Great Books Courses (Division 382)

191. Great Books. Open to Honors freshmen only. (4). (HU).

Great Books 191 will survey the classical works of ancient Greece. Among the readings will be Homer's Iliad and Odyssey; a number of the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes; Herodotus' Histories; Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War; and several of Plato's dialogues. The course format is two lectures and two discussion meetings a week. Six to eight short papers will be assigned; there will be midterm and final examinations. Great Books 191 is open to freshmen in the Honors Program, and to other students with the permission of the Director of the Great Books Program. (Cameron)

201. Great Books. Gt. Bks. 201 is not open to students who have taken Gt. Bks. 191 or Classical Civ. 101. (3). (HU).
SECTION 001.
Unless you care to think and talk and write about such matters as responsibility, courage, honor, friendship, loyalty, goodness, death, desire, power, and justice, this course is not for you. If you do care about what is true or noble or good, you may enjoy the contacts we will make, through reading excellent English translations, with the Greek roots of Western Civilization. Our texts will include Homer's Iliad and Odyssey (the Lattimore translations); selections from the Histories of Herodotus; a few tragedies of Aeschylus and Sophocles; a few of Plato's shorter Socratic dialogues and the Republic; and selections from Aristotle's Ethics. As well as attending and participating in class, students will write several short papers (for a total of 10-12 pages), a midterm, and a final exam. (Wallin)

SECTION 002. This course will concentrate on one city Athens - for about one century the Fifth, B.C. and the literature produced there (tragedy, comedy, history, and philosophy). But everything begins with Homer - right? and so shall we, with The Iliad, which sets the tone for what will follow in the course and in much of Greek culture. For contrast, we will consider Job as an expression of some central values of a rival culture, the Judaeo-Christian. Then to Athens for the flowering of tragedy (Sophocles: Antigone, Oedipus Rex), comedy (Aristophanes: Lysistrata, Clouds), history (Thucydides: History of the Peloponnesian War) and philosophy (Plato: a few short dialogues and The Republic.) Finally, if time allows, we shall look to Rome and Lucretius' The Nature of Things, a remarkably "modern" cosmology, but essentially a Latinated version of the ideas of a Greek philosopher, Epicurus. We shall explore both the intrinsic properties of these great works and their functions as cultural indices, considering not only what they reveal about the ancient world but also about ours. The format of the class will be primarily discussion, with a background lecture now and then. (Beauchamp)

SECTION 003. Most of us in this class are shaped by what we loosely call our Western heritage; whatever else that may mean, it includes our common roots in the Graeco-Roman and Judaeo-Christian traditions. These roots are shared assumptions embodied in the great epics (Iliad, Odyssey, Exodus), tragic dramas (of Aeschylus and Sophocles), histories (Herodotus), and philosophy (Plato) works which have influenced Western minds for centuries. Careful reading of these and other important works can lead to a deeper understanding of how our ancestors thought and felt and how these books have shaped our own assumptions about what it means to be human. This class will be concerned with making these works part of our own individual experience and our own "permanent and personal intellectual property" by reading, analysing, and discussing them and their effects on us. Students will be evaluated on class performance, three or more papers, a midterm and a final exam. (Crump)

SECTION 004. In this course you will read, discuss, and write about a number of books that have achieved a very special standing in our culture. Written two thousand years ago for audiences with backgrounds and expectations totally unlike our own, these books have preserved their value and importance with ease. Because they force us to consider important questions and values, because they make us think about the kind of persons we are or want to be, these books are as much our heritage as the rules of arithmetic. I want you to become comfortable reading some of these books and eager to use them in forming your own education. The works we will read will include the Iliad and Odyssey, the histories of Herodotus and Thucydides, some Greek dramatists, and Plato. Besides the readings and class discussions, you will be responsible for two short essays, an hour exam, and the final. (Lindner)

291. Great Books of Modern Literature. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors in the College Honors Program. (3). (HU).

This course is designed to be a continuation of Great Books 192 for Honors sophomores and deals with books from the Renaissance to the present. Great Books 192 dealt thematically with the integration of the individual into larger institutions and traditions, and the sequel, Great Books 291, will deal with the subsequent resistance, repudiation, and withdrawal from such traditional communities. The specific reading list remains to be determined, but the most likely candidates would be: Cervantes, Don Quixote; Goethe, Faust; Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment; Flaubert, Madame Bovary; Melville, Moby Dick; and Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist. (Cameron, and others)

350. Great Books of the Founding Fathers. (3). (HU).

"Great Books of the Founding Fathers" will explore the writings of the founding generation of the American Republic. The first third of the course will focus on pre-Revolutionary and Revolutionary writings: Jefferson's Summary Views of the Rights of British America, John Dickinson's Letters From a Pennsylvania Farmer, Thomas Paine's Common Sense, the Declaration of Independence. It may be possible in this section, also, to include some brief selections from Locke, Montesquieu, and Adam Smith, in order to place American thought in its European context. The middle third of the course will focus on the creation of the Constitution, through a reading of Madison's Notes on the Debates of the Constitutional Convention, and the Federalist Papers. The final third will explore the Founding Fathers' conceptions of themselves and their world, by reading Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia, and selections from his letters in the Koch and Peden edition, John Adams' Autobiography and perhaps the Discourses on Davila, Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography, and Washington's Farewell Address. I expect to require two shorter papers (5-10 pages), one due at the end of each of the first two sections of the course, and a final examination at the conclusion of the course. Enrollment will be limited to about 35 students, and the classes will rely upon discussion as much as possible. (Thornton)

393. Great Books in Literature, Philosophy, and the Arts. (1). (HU). May be elected for a total of 3 credits under different topics.

SOPHOCLEAN TRAGEDY. This short course will meet October 14 through November 13 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 until 12 noon. Student grades will be based upon class participation, a short paper (4-5 pages), and an exam to be given in the last class meeting, Thursday, November 13th. Our two texts will be: Sophocles, The Three Theban Tragedies (Penguin edition, translation by R. Fagles), and Sophocles II, Four Tragedies (Univ. of Chicago paperback). We will read, discuss, interpret, and criticize all seven of these extant tragedies of the central figure among the three great Greek tragedians. The nineteenth-century poet Matthew Arnold described Sophocles as a man who "saw life steadily and saw it whole" but also as one who heard "the eternal note of sadness" and was preeminently sensitive to "the turbid ebb and flow of human misery." We will explore the pervasive theme of the justice of the universe in the plays, as well as such other themes as human responsibility, necessity, and freedom. Oedipus, Ajax, Antigone, Electra, Philoctetes, Creon, and others and their choices will hold our attention as we try to understand the nature of tragedy as Sophocles wrote it. (Wallin)


lsa logo

University of Michigan | College of LS&A | Student Academic Affairs | LS&A Bulletin Index

This page maintained by LS&A Academic Information and Publications, 1228 Angell Hall

The Regents of the University of Michigan,
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 USA +1 734 764-1817

Trademarks of the University of Michigan may not be electronically or otherwise altered or separated from this document or used for any non-University purpose.