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Odysseys of Homer: Appropriations of the Iliad and Odyssey in 21st-century Anglophone culture


Admission requirements

Priority is given to students with admission to the Master Literary Studies, Research Master Literary Studies, Research Master Arts, Literature and Media and the two year Educational Master in English from ICLON. These students have priority of placement.
Students from other Master programs are welcome to apply. Feel free to contact the study adviser to see if there are still places available.


In this course we will read Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey (in translation), and study part of the most recent history of their Nachleben, namely, the various ways of appropriation of these poems by American, Australian, Canadian, and British poets and novelists in the twenty-first century, and the variety of approaches to Homer’s work which made this appropriation possible, such as Modernism, Postmodernism, postcolonialism and gender studies. We will also (literally) have a look at two film adaptations of Homer’s work, viz. by the Coen Brothers (O Brother, Where Art Thou) and Wolfgang Petersen (Troy).

Course objectives

Based on the assumption that participants have already acquired the basic skills for the analysis of literary (and visual) texts, this course aims to extend these skills both in terms of textual analysis (close reading) and contextual approach (cultural-historical as well as theoretical). Students will be encouraged to share analytical and theoretical views on the texts ascribed in class discussion including short presentations, and to focus research skills on a relevant subject of their own choice within the parameters of the course in the form of a final research paper.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Two-hour weekly seminar/ tutorial

Assessment method


Evaluation of this course will be on the basis of participation in class discussion + an oral presentation (30% of final mark) and of a written paper of ca. 4,000 – 4.500 words (70% of final mark).
A sufficient grade (6.0 or higher) for both the presentation and the final paper is required for completion of the course.
If the final grade is 5 or less students may only resit the final paper. Attendance is compulsory. Unauthorized absence will mean that you will fail to get credits for the course.
Students in the Master Education programme are able to reflect on the relevance of the chosen topic for the Dutch secondary classroom.
Research Master students should write a longer research paper (5,500) words, which should also offer a substantial and sophisticated theoretical reflection on the topic.


  • End of term paper : 70%

  • Oral presentation + participation in class discussion: 30%


In case of an insufficient final grade, only the final paper may be revised.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

The following list of texts/ films needs to be purchased and studied:

  • Homer, The Iliad, trl. Robert Fagles, 1990

  • Homer, The Odyssey, trl. Robert Fagles, 1996

  • Elizabeth Cook, Achilles, London: Methuen, 2001

  • David Malouf, Ransom, London: Chatto & Windus, 2009

  • Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles, London etc.: Bloomsbury, 2011

  • Alice Oswald, Memorial, London: Faber and Faber, 2011

  • Pat Barker, The Silence of the Girls, Penguin 2018

  • Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad, Edinburgh: Canongate, 2005

  • Simon Armitage, Homer’s Odyssey, London: Faber, 2006

  • Madeline Miller, Circe, London etc.: Bloomsbury, 2018

  • Zachary Mason, The Lost Books of the Odyssey, London: Jonathan Cape, 2010

  • film: Coen Brothers, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, 2000

  • film: Wolfgang Petersen, Troy, 2007


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal

Coordinator of studies:


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