Office Hours in RH-436 (445-4489)
Heroism and the Human Spirit
Philosophy Seminar, Spring, 2006
and by appointment.
Prof. Michael Kagan
Goal: The main purpose of this course is to provide students with an opportunity to develop their own answers to the 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 heroic visions into their own philosophies of human existence and/or philosophic religious faith.
Requirements and grading
ABOUT THE SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENTS: You are to select and complete five of the eight short writing assignments. A reading question is given along with each assignment. Unless otherwise indicated, please answer the reading question in less than one TYPED page (all assignments, except in-class writings, are to be typed). Make sure you are working with the current version of this syllabus.
STUDENT PRESENTATIONS: For every presentation, you will be required to turn in an outline or abstract of your presentation, complete with a list of all works used. Also, if you use any web pages, not only should these be listed on the outline with the rest of your bibliography, but you are also required to turn in a printout of all web pages used in preparing the presentation. If your group divides the work into separate parts, each member of the group will need to provide his or her own outline/abstract and printouts. Outlines/abstracts, and printouts are to be given to me BEFORE the presentation. Failure to do so BEFORE the presentation will result in a 30% deduction from the relevant presenter's presentation grade. If the outline and printouts are not turned in by the next class, there will be an additional 30% deduction. You may use up to but not more than 5 minutes of videotaped material for your presentation. If the class is meeting in a room with a built-in VCR/DVD player, make sure you know how to use it. If you need to bring in a VCR or DVD player for the presentation, you may order one from AV by calling 445-4380 or on the web at http://www.lemoyne.edu/information_systems/audio_visual/class.htm
In the event of a technical glitch or delivery problem make sure you can present without the videotaped material.
STUDENT PRESENTATIONS ON
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, you are welcome to call me at home before YOU CAN ALWAYS LEAVE A VOICE MAIL MESSAGE AT 445-4489.
THE 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.
based on a
scale as follows:
90-100 - 'A' range (97-100 = A+; 94-96=A; 90-93=A-).
80-89 - 'B' range (87-89 = B+; 84-86=B; 80-83=B-).
70-79 - 'C' range (77-79 = C+; 74-76=C; 70-73=C-).
60-69 - 'D' range (67-69 = D+; 64-66=D; 60-63=D-).
Below 60 - 'F'.
Failure to complete any of (1)-(4) can result in a failing grade. Plagiarism will result in a failing grade.
Required Reading List: (in approximate reading order)
Vonnegut, Jr., Kurt. Welcome to the Monkey House.
Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye.
Wiesel, Elie. Night. New York:
King, Stephen. Different Seasons (also published as Shawshank Redemption).
Rand, Ayn. Anthem.
Butler, Octavia E. Bloodchild and Other Stories.
Brown, Claude. Manchild in the Promised Land.
In coordination with the Academic Support Center (ASC), reasonable accommodations are provided for qualified students with disabilities. Please register with the ASC Office for disability verification and determination of reasonable accommodations. After receiving your accommodation form from the ASC, you will need to make an appointment with me to review the form and discuss your needs. Please make every attempt to meet with me within the first week of class so your accommodations can be provided in a timely manner. You can either stop by the ASC, Library, 1st floor, or call (445-4118-voice or 445-4104-TDD) to make an appointment.
No classes on the following dates: Mon., Jan. 16 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day), Feb. 27-Mar 3 (Spring Break), Apr. 13-17 (Easter Break).
PROJECT PROPOSALS DUE Fri., Feb. 24. WRITTEN PROJECTS DUE: Wed., Apr. 12.
LAST DAY OF CLASS - May 5.
TENTATIVE COURSE SCHEDULE AND SCHEDULE OF ASSIGNMENTS ['*' MARKS WEEKS IN WHICH STUDENTS PRESENT ON
#1 (Wed., Jan. 18) Introduce course, choose groups and schedule presentations on readings.
#2 (Fri, Jan. 20) -- In-class writing on childhood heroes.
#3 (Mon., Jan. 23) Discussion of heroic scripting.
#4 (Wed., Jan. 25) Instructor presents on "The Porcelain Salamander." Group work on "The Porcelain Salamander."
*#5 (Fri., Jan. 27) Students present on Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye. SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT: Give an example or two of when and what some of the characters value the most What do you think this tells you about them? Why?
#6 & #7 (Mon. Jan. 30 and Wed., Feb. 1) Self-deception and bad faith. Instructor presents on Le Guin's "Those who walk away from Omelas" and/or Kurt Vonnegut's "More Stately Mansions" (please bring Welcome to the Monkey House) and/or Card's "The Best Day." The temptation to deny the best and the worst.
*#8 (Fri ., Feb. 3) Students present on Night. SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT DUE: Give an example or two of when and what some of the characters value the most What do you think this tells you about them? Why?
*#9 (Mon., Feb.6). SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT DUE: Who is the best friend in this story? Why? Students present on Stephen King's "The Body" (in Different Seasons).
#10 (Wed., Feb. 8) Instructor presents on
* #11 (Fri., Feb. 10) Students present on Anthem. SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT DUE: In the world
#12 (Mon, Feb. 13) Lecture on problem of personal identity.
* #13 (Wed., Feb. 15) Short writing assignment due: Students present on Octavia Butler's "The Evening and the Morning, and the Night" (in the Bloodchild anthology) . SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT: Do you know (or know about) anyone like the people in this story? Have they chosen to do what they do best? Why or why not? Please explain, using examples from the story.
#14 (Fri., Feb. 17) Lecture on "Becker, Childhood, and Scary Stories"
#15 ( Mon.,
Feb. 20) Instructor presents
one way of reading King (and
* #16 ( Wed., Feb. 22) Students present on Stephen King's "The Breathing Method" (in Different Seasons). SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT DUE: Who is the best friend in this story? Why?
#17 (Fri., Feb. 24) PROJECT PROPOSALS DUE. Instructor presents on Heroic Myths (Campbell and Raffa) and the twice born.
No class Mon., Feb. 27-
Fri., Mar 3 (Spring Break)
* #18 (Mon., Mar. 6) SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT DUE: In the world Claude Brown describes, one's future seems decided at an early age - How do different people in the book respond to this? What can we learn from their experience? Students present on Manchild in the Promised Land.
#19 ( Wed, Mar.8) Group work on Manchild in the Promised Land. Lecture on racism and deception.
*#20 (Fri., Mar.10) TWO PART SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT DUE: Write a brief description of a friend or a brief story in which the sex of at least one major character is neither stated nor implied. THEN explain which of the people described in the Symposium has a theory about that love you think makes sense of their own life. Explain why. Note: You are welcome to do this within one page if you can, but, for this assignment, the page limit is 3 TYPED pages. Students present on Symposium.
#21 (Mon., Mar. 13) Lecture on "Sex and Gender."
# 22 (Wed, Mar.
15) Lecture on
"Possibilities and Practice: The Heroic
Task and Self Education."
#22 (Fri., Mar. 17) -SCHEDULE PROJECT PRESENTATIONS. Buber's hasidut and Rebbe Nachman's "The Turkey Prince" (includes group work on Rebbe Nachman's story)
#23 (Mon. Mar. 20) - .Instructor presentation on "Middle Woman" or "Gert Fram."
#24 (Wed., Mar. 22) - Instructor presentation on "Mortal Gods."
#25 (Fri., Mar . 24). Class group work on Saki's "The Open Window."
#26 (Mon., Mar. 27). In-class writing exercise on future autobiography.
#27 (Wed., Mar 29) Bring Bloodchild to class. Presentation on "Positive Obsession."
#28 (Fri., Mar. 31) Bring
Presentation on "Furor Scribendi."
NOTE: WRITTEN PROJECTS DUE: Wed., Apr. 12.
**#29 (Mon., April 10 through Wed., May 3 - Student presentations on projects (these are to be between 20 and 50 minutes in length, depending on the size of the class, and the number of students presenting). 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. Please bring Welcome to the Monkey House to class April 10 - May 5.
Note: No classes Apr. 13-17 (Easter Break).
Fri., May 5, TBA & Make-up presentations. LAST DAY OF CLASS.
SOME SUGGESTED WORKS FOR FINAL PROJECTSAjami, Fouad. The
Some of this page's links: