The online catalogue of the GMU English Department describes this and its companion English 204, as courses in which students will study "great works of Western civilization."
"ENGL 203 focuses on writers such as Homer, Sophocles, Euripides, Dante, Cervantes, Machiavelli, and Montaigne. ENGL 204 covers writers such as Molière, Mme. de Lafayette, Goethe, Ibsen, Flaubert, Dostoyevski, Tolstoy, Mann, Kafka, Borges, and Soyinka. All readings in modern English."
The goal of 203 is, then, to study important writers from the ancient Greek and Roman world, European medieval society, and the European Renaissance up to the middle of the seventeenth century when modern science had its first successes and in England there was a civil war which adumbrated the kinds of class, religious, political, and ethnic conflicts which have transparently dominated twentieth-century thought and public experience.
In this class we will study a group of authors whose works will enable us to survey this period through an overarching theme which will focus on an significant change. For much of our period, literature was not conceived of as the product of an individual mind. Authors were not expected to invent new or original stories. They did not see their cultural values or religion as something relative, open to question; they did not look upon an individual's character as the result of a particular group of habits which could be changed. They did not see themselves as advocating reform or changes. This perspective, with which we are so familiar, emerged in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century century in Europe, and the assumptions about human nature, government, and the goal of life (individual fulfillment or, to use Thomas Jefferson's term, 'the pursuit of happiness') are different from all that went before and all that we still find in traditional societies. The Greek and Roman world and medieval Europe expected their poets to re-order mythic material in ways that would explore and effectively dramatize in an ultimately cathartic or uplifting fashion aspects of human nature regarded as eternal. They expected to see the myths of their era re-enacted before them, dramatized, pictured, or sung in ways that could give them new insight into these myths and would elaborate them in intriguingly perceptive ways. In medieval Europe, these myths were seen as large bodies of connected stories and recognized as matters: the matter of Troy found in the work of Homer and Virgil to which many of the other ancient Greek and Roman legends could be connected; the matter of Arthur or Britain; the matter of Charlemagne or France. There was the Greek and Roman 'mythology', history, and ritual plays regarded as 'high' and treated hieratically: out of this matter tragedies could be written. There were also 'low' fables, fabliau of coarse tricks and stories of everyday life whose plots were variations on one another: out of this matter came comedy. Before the Renaissance genre controls what mood a literary work takes and what happens it after; during the Renaissance an ideal of probability or realism and notion that works are intended to have an psychological effect on an audience and spring from an individual psychology begins to dissolve these controlling patterns.
The texts of our seven authors (Euripides, Virgil, Chrétien de Troyes, Geoffrey Chaucer, Francesco Petrarca, Gaspara Stampa and Thomas More) and content of our two films (Excalibur and A Man for All Seasons) will exemplify aspects of these two different outlooks on the function and nature of literature and enable us to plot the transition.
You are urged not to depend on websites for your outside reading; you are urged to use books.
In this class you will be asked to read and to demonstrate you have read and thought about all seven required books by writing four journal essays, giving one short talk or presentation, and taking a short answer test on all the required texts at the end of the term. You are also asked to write about the texts in a thoughtful and somewhat informed way.
You are asked to write three journal-essays outside class.
1) Choice of any three plays by Euripides in our Roche volume or Virgil's Aeneid.
2) Choice of Virgil's Aeneid or any two of the five Arthurian romances by Chrétien de Troyes in our Penguin edition; or a group of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.
3) Choice of a group of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales; or a comparative essay on the poetry of Petrarch and the poetry of Gaspara Stampa; or an essay on Thomas More's Utopia and Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons.
These are our "set journals" and are to be numbered (1, 2, and 3). What is a journal-essay? See attachments entitled An Essay with Guidelines and a student model. You are asked to follow the guideliness religiously in order to explore on paper what you have thought and felt after reading a text or seeing a movie, using language that comes naturally to you communicate your ideas and feelings a genuine or sincere response of your own. The aim of the writing component in my course is to help you learn to read better and to respond more thoughtfully to books and films in such a way as to communicate to others what you gained from such experiences. It is also to practice synthesizing or weaving information into an argument, information you gather from class, the introductory material in your books about the author's life and period, and what you have read about the author from the outside suggested reading. If you do not adhere to the guidelines (for example, your plot summary must not be more than 1 paragraph; your analysis of text must be 2-3 pages) I will simply return your journal unread to you with an unpleasant "F."
