Explorations and Encounters


2013/14 Group A

What is exploration and what have we encountered on exploratory journeys? Adventures and explorations take on many forms and are driven by diverse and often conflicting motivations, including a quest for knowledge and experience or a desire for power through conquest. Pursued with the help of a guide or prodded on by the shock of an intruder, explorations have many points of departure and can lead in unanticipated directions; they may seek after far horizons or probe the hidden realms of our own minds.

Explorations can unfold in space and in time, and through physical or imaginative journeys via histories or novels, drama or film, philosophy or poetry, science or religious thought. From encounters between the familiar and the foreign, the ancient and the modern or the literal and the symbolic, this course charts an itinerary of explorations that mark the pathways of ceaseless human ambition. We will assess the rewards and the costs of such pursuits, considering their moral, political and psychological impact on individuals and on societies. With such rich literary, historical, philosophical and cultural encounters to explore, who knows where our odyssey might take us?

Lecture Schedule:

Term One:

  • week one (Sep 9): Homer, The Odyssey [Deanna Kreisel]
  • week two (Sep 16): Lucretius, On the Nature of Things [Brandon Konoval]
  • week three (Sep 23): Dante, Inferno [guest: Stephen Guy-Bray]
  • week four (Sep 30): Chaucer, Canterbury Tales [guest: Siân Echard]
  • week five (Oct 7): The Book of Margery Kempe [Arlene Sindelar]: lecture slides (pdf)
  • week six (Oct 15): Travels of Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta [Arlene Sindelar]
  • week seven (Oct 21): More, Utopia [Brandon Konoval]
  • week eight (Oct 28): Las Casas, Destruction of the Indies and Mann, 1491 (selections) [Renisa Mawani]
  • week nine (Nov 4): King, The Truth About Stories, Sanders, “The Undiscovered,” and Maracle, “Goodbye, Snauq” [guest: Daniel Heath Justice]
  • week ten (Nov 12): Nashe, The Unfortunate Traveler [Gavin Paul]
  • week eleven (Nov 18): Shakespeare, Othello [Gavin Paul]
  • week twelve (Nov 25): Voltaire, Candide and selected readings [Arlene Sindelar]

Term Two:

  • week one (Jan 6): Defoe, Robinson Crusoe [guest: Scott MacKenzie]
  • week two (Jan 13): Austen, Northanger Abbey; Shaun of the
    [Miranda Burgess]
  • week three (Jan 20): Shelley, Frankenstein [Deanna Kreisel]
  • week four (Jan 27): Wells, Island of Doctor Moreau and selections [Gavin Paul]
  • week five (Feb 3): Marx/Engels, Communist Manifesto and selections [Renisa Mawani]
  • week six (Feb 11): Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth [Renisa Mawani]
  • week seven (Feb 24): Kipling, Kim [Deanna Kreisel]
  • week eight (Mar 3): Ghosh, Sea of Poppies [Renisa Mawani]
  • week nine (Mar 10): Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist [Gavin Paul]
  • week ten (Mar 17): Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front [Arlene Sindelar]
  • week eleven (Mar 24): Sacco, Safe Area Gorazde [Gavin Paul]
  • week twelve (Mar 31): Kincaid, A Small Place and selections [Deanna Kreisel]
  • week thirteen (Apr 7): Review [All]

Term One:

  • Homer, The Odyssey (Penguin, 1996; 978-0140268867)
  • Lucretius, On the Nature of Things (Hackett, 2001; 978-0872205871)
  • Dante, Inferno (Penguin, 2006; 978‐0140448955)
  • Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales
  • The Book of Margery Kempe (Penguin, 1986; 978-0140432510)
  • Marco Polo, Travels of Marco Polo (Penguin, 1958; 978-0140440577)
  • Ibn Battutah, The Travels of Ibn Battutah (PAN Macmillan, 2003; 978-0330418799)
  • Thomas More, Utopia (Broadview, 1992; 978-1551119663)
  • Bartholomé de Las Casas, Destruction of the Indies (Penguin, 1992; 978-0140445626)
  • Charles C. Mann, Americas Before Columbus (Vintage, 2006; 978-1400032051)
  • Thomas King, The Truth About Stories (Minnesota, 2008; 978-0816646272) plus William Sanders, “The Undiscovered,” and Lee Maracle, “Goodbye, Snauq”
  • Thomas Nashe, The Unfortunate Traveler (Penguin, 2006; 978-0140430677)
  • William Shakespeare, Othello (Oxford, 2003; 978-0199535873)
  • Voltaire, Candide (Broadview, 2009; 978‐1551117461)

Term Two:

  • Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (Broadview; 978-1551119359)
  • Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (Oxford; 978-0199535545)
  • Edgar Wright, Shaun of the Dead (film)
  • Amitav Ghosh, Sea of Poppies (Penguin, 2009; 978-0143053415)
  • Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (Broadview, 978-1554811038)
  • Marx/Engels, The Communist Manifesto and selections (Marx on India) (Penguin, 2002; 978-0140447576)
  • Rudyard Kipling, Kim (Broadview; 978-1551115214)
  • Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front (Ballantine, 1963; 978-0449213940)
  • Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (Grove/Atlantic, 2005; 978-0802141323)
  • Joe Sacco, Safe Area Gorazde (Fantagraphics, 2002; 978-1560974703)
  • Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Houghton Mifflin-Harcourt, 2008; 978-0156034029)
  • Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place (Farar, Straus & Giroux, 2000; 978-0374527075)