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Level 5

5AACTL55 The Ancient Novel

Credit value: 15
Module convenor/tutor: Professor Michael Trapp
Teaching pattern:10 x 2 hour seminars (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
 1 x 2-hour exam (100%)

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

The story of the novel begins with Greco-Roman antiquity. This module offers the chance to study two major classical novel texts – Apuleius’s Golden Ass and the Ethiopian Tale of Heliodorus - with special attention to the narrative strategies they deploy and the commentary they offer on the storytelling process itself.  In discussing Apuleius, we shall pay special attention to the novel’s prologue and the embedded tale of Cupid & Psyche, and ask who is being made an ass of.  When looking at Heliodorus, we shall concentrate on the idea of stories as puzzles, and the role of the author as impresario and arbiter of destiny.

Suggested introductory reading 

This is suggested reading and purchase of these books is not mandatory.

For an introduction to the analysis of narrative and storytelling devices, see:

  • I.J.F. de Jong, Narratology and the Classics (OUP 2014)
  • S. Rimmon-Kenan, Narrative Fiction (Routledge 1983)

For introductions to the novel texts, see:

  • N. Holzberg, The Ancient Novel (Routledge, 1995)
  • J.R. Morgan, 'The Aithiopika of Heliodoros: narrative as riddle', in J.R. Morgan and R. Stoneman (eds), Greek Fiction (Routledge 1994)
  • J.J. Winkler,  Auctor & Actor. A narratological reading of Apuleius's 'Golden Ass' (U Calif P, 1985)
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