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


Admission requirements

A relevant BA degree. If in doubt, please contact the tutor.


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 timetable will be available by July 1st on the website.

Mode of instruction

2-hour seminar per week

Course Load

The course load is 280 hours:

  • 26 hours of tutorial

  • 195 hours of reading primary and secondary material, and preparing the brief presentation

  • 59 hours for research and writing of the research paper.
    The hours above are an approximate calculation only. Some students read fast and write slow and vice versa.

Assessment method

Evaluation of this course will be on the basis of participation in class discussion + an oral presentation (30%) and of a written paper of ca. 5,000 words (70%)


This course is supported by Blackboard.

Reading list

-Homer, The Iliad, trl. Robert Fagles, 1990
-Homer, The Odyssey, trl. Robert Fagles, 1996
-Christopher Logue, War Music, London: Faber, 2001 (the Faber edition which contains the trilogy War Music, The Husbands, and Kings)
-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
-Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad, Edinburgh: Canongate, 2005
-Simon Armitage, The Odyssey, London: Faber, 2006
-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
-Texts in Blackboard.


Students should register through uSis. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, tel. 071 5272251 or mail.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply

Contact information

MA Literary Studies departmental office, Van Wijkplaats 3, room 002A. Tel. 071 527 2251 or mail.
Coordinator of Studies Master: Ms T.D. Obbens, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 103B.