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American Literature

Catch-22  Catch-22, a classic among antiwar satires, added a dark new term to the English language and became an anti-establishment icon of the Vietnam War generation. This program, filmed in 1995, brings together Joseph Heller, Art Buchwald, Bill Mauldin, Catch-22 director Mike Nichols, Alan "Yossarian" Arkin, members of Heller’s own wartime bomber squadron, and others to unravel the novel’s characters and the attitudes and institutions they represent. With more than 10 million copies sold worldwide, Yossarian unquestionably lives. Some content may be objectionable. A Discovery University Production. (51 minutes, color) Copyright date: 1995 VHS32879
DVD32879
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Huckleberry Finn One of the cornerstones of Americana, Huckleberry Finn has come under fire because of the language in which the runaway slave Jim is addressed. This program provides an excellent introduction to the book, examining the background against which it was written and drawing parallels between events in the book and the history of the period. Mark Twain was mildly sympathetic to the Southern cause in the Civil War, but he was—as Huckleberry Finn makes very clear—deeply opposed to slavery. It is, in fact, Twain’s championing of the individual concepts of honor and morality that makes this book so satisfying and so lasting a work. A Discovery University Production. (50 minutes, color) Copyright date: 1994 VHS5219
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Moby Dick A multidimensional tale that pits good against evil, reason against madness, and acceptance against intolerance, Herman Melville’s immortal Moby Dick is an immersive study of obsession during the boom time of whaling. This classic program combines dramatizations and film clips with commentary by Melville biographers Hershel Parker and Laurie Robertson-Lorant; Melville scholars Elizabeth Schultz, John Bryant, Mary Bercaw Edwards, and M. Thomas Inge; Ray Bradbury, who penned the John Huston adaptation; and muralist Richard Ellis to "strike through the mask" of a saga as imposing as the white whale itself. Details of Melville’s life are also included. A Discovery University Production. (54 minutes, color) Copyright date: 1996 VHS32884
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Native Son The first thirty-nine years of the 20th century were a time of lynching and genuine oppression for 12 million African Americans. One man, Richard Wright, took the measure of his time, addressed the great reservoir of hatred, and placed a wake-up call to America in his novel, Native Son. In this program, African-American writers John Edgar Wideman and Bebe Moore Campbell discuss Wright as a fearless chronicler of the racism of his time, and as a literary genius who forced both blacks and whites to face the damage racism and inequality have caused to the black psyche and to American society. A Discovery University Production. (53 minutes, color) Copyright date: 1996 VHS7143
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One Flew Over the Cookoo's Nest In this program, Ken Kesey, Kesey scholar John Clark Pratt, psychiatrist and critic Frank Pittman, Rolling Stone’s Jann Wenner, 1960s icon Wavy Gravy, and others set One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest—an indictment of Eisenhower Era conformity—within the context of its times. Together they talk about the novel, the Academy Award-winning movie, and Kesey’s role as leader of the Merry Pranksters and star of the West Coast psychedelic scene. Producer Saul Zaentz, director Milos Forman, and Louise Fletcher (Nurse Ratched) describe the making of the movie. The influence of Cuckoo’s Nest on mental hospital reform is also considered. A Discovery University Production. (51 minutes, color) Copyright date: 1998 VHS11506
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Poe's Tales of Terror In this riveting program, the tragedy-laden life and literary genius of Edgar Allan Poe are explored by Poe biographers Jeffrey Meyers and Kenneth Silverman; Joan Dayan, author of Fables of Mind: An Inquiry into Poe’s Fiction; J. Gerald Kennedy, of Louisiana State University; writers Ray Bradbury and Poppy Z. Brite; filmmaker Wes Craven; and Jeff Jerome, curator of The Baltimore Poe House and Museum. Their insightful commentary, combined with reenactments of scenes from Poe’s life and dramatized synopses of "The Pit and the Pendulum," "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Raven," "Ligeia," and "The Tell-Tale Heart," makes this documentary an essential part of any survey of 19th-century American literature or genre fiction. A Discovery University Production. (50 minutes, color) Copyright date: 2001 VHS29970
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The Autobiography of Malcolm X The Autobiography of Malcolm X is an American classic not only for its compelling story, but also for its uncompromising expression of the pain, anger, and violence of black life in a white America. Featuring powerful dramatizations, this program scrutinizes both The Autobiography and the life of one of the most charismatic leaders of the 20th century. Michael Eric Dyson, author of Making Malcolm; Malcolm’s daughter Attallah Shabazz and nephew Rodnell Collins, author of Seventh Child; Marita Golden, of Virginia Commonwealth University; and others provide insights into the making of Malcolm. "He was not born Malcolm X; he became Malcolm X," says Professor Golden. A Discovery University Production. (52 minutes, color) Copyright date: 1999 VHS11339
