Great Day of Success, and Patroklus sometimes came
> back alive), the importance of traditional martial values such as those
> espoused by Homer, and the dangers of the rabid pursuit of individual
> glory.]
>
> *Glasser, Jane Ellen. "Finding Ithaca: The Odyssey Personalized." The
> English Journal 83 (1994): 66-69.*
>
>
>
>    - Goal: To encourage students to personally engage with the *Odyssey*by reading Odysseus' journey as a model for the travels, explorations, and
>    obstacles faced in their own lives.
>    - Major discussion topics: nature of heroism; what makes Odysseus
>    heroic; Odysseus vs. other heroes (Batman, Gandhi, MLK, Luke Skywalker,
>    etc.); role of the gods in helping or hindering Odysseus.
>    - Final project: narratives of their personal odysseys, read through
>    the lens of the *Odyssey*.
>
>
> *Margaret Fleming, ed. Teaching the Epic. Urbana: National Council of
> Teachers of English, 1974.*
>
> the book has a sample reading of the *Iliad* illustrating epic themes and
> techniques, and the following suggestions for class projects:
>
> 1.      Explore one of the following aspects of the epic or its culture:
> clothing; social customs; food & eating habits; education or training of
> heroes; music; the place of women; art; weapons; values or ideals;
> relationships of men and gods/God; relationship of men and nature; symbolism
> – animals, numbers, color, etc.; foreshadowing – dreams, visions,
> prophecies, etc.
>
> 2.      Write an analysis of the leading characters and trace the fatal
> flaw in each.
>
> 3.      Analyze the structure.
>
> 4.      Identify the epic conventions and explain their effects.
>
> 5.      Analyze the role of settings.
>
> 6.      Explore one aspect of language: compare translations; vocabulary
> words based on this epic; analyze the use of personal names or place names;
> stories, sayings, or expressions that come from the epic; compare a
> translation with the original.
>
> 7.      Compare the philosophies of 2 epics.
>
> 8.      Compare the behavior of the hero with that of a modern hero.
>
> 9.      Compare an incident in the epic with a similar modern situation.
>
> 10.  Look up the mythology or legends of the epic & compare with other
> myths or legends that you know.
>
> 11.  Read, summarize, and compare modern stories based on incidents or
> characters from the epic.
>
> 12.  Write some lines or verses based on the form of the epic.
>
> 13.  Write a modern epic.
>
> 14.  Write and produce a play using the theme and plot of the epic.
>
> 15.  Write a story about a character in the epic.
>
> 16.  Find art forms other than literature that are based on the epic.
>
> 17.  Make graphic illustrations of life at the time of the epic.
>
> 18.  Make models or puppets that show the clothing and weapons of the
> time.
>
> 19.  Organize a sports tournament with games and sports similar to those
> described in the epic.
>
> 20.  Make models of the buildings, fortifications, or ships in the epic.
>
> 21.  Prepare a banquet using the foods and customs described in the epic.
>
> 22.  Make up a board game based on the epic.
>
> 23.  Draw a map of the journeys, campaigns, etc., mentioned in the epic.
>
> 24.  Make a PowerPoint presentation of one incident in the epic.
>
> 25.  Make a collage based on the epic.
>
> 26.  With other students, role-play one of the situations in the epic.
>
> 27.  With other students, stage mock interviews of the characters of the
> epic.
>
> 28.  Make a comic strip based on the epic.
>
>
>
> <#12e58bb47631e906__ftnref1>
>
>
>
>
>
> On Thu, Feb 24, 2011 at 11:12 AM, James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>wrote:
>
>> On a note related to our very interesting discussion of the Iliad: I'll be
>> teaching the Iliad for the first time this coming Fall in a Comparative
>> Mythology course.  Any suggestions for teaching it?  Suggestions for
>> individual or group activities, recommended approaches, companion texts,
>> other works to pair with it, etc., would all be appreciated.
>>
>> Thank you,
>>
>> Jim R
>>
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>>
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>
>
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