Fall 2012
Great Books 101/INT 101
MW 3:00-4:15, 4th Hour M 10:00
Ryals 207

Mary Ann Drake, Ph. D.
Phone: Office (301-5616) Home (477-4399) e-mail drake_ma@mercer.edu
Home Page: http://faculty.mercer.edu/drake_ma/
Office Hours:
Calendar of Events             Policies and Grades                     Link to Blackboard          


 The Iliad of Homer,Fagels Translation
The Odyssey of Homer
, FagelsTranslation
Aeschylus I Oresteia
, Lattimore Translation
Plato Five Dialogues
, Grube Translation
Thucydides On Justice Power and Human Nature

     by Paul Woodruff  ISBN: 13:978-0-87220-168-2
Sophocles I Oedipus the King
, and Antigone, Grene and Lattimore Translation
Aaron, The Little Brown Essential Handbook, 7th edition        Pearson
Other readings as assigned.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: As is true of all Great Books Courses at Mercer, this is a discussion course designed to provide you with "great texts" and seminal, integrative ideas that inform our cultural values and ideas. The texts are to challenge you, stretch you, force you to think and write, struggle, analyze, criticize, broaden, rethink, and reflect. Your reflective and rational processes will be tested by your peers during in-class discussions (and hopefully outside of class discussions) and with numerous writing assignments.

PREREQUISITES: There are no prerequisites for this course. We do expect students to be able to read and write at the college level. I do expect all students to know how to access, and regularly use Mercer e-mail, our private Facebook group, and Blackboard. It is the student's responsibility to read messages sent out by the professor.


Employ multiple modes of inquiry through the examination of texts from different disciplines and domains, with the purpose of exploring, analyzing, and understanding the foundational texts and ideas that have defined the Western tradition and the world in which we live.  The successful student will develop habits of careful reading and writing, combined with the ability to be an active and thoughtful participant in a text-centered discussion.


Specifically, after writing instruction and guidance in critical reading, students will be able to:

1.       Read, comprehend, and discuss a wide range of texts from different eras, as well as from different domains and disciplines.

2.       Identify and comprehend the ways in which these various texts and modes of inquiry represent both distinct ways of knowing and contribute to a common conversation spanning the centuries and disciplines.

3.       Produce written work that is effective in analyzing texts across the domains and disciplines.

4.       Understand the idea that texts are subject to multiple and competing interpretations that can be debated, both orally and in writing, on their merits.

5.       Demonstrate the capacity to participate in a civil and productive discussion.  The students will be able to listen carefully, articulate their own interpretation of a text, and support that interpretation with evidence.

6.       Better understand the major themes, questions, and controversies that have informed the Western tradition.


Writing instruction and development has a progression. First we have dailies, which are used for immediate feedback regarding thesis development, use of the text for support, proper use of quotations, paragraph development, etc. As some of these problems become obvious, class time will be used for mini workshops as needed.

The next level of writing that is built upon the consistent use of dailies as well as classroom instruction, moves toward lengthier essays. At this level, as needed in-class instruction focuses on paragraph development, sustaining an argument, transitions, successful conclusions, etc.

Writing instruction includes learning how to use appropriate resources. Early in the course, students will compile a small annotated bibliography, using four to five sources, on the nature of the Western Canon and the designation of Great Book. The process of creating an annotated bibliography will include classroom instruction and a trip to the library.

Building from dailies to longer essays, the final, even longer paper, requires students to choose one of their earlier papers as the basis for revision and extension of the prior piece. Classroom instruction will include what I call time-lines, first in a small group and then as a broad exercise of connections of main themes from various texts.

Throughout the semester, each student will meet with me for an individual conference to discuss the student’s progress in writing for the class. These conferences will be timed with individual students as needed.


GBK is a writing instruction course and to that end, the following requirements are necessary: One of your INT 101 course’s most important tasks is to teach you to read and engage with texts actively and responsibly. Students are to keep a small three-ring binder to use as a portfolio of all their written work, including dailies, journals, in class writings, revisions, etc. I am not usually picky about minor details, but I do mean a small three-ring binder. In this way, you have the option to type your reflection work and place it in the journal, or write in your binder directly. We will have intermittent revision sessions and students need to have access to their prior, graded work.

This assignment provides a place to record your daily work with texts, while also giving you a chance to create a lasting record of your thoughts as you move through the course.  It also allows you to literally “do” something with your reading, so that it goes beyond “busy work” or a mere requirement and becomes instead a resource for both your required participation in class discussions and for your more formal writing assignments, as your initial response to texts and ideas from class discussion feed directly into the papers you will write for the course.

Borrowed, with permission, from Dr. Denasi. The journal/portfolio is also the place where you should take notes during class discussion.  Please note that this is a requirement of the course. 

