Saturday, July 21, 2007

Thematic Uncertainty

I need your help. This fall I will be teaching a General Humanities-type course that has a mostly prefab syllabus, which I can make minor alterations to, but not many. Basically, I can add things, but can't take any away. The course is pretty labor-intensive as it is designed, and if I were a student enrolling in this course, looking at the stack of required texts would make me a little nervous!

Ive been advised by my new colleagues that the best way to teach this course is to pick some sort of a guiding "theme" and try to trace it throughout the texts over the course of the whole semester. The students have so much reading to do, and they will be doing it at such a quick pace, that my colleaugues think a theme can serve as a kind of anchor (for both me and the students). So, I'm soliciting suggestions for "guiding themes." Here are (most of) the texts we'll be reading:

The Epic of Gilgamesh
Homer's Illiad and Odyssey
lots of O.T. stuff (Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Samuel, Isaiah, Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, Job)
Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War
Sophocles' Oedipus Rex and Antigone
Aristophanes' Clouds
Plato's Republic, Symposium, and Apology
Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics

My first inclination was to choose something like "friendship," but I'm not sure that's going to get me through all of the texts. I'm definitely open to having more than one theme. Help!


melanie said...

How about justice?

petya said...

How about Love, Friendship and Sexuality? You could gently introduce them to gender and feminist studies too ;)

Chet said...

i like justice too. or you could to war and creation.


LEIGH said...

Thanks, y'all. But... well, I was hoping for a little more elaboration!

Any comments on how to work these themes in the various texts?

Daniel said...

Another possible theme is individuality/society (heroism and leadership). For example, why would the most individual of people, Socrates, establish a totalitarian state (if only in words)? Contrariwise, Gilgamesh is highly individual, so much so that he abandons his kingdom. Thucydides = focus on Alcibiades. Job might be a bit trickier.

LEIGH said...

I really like that idea, Daniel. Thanks a lot.

How are things in SC, by the way?

Daniel said...

State College is lame, of course. Oh, and regarding Job, you could emphasis his conviction (individual) against his friends (society).