Western Humanity in Christian Perspective 1

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Course Level:
Course Length:
15 weeks
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Course Description

The first of a four-course sequence centered on great writings and works of art, music, and theatre from the Greeks through the present. Humanities stresses first-hand experience with great works that are read or experienced in their entirety when possible. Emphasis is placed on personal interaction with the texts and works of art through student writing, classroom discussion, and visits to local arts venues. As an interdisciplinary team, the Humanities faculty models the practice of learning how to learn, so that faculty and students can open themselves to new knowledge, skills, and ways of expression and perception.  Emphasis on how Christians have shaped and responded to civilization.  See next page for “course goals.”

The books and works of art and music in Humanities will often bring us back to some of the central questions of human existence: what is the nature of the human being? What is the nature of the divine?
The first question asks both about the nature of the individual self and about society: What should be the proper relation between reason and passion in a well-ordered soul? How has human creativity been expressed?  What kinds of societies make the full development of humanity possible?  What expressions of love (and practices of marriage) have thinkers considered most beneficial to the good life and the good society?
The second question introduces the nature of God (or “the gods”) and God’s interaction with humanity: what is true holiness? How does God look upon human shortcomings and evil? How do humans attain salvation?
The ways in which different cultures approach these questions is of the utmost importance.  In Humanities, we will treat a number of Western and American approaches, from Greco-Roman times to the present.  We hope this program raises those questions in ways that are both intriguing and troubling to you. We hope it shows you the necessity of entering the “conversation” that these writers and artists have begun, as you find your own role as a thoughtful citizen and faithful Christian.
Prerequisites: None

Required Texts:

  •     Plato, The Trial and Death of Socrates (Hackett, 3rd ed.)
  •     Euripides, Bacchae, trans. Paul Woodruff (Hackett 1998)            
  •     Thucydides, On Justice, Power, and Human Nature, trans. Paul Woodruff (Hackett 1993)
  •     Roger Olson, The Mosaic of Christian Belief (InterVarsity Press, 2002)
  •     Plato, The Republic, trans. C.D.C. Reeve  (Hackett, 2004)
  •     Virgil, The Aeneid, trans. Robert Fitzgerald (Random-Vintage 1990)
  •     Augustine, Confessions, trans. Maria Poulding  (New City Press, 1997, Study Edition)
  •     Dante, Purgatory, trans. Mark Musa (Penguin 1985)
  •     Reading Packet: Western Humanities I Fall 2008
  •     Marilyn Stokstad, Art: A Brief History (Prentice-Hall 2007, 3rd ed.)
  •     Muriel Harris, The Writer’s FAQs (Prentice-Hall, 2nd ed. or 3rd ed.)
  •     Available online: Classical Music Library (CML)

Course Goals:

Essential: Gaining factual knowledge (terms, historical trends, cultural concepts); Gaining a broader understanding and appreciation of intellectual-cultural activity (literature, art, philosophy, music, theology, theatre) and an ability to interpret and evaluate it. Developing skill in writing. Important: Developing a clearer understanding of, and commitment to, personal values in light of a Christian worldview.

Writing in the Humanities Program

Goals for Humanities 1 & 2
•    To develop strategies for various stages of the writing process—thinking, exploring, reading, drafting, revising, and editing.
•    To develop skills in achieving a well-focused thesis, and the unity, emphasis, coherence, organization, and completeness, which contribute to well-written essays.
•    To explore reading and writing as complementary ways of learning        
•    To learn to give and receive constructive criticism about writing-in-progress.
•    To address grammar and composition issues that one finds challenging.
Expect at least one informal writing assignment per week related either to a paper, reading, or arts experience.

Essentials of Good Writing in an Academic Setting

    • a clearly-stated, defensible thesis;
    • an argument which supports that thesis, using appropriate examples and/or quotations;
    • a sound organization, including a beginning, middle, and end;
    • coherent paragraphs & logical transitions;
    • sound grammar & proper format.

To meet these goals, Humanities 1 offers three optional writing seminars that focus on common college freshmen writing weaknesses.  See the course schedule for dates.

