CSLC 286 Ulysses: The No­Place That's Home

In this class, we will be "taking on" the myth of Ulysses, through a complete reading of several of the most important ancient and modern works devoted to it: Homer's Odyssey, James Joyce's Ulysses, John Barth’s Menelaiad, and Derek Walcott's Omeros. Traditionally, of course, the myth of Ulysses has been understood as a rather sentimental myth of nostos, or "homecoming": the hero, forced by fate into hateful foreign places, finally wins his way back to the security, stability, and contented self-sufficiency of his own native land. Or so the story goes. In this course, however, we will test the thesis that something more like the opposite of this interpretation may hold true. It may be, in other words, that the wanderings of the Ulysses figure (whether through the seas of the Mediterranean, the streets of Dublin, or the isles of the West Indies) work not so much to affirm the self­-sufficiency and comfort of home, as to trouble and destabilize it. What the heroes of these works might finally come to understand - and may even rejoice in - is not the idea that there is "no place like home," but rather that, in the end, it is only within a certain placelessness that we are ever really "at home" at all.

Credits

4 units

Core Requirements Met

  • Global Connections