Antiquity & Modernity is a year-long exploration of the formation and transformation of some Western worldviews – conceptions of what is most fundamental and important in human life, both as it is and as it ought to be. We will explore ways of understanding nature, society, the self, and the transcendent. Attention will be given not only to the continuity within the dominant worldviews, but also to competing and alternate visions. The course will examine some of the important individuals, texts, and events that have significantly shaped, reshaped, and challenged these worldviews.
This semester, we will focus on Antiquity. We will explore representative texts from several of the principal roots of Western culture: the earliest literature of ancient Mesopotamia, classical Greece, the Hebrew Bible, the Roman empire, and the initial development of Christianity. We will conclude with Augustine’s attempt to synthesize aspects of these sources into a single vision.
This class is “core” not only in texts and
ideas, but also in skills. We will be engaged in an intensive exercise
in careful reading, thoughtful reflection, enlightening conversation,
and lucid writing. Our goal as a group is to help each other further develop
and refine these skills.
One of the main purposes of Antiquity & Modernity
is to help students personally engage difficult texts like the
ones we read. While I will sometimes present background information, alternative
interpretations, or so on, those occasions will be rare and brief. The
bulk of our class time will be spent actively working with the readings
and the larger issues that they suggest, through whole-class and small-group
discussions and other activities.
No dozing in class! It is
extremely rude toward those who are speaking, and tends to dampen the
energy and involvement of the group as a whole. Research shows that someone
dozing off hardly retains anything anyway. So, if you find yourself that
drowsy, you should simply go home and nap instead of coming to or staying
in class. If I see anyone dozing off, I’ll interrupt class and ask
that person to leave.
Hacker, Diana. A Pocket Style Manual. 4th ed. New York: Bedford / St. Martin’s, 2004.
A good dictionary (You can’t understand the readings if you don’t know what the words mean!)
A 3-hole punch
Apuleius. The Golden Ass. Trans. E.J. Kenney. New York: Penguin Books, 2004.
Augustine. Confessions. Trans. R.S. Pine-Coffin. New York: Penguin Books, 1961.
The Epic of Gilgamesh. Trans. and Ed. Benjamin R. Foster. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2001.
Euripides. Medea. Trans. Rex Warner. Euripides I. Ed. David Greene and Richmond Lattimore. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955.
---. The Bacchae. Trans. William Arrowsmith. Euripides V. Ed. David Grene and Richmond Lattimore. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1959.
Herodotus. The Histories. Rev. ed. Trans. Aubrey de Sélincourt. New York: Penguin Books, 2003.
The New Oxford Annotated Bible. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.
Perpetua. What Would You Die For? Trans. Caitlin Allender, et al. Ed. Joseph Walsh. Baltimore: Apprentice House, 2006.
Plato. Euthyphro. Trans. G.M.A. Grube. Rev. John Cooper. The Trial and Death of Socrates. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co., 2000.
---. Symposium. Trans. Alexander Nehamas and Paul Woodruff. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co., 1989.
Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1985.
Preparation and Daily
Questions — 20% of your
— 20% of your total grade
— 45% of your total grade (15% each)
— 15% of your total grade
** NOTE: You cannot pass the class if:
All of the work that you submit in this course must be entirely your own. Of course, you can seek help in a variety of ways as you prepare your papers. So it is permitted for you: to consult additional readings, to search for material on the internet, to discuss your ideas with other students, to exchange notes with other students, or to read and to discuss drafts of each other’s papers. But it is not permitted for you to use someone else's words or ideas in your written work without giving proper acknowledgment. Guidelines for citation can be found in Hacker’s Pocket Style Manual.
Plagiarism will not be tolerated in any form.
You have signed a statement indicating that you understand and will abide
by the College policy on plagiarism. Any student caught plagiarizing
will automatically fail the course, and may be expelled from the College.
For more details, see the Student Handbook.