North Island College Fall 2022

Meeting Time: Wed. 2:30 - 5:20 pm

Meeting Place:  Tyee 204

Instructor: Dan Hinman-Smith

Office: Village G6

Office Hours:  Tues. 11:30 am - 12:50 pm (or by appointment)

Office Phone:  334-5000, Extension 4024

Home Phone250-336-0238 

Web- Site for Course: 


Course Description

A rigorous exploration of ideas from Israelite and Greek religion, philosophy, poetry, drama, art, and history.  We will examine key texts not only in an effort to understand the ancients on their own terms and to assess their legacy to our own world, but also to provide a focus for discussion about such topics as human nature, justice, love, war, faith, and reason.

The course will be organized around a series of important readings chosen to introduce students to the wisdom of the ancient world.  Primary texts are placed at the very centre of the course, as are the weekly discussions in which students engage with these works.  Instructor lectures and the occasional secondary reading will complement the discussions and help to provide historical context.


Robert Crumb.  Book Of Genesis Illustrated.  New York: W. W. Norton, 2009.  A Free Online Edition can be accessed here.

Euripides.  Bacchae And Other Plays, trans. John Davie.  New York: Penguin Classics, 2006.

Natalie HaynesPandora's Jar: Women In The Greek Myths.  New York: Harper Perennial, 2020.

Homer.  Odyssey, trans. Emily Wilson.  New York: W. W. Norton, 2018.

Bryan Doerries, ed.  All That You've Seen Here Is God: New Versions Of Four Greek Tragedies.  New York: Vintage, 2015.

Daniel Mendelsohn.  An Odyssey: A Father, A Son, And An Epic.  New York: Signal, 2017.

Herodotus.  The Histories, trans. Aubrey De Selincourt.  New York: Penguin Classics, 1996.

***It is important that you acquire these books.  They are fundamental to the course.  They are available for purchase through the NIC Bookstore for a total cost of $155 (it is ok to substitute a free on-line edition of Genesis for the Crumb volume, which is the semester's most expensive text, though I do still strongly recommend that you purchase that particular edition along with the other six books if possible).  I have included e-text purchase links to most of the titles above.  At least one copy of each book is on short-term Reserve in the Comox Valley branch of the NIC Library, though you will need your own personal copies in order to properly engage with the LIB 250 curriculum.

Learning Outcomes

Students will demonstrate the following by the end of the course:

A basic understanding of Ancient Israelite and Classical Greek civilization;

The ability to analyze core texts of ancient wisdom in a way which both explores the connections between these works and the civilizations in which they were produced, and to explain their potential relevance to our own times.

Critical thinking, writing, speaking, and listening skills to a level advanced enough to enable academic success in third-year Liberal Studies courses.

The ability to participate within a learning community in a self-reflective way which assesses the possibilities and challenges associated with an intensive, collaborative seminar model.

Tentative Schedule

Week 1

Wednesday, September 7

a)  Course Introduction

b)  Video from "Genesis: A Living Conversation," Bill Moyers, PBS (1994) [560 mins]

Week 2

Wednesday, September 14

a)  Discussion: Genesis

b)  Lecture:  Rise And Fall Of Adam And Eve

Reading Assignment:

Robert Crumb, Book Of Genesis Illustrated.  New York: W.W. Norton, 2009.

***The Crumb book is recommended as the preferred version of Genesis.    A Free Online Edition can be accessed here.  It is o.k. to use your own Bible instead or to access an on-line edition of the New Revised Standard Version Bible at Genesis if you prefer to do so  (Genesis, the first book of Bible, can be found on pp. 31-123 in this on-line edition).    Try the following for Genesis In Punjabi.

Optional Extras:

Audio: "From Eden To Egypt," Rough Guide To The Bible, BBC World Service, February 21, 1994.  (29 mins)

  Audio: "The Fall," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, April 8, 2004.  (45 mins)

***Friday, September 16:  Genesis Seminar Note Due [Seminar Notes will be accepted up to two weeks after the due date for each note.  You are expected to complete at least 6 Seminar Notes during the semester, with the top 6 counting towards your Seminar Note evaluation ]

Week 3

Wednesday, September 21

a)  Discussion: Exodus

b)  Video:  "Toward The Promised Land: Forty Years In The Desert," Episode 3, Walking The Bible: A Journey Through The Five Books Of Moses, PBS (2006) [55 mins]

Reading Assignment:

Exodus, New Revised Standard Version Bible. (This link opens up a PDF version of the New Revised Standard Version Bible.  Exodus, the second book of the Bible, can be found on pp. 128-206 in this on-line edition).  It is, of course, o.k. to use your own copy of the Bible if you have one.  Try the following for Exodus In Punjabi.  I do not know how strong the translation is.  You may want to combine reading this translation with browsing through the New Revised Standard Version (English) as well.  The complete text of the Bible in Punjabi can be found here.

Optional Extras:

Audio: "Moses," Founders Of Their Faith, BBC World Service, September 24, 1996.  (14 mins)

Audio: "The Book Of Exodus, Part I," Ideas, CBC, 2011.  (54 mins)

Audio: "The Book Of Exodus, Part II," Ideas, CBC, 2011.  (54 mins)

  Audio: "Exodus, Cargo Of Stories," On Being, April 21, 2005.  (51 mins)

***Friday, September 23:  Exodus Seminar Note Due [You are required to complete a Seminar Note in response to at least one of Genesis or Exodus.  The Genesis Seminar Note will be accepted no later than Friday, September 30.  The Exodus Seminar Note will be accepted no later than Friday, October 7 ]

Week 4

Wednesday, September 28

a)  Discussion: Bacchae

b)  Video: "Bacchus Uncovered -- Ancient God Of Ecstasy," BBC Four (2018) [58 mins]

Reading Assignment:

Euripides, "The Bacchae," in Bacchae And Other Plays, trans. John Davie.  New York: Penguin Classics, 2006.

  David Hernandez De La Fuente, "Dionysus: The Wild Greco-Roman God," National Geographic History Magazine, 8 (May/June 2022): 30-43.

Optional Extras:

Euripides, "Iphigenia At Aulis," in Bacchae And Other Plays, trans. John Davie.  New York: Penguin Classics, 2006.

  Audio: "The Bacchae," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, March 18, 2021.  (52 mins)

Rob Goodman, "How To Be Intoxicated," Chronicle Of Higher Education (December 4, 2014).

***Friday, September 30:  Bacchae Seminar Note Due

Week 5

Wednesday, October 5

a)  Video: "The Bacchae," Invitation To World Literature, Annenberg Foundation [30 mins]

b)  Discussion: Pandora's Jar

Reading Assignment:

Natalie Haynes, Pandora's Jar: Women In The Greek Myths.  New York: Harper Perennial, 2020.

Optional Extras:

  Audio: Natalie Haynes Stands Up For The Classics, BBC Radio 4.

"Clytemnestra," Episode 4, Series 7, Natalie Haynes Stands Up For The Classics, June 28, 2021.  (27 mins)

"Jocasta," Episode 3, Series 7, Natalie Haynes Stands Up For The Classics, June 21, 2021.  (28 mins)

"Pandora," Episode 2, Series 7, Natalie Haynes Stands Up For The Classics, May 25, 2021.  (28 mins)

"Medusa," Episode 1, Series 7, Natalie Haynes Stands Up For The Classics, May 18, 2021.  (28 mins)

"Penelope," Episode 4, Series 6, Natalie Haynes Stands Up For The Classics, June 13, 2020.  (27 mins)

"Eurydice," Episode 3, Series 6, Natalie Haynes Stands Up For The Classics, June 6, 2020.  (27 mins)

"Penthesilia, Amazon Warrior Queen," Episode 2, Series 6, Natalie Haynes Stands Up For The Classics, May 30, 2020.  (28 mins)

"Helen Of Troy," Episode 1, Series 6, Natalie Haynes Stands Up For The Classics, May 23, 2020.  (28 mins)

***Friday, October 7:  Pandora's Jar Seminar Note Due [It is mandatory that you complete a minimum of 2 of the first 4 Seminar Notes. ]

Week 6

Wednesday, October 12

a)  Discussion: "He Wants To Save Classics From Whiteness"

b)  Discussion: Ajax

c)  Discussion: Theatre Of War

d)  Video: "Helen Of Troy," PBS (2005) [103 mins]

Reading Assignment:

Sophocles, "Ajax," in All That You've Seen Here Is God: New Versions Of Four Greek Tragedies, trans. Bryan Doerries.  New York: Vintage, 2015: pp. 3-122.

