Kemet Klub

The Literature of Ancient Egypt


Dr Luigi Prada
8  Weeks. Monday 1st May – 19th June 2023

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The Literature of Ancient Egypt

8 x Monday Evenings 1st May- 19th June
Times: 7.30-9pm (UK Times) to join live.

We love to see you for the live lectures, but if you have to miss one, don't worry, you can of course catch up (or watch again) at your leisure via the recordings. You will have access to the recorded lectures for a whole month after the last live lecture. Recordings will be available until 19th July.

There is no doubt that ancient Egyptian literature belongs to humanity’s cultural heritage, as one of the world’s greatest literary traditions. With a text production spanning more than three millennia, from its written beginnings in the Old Kingdom through to its Coptic manifestation in Late Antiquity, it can pride itself on an incredibly prolific and varied textual corpus, including myriad genres, from religious hymns to pornography. And yet, so many of ancient Egypt’s literary treasures are still hardly known outside the walls of academia.

This course will offer a diachronic analysis of ancient Egyptian literature. Both its famous masterworks and its lesser-known gems will be presented and discussed in their historical context, through a series of lectures that will introduce the students to ancient Egyptian literary criticism, problems of interpretation of the original manuscripts, and—most importantly—to the social, cultural, and religious milieus from which these works of art originally stemmed. Students will also discuss (optional) readings of original Egyptian texts with the course instructor, in order to develop their own skills as critical readers of ancient texts. No previous knowledge of Egyptian literature or language is required to attend this course (all texts will be read in English translation).

Over this course’s eight weeks, sessions will include:

an introduction on what we mean by ancient Egyptian literature, how it should be approached, and why we need to take materiality, language, and script into account when tackling it;

* the beginnings of ancient Egyptian literature, in the Old Kingdom;

* the supposed ‘Dark Ages’ of the First Intermediate Period as expressed in its literature, between fact and fiction;

* the classics of ancient Egyptian literature, from the Middle Kingdom to the Second Intermediate Period;

* the textual culture of the New Kingdom, between politics, religion, and entertainment;

* the neglected literary gems of the Third Intermediate and Late Periods;

* the surprising cultural creations from the end of Ancient Egyptian history, including the Graeco-Roman and Coptic Periods.


Suggested anthologies:

  • Lichtheim, M. (2006 and earlier editions) Ancient Egyptian Literature. 3 volumes (The Old and Middle Kingdoms; The New Kingdom; The Late Period). University of California Press.
  • Parkinson, R. (1998) The Tale of Sinuhe and Other Ancient Egyptian Poems: 1940–1640 BC. Oxford University Press.
  • Simpson, W.K. et al. (2003 and earlier editions) The Literature of Ancient Egypt. Yale University Press
  • Wilkinson, T. (2016) Writings from Ancient Egypt. Penguin Classics.

Dr Luigi Prada

Dr Luigi Prada is Assistant Professor of Egyptology at Uppsala University, Sweden. Formerly, he was a member of the Egyptology departments of Oxford, Heidelberg, and Copenhagen University. Within Egyptology, he specialises in textual, religious, and social studies, with particular focus on the Late and Graeco-Roman Periods. He is passionate about fieldwork, and is Assistant Director of the Oxford / Uppsala epigraphic team working with Egyptian colleagues in Elkab, southern Egypt; he has also participated in fieldwork in Sudan. He is currently President of the Society of Friends and Collaborators of the Museo Egizio in Turin (ACME).

Booking instructions

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Session links will be available in the course Classroom. Room opens 30 minutes before the lecture begins. If you do not have the course link or have any other queries please get in touch

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