Students are also encouraged to take advantage of tutoring at a writing center, and to attend TA read-alouds and study sessions, which are offered regularly throughout the semester.

Important: All assignments must be completed for you to pass this course.
• The academic honesty applies in this class (see current catalogue, indexed under “Academic Honesty”).
• Humanities is a four-course sequence that replaces five General Education courses.  Students who drop Humanities after one semester will earn elective credit only. Students who complete the first two Humanities courses receive partial Gen Ed credit.
• Your section leader will supplement this syllabus with details appropriate to your individual section.
• Many course materials will be made available to students through our “Blackboard” page on our website.   To access it, you must first create an online academic account.


Plus & minus grading will be used
Due Date    Assignment    Weight
Oct. 2, 4, 5    MIA participation and response    5% (50 points)
Thurs, Oct. 9    Paper #1 (750 words)    15% (150 points)
Fri, Oct. 17    Midterm Exam    15% (150 points)
Thurs, Nov. 13    Medieval Evening participation and response    5% (50 points)
Wed, Dec. 10    Final Exam    15% (150 points)
Mon, Dec. 15    Paper #2 (1250 words)    15% (150 points)
Various    Seminar Assignments (quizzes, papers, participation, projects)    30% (300 points)

Attendance Policy & Class Participation: Lectures will give essential cultural history, which will be tested later. Small group seminars will supplement and extend assigned readings and lectures. These discussion seminars will also provide opportunities to explore the readings and works of art, consider paper and informal writing topics, and prepare for exams.  Trips to plays, concerts, and museums are required.  Absences will affect your learning in this course and may lower your grade.

Accessibility, Appeal of Grades, Complaints. Students seeking (1) disability-related accommodations, (2) grade appeals, or (3) the complaint procedure should review policy information at http://bethelnet.bethel.edu/collegefaculty/Policies/index.htm Accommodations are set up through the College Disabilities Office, Kathy McGillivray, Director. A letter from the Disability Office is needed to obtain accommodations.


Greek & Roman Antiquity

Week One

Day 1    Meet in your section (seminar) room
Introduction to course; history of the Greek Polis; the philosophy of Socrates
Day 2    From The Trial and Death of Socrates:
    Introduction (pp. iv-v)
    Plato, Apology (pp. 20-42)

Week Two

Day 1    Meet in your lecture room (D mod: CC313; F mod: RC417)
Greek Art & Architecture – Wayne Roosa
    Stokstad (pp. xxv-xxxi, 1-19, 87-113)
Day 2    Greek Drama & the Crisis of Fifth-Century Athens – Joey Horstman
    Euripides, Bacchae (including Introduction: pp. ix-58)
Day 3   Bring Bacchae and Thucydides to class
    Thucydides (pp. xvi-xix, 12-13, 39-58)

Week Three

Day 1        Thucydides (pp. 66-76, 89-94)
Day 2       Thucydides (pp. 100-124, 139-154)
Day 3   Plato’s Forms and Greek History Through Alexander – Carrie Peffley
    Plato, The Republic: Intro, Synopsis, Books I and II
    (pp. ix-xxvii, xxx-xxxiii, 1-65)

Optional Writing Seminar
TBD    Optional writing seminar #1 (6:00-6:30; room TBA):
Playing and Persuading – Or, “Don’t Bore the Reader!” – Joey Horstman

Week Four

Day 1        The Republic: Book III (only 412b-417b) and Book IV (pp. 96-135)
Day 2        The Republic: Book V (only 473d-480), Book VI (only 504a-511e), and Book VII (pp. 166-175, 198-237)
Day 3        The Republic: Books IX and X – Banishing the Poets (pp. 270-326)

Optional Writing Seminar
TBD    Optional writing seminar #2 (6:00-6:30; room TBA):
Introducing and Transitioning – Or, “Don’t aggravate the Reader!” – Joey Horstman

Week Five

Day 1    Roman Art – Wayne Roosa
    Stokstad (pp. 114-133)
Day 2        Virgil, The Aeneid: Books I-III (pp. 3-91)

