English 390/488:  HONORS SEMINAR—SELECTED CLASSICS OF EUROPEAN THOUGHT

 

 

FALL SEMESTER. 2000.  DAVID MYCOFF.

 

     The word classics  presents several problems, most of which arise from the associations that many people make with it, particularly the notion that the term implies a claim that the “classic” work represents an exclusive excellence.  I would never make such a claim, simply because there are just too many good books in the world. 

   For our purposes, a classic is a work that has had broad and deep influence on European cultures, and in some cases, world cultures.  Most of the works selected for study in this course are, in addition, quite dialogic in nature, even if they are not written in formal dialogue form.  They present a conversation of perspectives on problems that the culture has found to be durable, intractable, and important.  And they are books that many people over long periods have loved and admired, or, just as significantly, feared and hated.

     

Texts

 

1.  Plato, Republic.  Oxford UP. ISBN 0192833707.

 

2.  Plato, Symposium.  Hackett.  ISBN 0872200760.

 

3.  Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics.  Oxford UP. ISBN 019283407X.

 

4.  Augustine, Confessions.  Viking-Penguin.  ISBN 014044114X.

 

5.  Three Early Modern Utopias.  Oxford UP.  ISBN 0192838857.

 

6.  Martin Luther, ed. John Dillenberger, Martin Luther:  Selected Writings.  Anchor-Doubleday.  ISBN 0385098766.

 

7.  Montaigne, Essays.  Viking-Penguin.  ISBN 0140446028.

 

8.  Voltaire, Candide and Other Stories.  Oxford UP. ISBN 0192834266.

 

9.  Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man.  Hackett.  ISBN 0872201473.

 

10.  Goethe, Faust, Part I.  Viking-Penguin.  ISBN 0140440127.

 

11.  Victor Hugo, Les Miserables.  NAL-Signet.  ISBN 0451525264.

 

12.  Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago.  Pantheon-Random House.  ISBN 0679774386.

 

 

 

Requirements

 

·        Punctual and faithful attendance

·        Punctual completion of assigned readings

·        Short weekly papers (more below)

·        One extended formal essay, minimum ten pages

·        One take-home essay final exam

 

Short Weekly Papers

 

    Each of you will write a short paper (2-3 pages) each week responding to the assigned reading. On a regular rotation, each of you will read your short paper as a means of initiating class discussion.  I will grade these papers as Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory.  A cumulative grade for the short papers, based on the number of Satisfactory  grades, will be used in computing your final grade for the course.  All Satisfactory grades = 98; all but one = 90; all but two = 85; all but three = 75; all but four = 65.  Five or more Unsatisfactory grades will result in a cumulative grade of 55.  I will grade these papers on their relevance to the readings, on how well they pose the problem for discussion, and on their correctness in usage.  I do not expect elaborately developed arguments in a mere three pages.

 

Final Grade Computation

 

·        Cumulative grade on weekly papers = 50%

·        Grade on longer formal paper = 25%

·        Grade on final exam = 25%

 

Guest Seminar Participants and Facilitators

 

     I extend an open invitation to anyone to participate in the seminar as a guest.  I will expect guests either to have read the assignments freshly or to be working out of a long and close familiarity with the text.

     From time-to-time. other faculty members will be leading our discussions as “guest facilitators.”


 

WEEK ONE

 

M 21 August.  Introduction to the course.

W 23. Plato, Republic, 3-98.
F 25. Plato, Republic, 98-189.

 

WEEK TWO

 

M 28. Plato, Republic, 190-319.

W 30. Plato, Republic, 320-379.

 

WEEK THREE

 

M 4 September.  Plato, Symposium (all.)

W 6. Plato, Symposium continued.

F 8.  Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1-78.

 

WEEK FOUR

 

M 11. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics,  79-191.

W 13. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 192-276.

 

WEEK FIVE

M 18.  Augustine, Confessions, Book 1-6.

W 20. Augustine, Confessions, Book 7-9.

F 22. Augustine, Confessions, Book 10-13.

 

WEEK SIX

 

M 25.  More, Utopia (all).  Bacon, The New Atlantis  (all).

W 27.  More and Bacon continued.

 

WEEK SEVEN

 

M 2 October.  Luther,  Preface to the Epistle to the Romans, 19-34; Preface to the Epistles of St. James and St. Jude, 35-37; The Freedom of a Christian, 42-85.  

W 4. Luther,  The Bondage of the Will, 166-203.

F 6. Luther continued.  Montaigne, Essays:  selections to be announced.

 

 

WEEK EIGHT

 

M 9. Montaigne, Essays:  selections to be announced.

W 11. Montaigne, Essays:  selections to be announced.

 

MIDTERM BREAK

 

WEEK NINE

 

M 23.  Victor Hugo, Les Miserables, 1-119.

W 25.  Les Miserables, 120-239.

F 27.  Les Miserables, 239-508.

 

 

WEEK TEN

 

M 30.  Les Miserables, 509-624.

W 1 November.  Les Miserables, 625-935.

 

WEEK ELEVEN

 

M 6.  Les Miserables, 935-1147.

W 8.  Les Miserables, 1147-1246.

F 10.  Les Miserables, 1246-1463.

 

WEEK TWELVE

 

M 13.  Voltaire, Candide  (all).

W 15.  Candide continued.

 

WEEK THIRTEEN

 

M 20.  Paine, The Rights of Man, 2-112.

W 22.  No class. Thanksgiving Break.

F   24.  No class. Thanksgiving Break.

 

WEEK FOURTEEN

 

M 27.  The Rights of Man, 113-232.

W 29.  The Rights of Man, continued.

 

WEEK FIFTEEN

 

M 4 December.  Goethe, Faust, Part One (all).

W 6.  Faust, Part One continued.

F 8.  Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago, 3-131.

 

WEEK SIXTEEN

 

M 11.  Doctor Zhivago, 132-418.

W 13.  Doctor Zhivago, 419-559.

F 15.  Take-home final exam due.