This course provides an introduction to the study of literature and culture through close readings of texts (in English) that many readers have found valuable for inspiration or guidance in their own lives. It will consider works in relation to the social, cultural, political, and artistic movements from which they evolved, and what each work meant to its first readers and, in more searching detail, what it can mean to us now, in terms of our own values and understanding. We may also consider questions of what makes a work of literature ¿great.¿ Is greatness a relative concept? Who gets to choose what great means? What is the impact of literary greatness on the cultural history of a society?