26 August 2013

Literature & Theology 2013 Syllabus

Literature & Theology                    RLS320
Mead                                                                                                   Fall 2013
26        M         Introduction: John, 1:1-4.
28        W         Consolation of Philosophy, Book 1
30        F          Consolation of Philosophy, Book 2
 2         M         NO CLASSES
 4         W         Consolation of Philosophy, Books 3 & 4
 6         F          Consolation of Philosophy, Book 5
 9         M         Inferno, Cantos 1-3
11        W         Inferno, Cantos 4-6
13        F          Inferno, Cantos 7-9
16        M         Inferno, Cantos 10-12
18        W         Inferno, Cantos 13-15
20        F          Inferno, Cantos 16-19
23        M         Inferno, Cantos 20-23
25        W         Inferno, Cantos 24-27
27        F          Inferno, Cantos 28-31
30        M         Inferno, Cantos 32-34
 2         W         Purgatorio, Cantos 1-3
 4         F          Purgatorio, Cantos 4-7
7          M         Purgatorio, Cantos 8-11
 9         W         Purgatorio, Cantos 12-15
11        F          Purgatorio, Cantos 16-18
14        M         NO CLASSES
16        W         Purgatorio, Cantos 19-22
18        F          NO CLASS
21        M         Purgatorio, Cantos 23-26
23        W         Purgatorio, Cantos 27-29
25        F          Purgatorio, Cantos 30-31
28        M         Purgatorio, Cantos 32-33
30        W         Catch-up Day.
 2         F          The Faerie Queene, Book 1, Cantos 1-2
 4         M         The Faerie Queene, Book 1, Cantos3-4
 6         W         The Faerie Queene, Book 1, Cantos 5-6
 9         F          The Faerie Queene, Book 1, Cantos 7-8
11        M         NO CLASSES
13        W         The Faerie Queene, Book 1, Cantos 9-10
15        F          The Faerie Queene, Book 1, Cantos 11-12
18        M         Paradise Lost, Books 1-2
20        W         Paradise Lost, Books 3-4
22        F          Paradise Lost, Books 5-6
25        M         Paradise Lost, Books 7-8
27        W         Paradise Lost, Books 9-10
29        F          NO CLASSES
 2         M         Paradise Lost, Books 11-12
 4         W         Evaluations. Speeches.

Literature & Theology?  What’s the connection?  No, this isn’t a Bible-as-literature class (but do take one if you ever get the chance).  Here’s the premise:  all literature is a footnote to the Bible. If that sounds radical or indefensible, try this: insofar as the Bible promotes moral living, literature is the Bible’s natural successor, as literature is inherently a moral engagement between ideas and the reader.  If neither of those premises excites you, you can still study in this class under the premise of studying how issues of religion are expressed and explored in literature.  There. That’s as mundane as I can make it.

Our readerly journey will take us from sixth-century northern Italy to thirteenth-century central Italy to sixteenth-century Ireland and sevententh-century England.  But imaginatively, we will on the battlefield of dragon and saint in Eden, in a dank prison cell, across the fields of heaven before Creation, in the deepest pits of hell (a couple of times), Faerie Lond, a solitary mountain in the Southern Hemisphere, and beyond time and space in the presence of the Ultimate Signified. Our journey also takes us through Classical philosophy, high medieval allegory, Reformation Arthurian, and seventeenth-century radical Protestantism.  Grab your towel and don’t panic.

Required Texts           
The Consolation of Philosophy (524), Boethius
Victor Watts, trans. Penguin, 1999
Inferno (~1310), Dante
            Mark Musa, trans. Penguin, 2003
Purgatorio (~1315), Dante
            Mark Musa trans. Penguin, 1985
The Faerie Queene, Book 1(1590), Edmund Spenser
            Carol V. Kaske, ed. Hackett, 2006
Paradise Lost (1674),  John Milton
            David Scott Kastan, ed. Hackett, 2005.

In addition to these literary texts, I will give you five scholarly articles to use as models to consider when composing your own scholarly papers.

What We Do in Class:  After we have all read, digested, and critically considered the reading material for the day, we meet in the assigned classroom to pool our thoughts, to ask probing questions, and to advance the group’s understanding and appreciation of the texts and their contexts.  As the instructor, my role is to keep the discussion moving forward, to be prepared to respond to all question, but to wait first for several of the students to respond.  It is of capital importance that each student engages not only with the material and with the instructor, but with each other student in the class.  Even though this is not a lecture class, I urge all students to take full notes during class discussion.  Please feel free to ask other students or the professor to repeat themselves so you can get things down in your notebook. When the class period is over, take a few minutes to finish up your notes, talk to students or the instructor if you have some questions or suggestions, and give yourself a sense of what the preceding class was composed of.

What We Do Outside of Class: First of all, read and re-read.  Take notes of the material.  Underline passages that seem important, that confuse you, or that infuriate you.  Second, talk to people, specifically, the instructor, other students in the class, the library professionals, as well as other students, faculty, and monks. If you only talk about the works in the classroom, your experience with the material will be unnecessarily delimited, and your success in the class will be minimized. Third, do extra reading.  You may want to look at Augustine of Hippo, Boccaccio, William Shakespeare, Andrew Marvel (contemporaries of our authors); or you may want to start early reading critical studies of these works.  Perhaps you will find enlightenment in reading about the historical periods, the lives of the authors, the history of religion in Europe.
Papers: This class is your chace to sharpen your skills in sound prose, critical thinking, and logical argumentation.  All papers MUST have a clear, interpretive thesis in the first paragraph; topic sentences at the beginning of each body paragraph that signal the topic of the paragraph AND explain how that topic advances the thesis; brief, selected passages from the texts that are interpreted by close reading; three-five secondary sources from peer-reviewed sources integrated into the paper; proper MLA format.  Papers should be 5-8 pages long, exclusive of Notes and Works Cited, both of which are required. Each paper is worth 20% of your final grade.

Speeches: Students who memorize and recite in class 20+ full lines of Dante, Spenser, or Milton with fewer than five errors (and there are do-overs) will imporve their final grade by one increment.

Attendance: Students are expected to attend every class meeting, to be on time and prepared.  Students who miss more than three classes over the course of the smester will have their final grade lowered by one decrement per additional absence (so don’t miss!).  Participation (determined by attendance, preparedness, thoughtful engagement in class discussions, office visits, promptness, and how helpful one is to other students) will constitute 20% of your final grade.

Students with special needs must inform the instructor at the beginning of the semester, and he will make all reasonable accommodations.

Please visit my Blog at http://stephenxmead.blogspot.com/ my blog has required reading for policies such as plagiarism and useful handouts such as edit sheets—but seriously, there’s lots of good stuff for you to look through.  There will also be copies of the syllabus and class policies, in case you lose this.

Office Hours: OM312b.  Students who meet with their professors (or other students) to talk about the texts and the writing process do better than those who do not.  Please see me as a resource for your success and excellence in the class.  If you are not free during office hours, we can make a special appointment. tel. 438-4336 smead@stmartin.edu. You may, of course, email me, but I cannot promise to respond before the next class meeting.

MWF 10-12AM.  TR 8:30-9:30. And by appointment.
You can follow me on Twitter at sxmead.  

Please check your university email in box regularly, as this is the only way I can contact all of you in case of timely messages, changes in syllabus, or helpful prompts.

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