Prof. Jeffery W. Vail

HU 101, Fall 2003

Office # 309 C; office phone 353-2856


web page:


Office hours: Thursday 2-4

                        Friday 11-1

                        Tutorial Friday 1-2





Traditions in the Humanities

from Ancient Greece to the Enlightenment



Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces, 7th edition

Adventures in the Human Spirit, by Bishop

Paradise Lost, by John Milton


Welcome to our class!  This syllabus will list the readings, papers, films, and exams for the semester. 


After the reading list, you will find a list of course expectations.  BRING YOUR NORTON ANTHOLOGY TO ALL DISCUSSION GROUP MEETINGS.


This semester we will be learning about the development of Western culture from the Ancient Greeks to the end of the eighteenth century, a span of about 2600 years, give or take a few centuries.  We will be reading important works of literature and learning about other kinds of cultural expression, such as painting, architecture, sculpture, and film. 


Works of art are meant to give pleasure first and to be studied second, so I hope very much that whereas you will all emerge from my class knowing much more about the Western tradition than you did at the outset, you will also enjoy (or even love) our readings and discussions and have fun while you’re learning.


When to do your readings: 


· Lectures are on Monday at 3 PM.  You should have that week’s assigned reading in BISHOP done by then.


· Besides the lecture, you will have two small discussion groups later in the week.  Make sure that week’s assigned reading in NORTON is completed by the first of these two discussion groups (i.e., TUESDAY).   


Quizzes: Quizzes will be unannounced, and will deal with the readings in NORTON for that week.






Unit 1:  Ancient Greek Literature and Art


            Week 1 (9/3-9/5):  Intro to course, syllabus.

· Get started on your reading for next week as soon as you can.


            Week 2 (9/8-9/12):  Lecture on Homer and epic poetry

                        · For lecture, read “Ancient Greece: The Classical Spirit” in Bishop.

                        · For discussion (TUESDAY), read Homer’s Iliad Books I-IX


Film: Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid, Tues. 9/9 or Wed. 9/10


            Week 3 (9/15-9/19): Lecture on Ancient Greek cultural achievements

· For discussion (TUESDAY), read Iliad Books XVI-XXII                                       


Unit 2: Ancient Rome to the Middle Ages


            Week 4 (9/22-9/26): Lecture on Roman culture

· For lecture, read “Ancient Rome: the Spirit of Empire” in Bishop.

· For discussion (TUESDAY), read Ovid’s Metamorphoses (page #s to be announced.)


Film: Carl Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc, Tues. 9/23 or Wed. 9/24


Week 5 (9/29-10/3): ***NO CLASS FRIDAY***

Lecture on the fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of Christianity

· For lecture, read “The Judeo-Christian Spirit” in Bishop

            · For discussion (TUESDAY), read Old Testament, Genesis 1-12                                                         

and Jonah; and all of the New Testament excerpts      



Unit 3: The Late Middle Ages and the Renaissance


            Week 6 (10/6-10/10): Lecture on Dante & the Middle Ages

· For lecture, read “The Late Middle Ages: The Gothic Awakening” in


· For discussion (TUESDAY), read Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, cantos I-IX, XII-XV, XXXI-XXXIV


Film: Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night, Tues. 10/7 or Wed. 10/8


            Week 7 (10/13-10/17): NO CLASSES--MIDTERM EXAMS


Week 8 (10/ 20-10/24): Lecture on Renaissance in Italy

            · For lecture, read “The Renaissance Spirit in Italy,” in Bishop

            · For discussion (TUESDAY), read selections from Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso


            Week 9 (10/27-10/31): Lecture on Cervantes and Medieval Romance

· For discussion (TUESDAY), read Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote, Part 1, Prologue and Chapters 1 to 52 (pp. 1964-2020)


                        Film: Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane, Tues. 10/28 or Wed. 10/29


            Week 10 (11/3-11/7): Lecture on Northern Renaissance

                        · For lecture, read “The Northern and Late Renaissance” in Bishop

                        · For discussion (TUESDAY), read Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote, Part 2,

