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The Heart of a Liberal Education

ENGL 329.401

The goal of this course is to grapple with authors who asked questions fundamental to a liberal education and who strove to answer those questions with a profundity that set a standard for great thinking after them.  Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Aristophanes, and Plato asked the questions central  to human life: wherein lie human happiness and  human dignity?   These authors also addressed the requisite corollary questions:   what is the nature of the human soul?  what is the best kind of polity? what virtue does a particular polity encourage?  what virtue does a particular kind of  literature teach?


            We will read the following works in whole or in part:  Homer’s Iliad,  Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound and the  Oresteia,  Aristophanes’ The Clouds, and five dialogues of Plato (Apology, Meno,Gorgias,  Republic, Phaedrus).

            Course requirements:  3 short papers, final paper, regular class participation.


Texts:  Homer’s Iliad, trans. Fitzgerald; Aeschylus I, trans.  Grene, Lattimore,  etc. (Chicago) and Aeschylus II, trans. Grene,  Lattimore, etc.  (Chicago);   Four Texts on Socrates, ed. West and West (Cornell);  Plato, Republic, trans. Grube (Hackett); Plato, Gorgias, trans. Zeyl (Hackett); Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian Wars, trans. Crawley (McGraw-Hill); Plato, Phaedrus, trans. Nehemas and Woodruff (Hackett). 

fulfills requirements
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major