SENIOR HUMANITIES SEMINAR[1]

Briercrest College

IDS401

 

Joel L. From, Ph.D.                                                                               Office: Room # 132

Winter Semester, 2008                                                                           Office Hours:  M/W 4:00-5:00

3 Credit Hours                                                                                       Office: 756-3203

jfrom@briercrest.ca                                                                               Home: 756-2847

Web-page: www.joelfrom.com

 

 

COURSE OUTLINE AND OBJECTIVES

 

This course consists of interdisciplinary reading, essay writing, guided discussion, and seminar leadership. The focus will be on classical Greek and Roman literatures including texts traditionally classified as moral philosophy, drama, epic poetry, oratory, and satire. Over the course of the term, students will have many opportunities to sharpen their reflective capacities, confront alien cultures, collaborate with peers in class discussions and seminars, and engage in interpretative exercises.

 

PREREQUISITE

 

Students will typically be in their senior year of a BA in humanities; senior students in other divisions may be admitted by permission of the instructor.

 

REQUIRED TEXTS

 

Aurelius, Marcus. Meditations. Trans. Martin Hammond. New York: Penguin Books, 2006. ISBN: 9780140449334

Cicero. On the Good Life. Trans. Michael Grant. New York: Penguin, 1971. ISBN: 0140442448

Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fagles. New York: Penguin, 2006. ISBN: 0143039954

IDS401 Course Package

Quick Reference Format Guide (2007-08). Briercrest College, 2007.

 

ASSIGNMENTS

 

Assignments are due at the beginning of the relevant class period; they will be submitted with all completed work to date. No late assignments are permitted.

 

1.       Discussion Leadership (20%)

 

Each student is required to lead (or facilitate, if you prefer) the class discussion on two occasions during the semester. Discussion leaders will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

 

2.       Short Essays and Seminars (50%)

 

Each student will compose three short essays (approximately 750 words) on selected topics (see table below). The purpose of these essays is to engage the assigned texts and to explore possible ideas for the development of a (final exam) thesis. The learning approach for this assignment will be appreciative rather than critical. Give yourself the freedom to examine imaginatively rather than argue and analyze.

 

Keep rooted in the text from beginning to end. Think of the text as an environment for reflecting, musing, etc. rather than an occasion to elaborate what is already familiar to you. Also, make every effort to avoid generalizations and evaluative statements that do not contribute to a better appreciation of the text.

 

Each short essay will be comprised of the following components[2]:

 

a.       With a selected topic in view, choose a particular passage to focus on and cite it as a header (epigram) to your short essay. (3-8 lines of text)

b.      Draw out the topic from the passage and discuss it as it is situated in the immediate and larger context of the work and, if applicable, other readings encountered thus far in this class. (2 pages)

c.       Pose possible ideas for the broader development of this topic and, in connection with these ideas, develop at least three questions that are conducive to exploring the topic further with the rest of the class. (1 page)

d.      Craft a title for the essay that captures the emerging relation between the topic and text.

 

As you prepare your short essays, keep your peers in mind because you will be randomly called on twice during the seminar classes to share your essay with the class. When so chosen, you will not only read your essay aloud (10 min.), but you will guide the class in a discussion (10 min.) based on the questions outlined in your essay. This portion of your grade (50%) will be based on your three papers (3x10=30%) and your two seminar presentations (2x10=20%).  

 

The following is a list of selected topics for your short essays/seminars. Of course, not all of them will be relevant for any given text.

 

 

Afterlife, The

Ancestors/Family/Kin

Beauty

Cunning/Craftiness

Duty

Education/Formation

Eloquence

Fate/Necessity/Fortune

Foresight/Prophecy

Friendship

Goodness/Good

Gratitude

Health

Hearth/Home

Hero/Valour

Honour/Glory/Renown/Fame

Hospitality/Gifts

Ignorance/Irrationality

Justice

Kindness/Goodwill

Knowledge

Labour/Work

Loyalty

Madness/Frenzy/Mania

Nature

Nobility

Passion/Desire

Philosophy/Philosophers

Providence

Punishment

Reason/Intelligence

Revenge

Rhetoric/Persuasion

Service

Shame

Skill/The Arts

Soul, The

Speech/Words

Suffering

Virtue/The Virtues

Wisdom

Worship/Reverence/Piety

 

 

 


3.   Formal Essay / Final Exam (30%)

 

For your final exam, you will be asked to write a 12-15 page formal essay based on one (or two) of your short essays. The main learning approach for this assignment will be critical analysis rather than appreciative inquiry. You will be required to develop a clear and compelling thesis and argue it in relation to at least three of the assigned readings from the semester. This essay is due no later than the time the final exam is scheduled to begin. No late formal essays/exams will be accepted.