Prologue and Chapters 3-74 (pp. 2020-2072)

Unit 4: The Seventeenth Century and the Enlightenment


            Week 11 (11/10-11/14): Lecture on 17th Century and the English Civil War

                        · For lecture, read “The Spirit of Baroque” in Bishop

· For discussion (TUESDAY), read John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Books I-IV    


                        Film: Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard, Tues. 11/11 or Wed. 11/12


            Week 12 (11/17-11/21): Lecture on Satire

· For discussion (TUESDAY), read 1st half of Voltaire’s Candide

· For discussion (THURS/FRI) read 2nd half


            Week 13 (11/24-11/28): Lecture on the Enlightenment

                        · For lecture, read “The Spirit of Enlightenment” in Bishop

                        · For discussion (TUESDAY), read Gulliver’s Travels, Book III





Week 14 (12/1-12/5): Lecture on Swift and eighteenth-century England

· For discussion (TUESDAY), read Gulliver’s Travels, Book IV


            Film: Francois Truffaut’s The 400 Blows, Tues. 12/2 or Wed. 12/3


            Week 15: (12/8-12/12): Lecture on the Late 18th Century












Paper 1, paper 2, the midterm, and the final are each worth 20% of your final grade. The other 20% is attendance + preparation + quizzes (see below).




The midterm and final will have the same format: 25% will be on my Monday lectures and your Bishop readings; 75% will be on our discussions of the Norton readings.


Attendance, Preparation, Lateness:


Students who are absent more than once without an excuse, arrive late to class, or are not

prepared will have their course grades lowered.  I begin class on time and students who

are more than a minute late will be penalized unless they have a special excuse.  2

latenesses will equal 1 absence.  If another class of professor routinely makes you late

for my class, then that’s not your fault—come talk to me about it as soon as possible so

that I won’t mark it against you.   


20% of your final grade will be a combination of attendance, participation, and quizzes. 

The attendance part of this grade will be calculated as follows: 0-1 absences=A; 2-3

absences=B; 4-5= C; 6-7=D, 8 or more=F.  Any student with 10 or more absences will

automatically fail the course.  If you have a serious health problem or hospitalization or

are abducted by aliens or whatever I must know IMMEDIATELY, not after you have

missed two weeks of classes.  Likewise, if you know you are going to be legitimately

absent on a certain day, you MUST let me know beforehand or it will be counted as an

absence, no matter what you tell me later.  Things like “I’m going to a concert”

are not legitimate absences, by the way; if you miss class for things like that you’ll just

have to take the penalty.


Notify me of any upcoming absences VIA E-MAIL ONLY.  Do not tell me about it in

class, because I won’t remember. 




Good participation means being ready to answer if called on, always doing the assigned reading on time, being attentive, and not being disruptive.  Bad participation gets you an F for your participation grade.  Cellphones: either don’t bring them, or switch them off.  A ringing cellphone in discussion group or lecture will cause your overall grade serious damage.  


Please raise your hand when you want to say something in class, and please don’t be shy. 




All work that is completed out of class must be word-processed.  Assigned written work must be handed in in class on its due date.  Work handed in later than that (even if it is handed in later on the same day) will be penalized.  ***Keep one copy of each paper that you hand in—this is a requirement.*** 


CGS has a Writing and Academic Support Center, where you can make an appointment with a writing tutor.  BUT PLEASE NOTE: I set very high standards for the papers I read, and just because a tutor (or anyone) tells you that your paper is okay, that is NO GUARANTEE AT ALL that it will get a good grade from me.  If you are unsure about your paper at any point and you want to be safe, some and show it to me and I’ll be very happy to go over it with you. 



Plagiarism is using someone else’s words or ideas and presenting them as if they were your own.  So whether you copy out of a book or off of a web page or let another student write a paragraph for you, it is plagiarism and will be considered so.  Anyone who plagiarizes anything will fail the assignment and suffer academic probation, or worse. 


Late policy


One grade off per day late, unless I have a legitimate, written excuse (like a doctor’s note, for instance).