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Semester 2

Beauty and the Greeks: Aesthetic approaches in Greek literature (in translation) (CLTR10025)


Classical Literature in Translation





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Visiting students should usually have at least 3 courses in Classics, History or Archaeology (at least 1 of which should be in Classical Art and Archaeology) at grade B or above for entry to this course. We will only consider University/College level courses.** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **

Course Summary

This course explores the concept of beauty in texts written in Greek from the Classical Antiquity to Medieval Byzantium. It aims to bridge the gap between word and image, and seeks for a common understanding of aesthetics changing over time.

Course Description

What is beauty? Are there many beauties? Can beauty be dangerous or will beauty save the world, as Dostoyevsky asserts? This course explores the transformations of this key notion in literature written in Greek (in translation) from the seventh century BC to the fourteenth century AD. Drawing comparisons with products of the visual culture, the course invites a parallel understanding of art and literature throughout the centuries and seeks to understand how literature written in different forms of the Greek language shaped our modern aesthetic concepts. Can pre-modern literature written in Greek help us reshaping our reception of the sensible world and shake modern idea(l)s about beauty?Placing texts (and artefacts) in their respective socioeconomic circumstances the student will become familiar with changing social structures and values from Classical Greece to Late Byzantium. The student will discover why visual aspects were given a priority in aesthetic experiences and how beauty was to be felt by all senses. The student will further explore various forms of beauty (everyday, human, natural, and artistic beauty) and the ramifications of the terms k?llos and k?smos (both often mis-translated as "beauty"). Is beauty different from the sublime? What is the relation between beauty and desire, and can religions control its force? How does memory define beauty? And, is bodily beauty an exclusively female attribute? All are questions to be addressed in the eleven weeks of the term. By the end of the course, the student will be able to speak about aesthetics and argue on the transformations of this fundamental but elusive notion.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 40%, Coursework 40%, Practical Exam 20%

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