English 165 - Spring, 2017

Topics in Poetry


Class Information

Instructor: Petrosillo, Sara
CRN: 71509
Time: TR 12:10-1:30
Location: 1134 Bainer


    More than two millennia after its creation, Ovid’s Metamorphoses has provided narrative inspiration for artists from antiquity through the present day. Though this series of tales about godly and mortal transformations includes such legendary figures as the snake-haired Medusa and sun-god Apollo, at center stage of Ovid’s collection is the art of storytelling itself, which elevates taboo subjects to the level of poetic—and often comic— masterpiece. Such dark deeds as incest, abduction, and cannibalism find their counterbalance in witty and engaging descriptions of human-animal, human-plant, and human-human transformations: the bloodthirsty werewolf Lycaon, the self-loving flower Narcissus and bodiless voice Echo, the intertwined bodies of nymph Salmacis and boy Hermaphroditus are just a few of the provocative transformations whose footsteps we’ll follow through poetic translations from Ovid’s time to the present day. Throughout the quarter, we will examine how the transformations within and of Ovid’s stories interact with premodern through poststructural theories of translation. Our goal is to come to a greater understanding of what poetry is by examining how poets have isolated elements of the Metamorphoses in their translations and how theorists have defined what translations should be and do.


    19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei (with more ways), Eliot Weinberger
    “The Task of the Translator,” Walter Benjamin (and critical essays on translation by Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida, and Gayatri Spivak, among others)
    The Metamorphoses of Ovid, Allen Mandelbaum (and other translations/transformations of the Metamorphoses)