Browse extensively in Theatre Of War Discussion Topic.

  Joshua Hammer, "In Search Of Troy," Smithsonian (March 2022).

Listening Assignment:

  "He Wants To Save Classics From Whiteness -- Can The Field Survive," New York Times Daily, February 2, 2021.  (60 mins)

Optional Extras:

Sophocles, "Philoctetes," in All That You've Seen Here Is God: New Versions Of Four Greek Tragedies, trans. Bryan Doerries.  New York: Vintage, 2015: pp. 123-209.

  Audio: "The Iliad: Beauty, Brutes And Battles," The Forum, BBC World Service, December 6, 2016.  (41 mins)

  Video: Great Greek Myths -- Iliad, Arte France, 2019 (Available through NIC's Films On Demand):

Episode 1, Apple Of Discord (26 mins)

Episode 2, Time For Sacrifice (26 mins)

Episode 3, Wrath Of Achilles (26 mins)

Episode 4, Blood Of The Goddess (26 mins)

Episode 5, Sword And The Scales (26 mins)

Episode 6, Hera's Plan (26 mins)

Episode 7, Patroclus And The Myrmidons (26 mins)

Episode 8, Achilles' Revenge (26 mins)

Episode 9, Vanquish Or Die (26 mins)

Episode 10, Trojan Horse (26 mins)

***Friday, October 14:  Ajax Seminar Note Due

Week 7

Wednesday, October 19

a)  Discussion: Odyssey (1)

b)  Video: "The Odyssey," Invitation To World Literature, Annenberg Foundation (2010) [27 mins]

Reading Assignment:

Homer, Odyssey, trans. Emily Wilson.  New York: W. W. Norton, 2018: Books 1-12.

Optional Extras:

  Video: "Homer's The Odyssey Summary," Video Sparknotes: Part 1 (6 mins);  Part 2 (10 mins);  Part 3 (6 mins).

"The Road Home: Remaking Homer's Odyssey," BBC Radio 4, March 12, 2012.  (26 mins)

Week 8

Wednesday, October 26

a)  Lecture: "In Troy, There Lies The Scene" -- The Trojan War In Myth And Memory

b)  Discussion: Odyssey (2)

Reading Assignment:

Homer, Odyssey, trans. Emily Wilson.  New York: W. W. Norton, 2018: Books 13-24.

Optional Extras:

  Video:  "Greek Myths: Tales Of Traveling Heroes," BBC, 2010.  (89 mins)

  Video:  "Venus Uncovered: Ancient Goddess Of Love," BBC, 2017 (59 mins):  This video is available through NIC's Films On Demand.

***Friday, October 28:  Odyssey Seminar Note Due [You are required to write at least one Odyssey-focused Seminar Note.  Your options are the following:  (a)  Complete an Odyssey 1 Seminar Note based upon the first 12 books; (b)  Complete an Odyssey 2 Seminar Note based upon Books 13-24; (c)  Complete an Odyssey Seminar Note in response to the entire epic; or (d)  Complete two Odyssey Seminar Notes -- one on Odyssey Books 1-12 and the other on Odyssey Books 13-24.

***You should complete a minimum of 4 Seminar Notes from the first 8 weeks of the curriculum.

Week 9

Wednesday, November 2

a)  Discussion: Homeric Hymn To Demeter

b)  Video: Brendan Pelsue, "The Tragic Myth Of Orpheus," TED-Ed, January 11, 2018.  (5 mins)

c)  Discussion: The Myth Of Orpheus

d)  Lecture: As You Set Out For Ithaca -- The Journey Forth And The Return Home

e)  Possible Mini-Lecture: The Song Of Orpheus

Reading Assignment:

"Homeric Hymn To Demeter," trans. Gregory Nagy, Center For Hellenic Studies, Harvard.

  Ann Wroe, "First String: Winter," Orpheus: The Song Of Life.  New York: Overlook, 2011: pp. 1-33.

Ann Wroe, "Orpheus: Why The Mythological Muse Haunts Us," Daily Beast.  (May 31, 2012).

Viewing Assignment:

  "Orpheus, A Hymn Of Impossible Love," Great Greek Myths, Arte France, 2015.  (26 mins)

Optional Extras:

  Audio: "Don't Look Back: The Myth Of Orpheus," Ideas, CBC, October 14, 2021.  (54 mins)

  Video:  "Persephone And Hades, A Match Made In Hell," Extra Mythology, September 2, 2020.  (8 mins)

***Friday, November 4:  Homeric Hymn To Demeter or Orpheus Seminar Note Due [If you decide to write a Seminar Note based upon Week 9, you can choose to write about either the Homeric Hymn to Demeter; about Orpheus; or about Demeter and Orpheus together.   You can complete a maximum of one Seminar Note from this week's material]

Week 10

Wednesday, November 9:  NO CLASS -- READING BREAK

Week 11  

Wednesday, November 16

a)  Discussion: An Odyssey -- A Father, A Son, And An Epic

b)  Video: "The Greeks," National Geographic (2016) [41 mins]

Reading Assignment:

Daniel Mendelsohn, An Odyssey: A Father, A Son, And An Epic.  New York: Signal, 2017.

Optional Extras:

  "Daniel Mendelsohn On His Journey With His Father Through Homer's Odyssey," Writers And Company, CBC, February 25, 2018.  (52 mins)

***Friday, November 16:  An Odyssey -- A Father, A Son, And An Epic Seminar Note Due

Week 12

Wednesday, November 23

a)  Discussion:  Prometheus Bound

b)  Video:  "Athens -- Dawn Of Democracy, " PBS (2007) [120 mins.]

Reading Assignment:

Aeschylus, "Prometheus Bound," in All That You've Seen Here Is God: New Versions Of Four Greek Tragedies, trans. Bryan Doerries.  New York: Vintage, 2015: pp. 211-340.

Viewing Assignment:

  Iseult Gillespie, "Myth Of Prometheus," TED-Ed, November 14, 2017.  (5 mins)

"Prometheus, The Rebel Of Olympus (26:12)," Great Greek Myths, Arte France (2015) [26 mins]

***Friday, November 25:  Prometheus Bound Seminar Note Due

Week 13

Wednesday, November 30

a)  Discussion: Herodotus's Histories

b) Video:    "Socrates," Episode 2, Genius Of The Ancient World, BBC (2015) [59 mins]

Reading Assignment:

Herodotus, The Histories, trans. Aubrey De Selincourt.  New York: Penguin Classics, 1996.

Carlos Garcia Gual, "Herodotus: The Father Of History," National Geographic History, 4 (March/April 2018: 40-51.

Optional Extras:

Daniel Mendelsohn, "Arms And The Man: What Was Herodotus Trying To Tell Us?," New Yorker (April 28, 2008).

Barry Strauss, "Herodotus's Wheel," New Criterion, 27 (November 2008): 18-20.

  Audio:  "Justin Marozzi On Herodotus," Great Lives, BBC Radio 4, January 19, 2018.  (30 mins)

  Audio:  "Herodotus," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, September 23, 2021.  (52 mins)

  Audio:  "Thucydides," In Our Time, BBC Radio 4, January 29, 2015.  (43 mins)

  Audio:  "Thucydides, Part 2 -- Lessons From The Plague Of Athens," Ideas, CBC, June 23, 2020.  (54 mins)

Video:  "Empire Of The Mind," Episode 3, The Greeks -- Crucible Of Civilization (2000) [55 mins]

