Epic of GilgameshGenesisAntigonePlatoConstantine and the Council of NicaeaConfessionsBhagavad GitaZhuangziMengziPopol Vuh
"Authority" and "Freedom" on opposite sides of a scale
Authority & Freedom
Introduction

Special Note on Creating a Virtual Community: In order to minimize the spread of Covid-19, this course will be taught online via Zoom, a high-quality video conferencing platform that will allow us to create a virtual classroom that closely approximates the experience of meeting in a physical space. One way to contribute to the success of our virtual classroom is to keep your camera turned on during class sessions. While this may be a little uncomfortable at first, our willingness to be “present” for each other will help us establish a learning community that is based on mutual trust and respect. If you have any concerns about this policy, please reach out to me as soon as possible so that we can discuss your situation and develop an alternate strategy if necessary.

Cardinal Operation Hope and Help: A community begins when a group of people come together to pursue a common interest, but to truly flourish there must be a shared sense of concern for the well-being of all its members. Toward this end, the North Central community has established Cardinal Operation Hope and Help to provide emergency financial support for students with basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and educational supplies. To explore details of the program as well as eligibility requirements, please click the above link — and feel free to let me know how I can help you overcome any challenges you are facing.

Zoom Recordings: Class sessions in this course may be recorded in order to provide increased accessibility to course content for all students, including those who have been granted permission to record or require temporary or ongoing remote access. Recorded content may be used like class notes to support learning outcomes for the course, but may not be shared with anyone who is not a registered student in this class. Students may not upload recorded content to file-sharing sites, post them to the web or on social media, provide them to journalists, or use them in any way that has not been specifically approved above.

Rotating Globe
This gateway course to the History of Ideas program exposes 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. You 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 perspectives on the relationship between authority and freedom.
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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.
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Learning Outcome: archer shooting at target
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.
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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 at least one additional secondary source that supports your thesis. Late submissions will be penalized one degree (e.g. A- to B+) per day, so make sure that you give yourself enough time to complete your assignments! If you have any questions regarding what does or does not constitute plagiarism, please refer to the college’s plagiarism policy. Essays that contain significant instances of plagiarism will receive a 0 and be reported to the Office of Academic Affairs. All submitted work may be used (with names removed) for program assessment.
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MyJournal icon
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 issue and draw on material from 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 15% (5x3%). For guidelines on writing journal entries, see the MyJournal Rubric below.
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Position Paper
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 short (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.

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Painting of the Council of Nicaea
Reacting to the Past
Constantine and the Council of Nicaea
We will be devoting three weeks to a role-playing game that focuses on the establishment of Christianity as the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. The game is based on the actual Council of Nicaea, which was convened in 325 CE by Emperor Constantine, who was also responsible for ending the brutal persecutation of Christians in the preceding decades. During the game, you will take on the role of an historical bishop or priest who participated in the Council and work with your colleagues to develop the theological foundation of the Catholic Church as well as its organizational structure. This section of the course will be worth 25%, which for most students will be based on two written speeches (worth 10% each) as well as 5% for the quality of your participation in the game. For additional details regarding the written speeches, see the RTTP Written Speeches Rubric below.
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"Essays" icon
Topic Paper/Final Paper
The final assignment will be an 8-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 (20% for the final paper plus 5% for the topic paper), you should expect to devote a considerable amount of time to this project. Toward this end, I will be happy to meet with you individually to provide further guidance at any stage in the process. For submission and formatting details, see the
“Writing Standards” section above.
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Class Participation icon
Class 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 the readings — from sharing your perspective on the material to simply asking a relevant question — will contribute to your grade. 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 and actively participate in class discussions.
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Virtual Office Hours: image of computer monitor saying "The teacher is in"
Office Hours, Etc.
I will be available (via Zoom) at the following times:
Tuesdays 1:30-3:30    Wednesdays 11:00-12:00    Thursdays 1:30-3:30   Fridays (Tea/Talk) 4:30-5:30
630-637-5619    bhoffert@noctrl.edu    http://bhoffert.faculty.noctrl.edu
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  • Crumb, Robert. The Book of Genesis, Illustrated by R. Crumb. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2009.
  • George, Andrew, trans. The Epic of Gilgamesh. London: Penguin Classics, 2003.
  • Henderson, David E. and Frank Kirkpatrick. Constantine and the Council of Nicaea: Defining Orthodoxy and Heresy in Christianity, 325 C.E. New York: Reacting Consortium Press, 2016.
  • 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.
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Rubric icon
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

1.5%

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 clearly expressed with no stylistic errors

.5%

LENGTH

<200
words

200-250

words

250-300
words

>300
words

.5%

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

.5%

TOTAL

 

 

 

 

3%

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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
%

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RTTP Written Speech Rubric
 

 

Unsatisfactory
0 - .65

Good
.75

Very Good
.85

Exceptional
.95

MARK

LENGTH

<650
words

650-750
words

750-1000
words

>1000
words

1%

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 clearly expressed with no stylistic errors

1%
CREED
OR
CANON
The speech does not include a creedal statement or canon
The proposed creedal statement of canon is not clearly stated
The proposed creedal statement or canon is clearly stated
The proposed creedal  statement or canon is finely crafted2%

SUPPORTING
ARGUMENT

The argument for the creedal statement or canon has significant problems

The creedal statement or canon is poorly supported by a weak argument

The creedal statement or canon is supported by a reasonable argument

The creedal statement or canon is supported by a highly persuasive argument

4%
SUPPORTING
SOURCES
The argument is not supported by any relevant sources
The argument is poorly supported by references to the bible or other sourcesThere are appropriate references to the bible and at least one additional source
There are insightful references to the bible and at least two additional sources
2%

TOTAL

 

 

 

 

10%

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Topic Paper Rubric
 

 

Unsatisfactory
0 - .65

Good
.75

Very Good
.85

Exceptional
.95

MARK

LENGTH

<200
words

200-250
words

250-300
words

>300
words

1%

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 clearly expressed with no stylistic errors

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 poorly written and inadequately related to the course theme

The thesis statement clearly expresses a unique perspective on the course theme

The thesis statement eloquently expresses a significant insight on the course theme

1%
DISCUSSION
OF SOURCES
The paper does not identify 3 primary sources and 1 secondary source
The paper lacks a clear discussion of 3 primary sources and 1 secondary sourceThe discussion clearly shows how the chosen sources support the thesis
The discussion insightfully connectes the chosen sources to the thesis
1%

TOTAL

 

 

 

 

5%