In this freshman seminar, we will read and discuss a landmark of world literature, the ancient Roman novel by Apuleius entitled The Golden Ass. In the novel, we follow the journey of the protagonist and narrator, Lucius, first as he seeks to learn about magic and then, after a magical transformation gone awry, as he navigates the Roman world as a human mind trapped in a donkey’s body. The story is brilliantly told, occasionally disturbing, sometimes crude and sometimes elevated, and always entertaining and thought-provoking. In our reading, we will have the opportunity both to learn about the world depicted within the novel, so different from our own, and to discuss the book’s preoccupations, for example, magic, curiosity, desire, sex, allegory, violence, religion, animals, fiction, philosophy, and what makes a good life. Above all, we will consider the novel as a meditation on how and why people tell, and read, stories. There will be no written assignments in this course; the only requirements are that you 1). complete the weekly readings, 2). think about them, and 3). on the basis of your reading and thinking, contribute actively and constructively to our in-class discussions.