Instructor: Kenny Morrell
Meeting Time and Place: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1:00 to 1:50 pm; Barret Library 214.
Instructor’s Office: Halliburton Tower (Gooch Hall) 403.
I am generally on campus from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 pm. My scheduled office hours this semester will be on Mondays from 9:00 to 10:00 am; Tuesdays from 1:00 to 2:00 pm; and Wednesday from 10:00 to 11:00 am. I am also happy to schedule a meeting at our mutual convenience. You may assume that I am available for consultation whenever I am in my office with the door open. If you find my door closed, I am either not in my office, or I am in my office but in a videoconference. Please do not knock.
Telephone: My office phone number is 901-843-3821, which forwards to my cell phone, 202-257-6269. I do not have a landline at home. (Feel free to call between the hours of 7:00 am and 10:00 pm)
Electronic communication: I prefer that you use email@example.com. (My account at Rhodes is firstname.lastname@example.org.) You can also use email@example.com. My Skype and Google+ name is kennymorrell.
This course fulfills one of the first foundation requirements (F1), which calls for you to:
Critically examine questions of meaning and value. Questions about the meaning and purpose of life are central to human existence. Every area of the Rhodes curriculum touches in some way upon such problems and questions, whether directly as in moral philosophy, epic poetry, and political thought, or indirectly as in studies of the history of medieval Europe, economic theory, and the physical structure of the universe. This requirement is to be satisfied with three courses, either the Search sequence or the Life sequence.
This course also fulfills one of the second foundation requirements (F2i), which calls for you to:
Develop excellence in written communication. The ability to express concise and methodical arguments in clear and precise prose is essential to success in most courses at Rhodes and in most of the vocations Rhodes graduates pursue. This requirement will be satisfied by one writing seminar (taken in the first year) and two writing intensive courses, one of which will be in Search or Life.
Beyond challenging you to examine your perspectives and values, this course also aims to help you develop the ability to:
1. Read critically
2. Discuss your ideas cogently
3. Identify a passage from the readings and describe it in clear, concise academic prose
This course focuses on developing the ability to read critically, listen attentively, and construct knowledge from the readings and through conversations with other members of the class in both written and spoken contexts. Consequently, the most basic requirement for this course is attending the plenary sessions and colloquia. The attendance policy reflects national norms based on data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Full-time employees on average receive eight days of paid sick leave per year. The semester consists of approximately sixteen weeks, or one third of a year, so you may miss up to three class periods for whatever reason without penalty. Your performance on the quiz at the beginning of every colloquium will provide a record of your attendance. (You will indicate whether you attended a plenary session in the quiz during the following colloquium.) For each session you miss after those three allowed absences, I will subtract three points from your attendance grade. So, for the fourth time you miss class, your attendance grade will go down to ninety-seven from one hundred. Your grade for attendance will account for ten percent of your final grade.
The plenary sessions serve two important functions in the course. First, they provide contextualizing information for the readings. Second, they offer members of the Search community the opportunity to develop the ability to listen carefully and critically follow a verbal and visual presentation.
As noted on “Humanities 102 (Spring 2017),” one of the goals of this course is to help you develop an ability to express your “views clearly and respectfully in conversations with others.” To this end, you must contribute substantively to the discussions that take place during colloquia.
Contributing to those discussions will require you to
1. Engage thoughtfully with the reading before coming to class
2. Have access to a copy of the text and your notes during the discussion
3. Listen carefully and respectfully to what other members of the class say
4. Express your ideas clearly, concisely, and politely and supporting your views with appropriate evidence
The format of the discussion may vary, and other activities such as debates and working on assignments in small groups may take place during the colloquia. We will observe a professional decorum during class. Here are the guidelines:
1. Be on time.
2. Bring the texts we are discussing to class along with your project notebook (as described below) and the tools you will need to record your thoughts in the notebook (e.g., pencils or pens). You may not take notes on a laptop. The act of typing not only disrupts the conversation it is also yields fewer cognitive benefits. (For more on this, see Mueller and Oppenheimer 2014.)
3. You will complete an online quiz at the beginning of each class session, as described below, so you will need to access the Internet, for example with a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. After you take the quiz, you may continue to use a tablet to access the readings, if you are using digital editions. You may NOT use smartphones or laptops and MUST put them away for the duration of the class unless directed otherwise by the professor as part of the activities of the colloquium.
4. Unless there is some emergency you should plan on remaining in class for the full fifty-minute period. Please use the restroom before colloquium or wait until after.
5. You may bring a beverage to class but dispose of chewing gum before the colloquium begins. Do not bring food (unless it is a special occasion, you bring enough for everyone in the section, and you have made arrangements with the professor in advance).
