Masterworks in Western Literature
Cod: 51150
Department: DH
Scientific area: Literary Studies
Total working hours: 156
Total contact time: 15

The curricular unit has the following objectives:
– to analyse a set of works considered to be touchstones of Western literary tradition;
– to ponder on the importance of Jewish-Christian and Greek traditions in this space;
– to understand the way these traditions were revisited during the Middle-Ages and the Renaissance;
– to analyse their specificity during these eras;
– to problematise the way modernity was enunciated by poetic and narrative texts that are central in the aforementioned space.

The Western canon
Cultural/literary traditions
Literary work

The curricular unit aims to develop the following competences:
– the command of conceptual and methodological tools in the fields of literary studies;
– the capacity to elaborate on topics while using the required conceptual tools;
– the capacity to build a critical and rational approach to the object;
– the capacity to ponder on the speculative dimension of the chosen object;
– the capacity to problematise the epistemological dimension inherent to the state of the art on the chosen object

I. Antecedents of European and Western Literature
1. The Jewish-Christian narrative of creation – Livro do Génesis [The Book of Genesis]
2. The classical tradition of tragedy – Medeia, by Eurípides [Medea]

II. From the Middle Ages and the Renaissance to the Transition to a Modernity
1. The Christian quest – A Divina Comédia, by Dante Alighieri [The Divine Comedy]
2. The Development of lyric poetry – Rimas, by Luís de Camões [Rhymes]
3. The tragic expansion – O Rei Lear, by William Shakespeare [King Lear]
4. The transition to a modernity – D. Quixote de la Mancha, by Miguel de Cervantes

III. Faces of modernity
1. An innovatory narrative – O Monte dos Vendavais, by Emily Brontë [Wuthering Heights]
2. The perception of urbanity – As Flores do Mal, by Charles  Baudelaire [The Flowers of Evil]
3. The fragmentation of the self – O Livro do Desassossego, by Bernardo Soares [The Book of Disquiet]

4. The intensity of the absurd – A Metamorfose, by Franz Kafka [The Metamorphosis]
5. Introducing post-modernity – A Biblioteca de Babel, by Jorge Luís Borges [The Library of Babel]

• Main Contextualization Bibliography:
Bloom, Harold. O Cânone Ocidental. Trad. Manuel Frias Martins. Lisboa: Temas e Debates, 2011.
[Bloom, Harold. The Western Canon. New York: Riverhead Books, 1994.]

--- . Onde está sabedoria? Trad. Miguel Serras Pereira. Lisboa: Relógio d'Água, 2008.
[Bloom, Harold. Where Shall Wisdom Be Found?. New York: Riverhead Books, 2004.]

Lourenço, Frederico. Grécia Revisitada. Ensaios sobre Cultura Grega. Lisboa: Cotovia, 2004.

• Primary Bibliography:*

Livro do Génesis. Bíblia Sagrada. Lisboa: Difusora Bíblica (Missionários Capuchinhos), 1986. 16-50.

Baudelaire, Charles. As Flores do Mal. Trad. F. Pinto do Amaral. Lisboa: Assírio e Alvim, 1992.
[Baudelaire, Charles. Les Fleurs du Mal. Paris: LGF, 1972.]

Borges, Jorge Luís. “A Biblioteca de Babel”. Ficcções. Lisboa: Livros do Brasil, 1969.
[Borges, Jorge Luís. “La Biblioteca de Babel”. Ficciones. Madrid: Alianza, 1995]

Brontë, Emily. O Monte dos Vendavais. Trad. Fernanda Pinto Rodrigues. Lisboa: Presença, 2009.
[Brontë, Emily. Wuthering Heights. London: Penguin Classics, 1996.]

Camões, Luís de. Rimas. Org. A. Costa Pimpão. Lisboa: Almedina, 1994.

Cervantes, Miguel de. D. Quixote de La Mancha. Trad. Aquilino Ribeiro. Lisboa: Público Comunicação Social, 2005.
[Cervantes, Miguel de. Don Quijote de La Mancha. Barcelona: Instituto Cervantes, D.L., 1999.]

Dante Alighieri. A Divina Comédia. Trad. Vasco Graça Moura. Lisboa: Bertrand, 2000.
[Dante Alighieri. La Divina Commedia. Verona: Mondadori, 1972.]

Eurípides. Medeia. Trad. Maria Helena da Rocha Pereira. Coimbra: Instituto Nacional de Investigação Científica, 1991.

Kafka, Franz. A Metamorfose. Trad. João Barrento. Lisboa: Babel/Ulisseia, 2011.
[Kafka, Franz. Die Verwandlung. Frankfurt am Main: Fisher, 1997.]

Shakespeare, William. O Rei Lear. Trad. M. Gomes da Torre. Porto: Campo das Letras, 2005.
[Shakespeare, William. King Lear. Ed. Roma Gill. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2002.]

Soares, Bernardo. O Livro do Desassossego. Lisboa: Ática, 1997.

* The excerpts of the literary works to be dealt with during the semester will be made available in the online classroom of this course unit.


Continuous assessment is privileged: 2 or 3 digital written documents (e-folios) during the semester (40%) and a presence-based final exam (p-folio) in the end of the semester (60%). In due time, students can alternatively choose to perform one final presence-based exam (100%).

Students are required to obtain/acquire the bibliography before the course unit starts; the Main Contextualization Bibliography will be needed right from the 1st week of the semester.
The works will be studied in Portuguese.

Language of instruction: Portuguese.

Students are required to have access to a computer with Internet  connection.