***Friday, December 2:  Herodotus's Histories Seminar Note Due

***Friday, December 9 is the last day that either Prometheus Bound or Herodotus's Histories will be accepted.


Letter Of Introduction


Seminar Notes

72% (12% x 6)

Seminar Contributions


a)  Letter Of Introduction (1%)

Write a short letter of introduction to me at the beginning of the semester.  This should be at least 100 words in length and is designed to give me a beginning idea of who you are and how I might best serve you as a teacher, and to provide me with an opening snapshot of the class as a whole.  You need not use the following questions as cues but they may be helpful.  Who are you?  Where are you from?  How might you begin to describe your community and what life is like there if you've come to NIC from far way?  What do you miss and what do you think would most surprise me if I were to visit your hometown?  What are your interests?  Why are you taking this course?  What are your thoughts and reflections as you begin LIB 250?  Are there topics associated with the course that you know will be of potential interest?  Do you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions?  This is an assignment I ask of students in each of my classes.  Although this is not a graded assignment, I would appreciate it if you took several minutes writing a thoughtful introduction.  If you are enrolled in more than one class with me this semester, a single letter of introduction will suffice, but mention something about each of the courses.  If you have taken a class with me before, please update what you sent me before and send me a new letter of introduction.  Submit your Letter of Introduction to me through Brightspace.

b)  Seminar Notes (72%) [12% x 6]

Seminar notes are commentaries of approximately 350+ words apiece upon the major course readings.  Your choice of seminar notes are due in connection with any six of the core seminar discussion readings (Genesis; Exodus; the Bacchae; Pandora's Jar; Ajax; the Odyssey; the "Homeric Hymn to Demeter"/Orpheus; An Odyssey -- A Father, A Son, And An Epic; Prometheus Bound; Herodotus's Histories).  You are encouraged to complete more than six seminar notes.  In that case, the best six notes will count towards your grade.

The purpose of the seminar notes is to provide you with the opportunity to organize your thoughts after each of the common major readings.  This exercise is also designed to facilitate analytical group discussion on our seminar days.  The notes need not be formal in style but should be at least a page in length and should highlight key themes from the reading.  Although you should write concisely, it is fine if some of your seminar notes are more than two pages in length.  Hand-written seminar notes are acceptable, though they should be well-structured and analytical.

Rather than being graded on a letter scale, the seminar notes will be evaluated on a check, check-plus, check-plus+, and check-minus basis:

Check:  A fully satisfactory seminar note (7.3/10, B)

Check-Plus:  A strong note that offers thoughtful analysis and/or a well-developed commentary upon the text (8.6/10, A)

Check-Plus+:  An outstanding seminar note that pushes far beyond the basic expectations for this assignment (9.5,A+)

Check-Minus:  A weak seminar note that includes some material of relevance but does not successfully engage with the reading (6.1, C)

Seminar notes can be submitted in class as a hard copy or submitted through Bright Space.

c)  Seminar Contributions (27%)

The seminar experience is a fundamental component of Liberal Studies.  Seminars are designed to provide you with the opportunity to develop, deepen and consider alternatives to your own interpretation of the texts.  The seminar is a study group where all of us meet to discuss a work that we have read thoughtfully before we arrive.  Our goal is to enhance another's understanding of the issues raised by the text.  Listening and responding specifically and effectively to what others say will keep the discussion focused and ensure that, when the topic changes, everyone will understand where it is going and why.

Some important aspects of seminar participation are the quality and quantity of your contributions to discussion; your helpfulness to others in maintaining a successful conversation within the seminar; and your ability to listen as well as to talk.

Good participation is not a matter of how much you say but of the value of what you say as a  contribution to shared understanding.  Dominating the discussion will not allow others to examine your ideas.  Never having much to say will deprive the seminar of your valuable ideas and critical abilities.  Straying too quickly off topic and speaking without listening can derail what might otherwise be a profitable discussion.  Good seminar participation involves not only having an idea to share but also gently encouraging quiet colleagues to speak; politely but firmly requesting dominating members to let others respond; pointing out when the focus has switched too abruptly or is missing; and asking for clarification when you can't remember or figure out what's being talked about.