Please bear in mind that the time we spend in the colloquia will never be sufficient to address the full range of ideas, topics, and concerns that will arise from engaging with the materials we study. Typically, for each colloquium we will discuss just one topic. Your responsibility for the assigned readings, therefore, will extend well beyond what we can explicitly cover in class during any one colloquium.
We will stream and record all of our colloquia via the YouTube channel for Zētēsis. Participants in the colloquia will serve four roles, as assigned randomly using random.org: the epistātēs (ἐπιστάτης), who will initiate and direct the discussion, the ereunētés (ἐρευνητής), the researcher, who will manage access to online information to supplement the conversations, the optēr (ὀπτήρ), who will manage the videography, and the statistikológos (στατιστικολόγος), who will track the discussion and score contributions to the discussion based on an evaluative rubric. Serving as statistikológoi may require some work after class, depending on how well accurately and attentively they score the students’ comments during the course of the discussion. The statistikológoi may have to review the recordings on YouTube to ensure accuracy. To receive their ten extra points quiz points, the statistikológos will return the scoresheet the following class meeting. The scorecards will constitute documentation of attendance and participation in colloquia.
There will be thirty-five colloquia this semester. I will expect every student to participate significantly in at least thirty-two of those discussions. Making two complete and substantive contributions to the discussion will constitute significant participation, for which you will receive a point. Failing to contribute substantively will yield a zero for the day. At the end of the semester, I will divide the number of points you have accumulated by thirty-two. That score, a percentage, will represent your grade for the discussion component of the course, which constitutes twenty percent (20%) of your final grade. The scorecard will document your participation in the discussion. Those who serve as epistātēs, ereunētés, optēr, and statistikológos will automatically receive a point for the colloquium.
For further information with regard to discussions, read “About Discussions during Colloquia.”
At the beginning of every colloquium, there will be a short quiz on the assigned readings and the content of plenary sessions. Typically, the quizzes will consist of five multiple-choice questions. Your performance on the quizzes will account for ten percent of your final grade.
Engaging thoughtfully with the readings before (and after) the common sessions and colloquia has historically included such activities as
1. Marking the text (underlining, highlighting)
2. Annotating the text with observations, explanatory notes, and cross-references to other passages and texts
3. Recording notes, observations, and questions about the readings in a journal
4. Writing brief summaries of the readings and outlines of the arguments
Recording one’s ideas and perspectives is as important as conceiving and developing them. The value of an education in the liberal arts has been a recent topic of interest. Here are just three articles that have appeared over the last few years:
Edgar Bronfman, “Business and the Liberal Arts,” Inside Higher Ed, https://www.insidehighered.com/views/2013/10/17/liberal-arts-are-best-preparation-even-business-career-essay
Laura Entis, “Is There a Place for Liberal Arts in Business?” Inc., http://www.inc.com/laura-entis/6-cases-for-the-value-of-a-liberal-arts-education.html
You might also enjoy watching and listening to presentations from a conference sponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges that took place on September 17, 2015 in Washington, D.C., on “Securing America’s Future: The Liberal Arts in Action.”
One of main aspects of such an education as reflected in the objectives for this course is the ability to write clearly, concisely, and cogently. This will be vital not only for you success in this course and during your academic training here at Rhodes but in every phase of your professional engagement after you graduate. Here are just two examples of how people, who have shaped your lives in very tangible ways value this skill. The first is from Andrew Grove, who joined Intel at its founding in 1968 as the director of engineering and eventually became CEO (At this very moment you are likely to have a device with an Intel chip), writes in his High Output Management (1995) about writing:
So why are written reports necessary at all? They obviously can’t provide timely information. What they do is constitute an archive of data, help to validate ad hoc inputs, and catch, in safety net fashion, anything you may have missed. But reports also have another totally different function. As they are formulated and written, the author is forced to be more precise than he might be verbally. Hence their value stems from the discipline and the thinking the writer is forced to impose upon himself as he identifies and deals with trouble spots in his presentation. Reports are more medium of self discipline than a way to communicate information. Writing the report is important; reading it often is not” (48).
A second perspective comes from Amazon. In his article about the founder, Jeff Bezos, Adam Lashinsky writes in the December 2012 edition of Fortune:
Jeff Bezos likes to read. That’s a dog-bites-man revelation if ever there was one, considering that Bezos is the cerebral founder and chief executive of a $100 billion empire built on books. More revealing is that the Amazon CEO’s fondness for the written word drives one of his primary, and peculiar, tools for managing his company: Meetings of his “S-team” of senior executives begin with participants quietly absorbing the written word. Specifically, before any discussion begins, members of the team–including Bezos–consume six-page printed memos in total silence for as long as 30 minutes. (Yes, the e-ink purveyor prefers paper. Ironic, no?) They scribble notes in the margins while the authors of the memos wait for Bezos and his minions to finish reading.
