FALL 2004

“Better well hanged than ill wed.”

-Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

Vincent  van Gogh (1853-1890)
The Sower, 1888
Oil on Canvas,
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
(Vincent van Gogh Foundation)









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Dr. Jim Ford and Dr. Laura Gray                                                  Humanities Seminar;                                                   HUM-4993

Office Phone: (918) 343-7749; 343-7593                                     Fall 2004

Online Independent Study                                                             Prerequisite: Senior status.



            “A reading, research, and/or lecture seminar on a particular topic, period, or genre, as specified each semester. Seminars will require extensive reading of, and reports on, primary and secondary works and/or research project(s). Student discussion will be paramount” (RSU Bulletin, 2003-04, p. 179).


The official description is obviously a little vague. This course is an advanced seminar in the Humanities. It is designed to be the culmination of your academic experience at Rogers State University in the Bachelor's of Arts, Liberal Arts program. In the above description, this seminar falls somewhere between a Reading Seminar and a Research Seminar. The crucial fact to note is that student discussion- your contribution- is paramount.

The specific topic for this year's Humanities Seminar is “The Nature of Love.” We will read a number of literary and scholarly works that deal with various kinds of love, and their significance to a good human life. Each week we examine a different work (or selections from various works), and we will spend the vast majority of our time reading, discussing, and writing about the meaning and significance of those works. That means that the course will require a great deal of work on your part, but it will be worth it.




You have five main responsibilities during this course. First, of course, you must read all of the assigned readings; second, you must participate fully in all of our threaded discussions; third, you must create six projects (for lack of a better word) during the course; fourth, you will respond to the other students’ projects; and fifth, you will submit the proposal for your capstone portfolio/project (which you will complete in the Capstone course next spring—see the memo from the Capstone Committee below). Your grade will be the result of your performance on these projects, the discussions, and the proposal.


What's a unit project? Basically, every week several students will respond to that week’s materials. In most cases that material is a text, the reading assignment for the unit, but in a few cases it is something else (an art show, a web-site, etc.). Whatever the material in question, you the student will respond to the work—that may involve criticizing, evaluating, or interpreting the work in question. If that sounds vague, that’s for a reason. You are free to decide what form your response takes. It may be a traditional academic essay; it may be a creative work of fiction or poetry related to the material at hand; or it may be a work of art, a piece of music, a painting—whatever you decide works best for that particular unit. We will discuss further (during the first unit) what is involved in these projects, and what we expect from you. Primarily, we want to see that you have done some critical and creative thinking about the work in question, but we will discuss more what that involves.


We will be grading these projects according to the criteria listed under “Grading Policies” (below), but evidence of creative and critical thinking will be particularly important. Understand also that we are doing one of these projects every few weeks, so we do not expect your masterpiece, your magnum opus. We do expect that you will do some creative and critical thinking about the material in question, and that's mainly what we want to see in your projects. You will share your work with the other students so that we can discuss each other’s creations.

At least once in the semester every student will write a more traditional academic essay for their presentation. All essays must be typed and double-spaced, four to five pages long, with margins of 1.25 inches.

Given the time-sensitive nature of this course, no credit will be given for work not submitted on time. All projects are due on the Wednesday of the particular week; the other two students will respond to those projects by Friday. Further details on the nature of these assignments will be given during the semester. There will also be a final exam, the nature of which will be discussed in class later in the semester. Failure to complete any presentation or assignment will be grounds for failure of the course as a whole.

You will see from the schedule below that there is a tremendous amount of reading involved. If you are not a quick reader, you will have to plan ahead to keep up with the class.


All student work will be judged according to the following academic criteria:

  • Evidence of creative or innovative thinking.
  • Depth of critical thinking and observation.
  • Accuracy of information.
  • Organization and clarity of thoughts.
  • Fidelity of work (no plagiarism, cheating, etc.).
  • Basic writing mechanics.

Every student’s final grade will be earned via the following:

  • Unit Projects                                  60%
  • Participation                                   25%  
  • Capstone Proposal                         15%


Course Schedule

Unit I: The Nature of Love

Week of:

Sep 6           Philosophy and Love: Plato, Symposium

Sep 13        C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Sep 20        Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet 

Student-Mentor Capstone Contracts Due

Sep 27          Jane Austen, Persuasion, Vol. I 

Oct 4             Jane Austen, Persuasion, Vol. II   Capstone Proposal Due

Oct 11          Love and Poetry                                                                 

Oct 18          Love and Painting 

Oct 25          Kierkegaard (selections) 

UNIT II: Love in the Modern World

Nov 1                     Freud, Civilization and its Discontents 

Nov 8                     Greene, The End of the Affair  

Nov 15             Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being  

Nov 22                   Lovesongs (hand-outs)

Nov 29             Modern Critiques (hand-outs)  

Dec 6                      hooks, all about love  

Dec 13                    Final exam                             

This schedule may be revised as necessary during the course of the semester.


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Jane Austen	Persuasion			Penguin		     0140430059 
Sigmund Freud	Civilization and its DiscontentsWW Norton	1984 0393301583 
Graham Greene	The End of the Affair		Penguin		2000 0140291091 
bell hooks	All about love			HarperCollins	2000 0060959479 
Milan Kundera	The Unbearable Lightness of BeingHarperCollins	1999 0060932139 
C.S. Lewis	The Four Loves			Harcourt	1971 0156329301 
Plato		Symposium			Hackett		1997 0872200760 
All books are available at the RSU Bookstore in Claremore. 


Several things to peruse. First, go to the following website (or look in your book of Shakespeare's Sonnets, 

if you have one), and pick three (3) sonnets you find particularly interesting (that relate in some interesting 

way to our topic of love, obviously):

Then, go to the following website (or look in your book of NGA paintings, if you have one), and pick

two (2) paintings you find particularly interesting (that relate in some interesting way to our topic of love,


Why Shakespeare? Why the National Gallery of Art? Why not? We have to focus on something, right? But 

in case you find these unduly limiting, please also select a classic poem and/or painting of your own choosing 

(in addition to the 3 and 2, respectively). Once we have all these selected, I want everyone (all four of you)

to do a project relating to your selections. So instead of two starting and two responding this week, all

four of you will submit something original by Friday. 

Thanks, good luck.

 VAN GOGH, Vincent
Branches with Almond Blossom
February 1890
Oil on canvas
73.5 x 92 cm
F671 JH1891
Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, Amsterdam

Scan by http:// Mark Harden