"What is a Classic?" asks what goes into the making of a classic text. It focuses on four, monumental poems from the ancient Mediterranean and Near East: Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Virgil's Aeneid, and Gilgamesh, which are discussed through comparison across traditions, ranging as far as Chinese poetry. Students will consider possible definitions and constituents of a classic, while also reflecting on the processes of chance, valorization, and exclusion that go into the formation of a canon. Topics will include transmission, commentary, translation, religion, race, colonization, empire, and world literature.