School of Athen by Raphael

Liberal Studies 111 (6 Credits):

Love and Friendship

Course Outline, Fall 2014



LBST 111, along with LBST 112 (offered in the Spring of 2015), counts for the Degree English Requirement at VIU. 


Introductory Comments

LBST 111 is a team-taught course, in which students and instructors together read and discuss a series of intriguing and important texts drawn from the Western and other traditions. Through exploring vital ideas and issues that have engaged the hearts and minds of people across the centuries, the course emphasizes a number of important university skills, including essay writing, research, and critical thinking (the ability to reason effectively and recognize fallacious reasoning in oneself and others).

We will read material from ancient times to the nineteenth century that explores the themes of love and friendship. Love and friendship have been major concerns for much of Western literature, philosophy, and art. The Western tradition has asked the following questions: Are love and friendship vital to a fully lived good human life? How so? Is love integral to the pursuit of knowledge, as Plato claimed? Are love and/or friendship part of a just political community? Is love that which unites us with the divine? Is love an exclusive force or an inclusive one? Is friendship a duty? Moving from an ancient Greek account of   Eros  to a Christian account of love, to courtly and romantic accounts of love, we will see that the understanding of love in the Western tradition has undergone significant changes, and exploring these shifts can help illuminate what is of value from that tradition and to us today. We will also read depictions of and reflections on friendship from ancient to early modern sources that do not treat friendship as a casual phenomenon of mere subjective importance; friendship is treated as essential to being ethical and to living a full human life. We hope that you come out of the course having thought deeply about these ideas and grappled with the question of why they matter now.

The major learning forum in LBST 111 is the seminar, in which a small group of students (up to 20) and one professor discuss together a text or some element of writing or research skills. The emphasis throughout all seminars is on developing a conversation in which all participants have an equal place. This seminar experience lies at the heart of the building of a learning community, in which students learn as much from and with each other as they do from the professors.

LBST 111 is equivalent in credit to two normal first-year courses (i.e., it is worth six credits), and together with LBST 112, this course satisfies the Degree English Requirement. If you enjoy LBST 111, we recommend that you take LBST 112 in Spring 2014, which tends to focus on material from the 19th and 20th centuries.


For seminar section F13N01: Janina Hornosty   Office: 355/324   Phone: 250-753-3245, Ext. 2169. Email: . Office hours: Mon. and Wed. 10-11:30.

For seminar sections F13N02 and F13N03: Mark Blackell   Office: 355/332   Phone: 250-753-3245, Ext. 2173. Email: . Office hours: Mon. 12:00-1:00; Wed. 10:00-11:00, 12:00-1:00.

Book List

The Epic of Gilgamesh , trans. Jackson (Bolchazy-Carducci, ISBN 0865163529)
Book of Ruth and Song of Solomon, in any edition of the Bible*
Plato,  The Symposium , trans. Gill (Penguin, ISBN 9780140449273)
Artistophanes,  Lysistrata , trans. Ruden (Hackett, ISBN 0872206033)
Catullus, The Poems of Catullus , trans. Whigham (Penguin, ISBN 0140441802)
Sophocles,  The Three Theban Plays , trans. Fagles (Penguin, ISBN 0140444254)
Christian Mystics of the Middle Ages: An Anthology of Writings. Ed. Paul de Jaegher's (Dover, ISBN 0486436594)
Chrétien de Troyes,  Arthurian Romances , trans. Kibler (Penguin, ISBN 9780199539178)
Mme de Lafayette,  The Princesse de Cleves , trans. Terence Cave (Oxford, ISBN 0192837265)
Metaphysical Poetry: An Anthology , ed. Negri (Dover, ISBN 0486419169)
Montaigne,  Selected Essays , trans. Stanley Appelbaum (Dover, ISBN 0486457443)
Stendhal,  Love , trans. Gilbert and Suzanne Sale (Penguin, ISBN: 0-14-044307-X)
Babington, LePan, and Okun,  The Broadview Pocket Guide to Writing , 3rd ed. (Broadview, ISBN 9781551119700)

* Students are free to use any edition of the Bible; we won't be selling it through the bookstore because various editions, especially the King James or Authorized Version, are readily available at little or no cost (for example, several Internet sites offer the King James Bible for free downloading).

