James Joyce's Ulysses - Spring 2020 - Dr. Jeanne McGinn
(James Joyce's Ulysses SP20)

When Homer wove tales from the Greek oral tradition to shape The Odyssey, he put at the center of the story the ten-year journey of wily Odysseus trying to return home (after ten years spent fighting the Trojan war). Penelope, his wife, grieves his absence and must stave off suitors who wish to marry her (she uses art to stall), and his son, Telemachus, longs to have his father’s guidance as he comes of age. In his masterpiece, Ulysses, James Joyce brings the Telemachuslike character Stephen Dedalus, (first seen in the short novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man), into the life of Leopold Bloom on June 16, 1904 in Dublin. But how does this simple story merit the term “modern masterpiece?” After all, this tale begins with a man making breakfast for his wife, Molly, and then traces his “odyssey” as he wanders around the city on a single day. What is the connection to Homer’s story of Odysseus, Penelope, and Telemachus? We’ll read the novel to pursue these questions and study the achievement of Joyce and the effect of Ulysses on the idea of modernity.