ASIAN 498 B: Special Topics

Winter 2024
MW 1:30pm - 3:20pm / ARC 160
Section Type:
Joint Sections:
C LIT 251 B , CLAS 369 A , GLITS 313 C
Olga Levaniouk
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):



CLAS 369A, ASIAN 498B, GLITS 313C, CLIT 251B/5 credits

Winter 2024, MW 1:30-3:20

Heidi Pauwels,

Professor, Department of Asian Languages and Literature

Office: Gowen Hall 223, (206) 543-4235

Olga Levaniouk,, she/her

Professor, Department of Classics

Office: Denny M262B, (206) 543-2266



This is co-taught upper-level seminar open to all majors. We will be discussing and comparing two major Epic poems, the Iliad on Ancient Greek side and the Mahābhārata on the Indian side, with a focus on emotions. Did you know that, according to one leading specialist on the subject, it takes “more than a life-time” to learn another culture’s emotions? We suspect that sometimes it can take “more than a life-time” to understand other people’s emotions even within one’s culture. The Iliad and the Mahābhārata took many lifetimes to be created and they can tell a lot about emotions, in Antiquity and today. So, we’ll think through emotions as we read parts of these two culturally contrasting and very different but also in some ways similar epics. There are no prerequisites and no previous knowledge of the Iliad or the Mahābhārata is assumed.


The Mahābhārata: an English version based on selected verses. By Chakravarthi Narasimhan. Columbia University Press 1998.

The Iliad. A New Translation. By Caroline Alexander. Ecco 2016 (or another translation in consultation with the instructors)


develop a dialectic understanding of our shared humanity and cultural diversity via the creative processing of two culturally central works of world literature that both echo each other and come from two very different cultures

be able to think about and discuss the phenomenon of traditional epic poetry and storytelling, its cultural role and importance, the similarities and differences between the Iliad and the Mahābhārata, and the similarities and differences between these epics and various modern ways of storytelling such as literature, theater, film, games etc.

understand some of the latest developments in the study of emotions and their implications for understanding of the world literature and culture in general

apply their increased awareness about emotions to trans-cultural and trans-linguistic reading of the Iliad and the Mahābhārata

gain critical awareness - understanding of the history of changing interpretations of the epics and how this is connected to the emotions and values of those who do the interpretations

gain increased their self-awareness and sensitivity to the cultural forces shaping our own emotions

use an informed reading of culturally contrasting war epics to help think through some of the emotional issues of today


  1. short (100 words) responses in reaction to readings- 20%
  2. creative mid-term project performing or creatively redesigning scenes through a contemporary lens -20%
  3. a final project/short essay synthesizing and applying what was learned in the course 20 %
  4. group activities in class (two lowest scores dropped) –20%
  5. participation in class discussions -20%


Disability Resources:

If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DRS at 206-543-8924 or or DRS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions. Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DRS. It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.

Religious accommodations

“Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy ( to an external site.. Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form ( to an external site..”

Learning Support:

  • Many materials for the class are provided via canvas. If  you do not have access to canvas please let me know  and we'll find a way of getting the materials to you.
  • Access and Accommodations: Your experience in this class is important to me. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please communicate your approved accommodations to me so we can discuss your needs in this course.
  • UW Academic Support: Links to an external site.Links to an external site.

UW Counseling Center: to an external site.

Student conduct:

The University of Washington Student Conduct Code (WAC 478-121) defines prohibited academic and behavioral conduct and describes how the University holds students accountable as they pursue their academic goals. Allegations of misconduct by students may be referred to the appropriate campus office for investigation and resolution. More information can be found online at to an external site.

Notice to Students - Use of Plagiarism Detection Software

The University has a license agreement with SimCheck, an educational tool that helps prevent or identify plagiarism from Internet resources. Your instructor may use the service in this class by requiring that assignments are submitted electronically to be checked by SimCheck. The SimCheck Report will indicate the amount of original text in your work and whether all material that you quoted, paraphrased, summarized, or used from another source is appropriately referenced.


OL's Land Acknowledgment: 

I am a white person of Jewish, Ukranian, Russian, Belorussian, and Polish descent, and I am teaching this course on the Seattle campus of The University of Washington, which occupies the unceded lands of the Coast Salish Peoples, the lands which touch the shared waters of all tribes and bands within the Duwamish, Puyallup, Suquamish, Tulalip, and Muckleshoot nations, whose ancestors have dwelt here since time immemorial and who live here today.  

You can learn more about the history and culture of the Duwamish people from the resources at (Links to an external site.) Links to an external site.Real Rent Duwamish (Links to an external site.) Links to an external site. offers a collection of resources to learn more about the practices of Land Acknowledgement here (Links to an external site.) Links to an external site.

If you have comments about this Land Acknowledgement, please let me know:



Catalog Description:
Offered occasionally by permanent or visiting faculty members. Topics vary. Offered: AWSpS.
GE Requirements Met:
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated:
November 30, 2023 - 1:32 pm