For texts other than The Bible, please obtain the editions and translations specified in the list; seminar discussion is much easier when all participants are referring to the same page numbers, and students with translations other than those specified can feel as though they have read an entirely different work and be unable to engage fully in the seminar discussion. It is particularly important that students purchase the 3rd edition of  The Broadview Pocket Guide to Writing , because it outlines substantial recent changes to MLA research paper documentation, which will be required for the research paper in this course.

In dealing with a text, students are not required to read any introductory or supplementary material (e.g., critical introductions), unless instructed to do so. Please note that we will not read all of every book listed above. Please see the schedule of classes/readings below.


In a regular week of LBST 111, a student is expected to attend one lecture (90 minutes long and always on Wednesdays) and two 90-minute seminars (one on Mondays and one on Fridays). Please note that the In-Class Essay on Wednesday October 29 will begin at 8:00 am. We also encourage you to form study groups with your colleagues and to discuss with them the ideas encountered in the course: such activities outside class contribute enormously to successful learning.

Week 1
Wednesday, September 3 -- Lecture (8:30-10:00 AM in building 355, room 203): Love and Friendship in the Western Tradition: an Introduction (Janina/Mark)
Friday, September 5 -- Seminar (check your timetable for your seminar time and room): Introduction to seminar format and readings that are handed out in Lecture on Wed Sept. 3rd

Week 2
Monday, September 8 -- Seminar: The Epic of Gilgamesh . Seminar Note due
Wednesday, September 10 -- Lecture: Gilgamesh (Mark) At-Home Essay Assigned
Friday, September 12 -- Seminar: Gilgamesh  (continued discussion)

Week 3
Monday, September 15 -- Seminar: Song of Solomon (A.K.A. Song of Songs)
Wednesday, September 17 -- Lecture: Book of Ruth (Janina). Research Paper Assigned
Friday, September 19 -- Seminar: Book of Ruth. At-Home Essay due

Week 4
Monday, September 22 -- Seminar: Essay writing seminar or library tutorial (t.b.a.)
Wednesday, September 24 -- Lecture: Principles of Essay Writing, References (Janina) 
Friday, September 26 -- Seminar: Essay writing seminar or library tutorial (t.b.a.). Rewrite of At-Home Essay assigned

Week 5
Monday, September 29 -- Seminar: Sophocles,  Antigone
Wednesday, October 1 -- Lecture: Sophocles,  Antigone (Mark)
Friday, October 3 -- Seminar: Sophocles, Antigone (continued discussion). Rewrite of At-Home Essay due

Week 6
Monday, October 6 -- Seminar: Plato,  Symposium. Seminar Note due
Wednesday, October 8 -- Lecture: Plato,  Symposium  (Mark)  
Friday, October 10 -- Seminar: Plato, Symposium (continued discussion)

Week 7
Monday, October 13 -- no seminar (Thanksgiving Monday -- VIU is closed)
Wednesday, October 15 -- no lecture (Liberal Studies Reading Week)
Friday, October 17 -- no seminar (Liberal Studies Reading Week)

Week 8
Monday, October 20 -- Seminar: Catullus, read the following poems: Seminar Note due Monday (Note can be on Catullus and/or Aristophanes readings)
Wednesday, October 22 -- Lecture: Aristophanes,  Lysistrata  (Janina). In-Class Essay Assigned
Friday, October 24 -- Seminar: Aristophanes,  Lysistrata

Week 9
Monday, October 27 -- Seminar: read the excerpts from Julian of Norwich (pp. 93-102 in Christian Mystics of the Middle Ages)
Wednesday, October 29 -- Lecture: In-Class Essay (will begin at 8:00 AM)
Friday, October 31 -- Seminar: read the excerpts from St. John of the Cross (pp. 142-165 in Christian Mystics of the Middle Ages)

Week 10
Monday, November 3 -- Seminar: Chrétien de Troyes, "Lancelot (The Knight of the Cart)", pp. 207-294 in  Arthurian Romances
Wednesday, November 5 -- Lecture: Chrétien de Troyes and Courtly Love (Maureen Okun)
Friday, November 7 -- Seminar: Chrétien de Troyes, "Lancelot (The Knight of the Cart)" (continued discussion). First draft of Research Paper due

Week 11
Monday, November 10 -- Seminar: Metaphysical poetry (read: John Donne, "The Flea", "A Valediction Forbidding Mourning", Holy Sonnet XIV ("Batter my heart, three-personed God..."); Andrew Marvell, "To His Coy Mistress." Seminar Note due (can be written on any of the poems assigned for this week)
Wednesday, November 12 -- Lecture: Metaphysical Poetry (Janina)
Friday, November 14 -- Seminar: Metaphysical poetry (read: Andrew Marvell, "The Definition of Love", "The Garden"; George Herbert, "Jordan (1)", "Jordan (2)", "Easter Wings").

Week 12
Monday, November 17 -- Seminar: Mme De Lafayette, The Princesse de Clèves. Seminar Note due
Wednesday, November 19 -- Lecture: Mme De Lafayette, The Princesse de Clèves (Mark)
Friday, November 21 -- Seminar: Mme De Lafayette, The Princesse de Clèves (continued discussion). Research Paper Rewrite Assigned

Week 13
Monday, November 24 -- Seminar: Montaigne, "On Friendship." Seminar Note due (can be on Montaigne and/or Stendhal readings)
Wednesday, November 26 -- Lecture: Montaigne on Friendship (Janina) and Stendhal on Love (Mark)
Friday, November 27 -- Seminar: Stendhal, selections from Love (read pages 43-52, 95-97, and 284-292)

Week 14
Monday, December 1 -- Seminar: Exam preparation. Research Paper Rewrite due

Examination Period (December 4-15)
One three-hour essay-style examination (the exam day and time will be scheduled by the Registrar-- please don't make any end-of-term travel plans until the final exam schedule has been posted). Reflective Piece due at exam.

Assignments and Grades

In LBST 111, each student is expected to complete a number of different assignments. These include the following:

  • preparation for and participation in all seminars
  • two short essays (one of which will be completed in class)
  • one research paper
  • six seminar notes
  • one written final examination
  • one reflective piece (for bonus grades)

At the end of LBST 111, each student will receive a mark out of 100 that will determine the letter grade assigned. The components of this mark are as follows:

  • Seminar participation 20%
  • Seminar notes (6) 15%
  • Research paper 15%
  • Take-Home Essay: 15%
  • In-Class Essay: 15%
  • Final examination 20%
  • (The bonus reflective piece is worth an additional 2%)

Note that any work not handed in (or not accepted because of lateness) will receive a mark of zero in the calculations of totals.

Please also note that, in order to pass LBST 111, you must achieve a passing grade on each of the two supervised assignments, that is, the in-class essay and the final examination.

Seminar Participation

A significant percentage of a student's final total (20%) in LBST 111 comes from participation in the Monday and Friday seminars. Information on what is expected from students in seminars can be found at the "johnstonia" website; click on "General Study Materials" and "Participating in Seminars."

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 111 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 short essays (the at-home and in-class essays) are not intended to be research papers but rather your own well-argued responses to particular topics (set by the professors) on the required reading. Normally, therefore, you will not make any use of secondary source material. However, if the essay does rely on any secondary sources, it must contain appropriate references and a full bibliography. Note that a bibliography alone is not an adequate substitute for detailed references throughout the paper. See sections 34 and 35 of The Broadview Pocket Guide to Writing  for details on properly documenting sources.

If the at-home essay is handed in on time, students will have the option of rewriting the paper within a certain time-frame. The mark on the revised version will be the mark for the assignment. Students who hand this essay in late will not be given the option of rewriting.

Research Paper

The major writing assignment in LBST 111 is the research paper. We will be giving out more details about this task later, but for the time being, you should note the following points:

  • The research paper must be an argumentative (persuasive) essay and between 1,000 and 1,500 words long, have a clear thesis, and incorporate secondary material from three sources into its argument.
  • The paper must follow the appropriate conventions for references and bibliographies (see sections 34 and 35 of  The Broadview Pocket Guide to Writing ; we will be reviewing these conventions in lecture).
  • Students who hand the first draft of the research paper in on time will have the opportunity to revise that first draft and hand in a second draft. The mark for the assignment will be based on that second draft.

