Homer’s Odyssey: A Three-Part Course with Dr. Joseph Luzzi

Homer’s Odyssey: A Three-Part Course with Dr. Joseph Luzzi


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What makes Homer’s Odyssey one of the most celebrated works in the history of literature? Why have so many authors and artists over the centuries looked to the Odyssey for inspiration? How do its themes – homecoming, nostalgia, loyalty, honor – continue to resonate in our contemporary world? 
This course will provide participants with an in-depth exploration of one of the most influential epic poems in Western literature. We will cover such key issues as: 
  • the identity of “Homer” and how scholars continue to debate the poem’s authorship to this day
  • the relation, the similarities, and especially the differences, between the Iliad and the Odyssey
  • the connections between the pagan gods and the humans they interact with
  • the psychological depth and complexity of characters including the protagonist Odysseus, his wife, Penelope, and his son, Telemachus.
Descriptions of each conversation in this course are enclosed below. For more information on this topic, we invite you to explore Homer’s Iliad: A Three-Part Course with Dr. Joseph Luzzi.

Lecture 1: Odyssey, Books 1–8
Our first discussion will focus on the Odyssey before the actual appearance of the hero, Odysseus, with an emphasis on how the characters Penelope and Telemachus handle his long absence from their home in Ithaca, as it is besieged by suitors who are all seeking to marry Penelope.
Lecture 2: Odyssey, Books 9–16
Our second discussion will discuss some of the celebrated adventures of Odysseus, including his journey to the land of the Cyclops, his encounter with the Sirens, and his various escapes from one perilous situation after another.
Lecture 3: Odyssey, Books 17–24
The focus of our final discussion will be on Odysseus’s return home to Ithaca and his battle with Penelope’s suitors as he attempts to regain control of his kingdom and reestablish his life as Penelope’s husband and Telemachus’s father.

Joseph Luzzi received his Ph.D. from Yale University and is a Professor of Comparative Literature and Faculty Member in Italian Studies at Bard College, where he has taught since 2002 after being a visiting faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania. A frequent contributor to publications including the New York Times, TLS, and Chronicle of Higher Education, he is the author of 5 books, including My Two Italies, a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection and In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love, a Vanity Fair “Must-Read” selection. His work has been translated into multiple languages and his many awards include a Yale College Teaching Prize, Dante Society of America Essay Prize, and Wallace Fellowship at Villa I Tatti, Harvard’s Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. In 2017 he was named Cittadino Onorario/Honorary Citizen in Acri, Calabria, his Italian parents’ birthplace. His next book is Botticelli’s Secret: The Lost Drawings and the Rediscovery of the Renaissance, which will be published by W. W. Norton. Professor Luzzi is the founder of the Virtual Book Club, an online community of readers dedicated to exploring some of the best books ever written. Learn more at JosephLuzzi.com.

How does it work?
This is a three-part series held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.
Is there a reading list in advance?
Though the course is open to participants with no background on this topic, there are suggested readings for further investigation which will be provided at the course's conclusion.
How long are the lectures?
Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.
How much is the course?
The course is $105 for three lectures.
Is a recording available?
Yes. If you need to miss a lecture, you will be sent a recording after the event.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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