World Literature A

What can I learn from the core books of western civilization about the world and myself?

Why Take This Course?

Throughout this course, students will read many of the core books of the Western world. We will witness Odysseus fighting his way back to his loyal wife Penelope; listen to the gods speak of how they created Rome; glimpse into the cave where Beowulf slays a dragon; rub shoulders with characters like Antonio, Portia, Hamlet, Romeo and many more. During this journey in World Literature A/B, we will discover the humanity that helped create the Western world, and we will hopefully discover our own.

Course Framework

Unit 1Unit 2Unit 3Unit 4
What does The Odyssey teach me about the roots of Western civilization?The New Testament vs. Beowulf - what could be the result of this dialectic?What is the Zeitgeist seen within the writings of Shakespeare?How does the birth of the novel and a heroine like Jane Eyre mark a change in Western literature?
What is the tradition of the West?What is the Hero Myth cycle and how does it help me to better understand literature?What are literary forms?What makes the novel such a popular and “modern” literary form? How does Jane’s first-person narration impact us as readers?
What is a core book?Who was the man Jesus, according to his disciples?What cultural shifts are nascent in The Merchant of Venice?What Victorian social norms might Bronte be commenting on in Jane Eyre?
What does The Odyssey teach me about Greek culture, social morés and people? How does Beowulf represent a synthesis of ancient and Christian cultures?What cultural ethics does Hamlet struggle with? Why does it take him so long to act?What kind of heroine is Jane? Does she follow the pattern of the Hero Myth Cycle?
How has The Odyssey influenced and shaped Western culture and thought?How has the Beowulf influenced and shaped Western culture and thought?What is the real tragedy of Romeo and Juliet?
How does poetry create and the Satyr transform?How has Shakespeare’s writings influenced and shaped Western culture and thought?
Who are the Greek and Roman gods?

Texts and Materials Students Must Purchase

Homer*The Odyssey
Charlotte Bronte*Jane Eyre
William Shakespeare*The Complete Works of Shakespeare
*Free versions of these books are provided in electronic format.


  • Recommended Grade: 12th (Senior)
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Versions & Estimated Weekly Hours: Classic: 5 Hours / Honors: 7 Hours
  • Format: Live/Self-Paced
  • Credits: 0.5

*We recommend students take this course in conjunction with World Civilizations.

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