Honors Program

ENG L101: Honors Western World Masterpieces I: Love and War

Love and WarHonors Western World Masterpieces I: Love and War (ENG L101)

CRN: 13875 MWF 11-11:50AM  

This course fulfills the Humanistic and Artistic Ways of Knowing (B.6) General Education Requirement (or Area IV under the old General Education Program).

Instructor:  Dr. Damian Fleming

‘In our days,' continued Vera--mentioning 'our days' as people of limited intelligence are fond of doing, imagining that they have discovered and appraised the peculiarities of "our days" and that human characteristics change with the times.

--Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

The value of the study of ancient and medieval literature—the necessary subject matter of ENG L101 Western World Masterpieces—is predicated at least in part on the notion elaborated by Tolstoy above that human experiences retain some fundamental characteristics throughout time.  Thus the struggles and conflicts delineated in a 3000-year-old work like the Iliad, for example, can continue to teach even 21st century students lessons about human behavior.

The honors version of this course will focus on two of the most important—and similarly devastating—themes of human experience: Love and War.   Starting with the Iliad—and progressing through Shakespeare’s Othello—we will examine how these canonical texts treat the issues of Love and War, often in tandem.  What is often shocking to students approaching this literature for the first time is the stark, bitter, and cruel depictions of war.  These ancient authors did not glorify war by any means.  Similarly contradictory is the range of depictions of love—from that of a soldier for his “war-bride” (a slave), to genuine mutual romantic attachment, as well as the devastating destructive power of love.  

The thematic focus of this honors course will be located within the traditional goals of this General Education course: nurturing close reading, articulating concepts orally, and careful formal writing.