 

SCHEDULE OF CLASSES, READINGS, AND SEMINARS

 

Class

Readings[3]

1

Introduction: Bruni, “The Study of Literature” [CP][4]

2

Homer, Odyssey – Books 1-4

3

Homer, Odyssey – Books 5-8

4

Homer, Odyssey – Books 9-12

5

Homer, Odyssey – Books 13-16

6

Homer, Odyssey – Books 17-20

7

Homer, Odyssey – Books 21-24

8

Seminar I

9

Aeshylus, “Prometheus Bound” [CP]

10

Sophocles, “Ajax  [CP]

11

Euripides, “Bacchae”  [CP]

12

Plato, “Gorgias”  [CP]

13

Plato, “Socrates Defense (Apology)”  [CP]

14

Isocrates, “Hymn to Logos”  [CP]

Isocrates, “Against the Sophists” [CP]

15

Demosthenes, “Third Philippic”  [CP]

16

Seminar II

17

Virgil, Aeneid, Bk I [CP]

18

Cicero, On the Orator (I)

19

Cicero, “In Defense of Archias”  [CP]

20

Cicero, On Duties (II)

21

Marcus Aurelius, “Introduction”

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book I

22

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Books II, VIII

23

Lucian, “Hermotimus”  [CP]

24

Seminar III


IDS401 COURSE PACKAGE BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Aeschylus. “Prometheus Bound.” Translated by Rex Warner. In Ten Greek Plays in Contemporary Translations. Edited by L. R. Lind. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1957.

 

Bruni, Leonardo. “The Study of Literature.” In Humanist Educational Treatises. Edited and Translated by Craig W. Kallendorf. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002.

 

Cicero. “In Defense of Archias.” In Selected Works of Cicero. Roslyn, NY: Walter J. Black, 1948.

 

Demosthenes. “Third Phillipic.” In Demosthenes. Translated by J. H. Vince. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1930.

 

Euripides. “Bacchae.” Translated by Henry Birkhead. In Ten Greek Plays in Contemporary Translations. Edited by L. R. Lind. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1957.

 

Isocrates. “Against the Sophists.” In Isocrates. Vol 1. Translated by George Norlin. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1966.

 

Isocrates. “Hymn to Logos.” In Takis Poulakos. Speaking for the Polis: Isocrates’ Rhetorical Education. Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 1997.

 

Lucian. “Hermotimus or on Philosophical Schools.” In Selected Dialogues. Translated by C. D. N. Costa. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

 

Plato. “Gorgias.” Translated by W. D. Woodhead. In Collected Dialogues of Plato. Edited by Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980.

 

Plato. “Socrates Defense (Apology).” Translated by Hugh Tredenick. In Collected Dialogues of Plato. Edited by Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980.

 

Sophocles. “Ajax.” Translated by T. H. Banks. In Four Plays by Sophocles. New York: Oxford University Press, 1966.

 

Virgil. The Aeneid. Book One. Translated by Robert Fitzgerald. New York: Random House, 1983.



[1]Course content, assignments, and examinations are subject to change in the event of extenuating circumstances.

[2]Short essays prepared for the first seminar (Seminar I) must deal with passages/topics found in the readings immediately preceding it; the same is true for the essays prepared for Seminars II and III.

[3]The readings labelled “[CP]” can be found in the IDS401 course package.

[4]Please complete this reading before the first class of the semester. It would also be advantageous to read Homer’s Odyssey prior to the first class. It would exceedingly advantageous if students could also read Homer’s Iliad as translated by Robert Fagles before the semester begins. Regrettably, we cannot read the Iliad together.