World Literature A

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

Why Take This Course?

World Literature A - Honors explores some of the texts that shaped the Western world.

World Literature A – Honors explores some of the texts that shaped the Western world.

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?How does Beowulf represent a new incarnation of an archetypal hero?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 historical context of this story? How was it written and in what style? What is it about this story has given it such staying power?How does Beowulf represent a synthesis of ancient and Christian cultures? What are the rhetorical devices Shakespeare employed? How can a deeper understanding of them help me appreciate Shakespeare’s writing and become a better writer myself?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?
What is the Hero Myth Cycle and how does it help me better understand literature?
How has the Beowulf influenced and shaped Western culture and thought? What cultural shifts are nascent in The Merchant of Venice?What Victorian social norms might Bronte be commenting on in Jane Eyre?
How can an understanding of archetypes help me deepen my comprehension and appreciation of this story?What is epic poetry? What are some rhetorical devices that the Beowulf poet employed, and to what effect?Who are the chief antagonists in both plays and how culpable are they for the outcomes in their respective stories?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 is Beowulf a hero?How did Shakespeare
influence and shape Western culture and thought?
How did Jane Eyre influence and shape Western Culture and thought?
What are the myths and origin stories of other cultures?What does it mean to be a hero?How is Portia a hero? How is Hamlet a hero?How is Jane Eyre a hero?
How is Odysseus a hero?What does it mean to be a hero?What does it mean to be a hero?
What does it mean to be a hero?

Texts for Live Course

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

Texts & Materials for the Self-Paced Version

  • The Odyssey by Homer
  • Beowulf by Anonymous
  • The Complete Works of Shakespeare by William Shakespeare


  • 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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