Accounting for Achilles: Teaching Literature to Non-Majors

Anastassiya Andrianova


This paper draws on the author’s experience with teaching mythology in undergraduate surveys of literature (the so-called “Great Books” courses) dominated by non-majors.  It addresses, more specifically, the three criteria cited by the author’s students when they were asked whether myths should be taught in introductory courses: verifiability, relevance, and student demand.  Although the author focuses on teaching Homer to aspiring accountants, the strategies for engaging students outlined herein are meant to have broader appeal and should prove useful to teachers of any national mythology or literature. The paper has a prominent empirical component but also references relevant scholarship.


Mythology; teaching literature; Homer; student engagement

Full Text:



Accounting and Information Systems. Queens College of the City University of New York. . Web. 15 Aug. 2012.

Arum, Richard and Josipa Roksa. Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2011. Print.

Barthes, Roland. S/Z: An Essay. Trans. Richard Miller. New York: Hill and Wang, 1974. Print.

Behler, Ernst. German Romantic Literary Theory. New York: Cambridge UP, 1993. Print.

Bell, Jason M. “To the Tenth Generation: Homer’s Odyssey as Environmental Ethics.” Environmental Ethics 32.1 (2010): 51-65. Academic Search Complete. Web. 18 Aug. 2012.

Campbell, Joseph. “Bridge of Bronze: Using Shanower’s Age of Bronze in the Contemporary Literature Classroom.” Atenea 29.1 (2009): 135-149. Academic Search Complete. Web.

Aug. 2012.

Cornford, F.M. Principium Sapientiae: The Origins of Greek Philosophical Thought. Cambridge UP, 1952. Print.

Csapo, Eric. Theories of Mythology. Malden, MA/Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing, 2005. Print.

Damrosch, David. What Is World Literature? Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 2003. Print.

Fagles, Robert, trans. The Iliad. Intro. by Bernard Knox. New York: Penguin Books, 1990. Print.

Glasser, Jane Ellen. “Finding Ithaca: The Odyssey Personalized.” The English Journal 83.2 (Feb. 1994) 66-69. JSTOR. Web. 15 Sep. 2008.

Graf, Fritz. Greek Mythology: An Introduction. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996. Print.

Hanson, Victor Davis, and John Heath. Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom. New York: The Free Press, 1998. Print.

Kristof, Nicholas D. “Swift-Footed W.” Opinion. NYT (22 Oct. 2003). Web. 18 Aug. 2012.

Lattimore, Richmond, trans. The Iliad of Homer. Chicago and London: U of Chicago P, 1961. Print.

Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto. New York: Bantam, 1992. Print.

Nelson, Christopher B. “Homer & the Power of Man That Have Chests.” Notebook. The New Criterion (Nov. 2003): 78. Web. 18 Aug. 2012.

Plato. The Great Dialogues of Plato. Trans. W.H.D. Rouse. New York: Signet, 1999. Print.

Reedy, David, and Bob Lister. “‘Busting with blood and gore and full of passion’: The Impact of an Oral Retelling of The Iliad in the Primary Classroom.” Literacy 41.1 (2007):

-9. Academic Search Complete. Web. 18 Aug. 2012.

Add comment

ISSN 2163-3177

Register as a reviewer, author, or reader

Submit here if already registered.