Syllabus for LIT-202
LITERARY ROOTS OF WESTERN CULTURE
The literature of the Western Hemisphere has influenced and shaped its culture, from history and art to philosophy and religion. Literary Roots of Western Culture introduces and explores those literary works that have arguably had the greatest influence.
From the “In the beginning. . .” of the Bible's Book of Genesis to Franz Kafka’s 20-century hallucinatory story of a dung beetle, Western literature has grappled with serious questions about our identity as human beings, about how we determine what is right and wrong, about how we can know or approach God, about how we can distinguish reality from illusion, about how we can know true beauty, as well as other questions we grapple with in our lives. This course explores the answers that the West's best writers and thinkers have provided, as well as the issues and questions they have raised.
Names such as Homer, Sophocles, Shakespeare, and Tolstoy are familiar to most people, yet relatively few have experienced these works personally. Students will be introduced to a selection of the “great books” of Western literature and encouraged to enter into a dialogue with them through use of a personal journal.
The course spans thousands of years grouped into seven broad periods:
After completing this course, you should be able to:
You will need the following materials to do the work of the course. The required textbooks are available from the University's textbook supplier, MBS Direct.
Students please note: Access to the Norton Anthology StudySpace website requires purchase of a new (not used) textbook.
Norton Anthology StudySpace
Note: The links provided have been reviewed and were working at the time of course release. The fluid nature of the Internet, however, means one or more of the sites may have moved, changed, or been discontinued. You are encouraged to search for additional background material—not just on the Internet, but also at your local library. The works assigned have been around for thousands of years and some very good material written about them is available in print only.
Literary Roots of Western Culture is a writing-intensive course that places great emphasis on helping you to further develop your writing skills. Listed below are helpful writing resources and tutoring options:
Literary Roots of Western Culture is a three-credit, online course consisting of ten modules. Modules include learning objectives, study materials, and activities. Module titles are listed below.
For your formal work in the course, you are required to participate in online discussion forums, complete written assignments, and complete a final project. In addition, after each set of readings, you will write about what you read in a reflective journal and submit your efforts to your mentor. See below for more details.
In this course you will read works of literature as well as examine websites, videos, and other material that will deepen and challenge your understanding of the literary works. Your reading assignments will appear under the Study Materials heading within each module. Following that you will find an “Online Assignment.” Viewing and study of these online items is part of your assignment just as the readings are; in other words, they are not supplementary material (unless they are clearly labeled as such). You'll be expected to refer to them in your journal assignments and elsewhere in the course.
Consult the Course Calendar for assignment due dates.
One or more of your course activities may utilize a tool designed to promote original work and evaluate your submissions for plagiarism. More information about this tool is available in this document.
Literary Roots of Western Culture has five graded online discussions based on Internet assignments drawn from the textbook. There is also an ungraded but required Introductions Forum in Module 1.
Communication among fellow students and with the mentor is a critical component of online learning. Participation in online discussions involves two distinct assignments: an initial response to a posted question (discussion thread) and subsequent comments on classmates' responses. Meaningful participation is relevant to the content, adds value, and advances the discussion. Comments such as “I agree” and “ditto” are not considered value-adding participation. Therefore, when you agree or disagree with a classmate, the reading, or your mentor, state and support your agreement or disagreement. You will be evaluated on the quality and quantity of your participation. Responses and comments should be properly proofread and edited, professional, and respectful.
Throughout this course you will be asked to keep a reflective journal that records your reactions to the literature you have read. This journal, though shared with your mentor, will not be graded on content or for grammatical expression. You are submitting it to your mentor mainly so he or she knows that you are reading and responding to the literature as the course progresses. If you submit the journal regularly and it shows that you have been doing the reading, you will receive the full number of points toward your final grade.
Although you are not graded on your entries, you will be asked to make reference to your reflective journal in your final assessment paper. Be sure to keep your own copy of your journal as well as submitting regular installments to your mentor.
There is no prescribed length for your journal entries, but they should generally be about one page, double-spaced. They are not intended to be detailed analyses, just your honest reaction.
Literary Roots of Western Culture has five written assignments. The written assignments are the primary means for you to express yourself verbally during the semester, controlling content and meaning.
Take the time to familiarize yourself with and read through the written assignments before you begin each lesson. Your answers to the assignment questions should be well developed and convey your understanding of the course materials. They should also adequately answer the question. If you need help in writing, take a look at The Writing Center: University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Also, formulate responses in your own words. Do not merely copy answers from your reading materials. When quoting or paraphrasing from the texts or other sources, be sure to properly cite the source of information. MLA style is generally used in the Humanities, so it is the preferred style in this course.
Prepare your written assignments using whatever word processing program you have on your computer. Include your name at the top of the paper, as well as the course name and code and the semester and year in which you are enrolled.
Before submitting your first assignment, check with your mentor to determine whether your word processing software is compatible with your mentor's software. If so, you can submit your work as you prepared it. If not, save your assignment as a rich-text (.rtf) file, using the Save As command of your software program. Rich text retains basic formatting and can be read by any other word processing program.
There is no midterm or final proctored examination in this course. An 8- to 12-page paper, described below, acts as your final assessment and is worth 50 percent of your grade. You may begin work on this paper at any time during the course, but you must submit it by the last day of the semester.
All too often, the study of literature seems to students to be about definitions of terms and memorization of facts. This course has been designed to emphasize the pleasure of reading and of informed discussion and reflection. As a result, the course replaces a proctored examination with an ongoing (ungraded) journal and a final reflective paper that incorporates insights from that journal. This paper serves as the final assessment for this course.
Your final paper should be 8 to 12 pages in length (2000 to 3300 words). Possible topics are listed in the Final Project section of the course site. You will review your reading, your written assignments, and your journal entries. Then you will organize your thoughts on one of the listed topics, including appropriate quotations from your journal.
Your final paper should be well developed and should convey your understanding of readings and concepts, as well as answer the question adequately. It should be organized, cogent, coherent, and unified; it should also be free of spelling and grammatical errors. If you need help in writing such a paper, take a look at The Writing Center: University of Wisconsin-Madison.
When quoting or paraphrasing from the text or other sources, be sure to cite the source of information properly according to MLA guidelines.
Note: Your final assessment paper must include both quotations from your reflective journal and references to your own personal experience.
Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:
To receive credit for the course, you must earn a letter grade of C or better (for an area of study course) or D or better (for a course not in your area of study), based on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., assignments, discussion postings, final assessment).
To succeed in this course, take the following first steps:
Consider the following study tips for success:
If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, or without identifying it as a direct quote, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism. (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > Citing Sources.)
For examples of unintentional plagiarism, advice on when to quote and when to paraphrase, and information about writing assistance, click the links provided below.
Examples of Unintentional Plagiarism
When to Quote and When to Paraphrase
Writing Assistance at Smarthinking
Acts of both intentional and unintentional plagiarism violate the Academic Code of Conduct.
Possible sanctions include:
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