Honors | Ideas and Human Experience - Ancient
H211 | 0002 | Rieselbach

11:15A-12:30P    MW    BH 011
Our central theme will be the changing concept of the hero as embodied in
some of the most important works in the Western literary tradition. We
shall be asking such questions as: How do societies so diverse as, for
instance, Homer's and Shakespeare's define a hero? What qualities of mind
and spirit make a hero? What historical and philosophical currents affect
our changing perceptions of what is "heroic"? Is our society's hero
another's villian? Taking this point further, do some societies seem to
require anti-heroes, "heroes" who attack the status quo instead of
defending its norms and values? As these questions imply, any study of the
hero in literature will involve a consideration of the hero's social,
milieu, and this will be a central concern. These questions, however, are
only starting points. I want our discussion to center on your responses to
the readings and on your perceptions.
This is a discussion class, responsive to your interests, puzzlements, and
insights. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that you come to class
thoroughly prepared to discuss the day's assignment. Many of these
assignments will be lengthy, and all of these works require a close and
attentive reading. If possible, read at least some of these works over the
summer. A second reading during the course of the semester will prove most