This is a two-in-one course that offers 56 hours of live instruction and combines a study of classical literature with a high school composition course. Students will read the oldest stories we have in Western literature, dating back to 1200 B.C.: They'll start with the epic poems of Homer, The Iliad and The Odyssey, and move on to the Greek tragedies of Aeschylus and Sophocles.

The class will meet online twice a week: on Tuesdays for literature discussion and on Wednesdays for writing instruction and workshop. Students will learn techniques of argumentative and analytical writing and will write eight essays by the end of the year. They will also practice public speaking through in-class discussions, debates, and a presentation or two. It's going to be epic!

Enroll Today!


Course Duration:

  • September 3, 2024 - April 25, 2025 (28 weeks)
  • 1st Semester: Sep. 3 - Dec. 14, 2024 (No classes week of Thanksgiving)
  • 2nd semester: Jan. 13 - April 25, 2025 (Spring Break week of March 10)

Live Online Class Schedule:

  • Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00 p.m. Pacific, 3:00-4:00 p.m. Eastern (Literature)
  • Wednesdays, 12:00-1:00 p.m. Pacific, 3:00-4:00 p.m. Eastern (Composition)

Office Hours:

  • Thursdays, 12:00-1:00 p.m. Pacific, 3:00-4:00 p.m. Eastern

Teacher-Student Interaction (Weekly):

  • Two, 60-minute live classes
  • One graded writing assignment with detailed feedback
  • Office hour for additional coaching (optional)

Class Size:

  • 18 student maximum, 5 minimum

Questions? Email

[email protected]

Course Texts

Not Included with Course


The Iliad by Homer
translated by Richmond Lattimore

The Odyssey by Homer
translated by Richmond Lattimore

The Oresteian Trilogy by Aeschylus
translated by Philip Vellacott

The Theban Plays by Sophocles
translated by E.F. Watling

One more literary text TBD, if time allows.


The MLA Handbook

Two Study Guides

Included with Course

Let's Read The Iliad! Study Guide
written by Ms. Finnigan

Let's Read The Odyssey! Study Guide
written by Ms. Finnigan

These study guides, written by your instructor, will aid literary analysis, reading comprehension, and critical thinking and help you prepare to write the papers.



Complete reading assignment and study guide questions; watch short lecture; take quiz (2-3 hours)


Meet for literature discussion (1 hour)


Meet for writing class (1 hour)


Optional Office Hour; complete Writing Assignment (1-3 hours)


We'll be learning (and reviewing) the fundamentals of writing: skills that are easy to learn but hard to master. Some skills, such as quote integration and MLA conventions, will be new to most students. Students will practice and practice (and practice) throughout the year. Being graded on a consistent rubric, they will be able to track their progress toward specific goals.

Literary Analysis

Every great paper begins with active reading, note-taking, and subjective interpretation.

Thesis and Brainstorming

You need to write a solid thesis and brainstorm your reasoning and support.

Organizing Ideas

Specific techniques can help you arrange your ideas and see relationships between them.

Concrete Support

Find the best evidence for your position and integrate it well.


Turn your outline into a polished essay in accordance with academic conventions.

Critical Thinking

Practice these skills over and over and develop awesome critical thinking skills!

Ellen Finnigan

Your Teacher

Hello! I received my B.A. in English from Boston College and my M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Montana. I like to say "I was teaching online before it was cool." I taught high school at Kolbe Academy Online for nine years, and before that at a hybrid school called St. John Bosco in Atlanta.

While I've been teaching writing and literature for a long time, I've never had the chance to teach these subjects the way I believe they should be taught: together. Stand alone writing courses and impersonal "scoring" services are, from what I've seen, not very effective at the high school level.

I know what is.

Check out the testimonials and the video that explains what makes this course unique -- and truly epic!

If you have any questions about whether this course is right for your student, please email me and tell me a little bit about him or her. I want my students to be successful and I will give you my honest assessment!

Please don't let the words "college prep" scare you off. If your student doesn't plan to go to college, then this course might be even more important for them to take. If you email me, I'll tell you why!

[email protected]

More About This Class

0:00 Benefits of learning literature and writing in the same class
2:26 Getting students to engage with the text
6:09 Student engagement in live classes
8:37 AI? Don't even try!
11:04 Contemplative Learning
13:30 Depth over breadth
16:04 Structure, Not Symmetry
18:04 Focus of each quarter
20:00 What makes it "epic"?


"Mrs. Finnigan always gives a large amount of feedback on papers. Even when the grade is not amazing, she gives plenty of feedback on how to do better, what was done well, and what was not done well. For papers she gives a 'point of focus' which is something to especially work on for the next paper."


"Mrs. Finnigan always has a fun attitude and disposition, and works hard to make the class as uplifting as possible. Seeing her example, I am inspired to always do better and to work harder."


"Mrs. Finnigan asks questions about the reading and assigns essay prompts that are difficult and thought-provoking. I may not always appreciate this, as it can be frustrating at times to have such hard homework, but once I've finished an assignment, when I look at it again, I can see how it has helped me gain a better understanding of what we're learning and my faith."


"...during our discussions, she never fails to consider the Catholic point of view on the character's actions or words."


