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The Odyssey: Estrangement and Homecoming

Semester and Year SP 2017
Course Number IDSEM-UG1457
Section 001
Instructor Laura Slatkin
Days W
Time 3:30 PM - 6:10 PM
Units 2
Level U
Requirement   HUM, PREMOD


Course meets during the first seven weeks only, First Class: January 25; Last Class: March 8.


One of the two foundational epics of so-called Western Culture, the  Odyssey  features a wily hero whose journeys are extraordinary and whose longing for home is unbounded. The  Odyssey  offers a complex meditation on brotherhood, bestiality, sexuality, kinship, and power; it is the great epic of cross-cultural encounter, in all its seductive and violent aspects, as well as the great poem of marriage. An adventure in nostos (homecoming), the  Odyssey  shows us the pleasures and dangers of voyaging among strangers. Constantly exploring the boundaries between the civilized and the savage, the poem offers as well a political critique of many ancient institutions, not least the family, patriarchy, hospitality customs, and the band-of-brothers so central to epic ideology. And as a masterwork of narrative art, the  Odyssey  asks us to consider the relation of fiction to “truth.” We will explore these and other matters in the  Odyssey , and may make some concluding forays into contemporary re-workings of Odyssean themes and characters.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)