Wasko Lit Courses

Lit 1: The Ancient World

Western Civilization begins in Greece, and a few centuries later, the Romans pick up where the Greeks leave off. Our survey of the Great Books of Western Civilization therefore begins with the ancient but powerful epics of Homer. We sample some of the favorite works of ancient Athenians--the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. We even dabble a bit in the philosophy of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. We finish up with a few biographical sketches by Plutarch and the great Roman epic, The Aeneid. To keep things interesting, we insert two works from other eras: C.S. Lewis's retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche, Till We Have Faces, and Shakespeare's dramatic Brutus's betrayal and assassination of Julius Caesar. 

There's a lot of mythology of course, and we are careful to look at it from a distinctly Christian worldview. The contrasts between Greek and Christian concepts of God and his dealings with man couldn't be more obvious and the discussion is often lively. Edith Hamilton's guide through the myths helps us here and there throughout the course. 

For 2017-18 this class meets live on Mondays from 11:00-12:00 AM, Eastern Time. All sessions will be recorded and made available to enrolled students. 

The Lit 1 Syllabus includes:

  • Mythology, Edith Hamilton
  • The Iliad, Homer
  • The Odyssey, Homer
  • Agamemnon, Aeschylus
  • Oedipus Rex, Sophocles
  • Medea, Euripides
  • Antigone, Sophocles
  • Selections from Dialogues, Plato
  • The Republic, Plato
  • Poetics, Aristotle
  • Till We Have Faces, C.S. Lewis
  • Selections from Fables, Aesop
  • Selections from Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, Plutarch
  • The Aeneid, Virgil 
  • Julius Caesar, Shakespeare

Wasko Lit 2: The Middle Ages

This course starts with a book written at the end of the Roman Empire, St. Augustine's Confessions--part biography and part theology. We then read a brilliant Seamus Heaney translation of the Anglo-Saxon classic, Beowulf.  We cover the medieval masterpiece, The Inferno, and selections from the Canterbury Tales. We spend lots of time in the legends of King Arthur, throwing in a 20th century novel on the topic, T.H. White's The Once and Future King. We read the influential Utopia and Doctor Faustus and the first book of Spencer's amazing epic The Faerie Queen. Then we take our time and soak in the English language's greatest and most important writer, William Shakespeare, sampling his poetry, comedies, tragedies, and histories. The course concludes with a quick look at the metaphysical poets of the 17th century. 

For 2017-18, this class meets live on Tuesdays from 12:40-1:35 PM, Eastern Time. All sessions will be recorded and made available to enrolled students. 

The Lit 2 Syllabus includes: 

  • Confessions, Augustine
  • Beowulf, Anonymous
  • The Inferno, Dante
  • Selections from the Canterbury Tales, Chaucer
  • “Gawain and the Green Knight,” Anonymous
  • The Once and Future King, T.S. White
  • Excerpts from Le Morte D’Arthur, Mallory
  • Utopia, More
  • Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves (The Faerie Queen, Book I) Spencer 
  • Doctor Faustus, Marlowe
  • Hamlet, Shakespeare
  • Henry IVPart 1, Shakespeare
  • Henry IV, Part 2, Shakespeare
  • Henry V, Shakespeare
  • Macbeth, Shakespeare
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare
  • Miscellaneous Sonnets, Shakespeare
  • Selected Poems, Metaphysical Poets

Lit 3: The Renaissance

Lit 3 covers more, in fact, than just the Renaissance. In it, we read the comedic novel Don Quixote (in an abridged translation). We also work our way through the magnificent Christian epic on the fall of man, Milton's Paradise Lost. In order to get familiar with the great Christian thinker and scientist, Blaise Pascal, we read a 20th century collection and commentary by Peter Kreeft called Christianity for Modern Pagans--sure to be one of the most inspiring and brilliant works of apologetics you are likely to encounter. We spend time on the Romantic poets, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, and the Gothic novel Frankenstein. Then more poetry by Tennyson and short works by Poe, Emerson and Thoreau. We finish the year with the great American saga, Moby Dick.

For 2017-18, this class meets live on Mondays from 12:30-1:30 PM-12:00, Eastern Time. All sessions will be recorded and made available to enrolled students. 

