Professor Maurice A. Pomerantz
Fall 2018: 4.0 Credit Hours
Monday Wednesday
C2 E048 11:50-1:05
Office: A6 1129
phone: 87011
Office hours: TBD

Course Description

This course introduces students to two major genres of literature—epic and drama —and to fundamental terms and critical methods employed by literary scholars. Topics to be investigated include: the relationship between text and context; close vs. distant reading; the nature of authorship, genre, the interplay of local, national, regional, and world modes of categorization and analysis; translation, book history, and the relationship between literature and other forms of art. Each unit of the course is constructed around an anchoring text or texts that will be contextualized both historically and generically through a wide range of primary and secondary readings.

Learning Outcomes:

Committed students will learn to develop critical thinking and reading skills that are foundational for success in the Literature and Creative Writing major; perform close textual analysis; produce competent analytical essays; understand relations of text to context; and make connections among a variety of genres, periods, and cultural contexts; identify and analyze exemplary aspects of individual works. These outcomes will be assessed through reading reports, class participation, in-class exercises, and essays as described below.

Teaching and Learning Methodologies

This course adopts a seminar format that requires students to participate actively in class discussions. Considerable class time will be spend on the formal analysis of literary texts, which will also be placed in relevant literary, intellectual, and historical contexts through required readings and material introduced during class time. The course makes use of an online site – – that will serve as a repository for required readings, assignments, and additional course materials. Class discussions will be supplemented as needed by multimedia materials such as slides and video clips.


Students must complete all assigned coursework in order to pass the course. All required papers and other documents should be submitted electronically to both professors, clearly labeled with course name and assignment in the subject line.

No extensions will be given without sufficient extenuating circumstances and prior approval of the instructors. Unless otherwise noted, all assignments are due prior to class meeting on the due date.

  • Explication/Contextual Assignments (20%) Students are required to submit, electronically, before the midnight preceding each class for which it is assigned, a 300-word reading report that discusses an exemplary moment from the work and provides an argument as to why it is exemplary. Or alternatively, students will be asked to provides critical historical booknotes, that muster important historical/contextual information that will prove vital for the reading. Each report must conclude with two questions prompted by these discussions. Reports will be on the following basis: +/✓/–

  • Preparation and Class Participation (10%) Students are expected to come to class fully prepared, having read texts or watched films assigned for the day’s class – and thought about them carefully. (protip: don’t just annotate; spend a couple minutes at the end of your reading sessions making actual notes based on your annotations.) Participation will be assessed on the basis of both the regularity and the quality of contributions. Students will be asked to initiate discussion on occasion (using questions or explication assignments). The instructors reserve the right to use pop quizzes or in-class reading assignments on occasion.

  • Short Essay, Draft and Rewrite (20%) This essay (length: 1500 words) is designed to teach students how to perform close analyses of exemplary textual moments.

  • Final Essay (20%) Students will choose their own topics for the essay (2,500 to 3,000), with topic proposals submitted in advance for critique and approval by the instructors.

  • Examinations (30%) The midterm and final examinations are designed to give students the opportunity to synthesize class material and demonstrate broad yet detailed knowledge of the texts and ideas covered in the course.

In-Class Conduct

Students are required to arrive punctually to each class; attendance will be taken at each class. Please silence phones before the start of class. The use of tablets or computers is permitted only for accessing the web at the instructors’ request.

Texts (available in NYUAD Bookstore)

Additional Required Readings Available on


Monday September 3

Welcome and Review of Syllabus

Wednesday September 5

  • The Epic of Gilgamesh (Norton A, 95-151)
  • Homework: 300 word Exemplary Moment

WATCH: IWL “1. The Epic of Gilgamesh” Watch

Saturday, September 8

Monday, September 10

Wednesday, September 12


Monday, September 17

Wednesday, Sept. 19

  • READ: from The Ramayana (3-73);
  • WATCH: Sita Sings the Blues (

Monday, Sept. 24

Wednesday, Sept. 26

  • Ferdowsi (Davis, ed.), Rostam [selections from The Shahnameh], ix-xxv, 53-163

Monday, October 1

  • Virgil, The Aeneid, books 1-6 Ahl translation.
  • Homework: Book Notes on Virgil or Ferdawsi

Wednesday, October 3

  • Dante, The Inferno (Norton B, 387-534)

Monday, October 8

  • Milton, Paradise Lost (Norton C, 814-53)
  • Homework: Book Notes on Dante or Milton

Wednesday, October 10

  • Walcott, Omeros, (Norton F, 958-977)
  • Short Paper Draft Due description

Monday, October 15

  • Moretti, “Conjectures on World Literature” pdf
  • In class: Midterm review

Wednesday, October 17


Monday, October 22 — Friday October 26 FALL BREAK NO CLASS

Saturday,October 27

  • Review of Papers
    • Poetics of Aristotle [skim introduction, read pages 3-6 carefully] pdf

Monday, October 29

  • Poetics of Aristotle pages 7-47.
  • Borges, “Averroes’ Search” pdf
  • Short Explication of a key passage of Aristotle (300 Words)

Wednesday, October 31

Sophocles, Antigone

Monday, November 5

Sophocles, Antigone

Wednesday, November 7

  • READ: Kalidasa, Shakuntala, Norton B, 871-942*
  • Homework: Book Notes on Shakuntala 300 words

Monday, November 12

READ: Everyman, Norton Drama, 294-319

Wednesday, November 14

  • Motokiyo, Atsumori (Norton D, 5-15); Chikamatsu Monzaemon, The Love Suicides at Amijima (Norton D, 45-73)*
  • Homework: Exemplary Moment 500 words in Atsumori or Everyman

Monday, November 19

Shakespeare, King Lear

Wednesday, November 21


Monday, November 26

Wednesday,November 28

  • Ibsen, A Doll’s House, 718-769 (Norton Drama 718-769)

Monday, December 3

  • Chekhov, The Seagull in Norton Chekhov Selected Plays, 129-183.
  • Homework: Performance Notes 500 words on Chekhov

Wednesday, December 5

  • O’Neill, A Long Day’s Journey into Night (Norton Drama 1113-1192)

Monday, December 10

No Class Read Either Stoppard, Arcadia or Carol Churchill, Cloud Nine

Wednesday, December 12

Final Exam IN Class Essay

Sunday, December 16