We learn who we are and how we live by telling ourselves
stories. Among all those stories, the interesting ones tend to be the ones
about somebody making a decision. What might happen, a story like that might
ask, if a man accepts his wife’s offer to die for him? (That’s the theme of the
ancient Greek play Alcestis.) What
happens to a city after one despised ethnic group is sent away and replaced by
another despised ethnic group? (That’s the theme of a contemporary document in
images and words, Remember to Wave.)
Or how can a woman overcome her prejudice and begin to live happily ever after
with a man who is trying to overcome his pride?

The scale of that last story is certainly smaller than the
first two, but in human terms it’s just as momentous. And smallest of all in
scale but most momentous in its human consequences is our own decision to think
and then say one word instead of another. That matter of language is what
Kuykendall Hall was built to help us read and write and think about, so that’s
what we’ll be doing there this semester.

Course requirements

• Attendance and participation

• Four five-page papers

• Midterm and final

Texts (at the
University Bookstore)

The Norton
Anthology of Poetry
, shorter edition

• Joseph Conrad, “The
Secret Sharer” and Other Stories

Four Greek Plays,
edited by Dudley Fitts

• Shakespeare, Julius
and Antony and Cleopatra

• Jane Austen, Pride
and Prejudice

• Kaia Sand, Remember
to Wave