Amazon executives call these documents “narratives,” and even Bezos realizes that for the uninitiated–and fans of the PowerPoint presentation–the process is a bit odd. “For new employees, it’s a strange initial experience,” he tells Fortune. “They’re just not accustomed to sitting silently in a room and doing study hall with a bunch of executives.” Bezos says the act of communal reading guarantees the group’s undivided attention. Writing a memo is an even more important skill to master. “Full sentences are harder to write,” he says. “They have verbs. The paragraphs have topic sentences. There is no way to write a six-page, narratively structured memo and not have clear thinking” (100).
As you read in the information for this course, your success in this course will depend in part in your ability to record the observations and questions that you generate during reading the assigned texts in a form that will help you contribute to the discussions in class, prepare for quizzes and examinations, and formulate topics for your writing assignments. Ultimately recording ideas in written form constitutes the process of constructing knowledge. Your journals will also play a role in the assessment of your work in this class. Not only will you need to substantiate your comments in class with references to what you have WRITTEN in your journal, but I will from time to time ask you to READ or SEND me AN IMAGE of what you have recorded. Consequently, your journal must conform to the following specifications:
1. It must be bound so pages will not fall out (i.e., no spiral-bound notebooks).
2. The pages must be numbered.
3. At least two pages at the beginning of the journal must be left free to accommodate the table of contents you will construct at the end of the semester.
Please obtain a project notebook from Bookfactory.com. Please bring your project notebook to every plenary session and colloquium along with the texts. Your performance in the discussions will reflect the quality of what you record in your journal.
For further information concerning preparation for the discussions in colloquia, see “About Journals.”
There will be one 50-minute midterm during the semester. It will be available at 8:00 am on Sunday, February 25, and you will have until 8:00 am on the following day, Monday, February 26, to complete the exercise, which will account for ten percent of your final grade. It will cover all of the Roman and Hellenistic material, that is, Epicurus’ “Letter to Herodotus,” “Letter to Pythocles,” and “Letter to Menoeceus,” Vergil’s Aeneid, the readings from Seneca’s Dialogues and Letters, and “The Life of Nero” by Suetonius. It will also cover the readings from the New Testament: Acts, Paul’s letter to the Romans and his two letters to the Corinthians, and the gospels of Matthew and John. The final examination will be available on Monday, April 30 at 1:00 pm and will be due on Tuesday, May 1, at 3:30 pm. You will have 150 minutes to complete the exam, which will cover material from the second half of semester: the gospel of John, “The Martyrdom of Sts. Perpetua and Felicitas” and “The Acts of Paul and Thecla, Augustine’s Confessions, Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, Ibn Ishaq’s Life of Mohammad, selected suras from the Qu’ran, Dante’s The New Life and Divine Comedy, and selections from Christine de Pizan’s The Book of the City of Ladies. Like the midterm, the final examination will be worth ten percent of your final grade. Both tests during the semester will require you to identify, contextualize, and interpret passages drawn from the texts we have read. These identifications should be one or two paragraphs in length and include the following elements:
1. Name and author (if known) of the text in which the passage appears
2. The context within the narrative where the passage appears, and, if the passage is a quote, the speaker and addressee
3. The significance of the passage both within the context of the relevant narrative itself and the broader themes, ideas, and concepts we address in the course
As noted above, this course has an intensive writing component, which fulfills one of the three F2 requirements. You will complete three writing assignments this semester. In compliance with the requirement of an F2i course, members of the class will revise one of their two assignments. Each assignment will be at least 1,500 words in length and must conform to the principles outlined in “Guidelines and Objectives for the Writing Assignments.” Each of the assignments will account for twelve percent (12%) of the final grade, and the revision, for another six percent (6%). For the first two of these assignments, you will serve as an editor for another member of the class. Your work in this role will account for eight percent (8%) of your final grade. In short, your work on these three assignments will account for half of your grade for the semester. They will be due on the following dates at 11:59 pm:
Sunday, February 11
Sunday, March 18
Sunday, April 29
The revised assignment will be due at 11:59 pm on Sunday, April 8.
