Questions, comments, additions, and corrections are welcome. Please send them to Michael KaganLe Moyne College Department of PhilosophySyracuse, NY 13214Email: KAGAN@maple.lemoyne.edu
Philosophy 403 Prof. Michael KaganHeroism and the Human Spirit Office Hours in RH-422, Philosophy Seminar Monday mornings: Summer 1996 9:30-10:30 AM.(MTR: 6-8:40 PM) (and by appointment)
Objectives: The major purpose of this course is to provide students with an opportunity to develop their own answer to the focal question, "What makes a person great?" It is hoped that giving students a chance to address this problem while seeing its inter-connections with fundamental philosophical issues will help them integrate their own heroic visions into their own philosophy of human existence and/or philosophic religious faith.
Procedures: Requirements include regular attendance and participation, and some significant project to be agreed upon in advance. Such a project might involve further investigating the issue of human greatness and heroism, a philosophical essay concerning some related issue of philosophical interest in a work of literature, a creative literary work of the student's own [e.g., a short story, 1st chapter of a novel, & c.], or a philosophical analysis of some related issue present in one of the works we studied, detailing the position[s] set forth in the work, and developing and defending one's own philosophical response.
Evaluation: (1) 25% of the grade is based on participation and the optional journal and other optional writing assignments; (2) 25% of the grade is based on the presentation on the readings; (3) 25% on in-class essays and short writing assignments; (4) 25% is determined by the project and its presentation. Excessive absences (more than three) or failure to complete any of (1)-(4) can result in a failing grade.
Required Reading List (in approximate reading order):
Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. Pocket Books, Washington Square Press printing, 1972.
Wiesel, Elie. Night. New York: Bantam, 1982.
King, Steven. Different Seasons. Signet, 1983.
Rand, Ayn. Anthem. Penguin/Signet; copyright 1946 by Pamphleteers, Inc., written in 1937.
Vonnegut, Jr., Kurt. Slaughterhouse Five. New York: Delta/Dell.
Haley, Alex, and Malcolm X. The Autobiography of Malcolm X. New York: Ballantine, 1973.
PROJECT PROPOSALS DUE: Thurs., July 18 WRITTEN PROJECTS DUE: Mon., Aug. 5. LAST DAY OF CLASS--Thurs., August 8.
ABOUT STUDENT PRESENTATIONS ON READINGS:
All students are expected to do all readings and to share their understanding with one another in class discussions and by leading their own and participating in other students' presentations on the various readings. Student presentations on readings begin July 11, and will be scheduled during the first class. The subtopics will be divided up into student groups whose size will be determined by the class size.
Remember: You have less than an hour to present. Focus on the aspects your group finds most interesting and important. Do not try to cover everything. Your presentation will be improved if you make it easier for others to participate. (Please try to help others' presentations by participating!) Please feel free to meet with me to discuss your presentations. If you don't find me on campus, call me at home (637-0349) between 9:00 AM and 8:00 PM. YOU CAN ALWAYS LEAVE A VOICE MAIL MESSAGE AT 445-4489.
Tentative Course Schedule and Schedule of Assignments ['*' marks dates on which students present on readings.]
#1 (Mon., July 8)--Introduce course, choose groups and schedule presentations on readings.
#2 -- In-class writing on childhood heroes. Discussion of heroic scripting.
#3 (Tue. July 9) Instructor on "Harrison Bergeron." Group work on sameness, difference, and conformity.
#4 --Instructor presents on "The Best Day" Self-deception and bad faith. Group work on lying and illusion,
* #5(Thurs. July 11) Students present on Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye. SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT DUE: How are children treated in The Bluest Eye? How do they respond? How do you think their experience and their responses affect their lives? ADDITIONAL ASSIGNMENT: BRING POPULAR MEN'S OR WOMEN'S MAGAZINE TO CLASS for group work.
* #6 (Mon., July 15) Students present on Night. Class group work on Night, SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT DUE JULY 18: How are children treated in Night? How do they respond? How do you think their experience and their responses affect their lives?
#7 Instructor presents on Le Guin's "Those who walk away from Omelas."
* #8 [Tu., July 16) Lecture on "Evil.". SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT DUE: How are children treated in "The Body"? How do they respond? How do you think their experience and their responses affect their lives? Students present on Steven King's "The Body" (in Different Seasons), group work on childhood heroics.
* #9 (Thurs., July 18)-- PROJECT PROPOSALS DUE, SCHEDULE PROJECT PRESENTATIONS. SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT DUE: In the world Rand describes, one's career is chosen by others at an early age--How does the book's hero resist this choice? Does our society also put some in a position that will keep them from hurting the status quo? If so, how so? If not, why not? We will break into small groups and compare our responses to these questions. Students present on Anthem. Instructor presents on Rand's philosophy.
* #10 (Mon., July 22) Short writing assignment due: Why do you think Vonnegut wrote Slaughterhouse Five? Students present on Slaughterhouse Five. Instructor presents on "the gentler Vonnegut ("Mansions," "Long Walk," or "Barnhouse Effect"). Possibly introduce lecture on Becker.
#11 (Tu., July 23)--Lecture on "Becker, Childhood, and Scary Stories." Card and Shachar on "experienced truth," and levels of interpretation.
* #12 (Thu., July 25) Students present on Steven King's "The Breathing Method" (in Different Seasons). SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT DUE: What kind of evil is the hero of this story resisting? How does she resist? Instructor presents on Heroic Myths (Campbell and Raffa) and the twice born.
* #13 (Mon., July 29) SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT DUE: In the world Malcolm X describes, one's career options are limited by others at an early age--How does the book's hero resist this choice? Does our society also put some in a position that will keep them from hurting the status quo? If so, how so? If not, why not? We will break into small groups and compare our responses to these questions. Students present on The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
* #14 * (Tue., July 30)--SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT DUE: Write a brief (about one page) description of a friend or a brief story in which biological sex and social gender characteristics are not stated and cannot be inferred; THEN list three participants in the Symposium, and explain how the object of their love relates to their discussion of love. Students present on Symposium. Possible lecture on "Sex and Gender." Possible instructor presentation on O. S. Card's "Middle Woman" or "Gert Fram."
* # 15-20 [Thurs., Aug 1- Thurs. Aug. 8]--Student presentations on projects begin (these are to be between 30 and 50 minutes in length, depending on the size of the class). These will continue until the end of semester. Students who are unable to do their individual presentations at the scheduled time will need to schedule a make-up presentation. NOTE: WRITTEN PROJECTS DUE: Monday August 5.
Some Suggested works for final projects
Becker, Ernest. The Birth and Death of Meaning, The Denial of Death, and other works.
Belenky, et al. Women's Ways of Knowing.
Brown, Claude. Manchild in the Promised Land.
Butler, Octavia E.. Parable of the Sower, and other works.
Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Second ed.
Card, Orson Ender's Game, Saints, Maps in a Mirror : The Short Fiction of Orson Scott Card, and other works.
Chandler, Raymond. The Simple Art of Murder (and his novels).
Cross, Amanda. Death in a Tenured Position, and other works.
Davies, Robertson. The Cornish Trilogy : The Rebel Angels/What's Bred in the Bone/the Lyre of Orpheus and The Deptford Trilogy : Fifth Business/the Manticore/World of Wonders.
Dostoevsky, Fyodor. The Brothers Karamazov, The Idiot, Notes from the Underground, "The Crocodile," and other works.
Elgin, Suzette Haden. Native Tongue, The Judas Rose (sequel to Native Tongue), The Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense (and sequels).
Frankl, Viktor. Man's Search for Meaning. Pocket Books Washington Square Press printing, 1985.
Gardner, John. The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers. New York: Random House Vintage Book edition, 1991. This work is strongly recommended to students interested in writing or examining fiction as part of their final projects.
Gilligan, Carol. In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development.
Gilman, Dorothy The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax, Tightrope Walker, and other works.
Hammett, Dashiel. The Maltese Falcon (the book and the movie). You should look at his other novels as well.
Hargrove, Anne C. Getting Better: Conversations with myself and other friends while healing from breast cancer.
Heinlein, R. Have Space Suit--Will Travel, Citizen of the Galaxy, Starship Troopers, Double Star, Stranger in a Strange Land, and other works.
Hesse, Hermann. The Journey to the East, The Glass Bead Game, Steppenwolf, and other works.
Howatch, Susan. Glamorous Powers, and other works.
Kafka, Franz. "Penal Colony," "Hunger Artist," The Trial, The Castle, and other works.
Kaye, Ronnie. Spinning Straw into Gold.
Kress, Nancy. Beggars in Spain.
Le Guin, Ursula K. Left Hand of Darkness or The Dispossessed, and other works.
Noddings, Nel. Caring.
Oates, J. C. On Boxing.
Raffa, Jean Benedict. The Bridge to Wholeness: A Feminine Alternative to the Hero Myth (San Diego: LuraMedia, 1992.
Rand, Ayn. The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, The Virtue of Selfishness.
Rollin, B. First, You Cry.
Suzuki, D.T. Zen and Japanese Culture.
The New English Bible with the Apocrypha: Oxford Study Edition. [Or any other standard translation of the Bible.]
Tolstoy, Leo. The Death of Ivan Ilyich, and other works.
Wiesel, Elie. Dawn, and other works.
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