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Why not take a literature class online this summer -- from ME?

What do all these movie titles have in common?

  • East of Eden, starring James Dean

  • Pale Rider, starring Clint Eastwood

  • Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, starring George Clooney

Or what about these famous works of literature?

  • Absalom, Absalom, by Tony Morrison

  • The Son Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway

  • Paradise Lost, by John Milton

All of the above titles contain biblical allusions -- references to stories or characters in the Bible which, if understood, provide a key to unlock the major themes of the stories being told.

It is safe to say that every writer -- or at least every Russian, European, and American writer -- prior to the mid-20th century had a level of biblical literacy ranging from casual to significant. Just about every reader did too! This shared knowledge of the one over-arching story of mankind and its hundreds of sub-stories led to a common language known as allusions. The briefest mention of a serpent or a garden, a wilderness or a river crossing, or even the breaking of a piece of bread was enough to carry a massive payload of implied meaning from the writer to the reader.

Today, we live in a completely different world. The vast majority of readers have little to no familiarity with biblical characters or tropes. Therefore, some of the deepest layers of meaning and resonance in classic works of literature are lost on the modern (or post-modern) reader.

(This isn't just about the older "classics," by the way. There is a reason Harry Potter's mark was on his forehead, and also why he could not possibly stay dead! Also, Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction?? Loaded with biblical language, albeit interspersed with a plethora of profanity.)

The purpose of this course will be to provide students with a set of skeleton keys with which to unlock a deeper, fuller meaning in the texts that we read (and the movies we watch). The course will have two commingled aspects:

  • A fairly comprehensive chronological overview of the stories within the One Story of the Old and New Testaments, with an eye to identifying the most commonly resurrected symbols, tropes, types, and archetypes from these stories

  • A wide range of readings from short stories, poems, plays, and novels in which to practice identifying the allusions and understanding the layer they add to the literary work.

How will this work??

The class will be "synchronous." That means twice a week during a pre-scheduled time (Mondays and Wednesdays somewhere between 2 p.m. and 4:55 p.m.) we will Zoom for one hour discussions of reading assignments. So, we will have that "face to face" time twice a week.

(If you cannot always "meet" at those times, I can make other arrangements to Zoom with you!)

In addition, I am pre-recording weekly 15-20 min. lectures, which I'll be uploading to Canvas via my YouTube channel. I am also setting up very cool multi-media Discussions around songs and movie clips that contain allusions.

Want more information??

Contact me:

Here are the details for registration:

(603) 206-8120

Course Name: Topics in Literature: Allusions and Allegories

ENGL 200

CRN: 30783

Cost: $705

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