"Throughout her classes, Mrs. Finnigan uses examples of the books to help us make the right choices in life. Like how Achilleus' pride and anger caused his death in the end. She used that to teach us the gifts and benefits of humility and patience. Once she shared one of her past temptations and regrets that was similar to the reading and it was eye-opening because everyone has their temptations but in the end, it is not worth sinning for."


"She keeps us in check, makes the class fun, and we even end up learning something! Who could ask for more?"


"Ms. Finnigan speaks directly to the students in engaging and intellectually stimulating ways. This is one of the point she shines brightest at."


"Ms. Finnigan was very professional and handled serious topics well."


"Engages all students intellectually in the classroom and encourages critical thinking skills. Students are being challenged to think and make connections through both the instructional activities and discussion questions…Treats each student with charity and compassion."

Student Testimonial

Parent Testimonials

“I have known Ms. Finnigan for almost 10 years, and she has taught all 4 of my children in an online school setting. Before we began the high school online curriculum, I was fearful of being able to pass on the knowledge of a classical education – Greek Literature, Roman Literature, The IliadThe Odyssey, The Great Dialogues of Plato, Creative Writing, poetry, etc…. I had never read those Great Books, nor was I a strong writer. Ms. Finnigan assuaged my fears, and she began the process in my children’s minds of them being able to think critically about a piece of literature. By her ability to bring their own viewpoints out in class by participation and discussion, without any particular bias on her part, she opened their minds to a deeper analysis of these works, along with a deeper analysis of themselves. How fortunate a student is to have Ms. Finnigan as a teacher!”

-Elyse Williams

"Ellen Finnigan is an educator in the truest sense of the word. My two high school age children have flourished under her mentorship, both in her literature and writing classes. Her use of the primary texts of The Iliad and Odyssey provides a unique and challenging curriculum for any high school student. Ellen masterfully guides students through this rigorous material with enjoyable and thought-provoking discussion. She engages her students, going out of her way to connect with them personally and creates a camaraderie within the class to facilitate thoughtful discourse. Equally as impressive is Ellen’s ability to teach writing. From inviting topics to prompt feedback, Ellen provides professional critique in a naturally supportive manner that coached my teens to communicate their thoughts and ideas with clarity, creativity, and skill. I cannot thank her enough for her influence in my teens’ intellectual development and life."

-Bernadette Reidy

"Mrs. Ellen Finnigan is one of those rare teachers who effectively combines deep subject knowledge, abundant joy, engaging inspiration and captivating creativity in her approach to teaching children. For over six years, Mrs. Finnigan instilled a love for literature and writing to four of my children through her classes in Greek literature and creative writing. Her writing tutorial has been indispensable to preparing my children for college level writing. Mrs. Finnigan’s joy for teaching is genuine and made every class exciting and enjoyable for the children. She enabled her students to recognize the deeper meaning of the great literature of the past and draw on its impact on their lives and its meaning in the modern world. I would sincerely and enthusiastically recommend Mrs. Finnigan to any parent as their child’s teacher."

 - Greg Simia

"In Mrs. Finnigan you have the stellar combination of a great teacher and an amazing person. Being at the same time professional and warm-hearted, she inspires her students to bring their best into her literature and writing classes. She meets students where they are ability-wise, and brings out the best in them with her encouraging and detailed feedback. She has a great grasp of the literature she teaches and the human nature that lies behind it. She came alongside my daughter in many ways in her life during her high school years, and we are forever grateful."

- Amy Grasso

Why Read The Iliad

Not convinced? Give me five minutes...(actually six and a half...)

Notes to Parents

On Recordings

Recordings will not be sold nor made available to anyone outside of class.

On Religion

The Study Guides and video lectures are "Catholic and Classical". They deal with moral, spiritual, and philosophical questions from a Christian perspective, and they draw on the 2,000-year-old intellectual tradition of the Catholic Church to articulate and present that perspective. However, this is not a theology course. The religious content is very general and should be acceptable to any Christian, whether Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant.

Not a believer? Perhaps, you will find the religious content interesting from a cultural or historical perspective. After all, the pagans who told these stories for hundreds of years were religious people: They believed in divine beings, they engaged in religious rituals, they worshipped, they prayed. Most of them eventually converted to Christianity. The materials will sometimes ask you to think about differing concepts of the divine, make connections with Sacred Scripture, or engage in introspection and spiritual reflection. If these exercises are not valuable to you, you can skip them, and you will still get a lot out of this study!

Non-Christians are welcome to take this course, as long as the Christian religion is respected.

Most paper topics will not require you to consider the Christian point of view, and will certainly not require you to write from that point of view, although you are welcome to incorporate this point of view if you desire. If Ms. Finnigan suggests a "Christian" paper topic, she will always provide an alternative for students who want another option.

Learning Objectives

Improve Active Reading and Note-taking Skills

Develop Excellent Reading Comprehension

Hone Critical Thinking Skills such as Analysis, Inference, Reflection, Comparison and Contrast

Improve Powers of Insight and Skills of Argumentation

Formulate Original Ideas and Explain Them Well

Express Ideas with Confidence by Practicing with Peers in a Supportive Atmosphere

Master Conventions of Academic Writing (MLA) Expected at a College Level

Identify over 30 Literary Devices

Understand the origins and foundations of Western Literature

Write convincingly with confidence!

In class, practice communicating with courage, clarity, and charity!

Enroll today!