World Literature Courses

Adolescents in Literature (rev. 5/10)

One semester course
Open to 10, 11, 12
Range of difficulty 2-4

1. Rationale

The figure of the adolescent has become a central one in twentieth century fiction, offering recurrent experiences of isolation, displacement, shattered memory and hope, and the consequent search for identity, trust, and generativity. This course asks students to see adolescent crises not as a passing show but as a vital part of an integrated life. The questions raised by our readings' protagonists are not temporary but lasting concerns.

We focus on character analysis in our readings--how often motive is multiple and so how often personality retains its mystery. Students explore issues drawn from the human life cycle, emphasizing Erik Erikson's healthy stages of trust, autonomy, initiative, industry, identity, intimacy, generativity, and integrity. They will write from personal experience on these concerns: we are seeking applied knowledge.

2. Topics and Themes Emphasized

The diversity of adolescent experience in many cultures.

The role of pain in creating identity.

The evidence for change, growth, expanding vision across adolescence.

The strategies against isolation and for intimacy.


3. Methods and Sample Assignments

Thinking and questioning.

All must use analytical skills. We try to find what questions and choices are presented to the protagonists. Final papers or test questions often ask students to relate these parts, distinguish patterns, and explore how each section speaks to other moments in a work or art.

Students are often asked to consider which human crises are at work at a given moment in their life and in the art they study.

In addition, students free-write, are asked to take ideas from freewriting and pursue them to their logical conclusion. Often these freewritings are used to generate writing from experience. Two sample assignments are attached below.


4. Expectations for Students

Students are expected to read several poems, a play, short stories and several novels during the course. In addition, they will view and discuss two or three films.

Listening skills are crucial to encourage class discussions of reading and experience. Notetaking skills are needed from which to write intelligently on essays and/or tests in class. Finally, a willingness to write honestly of experience is needed to complete many of the creative assignments successfully.

5. Reading List and Other Materials

Works are drawn from among:

Poems of Nikki Giovanni, Theodore Roethke, Gary Synder, Karl Shapiro
Equus, Peter Schaffer
Master Harold and the Boys, Fugard
Harold and Maude, Colin Higgins
From Rockaway, Eisenstadt
Behind the Door, Giorgio Bassani
Letter to his Father, Kafka
"I Stand Here Ironing," Tillie Olsen
"The Lame Shall Enter First," Flannery O'Connor
The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner, Sillitoe
The Swell Season, Joseph Skvorecky
Floating in My Mother's Palm, Ursula Hegi
Annie John, Jamaica Kincaid
Stories from the Rest of the World, Graywolf Anthology
Somehow Tenderness Survives (South African short stories)
Kite Runner, Husseini
God’s Mountain, De Luca
Rain, Gunn
Kitchen, Yoshimoto
Margherita Dolce Vita, Benni
Bonjour Tristesse, Sagan
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Chbosky
Meely Labauve, Wells
Stargirl, Spinelli

Films include:

Hey, Babu Riba
Closely Watched Trains
Mon Oncle Antoine
Almos' a Man
400 Blows

Almost Famous
Breakfast Club
Breaking Away
The Adolscence of Utena or Akira
The Butterfly

Sample Assignments

Compose a letter to your father modeled on Franz Kafka's Letter to his Father. You need not come to the same answers he does but you might ask some similar questions. Be sure to summon several particular moments of experience with your father that reveal the nature of your relationship. Kafka's letter is over thirty pages long and was never delivered. Yours must be five. (Delivery is optional.)

Compose a story in your mother's voice delineating her vision of your life from pregnancy to now. Use Tillie Olsen's "I Stand Here Ironing" as your model.


Biblical and Classical Literature (rev. 4/11)

One semester
Open to 10, 11, 12
Range of difficulty 1-3

1. Rationale

Some knowledge of both Biblical and Classical literature is essential for understanding the literary and cultural foundations of Europe and the Americas; a foundation in these literary traditions is useful for understanding much of the ethical and intellectual basis of the West; and acquaintance with these traditions is valuable in and of itself, as many of the greatest stories, characters and imagery of Western literature come from these traditions.

While it is impossible to divorce the stories of the Bible from their religious context, the purpose of the course is to study both Biblical and Classical literature as literature, not as religious text or received truth. Thus both traditions are treated as much as possible in their original context and without religious bias.

2. Topics and Themes Emphasized

Students read biblical and classical literature with an emphasis on their literary context and historical influence. Some of the themes are the tragic view of life, the heroic view of life, humanity's view of the gods, the differences between biblical and classical cultures--especially in religious beliefs and ethical doctrine, sexism and racism in both cultures, and the general influence of both traditions on our culture.

Other themes and topics arise, but they are mostly subsumed by one of these broader themes. The course is divided into one quarter of classical literature and one quarter of biblical literature, not necessarily in that order.

3. Methods and Sample Assignments

The primary method in this course is reading and discussion; the importance of reading is emphasized through the semester, as many students have formed very definite impressions about both Biblical and Classical ideas without much real knowledge of those ideas. As we use primary sources, we attempt to get students to examine their prejudices about both cultures from an objective, rational, and skeptical point of view, while always being careful not to suggest that any one way of looking at these ideas is the only "truth." Class discussions focus on reading; however, these discussions tend to get into contemporary ethical and religious subjects, especially given the variety of religious and non-religious personal beliefs in the class.

Discussion questions are often broad; classes begin with specific textual questions, but we generally end up dealing with much more abstract issues such as faith, fate, the nature of human beings' relationships with the powers that rule the world, the validity or non-validity or certain Biblical ideas. Students are urged to express their ideas clearly and forcefully, and with due concern and respect for what may be deeply held beliefs on the part of other students in the class.

4. Expectations for Students

The course requires nightly, often lengthy, reading assignments. There may be in-class essays, quizzes, tests, short (3-5 page) creative and expository writing assignments, online journaling, and/or art projects. The course also requires a good deal of verbal and listening acuity in class discussions, as described above.

5. Reading List and Other Materials

Readings are selected from the following. (It is important that care be taken to have minimal repetition of readings used in other courses; therefore, these selections have been carefully compiled.)