Syllabus includes: 

  • Don Quixote, Cervantes
  • Paradise Lost, John Milton
  • Christianity for Modern Pagans (Commentary on Pascal’s Pensees), Kreeft
  • Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan
  • Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe
  • Selected poems from the Romantic poets Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, and Byron
  • Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
  • Frankenstein, Percy Bysshe Shelley
  • Selected poems by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  • Selected short stories by Edgar Allen Poe
  • Selections from Ralph Waldo Emerson & Henry David Thoreau
  • Moby Dick, Melville

Lit 4: The Modern Era

The tricky part of creating a syllabus for the late 19th and 20th centuries is deciding what to leave out. There's so much to read and so little time, but this is an amazing course with a stunning and challenging syllabus. It's perfect for the literary-minded high school junior or senior. 

David Copperfield, our first novel, was the favorite and most autobiographical of all Dickens's books. Whitman's ground-breaking poetry collection, Leaves of Grass, is next. Then we push through some of the greatest novels ever written: Dostoyevski's Crime and Punishment, Hardy's Return of the Native, Twain's Huckleberry Finn, and Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. We look at the poetry of the Modernists and some short stories by Kafka, O'Connor, and Hemingway. We dip our toes into some Faulkner (warning: he's hard to read!) and read Orwell's political allegory Animal Farm. We cover classic high school texts The Old Man and Sea and Lord of the Flies, and finish up with the two well-loved recent works: C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce and the 21st century novel (and universal student favorite), Peace Like a River

For 2017-18, this class meets live on Tuesdays from 1:40-2:35 PM, Eastern Time. All sessions will be recorded and made available to enrolled students. 

Syllabus includes: 

  • David Copperfield, Dickens
  • Selected poems from Leaves of Grass, Whitman
  • Crime and Punishment, Dostoyevski
  • Return of the Native, Hardy
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain
  • The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald
  • Selected poems by Pound, Eliot, Williams, etc.
  • Selected short stories by Kafka, O’Connor, Hemingway
  • Our Town, Wilder
  • Go Down Moses, Faulkner
  • Animal Farm, Orwell
  • The Old Man and The Sea, Hemingway
  • The Crucible, Miller
  • Lord of the Flies, Golding
  • The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis
  • Peace Like a River, Leif Enger

Advanced Lit: A Worldview Approach

There are no official prerequisites for any of our classes, but the Advanced Lit class was originally created as a follow-up to the chronological Great Books study covered by Lit 1 through Lit 4. The perfect scenario would have students start in Lit 1 in 8th grade, finish Lit 4 in 11th grade, and enroll in Advanced Lit for their senior year. 

The approach is different here, focusing on worldview as it is expressed in literature and preparing students for college-level literary analysis and interpretation. Our goal is to get Christian students ready to encounter a distinctly non-Christian outlook in their college years. 

We read two books on literary analysis: C.S. Lewis's ingenious work An Experiment in Criticism and Richard Foster's engaging and practical How to Read Literature Like a Professor. These two books, along with Sire's The Universe Next Door will shape the way we look at literature for the rest of the course. Sire's book actually becomes something of a spine, examining various worldviews as they evolve over time and the literature that springs from them. We'll read books that come from a clearly Judeo-Christian perspective, including Dr. Jekyll and Mr. HydeThe Scarlet Letter, and Heart of Darkness. We'll discuss deism (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, sort of), naturalism (Call of the Wild), nihilism (Waiting for Godot) and existentialism (The Plague and The Fault in Our Stars). We'll also talk about what Sire calls eastern pantheistic monism (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) and postmodernism (Life of Pi and Things Fall Apart). 

For 2017-18 this class meets live on Mondays  from 2:00-3:00 PM, Eastern Time. All sessions will be recorded and made available to enrolled students. 

Syllabus includes:

  • An Experiment in Criticism, C.S. Lewis
  • The Universe Next Door, James Sire
  • How to Read Literature Like a Professor, Richard Foster
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
  • The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorn
  • Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard
  • Call of the Wild, Jack London
  • Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett
  • The Plague, Albert Camus
  • The Fault in Our Stars, John Greene
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig
  • Life of Pi, Yann Martel
  • Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe