LBST 320: Medieval and Renaissance Thought: Imagination, Reason, Faith

Course Outline (Spring 2012): Medieval and Renaissance Transformations and Journeys

This course will introduce students to some central ideas and significant texts from the medieval and Renaissance world of, and around, Europe. The aim of the course is to have students examine key thinkers and original texts that that come from, or are responding to, the Christian and Islamic cultures of these periods and which have subsequently had significant impact on later modern thought. We hope to engage in an intellectual conversation with these sometimes familiar and sometimes very foreign ideas to better understand the modern legacy of the medieval and Renaissance eras. The themes of this year's course are transformations and journeys; while the European middle ages has been popularly presented as a time of stasis, in reality it, and the Renaissance that comes out of it, was preoccupied with journeys and transformations of various sorts. The soul's journey from, and return to, the divine; the journey over the globe and through mythical space; the interior journey in search of faith and certainty through reason; the transformation of materials and the exploration of the stars: these and other journeys and transformations mark the European Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Things To Do Immediately - Nanaimo (Before Tuesday January 3)

a) Read this Course Outline carefully.
b) Read The Letter of Paul to the Romans and The Gospel According to John (in the New Testament of the Bible).
c) Prepare your seminar note on one of these readings (see below for instructions on writing the seminar note).

Things To Do Immediately - Courtenay (Before Thursday January 5)

a) Read this Course Outline carefully
b) Read the Metaphysical Poetry selections via the links in the "Booklist" section below.
c) Read Galileo's The Starry Messenger in the Course Readings Package.
d) Prepare your seminar note on Metaphysical Poetry or Galileo (see below for instructions on writing the seminar note).

Class Times and Dates  

Lecture

Tue 10:30-12:30

Team

355-203

Seminar S12N01

Tue & Thu 1:00-2:30

Mark Blackell

355-108

Seminar S12X01

Thu 6:30-9:30

Janice Porteous

Courtenay - DIS 204

Professors' Office Hours

 

Office Hours 

Office

Phone 

Mark Blackell

Mon. 1-2 PM, Wed. 10:30-11:30 AM, Thurs. 12-1 PM

355-332

753-3245, #2173

Janice Porteous

Wed. 1—11, Thurs. 2:30-3:30

355-338

753-3245, #2172

Attendance

Please note: because of the essential participatory nature of Liberal Studies courses, it is Department policy that attendance is required at all classes. Failure to attend regularly will have a significant negative impact on your mark for participation.

The Liberal Studies Department prohibits audio- or video-taping of seminars , except in cases where this is a required accommodation. Students with documented disabilities requiring academic and/or exam accommodation should contact Disability Services, Building 200, or call 740-6446.

Booklist

Please note: where selections are not indicated, we will be reading the entire text.

The Bible (any edition): Paul's Letter to the Romans and The Gospel According to John

Augustine, Confessions , trans. Henry Chadwick, Oxford. ISBN: 978-0199537822. Selections: Books 1-5 and 7 (complete); also Book 8, pages 144-154 and Book 9, pages 170-174.

Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy Volume I: The Inferno , trans. Musa (Penguin Classics). ISBN: 0142437220.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight trans. Winny (Broadview). ISBN: 0921149921.

Ibn Khaldûn, The Muqaddimah , trans. Franz Rosenthal, Princeton/Bollingen.  ISBN: 0-691-12054-4.  Selections: Please read the following: Chapter 3, sections 1-6, 9, 15, 17, 23, 24, 32 (just up to page 190 in Section 32), 41, 44, 45, 50; and Chapter 6, sections 18-30 (pp. 371-405).

Christoper Marlowe, The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus, Methuen. ISBN: 978-0713667905.

Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (Broadview). ISBN: 978-0486404271.

René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy, trans. Donald A Cress (Hackett). ISBN: 0-87220-192-9.

Martin Luther, Selections From His Writings, ed. John Dillenger (Anchor/Random House). ISBN: 0385098766.

LBST 320 Readings Package : Selections from Hildegard of Bingen, Malleus Maleficarum , Metaphysical Poets, Galileo Galilei.

For the day on metaphysical poetry, please print out and read the following:

John Donne (1572-1631):

"The Flea" http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/175764

Holy Sonnet 14 http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/173362

George Herbert (1593-1633)

"Easter Wings" http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/173626

"Love" (3) http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/173632

Andrew Marvell (1621-1678)

"The Garden" http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/173948

"To His coy Mistress" http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/173954

Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672)

"Upon the Burning of Our House, July 10 th 1666 http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/172963

Web Resources

There are a number of valuable and helpful web resources for your use in LBST 320:

1) The Liberal Studies Homepage : this departmental page contains a vast amount of information about the theory and practice of Liberal Studies courses, and all the links you will need to other resources. Please explore it at your leisure: www.viu.ca/liberalstudies/ . Take especial note of the links under the "Current Students" tab.

2) The Liberal Studies Common Room on Moodle includes various resources for Liberal Studies Students, including a page for discussing course and other topics with other students from VIU and elsewhere: the Great Ideas Discussion Forum. This site requires you to register: you will be asked to enter your Moodle username and password (if you have them) or to register as a Moodle user (if you don't). Once that is done you need to go to the Liberal Studies Common Room: first select Liberal Studies from the list of course categories; then Liberal Studies Meeting-Place from the next list displayed. At this point you will be asked to enrol in the course: do so using the enrolment key "lbst" (without the quotation marks).

3) Helpful advice on essay writing and other aspects of study is available at "johnstonia" - the homepage of Ian Johnston, one of the founding professors of Liberal Studies and now a Research Associate in the Liberal Studies Department. To reach this instructional material, go to records.viu.ca/~johnstoi/ and follow the links to "General Study Materials." We recommend especially Essays and Arguments and Guide to the Marking of Written Assignments .

5) There is a Facebook group created by the Liberal Studies Club for all those involved in Liberal Studies: it is called VIU Liberal Studies and is listed under Student Groups - General at www.facebook.com. Use it to stay in touch with other students, past and present. The Liberal Studies Club is a student-run organisation which aims to help students get the most out of their experience in the program.

Assignments and Grades

Your work during the semester will be divided into two categories: (i) ungraded, and (ii) graded.

(i) Ungraded Work

The purpose of ungraded work is to allow you time to develop the skills important to success in the program without feeling that you are falling behind with every non-perfect performance. The more effort you put into your ungraded work, of course, the more successful you will be on your graded work. Ungraded work involves the following:

Short Essay Draft and Tutorials:

The short essay will focus closely upon one of the readings to be discussed in the seminar. There is a procedure to follow:

* Select material to write on: at the first or second seminar, you will choose one of the weekly readings on which you would like to write. There will be a limit on the number of students per topic. The students writing on the same topic will make up a tutorial group.

* Choose a question: these will be provided in the week before the essay is due via the class e-mail lists (make sure that VIU has your correct e-mail address).

* First draft: write the essay in time to hand it in at the Tuesday (Nanaimo), or Thursday (Courtenay) seminar during the week in which the reading you are writing about is discussed. Note that because the Third-Year Essay will take up much of your time towards the end of the term, all short essays on material to be discussed after the week of March 2 are due in that week.

* Make photocopies of the completed draft: one for your seminar instructor and one for each member of your tutorial group; distribute them just before the first seminar in the week of the relevant reading. You will likewise receive photocopies from the other students.

* Arrange the tutorial: with the other students, arrange a suitable time for a group tutorial to go over the written work. This must happen immediately after the due date to allow for resubmission within a week.

* Evaluate the other essays by writing marginal comments and a brief summary paragraph at the end. Comment on both the content and form of the essay. Please take this task seriously by providing detailed and helpful feedback. Do not insult the writer.

* Attend the tutorial to discuss your comments and to receive feedback on your own essay. Keep the annotated copies (the copies on which others have commented on your paper) to submit with your revised version.

* Second draft: revise and resubmit the essay, along with the copies annotated by your peers, to your seminar leader a week after the original deadline. The seminar leader will make comments on this version, and assign a provisional mark. (See the "graded work" section below for the next stage of the process.)

The short essay should be approximately 1000 words long; it is not to be a research paper but a thoughtful response to particular topics in the core reading. The essay must consist of a convincing argument, with textual evidence, for a thesis which captures your own point of view and constitutes an answer to the question selected. No reading other than the study material of the week is required before you write the essay.

Graded Work

Participation (seminar participation and lecture attendance or viewing)

25%

Short Essay

20%

10 Seminar Notes

20%

Third-Year Essay (Final Essay: 25%; Topic Proposal, Outline and Draft: 5%; Presentation: 5%)

35%

Seminar Notes:

At the start of each Tuesday (Courtenay: Thursday) seminar, you must hand in a note (100-200 words) on the text (or one of the texts) under discussion for that week. The main purpose of the seminar note is to encourage students to engage in critical reflection on the text under discussion and to have at least one thoughtful contribution to offer to the seminar.

The seminar note must follow a specific format:

(i) Formulate a question about the week's study material which you think it would be interesting and fruitful for the seminar to discuss. "Interesting" implies that the question is likely to promote serious intellectual discussion - the answer must not be obvious; "fruitful" implies that it must be possible to answer the question given the resources of the seminar - the answer must not be beyond the seminar's reach. Please note that factual questions about the text, the author or their background normally fail to qualify on both counts!

(ii) Once you have formulated the question, explain why you think it would be interesting and fruitful to discuss. This element of the assignment is the most crucial (and the one most often completed poorly): please pay attention to what is requested.

Although it must be written in complete sentences, the note is not an essay; it need not have a thesis statement, conventionally designed paragraphs, and so on. Don't be afraid to take intellectual risks.

However, there are some important guidelines to follow: a) ask a question about some significant point with respect to the text, a question that takes one into the text rather than away from it, which addresses interpretative issues rather than matters of fact or context which cannot be answered solely by thinking about the text; b) avoid asking a series of related (or unrelated!) questions and stay firmly focused on one; c) do not summarise the text merely in order to fill out the number of words required; and d) don't give simply a personal response (e.g., an indication of whether you liked or didn't like the work). In marking the notes, which in all are worth 20% of your grade for the course, the professors will be looking for evidence of engagement with the text, as well as attentive reading and thoughtful consideration. You may find, also, that your note can suggest an interesting topic for the rest of the class to explore in seminar discussion.

You have to hand in ten seminar notes during the semester. However, you may at your discretion hand in more seminar notes (one per week), in which case your mark will be based on the best ten notes submitted.

Seminar Participation:

Participation is a critical part of this program, and the skills of intellectual discussion among the most important it endeavours to foster. Some of the criteria for good performance in a seminar are explained in the Advice on Seminar Participation at http://records.viu.ca/~johnstoi/seminars.htm ; you should read this if possible before the first seminar.

The most important components in the assessment of your performance in the seminar are the following: attendance, preparation for the seminar (usually required reading and seminar note), and quality and quantity of your participation in the discussion (factors which include your contributions to creating and sustaining a worthwhile and well-mannered seminar conversation for all participants). Note that mere frequency of contribution is not necessarily an all-important factor. You are expected to listen well and to encourage others to contribute.

If you know that you are going to have to miss a seminar, you should offer an acceptable reason to your professor in advance; anyone who misses a seminar without giving a reason should speak to the professor before the next seminar. Note that, in exceptional circumstances, it is possible for a student to make up a missed seminar, for example, by attending one at a different time.

The seminar experience is absolutely central to what Liberal Studies 320 is trying to achieve, and we are very concerned to see that students all contribute effectively, especially those who may still find themselves somewhat reluctant to speak up in a group discussion. The principle is that we learn best from discussion of important ideas with one another: those who do not contribute to seminar are reaping the benefits without contributing anything of benefit to others. Still, some people are naturally shy; if you still find this a problem after the first few weeks, you should discuss the matter thoroughly with the seminar leader so that together you can work out some ways of resolving the difficulties.

The following scale gives a guide to the factors the seminar leader will consider in evaluating seminar participation, as well as a rough picture of their impact on your mark:

•  F: is physically absent without a valid reason;

•  D: has written a seminar note and is physically present, but otherwise quite absent;

•  C-: provides some potentially useful participation, but is very poorly prepared or insensitive or uncooperative in the group setting;

•  C: is present, evidently prepared and interested, but offers quite limited verbal contributions to the discussion;

•  C+ to B-: is present, well prepared, and offers some useful comments (which might be more incisive or more relevant or further developed);

•  B to B+: is present, very well prepared, maintains a good relationship with the others (i.e., contributes actively to the dynamics of the seminar), and offers useful comments in a constructive way;

•  A range: makes a major contribution and not just to the understanding of the material but to the social dynamics of the session, a contribution which would be difficult to imagine being much better.

The lectures serve to introduce the texts that will be the main focus of the seminars later on. As such, the lectures are important for you to attend as part of your preparation for seminar. Often the lectures will establish points that the seminars will discuss in more detail. They will also provide material for the questions on the final exam.

Short Essay (Third Draft):

One week after you receive a provisional grade on the Short Essay (see the "ungraded work" section above), you will hand in the third and final draft of that Essay to your instructor, along with your provisionally marked second draft . The third draft of your Essay will then be given its final mark.

Long Essay:

At the end of the semester, we will hold, in conjunction with the fourth year of the program, an academic conference featuring a guest speaker and small-group presentations by students. Fourth-year students will present their Senior Projects; you will present your Long Essay, a paper of approximately 3,000 words on a topic agreed between you and your instructor, a topic bearing some relationship to material from LBST 320. It must display original thought against the background of scholarship in the area chosen. Any references to research outside the scope of the courses must be explained in sufficient detail to be comprehensible to the intelligent layperson. You must have your thesis statement approved in advance by your instructor, who will act as advisor during the writing of the Essay. The Long Essay assignment includes a number of stages:

a) Topic proposals: Topic proposals for the Long Essay will be due by January 26 and will explain, in approximately one page, what your topic is, what question or questions you are seeking to examine, and what texts you will be looking at.

b) Outline: An outline of the Long Essay is due by February 16 . The outline should contain the following:

•  The (at least, tentative) thesis for which you intend to argue

•  A more elaborate re-working of the Topic Proposal that narrows it down into a focused thesis and is more specific about the questions you will explore and the works you intend to use

•  A detailing of the sections into which the essay will be divided, and the purpose of each section

•  A working Bibliography.

c) Draft: A draft of the Long Essay is due by March 15 . It will be returned to you with comments to rework for the final version of the paper.

The draft, outline, and topic proposal together will be given a mark for 5% of your final grade, and this mark will be based on the quality, thoroughness, and timeliness of your work on these three preparatory exercises.

d) Final Long Essay: Due by April 5 , and worth 25% of your final grade.

e) Conference presentation: You will give a presentation on your Long Essay at the Liberal Studies Spring Conference held from April 3-5 at the Nanaimo Campus. The presentation, lasting approximately 10 minutes and worth 5% of your total grade, should be a condensed version of your paper.

General Writing Requirements

Final Deadline: Each assignment has its own deadline, which may be adjusted by the professors if there is a justifiable reason for doing so.

Word-Processing: All written work should be typed or printed at font size 12, double spaced on standard paper (8.5" x 11") with the right justification removed if your printer does not provide proportional spacing. The title page should clearly identify the writer, course, instructor name, assignment title, question answered (if applicable), and date submitted.

Plagiarism: You should be familiar with the policy on academic misconduct outlined in the Vancouver Island University Calendar and take care to avoid such practices. Plagiarism consists in passing off the work or ideas of others as your own. It ranges from word-for-word copying from other sources to summarizing their content in one's own words, when this is done without acknowledgement. When you do borrow from other people, you must indicate the source to the fullest extent possible. Otherwise, you will incur severe penalties for intellectual dishonesty: a plagiarised paper will normally receive a mark of zero, and the student will not have an opportunity to make up the assignment. A second occurrence will normally result in a mark of F for the course, and further disciplinary action may be taken by the VIU authorities.

Students should be aware that plagiarism is surprisingly easy to detect and expose. They should also be aware that professors have at their disposal powerful Internet tools which enable them easily to detect sources which have been plagiarised from the Web. If you are at all unclear as to what constitutes plagiarism, please speak to your professor.

