Great Books Courses (Division 382)

There are three sets of Great Books courses: Great Books 191 and 192, a two-term sequence for Honors freshmen; Great Books 201, 202, 203, and 221, a set of four courses primarily for freshman and sophomores, but open to upperclassmen as well; and Great Books 391, 392, and 393, three one-credit short courses, each devoted to the study of a single great book.

All of the Great Books courses share the same general objectives and entail similar kinds of work. The required reading in Great Books 191 and 192, and in 201, 202, 203, and 221, includes books of three different kinds: history, philosophy, and imaginative literature. Consequently these courses serve in part as introductions to those disciplines. The books for these courses are chosen for their intrinsic excellence, their nontechnical nature, and because of the influence which they exert on modern culture. These books present basic ideas and issues about the inner life of the individual, about the social and political life of man, and about the relationship between the two. Because of the range and depth of human experience which these books reflect and evaluate, they serve especially well to contribute to a student's appreciation of the development of the intellectual and emotional capacities of the mind, and of social understanding. These courses all carry humanities distribution credit.

Great Books 191 and 192 are ordinarily taken in sequence. Great Books 201 is a prerequisite for Great Books 202. There are no prerequisites for Great Books 203 or 221; Great Books 201 and 202, however, are recommended as preparation for Great Books 203. Great Books 221 Great Books of the Far East is offered only in the Winter Term; it is taught jointly by two professors, one in Chinese and one in Japanese, from the Department of Far Eastern Languages and Literatures.

Great Books 391 (Great Books in Science), 392 (Great Books in the Social Sciences), and 393 (Great Books in the Humanities) are seminars offering students the opportunity to study in depth a single major text over a period of five weeks. These short courses earn one credit each; they may be repeated for up to a total of three credits each, with the permission of the Director of the Great Books program. For distribution purposes they are "not excluded."

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

Great Books 192 is offered Winter Term, 1982.

Students in Great Books 192 will read eight major masterpieces: Virgil's Aeneid, selected books from the Bible, Dante's Divine Comedy, Rabelais' Gargantua and Pantagruel, Cervantes' Don Quixote, Shakespeare's King Lear, Goethe's Faust, and Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The assignment for the first lecture is Books 1-4 of the Aeneid (Copley translation); students are encouraged to begin their reading during vacation. Great Books 192 is open only to freshmen in the Honors Council; other students wishing to take a similar course are encouraged to elect Great Books 202. (McCullough, Paslick, Jensen, Casa, Graf, and Hornback)

201, 202. Great Books. Open to freshmen and sophomores; upperclass students by permission of the instructor only; Gt. Bks. 201, or permission of instructor, is prerequisite to Gt. Bks. 202. (4 each). (HU).

Great Books 201 and 202 are offered Winter Term, 1982.

201, Section 001. Who and what are we humans? Part of the answer to this question can be found in the "great books" we read in G.B. 201. In this class we will make living contact, through the best English translations, with the Graeco-Roman roots of Western Civilization. We will study and talk about Homer's Iliad and Odyssey; selected tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides; broad selections in the histories of Herodotus and Thucydides; some of Plato's dialogues, including the Republic; an Aristophanic comedy; and Vergil's Aeneid. This is very much a literature with a public rather than a private voice and its central concerns are ethical. Thus we will be wrestling with many moral questions and values, e.g., human responsibility, competitive versus cooperative virtues, the individual versus society, the good life. As well as attending and participating in class, students will write a few brief in-class impromptus on the day's reading, probably four two-page essays, a midterm, and a final examination. Students who are so inclined may purchase copies of the Richmond Lattimore translations of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey and get a head start on the reading. (Wallin)

201, Section 002. The focus of this course will be the "great books" of Ancient Greece and Rome. Readings will include The Iliad and The Odyssey, a number of the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes, Herodotus' Histories, Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian Wars, several of Plato's dialogues, and Vergil's Aeneid. The class will be a discussion class, so serious class preparation is expected. There will be several short papers, and a final examination.

