COMPLIT 490 - Comparative Cultural Studies
Section: 001 Book, Bible, and Literature
Term: WN 2018
Subject: Comparative Literature (COMPLIT)
Department: LSA Comparative Literature
Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
Junior standing.
May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s).
Primary Instructor:

“Bible” is a collection of books. Also called the Scripture, it means writing (scriptura). In today’s English it refers to the sacred canonical texts of Christianity, or of Judaism—though they are not the same collection. Was there Bible before it was writing/written, or Bible apart from its form as a book or a collection of books? When and how did it become a book, or the Book?

In this seminar we will consider several aspects of the cultural function of the Bible through history, and examine this history particularly in relation to such topics as the technology of writing, literacy, book making, translation, and adaptation.

This course is not about the content of the Bible, or what is supposedly written or implied in it. Nor is it about the religious beliefs and codes that supposedly derive their authority and justification from it. Instead, we will survey the great variety and mutability of the Bible’s social and cultural role, viewed in light of monumental technological developments such as the invention of writing, innovations in methods of transcription, translation, paper making, printing press, and other material means of communication and transportation that profoundly influenced the availability and accessibility of the Bible. And in this manner we will raise questions about the Bible’s place in literary culture.

Course Requirements:

  • regular attendance and careful reading of assigned texts in advance of each class meeting, and active participation in the discussion [40%]
  • bi-weekly short writing assignments (about 500 words) [20%]
  • a term paper (target length: 5000 words) [40%]

COMPLIT 490 - Comparative Cultural Studies
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 0521829461
How the Bible became a book : the textualization of ancient Israel, Author: William M. Schniedewind., Publisher: Cambridge Univ. Press 1. publ. 2004
ISBN: 0060185163
God's secretaries : the making of the King James bible, Author: Adam Nicolson., Publisher: HaperCollins 1st ed. 2003
ISBN: 0585047359
An American Bible a history of the Good Book in the United States, 1777-1880, Author: Paul C. Gutjahr., Publisher: Stanford University Press 1999
ISBN: 0393924289
Paradise lost : authoritative text sources and backgrounds criticism, Author: John Milton. Ed. by Gordon Teskey., Publisher: Norton 2005
ISBN: 9780151013586
The rise and fall of the Bible : the unexpected history of an accidental book, Author: Timothy Beal., Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2011
ISBN: 0691143676
The Dead Sea scrolls : a biography, Author: John J. Collins., Publisher: Princeton University Press 2013
ISBN: 9780300171921
How the Bible Became Holy, Author: Michael L. Satlow, Publisher: Yale University Press 2014
ISBN: 9780674032545
Scribal culture and the making of the Hebrew Bible, Author: Karel van der Toorn., Publisher: Harvard University Press 1st pbk. e 2009
Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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