Appropriate Language: Wherever appropriate, students should follow good contemporary practice and use gender-free language in their writing and speech. (Where absurd, however, such practice should be avoided: e.g. "Aristotle expresses his or her views about friendship in Books 8 and 9 of the Nicomachean Ethics .")

Outline of Main Topics - Nanaimo  

Week of (Tue)

Tuesday Lecture

Tuesday Seminar

Thursday Seminar

Jan 3

Christianity: The narrative of e xit and return

Mark Blackell

The Gospel According to John

Paul's Letter to the Romans

Jan 10

Augustine: A journey of reason and faith

Janice Porteous

Augustine: Confessions

See the 'Booklist' section above for selections

Augustine: Confessions

See the 'Booklist' section above for selections

Jan 17

Hildegard von Bingen and medieval art

Maureen Okun

Hildegard von Bingen

See the Reading Package for readings

Medieval art

Jan 24

Islam and Ibn Khaldun:

Mark Blackell

Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah

See the 'Booklist' section above for selections

Ibn Khaldun The Muqaddimah

See the 'Booklist' section above for selections

Jan 31

Green Knight

Janice Porteous

Green Knight

Green Knight

Feb 7

Dante's Journey to Hell

Mark Blackell

Dante: I nferno

Dante: Inferno

Feb 14

Malleus Maleficarum

Janina Hornosty

Renaissance art

Mark Blackell

Malleus Maleficarum

See the Reading Package for readings

Renaissance art

Feb 21

STUDY WEEK

STUDY WEEK

STUDY WEEK

Feb 28

Luther

Richard Dunstan

"Freedom of a Christian"

See the Reading Package for readings

"Two Kinds of Righteousness"

See the Reading Package for readings

Mar 6

Albert Magnus and magical arts; Marlowe

Janice Porteous

Dr. Faustus and readings from Magnus

See the Reading Package for Magnus readings

Dr. Faustus

Mar 13

Descartes: an interior journey.

Mark Blackell

Meditations on First Philosophy

Meditations on First Philosophy

Mar 20

Daniel Defoe: Voyage into Homo Economicus

Janice Porteous

Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe

Mar 27

Galileo and Metaphysical poetry

(Mark Blackell and Janice Porteous)

Galileo: The Starry Messenger

See the Reading Package for readings

Metaphysical Poetry Selections

See the 'Booklist' section above for links to poems

Apr 3-5

CONFERENCE

CONFERENCE

CONFERENCE

Outline of Main Topics - Courtenay

For Day…

On-Line Video of Lecture

Seminar

Jan 5

No lecture

Galileo: The Starry Messenger

See the Reading Package for readings

Metaphysical Poetry Selections

See the 'Booklist' section above for links to poems

Jan 12

Christianity: The narrative of e xit and return

Mark Blackell

The Gospel According to John and

Paul's Letter to the Romans

Jan 19

Augustine: A journey of reason and faith

Janice Porteous

Augustine: Confessions

See the 'Booklist' section above for selections

Jan 26

Hildegard von Bingen and medieval art

Maureen Okun

Hildegard von Bingen

See the Reading Package for readings

Medieval art

Feb 2

Islam and Ibn Khaldun:

Mark Blackell

Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah

See the 'Booklist' section above for selections

Feb 9

Green Knight

Janice Porteous

Green Knight

Feb 16

Dante's Journey to Hell

Mark Blackell

Dante: I nferno

Feb 23

STUDY WEEK

STUDY WEEK – no seminar on Feb 23

Mar 1

Malleus Maleficarum

Janina Hornosty

Renaissance art

Mark Blackell

Malleus Maleficarum

See the Reading Package for readings

Renaissance art

Mar 8

Luther

Richard Dunstan

"Freedom of a Christian" and "Two Kinds of Righteousness"

See the Reading Package for readings

Mar 15

Albert Magnus and magical arts; Marlowe

Janice Porteous

Dr. Faustus and readings from Magnus

See the Reading Package for Magnus readings

Mar 22

Descartes: an interior journey.

Mark Blackell

Meditations on First Philosophy

Mar 29

Daniel Defoe: Voyage into Homo Economicus

Janice Porteous

Robinson Crusoe

Apr 5

CONFERENCE

CONFERENCE – no seminar this week

 

 

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