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The ancient Mediterranean was a vast yet deeply interconnected world, not unlike our own. In spite of difficulties, people traversed it as traders, explorers, colonial invaders, refugees, pilgrims and even tourists. In this course, we will study both the practical realities of travel in the ancient Greco-Roman world and how the idea of journeys shaped and was shaped by these cultural contexts. We will navigate from Ithaca to Italy, from the depths of the underworld all the way to the Moon, as we read foundational travel narratives from Homer, Apollonius of Rhodes, Vergil, Lucian, and Apuleius. We will discuss how these texts represent cultural interactions, and in particular how they construct foreign “others” as well as local identities, and how they interrogate the limits and possibilities of human knowledge. Finally, we will observe how these texts themselves contribute to the emergence of a genre of travel narratives, with influences stretching to the modern day. All readings will be in English
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
class participation, several short writing assignments, quizzes, final paper
Classics and comparative literature majors and prospective majors
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit: