Monday, June 23, 2008

Lit Hum Desk Copies!

Today I picked up my desk copies for Literature of the Humanities fall term. Only TWELVE books for just the fall term! They really weigh you down! Although carrying them home made for a good workout.

So...my students will be reading:

Epic of Gilgamesh
The Bible (RSV)
Iliad
Odyssey
Homeric Hymn to Demeter
Aeschylus, Oresteia
Sophocles, Oedipus trilogy
Euripides, Medea
Aristophanes, Clouds
Plato, Symposium
Herodotus
Thucydides

So the year-long course that ends with Virginia Woolf is very antiquity-heavy, but being an antiquarian, I'm not complaining! So, we have three epic poems (four if you include the "epic" of the Bible), an epic hymn, four playwrights, two historians, a philosopher, and a partridge in a pear tree.

6 comments:

jodi said...

wow... that is quite antiquity heavy.

and---not like I didn't know this about the Core, but-- it doesn't venture very far east, except for gilgamesh. or far north, for that matter. or west of Greece-- they don't even do, like, some Virgil? :-)

Jared said...

They do Virgil's Aeneid in the second semester. Also things like Augustine, Dante, Boccaccio, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Austen, Woolf--all second semester. So, yes, the first semester is very Greek heavy, but they start moving westward and northward in the second semester. Eastward, not so much.

James said...

Do you read any women at all during the first semester?

Jared said...

Hi James,

The easy answer is "no." But, if we are focusing on antiquity, the problem is finding writings written by women.

They are rather few and far between. There are Sappho's poems, of course, and perhaps that should be brought up as an option--we have three option periods throughout the year and the instructors can include something if they feel strongly about it. Most professors in ancient history and ancient Christianity will include the Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity in a syllabus, almost as a token text, but recent scholarship has indicated that the editorial framework of the diary of Perpetua may have had a greater hand in the diary itself...meaning there is increasing doubt over whether we have Perpetua or even a woman as a writer here.

Another issue is that we have no idea who shaped a lot of these traditions, particularly the bardic traditions of Homer (other than "bards," of course). Did only men shape and pass them down? Did some mother tell these stories to her children, who told them to their children, one of whom became a professional story teller? It is impossible to tell.

But of the small handful of texts from antiquity attributed to women in any way whatsoever, none of them are on the syllabus for the first semester.

The second semester includes two: Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse.

Rebecca said...

Good luck with Lit Hum! I was a postdoc at the Heyman Center for two years in the late 90s and taught CC. Now that was heavy! There's nothing like trying to explain the categorical imperative to a group of sophomores!

Jared said...

Thanks, Rebecca. I just saw your post on the gay pride parade in Israel. I hope you are getting much research done on what sounds like a fascinating book.

I almost applied to CC, but I thought it would be good to do Lit Hum instead, partially because it is so antiquity-heavy. I could have just applied to both, but I guess now it doesn't really matter.

It seems that most religion people end up teaching CC rather than Lit Hum. It does have that Mysticism component, and a few other things (portions of the Bible--but that is in both--the Quran, etc.). Perhaps there is a close relationship between political theory and religion--both try to construct utopia (or an ideal and have an idea of its opposite). There are other, internal factors involved as well. And for Jewish Studies, at least right now, Michael Stanislowski is the chair of CC, so there will perhaps be some doors opened through him.

But this coming year there will be two incoming Lit Hum instructors from Religion...not sure if there are any second-year religion Lit Hum instructors...

I'm really excited about teaching it. I have some "fear and trembling" but at least I don't have to worry about the categorical imperative.