CG311 Greek Prose: Herodotus' Histories

Prof. Michael Arnush Ladd 209 x5462
marnush@skidmore.edu Hours: MF 12-1
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Over the course of the semester you will develop your ability to read continuous Greek prose clearly and cogently, and to understand Herodotus' work in the context of the development of the genre of history and the events that shaped his world. The course requirements are designed to help you sharpen these skills. You will take one midterm and one final exam, which will focus your attention on grammar, syntax and vocabulary, and coherent prose translations. You will write five one-two page essays in the first half of the semester that examine an issue raised in a work of scholarship, thus honing your writing skills and your ability to understand and synthesize scholarly arguments. Finally, you will write and present a final paper which will either expand on one of your weekly essays or take you in a new direction. The final paper will help you draw upon all of these skills:

  • comprehension of Greek grammar and syntax
  • ability to translate Greek in nuanced ways
  • use of electronic and print search engines and sources to identify relevant scholarship
  • sophisticated interpretation of relevant scholarship
  • writing and oral presentation skills
Class participation includes preparation of readings and assignments, and participation in readings, translations and discussions in the classroom. Obviously, if you do not attend class you can not participate. You may take 2 absences from the classroom during the semester without penalty. After two absences, each absence will result in a lowering of the class participation component of 20% by one full grade. Come to class.
Throughout the first half of the semester you will submit five one-two page papers on the discussion questions for that week. These are due electronically by 5 PM Wednesday in the Blackboard Assignments Folder. The first paper is due Wednesday, Sept. 21st, at 5pm (see the Scholarship page for details).

What I'm looking for in these papers is a single, strong, argumentative point, based on your own attentive, independent reading of the text, supported with a few well-chosen pieces of evidence, and framed as a response to any of the discussion questions posed by your colleague. You should engage with the assigned scholarship, but don't simply regurgitate it. The role of scholarship is to inform and inspire your thinking, not to replace it.

Obviously 1-2 pages are not enough space to develop a major argument. Instead, think of these as your first entry into that week's discussion, and be ready to develop and defend your point further in class. But you should also choose a thesis that you can articulate clearly in short paper. Think small and precise — no sweeping generalizations! Also, don't waste time on summarizing the entire article — get in, make your point, defend it, and get out. These essays will then form the basis for our discussions on Thursday, and they will serve for me as a preview of what you have gleaned from the readings - and what interests you.

The midterm exam, to be given on October 25th just after the study break, will be designed for you to show off your best work. The exam will include a variety of tasks - translation of a few passages, attention to grammar and syntax, and an essay on something drawn from our discussions and readings up to that point. The final exam will follow a similar format and is set for December 16th.
The final project for this class will be to expand one of your short essays into a mid-length research paper (10 pp.). Developing and supporting your argument will almost certainly require you to explore the secondary (and perhaps primary) literature beyond the assigned class reading, and you may decide to raise a different question than the one that prompted your essay, but the core of your paper should be your own close, careful engagement with Herodotus' text and the scholarly article(s) you have chosen as the foundation for your research. Post all three written stages of the project in the Blackboard Assignments Folder.

Some milestones for the project:

  • Topic: due Wed. Nov. 2nd
    One paragraph declaring which essay you've decided to develop or which new issue you've chosen to investigate, outlining the precise question you intend to focus on, the approach you plan to take, and any expected conclusions. This paragraph should be the outcome of some thoughtful preliminary work. Note: You may choose to write your paper on a question we haven't covered yet in class. In that case, you should have done the relevant primary and secondary readings and begun to think about them by this point. Think of the work it'll save you later in the semester!
  • Rough draft: due Tues., Nov. 29th, 12.00pm
    A working version of the project. All matters pertaining to structure and content should at least be settled, if not fully developed. Some gaps here and there are acceptable, provided that there are summaries of what is missing. The topic, approach, evidence, and supporting materials should all be evident. A bibliography of all secondary sources should accompany the rough draft.
  • Presentations: Tues., Dec. 6th & Thurs., Dec. 8th
    The last week of class will be devoted to short (15 min.) presentations describing your projects and their most interesting results for the rest of the class.
  • Final Draft: due Mon., Dec. 12th, 12.00pm
    The finished polished draft of your project.

All assignments and exams have set deadlines and dates which are outlined here and are non-negotiable. Because you will receive the paper assignments in advance, no late papers will be accepted. Excused absences for the midterm and final exam will be granted only if you are severely ill and notify me in advance. Late papers and missed exams earn a grade of "F."
If you are a student with a disability and believe you will need academic accommodation, you must formally request accommodation from Meg Hegener, Coordinator for Students with Disabilities.  You will also need to provide documentation which verifies the existence of a disability and supports your request.  For further information, please call 580-8150, or stop by the office of Student Academic Services in Starbuck Center.
Participation 20% Includes your facilitation of one class discussion of scholarship
Presentation of scholarship 20%
Five 1-2 page essays, each worth 4%, due on the following Wednesdays: Sept. 21st, 28th, Oct. 5th, 12th and 19th
Midterm exam 20% Tuesday, October 25th
Project 20%
Wed., Nov. 2nd (Topic); Tues., Nov. 29th (Rough Draft); Tues., Dec. 6th & Thurs., Dec. 8th (Presentations); Mon., Dec. 12th (Final Draft)
Final exam 20% Friday, December 16, 9am-12pm