I work at a university and decided to take a class this semester. It’s been a very long time since I’ve taken a class or written a paper. The focus of the course is explained in the following syllabus description:
This course will introduce students in a practical way to the study of literature and culture. We will experiment with various approaches to reading that allow us to make sense of texts, to understand and appreciate them, to see how they fit into and work off literary traditions. We will read, talk about how we read, and practice reading together. We will also write about the texts we’ve read and practice ways to communicate persuasively our experience of these texts. In short, we will practice doing interpretation rather than study theories of interpretation. We will, nonetheless, study and attempt to use some of the basic terms and concepts of literary interpretation. The theme of the course will be the journeys that literature makes possible. Our base will be the first great literary journey, Homer’s Odyssey. We will then follow the many permutations the Odyssey takes as it is (re)presented in subsequent texts, films, and even a pop song.
So far we’ve read Homer’s Odyssey, Virgil’s The Aeneid, excerpts from Dante’s Inferno, and poetry from Tennyson and Du Belay. Our recent second paper was focused on one of the poems we had read in class. I chose “Ulysses” by Tennyson. Something in that poem spoke to me. It’s kind of crazy but I felt a sense of “renewal” and “hope” writing this paper. On the surface we have an old man in the twilight of his life reminiscing about his travels. He wants to go on one last journey. This old man is supposed to be Ulysses/Odysseus. And as I read the words I noticed a journey of discovery jumping out at me. Even though our bodies may be slow or old our minds are still ever working. It doesn’t matter what age we are but the discovery and search for knowledge will always be constant. Perhaps I’ll post my paper here once I get it back. For now I’ll just post the poem itself. Enjoy.
Here is a link to “Ulysses” by Tennyson.