Due dates for the set journal-essays: you are asked to hand your work in on the day specified in the calendar; if a journal or the story is a session late, I will take down the grade an element for every sessions it is late (a B+ becomes a B, then a B- and so on).
You can revise the journals if you like. Then if your grade for the second version is higher than the first, I average the two grades together to form a single grade for each. If your grade on the second version is the same or lower, I ignore it.
You are asked to give a 5-7 minute talk either on a play or a tale that will be assigned to you. The talks will begin the third week of the semester. The idea is to practice inventing a clear thesis-statement which is supported by concrete details from a text or your own experience. One of the aims of this course is to guide students into leaning how to talk as well as how to write about texts in an educated way. To do a talk brings home two important truths about writing. To quote John Trimble, the "success of a communication depends solely on how the reader receives it", and thinking clearly with the ordinary language of everyday life is the basis of a readable essay. To do well in middle class occupations outside the classroom demands that you learn how to present yourself attractively and sell your point of view. By asking you to do a short talk you gain in poise and knowledge of how to present yourself to someone else in ways that gain respect and give pleasure.
The whole class will listen and try to respond. The ensuing dialogue and the student's own later thoughts about either what happened may teach everyone something about communication skills.
To have everyone talk on a different short piece will also make the course more enjoyable. We will get all our many points of view, begin to know one another, and decenter the classroom. Each student is responsible to do his or her talk on the day assigned; it is to be taken seriously as an individual project. The class is turned over to the student and he or she is 'on'.
Everyone is to read all the assigned texts. We will have a short answer test on them all on the last day of class. This will not take more than half an hour of our last session. There will be no mid-term period-long exam, no 2 and 1/2 hour final. On the day our class is scheduled to take a final, each student simply hands in the third and final journal-essay, and any late, revised, or compensatory work.
If you would like to bring your grade up, you can do more journals or revise the journals you have handed in. If you decide to revise a journal, the grade for the first and second versions will be averaged together to form a single grade for that journal.
'Extra credit' journals are to be written on texts by authors different from the authors whose works the student chose for the set three journal-essays. In the unlikely event that you have written so many journals that you have written about all seven authors we cover, you can choose another work by an author whose work you already wrote about. Consult me before going ahead with any extra-credit journal.
If you are disappointed in your grade for the short answer test, you can compensate (get extra credit) by writing an extra credit journal and handing that in with the final journal on the day the final journay-essay must be handed in.
1) I ask that you attend class faithfully and see the two required movies. For most students, the less they attend, the less they learn.
2) I hope that you participate in class. To do this you have to have read most of the text due to be read for a given session. Our class is large and I will use some of the time to offer historical background. Some people are reluctant to speak in public. So some of our time will be given over to the traditional lecture. However, I intend also to ask questions which are meant to generate discussion and follow up on any questions or comments students have.
In this course a number of our texts are so commonly assigned in college courses that there are Cliff and Monarch Notes available and sites on the Internet where you may copy or buy ready-made essays; they are also popular books and there are many films adapted from them whch are available at videocassette stores. Thus I will be especially on the lookout for plagiarism. DO NOT PLAGIARIZE. Plagiarism is defined by the GMU English Department as follows:
'"Plagiarism means using words, opinions, or factual information from another person without giving that person credit. Writers give credit through accepted documentation styles, such as parenthetical citation, footnotes, or end notes; a simple listing of books and articles consulted is not sufficient. Plagiarism is the equivalent of intellectual robbery and cannot be tolerated in an academic setting."
If I suspect you of, or catch you at, plagiarising, I will follow the guidelines of the English department which require that I fail such a student and report him or her to the Chair of my Department. I am serious about this.
Your grade will be reflect the work you have done over the course of the whole semester. By the end of this time I should have for each student a minimum of five grades, one for each of three journals, one for a short talk, and one for the short-answer test. These grades will be averaged together to form one final grade. If a student has done extra credit journals, he or she will have more grades to be averaged in. I then take into account your participation in class, if you came for help if you needed it; and those journals which showed that you cared, that you really thought about your subject and made an effort to find something out about, explore, and something intelligent, coherent, and complete. I recognize the value of, respect, and reward hard work when I see it.
Write to me by e-mail: Ellen2@JimandEllen.org, firstname.lastname@example.org; you can write me 24 hours a day; I look at my mail at least twice a day, and I write back. Be sure to type the e-mail address to which you wish me to send my reply at the end of your message.