202, Section 001. Careful reading and discussion of European masterpieces of literature from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. Texts to be studied include Dante: The Divine Comedy; Machiavelli: The Prince; More: Utopia; Shakespeare: Antony and Cleopatra, King Lear, Othello; Molière: The Miser, The Would-be-Gentleman, Don Juan; Milton: Paradise Lost; Voltaire: Candide; Cervantes: Don Quixote; and Dostoevsky: Crime and Punishment. Students are evaluated on class performance, one or two one-hour quizzes; 8-10 short impromptu essays on the reading of the day, and a two-hour final exam. Readings of 40-50 pages are an average assignment. (O'Neill)

202, Section 002. In this course we will study the Divine Comedy of Dante, three of Shakespeare's plays (Othello, I Henry IV, and The Tempest), Milton's Paradise Lost, and Cervantes' Don Quixote. We will proceed through class discussion, and we will probably write very short papers quite frequently. There will be one hour exam and a final exam. (McNamara)

203. Great Books of the Modern World. Open to freshmen, sophomores, and juniors; seniors by permission of instructor. (4). (HU).

In this course we will read and discuss great books of the modern era dealing with the problem of alienation as it relates to four major themes: man's alienation from nature; his estrangement from his fellow man; his sense of separation from the past and finally his own growing awareness of the division within himself. We will approach these four related themes from a variety of standpoints ranging from 18th-century philosophy and fiction to 20th-century drama and psychology. Our hope here is that through close textual analysis we will be better able to view these works not solely as classics in their field but as vital expressions of an ongoing tradition which has formed the consciousness of the modern age. Heavy emphasis will be placed on reading and analyzing the given texts and reflecting on them in classroom discussion as well as in written assignments (two short five-page essays, a midterm and final). Readings include: J.J. Rousseau, Discourses; Goethe, Sorrows of Young Werther; short selections from Romantic poets (Keats, Wordsworth); Henry David Thoreau, Walden; Karl Marx, The Young Marx; F. Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground; Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra; S. Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents; James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist; S. Beckett, Waiting for Godot. (Bambach)

221. Great Books of the Far East. (4). (HU).

An introduction to some of the great books that have exerted a commanding influence on the lives, thought, and literary experience of the Chinese and Japanese people through the ages, and that have the power to delight or enlighten Western readers today. Texts will include two monuments of fiction, The Story of the Stone (also known as The Dream of the Red Chamber) and The Tale of Genji, set in two high points of these great civilizations and depicting in vivid detail their splendor and decadence. Other Chinese readings will include two Confucian texts of social and political philosophy; one mystical Taoist text; one wild Buddhist text about the experience of enlightenment; selections from The Book of Songs; some plays from the Yüan Dynasty, the golden age of Chinese drama; and Monkey, a novel of myth, fantasy, comedy, and allegory. Other Japanese readings will include a samurai code; two masterpieces of the Noh theater; a Kabuki play; some poetry; one superb modern novel, Natsume Soseki's Kokoro, about Japanese society in rapid and painful transition; and several shorter modern masterpieces of fiction. The approach will be mainly literary, with glimpses of the social, intellectual, and cultural context. Occasional short written assignments, two brief papers, and a final examination are required. (Lin and Sparling)

393. Great Books in Literature, Philosophy, and the Arts. (1). (N. Excl). May be elected for a total of 3 credits.
Section 001 Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy.
A look at the first expression of Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophy as it grows out of his revolutionary experience of Dionysian Greece. The first hours will be devoted to examining the nature of this experience as well as tracing the roots of Nietzsche's intellectual development into the tragic pessimism of Arthur Schopenhauer whose theory of art dominated the latter part of the nineteenth century. Later hours will be given to the influence of Wagner and the possible rebirth of tragic myth in the midst of Victorian decline. Finally, a brief attempt to fix the role of The Birth of Tragedy in the development of the mature philosophy of the 1880's. This course will meet for five successive weeks, beginning the week of 8 February. For time and place of class meetings, contact the instructor or see the notice posted on his office door at 3208 MLB. You may also call Checkpoint at POINT-10 as soon as the information is available. (Paslick)

Section 002 Dickens' Bleak House. In this short-course we will look at Dickens' Bleak House from as many different perspectives as we can manage. We will try to discuss the whole novel each time we meet; therefore, it will be necessary for everyone to have read the entire book before the first class meeting. Please use the Penguin edition. Requirements: class attendance and participation and a 5-8 page paper. Class meeting time: Tuesdays from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. The course will meet for five successive weeks, beginning the week of 8 February. (Hornback)


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.