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The Grapes of Wrath The Grapes of Wrath touched a nerve in America, causing many to forget that Ma Joad and her family were fictional characters—creations of a 36-year-old novelist named John Steinbeck. In this program, Dr. Susan Shillinglaw, of the Center for Steinbeck Studies; authors Studs Terkel and Gerald Haslam; Steinbeck’s son Thomas and third wife, Elaine; and others discuss the Joads’ odyssey, the Great Depression, and the Dust Bowl era. The music of Woody Guthrie, the photography of Dorothea Lange, and clips from the 1940 John Ford film round out this comprehensive examination of an American classic and a pivotal period in American history. A Discovery University Production. (51 minutes, color) Copyright date: 2000 

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The Great Gatsby

What lies at the heart of America’s perennial fascination with Jay Gatsby and his world? In this program, Jackson Bryer, of the University of Maryland; Henry Allen, culture critic for The Washington Post; writers Alfred Kazin and Tobias Wolff; Sam Waterston, costar in the 1974 production of The Great Gatsby; and others discuss F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gatsby, and the Jazz Age. Topics include characterization and symbolism in the novel as well as social stratification, consumerism, and the cult of celebrity in American society. Stills and film clips from movie and TV adaptations combine with archival footage and photos to provide a sense of time and place. A Discovery University Production. (53 minutes, color)  Copyright date: 1997

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The Jungle Disguised as a butcher, Upton Sinclair risked his life in a modern hell to write the awful truth about Chicago meatpacking plants and the dangers they posed to workers and consumers alike. This program weaves dramatic reenactments of scenes from Sinclair’s muckraking exposé, The Jungle, with reportage on the alarming contemporary relevance of the book that raised an outcry from the American public a century ago. Critics and experts analyze the book as both a work of literature and a catalyst of food industry reform. FDA and USDA officials comment on The Jungle’s continuing importance in the light of recent lysteriosis fatalities. The occupational hazards of the poultry industry are similarly discussed. A Discovery University Production. (51 minutes, color) Copyright date: 2000 VHS11899
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The Naked and the Dead Called the quintessential novel of World War II, The Naked and the Dead portrays army life as a remorseless struggle for power in which there are no heroes—only casualties and survivors. In this program, Norman Mailer candidly discusses his life and his most famous book. Analyses by Mailer biographer Robert Lucid; director Oliver Stone; Harry Summers, of the Army War College; and others provide insights into the novel, life in the U.S. during the Great Depression and World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Newsreel footage and dramatizations capture the essence of jungle warfare in the Pacific theater. A Discovery University Production. (53 minutes, color) Copyright date: 1998 VHS11507
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The Red Badge of Courage Although he’d never even seen a battle, Stephen Crane wrote a war novel so convincing that it made him an international celebrity. This program studies The Red Badge of Courage and the short life of its author while providing insights into the Civil War, the psychology of combat, and the evolution of war journalism. Experts include Princeton University’s James McPherson, Crane biographer James Colvert, military historian Bruce Gudmundsson, former war correspondent Morley Safer, and veterans of World War II and Vietnam. Excerpts and dramatizations of scenes from the book bring the story to life A Discovery University Production. (53 minutes, color) Copyright date: 1999 VHS11337
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The Right Stuff Just as the Space Race created new challenges for test pilots, Tom Wolfe’s 1979 account of NASA’s efforts to put a man in orbit changed the nature of journalism, taking it to heights formerly reserved for novelists. In this program, Tom Wolfe goes behind the writing of his best-selling book, discussing the Cold War context, the men of Project Mercury, and how his career prepared him to write their story. In addition, Chuck Yeager; Gordon Cooper; Walter Cronkite; Nikita Khrushchev’s son, Sergei; and Wolfe’s biographer, William McKeen, provide commentary. A Discovery University Production. (51 minutes, color) Copyright date: 2001 VHS29918
