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CLAS 432 A: Classical Mythology In Film

Hercules Unchained Movie Poster
Meeting Time: 
MW 7:30am - 9:50am
Location: 
* *
SLN: 
12544
Joint Sections: 
C LIT 357 B
Instructor:
Clauss with students in Rome
James J. Clauss

Syllabus Description:

Classics 432 A and C LIT 357 B

Classical Mythology in Film

Winter 2021

MW 7:30-9:50

Zoom

Instructor: James J. Clauss, Department of Classics

Office: Denny Hall M262F (difficult to find); tel. 543-2266 (department office phone)

E-mail: jjc@uw.edu

Office Hours: By appointment

Holidays: January 18 and February 15

 

Required Texts:

 

  1. Fagles, The Three Theban Plays (Penguin)
  2. Hadas and J. McLean, Ten Plays of Euripides (Bantam/Doubleday/Dell)

Select Wikipedia articles

 

Read the material assigned for each topic (see below)

View and discuss the films.  It is important that students view the movies in class.

 

Midterm due Monday, February 8 at midnight. 

Final projects due Wednesday, March 10, last day of class, at midnight.

Final Examination due Friday, March 19, 10:20 AM.

 

Goals of the Course:

 

By studying major, in most cases authoritative, versions of ancient myths that were turned into films and comparing the ancient and modern renditions, students will be able to observe what modern cinematic narrators were drawn to and interested in achieving in their filmed versions of the myths and at the same time gain further insights both into the ancient stories and modern narratives. We shall focus on thematic differences and similarities, cinematic technique, and intended audiences, among other things, including how to read films as literary narratives. Finally we will explore in particular the mythological structure of the katabasis (see below), which plays out in the lives of every human being as well as many films.

 

Midterm and Final Essays

 

There will be two take-home exams, a midterm and final.  The examinations will cover information and themes pertinent to the ancient stories and include several essays regarding their modern renditions.  All information needed for these exams will be covered in class; there is no course book that will provide this.

 

Final Project

 

The final project involves the creation of a cinematic myth, either by way of a written description of an imagined filmed version of an ancient Greco-Roman myth that the student would make if s/he were a director/screen writer/cinematographer in an 8 page paper (double spaced, 12 point type; I will provide a sample story) or by an original film (we will see examples of student films during the class). Final projects are due the last day of class.  Examination of how the directors adapt ancient myths for their films will provide further models and inspiration for this project.  A major take-away from the project is that students will experience firsthand how one goes about imagining and plotting a mythic narrative in a cinematic form, but also how to read a film from a directorial/screen writer’s perspective, a skill that is easily transferable to all films.

 

Films:

 

For further information on the films, please consult http://www.imdb.com. Please note, that for the films shown through Swank, you will need to use a browser such as Chrome or Firefox. Safari will not work. Orphee and Star Wars should be fine on any browser. Edipo Re, Hercules Unchained, and Medea are on a Google Drive whose link I will send to you.

 

Clash of the Titans (1981), Desmond Davis, Director; art director Ray Harryhausen

 

https://alliance-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/f/kjtuig/CP71337928740001451

 

Edipo Re (1967), Pier Paolo Pasolini, Director

 

Google Drive

 

Hercules Unchained (1959), Pietro Francisci, Director

 

Google Drive

 

Medea (1970), Pier Paolo Pasolini, Director

 

Google Drive

 

Desire under the Elms (1958), Delbert Mann, Director

 

https://alliance-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/f/kjtuig/CP71338076290001451

 

Iphigenia (1977), Michael Cacoyannis, Director

 

https://alliance-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/f/kjtuig/CP71337928710001451

 

Orphée (1949), Jean Cocteau, Director

 

https://washington.kanopy.com/node/113458

 

The Searchers (1956), John Ford, Director

 

https://alliance-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/f/kjtuig/CP71313529560001451

 

Star Wars: Episode 4 – A New Hope (1977), George Lucas, Director

 

https://archive.org/details/StarWars16mm

 

 

Schedule of Films and Discussions

                                    Monday                                  Wednesday

 

Week 1                        Introduction                            Clash of the Titans

 

Week 2                        Discussion                              Edipo Re

                       

Week 3                        Holiday                                   Discussion

 

Week 4                        Hercules Unchained               Discussion

 

Week 5                        Medea                                     Discussion

 

Week 6                        Desire under the Elms            Discussion                             

 

Week 7                        Holiday                                   Iphigeneia

 

Week 8                        Discussion                              Orphée

 

Week 9                        Discussion                              The Searchers

 

Week 10                      Star Wars                                Discussion

 

Schedule of Readings

 

                        Monday                                              Wednesday

 

Week 1            Introduction                                        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perseus

 

Week 2            Oedipus Rex (Fagles)                         Oedipus at Colonus (Fagles)

 

Week 3            Holiday                                            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heracles                                    

Week 4                                                                        Medea (Hadas)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jason   

                       

Week 5                                                                        Hippolytus (Hadas)   

       https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theseus

                                                                                  

Week 6                                                                        Iphigeneia (Hadas)                    

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agamemnon

                                                                       

Week 7            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orpheus                                                                     

 

Week 8            TBA                                                    TBA

 

Week 9            TBA                                                    TBA

 

Week 10          TBA                                                   

 

NB On the days of discussion, the first half of class will focus on the movie seen in the previous class and the second half will be preparation for the next film. Please do the readings prior to the day they are mentioned in the schedule.

 

Grades will be based on the following:

 

Midterm Essays                                                                                              35%

Final Essays                                                                                                    35%

Final Project                                                                                                   30%

 

Important UW policy-related things to know:

  • The UW's Religious Accommodations Policy:“Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy (Links to an external site.). Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (Links to an external site.).”
  • The UW's Student Conduct Code: "The University of Washington Student Conduct Code (WAC 478-121) defines prohibited academic and behavioral conduct and describes how the University holds students accountable as they pursue their academic goals. Allegations of misconduct by students may be referred to the appropriate campus office for investigation and resolution. More information can be found online at https://www.washington.edu/studentconduct/."(Links to an external site.)
  • Access and Accommodation: Your experience in this class is important to me. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please communicate your approved accommodations to me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course.

If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DRS at 206-543-8924 or uwdrs@uw.edu or disability.uw.edu.  (Links to an external site.)DRS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions.  Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DRS.  It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.

 

 

 

 

Elements of the Katabasis Motif

 

The journey undertaken by the hero leads to the realm of the dead (literal or figurative).

 

The traveler comes and goes, often at night and often through caves or over rivers, and frequently needs advice from a guide.

 

The region is forbidding, often in the control of a despotic ruler who commands frightening underlings.

 

One or more of those going with the hero on the journey frequently dies (a sort of sacrificial victim).

The purpose of the journey typically involves bringing back some important item, information or a person.

 

The hero effectively undergoes a death of the old self and rebirth into a new role.

 

The successful hero can attain one or more benefits apart from the purpose of the quest: power, knowledge, wisdom, courage, marriage, (re)integration into society, maturity, and/or the ability to face other quests in the future.

 

Catalog Description: 
Comparison and discussion of classical myths and modern films inspired by them. Promotes access to the reading of classical mythology. Analyzes significant differences between ancient literary and modern cinematographic representations of the myth.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Credits: 
5.0
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
October 13, 2020 - 9:16am
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