Thursday, 6:00-8:30 p.m.
Dr. Michael Hall and Dr. Peter Losin, Lecturers in University Honors; Program Officers, National Endowment for the Humanities
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to some of the most important texts that have shaped the western intellectual heritage. The readings are grouped around three general topics: the Classical Heritage, the Biblical Tradition, and the Early Modern Inheritance. Unifying all three sections is the common theme of the hero and society. We will be asking questions such as: What constitutes a hero? How is the hero related to society? How do conceptions of heroism change over time? The readings will offer an opportunity to examine literary, philosophical, religious, and intellectual conceptions of heroism. We will consider examples as diverse as Achilles, Oedipus, Antigone, Aeneas, Socrates, David, Samson, Dalila, Henry V, and Montaigne.
In addition to this substantive goal, the course has the additional pedagogical purpose of teaching students how to explicate texts carefully and intelligently and how to write about them analytically. While the instructors will briefly set out the historical context of each reading, the greater part of each class will be devoted to close reading and discussion of each text from various perspectives, including ethical and cultural as well as aesthetic.
Each student will write at least two of the three assigned short papers (3-5 pages) analyzing the texts and take a final examination at the conclusion of the course.
Homer, The Iliad; Sophocles, Oedipus Rex, and Antigone
Plato, Euthyphro, Apology, and Crito; Virgil, Aeneid
Judges, Samuel I & II; Milton, Samson Agonistes
Shakespeare, Henry V
Machiavelli, The Prince; Montaigne, Essays