“Reading the Odyssey”: A New Sunoikisis Course in Translation

During the spring 2015 semester, Sunoikisis continues its initiative to introduce enduring works of Greek literature to a broad, undergraduate audience. Building on the success of last year’s “Reading the Iliad”, faculty at eight institutions are offering “Reading the Odyssey”, a team-taught course that aims to guide students through methods and approaches to close reading and interpretation.
“Reading the Odyssey” brings together approximately 100 students from Agnes Scott College, Carthage College, Concordia College, Howard University, Southwestern University, University of Findlay, University of Maryland, and Warren Wilson College. Over 12 weeks, students are reading the Odyssey in a focused way, averaging two books each week, and in turn responding to writing prompts in working groups made up of participants from all collaborating institutions. Each week, a synchronous common session meeting, utilizing Google Hangouts on Air, connects professors and students. During the common session, all professors, along with a few student presenters, discuss the conversation thread for their group that week. At the same time, all students will participate in a chat room together.
Dr. Gwen Gruber (Center for Hellenic Studies) directs the course and coordinates the collaborative team of faculty members from Classics, English, and Rhetoric programs around the country. Participating faculty include: David Bradshaw (Warren Wilson), D. Ben DeSmidt (Carthage), Ryan C. Fowler (Franklin and Marshall), Heather Gruber (Concordia), Hal Haskell (Southwestern), Kenny Morrell (Rhodes), Polyvia Parara (Maryland), Lindsay Samson (Agnes Scott), Caroline Stark (Howard), and Christine Tulley (Findlay). The faculty members designed the course on Homer’s Odyssey, incorporating and supplementing content from CB22.1x: The Ancient Greek Hero, a MOOC offered by Gregory Nagy through HarvardX (www.edx.org).
One can follow the course’s progress at https://sunoikisis-odyssey.chs.harvard.edu/. Videos of the weekly common sessions are available for free and the course syllabus will be updated continuously throughout the semester as the writing prompts, supplementary readings and videos are announced.
For additional information about Sunoikisis courses in translation, read the case-study published in The Academic Commons. Produced by the faculty who offered “Reading the Iliad” in 2014, the article explores the rewards and challenges of a hybrid course; the role of MOOCs not only as courses, but as sources of content; and the ability of online, inter-institutional courses to establish connections and foster an inclusive sense of community.