Essay and Research Paper Format

The research paper and all essays must be prepared on a word processor or typed (handwritten essays are not acceptable) and must follow the instructions listed below:

The typing or printing must be double spaced on standard 8.5 x 11 inch paper, with clearly legible printing and with the right justification removed (unless the printer can provide proportional spacing). Each paper should have a title page indicating your name, student number, the name of the seminar leader, a title for the essay, and the date.

The pages must be numbered in the upper right-hand corners with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, and so on). Papers must be printed in a font size of 12 in a "plain" style (e.g., Times New Roman or Courier). Do not write essays entirely in capital letters or in italics or boldface. Each page must have a margin of one inch on each side and at the top and bottom.

The seminar leaders may refuse to mark a paper that does not meet these requirements.

Rewritten versions of a particular assignment must be accompanied by the first marked version so that the instructor can compare the two.

You are expected to save and keep copies of everything you hand in for marking (either a photocopied version or one stored electronically). If the copy of an assignment handed in to an instructor goes astray, you are responsible for supplying a second copy.

Liberal Studies Essay Grading Guidelines

The A Paper

  • has a well-defined focus and a strong thesis.
  • provides a strong introduction and conclusion.
  • presents careful, original, and creative thinking.
  • displays a smooth, logical, and coherent organization of the material. The reader does not stumble or hesitate over the sequence of facts or ideas.
  • gives relevant and sufficient supporting evidence that is used consistently.
  • is written in an informative and thoughtful manner. Examples or comparisons are carefully chosen. Occasionally there is a vivid image or deft comparison.
  • conveys immediately a sense of person behind the words: an individual voice speaking firmly and clearly from the page.
  • has varied sentences, with rhythm and emphasis appropriate to the meaning. Phrasing is often fluent, even graceful. Sentences read well aloud, and are structured in a sophisticated way.
  • uses well-chosen words that are accurate and sensitive to connotations.
  • demonstrates depth of reading of the relevant material and uses a vocabulary and a conceptual framework consistent with the level of the course.
  • has very few mechanical errors [grammar, punctuation, and spelling].
  • uses punctuation that is appropriate and helpful to the reader.

A-range research papers also incorporate carefully chosen secondary source arguments into the paper in a fluid, thoughtful, clear, and relevant manner.

The B Paper

  • has many of the characteristics of the A paper but may be somewhat uneven in quality.
  • has reasonably sound content that may be a little thin. Examples or illustrations may be slightly forced or exaggerated.
  • is generally clearly organized so that the reader does not stumble over sequence.
  • may display less creativity or sophistication in its reading of sources than an A-range paper.
  • may have a weak introduction or conclusion.
  • uses relevant supporting evidence consistently, but not always sufficiently.
  • has only, at most, minor mechanical errors [grammar, spelling, or punctuation] that do not interfere with the flow of the argument or the intellectual focus of the paper.
  • has a workable thesis.
  • uses words clearly, although phrasing may be pedestrian, awkward, or wordy.

B-range research papers also correctly cite secondary sources, but the research element is less engaged than in an "A" paper: it does little to extend the work beyond basic understanding of secondary sources.

The C Paper

  • lacks engagement with the material and may be characterized by insufficiently developed thought.
  • may present adequate information and ideas that are nonetheless thin or unconvincing.
  • has a thesis, but one that may need more explanation or supporting evidence, that is too narrow to be arguable, or that is too broad to be adequately supported. The argument may suffer from some inconsistency or irrelevancy.
  • might lack an introduction or conclusion.
  • might have a structure that is not entirely coherent.
  • may summarize rather than analyse narrative (especially for papers on literature).
  • may make assertions without argument or defence.
  • occasionally shows unclear organization, causing the reader to stop and re-read previous material to be sure of meaning.
  • presents sentences with little or no structural variety.
  • may be characterized by wordiness, clichés, or poor word choices. Unnecessary words and phrases make the writing loose.
  • may have several mechanical errors: grammar (such as fragments, run-on or fused sentences, subject/verb agreement problems, comma splices, reference errors), spelling, and punctuation errors that hinder the reader's ability to follow the argument easily, and demand editorial correction for clarity.

C-range research papers

  • may also make arbitrary references to secondary sources, as if filling a quota.
  • may also use secondary sources to substantiate obvious points of exegesis, or in place of a close reading of the primary text.
  • may also make vague or non-specific references to a secondary source.

The D Paper

  • shows limited knowledge of the subject matter.
  • has a thesis that is extremely weak or has no thesis.
  • has little evidence or generally irrelevant evidence.
  • may suffer from serious inconsistency.
  • is cluttered by technical errors that overwhelm readers' ability to make sense of the writing. The paper may make some sense, but only when the reader struggles to find the sense. Writers of "D" papers have little control of their material.
  • may not answer the question to which the paper is a response.

D-range research papers also have poorly chosen sources that are inadequate, or not fully documented. Secondary source references appear arbitrarily selected, as if the writer is filling a quota. Secondary sources may be used to substantiate obvious points of exegesis or in place of reading the primary text.

The F Paper (any of the following is reason for a failing grade)

  • shows inadequate knowledge of the subject matter.
  • inadequately addresses the question.
  • does not have a thesis or has an inappropriate thesis for the topic.
  • has serious structural problems.
  • is incoherent and confusing.
  • has an excessive number of technical errors.

Seminar Notes

Students will be asked to hand in seminar notes on some of the assigned readings. Seminar notes are due only in those weeks indicated in the schedule of readings above. Seminar notes must be prepared before, not during, seminar. Each note will be marked (out of 10) and handed back. The total of all seminar note marks is worth 15% of the final grade. You will be required to hand in a total of six notes.

The purpose of these notes is to enhance your understanding of and depth of engagement with the texts we will study in the course. The topic of each note must be the text that is the focus of discussion for that week. 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.

The format for these weekly assignments is very specific: ask a question and explain how this question arises from your careful reading of the text (in order to encourage you to stay focused on your question, we require of you that you write your question in bold at the top of the page). Length 250-300 words. Seminar notes must be handed in at the Monday seminar in the week during which the study material is discussed (if there are two or more texts in a week, you may write on any one of them, but notes are always due at the Monday seminar, unless Monday is a holiday).  In writing your seminar notes, avoid all of the following: making a list of many features rather than staying firmly focused on one, merely summarizing or describing the text, and thoughtlessly gushing over or condemning the text. Finally, don't stray from the text of the week; choose a subject and ask a question on that subject that will open the text to our further understanding of it in our seminar discussion, rather than one that will encourage us to talk about something else entirely.

Seminar notes should be typed. Ensure that you leave space for your instructor to write comments on your notes (leave generous margins and double space your notes). Take care to proofread your notes for spelling and grammar.

You should note very clearly that seminar notes are required even for those seminars in which you are not present. Your seminar leader will not be reminding you regularly of this point, so please remember to submit the seminar note. If you are absent from the seminar when the note is due, then hand it in as soon as you return to the group (or email it to your seminar leader before you return).

The Examination

The examination at the end of the semester (during examination week) will require two short essays on some of the texts we have studied in class. The students will receive a list of questions in the week before the examination and two of these questions will be on the exam. The examination will last three hours. The date and time of the examination will be determined by the Registrar, who publishes an exam schedule later in the semester.

The Reflective Piece

If you wish, you may type a response, of about two pages, double-spaced, to the following question: Have any of the ideas you encountered in the reading for LBST 111 caused your views on love and/or friendship to change? If so, how so? If not, why not? Your grade for this assignment will count for up to 2% on top of your average for the course. The Reflective Piece is due by the final exam.

A Note on Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct

The work you hand in for marking must be your own work. While students are strongly encouraged to work together, to review one another's work, and to give one another assistance, the professors expect that no student will directly copy another student's work or borrow material from secondary sources without acknowledgement (note that you must acknowledge sources, even if you translate the information into your own words). This point applies equally to essays and seminar notes. Students should be aware that plagiarism is surprisingly easy to detect and expose. You should also be aware that professors have at their disposal powerful Internet tools that enable them to detect sources that have been plagiarized from the Web. If you are at all unclear as to what constitutes plagiarism and other forms of serious academic misconduct, please consult VIU's  Student Academic Code of Conduct.

The penalties for plagiarism, fabrication, and cheating are severe. Should a professor determine that such misconduct has occurred intentionally, it will be reported to the Dean. Consequences ranging from a failing grade for the course to notes added to your permanent record and suspension from the institution may ensue. See the above Code of Conduct for details on the procedures for dealing with such intentional misconduct.