GOALS FOR THE COURSE
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT AT MIDTERM AND FINALS TIME
Every educational endeavor has at least three goals:
- to root out false or bad ideas;
- to criticize received opinion, to improve received ideas, and to discover new truths and ideas.
- to pass on true and better ideas.
The following represent most of the larger themes which will be dealt with in this class.
The following does NOT represent actual questions which may/will occur on the Midterm exam (Week 8). These are only a study-aid, so that, as you read the material and organize your opinions and data, you can have some idea of the structure of `western thought and ideas' as they may appear in the various readings.
IN GENERAL, in each one of the readings:
- [GOAL to acquire an idea of literary personalities]
How distinct is the principal character(s)? A `real' being? A `personality'? An artificial construction for a purpose?
- [GOAL to analyze the creation of a character through motivation, societal interaction, alienation and integration, etc.]
How individual are are characters? Do they do things for conventional reasons? If so what conventional reasons? Are they programmed by Society to do standard things in standard ways? (What is the program, if there is one?) Do characters act alone or as representatives of a group?
- [GOAL to analyze the presentation of The Divine in a work of literature]
What is The Divine like? Is GOD `omniscient' (all-knowing), or just well-informed? Is GOD `all-wise', or just clever? Is GOD `just', according to some standard, or does she/he suit himself/herself in her/his actions? Is The Divine benevolent (`kindly') as far as the rest of the Universe is concerned? Is the divine, in any story, the Creator, or some other power?
- [GOAL to define the relationships between divine and human in a work of literature]
What is the relationship between THE DIVINE AND THE HUMAN like? Are there rules that both obey (e.g.`nature' `fate')? Is god interested in everything that humans do, or just interested in some humans at some times in some places, or is god basically unconcerned with human conduct or activities? Is it the business of the divinity to reward/punish humans for their behavior? If so, is this a regular and consistent activity, or spotty and arbitrary?
- [GOAL to analyze the forms of political discourse]
Who is the political AUTHORITY (or) social authority figure in a particular work of literature? (monarchy, tyranny; aristocracy, oligarchy; democracy, ochlocracy) Where does the political/social authority's power and legitimate rights come from? (gods, men, contract, consent of the governed, conquest, `divine right of kings', election, etc.) How much control does the government have over the governed, and in what areas of human activity?
- [GOAL to analyze the position of 'Justice' in society in a work of literature]
What is `JUSTICE' and how is it guaranteed? Who decides what is just? Who judges and punishes? (law codes, ethics, morality, Commandments, conscience)
- [GOAL to define the reasons for the creation of a work of literature]
What are the PURPOSES OF LITERATURE ? To embody the rules of society? To allow men to escape from the harsh reality of society? To teach? To entertain? To serve religion? To serve the State? To glorify the individual? To provide `immortality' for the subject and the author? Catharsis (Aristotle's big idea with regard to drama)?
- [GOAL to define the nature of the 'Audience' and its interaction with the 'Author']
Who is the AUDIENCE for which a piece of literature exists? The author, writing for his own pleasure, or psychotherapy? Aristocrats, writing for fellow aristocrats? The citizen, writing for his society? Man, writing for the gods? (e.g. Hymns)
- [GOAL to understand the reception of a work of literature by an audience]
How does an audience come into contact with the work of literature? Hearing it in recitation? Theatrical performance (words, music, dance, spectacle)? Song? (hymns, drinking songs, lyrics) Reading? (philosophy) In the town square (speeches, funeral orations, praise speeches [encomium]) Among a circle of friends? (dinner party verse, lyrics, etc.)
- [GOAL to make explicit the relationships between an 'Audience' and a text]
Is the audience a part of the literary work, in some sense? Is the audience necessary for the work to have its true and intended meaning (drama, for example)?
- [GOAL to appreciate the changes in interpretation as audiences and circumstances change]
How much of the message of a particular work can be taken up directly in a different time and place (even by others in a different culture) and applied to the audience's concerns? What part of the message of a particular work can only be relevant to the time and place that produced the work?
June 10, 2009 5:14 PM
John Paul Adams, CSUN