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Jim Ford and Dr. Laura Gray
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).
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
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.
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.
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
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
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,
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:
Every student’s final grade will be earned via the following:
I: The Nature of Love
Sep 6 Philosophy and Love: Plato, Symposium
Sep 13 C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
Capstone Contracts Due
Jane Austen, Persuasion,
Oct 4 Jane
Austen, Persuasion, Vol. II
Oct 11 Love and Poetry
Oct 18 Love and Painting
Oct 25 Kierkegaard (selections)
II: Love in the Modern World
Freud, Civilization and its
Nov 8 Greene, The End of the Affair
Nov 15 Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Nov 22 Lovesongs (hand-outs)
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.
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.
POETRY AND PAINTING STUFF
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): http://www.shakespeares-sonnets.com/index.htm
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
Oil on canvas
73.5 x 92 cm
Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, Amsterdam
Scan by http://http://www.artchive.com/ Mark Harden