An introduction to the literature of Ancient Mesopotamia. The literature of ancient Mesopotamia flourished thousands of years ago in a culture all of its own, yet the survival of hundreds of thousands of written records challenges us to read it and make sense of it without simply approximating it to the realm of our own understanding. How can we learn to do this? Situating our understanding of how we read and how we understand culture within an interdisciplinary range of literary-critical and analytic approaches, we will approach this question by immersing ourselves in the myths tales and mentalities that made Mesopotamian literature meaningful.
To give us a measure of our progress we will bracket the semester by reading Gilgamesh which is never less than a great story, but which will take on new layers of meaning as the semester develops and we learn to read the text in more and more Mesopotamian ways. As we journey through these mysterious realms we will reflect not only Mesopotamia and its immortal literature but on what it means to read and understand any cultures other than our own.