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The Scarlet Letter: A Romance A masterpiece of American literature and a classic moral study, The Scarlet Letter is a work whose intensity remains undiminished by time or changing values. In this timeless program, Nina Baym, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Lawrence Buell, of Harvard University; Carol Karlsen, of the University of Michigan; and Charles Hambrick-Stowe, of the Lancaster Theological Seminary, explore the secret places of the heart in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tale of private truths and public appearances. Background on Hawthorne and colonial New England is also included, as are dramatizations of pivotal scenes from the story. A Discovery University Production. (48 minutes, color) Copyright date: 1995 VHS32888
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Walden Seamlessly blending expert analysis with on-screen quotations and dramatized scenes of Henry David Thoreau’s life, this program thoroughly examines Walden—its historical significance, spiritual interpretations, and ongoing relevance to contemporary concerns. Commentary on the author, industrialization and materialism, the abolitionist movement, the Transcendentalists, and "Civil Disobedience" is provided by Thoreau scholars Robert Richardson, Thomas Blanding, and Richard Lebeaux; Elizabeth Witherell, editor-in-chief of The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau series; Ray Gerke, of the Concord Free Public Library; and others. A Discovery University Production. (53 minutes, color) Copyright date: 1997 VHS11338
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English and Irish Literature

Dracula  Dracula has sunk his teeth into popular culture like no other monster, inciting terror and stimulating desire for more than a century. Filled with film clips and dramatizations, this program analyzes the attraction of Bram Stoker’s epistolary Gothic novel while examining the Victorian and Christian themes that underlie it. Stoker biographer Barbara Belford; James Hart, screenwriter/co-producer of Bram Stoker’s Dracula; Nina Auerbach, of the University of Pennsylvania; and others shine the light of inquiry on Victorian anxieties, the mythology of vampires, Vlad the Impaler, and the writer who brought Dracula to life. A Discovery University Production. (51 minutes, color) Copyright date: 1999 VHS11450
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George Orwell's 1984 Using powerful dramatizations of scenes from 1984, this program explores George Orwell’s vision of a totalitarian future where only mindless conformity is rewarded. Orwell biographer Bernard Crick; social psychologist Philip Zimbardo; Marvin Rosenblum, executive producer of 1984; human rights advocate Robert Kirschner; futurists Ray Kurzweil and Kevin Warwick; and others scrutinize the novel while considering issues of contemporary concern, such as the power of the media and the intrusion of computer surveillance into daily life. Some content may be objectionable. A Discovery University Production. (51 minutes, color) Copyright date: 2000 VHS11313
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Great Expectations Part fairy tale, part mystery, and part horror story, Great Expectations deconstructs Victorian society to analyze what really makes a gentleman. Enhanced with dramatizations and film clips, this classic program makes a close study of Charles Dickens’ acclaimed 13th novel, the author’s life, and the era in which he lived. Interviews with Dickens scholar Michael Slater; George Newlin, author of Understanding Great Expectations; David Parker, curator of the Dickens House Museum; Linda Hooper, of the University of California’s Dickens Project; John Irving, who was inspired to be a writer by Great Expectations; and Dickens interpreter Douglas Broyles are featured. A Discovery University Production. (53 minutes, color) Copyright date: 1997 VHS32881
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Gulliver's Travels Jonathan Swift, a man of many contradictions, is considered the greatest satirist in the English language. This program intertwines a critical examination of Gulliver’s Travels and "A Modest Proposal" with incisive commentary on the author’s life, the art of satire, and the nature and limits of humanity. Experts include Joe McMinn, of Ulster University; Dr. Carole Fabricant, author of Swift’s Landscape; the keeper of the Marsh Library, in Dublin; and contemporary satirists, including musician Mark Russell. Clips from the BBC’s Voyage to Lilliput and NBC’s Gulliver’s Travels bring Swift’s masterpiece to life. A Discovery University Production. (53 minutes, color) Copyright date: 1996 VHS11312
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Heart of Darkness Published in 1902, Heart of Darkness revealed a pattern of exploitation, corruption, and casual brutality that was to occur again and again over the rest of the 20th century. In this program, parallels are drawn between Joseph Conrad’s harrowing novella and the Vietnam War epic Apocalypse Now. Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold’s Ghost; Norman Sherry, of Trinity University; Laurence Davies, of Dartmouth College; Homi Bhabha, of The University of Chicago; and Apocalypse Now’s Martin Sheen and John Milius shed light on Conrad’s life and a century of geopolitics as they parse out the story’s narrative. Film clips from Apocalypse Now and Turner Network Television’s Heart of Darkness underscore the book’s themes. Some content may be objectionable. A Discovery University Production. (51 minutes, color) Copyright date: 1997 VHS32882
