Authority & Freedom
Introduction
This gateway course to the History of Ideas program is designed to expose students to some of the most influential texts in world history. We will explore fundamental questions about the human experience by highlighting the various ways that the ancients contemplated the relationship between submission to authority and the pursuit of freedom. Students will develop critical thinking and writing skills by engaging in the “close reading” of primary source texts, student-centered class discussions, and writing exercises that will help you develop your own perspective on the relationship between authority and freedom.

Your final grade will ultimately depend on my assessment of your performance in each of the above areas, though the following descriptions should provide you with a rough idea of the defining characteristics of students within particular grade ranges:

APossesses a deep understanding of the major concepts and themes of the course. The “A” student is able to consistently identify and explain key ideas in the readings, develop genuine insights into the broader significance of these concepts, and demonstrate a high level of intellectual engagement in class discussions.
BDemonstrates a serious commitment to the course and a strong grasp of the major concepts and themes but with less depth and/or consistency than the “A” student.
CDemonstrates a reasonable effort to attend class and participate in discussions as well as a basic grasp of the course material.
DDemonstrates a minimal commitment to the course and a weak grasp of basic concepts and themes.
FFails to demonstrate an acceptable degree of effort in the course through low attendance, inability to discuss basic concepts and themes, missed assignments and/or plagiarized work.

Learning Outcome
By the end of the course, you will be able to compare and contrast major ideas expressed in texts and/or artistic works that are representative of diverse traditions from the ancient world.
MyJournal
In order to prepare for class discussions, you will write a 250-word reflection on the assigned reading for each class period. The reflection should not be a mere summary of points made by the author, but should focus on a single theme that connects different parts of the reading. Reflections must be posted to MyJournal on Blackboard before the start of class; six of your reflections will be randomly graded over the course of the term and the lowest score will be dropped, for a total of 25% (5x5%). For guidelines on writing journal entries, see the MyJournal Rubric below.

Position Paper/Class Presentation
In addition to the MyJournal reading reflections, you will write a more formal 4-page (1000-word) position paper on the assigned reading for a class session that you will select on signupgenius.com. (Since there is only one slot for each class session, you should sign up as soon as possible to maximize your choices.) As with the reading reflections, you should focus on a single issue, but for this assignment you must explore the issue in more depth and develop a “thesis” — the main point that you hope to demonstrate in the body of the paper. Your paper should begin with an introduction that briefly discusses the issue that you will focus on and then concisely presents your thesis statement. The body of your paper should establish the author’s position on the issue through relevant quotes from the reading as well as your own interpretation of what the author is trying to say. In order to develop a meaningful thesis, however, you must go beyond interpretation by directly engaging the author’s argument: Why is the author’s position significant? Is it supported by sound reasoning? Does it rely on questionable assertions? Are there important factors that the author has not considered? Is there a more coherent perspective on the issue? While it is ultimately up to you to decide how to engage the author’s position, it is essential that your paper develops a particular position on the issue, which should be clearly expressed in your conclusion. Finally, you will make a 5-10 minute presentation of your thesis during the class session that you selected on signupgenius.com. For presentation guidelines, see the Class Presentation Rubric below.

Topic Paper/Final Paper
The final assignment will be an 8-10 page (2000-word minimum) paper that explores the relationship between authority and freedom by examining positions that were developed in at least three of the texts from the course. As with the position paper, your interpretations of the texts should be supported by appropriate quotations, though I am ultimately interested in your own perspective on the issue in question. In other words, you should use the texts to highlight key points in your own argument for your thesis, which should be clearly stated in the introduction and fully developed in your conclusion. In order to help you develop an appropriate thesis for your paper, you will submit a 1-page (250-word) topic paper that identifies the issue you wish to explore, presents your thesis statement, and explains how you will use at least three texts from the course and an additional secondary source to support your thesis. For topic paper guidelines, see the Topic Paper Rubric below. Since this paper is worth a significant portion of your final grade (30% for the final paper plus 5% for the topic paper), you should expect to devote a considerable amount of time to this project; towards this end, I will be happy to meet with you individually to provide further guidance at any stage in the process.

Class/BodhiBlog Participation
The Class Participation mark (worth 20% of the final grade) will be based on your ability to demonstrate that you have made a sincere attempt to read and understand the assigned material. All attempts to seriously engage with the readings — from sharing your perspective on the material to simply asking a relevant question — will contribute to your grade. You can further enhance your grade by posting comments on a Blackboard discussion forum that I call the BodhiBlog (“enlightenment blog”). Although your mark will ultimately depend on my subjective evaluation of the quantity and quality of your participation efforts, you may reasonably expect to receive at least a “B” if you attend class regularly, actively participate in class discussions, and post at least three comments on the BodhiBlog.

Writing Standards
All papers should be submitted on Blackboard/Assignments and must conform to the standards associated with one of the two main writing formats for the humanities: Chicago Style or MLA. References — both direct quotations and indirect references to the ideas of another author — should be properly cited according to the rules of your chosen format and must include page and/or chapter/verse numbers so that the reference can be easily located. The final paper should also include a bibliography with at least three texts from the course and an additional secondary source that supports your thesis. Late submissions will be penalized a full grade (e.g. A to B) per day, so make sure that you give yourself enough time to complete these assignments! If you have any questions regarding what does or does not constitute plagiarism, please refer to the college’s plagiarism policy in the Student Handbook. Essays that contain significant instances of plagiarism will receive a 0 and be reported to the Office of Academic Affairs in accordance with college policy. All submitted work may be used (with names removed) for program assessment.

Office Hours, Etc.
225 North Loomis Road, Room 23
Tuesdays 3-5    Thursdays 2-4    Tea/Talk on Thursdays from 4-5
630-637-5619    bhoffert@noctrl.edu    http://bhoffert.faculty.noctrl.edu

Required Texts
  • Alter, Robert, trans. Genesis. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1996.
  • George, Andrew, trans. The Epic of Gilgamesh. London: Penguin Classics, 2003.
  • Mengzi. Mengzi. Translated by Bryan W. Van Norden. Indianapolis: Hacket Publishing Company, 2008.
  • Plato. Plato: The Last Days of Socrates. Translated by Christopher Rowe. London: Penguin Classics, 2010.
  • St. Augustine. Confessions. Translated by Henry Chadwick. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
  • Sophocles. Antigone. Translated by Paul Woodruff. Indianapolis: Hacket Publishing Company, 2001.
  • Thompson, George, trans. Bhagavad Gita. New York: North Point Press, 2008.
  • Zhuangzi. Zhuangzi: The Essential Writings. Translated by Brook Ziporyn. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2009.
MyJournal Rubric
 

 

Unsatisfactory
0 - .65

Good
.75

Very Good
.85

Exceptional
.95

MARK

CONTENT

Mere summary of points made by the author

Identifies a significant issue but doesn’t explore it in sufficient depth

Identifies a significant issue and explores it in sufficient depth

Develops a unique insight on a significant issue

2%

STYLE

Excessive stylistic errors (spelling, grammar, etc.)

Ideas are adequately expressed with few stylistic errors

Ideas are clearly expressed with few stylistic errors

Ideas are eloquently expressed with no stylistic errors

1%

LENGTH

<200
words

200-250

words

250-300
words

>300
words

1%

REFERENCES

References lack page numbers

References focus on a single section of the text

References connect two distinct sections of the text

References connect three or more sections of the text

1%

TOTAL

 

 

 

 

5%

Class Presentation Rubric
 

 

Unsatisfactory
0 - .65

Good
.75

Very Good
.85

Exceptional
.95

MARK

CONTENT

The presentation is poorly organized and does not demonstrate a good grasp of the reading

There is a reasonable summary of the author’s perspective on a significant theme in the reading

There is a good summary of the author’s perspective on a significant theme as well as a personal reflection on the issue

The presentation demonstrates genuine insight into a theme in the reading by providing a clear and convincing argument for a unique thesis

1%

DELIVERY

The content is read from notes and/or poorly delivered, there is little eye contact, and body language suggests great discomfort with public speaking

There is a heavy reliance on notes, mediocre delivery of content, poor eye contact, and some discomfort with public speaking

There is some reliance on notes, but good delivery, eye contact, and body language keep the audience engaged

The presentation maintains a high level of audience engagement with minimal reliance on notes and excellent delivery, eye contact, and body language

1%
MEDIANo audio/visual aids are used to enhance the presentationThe presentation is minimally enhanced by the use of a few audio/visual aidsThe content is enhanced by a well-organized audio/visual presentationThe content is greatly enhanced by a well-organized and creative audio/visual presentation1%

RESPONSE TO QUESTIONS

Unable to effectively respond to questions

Provides adequate responses to questions

Provides clear and coherent responses to questions

Demonstrates exceptional facility with the topic by providing clear and thorough responses to questions

1%

TOTAL

 

 

 

 Dr. Hoffert
+ Peer  Evals
Grade

4
+1
5
%

Topic Paper Rubric
 

 

Unsatisfactory
0 - .65

Good
.75

Very Good
.85

Exceptional
.95

MARK

STYLE

Excessive stylistic errors (spelling, grammar, etc.)

Ideas are adequately expressed with few stylistic errors

Ideas are clearly expressed with few stylistic errors

Ideas are eloquently expressed with no stylistic errors

1%

LENGTH

<200
words

200-250
words

250-300
words

>300
words

1%
ISSUEThe issue to be explored is not adequately presentedThe issue to be explored is adequately presentedThe issue to be explored is clearly presentedThere is a thoughtful discussion of the issue to be explored1%

THESIS
STATEMENT

There is no thesis statement

The thesis statement is unclear and/or weak

The thesis statement is clearly written and identifies a perspective that is worth exploring

The thesis statement is eloquently written and expresses a significant insight on the issue that will be explored

1%
DISCUSSION
OF TEXTS
No primary sources from the course are mentioned3 primary sources are mentioned but not discussed or less than 3 primary sources are discussedThere is some discussion of the 3 primary sources and 1 secondary source that will be used to support the thesisThere is a clear explanation of how the 3 primary sources and 1 secondary source will be used to support the thesis1%

TOTAL

 

 

 

 

5%