Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Two courses on the reception of classical mythology in Fall 2016

Dear Mythographers and other Friends,
    You might like to know about my F2016 courses:
 “Reception of Classical Myth in the Arts in the Modern Era” Clscs 490R/Clscs 690R. MW 1:00 – 2:15 p.m.   and "Studies in Themes and Types: The Eurydice Theme" CmpSt 640R M 8:00 — 10:45.
     The courses are intended to explore theoretical and practical issues pertaining to the reception and adaptation of classical myth in the arts — literature, cinema, opera, painting, sculpture, landscape,
orchestral, graphic novel, television, video game, whatever. In particular, we will look closely at reception of two mythological figures especially: Electra and Pygmalion in the one, Eurydice in the other.
ad for 2012 Perth Opera's Elektra (Strauss)

In our exploration, we will deliberate on what constitutes usage of a classical myth, a sometimes challenging enterprise.
   We will read classical mythological treatments, such as are found in Sophocles, Euripides, and Ovid, and then proceed to standard treatments of Electra and Pygmalion in representations such as Strauss’ Elektra, O’Neill’s Mourning Becomes Electra, Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, Lerner & Loewe’s My Fair Lady, Hitchcock’s Vertigo, and so forth. Student contributions in this seminar will drive collective success; thus, I am loathe to dictate up front what the
parameters of our study will be. Once we establish the groundrules for the course, the direction will be subject to interesting twists and turns. Hundreds of usages of these myths are available for consideration.
Jean-Leon Gérôme's Pygmalion
           Please contact me with any questions you might have.

Imaged here: Strauss’ Elektra, Gerôme’s Pygmalion and Galatea,
                   Miller’s (actually Bendis/Austen's) Elektra: Assassin, Lerner/Loewe’s My Fair Lady

Both these courses will allow me to explore matters pertaining to reception of classical myth with the students.
   The CmpSt 640R should have a broader base of theoretical readings, because the course should be pertinent to individuals from every walk of our program’s life. There ought to be more interdisciplinarity in that course.
Frank Miller developed
Elektra, but others have
adapted the character.
    The Clscs 690R will have some of that, but perhaps a good deal less than CmpSt 640R ought to have.
       Further, Clscs 690R will be taught in a room that is largely populated by undergraduates (I hope!) who are enrolled in the 4xx-level course.
In both I will be expanding my core articles for the eventual OGCMA-online project. The 690R course will involve the creation of two articles, while the CmpSt 640R will be more focused and result in the creation of only one article. See below.

Differences will be readily apparent in the topics approached. Beyond the theoretical groundwork, the Clscs course will explore the reception of both the Electra myth and the Pygmalion myth, while the CmpSt course will dig as deeply as we can into the Eurydice myth.
    In the Eurydice course (CmpSt 690R) I hope to sideline Orpheus as much as possible and look for interesting psychological developments of Eurydice in myth and the arts. She deserves her own scholarship, and artists have been exploring Eurydice for a long long time. Geoffrey Miles stated (erroneously, I believe) that Edward Dowden’s 1876 “Eurydice” is “perhaps the first serious attempt to give Eurydice a voice and to see the Orpheus-Eurydice relationship from her point of view.” (Miles, 126) Dowden post-dates the Orfeo by Gluck (libretto by Calzabigi, 1762), whose Euridice expresses her plaintive rather pathetically and takes matters into her own hands, by over a century. (Gluck Orfeo premiered 1762.) But Gluck/Calzabigi may not be the first in this regard.

Poster for My Fair Lady.
   In the Electra/Pygmalion course, disparate mythological strands will be united by the common fact that OGCMA-print lacks adequate depth. Electra deserves her own article and Pygmalion’s cinematic reception is not even remotely explored by JDReid et co. Pygmalion is one of the trickiest test-cases for my anally myopic theoretical rules on reception, especially because I doubt that most descendants of My Fair Lady know anything about the classical myth that lies before it. You know this about me. As for Electra, some fascinating receptions of Electra come into play cinematically — Il Pistolero dell’Ave Maria, or Electra, My Love, or the Jennifer Garner Elektra —among others. This course, the Clscs 490R/690R ought to find us looking into lots of films.

Let me know if I can clarify anything.

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