You can call the phone in the office I use (993-1176) or the English office (993-1160) or leave a message in my box in the English Office, which is in Robinson Hall on the fourth floor. I have no voice mail, and there is no way you can fax me. It is also well to remember that I am on campus only 2 afternoon and evenings each week. The secretaries don't call me; they simply place put a note in my box. Further, leaving essays in my box is a chancy business because materials get lost this way. No-one stands guard over the boxes. Give it to the secretary, watch him or her date and put it in the correct box, and then leave. The safest speediest way to get an essay to me is to bring it to class on time and give it to me warm hand to warm hand. Make a second hard-copy of everything you write. It's worth the money.
Individual conferences to go over journals, and discuss reading or individual problems are available by appointment Tuesday and Thursday beween 1:30 and 2:45 pm and on Tuesday only between 4:15 and 5 pm in Robinson Hall A455. Sign up on the stenography pad which will be placed on the corner of my desk every time the class meets. I encourage everyone to come and work with me on their essays individually.
The College of Arts and Sciences runs a University Writing Center where you will find tutors to help you with writing. Their phone number is 703-993-1200. Here is a description of the place and its services:
"The George Mason University Writing Center is a writing resource open to the entire university community, offering free tutoring in a comfortable, supportive atmosphere. During face-to-face and online sessions, trained graduate and undergraduate tutors form a variety of disciplines assist writers at all stage of the writing process. Tutors emphasize positive attitudes and stratgies that help writers at any level learn to evaluate and revise their work in order to be more confident and effective writers."
To find out more and to start to use the services offered, go to http://writingcenter.gmu.edu and http://writingcenter.gmu.edu/resources/index.html/
In Class just 203.001: Tues, 1/16: Course introduction: Laying Out Groundwork
Outside Class for Class 203.001 for next time have read syllabus, Directed Journal- Essay guidelines print off net the Student Model, read and bring to class. Read also Paul Roche's 'Introduction' to Euripides: Ten Plays.
In Class both classes: Thurs, 1/18: Course Introduction: Laying Out Groundwork, and How to Write an Essay with Guidelines. Lecture on Ancient World.
Class 203.002: by next week have read syllabus, Directed Journal-Essay guidelines, the Student Model (print off from website), and Paul Roche's 'Introduction' to Euripides: Ten Plays
Both classes: by Week 2 read Euripides' Alcestis, Hippolytus and Ion. Browse all the books and pick three choices for short talks which will begin Week 3.
In Class just 203.001: Tues, 1/23: Give out short talks. Begin Euripides and start going through plays. Also introduce epic and Virgil.
In Class both classes: Thurs, 1/25:
For just 203.002: give out short talks.
Both Classes begin or carry on with Euripides and his plays and introduction to epic and Virgil.
Outside Class both classes: for Week 3 read Euripides' Electra, Iphigenia at Aulis, Medea, Trojan Women.
In Class just 203.001: Tues, 1/30: Short Talk 1: Euripides' Alcestis; class discussion of plays
In Class both classes: Thurs, 2/1:
For just 203.002: Short Talk 1: Euripides' Alcestis.
Both classes, Short Talk 2: Euripides' Hippolytus; Short Talk 3: Euripides' Ion
Outside Class both classes: for Week 4 read Euripides' Bacchae, Virgil's Aeneid, Books 1-6.
In Class just 203.001: Tues, 2/6: Short Talk 4: Euripides' Electra; class discussion of plays, including Bacchae.
In Class both classes: Thurs, 2/8:
For just 203.002: Short Talk 4: Euripides' Electra.
Both classes: Short Talk 5: Euripides' Iphigenia at Aulis; Short Talk 6: Euripides' Medea. Class discussion of plays, including Bacchae.
Outside Class both classes: for Week 5 read Virgil's Aeneid, Books 7-12, and ' The Knight's Tale' from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Write OUTLINE FOR #1.
In Class just 203.001: Tues, 2/13: Short Talk 7: Virgil's Aeneid, Book 2: The Sack of Troy; Short Talk 8: Virgil's Aeneid, Book 4: The Tragedy of Dido. Class discussion of Virgil's poem and Chaucer's 'The Knight's Tale' from Canterbury Tales
In Class both classes: Thurs, 2/15: OUTLINE FOR #1 DUE.
For just 203.002: Short Talk 7: Virgil's Aeneid, Book 2: The Sack of Troy; Short Talk 8: Virgil's Aeneid, Book 4: The Tragedy of Dido.
Both classes: Short Talk 9: Virgil's Aeneid, Book 5: Time Out for Games. Class discussion of Virgil's Aeneid.