The Iliad or The Odyssey, Homer
The Orestia, Prometheus Bound, Aeschylus
Oedipus, Oedipus at Colonus, Philoctetes, Sophocles
Medea, Herakles, The Bacchae, Alcestis, Euripides
Lysistrata, Aristophanes
Metamorphoses, Ovid
Aeneid (selections), Virgil
Library of Apollodorus (selections)
various Greek and Roman poetry

Selections from Genesis 1-3; Genesis 23-50
Selections from Exodus 3; Exodus 20 ff.
Selections from the books of Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy (primarily Moses story)
Judges (Samson)
The Book of Ruth
The story of David from Samuel and Kings
Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes
The Book of Daniel
The Book of Jonah
The Gospel According to Luke or Mark
The Revelation to John (the Apocalypse)

6. Bibliography

The following is a partial bibliography. See also the bibliography for Introduction to Western Civilization and the L-S library bibliographies for Ancient Greece and the Bible.

The Greeks, H.D.F. Kitto
The Greeks and the Irrational, E.R. Dodds
Moira: Fate, Good and Evil in Greek Thought, William Chase Green
Ancient Greek Literature and Society, C.R. Beye
The Greeks Myths, Robert Graves
The Masks of God, Joseph Campbell
Greek Tragedy in Action, Oliver Taplin
The World of Odysseus, M.I. Finley
The Eating of the Gods, Jan Kott
Dictionary of Classical Antiquity, Nettleship and Sandys
The Common Background of Greek and Hebrew Civilizations, Cyrus Gordon
Judaism, Isadore Epstein
Life and Language in the Old Testament, Mary Ellen Chase
The Reign of the Phallus, Eva Keuls
Understanding Genesis, Nahum M. Sarna
The Wycliffe Biblical Commentary
Harper's Bible Dictionary
Key to the Bible, Wildrid J. Harrington, O.P.
A History of Western Philosophy, Bertrand Russell
Out of the Garden: Women Writers on the Bible, Buchmann and Spiegel, ed.
The History of God, Karen Armstrong
Who Wrote the Bible, and The Bible Sources Revealed, Richard E. Friedman
The Origin of Satan and The Gnostic Gospels-- both by Elaine Pagels
PBS Video of Frontline "From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians" (Parts 1-4)

Sample Assignments

1. Write a paper discussing whether Euripides’ Medea is a tragic hero according to the Aristotelian model.

2. Write your own short "gospel," your own eyewitness account of the life of Christ from the point of view of a non-believer living in Palestine at the time of the events chronicled by Luke. What might you have thought of Jesus' ideas? his actions? his politics? Include all of this in your "gospel," at the end of which you can either accept or reject his teaching.

3. Based on the account of creation in Genesis 1, draw the cosmos.


Drama in Production (rev. 3/11)

One Semester Course
Open to 10, 11, 12
Range of difficulty 1-4

1. Rationale

Drama in Production (sometimes Shakespeare in Production) merges the study of drama with actual productions; the course has resulted in productions such as Ah, Wilderness, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Oresteia , Winter's Tale, Macbeth, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, All's Well That Ends Well, Measure for Measure, Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It. The course is designed to make plays accessible to virtually any student by careful reading and by demonstrating how a play is actually produced. We feel it is important to get as many different kinds of students involved in productions as possible, and Drama in Production gives us the opportunity to involve students in the collaborative effort of producing a play.

2. Topics and Themes Emphasized

Students are asked to read the plays covered by the course and then to consider how those plays might be produced, either on stage, as movies, or as television. The plays are studied as text first; we then move on to various elements of production style, including setting, costume, period, props, lighting, sound, direction style, and acting style. All students must participate in the fall LSB Players production in some capacity, either on-stage or back-stage; each student's final exam grade is based on his or her participation in the production.

3. Methods and Sample Assignments

Class discussion is critical; often we discuss meaning in a script first, and then we discuss how that meaning can be brought out in a production by using the various elements of production. We also have staged readings, recitations, and scene presentations in class from plays other than the play to be produced. There is also regular academic work, including reading quizzes, tests, and papers; assignments are based on the discussion of actual production of a play, and the play as text. As stated above, the final exam assignment is a student's work on the LSB Players production in whatever capacity, including: acting, directing, lights, makeup, costume, publicity, set, business, house management, props, sound, tickets, and program. A student is graded on effort, initiative, the ability to cooperate with fellow students and staff, and her or his overall willingness to work on the production.

4. Expectations for Students

Students are expected to read between four and eight plays in a semester, depending on the particular playwright or playwrights being studied. There is nightly reading.

There is a paper assignment on each play; sometimes students will be given the option to stage a scene or recite a speech instead of a paper. Students are also given essay quizzes and tests on the plays studied in class.

Any drama course involves both listening and speaking skills, whether in class discussions of production, in actual production meetings and rehearsals, or in viewing and discussing student scene presentations in class. One skill stressed is the ability to watch and listen to scenes and speeches in a theater and then discuss those scenes and speeches critically without being unkind.

We watch films of professional productions and attend appropriate presentations when possible.

5. Reading List and Other Materials

The reading for Drama in Production comes from the following list, and is subject to change:

Midsummer Night's Dream
Winter's Tale
Twelfth Night
The Tempest
Merchant of Venice
Much Ado About Nothing

Ah, Wilderness
Mourning Becomes Electra
Long Day's Journey Into Night
Strange Interlude
Desire Under the Elms
The Oresteia,
Robert Lowell trans.
Six Characters in Search of an Author
Zoo Story
Little Foxes
Waiting for Godot
The Birthday Party
or The Homecoming
Ubu Roi
The Venetian Twins
Lady Windermere's Fan
The Real Thing
The Lady in the Van
Reasons to be Pretty
The Children's Hour
Time Flies
Private Lives
The 39 Steps

Heroes in Literature (rev 9/10)

One semester course
Open to 10, 11, 12
Range of difficulty 2-4

1. Rationale

This course examines heroes and heroism through the literature of different cultures and eras. The range in periods is vast: From the classical age of the Greeks, Romans and Mesopotamians to our contemporary times. Thus, the reading list includes such titles as The Voyage of Argo, Oedipus Rex, The Dwarf, Persepolis, Siddartha, The Stranger and The Power of One.

