Friday, September 7, 2012


Why do college students read the first extant literature, about a Sumerian king who lived around 2500 B.C. in Mesopotamia?  I like to read and teach the Epic of Gilgamesh because he is a fascinating and passionate man (based on a real king of Uruk).  Yes, it's true, he does sleep with all the women before they marry, and yes, he does draft all the young men to fight for him, and I must agree, he's not a very good ruler.  But for reasons I find difficult to put in words, I like the guy.

With Gilgamesh, what you see is what you get.  He loves passionately, fights bravely, and grieves deeply.  When my students read the Epic of Gilgamesh we talk about the elements of an epic -- take a national hero, give him obstacles to overcome (usually including gods and goddesses), temptations to avoid, quests to win, voyages to complete, and see how he passes the tests.  Gilgamesh is the first epic, following by other noteworthy epics like The Odyssey, The Iliad, Beowulf, and even modern-day epics like Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, or even Harry Potter.  Gilgamesh was the first.  He set the standard.

At a conference I attended over Memorial Day, Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) Division of Creative Arts "took all the themes in the story – from love, loss, power and politics to friendship – mixed it with stories from people in Cleveland, OH and brought in NY-based composer Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR) to write and record a songbook."  The result was Project Gilgamesh.  To learn more about it, or just listen to some great original music, click on the link below.

For my blog followers, for the next several months I plan to blog regularly on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  So please check in on those days to see what I'm thinking about books, writing and teaching.  Thanks for following me!


  1. always love hearing what you're reading, teaching and doing Katie dear. keep 'em comin!

    i recently read a book published through my mom's retirement center which should go viral in my estimation: Turning Points In Our Lives or something like that...several retired women writing 3-4 page essays about significant turning points in their lives. i was amazed at the depth of experiences and excellent writing....of course my mom had a piece in there but they were all excellent stories and some experiences these women have had!

    1. Thanks for your comment Frances. The book you mention sounds like great reading. Let me know if there's an ebook version!

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