Day 2.5    First (evening) visit to the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA)
(reserve your spot on blackboard)

Day 3    The Roman Republic and Empire – Samuel Zalanga
    The Aeneid: Book IV (pp. 97-121)

Day 3.5   Weekend visits to MIA
(reserve your spot on blackboard)

Week Six

Day 1        The Aeneid: Books V-VI (pp. 125-192)

Day 2    Paper Conferences (sign up for a conference time with your seminar professor)

Day 2.5    Paper #1 Due

Day 3   Fall Break – No Class

Week Seven

Day 1    discussion of The Aeneid
(optional: see your seminar professor) in Reading Packet:
    Plautus, Pot of Gold (pp. 1-19)

Day 2    Exam review

Day 3    Midterm Exam (in seminar room)

Christianity and Medieval Europe

Week Eight

Day 1    Jesus & The Early Church – Michael Gross
Bring Reading Packet to lecture
    Luke 1-4; Acts 1-2; Acts 17: 16-34
    Mosaic, Chpt. 1
    In Reading Packet:
        Justin Martyr, First Apology (pp. 20-42)
        “Martyrdom of Perpetua & Felicitas” (pp. 43-48)
Day 2   Theological Disputes of the Early Church: Trinity & Incarnation – Juan Hernandez
Bring Reading Packet to lecture
    Mosaic, Chpt. 6
    In Reading Packet: Nicene Creed (p. 49)
Day 3        Mosaic, Chpt. 10
    Stokstad (pp. 162-189)

Week Nine

Day 1    Augustine – Angela Sabates
    Confessions: Intro (pp. 9-33) and Book I
Day 2        Confessions: Books II-IV
Day 3        Confessions: Books V-VIII

Week Ten

Day 1        Confessions: Book IX
Day 2    Medieval Theology & Philosophy: The Atonement & the Proof of God – Carrie Peffley
    Mosaic, Chpt. 11
    In Reading Packet:
        Anselm, “The Ontological Argument” (Proslogion) (pp. 57-60)
        Anselm, “Cur Deus Homo: ‘Why God Became Man’” (pp. 61-75)
Day 3        In Reading Packet: St. Catherine, “The Dialogue” (pp. 76-85)

Week Eleven

Day 1    Medieval Synthesis (Sacraments, Feudalism) – Angela Sabates
    Stokstad (pp. 240-271)
    Listen to your own choice of Gregorian Chant on CML (Classical Music Library)
Day 2    York Play or Everyman
Medieval Evening
Day 2.5    An experience of worship and a discussion with a Catholic Religious at House of Hope Presbyterian Church, St. Paul
Day 3        Dante, Purgatory, intro and Cantos 1-8

Week Twelve

Day 1    Dante’s Purgatory, Courtly Love, & the Great Chain of Being – Mark Bruce
    Purgatory, Cantos 9-17
Day 2        Purgatory, Cantos 18-26
Day 3        Purgatory, Cantos 27-33

Week Thirteen

Day 1    Medieval Art – Wayne Roosa
    Stokstad (pp. 272-303)
Day 2    Dante/Medieval art discussion

Thanksgiving Break  

Week Fourteen

Day 1    In-class paper workshop
Day 2    Paper Conferences (sign up for a conference time with your professor)
Day 3    Sacred Polyphony & Secular Medieval Music – Stephen Self
    From CML:
        Machaut, “Messe de Notre Dame” (Gloria and Kyrie) and
            “Ma Fin est ma Commencement”
        Notre Dame Organum:
            Leonin, “Viderunt Omnes”
            Perotin, “Sederunt Principes”
        Troubadour/Trouvere Chanson:
            Walther von der Vogelweide, “Unter den Linden”
            Bernart de Ventadorn, “Quan vei la Laezeta Mover”

Optional Writing Seminar
TBD   Optional Writing Seminar #3 (6:00-6:30; room TBA):
Precision/Clarity/Efficiency – Or, “Impressing Your Reader” – Joey Horstman

Week Fifteen

Day 1 12-8    Exam review
Day 2 12-10    Final Exam
Day 3    Paper #2 Due