LIT113 : Foundations in Literary Study: Biblical and Classical Sources in English

Convener(s): Dr Meredith Warren


General Information

It is recommended that all English Literature students take this module. The Bible, Greek and Roman mythology, represent some of the central sources for European literary imaginations. Their themes inform writing of all periods and genres, from Dante Alighieri to Philip Pullman, from phrases like 'a wolf in sheep's clothing' to Virginia Woolf. Their authors have inspired the creation of figures such as Aeneas, Beelzebub, Faustus, Odysseus and Satan; the representation of Eve and Judas, of 'sin', 'betrayal', 'the underworld' or 'hell'; of 'redemption', 'metamorphosis' and a variety of allegorical modes. When we understand the ways in which biblical and classical writers shaped their narratives, and how creative authors revised, resisted or radicalised their themes, we have several important keys to unlock crucial facets of English literary tradition. When we appreciate the rich linguistic heritage of sources like the 1611 King James Bible we can recognise the origin of many familiar and reworked phrases (not all of them tasty): 'bite the dust'; 'forbidden fruit'; 'skin of my teeth'; fatted calf'.


There are two lectures and one seminar each week. Our lectures will provide contextual information for the study of literary texts that we will discuss in detail in seminars. Typically a biblical or classical source and a literary text will be discussed in parallel, to expose meanings about the sources as literature and in Literature. We will examine a range of material from the 14th to the 21st century; a full reading list, including on-line sources, will be provided when the module begins.


Three pieces: one essay to be written during the semester (50%); one close reading exercise during the Examining Period (40%); informal seminar contributions (10%).

Contact Details

Dr Meredith Warren 0114 2222052

Information last changed: Monday 20th of March 2017 :: 03:11:57 PM (GMT)

Please note: This module may or may not run in any individual session. Please check with the course convener.


The University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK