This is the Spring 1999 Syllabus.  For Fall 1999 go to:

http://webserver.lemoyne.edu/~kagan/hero99fa.htm

 
Philosophy 403  Office Hours in RH-422   (445-4489) 
Heroism and the Human Spirit  MWF 10:30 a.m.-11:20 a.m. and
Philosophy Seminar, Spring, 1999  and by appointment. 
Prof.  Michael Kagan  Email: kagan@maple.lemoyne.edu



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 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 the second week of class, and will be scheduled during the first week. 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, you are welcome to call me at home before 8:00 PM. 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.

  1. 25% of the grade is based on attendance and participation (each miss is 4% off this part of the grade), in-class writings, and the optional journal and other optional writing assignments;
  2. 25% of the grade is based on the presentation on the readings;
  3. 25%  for the five short writing assignments (the grade will be the average of the best four out of five)
  4. 25% is determined by the project and its presentation.
Excessive absences  (more than five) 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.
Wiesel, Elie. Night. New York:
King, Stephen. Different Seasons (also published as Shawshank Redemption).
Rand, Ayn. Anthem.
Vonnegut, Jr., Kurt. Mother Night.
Haley, Alex, and Malcolm X. The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
Plato, Symposium.

SPECIAL NEEDS
In coordination with the Academic Support Center (ASC), reasonable accommodations are provided for qualified students with disabilities. Please register with Anne Herron in 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 with Ms. Herron.

IMPORTANT DATES
NO CLASSES  2/15 & 2/16 (Long Weekend)
NO CLASSES  3/ 27- 4/ 5 Spring Break (Erev Passover/1st Seder  3/31, Easter Sunday 4/4)
Friday, Mar. 19:  PROJECT PROPOSALS DUE.
Friday, April 9:  Student presentations on projects begin.
WRITTEN PROJECTS DUE:  Friday., April 16. Apr. 28, Evaluations.  Tuesday, May  4,  Classes End .

TENTATIVE COURSE SCHEDULE AND SCHEDULE OF ASSIGNMENTS ['*' MARKS WEEKS IN WHICH STUDENTS PRESENT ON READINGS.]

Week #1 (of Jan. 20)  1/20: introduce course, choose groups and schedule presentations on readings; 1/22: in-class writing on childhood heroes.

*Week #2 (of Jan.  25) 1/25: Discussion of heroic scripting.  1/27: Instructor presents on "Harrison Bergeron." On January 29, students present on Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye. SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT (ALL SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENTS ARE DUE THE DATE OF THE RESPECTIVE STUDENT PRESENTATION): Describe two acts of sacrifice in The Bluest Eye. What can we learn from them?

*Week #3 (of Feb. 1) 2/1 and 2/3: Instructor presents on "The Best Day," self-deception and bad faith.
Feb. 5, students present on Night . SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT: Describe two deeds of kindness in Night.   What can we learn from them?

*Week #4 (of Feb. 10)  Feb. 8: Students present on Stephen King's "The Body" (in Different Seasons); SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT: What characterizes the friendship between Chris and Gordon? How, if at all, is such friendship related  to human greatness? 2/10: group work on childhood heroics.  Feb 12:  Instructor presents on Rand's philosophy.

*Week #5 (of Feb. 17.)  SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT: 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 do this? If so, how so? And to what extent? If not, why not? 2/17: Group work on Anthem. Feb 19: Students present on Anthem.

*Week #6 (of Feb. 22) 2/22-2/24: Instructor presents on some philosophical aspects of personal identity, freedom, character and culture.  Feb. 26., Students present on Mother Night. SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT: Keeping in mind his reputation for satire, why do you think Vonnegut wrote Mother Night?   Given this book. what do you think Vonnegut thinks a great human being should do?

*Week #7 (of Mar. 1).  Mar 1: Students present on Stephen King's "The Breathing Method" (in Different Seasons). SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT:   What distinguishes the greater from the lesser characters in "The Breathing Method?" Mar 3, instructor presents one way of reading King (and others). Mar. 5:  Lecture on "Becker, Childhood, and Scary Stories."

*Week # 8 (of Mar. 8)  SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT: In the world Malcolm X describes, others may use race to direct one's career at an early age. How do the book's heroes resist this choice? Does our society also do this? If so, how so? And to what extent? If not, why not?   3/8:  Group Work on  The Autobiography of Malcolm X.  3/10:  Lecture on Racism as a call to deception. Mar. 12: Students present on The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

*Week #9 (of Mar. 15)    3/15Lecture on "Sex and Gender."   3/17:   Group work on issues of sex and gender.  SHORT WRITING ASSIGNMENT: 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 views on love closest to your own, and 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. Mar. 19: Students present on Symposium, group work on Symposium. Friday, Mar. 19:  PROJECT PROPOSALS DUE.

Week 10: (of Mar. 21)  3/21:  Buber's hasidut and Rebbe Nachman's "The Turkey Prince."  (includes group work on Rebbe Nachman's story).  3/23:   Lecture on "Possibilities and Practice: The Heroic Task and Self Education."  3/25:  In-class writing exercise on future autobiography. NO CLASSES  3/ 27- 4/5 Spring Break.

