The Literary Tradition is a four semester sequence of courses at the University of Dallas and forms the literary component of its undergraduate core curriculum. All sections of each course share the same syllabi, and the individual courses are closely coordinated to guarantee compatibility among them. Students can therefore choose a particular section or professor in full confidence that coverage will be uniform from semester to semester and from instructor to instructor.
The final examinations for Literary Tradition I and II are prepared by all those teaching them; this policy ensures that all undergraduates have a shared literary experience, whatever their majors may be. In the two years of study of the Literary Tradition, a student writes from twenty to twenty-five essays on topics that range from the crisis of leadership in Homer's Iliad to contrasts of individual and communities past and present, or of freedom and responsibility in modern fiction. The sequence is organized generically and through the exploration of these imaginative, philosophical, and ethical perspectives embodied in some of the world's great books
The first course, Literary Tradition I, is an examination of the theme of heroism in the ancient world and is intended to introduce beginning students to problems of judgment, commitment, integrity, and leadership as they appear in the earliest epic poetry.
In Literary Tradition II, many of these same themes are re-examined in light of their transformation by later Christian and modern concerns. In every case, however, the focus is not simply on the historical example of human behavior and culture that these works evince but on their continued relevance for our own lives and for our present society.
Literary Tradition III is devoted to a study of the contrasting yet complementary visions of the human condition displayed in tragedy and comedy. Through readings in a large number of plays, from the classical to the contemporary world, students are introduced to such issues as the problem of evil, the nature of luck and chance, the meaning of sacrifice, the nature of love, and the relation of individual to community.
Finally, in Literary Tradition IV, these and other themes are reconsidered in the ways they are shaped by the dominant modern literary form, the novel.
The Literary Tradition sequence provides University of Dallas undergraduates with a coherent and disciplined approach to the great works of the poetic imagination. Physics or economics majors are expected to demonstrate the same critical awareness and literary sophistication as their English-major colleagues. All students, in whatever department they eventually choose to pursue a major, make use of the writing, interpretive, and critical skills developed in these courses as they learn to integrate the knowledge to be gained from great literature not only into their other courses but into their own lives.