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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.
G. R. Lomer, ed. The Student’s Course in Literature.

A College Curriculum in Literature: General Literature

By Gerhard Richard Lomer (1882–1970)

132. The Study of Literature
To get the most out of his reading, especially if it is to be on an extensive scale, the student should have some idea of the aims and functions of literature. He should realize that the student must be more systematic than the “general reader,” and he should reflect upon what he has read to the end that he may form his own definite personal attitude to literature and what it stands for. This course is intended to suggest some of the points of view and some of the methods that he may find profitable.

Reading:Balfour; Harrison; Birrell; Godkin; Schopenhauer; Arnold; Bagehot; Brandes; Green; de Staël; Sumner; Vogüé; Voltaire.

133. Masterpieces of the World’s Literature
This course is designed with two purposes: first, to provide an introduction to the classics of the world which everybody should know; and secondly, to give a broad foundation in general culture which will serve as a basis for subsequent reading. In this course the student becomes familiar with the highest literary achievements of many countries and many ages. He touches the things that the world will not let die. He reaches the sources of what Matthew Arnold calls “sweetness and light”—the springs of true culture.

Reading:Plato; Aristotle; Dante; Boccaccio; Cervantes; Shakespeare; Goethe; The Old Testament; The New Testament; Arabian Nights.

134. Primitive and Ancient Literature
In the modern world of novels and periodicals the reader sometimes forgets that food stories have lived through the centuries since the world was young. In distant China, in mysterious India, in the remote corners of the Mediterranean, and in the uttermost parts of the earth have been preserved the stories that were told when the world was young. The quaint simplicity, the naïve technique, the fundamental human nature of these stories can be appreciated only by reading the original texts in translation. They serve as an antidote to modern oversophistication and they become a source of permanent delight.

Reading:Egyptian Literature; The Accadian-Babylonian and Assyrian Literature; The Literature of the Euphrates Valley; Tahitian Literature; Myths and Folk-Lore of the Aryan Peoples; Japanese Literature: Folk-Song; The Ballad.

135. A Study of the Epic
What is an epic? How does it differ from other poetry? What are the great epics? These are some of the questions the student will answer fully after the reading of this course. Hector and Achilles and Ulysses will be his companions at the Siege of Troy; Æneas will show him how the Roman Empire had its small beginning; and Beowulf will take him through the mazes of the adventurous North. To the student interested in comparative literature and in a broad view of world literature, this course is indispensable.

Reading:Homer; Virgil; Tasso; Dante; Anglo-Saxon Literature; Milton.

136. An Introduction to Lyrical Poetry
The perfection of literary expression has been reached in the lyric. On this delicate instrument have all the poets played, and their inspiration has ranged from the idle feeling of an empty hour to the deepest emotions of the human spirit. Literature is here nearest to music. Many poems, such as the early ballads, were even intended to be sung. Elizabethan England was so full of poets that it was called “a nest of singing-birds.” For variety of subject-matter and for flexibility of form the lyric is unsurpassed, and the student may profitably study both of these aspects.

Reading:Sappho; Theocritus; Bion; Moschus; Indian Literature; Petrarch; Michaelangelo; Ronsard; Sidney; Shakespeare.

137. Masterpieces of the World’s Drama
Great civilizations have always produced great dramas. This course is intended to give an introduction to the study of dramatic masterpieces and a brief survey of the greatest masters of the drama from the time of the Greeks to the present day. It forms a dramatic reading course in itself, but it is also planned to be an introduction to the specific drama courses of the different countries, and to prepare the student for a study of modern dramatic composition.

Reading:Æschylus; Sophocles; Euripides; Aristophanes; Plautus; Terence; Molière; Racine; Corneille; Marlowe; Shakespeare; Ben Jonson; Goethe.

138. Great Poems of the World
The great poems that have been regarded as classics are worthy of study apart from the minor literature with which they are surrounded historically. This course aims to familiarize the reader with the world’s greatest poems of all ages and countries. It selects only those with which every cultured man or woman should be familiar. George Eliot once said that the fundamental motives of enduring literature were “hunger and labor, seed-time and harvest, love and death.” The student will find in these poems the proof of this thesis as well as a portion of the literary heritage of the ages which he cannot afford to neglect.

Reading:The Iliad and the Odyssey; Dante’s Divine Comedy; Tasso’s Jerusalem Delivered; El Cid; Milton’s Paradise Lost; Goethe’s Faust; Tennyson’s In Memoriam.

139. Introduction to the History of Fiction
This course is planned to introduce the reader to the world’s greatest stories. It is essentially an introductory course and is not intended to be exhaustive. As a beginning he will read examples of early tales and mediæval romance. The landmarks in the history of fiction are then indicated, and the student’s own taste will decide to which of the other courses on fiction he will proceed after completing this introduction.

Reading:Egyptian Literature; Japanese Literature; Æsop; Vishnu Sharma (Pilpay); Boccaccio; Chaucer; Rabelais: Lesage; Arthurian Legends; Aucassin and Nicolette; The Ballad; Sidney; Spenser; Lodge; Bunyan; Richardson; Fielding; Rousseau; Scott; Dickens; Thackeray; Dumas; Maupassant; Zola; France.

140. Introduction to Critical Theory
To read intelligently and in such a way as to develop his power of judgment and of critical appreciation, the student must do two things: (1) he must become familiar with the masterpieces of the world’s literature, so that his taste is educated by association with the best that has been felt, thought, and written; (2) he must develop a theory of criticism which will enable him to estimate the value of a work, to place it historically, and to discuss it intelligently from the point of view of technique. This course is planned to introduce him to some of the general phases of literary criticism.