It is important that all students contribute effectively, including those who may find themselves reluctant to speak up in a group discussion.  Any student who continues to find this a problem should discuss the matter thoroughly with the instructor, so that together they can work out some ways of resolving the difficulties.

The most important components in the assessment of your performance in the seminar discussions are the following: attendance, preparation for the seminar (thoughtful completion of the required reading before the class session), and the quality and quantity of your participation in the seminar discussions.

Here is a rough scale for evaluating individual seminar sessions:

A range:  Is clearly well-prepared and makes a major contribution to the seminar discussion.

B range:  Is prepared and makes a meaningful contribution to the discussion.

C range:  Is present but does not offer evidence of successful engagement with the text.

D:  Is physically present but seems otherwise absent.

F:  Is physically absent without a valid reason.

Late Policy

The curriculum for this course is organized on a week-by-week basis, with regular seminars being dependent upon full pre-class student preparation for their success.  I expect you to come to class having done your best to complete that week's reading and viewing/listening assignments.

You are welcome to hand in a completed seminar note on the day we discuss that text.  However, I appreciate that you may find it helpful engage in class discussion before fully organizing your thoughts.  I thus routinely have listed the due date for your seminar notes as the Friday immediately following our Wednesday seminars.

Although you should strive to follow that timeline so that you do not fall behind in the course, it is fine to take a few extra days to complete any individual seminar note if necessary, so long that such an extension not interfere with reading and prep for the following week's seminar.

As a general rule, no assignment will be accepted more than two weeks late.

Please talk to me if you are concerned that you are struggling to keep pace with the curriculum.

Writing Support And Peer Tutoring

Writing Support is available to all students at no additional cost.  Go to Writing Support for any or all of your assignments.  Every visit is a step toward becoming a better writer.  Use Writing Support as many times as you like, and at any point in your writing process.  The writing support faculty can help you understand the assignment, develop your ideas, outlines, thesis, and revision -- and anything else in-between.  Book your appointment through the library website, or visit the library desk to inquire about drop-ins.  There's also WriteAway, an online tutoring platform that allows you to upload your papers and assignments for detailed written feedback.  Both services may be found at .

Student Technical Services

Our Student Technical Service team is available to help you with any technical issues that you may be experiencing as a student.  Please go to for more information.

Learn Anywhere

NIC's Learn Anywhere website is geared to provide a collection of information that will help you be successful learning digitally by covering area such as: What is digital learning? How to be a digital learner while using NIC-supported technologies during your studies? A list of key skills and knowledge all students should have for successful learning in today's world, knowing your rights and responsibilities and Technology Readiness Checklists. More details at:

Community Supports (24/7)

There are several supports available to help any student in distress. If you are in distress, please reach out for support.

Vancouver Island Crisis Line:  24/7 1-888-494-3888 (Available to students located on Vancouver Island only)

Crisis Suicide helpline:  24/7 1-800-784-2433 (Available to students located in Canada only)

BC 211:  Full list of community services available across BC.  Dial 2-1-1 on BC cellphone (Available to students located in BC only).

Here2Talk24/7 counselling support for post-secondary students: 1-877-857-3397 (Available to students located in Canada and offshore).

A Note On Plagiarism

Everything that you hand in should be your original work unless otherwise indicated.  Violations of this policy may result in being reported to the Academic Integrity Committee and in failing an assignment or the course in its entirety.  Please talk to me if you have any uncertainty about what is permitted here.  I want to help you to get as much out of this course as possible but, for this to happen, you need to put forth strong and honest effort.

Related Policy

Community Code of Academic, Personal and Professional Conduct (3-06)

Instructional Accommodation and Access Services for Students with Disabilities (3-17)

Student Appeals Policy (3-30)

Student Complaint Resolution Policy (3-31)

Evaluation of Student Performance Policy (3-33)

Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy (3-34)

Course Outline Policy (3-35)

Academic Standing and Progression (3-37)

Grading System (4-14)

Welcome To The Course




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