One lense through which students might examine heroes and heroism is Joseph Campbell’s work with hero stories. While students may not read Campbell’s seminal works The Hero With a Thousand Faces and The Power of Myth, the archetypes he devises might be a template with which to examine various stories. Students might also compare and contrast different “heroic codes” and different “brands” of heroes, such as Comic, Tragic, Super and Flawed. Through examining the similarities and differences students might see the similarities among a range of cultures and eras. They may also speculate about the differences in heroes and heroic codes and what that may tell them about the place and time the stories were first written. Two basic questions students might consider are: How have the standards by which we measure heroism changed over time? How have they remained the same?

Another aspect of the course is examining anti-heroes. One question students could consider is: What qualities of these characters earn them the label anti-heroes?

2. Topics and Themes Emphasized

The course is intended to explore, through a range of literature, the ideas of the hero and the anti-hero. What is heroism? Is it possible for heroes to exist in the modern world? What is the relationship of historical situation to heroism? How can we compare heroes from various eras and countries? What role does gender play in hero stories? In connection with these questions, ethical issues arise: What is good behavior? How do we evaluate the actions of others? How do we judge others and ourselves and what standards do we use?

3. Methods

Kinds of thinking and questions asked are suggested above.

Students work as a class on reading and discussion. The kinds of questions suggested above are directed at specific texts. There is some practice in close reading of text -- concentration on a passage and careful analysis of it.

In addition, there are writing-to-learn exercises--short, in-class writing to spark discussion and questions about reading.

Students may also work in groups to formulate questions and to evaluate one another’s writing.

Short writing assignments, both creative and analytical, are used to improve critical thinking and to improve writing skills. There is concentration on developing clarity in writing; students write in class and out, look at the papers of others in the class, have individual help on their work, and do revision of their work.

Students may be introduced to Joseph Campbell’s heroic archetypes as discussed in his books, such as Hero With a Thousand Faces and The Power of Myth. Study of contemporary heroes in popular culture -- films such as “Star Wars," “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, and “The Matrix” -- may be helpful in introducing students to these archetypes.

4. Expectations for Students

Students are required to do reading assignments of approximately 15-25 pages per night. The reading amount may vary, based on difficulty of reading. There is a range of difficulty in the reading chosen.

There are frequent reading quizzes which require short answer to short paragraphs to short essays.
Students write short papers on each thematic unit or major work. Some work is done in class on how to compose these papers, and for some papers students are expected to hand in drafts for comment before the final “product.”
Students also do frequent in-class writing that is both graded and non-graded.

Speaking and listening:
Students work in groups for discussion of literature and discussion of writing. Students are expected to participate both as listeners and as speakers in class.

The course involves some film study and media analysis, as well as vocabulary study from the reading.

5. Reading List and Other Materials

Alice in Wonderland
Cry, The Beloved Country
Death of a Salesman
The Dwarf
Haroun and the Sea of Stories
Inherit the Wind
Iphigenia in Aulis
The Moon Is Down
Mother Night
Nectar in a Seive
Oedipus Rex
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch
Other Voices, Other Vistas
Paddy Clarke, Ha, Ha, Ha
The Power of One
Richard III

selected myths
"A Simple Heart"
The Stranger
The Swallows of Kabul
The Palm-Wine Drinkard
Voyage of Argo

The Watchmen
White Tigers (Kingston)
The White Tiger (Adiga)

47 Ronin
Antonia's Line
Brother from Another Planet
Cry Freedom
Cyrano de Bergerac
Garden State
Ghost in the Shell
Harold and Maude
King of Hearts
Looking for Richard
The Matrix
My Left Foot
Norma Rae
Pan's Labyrinth
Spiderman 2
Rebel Without a Cause
Star Wars
The Bicycle Thief
The Great Santini
The Usual Suspects
Umberto D
The Wizard of Oz

6. Bibliography

Ancient Myths, ed. Goodrich
The Enduring Legacy, ed. Broun
The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell
Holocaust Years: Society on Trial, ed. Chartock and Spence
The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell
Sunsongs, ed. vanOver
The Theme of the Hero, Pickett

Sample Assignments

1. What about Peekay [the hero in The Power of One] makes you want him to succeed?

2. Explore the significance and symbolism of the final scene in The Power of One?

3. What do you suspect Piccoline [the anti-hero and narrator of The Dwarf] is NOT telling you?

4. What do you find strange about Meurseault [the anti-hero of The Stranger]? And what do you NOT find strange about Meurseault?

5. Consider the boy and his father in "The Bicycle Thief." Do you see either one or both of them as heroic? Explain.

6. Write a story about what happens next in "The Bicycle Thief" -- that is, after the end of the movie.

7. Spend five minutes a day practicing quiet reflection in the style of Siddhartha. Record in writing your experience.

8. Do something good for somebody you don't usually do. Then, write about how the person reacted and how doing the good deed made you feel.


Ideas in Drama (rev. 3/10)

One semester course
Open to 10, 11, 12
Range of difficulty 2-4

1. Rationale

This course is designed to concentrate on the study of literature through drama, as well as to offer some elementary instruction in theater arts. It is a World Literature course, although some American and British plays will be used. The main idea of Ideas in Drama is to acquaint students with some selections from major dramatic literature through use of reading, discussion, papers, presentations, and theater exercises.

2. Topics and Themes Emphasized

Ideas in Drama is meant to be offered, when possible, in conjunction with any productions of local theaters and with LSB Players productions being staged during the semester the course is offered. The main theme of the course is what makes a successful play; this includes topics such as the study of text, character, setting, special effects, and staging devices, including various acting styles.


3. Methods and Sample Assignments

Class discussions and activities will also center on what makes a successful play; sample assignments include:

• A director's notebook about a scene from a play being studied in class, meaning a set of notes about how a student would direct a production of part of that play, including gestures, blocking, and primarily interpretation of the scene.

• A technical notebook about a scene from a play being studied in class, meaning a set of notes about how a student would visualize a production of part of that play, including sets, lights, costumes, special effects, and music.

• "Review" of hypothetical or real productions of the plays being taught in the course--real productions, if possible, such as LSB players productions.

• Traditional literary essays about the plays, concentrating on analytical issues (see appendix for Approaches to Analysis).

• Presentations by small groups of students of scenes from plays studied.

• Creative writing assignments -- writing scenes, often in the style of the play being studied.

Students are not expected to be accomplished actors. However, they are expected to be willing to be involved in theater games. class discussions, staging scenes, and improvisations.


4. Expectations for Students

As one can see from the list above, students are required to approach plays not only as literature but also as scripts to be performed. This requires some elementary instruction about blocking, stage directions, special effects, and acting and directing techniques. Theater games are used, and any current productions are discussed in some detail. Students are also given nightly reading assignments and long-term paper and presentation assignments; there are frequent reading quizzes and some reading tests as well.


5. Reading List and Other Materials

The reading list will vary some from year to year, depending on availability and productions. The following is a possible list from which a semester's plays might be selected:

Starting Drama (text)
"The Virtuous Burglar," Fo
The Visit, Durrenmatt
The Venetian Twins, Goldoni
"Picnic on the Battlefield," Arrabal
Lady Windemere's Fan, Wilde
Marching for Fausa, Bandele
Fires in the Mirror, Smith
The Investigation, Weiss
Doll's House, Ibsen
R.U.R., Capek
Modern One-Act Plays, ed.Cassady (basic text)
Ten Little Indians, Christie
The Little Foxes, Hellman
"The Real Inspector Hound," Stoppard
Four Plays by Ionesco
Kongi's Harvest, Soyinka
"Zoo Story" and "The American Dream," Albee
Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Fo and Rame
Antigone, Anouilh
Pretty Fire, Woodard
The Shape of Things, LaBute
Spring Awakening, Wedekind
Miss Julie, Strindberg
"No Exit," Sartre
Six Characters in Search of an Author, Pirandello


Fawlty Towers
Dr. Strangelove

The Novel (rev. 8/11)

One semester course
Open to 10, 11, 12
Range of difficulty 1-3

1. Rationale

The purpose of the course is a study of one of the major literary forms in detail. The course may be organized in any of the following ways: novels chosen to represent different areas of the world; novels chosen to reflect similar themes; novels chosen to reflect important historical issues; novels chosen to reflect similar characters; novels chosen to reflect comparable narrative style and structure.

The relationship of form and structure in a novel necessarily relates to forms and structures in society; patterns and themes in fiction relate to social patterns and themes. Thus a study of the novel lends itself to clarifying knowledge of self and society and to using and developing critical and creative skills necessary for a person's social and intellectual development.

2. Topics and Themes Emphasized

• Consideration of a form and structure (plot, character, setting, theme) as specific means to achieving an author's stated purposes.

• Alienation as a central 20th Century theme

• Individual struggles to make meaning

• Novel as mirror

• Novel as prism

• Novel as microscope

• Conformity vs. Resistance

• The role of fiction

• The power of storytelling

• The role of memory

3. Methods and Sample Assignments

Students are expected to initiate discussion or to make observations based on close reading of the text. Typical teacher-initiated questions include:

• What does the author require of you, the reader?

• How does the writer's use of language affect your relationship with the characters?

• How does the writer reveal her or his theme?

• What questions are left unanswered by the text?

• What methods does the author use to develop plot?

• What do the characters reveal about human nature? How?

• Are you able to detect any philosophical bias in the novel?

• What of the author's life is revealed in the novel?

• To what extent do you share the author's world view?

4. Expectations for Students

Reading: Nightly assignments, number of pages depends on the density of the text.

Writing: Journal writing, short answer quizzes, essay quizzes, short papers, critical essays. Generally, for the critical essays, students are encouraged to develop their own topics.

Listening and speaking: Part of a student's grade is based on her or his class participation. Students are expected to initiate discussion; panel as well as individual oral presentations are assigned.

5. Reading List and Other Materials

Most of the novels taught will not be from America or England. They will be selected from the following:

Anna Karenina, Tolstoy
The Attack, Khadra
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, Sijie
Blindness, Saramago
Bread and Wine, Silone
Broken April, Kadare
The Clown, Boll
Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky
Death in Venice, Mann
Demian, Hesse
Dr. Zhivago, Pasternak
Dreaming in Cuban, Garcia
The English Patient, Ondjaatje
The Fall, Camus
Feast of the Goat, Llosa
Fontamara, Silone
The God of Small Things, Roy
The Handmaid's Tale, Atwood
The Journey of Ibn Fatouma, Mahfouz
The Last Man, Camus
Life of Pi, Martel
A Long Long Way, Barry
Mass for Arras, Szczypiorski
One Hundred Years of Solitude, Marquez
The Palace of Dreams, Kadare
Palace Walk, Mahfouz
A Pale View of the Hills, Ishiguro
The Path to the Nest of Spiders, Calvino
Silence, Endo
The Tin Drum, Grass
Voices in the Evening, Ginzburg
Waiting for the Barbarians, Coetzee
The Wanderer, Alain-Fournier
Watchmen, Moore and Gibbons
You Can't Get Lost in Capetown, Wicombe

(select scenes)
The Bicycle Thieves
Crime and Punishment
(select scenes from Lev Kulidzhanov's version)
Europa, Europa

The Mission
Open City
Paradise Now
The Red Violin
(select scenes)

6. Bibliography

Aspects of the Novel, E.M. Forster

Sample Assignments

1. Each of the novelists we've read this semester has used character as the primary means of exploring aspects of "the human heart in conflict with itself." Choose any one character from any of the novels we have read and write a critical essay in which you explore the nature of the character's conflict, the facets of that conflict, the resolution of the conflict (s), and your assessment of the success or failure of the specific conflict (s) as a way of illuminating, exposing, and exploring the human soul and spirit.

2. Often characters appear simply good or bad; upon closer observation, however, it is usually true that the author's intent may have been to expose the vast grey landscape of humanity. Use two characters from the reading we have done to explore idea. Consider how the character appears initially, and then how, through the course of the novel, you came to see the ambiguities of the character through his or her thoughts, actions, and interactions with other characters.

3. Community or absence of community was a force in all the novels we read. Create a working definition of community and write an essay in which you explore its significance in at least two of the novels we've read.

4. Explore the different types of "babbling" in parts I and II of Crime and Punishment.

5. In what way(s) is The Palace of Dreams subversive?

6. Why in Silence does Rodrigues fixate on the image of Christ in Borso San Sepulchro rather than on the previously mentioned images of Christ: Christ as Shepherd, Christ in the eastern Church, and Christ the King?

7. Explore the mother/child relationships in Beloved. You may want to consider the relationship between Sethe and her mother, Ella and her child, etc.

8. How does Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" inform your reading of Saramago's Blindness?


Irish Literature (rev. 3/11)

One Semester Course
Open to 10, 11, 12
Range of difficulty 1-3

1. Rationale:

This course offers students the opportunity to discover and explore the rich and multi-textured literature of Ireland. Since the history and culture of Ireland is virtually inextricable from the literature, the course introduces the students to the various facets of Irish life, past and present. The course is not an exhaustive study of Irish literature and history; it is an introduction. About half of the course focuses on the literature of the Celtic Renaissance; the other half of the course examines contemporary Irish literature. Ultimately, the course attempts to peel away the myths and stereotypes of the Irish and Ireland to reveal the complexities of Ireland’s troubled history and dynamic culture. The central question of the course is “What is Ireland?”

2. Topics and Themes:

• Beyond the Pale: The allure of the “Wild West” during the Celtic Renaissance
• Dublin City Life
• Religion
• Silence, Exile and Cunning: The exiled and self-exiled from Ireland
• Family Life
• Women in Ireland
• “The Troubles” and modern Irish history
• The intersection of Irish literature and history
• Traditional and Contemporary Music
• Language: A weapon of oppression
• The presence of the ancient Celtic culture in contemporary Irish Literature
• The Famine

3. Methods and Sample Assignments:

The primary methods are close reading, discussion, brief lectures, formal compositions, journaling, and informal “writing to learn” exercises. There may be several outside projects offering students the opportunity to explore areas not covered in class, such as non fiction works, historical events and music. Connections are made between works, historical contexts and themes in the course. As mentioned above, the guiding question is “What is Ireland?”

See below for a sample assignment.

4. Expectations for Students:

In addition to the department-wide expectations, students are expected to be capable readers and good writers. Students are expected to come to class prepared with observations, thoughts and questions on the nightly reading. In class, students are expected to participate regularly and to listen carefully to one another. As students learn more about Ireland and its literature, they are expected to draw conclusions, make intertextual connections between, and generalizations from the reading.

Reading: Students have nightly reading that varies with the difficulty level of each text: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, 20 pages; A Star Called Henry, 30 pages, for example.

Writing: Students have regular formal and informal writing assignments. Three to four formal compositions in the course, plus in-class “writing to learn” exercises, and activator questions to stimulate discussion. There is a final examination. Students are expected to keep notes on the reading, lectures and class discussions.

5. Reading List and Other Materials:

Doyle, The Snapper
A Star Called Henry
Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
MacLaverty, Cal
Trevor, Felicia’s Journey

Non Fiction
Swift, “A Modest Proposal”
Synge, The Aran Islands

Eavan Boland
Greg Delanty
Seamus Heaney
Patrick Kavanaugh
Michael Longley
Derek Mahon
Paula Meehan
William Butler Yeats

Friel, Dancing at Lughnasa
Friel, Translations
Lady Gregory, “Spreading the News”
McDonagh, The Cripple of Inishmaan
O’Casey, The Plough and the Stars
Synge, The Playboy of the Western World
Synge, Riders to the Sea
Yeats and Lady Gregory, “Cathleen ni Houlihan”

Short Stories
Doyle, “Ask Me, Ask Me, Ask Me”
Lavin, “Happiness”
Joyce, Dubliners
Kiely, “The Dogs in the Great Glen”
Moore, “An Answer from Limbo”
O’Brien, “Wilderness” and “Irish Revel”
O’Connor, “First Confession” and “Guests of the Nation”
O’Faolain, “The Man Who Invented Sin”
O’Flaherty, “The Sniper”
O’Kelly, “The Weaver’s Grave”

“Bloody Sunday” (2002)
“Dancing at Lughnasa”
“In the Name of the Father”
“Man of Aran”
“My Left Foot”
“Playboy of the Western World” (Druid Theater Production)
"The Wind that Shakes the Barley"

“Language: A Loaded Weapon” (From: “The History of English” PBS Series)
“The Road to Bloody Sunday”

Traditional and Contemporary

6. Bibliography

The following titles are useful to teacher and students alike. Many of the following titles may be suggested to students for independent reading projects.

Barry, Sebastian, A Long Long Way
Doyle, Roddy, Oh, Play That Thing
Doyle, Roddy, The Dead Republic
Doyle, Roddy, The Barrytown Trilogy
Johnston, Jennifer, The Captain and the Kings
Joyce, James, Ulysses
McGahern, John, Amongst Women
Moore, Brian, Lies of Silence
O'Brien, Edna, In the Forest
O’Brien, Flann, At Swim Two Birds
O’Brien, Flann, The Third Policeman
O’Connor, Frank, The Complete Stories
Swift, Jonathan, Gulliver’s Travels
Trevor, William, Fools of Fortune
Trevor, William, The Collected Short Stories
Trevor, William, ed., The Oxford Book of Irish Short Stories

Boland, Object Lessons
Boll, Irish Journal
Bourke, Angela, The Burning of Bridget Cleary
Cahill, Thomas, How the Irish Saved Civilization
Caulfield, The Easter Rebellion
Collins, Killing Rage
Conlon, Gerry, In the Name of the Father
Deane, Seamus, Reading in the Dark
Dwyer, T. Ryle, Big Fellow, Long Fellow: A Joint Biography of Collins and De Valera
Ellmann, Richard, James Joyce
Foster, Roy, W.B. Yeats Volume I: The Apprentice Mage
Foster, Roy, W.B. Yeats Volume II: Arch-Poet
MacDonald, Michael Patrick, All Souls: A Family Story from Southie
Marreco, Anne, The Rebel Countess
McCourt, Frank, Angela's Ashes
O'Brien, Edna, Mother Ireland
O'Faolain, Nuala, Are You Somebody?
O’Hara, Kevin, The Last of the Donkey Pilgrims
O'Malley, Padraic, Biting at the Grave
Sheridan, 44 Dublin Made Me
Synge, J.M., Aran Islands
Woodham-Smith, Cecil, The Great Hunger

Sample Assignment

Assignment for Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man:

1. Examine the centrality and importance of walking in the novel.

2. Re-read the Hell sermons carefully, paying particular attention to the ways in which Hell offends the senses. Write a Joycean description of the L-S Cafeteria as Hell.

3. Trace your changing perceptions, opinions, responses or reactions to Stephen throughout the novel.

4. Write Stephen’s college admissions essay answering the following question: Describe a meaningful experience that you had, the way the experience shaped you, and what you learned from the experience.

5. Stephen views nationality, language and religion as “nets cast upon [his] soul to keep it from flight.” Consider what entities in your own life serve as nets keeping you from flight and compare your adolescence with Stephen’s.


Continental Literature (rev. 4/11)

Full year course, offered every other year
Open to 10, 11, 12
Range of difficulty 1-3

1. Rationale

The history of Western society and literature has been shaped by the European experience. We feel that it is important for American students to read literature from that tradition. Many literary and philosophical movements that continue to influence our lives came out of Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, and this course attempts to make students aware of some of these ideas in a cultural context.

2. Topics and Themes Emphasized

Students are asked to consider works of literature and to raise questions about them in relation to their experience and their world. Works are chosen to provoke such inter-cultural questioning and to illuminate, on an introductory level, some of the literary and philosophical movements of the 19th and 20th centuries such as Romanticism, Realism, Symbolism, Naturalism, Dadaism, Surrealism, and Existentialism. There are also developments in psychoanalysis that have affected literature and culture that may be discussed.

3. Methods and Sample Assignments

Most classes are centered on discussion and rely on students' participation and interpretive ability. There is an occasional background or enrichment lecture. Students sometimes make presentations based on individual or group work. Some examples of questions that are discussed are as follows: What is Goethe's world view? How is Zola's Naturalist theory relfected in Germinal? Is Nora's view of the law more sophisticated than Torvald's? Writing assignments include a wide variety of topics from creative (Try your hand at writing some poems in imitation of Symbolist style.) to formal (Analyze Faust as a Romantic work.)

4. Expectations for Students

Students should expect to read roughly twenty pages per night, although this will vary depending on the form of the work we are reading. Students will write a minimum of three papers per semester. Some of these papers will be in-class essay tests. There are frequent reading quizzes. Students will be assigned a longterm research project, due at the end of the year.

5. Reading List and Other Materials

Works will be chosen from the following:

Faust, Part I, Goethe
Madame Bovary, Flaubert
Eugenie Grandet, Balzac
Doll's House, Ibsen
Miss Julie, Strindberg
stories, Balzac
Marianne, Sand
Notes from Underground, Dostoievsky
Germinal, Zola
A Confession, Tolstoy
poems--Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine
poems — Garcia Lorca, Machado
The Trial, Kafka
Nausea, Sartre
The Plague, Camus
When Things of the Spirit Come First, DeBeauvoir
Blood of Others, DeBeauvoir
Waiting for Godot, Beckett
Zorba the Greek, Kazanzakis
Four Novels, Duras

Films: Impromptu, Mephisto, The Trial, Danton, Vengo

6. Bibliography

This is only a representative bibliography. See the L.S. library collection of European history and fiction.

Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution, Schama
The Social History of Art, Hauser
Realism and Tradition in Art 1848-1900, Nochlin
Zola: A Life, Brown
The Nightmare of Reason, Pawel
God and the State, Bakunin


Russian Literature (rev. 3/11)

Full year course
Open to 10, 11, 12
Range of difficulty 1-3

1. Rationale

This course examines the growth of Russian fiction and poetry from 1820 to 1980 and considers its revolutionary impact on the intellectual and aesthetic movements of that era.

2. Topics and Themes Emphasized

Russian Romanticism
The Questions of Faith
Revolutionary Theory
Tolstoyan Ideals
The Logocentric Culture
Poetry's Place
The New Soviet Man
Art Under Terror
The World Imagined -- Utopiae

3. Methods

Lecture and discussion.

4. Expectations for Students

Substantial reading assignments -- one must read to succeed.
Six to eight essays of various length each semester.

5. Reading List

Reading selections are made from a wide variety of literature, including:

Pushkin: Fiction and Poetry
Gogol: Novellas
Dostoyevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
Nechaev: The Revolutionary Catechism
Tolstoy: The Death of Ivan Ilych and Hadji Murad
Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
Zamyatin: We
Chukovskaya: Sofia Petrovna
Poetry Packet of Twelve 20th Century Russian Poets

6. Bibliography

The Lincoln-Sudbury library has an impressive collection of Russian history and literature due to the generosity of past teachers, Paul Mitchell and Tom Puchalsky. Please consult library information for authors, periods, and themes.


Three Worlds' Literature (rev. 4/11)

Full year course, offered every other year
Open to 10, 11, 12
Range of difficulty 1-3

1. Rationale

It is increasingly apparent that if we in the West, and particularly in the U.S., continue to live in ignorance of the cultures and political situations of the countries of the Third World and Eastern Europe, we will not only deprive ourselves of the extremely valuable knowledge of rich cultural heritages distinct from our own, but also we will land ourselves in still greater worldwide political chaos than we already have.

In recognition of this, Three Worlds' Lit., which includes contemporary works from the Third World, Eastern Europe, and "the West," attempts to (1) expose students to literature of foreign countries, particularly non-Western countries, (2) focus on works that reveal something significant about the present state of the culture and society of the country in which the work is set, and (3) show where there is "overlap," be it discordant or harmonious, between these three "worlds."


2. Topics and Themes Emphasized

Some of the broad themes in the course are as follows:

• the terror that is part of many people's everyday lives

• the ways people deal with intrusive, corrupt governments

• the positive spirit opposed to unbearable living circumstances

• the complexity, seemingly insolubility, of problems

• the conflicts, sometimes humorous, that arise when one culture interacts with another

• the difficulty of successful revolution

• the ignoring or destruction of history

• westernization vs. tradition

• the nature and impact of the miraculous revolution of '89

• absurdity

• governments' impact on art

The above are especially applicable to the Third World and Eastern Europe; themes stressed in the Western section of the course are:

• use/abuse of freedom

• decadence

• industrial and technological progress as a question mark

• impact on the other two worlds

• multicultural aspect of Western societies, especially the U.S.


3. Methods and Sample Assignments

Discussion is the primary class format. There is an occasional background or enrichment lecture.Students sometimes make presentations based on individual or group work. Guest speakers are sometimes brought in to enhance students' understanding of the societies we study through literature.

Discussions usually derive from questions ranging from the very specific and technical--"What use is Argueta making of the bird imagery in One Day of Life ?--to the very broad--"Is the hope expressed in the novel justifiable? Is there hope?"

Assignments are on a similar continuum: "Write a letter to Martinez telling him what you think of his actions in the village." "Write an essay that reflects on Soyinka’s statement, “The most ambitious enemies of humanity are the absolutist interpreters of the Divine Will, be they Sikhs, Hindus, Jews, Christians, Muslims, born-agains of every religious calling” (xv).

4. Expectations for Students

Students should expect to read roughly twenty pages per night, although this will vary depending on the form of the work we are reading. Students will write a minimum of three papers per semester. Some of these papers will be in-class essay tests. There are frequent reading quizzes. Students will be assigned a longterm research project, due at the end of the year.


5. Reading List and Other Materials

One Day of Life, Argueta
The Official Story, Puenza (film)
"The Dog," Alfaro
"To Jackie O. With All Our Love," Ramirez
"The Perfect Game," Ramirez
selected poems, Paz
selected poems, Neruda
selected poems, Cardenal
selected poems, Dorfman
Ghost Dances (dance performance video)
poems by various African poets
The Lion and the Jewel, Soyinka
A Bend in the River, Naipaul
Moolaade (film), Sembene
The Last Summer of Reason, Djaout
This Earth of Mankind, Pramoedya
"The Taste of Apples," Hwang
"Who Am I," Zong
"My Son, My Son," Ru
"The Detour," Tao
The White Snake, Tyan
"Eternal Prisoner Under Thunder Peak Pagoda"
"Chairman Mao is a Rotten Egg," Chen
"The Execution of Mayor Yin," Chen
Yellow Earth (film), Chen Kaige
To Live (film),
Zhang Yimou
Self-Portrait with Woman, Szczypiorski
Largo Desolato, Havel
The Canary and Other Tales of Martial Law, Nowakowski
documentary on Polish history
short stories(fables), Vatzlav, Mrozek
"Dry Run," Tokareva
"New Europe" (excerpts), Granta
Requiem, Akhmatova
poems, Herbert
poems, Milosz
poems, Yevtushenko
Repentance (film), Abuladze
Nuclear Gulag (documentary)
"A World Split Apart," Solzhenitsyn
Ceremony, Silko
Koyaanisqatsi, Reggio (film)

6. Bibliography

Weakness and Deceit: U.S. Policy in El Salvador, Bonner
Salvador, Didion
With the Contras, Dickey
The Jaguar Smile, Rushdie
Nicaragua: Poets and Politics (documentary)
Las Madres de la Plaza (documentary)
Open Veins of Latin America, Galeano
A Short History of Africa, Oliver and Fage
The Africans , Mazrui
From Under the Rubble, Solzhenitsyn
The Sacred Ways of Knowledge, Sources of Life, Beck et al
Thought Reform: The Psychology of Totalism, Lifton
Amnesty International special report on Argentina (and other AI reports)
Nunca Mas
The Mute's Soliloquy,


Introduction to Western Civilization: English (rev. 3/11)

Full Year Course
Open to 10, 11, 12
Range of Difficulty 1-3

1. Rationale

The course makes no claim to be comprehensive -- in fact, the course is really an introduction to an introduction -- but it is intended to be a roughly chronological study of some of the philosophical and literary themes that have contributed to the formation of what has been called Western Civilization. The course intends to provide some general foundation of works and ideas to give students a place to begin in their further study of literature and philosophy: to suggest some background and to raise some questions. In many ways, this is a quintessentially traditional curriculum; in others, the curriculum includes non-canonical authors and works.

There are, then, three more specific points about the curriculum. First, the readings try not to repeat or conflict with what is done in other courses students may take or have taken. There is Early British Literature, for example, that deals with Chaucer; and there is Continental Literature that deals with Flaubert. What may be repeated is done because the way in which students study the selection is fundamentally different from the way in which students have read the selection before. Sophocles’ play, Antigone, is a good example of this. Second, the curriculum raises questions of the possible obsolescence of the course: that is, is Western Civilization dead, not only as an academic area but also as an idea? If so, what, if anything, killed it? Is it still worth our time to study? Thirdly, an examination of the reading list will show that the traditional humanities curriculum has been dominated by aristocratic, white men; and that is an important issue in the course. Students will discuss what the causes and effects of that bias may be; and, not only in connection with the writings of women but in all units, students will consider a feminist perspective as well as raise questions about the rest of the population not in possession of the dominant cultural, verbal and material resources.

2. Topics and Themes Emphasized

As suggested above, the course concentrates on some of the major themes of the culture: the nature of truth, the relationship of humans to God (or the gods), the issue of faith and reason, the nature of the idea of romantic love, the nature of the idea of political power, aesthetic issues of language and the nature of beauty, the nature of satire, questions of freedom, political and personal, issues of political economics, questions of Enlightenment, Romanticism, Realism, Modernism, and other cultural terms.

While this is not a philosophy course or course in moral theory, the question, “What is virtue?” is the central, critical question that anchors the course. The course will return to this question throughout the year. The students will re-evaluate the question, explore how the ethical concerns of writers and thinkers over the centuries stayed the same and how those concerns changed. Thus, the course, by design, is both cumulative and recursive: the students will continually circle back to what they have read before to place the current author and text in a larger context and reconsider what they have read and discussed earlier in the course.

3. Methods

The central activity of the class is discussion, with occasional brief background lectures. For the kinds of thinking and questions raised, see “Rationale” and “Topics and Themes” above. In class, students are expected to do close reading of text, to think critically and logically about what they read, and to draw conclusions and make generalizations about their reading and the previous reading in the course.