Reading:Aristotle; Horace; Boileau; Pope; Voltaire; Schopenhauer; Arnold; Brandes.

141. Continental Literary Criticism
Some of the world’s greatest literary critics are to be found in France and Germany. No student of literary criticism can afford to neglect this phase of comparative literature. The purpose of this course is to give the student a general idea of the masters of modern European literary theory.

Reading:Boileau; Voltaire; Schopenhauer; Brandes; de Staël; Vogüé; Sainte-Beuve; Taine; Brunetière.

142. The Literary Essay
The essay is one of the most charming forms of prose literature, with a long and honorable history behind it, and a future which depends upon the vision and the taste of the age. The student will find here much to interest him, whether he approaches with the dominant point of view of a literary historian, or whether he seeks merely for food for thought pleasantly set before him to satisfy the meditation of an idle hour. The reading may be taken up in any order. For convenience the division by countries has been followed, as a classification by subjects is almost impossible owing to the richness of the field.

Reading:The student will read the references given in the following courses: 37. French essays; 93. The Development of the English Essay; 94. Essay writers of the nineteenth century; 95. The essay in the Early Twentieth Century; 130. American Essays

143. The Modern Drama
No phase of modern literature is so closely connected with the life of the people as the drama is. Whether its aim be merely to amuse or whether its function be also to instruct, it is to-day one of the most popular of literary forms and one that is showing the greatest vitality and growth. The student of modern drama and the lover of the theatre will find in this course the material for a deeper enjoyment and a more thorough understanding of the drama of to-day. He will also be able to appreciate the various tendencies of writers in the different European countries and will have a sound basis for his personal tastes or for constructive criticism.

Reading:In addition to a careful study of ‘The Drama of the Early Twentieth Century,’ and the ‘Early Twentieth-Century Drama,’ the student will read the following dramatists: Goethe; Oehlenschläger; Grillparzer; Delavigne; Hertz; Pushkin; Hugo; Słowacki; Gogol; Augier; Dumas, Jr.; Ibsen; Sardou; Pailleron; Strindberg; Wilde; Shaw; Brieux; Hauptmann; Schnitzler; Galsworthy; Rostand; Phillips; Hofmannsthal.

144. Fables
All over the world one of the earliest forms of teaching has been the Fable. To the student of primitive literature, psychology, ethnology, or children’s literature, such as a course as this serves as a brief introduction to an extensive, complicated, and fascinating subject.

Reading:Æsop; Babrius; Vishnu Sharma (Pilpay); La Fontaine; Müller.

145. Letters and Memoirs
Letter-writing has been called a lost art, but there is still a perennial fascination which the record of other times holds for those who are now living. This course has a two-fold aim: (1) To show the reader the charm and interest of the world’s great letter-writers, with their individuality of expression, and their personal sidelights on great events or intimate scenes. (2) To lead the student to an appreciation of the broader fields of biography and memoirs which show history in the making or are the record of the development of the individual soul—the only thing that Browning considered worth while.

Reading:Cicero; Plutarch; Alciphron; Abelard; Baber; Erasmus; Luther; Cellini; Vasari; Bacon; Selden; Browne; Fuller; Evelyn; de Sévigné; Pepys; Newton; Hamilton; Addison; Montagu; Chesterfield; Voltaire; du Deffand; Franklin; Goldoni; Wilhelmine von Bayreuth; Johnson; Walpole; Foote; Casanova; Boswell; Young; Jefferson; A. Adams; Bentham; Mirabeau; J. Q. Adams; Beethoven; Eichendorff; Pellico; Lockhart; d’Azeglio; Newman; Quinet; Berlioz; Mahony; Sand; Maurice; de Guérin; Darwin; Mendelssohn; Fuller; Bismarck; Craven; Amiel; de Goncourt; Grant; Parton; Renan; Sarcey; Ritchie; Moore.

146. Hymns and Religious Poetry
Much of the finest and loftiest poetry has been inspired by religious emotion. This branch of literature is too often neglected because it is scattered and not easily available. The purpose of this course is two-fold: (1) to bring before him the masterpieces of modern hymnology which are sung in every church or known in every home; (2) to introduce him to the great poems of consolation and the great English elegies which have sustained and comforted thousands.

Reading:Alcuin; Saint Victor; Saint Francis of Assisi; Bernard of Cluny; St. Bernard of Clairvaux; John and Charles Wesley; Watts; Bowring; Adams; Songs and Lyrics; Milton’s Lycidas; Shelley’s Adonais; Tennyson’s In Memoriam.

147. A Survey of Contemporary Literature
We are living in an age of enormous literary production. To read well the student must select widely. This course is arranged with the aim of selecting what is worth while in the writing of to-day and of introducing the student to the more noteworthy writers with whom he should be familiar. At the same time his attention is called to the more important movements and schools that have manifested themselves in recent years. As the purpose of this course is to acquaint the reader with the general ideas and tendencies that underlie the complex social and ethical conditions of contemporary life, the student will become acquainted with various expressions of these ideas on the Continent, in England, and in America.

Reading:The Drama of the Early Twentieth Century,’ ‘Fiction in the Early Twentieth Century,’; ‘Early Twentieth-Century Poetry,’; ‘The Irish Literary Renascence’; ‘Early Twentieth-Century Drama,’ ‘Early Twentieth-Century Fiction,’ ‘Early Twentieth-Century Essays,’; ‘Early Twentieth-Century Poetry,’ Nietzsche; Ibsen; Maeterlinck; Shaw; Bennett; Wells; Galsworthy; Herrick; Edwards; Schreiner.