Outside Class both classes: for Week 6 see on your own John Boorman's Excalibur; read Chrétien de Troyes's Arthurian Romances: Erec and Enide and The Knight of the Cart (Lancelot).
In Class just 203.001: Tues, 2/20: Short Talk 10: Virgil's Aeneid, Book 12: The Final Agon. Class discussion finish Aeneid.
In Class both classes: Thurs, 2/22:
For just 203.002: Short Talk 10: Virgil's Aeneid, Book 12: The Final Agon. Class discussion finish Aeneid.
For both Classes: Short Talks 11: Boorman's Excalibur: As the Story of Arthur and Guinevere; Short Talk 12: Chrétien de Troyes. Arthurian Romances, Erec and Enide: Love & Marriage. Lecture on the Medieval World
Outside Class for both classes: for Week 7, write final version of JOURNAL-ESSAY #1. Read Chrétien de Troyes's Arthurian Romances, The Knight with the Lion (Ivain) and The Story of the Grail (Perceval).
In Class just 203.001: Tues, 2/27: Short Talk 13: Chrétien de Troyes's Arthurian Romances: The Knight of the Cart (Lancelot): As the Story of Lancelot and Guinevere. Class discussion of Arthurian legends.
In Class both classes: Thurs, 3/1: JOURNAL ESSAY #1 DUE: Choice of any aspect, theme or portion of Virgil's Aeneid with a similar aspect, theme or portion of Chaucer's 'Knight's Tale' from Canterbury Tales; or a single theme across three of Euripides' plays, grouped thus: a) Alcestis, Hippolytus, Medea; b) Electra, Iphigenia at Aulis, The Trojan Women; or c) Hippolytus, Ion, Bacchae.
For just 203.001: Short Talk 13: Chrétien de Troyes's Arthurian Romances: The Knight of the Cart (Lancelot): As the Story of Lancelot and Guinevere.
Both Classes: Short Talk 14: Chrétien de Troyes's Arthurian Romances: The Knight with the Lion (Ivain): The Characters of Laudine and Lunette.
Outside class for both classes: catch up on any reading you haven't done; read Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, 'Prologue', 'Miller's Tale', 'Reeve's Tale, 'Shipman's Tale, 'Nun Priest's Tale'.
In Class just 203.001: Tues, 2/13: Short Talk 15: Chrétien de Troyes's Arthurian Romances: The Story of the Grail (Perceval): The Character of the Hero, Perceval. Return and discusson of Journal-Essay #1.
In Class both classes: Thurs, 2/15:
For just 203.002: Short Talk 15: Chrétien de Troyes's Arthurian Romances: The Story of the Grail (Perceval): The Character of the Hero, Perceval. Return and discusson of Journal-Essay #1.
Both classes: Short Talk 16: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, 'The Miller's Tale'. Class discussion of Geoffrey Chaucer.
Outside Class for both classes: for Week 10 read Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, 'Pardoner's Prologue and Tale', Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale', 'Friar and Summoner's Tales', 'The Clerk's Tale'. WRITE OUTLINE FOR #2.
In Class just 203.001: Tues, 3/20: Short Talk 17: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, 'The Nun's Priest's Tale'; Short Talk 18: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, 'The Pardoner's Tale'.
In Class both classes: Thurs, 3/22: OUTLINE for #2 DUE.
For just 203.002: Short Talk 17: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, 'The Nun's Priest's Tale'; Short Talk 18: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, 'The Pardoner's Tale'.
Both classes: Short Talk 19: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, 'The Wife of Bath's Prologue and Tale'.
Outside Class for both classes: for Week 11, read Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, 'The Merchant's Tale', 'The Squire's Tale', 'The Franklyn's Tale', 'The Canon Yeoman's Tale', 'The Manciple's Tale', 'Chaucer's Retraction'
In Class just for 203.001: Tues, 3/27: Short Talk 20: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, 'The Friar and Summoner's Tales'; Short Talk 21: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, 'The Clerk's Tale'
In Class both classes: Thurs, 3/29:
For just 203.002: Short Talk 20: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, 'The Friar and Summoner's Tales'; Short Talk 21: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, 'The Clerk's Tale'.
Both classes: Short Talk 22: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, 'The Merchant's Tale'.
