Fall 2024


3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

CompLit 185X/CLS-STDY 185: Adapting to the Present: Rewriting Ancient Greek Classics in Contemporary Fiction

Emily Greenwood

“We are still mythical” as Kae Tempest intones in Brand New Ancients (2013, p.1). This course will analyze creative rewritings of ancient Greek literature in contemporary Anglophone fiction, spanning the novel, lyric poetry, and drama. We will also read Han Kang’s Greek Lessons (in Deborah Smith’s and Emily Yaewon’s translation, 2023) as an innovative counterexample of how to write with and back to ancient Greek literature in contemporary fiction. Broadly, we will consider why and how contemporary authors turn to ancient Greek literature and myth to give form and fresh meaning to contemporary experience, ranging from autofiction to crises of culture, politics, and society. The authors studied in this course come from several different countries and write from diverse cultural, ethnic, racial, religious, and LGBTQ backgrounds. In addition to analyzing the dynamics of rewriting works received as classics of world literature, we will also study what happens to the alterity of antiquity in the process of adaptation and rewriting. Above all, this course is an opportunity to analyze and discuss some stunning contemporary Anglophone fiction. We will study works by Anne Carson, Natalie Diaz, Michael Hughes, Daisy Johnson, Tayari Jones, Han Kang, David Malouf, Alice Oswald, Kamila Shamsie, Kae Tempest, and Ocean Vuong.

In Person