English 255—Introduction to Literature: Heroes and Antiheroes
Dr. Michael Bryson
Sierra Tower 832

Course Description: What makes a man or woman a hero? Military conquest? Physical strength and courage? Or are quieter, less flashy traits the most important ingredients in heroism? What makes an antihero? Is rebellion against authority all that is required, or is antihero just another word for exciting villain? This course will ask these questions of a diverse group of readings drawn from West and East, and from the 17th century BCE through the 20th century CE. The goal of this course will not be to come up with a unified field theory of heroism/antiheroism so much as it will be to bring our assumptions about heroism to light, analyze them in relation to stories that present alternate models, and maybe—just maybe—adjust or expand our definitions of heroism and antiheroism.


Texts (available in the Campus bookstore--if ordering online, use the ISBN numbers to locate the exact edition referred to below):

Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others
ISBN-13: 978-0199538362
The Iliad: (Caroline Alexander, Translator)
ISBN-13: 978-0062046284
The Odyssey (Emily Wilson, Translator)
ISBN-13: 978-0393356250
The Greek Plays: Sixteen Plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides
ISBN-13: 978-0812983098
Aristophanes' Lysistrata: A Dual Language Edition
ISBN-13: 978-1940997971
The Bhagavad-Gita
ISBN-13: 978-0553213652
The Bible: New Revised Standard Version
ISBN-13: 978-0195283808
Henry V
ISBN-13: 978-0143130246
The Tragedy of Mariam
ISBN-13: 978-1904271598
Paradise Lost
ISBN-13: 978-0872206724
Jane Eyre
ISBN-13: 978-0141441146
The Master and Margarita
ISBN-13: 978-0143108276

1) Reading journals (1 page—minimum—per week of reaction/commentary/analysis in response to that week's reading selections, to be due at the beginning of each Thursday's class, beginning with week 2. No makeup or late work accepted for the journals)—280 points.
2) Midterm essay exam (5 pages in response to questions I will distribute in class. You will have one week to work on the exam out of class)—360 points (Prompt distributed in class 3/7, due in class 3/14)
3) Final paper (5 pages in response to one of a variety of possible paper topics I will provide in advance)—360 points.(Final prompt distributed in class 5/9, due via email at 11:59:59 on 5/16)

Statement on Academic Dishonesty:
Plagiarism is a serious offense that will be treated seriously. Please read the CSUN policy here.

Weekly Preview:

Week 1 (1/22): Introductions; (1/24): The Epic of Creation (Enuma Elish), Genesis 1-3

Week 2 (1/29): Atrahasis, Genesis 6-9; (1/31): Gilgamesh

Week 3 (2/5): The Iliad, Books 1-3, 6-7; (2/7): Books 16-17, 22, 24

Week 4 (2/12): The Odyssey, Books 1-2, 4.620-847, 5-6, 8-11; (2/14): Books 16-17, 19, 21-24

Week 5 (2/19): Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound; (2/21): Sophocles, Antigone

Week 6 (2/26): Euripides, Medea; (2/28): Aristophanes, Lysistrata

Week 7 (3/5): Judges 19-21, Ruth; (3/7): The Bhagavad Gita (Midterm prompt distributed 3/7)

Week 8 (3/12-3/14): William Shakespeare, Henry V (Midterm due in class 3/14)

Week 9 Off for Spring Break

Week 10 (3/26-3/28): Elizabeth Cary, The Tragedy of Mariam

Week 11 (4/2): John Milton, Paradise Lost, Books 1-2; (4/4): Books 3-4

Week 12 (4/9): John Milton, Paradise Lost, Books 5-6; (4/11): Books 9, 12.574-649

Week 13 (4/16): Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, Chapters 1-10; (4/18): Chapters 11-20

Week 14 (4/23): Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, Chapters 21-27; (4/25): Chapters 28-38

Week 15 (4/30): Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita, Chapters 1-9; (5/2): Chapters 10-18

Week 16 (5/7): Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita, Chapters 19-24; (5/9): Chapters 25-32 and Epilogue (Final prompt distributed, due via email at 11:59:59 on 5/16)