**Week 11 (of Apr. 7)   Instructor presents on Heroic Myths (Campbell and Raffa, and Card's theory of Maps in a Mirror) and the twice born.  Friday, April 9:  Student presentations on projects begin. (These will take about 20 minutes per student, depending on the number of people presenting.

**Weeks 12-14  (Apr.  12 - May 1) Student presentations on projects continue.  Students who are unable to do their individual presentations at the scheduled time will need to schedule a make-up presentation.
Remember:  WRITTEN PROJECTS DUE:  Friday., April 16.
STUDENT EVALUATIONS: Tues., Apr. 28. (These may be rescheduled to some other time during the last two weeks of classes depending on the student presentations.)

Week 15.  May. 3, last day of class.  MAKE-UP PRESENTATIONS: LAST DAY OF CLASS  (also, if necessary, during finals, at the time indicated in the posted final exam schedule.

SOME SUGGESTED WORKS FOR FINAL PROJECTS:

Albom, Mitch. Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and the Last Great Lesson.
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.
Brown, Christy.   My Left Foot.
Bujold, Lois McMaster.  Cordelia's Honor, and other works.
Butler, Octavia E. Parable of the Sower, Bloodchild and Other Stories, and other works.
Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Second ed.
Card, Orson Maps in a Mirror: The Short Fiction of Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game, and other works.
Chandler, Raymond. The Simple Art of Murder, and other works.
Cross, Amanda. Death in a Tenured Position, and other works.
Davies, Robertson. The Deptford Trilogy : Fifth Business/the Manticore/World of Wonders, and other works.
Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Brothers Karamazov, The Idiot, Notes from the Underground, "The Crocodile," and other works.
Elgin, Suzette Haden. Native Tongue, The Judas Rose, The Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense and other works.
Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man.
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.
Gilligan, Carol. In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development.
Gilman, Dorothy The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax, Tightrope Walker, Incident at Badamya, 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. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Citizen of the Galaxy, Double Star and other works.
Hesse, Hermann. Siddhartha, The Journey to the East, The Glass Bead Game, Steppenwolf, and other works.
Hoeg, Peter. Smilla's Sense of Snow, Borderliners.
Howatch, Susan. Glamorous Powers, and other works.
Irving, John. A Prayer for Owen Meany, The World According to Garp.
Kafka, Franz. "Penal Colony," "Hunger Artist," The Trial, The Castle, and other works.
Kagan, Michael .  Educating Heroes (Durango, Colorado:  Hollowbrook, 1994.
Kamenetz, Rodger. The Jew in the Lotus : A Poet's Rediscovery of Jewish Identity in Buddhist India, and Stalking Elijah:  Adventures with Today's Jewish Mystical Masters.
Kaye, Ronnie. Spinning Straw into Gold.
Kress, Nancy. Beggars in Spain.
Leonard, George.  Mastery (New York:  Penguin/Plume, 1992).
Lowry, Dave. Autumn Lightning.
Le Guin, Ursula K. Left Hand of Darkness, The Lathe of Heaven, The Dispossessed, and other works.
Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon, and other works.
Noddings, Nel. Caring.
McBride, James. The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother.
Oates, J. C. On Boxing.
Polster, Miriam F. Eve's Daughters : The Forbidden Heroism of Women.
Pullman, Philip.  The Golden Compass (New York:  Alfred A. Knopf, 1996).
Raffa, Jean Benedict. The Bridge to Wholeness: A Feminine Alternative to the Hero Myth.
Rand, Ayn. The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, The Virtue of Selfishness.
Rollin, B. First, You Cry.
Russell, Mary Doria. The Sparrow, and Children of God.
Sapphire.  Push:  A Novel.
Silverberg, Robert. Lord Valentine's Castle.
Suzuki, D.T. Zen and Japanese Culture.
Sturgeon, Theodore. More than Human, and other works.
Scriptures, religious tales and teachings of interest to the student, from a variety of traditions (including, but not limited to, African, Buddhist, Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Native American, Taoist, Vedic.)
Tan, Amy.  The Joy Luck Club.
Tolstoy, Leo. The Death of Ivan Ilyich, and other works.
Vonnegut, Jr., Kurt.  Slaughterhouse Five, and other works.
Walker, Alice.  The Color Purple.
Wiesel, Elie. Dawn, The Accident, and other works.
Willis, Connie.  Lincoln's Dreams, Doomsday Book, Bellwether, Remake.
Yoshikawa. Musashi.
Zettel,  Sarah. Fool's War.

Some of this page's links:

  1. PHL 403, Heroism and the Human Spirit 1999 syllabus: http://webserver.lemoyne.edu/~kagan/hero99sp.htm
  2. Other materials for PHL 403:  http://webserver.lemoyne.edu/~kagan/403index.htm
  3. Back to Kagan's Homepage:  http://webserver.lemoyne.edu/~kagan/index.html
  4. Academic Support Center: http://www.lemoyne.edu/academic_affairs/academic_support_center/index.htm