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Le Morte  Darthur The legends of Arthur and his Round Table permeate English literature. Allusions to his knights, their adventures and misadventures, and their ideals pepper the canon from "Gawain and the Green Knight" well past Tennyson. The very word "legend" presumes some basis in historical reality, and this program examines the evidence for such a reality. With film clips and art, it raises Arthur from the mists of Avalon to bring to life that magical time and place when courtesy of manner, purity of heart, and fealty to one’s lord were qualities to be honored, and when good—after some dramatic by-plays—triumphed over evil. Narrated by Donald Sutherland, with commentary by Geoffrey Ashe, Derek Brewer, Norris Lacy, and Peter Field. A Discovery University Production. (50 minutes, color) Copyright date: 1993 VHS5214
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Lord of the Flies The Holocaust made an indelible impression on William Golding, leading him to see the world in a new and sinister way. This ageless program examines Sir William’s debut novel, the life of its Nobel Prize-winning author, and the unsettling parallels between the story’s literal jungle and today’s figurative urban jungle. Interviews with Judith Carver, Golding’s daughter; Patrick Reilly, of the University of Glasgow; Martin Sanchez-Jankowski, author of Islands in the Street; director Edward James Olmos; and members of the notorious Lords of Chaos are featured. Clips from the haunting 1963 film and archival news footage are included. Some content may be objectionable. A Discovery University Production. (53 minutes, color) Copyright date: 1998 
Click here to view a clip from Lord of the Flies
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Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley: Frankenstein: The Making of the Monster The Shelleys and Byron whiled away part of a rainy summer in Switzerland reading and writing ghost stories; Frankenstein was Mary Shelley’s contribution. But Frankenstein is more than a great ghost story. Its theme—that we do not know the monsters our minds can create—is perhaps even more valid today. This program contains clips from the Boris Karloff film, the prototype of movie monsters, and authors Ann Rice and Ann Mellor add their insights into this book. A Discovery University Production. (50 minutes, color) Copyright date: 1994 VHS5213
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Pride and Prejudice Originally called First Impressions, Pride and Prejudice is Jane Austen’s earliest work, yet in some senses it is also one of her most mature. Set within the context of Austen’s life and times, this program draws on the commentary of writer/director Nora Ephron, authors Helen Fielding and Fay Weldon, Wheelock College’s Marcia Folsom, Austen interpreter Judith French, and others to provide insights into the novel’s numerous themes: pride and prejudice, of course, and gender injustice, social stratification, the concept of virtue, and the institution of marriage as well. Dramatizations and numerous film clips are included. A Discovery  University Production. (52 minutes, color) Copyright date: 1999 VHS32885
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The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Is there a beast within every heart, yearning to escape? And would the opportunity to do evil anonymously be all that it takes to unleash it? In this program, Robert Louis Stevenson biographers Jenni Calder and Roger Swearingen; Jekyll and Hyde scholars Stephen Arata, Gordon Hirsch, and Tom Hubbard; and others explore those questions as they analyze Stevenson’s psychological thriller, discussing the themes of good versus evil, hypocrisy, sociopathy, and addiction. Dramatizations of scenes from the macabre tale and of key moments from the author’s life are included. Some content may be objectionable. A Discovery University Production. (51 minutes, color) Copyright date: 2002 VHS30756
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Wuthering Heights Heathcliff’s passion for the woman he could not have made him one of the most compelling characters in English literature. This program looks at how Wuthering Heights emerged from the burdens of domestic responsibility and near-madness in its author, Emily Brontë. Dramatic reenactments of scenes from the book are combined with those of life in the unusual Brontë household. Brontë biographers Juliet Barker and Edward Chitham provide additional insights into the novel. A Discovery University Production. (51 minutes, color) Copyright date: 2001 VHS30747
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World Literature

All Quiet on the Western Front Composed of scholarly commentary, film clips, readings, reenactments, and archival materials, this program thoroughly analyzes Erich Maria Remarque’s international best-seller All Quiet on the Western Front. Remarque biographers Julie Gilbert and Thomas Thornton; Cambridge University’s Jay Winter; All Quiet scholar/translator Brian Murdoch; Philip Caputo, author of A Rumor of War; and others provide insights into what has been called the greatest antiwar novel ever written. Additional topics include the birth of total war, the effects of modern warfare on the body and mind, and the post-war rise of Nazism. A Discovery University Production. (53 minutes, color) Copyright date: 1998 VHS11311
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Crime and Punishment Swayed by early 19th-century notions of "the great man," Raskolnikov believes that humanity is a weakness heroes discard; he will test himself and his philosophy by killing an old, miserly pawnbroker. Filmed in St. Petersburg and narrated by Donald Sutherland, this program explores Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s classic examination of evil’s intellectual appeal and its moral repercussions. Dramatic reenactments and location footage—even of the actual room Dostoevsky chose for his protagonist—bring the book to life. Critics and scholars commenting on the book include Harold Bloom of Yale University, Edward Wasiolek of the University of Chicago, and Dostoevsky’s great-grandson Dmitry. A Discovery University Production. (51 minutes, color) Copyright date: 1999 VHS11917
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Don Quixote In the history of the modern novel, the role of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote is seminal. This timeless program seeks to understand the monumental satire’s central underlying themes—individualism, idealism, and imagination, on the one hand, and deception, manipulation, and disillusionment, on the other—from the viewpoint of Cervantes’ upbringing and life experiences. Dramatizations deftly capture the story’s transit from comedy to tragedy. Interviews with Carlos Fuentes; Cervantes scholars Diana de Armas Wilson and Henry Sullivan; and John Allen, of The Cervantes Society of America, are featured. A Discovery University Production. (48 minutes, color) Copyright date: 1997 VHS32880
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Inferno Through his Inferno, Dante fleshed out the spatial and moral geography of Hell for the first time ever, bringing it to life in a way that both terrifies and edifies. This program tracks Dante’s allegorical journey through the underworld while providing background on the visionary poet, life in the Middle Ages, and Inferno’s influence on the arts and pop culture. Interviews with Inferno translator Robert Pinsky, Dante scholars Ronald Herzman and William Cook, the Reverend Stephen Happel, of The Catholic University of America, and others are featured, as are readings by three-time Poet Laureate Pinsky and dramatizations of scenes from Inferno and Dante’s life. A Discovery University Production. (51 minutes, color) Copyright date: 2001 VHS30303
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Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea In this program, Jules Verne scholar Walter Miller, Jaws author Peter Benchley, Verne’s great-grandson Jean-Jules Verne, and others analyze Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, an all-time bestseller that amply validates Verne’s reputation as the father of science fiction. Dramatized segments from the story and clips from feature film renditions are intertwined with details of Verne’s life to promote a deep appreciation of the author and his remarkably prescient vision. A Discovery University Production. (51 minutes, color) Copyright date: 2001 VHS30016
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Metamorphosis For Gregor Samsa, the ill-fated protagonist of Franz Kafka’s novel Metamorphosis, home is where the horror is. Filmed in Kafka’s native Prague and narrated by actor Jeff Goldblum, this program blends creative reenactments with expert commentary to explore how Kafka’s prescient masterpiece about a man turned into an insect shattered notions of the happy family and anticipated the darkness descending on Europe. The autobiographical aspects of the novel are richly documented, as are modern-day examples of what is now called Kafkaesque. A Discovery University Production. (51 minutes, color) Copyright date: 2001 VHS30743
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The Prince Written to shock and reeducate its reader, The Prince still manages to cause a stir today. This program explores the moral ambiguities of power through Niccolò Machiavelli’s treatise on political philosophy. Henry Kissinger; Yale University’s Donald Kagan; Roger Masters, author of Machiavelli, Leonardo, and the Science of Power; Riccardo Bruscagli, of the University of Florence; former presidential hopeful Gary Hart; and others consider the ramifications of political realism and point out the influence of Machiavelli on American foreign and domestic policy. Reenactments from Machiavelli’s life, period artwork, and location footage vividly evoke the man and his times. A Discovery University Production. (52 minutes, color) Copyright date: 1996 VHS11482
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Classics

The Oddysey In this classic program, translator Robert Fagles, Librarian of Congress Emeritus Daniel Boorstin, classicist Bernard Knox, archaeologist Sarantis Symeonoglou, art historian Diana Buitron-Oliv er, and Steven Tracy, of The Ohio State University, retrace Odysseus’ journey, link it to modern experience, and show how the images and events portrayed in the epic poem continue to resonate in literature, philosophy, and the visual arts. The themes of ego, temptation, survival, and homecoming are emphasized. Clips from the 1955 classic film Ulysses are featured. A Discovery University Production. (51 minutes, color) Copyright date: 1996 VHS32886
DVD32886
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