Myth & Contemporary Experience
Greek mythology, an enduring presence in Western thought, has provided, according to Carl Jung, the foundation of one half of our spiritual tradition. In this course we shall study how this rich mythical material has shaped modern poetry. Through close readings of modern poems and their ancient models, we will trace the way 20th-century poets appropriate and transform the classical past in order to reflect on their historical present. While viewing this function of myth as an element of modernity, we shall also explore how these poets build connections between the archetypal meaning of the ancient stories, the questions of existence, and our own contemporary lives. Readings will include Rilke, Eliot, Pound, Cavafy, Montale, Akhmatova, Borges, as well as Sylvia Plath, Joseph Brodsky, Derek Walcott, Louise Glück, and Seamus Heaney. 3 hrs. lect., 1 hr. disc.