As noted above, the three central activities of this course are (1) carefully reading and critically thinking about the texts, (2) articulating your understanding and perspectives on the texts during the colloquia, and (3) expressing your ideas in written form observing the conventions of academic writing. Generating and sustaining a discussion that enables the participants in the class to construct knowledge of the material is the highest priority for every colloquium. To discuss other aspects of the course, such as the writing assignments, examinations, and additional contextualizing information, or to continue particularly productive conversations and consider other texts, works of art, or films, I have scheduled six workshops, which will take place in the Language Center on Tuesday evenings and begin at 7:00 pm. Attendance at these sessions is voluntary, but those who attend will receive three points of extra credit, which they may apply to any grade on a written assignment or examination. Here are the dates of the workshops and tentative topics:
|Day and Date||Topic|
|Tuesday, January 16
7:00 to 8:30 pm
|Introduction to the course; review of work from last semester.|
|Tuesday, January 30
7:00 to 9:30 pm
|Review of colloquia, preparation for first suasoria and midterm examination. Please note that this workshop will last until 9:30 to afford sufficient time to view “Lives of Others” (2006).|
|Tuesday, February 20
7:00 to 9:30 pm
|Review of colloquia, preparation for second suasoria. This meeting will last until 9:30, so we can view “A Separation” (2011).|
|Tuesday, March 20
7:00 to 8:30 pm
|Discussion of Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy,|
|Tuesday, April 3
7:00 to 8:30 pm
|Review of colloquia, the plenary lectures, and writing assignments|
|Tuesday, April 17
7:00 to 9:30 pm
|Review of colloquia, preparations for the final examination and the third suasoria, which will address the situation depicted in “Of Gods and Men” (2010).|
The college and humanities program often sponsors various events related to this course and its objectives. For each of these events you attend, you can earn up to three extra-credit points and apply them to your grades from examinations and writing assignments. Qualifying for credit requires (1) attending the event, (2) taking notes in your journal, (3) writing a summary of no more that 250 words in your journal about what you learned or found interesting, and (4) taking a picture of the summary in your journal and texting it to me. The events for this semester are:
On Thursday, February 1 at 7:00 pm Janet Stevens will offer a presentation on “Rediscovering Ancient Roman Hairdressing” in Blount Auditorium.
Summary of Graded Components
For each of the following components, you will receive a grade of one to one hundred, which will then contribute to the final semester grade in the following percentages:
|Component||Percentage of Final Grade|
|First writing assignment||12%|
|Second writing assignment||12%|
|Third writing assignment||12%|
|Revision of the first or second writing assignment||6%|
Required Audio Recordings
We will engage with the Aeneid as Virgil’s as performance, much as the audience of his day would have experienced it. We will take the same approach for Augustine’s Confessions, and Dante’s Divine Comedy. Please obtain the following audiobooks, which will accompany the texts that appear in the bibliography below.
Virgil. Aeneid. Translated by Robert Fagles. Narrated by Simon Callow. New York: Penguin Audio, 2006. [Audible]
Augustine. Confessions. Translated by R.S. Pine-Coffin. Narrated by Mark Meadows. Naxos AudioBooks, 2017. [Audible]
Dante. The Divine Comedy. Translated by Clive James. Narrated by Edoardo Ballerini. Audible Studios, 2013. [Audible]
With the exception of secondary materials, such as the introductions, none of the texts we will read and study originated in English. They will all be translations from Latin, ancient Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, or Italian, and for each one a number of translations are available. Consequently, the success of our collaborative engagement with the texts in this course will depend partly on working from the same versions. For example, when the time comes for you to identify and discuss passages on the midterm and final examinations, they will come from the editions listed below. Therefore, everyone in the course will need to have these specific translations in printed or digital formats. Ebook versions are available for all of the readings, and I have provided links in square brackets after each item to the sources. As noted above, I welcome the use of digital versions and will use them myself. However, if you choose to use them as well, you will need to access them during class on a tablet.
Augustine (Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis). The Confessions. Translated by R.S.Pine-Coffin. London: Penguin, 1961. [Amazon: printed] [Note: do not purchase the Kindle version, which is from another edition.] [Audible: audio]
We will also read selections from the following texts, which will be available in electronic format on the website. If you are interested in obtaining the books, I have provided links to the printed and ebook versions (if available).
“The Martyrdom of Saints Perpetua and Felicitas.” Translated by H. Musurillo. From Women’s Religions in the Greco-Roman World: A Sourcebook. Edited by Ross Shepard Kraemer. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004, 356-367 [Google play: 751-770]. [Google]
“The Acts of Thecla.” Translated by Ross Shepard Kraemer and J. K. Elliott. From Women’s Religions in the Greco-Roman World: A Sourcebook. Edited by Ross Shepard Kraemer. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004, 297-307 [Google play: 628-650]. [Google]
Emendata and Addenda
Tuesday, January 23:
Revised section on special events, adding further details about qualifying for credit and information about the first two events.