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Spring Semester: Syllabus and Course Information
last revised 3/30/2002

(click here for fall semester syllabus)


[click here for schedule of readings]

(Alongside each requirement is a figure in parentheses indicating its importance to your final grade.)

1. Class Participation (20%)

This course offers an unbiased forum for you to delve into (and grapple with) some of the texts that have captured the Western* imagination for up to 3000 years-and, in so doing, to forge your own intellectual identity as an educated person living in a Western culture. This will only work if you (a) READ all the assigned texts attentively and on time, and (b) show up to every class session alert, enthusiastic, and ready to share your insights into the text, however inchoate or provisional, with your classmates.

To meet minimum requirements for class participation (20% of your grade), you should plan on speaking at least once in every class.

2. Online Discussion (20%)

Before each class session, you must visit the class webpage at http://humanities.psydeshow.org; read through the background information and study questions I have posted there; and contribute to the online discussion. On your first visit to the website, when you click "Go To Discussion," you will be prompted to register using your name, email, and a password. Enter your name as you would like it to appear on the site, and a password that you can easily remember. On future visits, this name and password will give you access to the discussion. Only members of this class will have access, so that your ideas are not available to the larger Web community. (Your email address is given for registration purposes only and will be kept private.)

Your online discussion contribution (ODC) should suggest or develop a thought-provoking line of inquiry concerning a theme, motif or passage you feel would merit our collective consideration in class. Be sure to submit your ODC no later than midnight before each class. Your contribution must be specific, and explicitly linked to a particular passage or passages in the text, which you should refer to in your ODC. Vague contributions with no textual backup will not be accepted.
To read more detailed guidelines for ODCs, go to the page "What is close reading?" (under "Resources" on the website).

3. Papers (30%)

· OPTION 1: You may write three short papers of 4 pages each.
· OPTION 2: You may write two medium-length papers of 6 pages each.

I will distribute paper topics 3 times during the semester. You may choose whether to write all three papers or whether to write only two. The deadlines will be the same for both papers (i.e. whether you write a 4-page paper or a 6-page paper, you must turn it in on the same due date, listed on the schedule below). On your first paper, please indicate whether you have selected Option 1 or Option 2.

Requirements 1 through 3 will be assessed on an ongoing basis.

4. Exams (30%)

In addition to the above, you will take an in-class midterm exam (1hr.40min.) and a final exam during the University Finals Period (3 hrs.).



A maximum of 3 unexcused absences is permitted. Absences will be excused only in cases of genuine need and with advance notification. Lateness is a sign of disorganization; please do your best to avoid it.

Academic Honesty

All work submitted must be your own, and must be produced exclusively for this course. Plagiarism is easier to detect than you may imagine, and carries gruesome penalties. I strongly suggest that you acquaint yourself with the definitions and consequences of plagiarism described in your school bulletin in order to avoid inadvertent transgression.


All work will be graded A through F. You may not pass-fail this class. Your final grade will be calculated as follows:

  • Class participation .....................20%
  • Online discussion contributions ...20%
  • Papers (together) .......................30%
  • Midterm exam ...........................10%
  • Final exam .................................20%

[click here for course policies]

January Tue. 22:
Thu. 24:
Aeneid, I-III
Aeneid, IV-VI
  Tue. 29:
Thu. 31:
Aeneid, VII-IX
Aeneid, X-XII
February Tue. 5:
Thu. 7:
Confessions, I-IX
Confessions, X-XIII
paper topics distributed
  Tue. 12
:Thu. 14:
Inferno, I-XI
Inferno, XII-XXII
  MON. 18:
Tue. 19:
Thu. 21:
Paper I due at noon, to my mailbox in 708 Hamilton
Decameron: Prologue; Day I, intro & novellas 1-3; Day II, 7-10; Day III, intro, 1, 10; Day IV, intro, 1, 2, 5.

Tue. 26:

Thu. 28:

Decameron: Day V, 4, 10; Day VI, all; Day VII, 2, 6, 8, 9; Day VIII, 7; Day IX, 6, 10; Day X, 5, 10, conclusion; Epilogue
Montaigne, Essays: "To the Reader," 23; "On Idleness," 26-28; "On the Power of the Imagination," 36-48; "On Cannibals," 105-119; "On Democritus and Heraclitus," 130-133.
March Tue. 5:

Thu. 7:

Montaigne, Essays: "On Repentance," 235-250; "On Experience," 343-406.
King Lear, Acts I & II

  Tue. 12:
THU. 14:
King Lear, Acts III-V
Midterm examination
  March 18-22: SPRING BREAK
  Tue. 26:
Thu. 28:
Don Quixote, pp. 25-181; 199-214; 418-161
Don Quixote, pp. 467-492; 514-538; 562-570; 580-587; 607-624; 726-772; 926-940.
paper topics distributed
April Tue. 2:
Thu. 4:
Pride and Prejudice, pp. 1-215
Pride and Prejudice, pp. 215-345
  MON. 8:
Tue. 9:
Thu. 11:
Paper II due at noon, to my mailbox in 708 Hamilton
Crime and Punishment, pp. 1-193
Crime and Punishment, pp. 197-358
  Tue. 16:
Thu. 18:
Crime and Punishment, pp. 361-551
To the Lighthouse, pp. 3-124
  Tue. 23:
Thu. 25:
To the Lighthouse, pp. 125-209
Lolita, pp. 1-142.
N.B.: the "Foreword" by "John Ray Jr." is part of the novel; John Ray is a fictional character. Read accordingly!
paper topics distributed


Tue. 30:
Thu. 2:

MON. 6:
FRI. 10:

Lolita, pp. 145-247
Lolita, pp. 247-309

Paper III due at noon, to my mailbox in 708 Hamilton
FINAL EXAM, 12.30-3.30 P.M. (location tba)


Virgil, Aeneid, trans. Fitzgerald (Random House)
Augustine, Confessions, trans. Chadwick (Oxford)
Dante, Inferno, trans. Mandelbaum (Bantam)
Boccaccio, Decameron, trans. McWilliam (Penguin)
Montaigne, Essays, trans. Cohen (Penguin)
Shakespeare, King Lear (Pelican)
Cervantes, Don Quixote, trans. Cohen (Penguin)
Austen, Pride and Prejudice (Oxford)
Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment, trans. Volkhonsky and Pevear (Vintage)
Woolf, To the Lighthouse (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich)
Nabokov, Lolita (Vintage) -available at Labyrinth Books (112th st. between Broadway and Amsterdam).

Recommended: Diana Hacker, The Bedford Handbook for Writers. This is the required text for Logic and Rhetoric, so you probably own it already. The comments I make concerning the mechanics of your papers will be based on, and keyed to, the guidelines set forth in this book, so it will help you to acquaint yourself to some extent with its contents before beginning to write. (Besides, as writing manuals go, this one is pretty clear and easy to use.)



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