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First-Year Seminar (101-6-1)


What Makes a Classic?


Jennifer LeeAnne Cecelia Weintritt

Meeting Info

Allison Residential Comm 1021: Tues, Thurs 2:00PM - 3:20PM

Overview of class

How does a work of literature become a "Classic?" What defines the "classical" style in art, music, and architecture? What belongs in the canon or educational curriculum, and who decides? Most importantly, what do a society's answers to these questions tell us about its values and cultural identity?

To answer "What Makes a Classic?," we'll divide our attention between the literature and art that constitute the canon and the critical apparatus that maintains this special status for certain works while excluding others. In the first half of the quarter, we take Vergil's Aeneid and its reception as our focus. Later we'll turn to classics from other premodern cultures, such as the Icelandic Sagas and the 11th century Japanese novel The Tale of Genji, and conclude with students' own ideas about recent cultural products that have the potential to become classics.

Class Materials (Required)

Bartsch, Shadi, trans. 2021. Vergil. The Aeneid. New York: Modern Library. (ISBN 978-1-9848-5412-4)

Class Attributes

WCAS First-Year Seminar

Enrollment Requirements

Enrollment Requirements: Reserved for First Year & Sophomore only