Outside Class for both classes: for Week 12 write final version of JOURNAL-ESSAY #2. Read Mark Musa's introduction to Petrarch: Selections from Canzonière and Other Works; L.A. Stortoni's introduction to Gaspara Stampa: Selected Poems, and Petrarch's 'Letter to Posterity' and 'The Ascent of Mount Ventoux'
In Class just 203.001: Tues, 4/3: Short Talk 23: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, 'The Squire's Tale' . The many themes, the different designs, the different speakers brought together.
In Class for both classes: Thurs, 4/5: JOURNAL-ESSAY #2 DUE: Choice of any
one of the five Arthurian romances by Chrétien de Troyes with one of Chaucer's romantic tales (e.g, 'The Wife of Bath's Tale', 'The Clerk's Tale', 'The Squire's
Tale' or 'The Franklin's Tale'); or discuss the attitude towards sex, love, and
marriage in any one of the five Arthurian romances by Chrétien de Troyes with
one or more of Chaucer's realistic tales ('The Miller's Tale', 'The Reeve's Tale'
'The Shipman's Tale', 'The Summoner's Tale', 'The Merchant's Tale', 'The
Canon Yeoman's Tale').
For just 203.002: Short Talk 23: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, 'The Squire's Tale' ; Short Talk 24: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, 'The Franklyn's Tale'. The many themes, the different designs, the different speakers brought together.
Both classes: Short Talk 24: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, 'The Franklyn's Tale'. Last words on Chaucer. Lecture on Transition to Renaissance or Early Modern Period and the Emergence of the Woman Writer.
Outside Class for both classes: for Week 13: read Selections from Canzonière in Mark Musa's Oxford paperback edition; Stampa's 'To My Illustrious Lord' and Selected Poems up to No. 249.
In Class just 203.001: Tues, 4/10: Short Talk 25: From Selections from Canzonière: The Poetry of Petrarch: The Ways in Which Petrarch expresses Inward Conflicts. Return and discussion of #2. Discussion of Petrarch and Petrarchism.
In Class for both classes: Thurs, 4/12.
For just 203.002: Short Talk 25: The Poetry of Petrarch: The Ways in Which Petrarch expresses Inward Conflicts. Return and discussion of #2.
Both classes: Short Talk 26: From Gaspara Stampa: Selected Poems: The Poetry of Gaspara Stampa: What is the Story that Emerges from the Poems. Class Discussion on What Kinds of Writing Are Available to Women.
Outside Class for both classes: for Week 14 see and read Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons; read Paul Turner's introduction to and Book I of Thomas More's Utopia; WRITE OUTLINE FOR #3.
In Class just 203.001: Tues, 4/17: Short Talk 27: Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons: A Political Tragedy. The Breakup of Religious and Political Certainties
In Class for both classes: Thurs, 4/19: OUTLINE FOR #3 DUE.
For just 203.002: Short Talk 27: Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons: A Political Tragedy. The Breakup of Religious and Political Certainties. Discussion of Machiavel and Montaigne.
Both classes: Short Talk 28: Thomas More's Utopia, Book I: Discuss the Serious Criticisms of Society.
Outside Class for both classes: for Week 15, read Book 2 of Thomas More's Utopia, and prepare for short answer test on all the texts we read this term.
In Class just 203.001: Tues, 4/24: Short Talk 29: Thomas More's Utopia, Book II: Discuss the Ideals that are Presented. How the Renaissance period is Directly Relevant to Our Own, and wherein we are still very like a traditional society.
In Class for both classes: Thurs, 4/26:
For just 203.002: Short Talk 29: Thomas More's Utopia, Book II: Discuss the Ideals that are Presented. How the Renaissance period is Directly Relevant to Our Own, and wherein we are still very like a traditional society.
Both Classes: 20 short answer questions, a test. Final discussion of this huge sweep of time, the kinds of literature produced, the myths, the individuals.
Outside Class for both classes: for Week 16, write final version of JOURNAL- ESSAY #3; complete any late, revised or compensatory work.
Thurs, May 3rd, 4:30 -- 5:30 203.002 bring to Robinson B118 JOURNAL-ESSAY #3*, and any revisions, extra credit and compensatory journals you would like to submit.
Tues, May 8th, 1:30 -- 2:30 203.001 bring to East Building 201 JOURNAL-ESSAY #3*, and any revisions, extra credit and compensatory journals you would like to submit.
*Journal Essay #3: Choice of a comparative close reading of three poems by Francesca Petrarca with three poems by Gaspara Stampa; or an essay on Thomas More's Utopia and Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons which is to be centered on some relationship between an ideal of true integrity and the reality of political demands and human nature.