North Island College Fall 2018

Meeting Time: Tues. 6:00 - 8:45 pm

Meeting Place:  Tyee 203

Instructor: Dan Hinman-Smith

Office: Village G6

Office Hours:  T - Th 2:30 - 4:00 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.

Texts:  The course books are placed at the centre of the curriculum and must be acquired.

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

Jack Miles.  God: A Biography.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995.

Homeric Hymns, trans. Jules Cashford.  New York: Penguin Classics, 2003.

Homer.  Odyssey, trans. Robert Fagles.  New York: Penguin, 1996.

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

Robert B. Strassler, ed.  Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide To The Peloponnesian War.  New York: Free Press, 1998.

Ryszard Kapuscinski.  Travels With Herodotus, trans. Klara Glowczewska  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007.

Plato.  Republic.  New York: Penguin, 2007.

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

Tuesday, September 11

a)  Course Introduction

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

Week 2

Tuesday, September 18

a)  Discussion: Genesis

b)  Video: "A History Of God," History Channel (2001) [100 mins.]

Reading Assignment:

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

***The Crumb book is strongly recommended as the preferred version of Genesis.  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 (Genesis, the first book of Bible, can be found on pp. 28-123 in this on-line edition).    Try the following for Genesis In Punjabi.

Week 3

Tuesday, September 25

a)  Discussion: Exodus

b)  Lecture: The Rise And Fall Of Adam And Eve

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. 124-206 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.

Week 4

Tuesday, October 2

a)  Discussion: God -- A Biography

b)  Lecture: "Let My People Go" -- The Exodus

c)  Possible Video  from "Walking The Bible: A Journey By Land Through The Five Books Of Moses," WGBH (2005) [168 mins.]

***First Seminar Note Due Date [You are required complete your choice Genesis or Exodus as seminar note. ]

Reading Assignment:

Jack Miles, God: A Biography.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995.

Week 5

Tuesday, October 9

a)  Discussion: Homeric Hymns

b)  Video: "The Greek Gods," History Channel (1998) [50 mins.]

Reading Assignment:

Homeric Hymns, trans. Jules Cashford.  New York: Penguin Classics, 2003.

Week 6

Tuesday, October 16

a)  Discussion: Odyssey (1)

b)  "As You Set Out For Ithaca": The Journey Forth And The Return Home

***God: A Biography Seminar Note Due Date

Reading Assignment:

Homer, Odyssey, trans. Robert Fagles.  New York: Penguin, 1996: Books 1-12.

Week 7

Tuesday, October 23

a)  Discussion: Odyssey (2)

b)  Video: "Helen Of Troy," PBS (2005) [120 mins.]

***Homeric Hymns Seminar Note Due Date  [You are required to have completed at least two seminar notes by this date. ]

Reading Assignment:

Homer, Odyssey, trans. Robert Fagles.  New York: Penguin, 1996: Books 13-24.

Week 8

Tuesday, October 30

a)  Discussion: Bacchae

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

c)  Lecture: The House Of Thebes And The House Of Atreus

Reading Assignment:

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

Week 9

No Class:  Diwali Celebration

Week 10

Tuesday, November 13

a)  Discussion: Iphigenia At Aulis

b)  Term Essay Workshop

c)  Video:  "The Odyssey" (2010)

Reading Assignment:

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

Viewing Assignment:

"Bacchus Uncovered: Ancient God Of Ecstasy," BBC, 2018.

Week 11  

Tuesday, November 20

a)  Discussion: Odyssey (1) and Odyssey (2)

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

***Bacchae and  Iphigenia At Aulis Seminar Note Due Date [You are required to have completed at least three seminar notes by this date. ]

Reading Assignment:

Homer, Odyssey, trans. Robert Fagles.  New York: Penguin, 1996

Optional Listening Assignment:

It is o.k. to listen to the Odyssey as a substitute for reading it.  I recommend that those who choose this YouTube option take notes as you proceed and then hand these in to me.

Book 1:

Book 2:

Books 2-24:

Week 12

Tuesday, November 27

a)  Discussion:  Final Paper

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

Week 13

Tuesday, December 4

a)  Discussion: Republic

b)  Final Paper Workshop

***Odyssey and Bacchus/Venus Seminar Notes Due Date  [You are required to have completed at least four seminar notes by this date. ]

Reading Assignment:

Plato, Republic, trans. Desmond Lee.  New York: Penguin, 2007.

***Term Paper and all remaining Seminar Notes Due Friday, December 14.


Letter Of Introduction


Seminar Notes

50% (10% x 5)

Final Paper


Seminar Contributions


a)  Letter Of Introduction (1%)

Write two or three informal paragraphs for the second class of the semester to introduce yourself to me.  You need not use the following questions as direct cues.  Who are you?  Where are you from?  What are your interests?  Why are you taking this course?  What are your thoughts and reflections as you begin?  Do you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions?

b)  Seminar Notes (50%) [10% x 5]

Seminar notes are commentaries of approximately two-to-three pages apiece upon your choice of five of the course readings.  The purpose of these reflective reading responses is to provide you with the opportunity to organize your thoughts after each of our readings.  The notes should be analytical in nature and should highlight key themes from the reading.  Your own interpretations must be at the centre of each seminar note.  I want to see you engaging directly with the text rather than paraphrasing someone else's descriptions or review.  The successful seminar note will demonstrate evidence of attentive reading and of engagement with the text.

Seminar notes are usually due within two weeks of the class discussion of that particular text.  Ideally, they should be completed within a few days of the class discussion.  They can be submitted in hard copy or sent to me by email in a Word Document, PDF, or RTF file labelled with your name and a short identifying title (egs. DanHGenesis, DanHBacchae, DanHThucydides).

Seminar notes on the two-part discussions (Odyssey and Republic) can either be on the entire book or on one week's reading, though you should only have one seminar note per book.

You are encouraged to complete more than five seminar notes.  In that case, the best five notes will count towards this portion of your grade.

c)  Final Paper (25%)

The final paper will represent your attempt to draw connections between the semester's reading by exploring one or more common themes.

d)  Seminar Contributions (24%)

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.

A Note On Plagiarism

Everything that you hand in should be your original work unless otherwise indicated.  Violations of this policy may result in failing an assignment or the course in its entirety.  Please talk to me if you have any uncertainty  about what is permitted here.

Related Policy

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

Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy (3-34)

Evaluation of Student Performance Policy (3-33)

Student Complaint Resolution Policy (3-31)

Student Appeals Policy (3-30)

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

Course Outline Policy (3-35)

Grading System (4-41)

Welcome To The Course




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