Summer 2018 - ENGL 111W D100

Literary Classics in English (3)

Class Number: 5506

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo, We 12:30 PM – 1:20 PM
    BLU 9660, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Aug 8, 2018
    8:30 AM – 11:30 AM
    SSCK 9500, Burnaby



Examines literary “classics”, variously defined, apprehending them both on their own terms and within larger critical conversations. May incorporate the comparative study of work in related artistic fields and engage relevant media trends. Includes attention to writing skills. Students with credit for ENGL 101W may not take this course for further credit. Writing/Breadth-Humanities.


Greek tragedy? A whole semester devoted to Greek tragedy? Yes, and here’s the rationale. What better path into literary classics than studying the ancient world’s most famous (and infamous) genre? Greek tragedies are very exciting, even terrifying. They are not exactly the ancient world’s horror movies, but sometimes they come close, as they are scary, profound, moving and unforgettable.

Accordingly, the course will introduce students to Greek tragic drama via the study of five well-known classical Greek tragedies: The AgamemnonOedipus the KingAntigoneMedea, and The Bacchae. While we will learn conventional stuff about theme, character, setting, stage organization, audience, etc., as well as some drama theory and theatre history, the focus will be on things like the emotions (pity and fear, as well as horror), motivation, choice, suffering, knowledge, luck and fate.

Intellectual history and historical context will figure prominently, particularly in the lectures, but don't be put off by this: you are not required to have a philosophy degree, you are merely required to be attentive and curious.   

This is the course text: Mary Lefkowitz and James Romm, eds. The Greek Plays: Sixteen plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, Modern Library (2017). You must use this edition, which conveniently contains all of our plays (plus extra plays we will not read). This text also has introductions to each and every play, as well as a very good general introduction to Greek tragedy.



There are several key, overlapping goals. Learning about -- and through -- literary classics, via this venerable and much loved genre (tragic drama). Learning how to think about the ideas that animate this genre (choice, luck, knowledge, etc.). And learning about ourselves, via the emotional experience of being moved, scared, fearful, apprehensive or at the very least affected by this group of plays. Believe it or not, this can be pleasurable.


  • Tutorial participation and attendance 10%
  • 5 short, 2 page response papers, one on each play 25%
  • 1 single page in-class writing assignment 5%
  • Essay: 4 -6 pages 30%
  • Final exam (closed book/NO book) 30%





See above. You must use the following edition, which helpfully has now been issued in a fine paperback edition:

The Greek Plays: Sixteen plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides (edited by Mary Lefkowitz and James Romm).

Here is the ISBN 13: 978-0812983098

I will order this book in via the SFU bookstore.
ISBN: 978-0812983098

Department Undergraduate Notes:

IMPORTANT NOTE Re 300 and 400 level courses: 75% of spaces in 300 level English courses, and 100% of spaces in 400 level English courses, are reserved for declared English Major, Minor, Extended Minor, Joint Major, and Honours students only, until open enrollment begins.

For all On-Campus Courses, please note the following:
- To receive credit for the course, students must complete all requirements.
- Tutorials/Seminars WILL be held the first week of classes.
- When choosing your schedule, remember to check "Show lab/tutorial sections" to see all Lecture/Seminar/Tutorial times required.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.