See below for a sample assignment.

4. Expectations for Students

Reading: Students have nightly reading assignments from primary source material and some supplementary material. The number of pages required varies with what is being read: e.g., Pere Goriot: around 30 pages per night; Plato: around 10.

Writing: Students have regular formal and informal writing assignments: There are up to eight formal essay in the course. Usually these take the form of three-to-five page papers on each unit. In addition, there are short answer quizzes and writing prompts which are used to generate discussion. There may also be reading journal assignments. There is an examination at the end of each semester. Students are expected to have a notebook and to take notes on class discussions.

Listening and Speaking: There is careful discussion of the reading and the issues raised by the reading, as suggested above.

5. Reading List and Other Materials

In general, the following is the list of reading in the course. There may be some variation to the list:

First Semester

The Greeks (and Virgil):
"The Allegory of the Cave,” "The Apology," and "The Crito," Plato
Oedipus the King, Sophocles
Antigone, Sophocles
The Nicomachean Ethics (Book II), Aristotle
The Poetics, Aristotle
Poems, Sappho
The Women and the Lyre (women poets of ancient Greece)
The Aeneid (Book VI), Virgil

The Bible:
Genesis 1-22
Exodus 1-20
I Samuel 17
Ezekiel 1
The Gospel According to Matthew
The Gospel According to Luke 15
The Revelation of St. John the Divine

from The Confessions of St. Augustine (Book II)
The Romance of Tristan and Iseult, trans. Joseph Bedier
from The Art of Courtly Love, Andreas Capellanus
The Women Troubadours, ed. Med Bogan
Introduction to A History of Their Own, Bonnie Anderson and Judith Zinsser
from The Treasure of the City of Ladies, Christine de Pisan
The Seventh Seal (film) Ingmar Bergman
from The Inferno, Dante

sonnets, Petrarch
from The Decameron, Boccaccio
from The Heptameron, Marguerite de Navarre
from The Lais of Marie de France
from The Prince, Machiavelli
sonnets, Shakespeare
King Lear, Shakespeare

Second Semester

17th Century:
poems, John Donne
"To His Coy Mistress," Marvell
“Love (III)”, Herbert
“Of Education,” Milton
poems, Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz
from Pensees, Pascal
from The Whole Duty of a Woman, women's writings from 17th-century England

18th Century (Enlightenment):
Candide, Voltaire
from The Social Contract, Rousseau
"The Declaration of Independence," Jefferson
letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams
“What is Enlightenment?” Kant

The Sorrows of Young Werther, Goethe
“The Sandman,” E.T.A. Hoffman
English Romantic poetry
Ourika, Claire de Duras

Mid-to-Late Nineteenth Century (Realism and Naturalism):
Pere Goriot, Balzac
from The Manifesto of the Communist Party, Marx and Engels
“Dover Beach,” Arnold
Hedda Gabler, Ibsen

20th Century:
from Civilization and Its Discontents, "Oedipus Rex” & “The Uncanny,” Freud
"The Dead," Joyce
"In the Penal Colony," Kafka
"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," T.S. Eliot
poems, W.B. Yeats
The Stranger, Camus
"Albert of the Capitals," Duras
"Existentialism is a Humanism," Sartre
from The Ethics of Ambiguity, DeBeauvoir
"The Woman I Was to Be," DeBeauvoir
The Bicycle Thieves (film), DeSica
plays, Beckett
"Action Will Be Taken," Boll
"Revelation," Flannery O'Connor
"Getting Out of Garten," Huggan
from Black Skin, White Masks, Fanon
from German Guilt, Jaspers
The Nature of Blood, Phillips
The Cave, Saramago

6. Bibliography

Even a short bibliography for this course would be difficult to compile. The following is merely a representative sample of books in each unit. See the teacher for further information; also see bibliographies for Biblical and Classical Literature, Shakespeare I and II, and Continental Literature.

Dictionary of Classical Antiquity
Preface to Plato, Havelock
The Greeks, Kitto
Harper's Biblical Dictionary
Adam, Eve, and the Serpent, Pagels
Augustine of Hippo, Brown
various works, Duby
The Closing of the Western Mind, Freeman
The Waning of the Middle Ages, Huizinga
The Culture of Love, Keen
The Nature of Love, Singer
Art and Beauty in the Middle Ages, Eco
The Medieval World View, Cook and Herzman
The Travels of Marco Polo
The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, Burkhardt
Brunelleschi’s Dome, King
Lions and Foxes, Alexander
Machiavelli in Hell, de Grazia
Image and Insight, Miles
The Book Known as Q, Giroux
From Classic to Romantic, Bate
Darwin, Marx, Wagner, Barzun
The Masterpiece, Zola
The Loss of the Self in Modern Art and Literature, Sypher
Voices in the Evening, Ginzberg
Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century, Glover

Sample Assignment:

Essay on The Enlightenment and Early Romanticism:

Length: 3-5 pages (900-1,250 words)

Choose one of the following:

1. Elaborate and develop your answer to the question previously asked: In the final analysis is the end of Candide optimistic? Pessimistic? Or, something else? Be specific.

2. With which character in Candide do you find yourself most closely allied? Pangloss? James? Martin? Candide? The Dervish? The Turkish Farmer? Someone else?

3. Write an extra episode of Candide in which Candide spends a day at L-S. Make sure it is consistent with Voltaire’s novella in terms of style and concerns.

4. In your estimation what does Candide add to our year-long discussion of virtue? That is, how does Voltaire’s novella define virtue? What does the book have to say about virtue?

5. Compare Voltaire’s vision in Candide with Kant’s vision in “What is Enlightenment?”

6. Compare Rousseau’s Social Contract either to Plato’s Crito or to Machiavelli’s Prince.

7. Choose one of your Werther journal entries and expand it into a fully developed, formal essay.

8. Compare the core principles of the Enlightenment with those core principles of Romanticism as they manifest themselves in several of the reading selections.

9. Compare the “brand” of Romanticism in Werther with the “brand” of Romanticism in “The Sandman.” Examine the key similarities and the key differences.