496a/596a: The Bible as Text and Context Summer 2003
The first two weeks of the class will be devoted to an intensive survey of selected biblical texts from the Old and New Testaments. As we investigate these readings, we shall be exploring various approaches to studying the Biblephilological, historical, typological, mythological. In the remaining weeks, we shall read selections from the Bible as contexts for other works of literature in order to discover some of the ways that writers draw on the Bible as a source of language, imagery, and story. For example: the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) will be studied in connection with poems by Shakespeare, Milton, and others; the Book of Jonah will be read in conjunction with Shakespeares Tempest and (selections from) Melvilles Moby Dick Conversely, Amelia Lanyers Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum will be read in a variety of contexts: The Song of Songs, Psalms, and the (Apocryphal) Book of Judith. Students will give two brief (10-minute) reports, write two short papers (3-4 pages) based on those reports, and write an 8 to 10-page term essay.
Graduate students in the seminar will not be expected to give brief (10-minute) reports but will instead work closely with small groups of undergraduates in preparing their reports. The final essay (25 pages rather than 10) should be conceived as a potential article, with appropriate research. It will deal with the use of biblical material in a writer or work of the students choice, to be chosen after consultation with the instructor. A condensed version of this essay will be presented to the seminar as a (20-minute) conference paper.
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