CMPL 122: Great Books I: Visual Arts and Literature from Antiquity to 1750

This course offers its students a diverse survey of the fine arts and literature from Classical Antiquity to 1750; thereby enabling students to cultivate a historical awareness of literary works foundational to humanity’s most beloved explorations on themes such as: lust, medicine, religion, existence, morality, and mortality. Additionally, students will develop their own toolbox in understanding art history that, too, comments on such themes. We will seek to answer questions such as are there any similarity between literary and visual representations, what is the relationship between the bodily and metaphysical, and so on.

Required Texts:

Assigned readings will be selected from the following works, and will be made available at no cost on the course website by the instructor:

  • Plato, Phaedrus
  • Ovid, The Art of Love
  • Confessions of St. Augustine
  • Khayyam, Rubā‘iyyāt
  • Dante, The New Life
  • Rousseau, Confessions
  • Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

All texts will be read in English translation. If you prefer paper copies, you may purchase any editions of the books listed above.

View a sample course syllabus.

Contact the Friday Center at with any questions or for more information.

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