The Epic and The Everyday


Fall 2013 and Winter 2014 quarters

Taught by

Must quotidian always be associated with humdrum? Rather, it is perhaps the quotidian—the everyday, the banal—that, in the long run, heroically ensures the survival of the individual and the group as a whole.
-Michel Maffesoli, Walking in the Margins

An “epic” is generally defined as a poem or narrative of considerable length, which explores grand themes such as a hero’s journey, or the origin myth of a country or peoples. As an adjective, “epic” refers to something that is larger than life and often extra-ordinary. By contrast, the “everyday” is flatly defined as ordinary and is often seen as boring, trivial, and lacking in grandeur. Yet, the “everyday” has a rich creative history and garners remarkable attention in contemporary art, spiritual practices, and other areas of study and praxis. Our lives are made up of both the epic and the everyday; both are integral components of the human experience. And the tension that exists between the two is rich territory for insight and imagination.

This program interrogates how the essence of the epic enters the everyday and how the quotidian gives meaning to the epic.

We will juxtapose the exploration of the “epic” as a literary form with the exploration of the “everyday” as a creative practice that engages experiments in text, sound, and image. We will conduct these explorations through readings, film screenings, analyses, lectures, workshops, seminars, and by developing discovery strategies rooted in the creative practices of writing nonfiction and of crafting video essays.

During fall quarter students will read ancient Greek epic poetry, myth, and tragedy. These works tap deeply into the human condition, and they explore our most persistent and universal questions, such as the concepts of destiny, power, morality, mortality, and the (in-)evitabilty of fate. As we analyze the grand questions raised by epic texts we will also consider if or how we encounter such themes in everyday life. Conversely, we will examine how everyday life may intersect with epic-scale experiences and insights.

To facilitate these considerations students will develop a daily writing practice and craft a variety of creative nonfiction essays—meditative, lyrical, personal, and hybrid forms—and we will factor into our studies exemplars that engage thematically with the everyday. Fall quarter explorations will move off the page to incorporate sound and image as tools for creative and critical inquiry. Students will take a series of electronic media workshops and gain hands-on experience with audiovisual scriptwriting, audio recording, photography, and video editing. Fall quarter will conclude with students applying their creative writing skills and electronic media competencies in collaboratively crafted video essays that blend students' literary works with audio and images to explore the realm between the epic and the everyday.

During winter quarter we will deepen our investigations into the epic and the everyday through additional readings and analyses of classic Greek texts and by furthering our audiovisual inquiries. One goal of this quarter will be to advance students’ understanding of various film and adaptation theories to put into practice in their individual work. Winter quarter will conclude with rigorous individual projects that encompass a research paper on sources and methods of adaptation, and an independently made video essay.

This is a full-time program emphasizing classical Greek literature and media arts, creative and critical practice, collaborative learning, and individual accountability. Expect assignments to be process-driven, highly structured, and challenging. Students are expected to participate fully in all program activities, and to work about 40 hours per week including class time. If you’re eager to blend the study of Ancient Greek literature with experiments in media arts, then this program is for you.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

classical studies, literature, film studies, media arts, media production, and creative writing.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


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Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Required Fees

$50 in fall for supplies and films, museums, and gallery admission; $40 in winter for  films, museums, and gallery admission.


Date Revision
November 6th, 2013 This program will not accept new enrollment winter quarter.
August 19th, 2013 Caryn Cline has joined the teaching team; Marilyn Freeman will no longer be teaching this program.
April 19th, 2013 New opportunity added.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall); 16 (Winter)

Class standing: Freshmen–Senior; 25% of the seats are reserved for freshmen

Maximum enrollment: 48


Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 10281
So - Sr (16 credits): 10284

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Enrollment Closed

Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 20221
So - Sr (16 credits): 20222

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