To summarize, the following kinds of material should be recorded in your Composition Book on a regular (class by class) basis:

a) Ideas drawn from your thorough annotation of EACH of the texts assigned for that day.  This information may be in the form of an outline or bullet points but should be detailed and concrete and must include a citation in the text for each point (page numbers for prose, line numbers for poems, and act, scene, and line numbers for drama) so that you can locate specific passages during discussion.

b) Two questions to share during seminar discussion.  Please Note: these should NOT be informational questions, such as: “what color was the lady’s dress?”  Instead, your questions should focus on larger issues raised in the text, especially issues that seem related to identity or the self, such as: “how do the clothes the characters wear affect their sense of self?” or, “why should a woman’s clothes be more important in composing her self than a man’s?”   

c) Detailed notes taken during class discussion.  It is not necessary to write down every word that is said during the discussion, but you should listen and speak with your Composition Book open and a pen in your hand.  As ideas emerge in the conversation that strike you as important and potentially useful, you should record them in as much detail as possible.  At the top of EACH page of notes, be sure to record the date and the title of the text(s) under discussion.  Entries that are not dated, with complete information on the title of the texts will not be counted when the Composition Book is graded.

***** Students must have their journals during every class period inside or outside of the classroom. No journal means a zero for the day.


 Attendance: Attendance is critically important since what you say and what your classmates say is part of the "text" for the course. More than three absences will affect your grade as follows: a reduction from A to B+ for the fourth absence, from B+ to B for the fifth, etc. If your grade is a C in the course, absences four and five will reduce the grade to a D. Eight or more absences automatically means you fail the course. Attendance includes lectures, films, and other required outside activities.

 Participation: Classroom discussion and writing are the essence of the Great Books program. To participate means not only being in attendance, but also providing thoughtful, and informed input as your part of the classroom discussion. You must, in order to be counted present, have a hard copy of the reading for the day, or if you are using an electronic method of reading, a hard copy of detailed notes with direct notations.

Dailies: For each required reading, you will turn in a one-page typed paper to indicate your understanding of the material. One suggestion is to find a particular quotation and explicate it; that is, tell the reader what the quotation means and why it is important to the text as a whole. Use dailies to practice formulating a thesis. You must cite properly; remember, you must cite even when paraphrasing. Dailies should be one to two pages in length.

There will be times when I direct the focus of your daily.  For example, when we read the tragedies, students will present a character analysis of a chosen character.  This expanded daily requires two or more outside sources and should be a minimum of four pages.

While reading Thucydides, one or perhaps two of the dailies will analyze the speeches in the text, noting both strong and weak arguments, method of delivery, audience, etc. These dailies should be at least three pages in length.

Un-cited dailies will not be accepted. Do not email dailies.   Each daily earns either an 9-10 (A), 7-8 (B), 5-6 (C), 3-4 (D)


Midway in the course, students will research the criteria for the designation Great Book, or inclusion into the Western Canon, using the sources they researched for their earlier annotated bibliography. Students are then to argue for the inclusion or exclusion of Homer, based on their research. This paper is to be four to five pages in length.

Additionally, as is the nature of a Great Books course, there will be four required analytical essays for the course, three semester papers and a final. The three essays are to be four to five pages long.

The final is a comprehensive ten-page paper, based on one of the earlier text analysis essays,  spanning the course, and using Homer and three of the five other authors used in class.

 I will NOT GRADE un-paginated papers, and I will not accept papers electronically.




Students are to keep a loose-leaf binder for all their writing assignments. Throughout the semester, we will select certain assignments for review and revision. I will collect these intermittently to note improvement in writing skills.


As needed, class time will be spent on writing instruction, seamlessly integrated into the seminar format of the course. Much of writing instruction time will focus on articulating a clear and concise thesis and the subsequent development of a convincing argument to support said thesis.


Additionally, attention will be given to paragraph development, the use of imagery, recognizing how ethos, logos, and pathos are used as persuasive tools, and effective use of quotations, among other topics.



Discussion/Attendance                                 15%
Dailies                                                         10
Longer Dailies                                             10
Essays, including                                          50
Annotated Bibliography           
and Western Canon Research                                                                            
Final                                                            15

Class discussion and participation (15% of your grade): Participation in classroom discussions is an integral part of the learning process of the class. I will give you feedback on your participation grade at the end of the 4th and 8th week of class. Anyone who has difficulty with talking in class should contact me so that we can work out strategies for your participation. I will use the following rubric to determine your participation grade. Borrowed, with permission from Dr. David Nelson.



Knowledge of material




Demonstrates a lack of understanding of the texts through in-class writing and discussion.

Rarely speaks

Frequently tardy; Daydreams in class


Almost never mentions the texts; talks only about own life experiences

Speaks but does not continue with the thread of the conversation.

Fails to bring text to class; Doesn’t listen carefully to others


Brings in interesting and thoughtful questions from the text

Communicates well and often

Demonstrates a respect for the community of learning


Can integrate the texts into any discussion; Demonstrates a long and thoughtful consideration of the texts

Helps the class to come to a deeper understanding of the content of the course

Is joyful and excited about the exchange of ideas in class



     90-100 = A                                    77-79 = C+         
     87-89 = B+                                    70-76 = C
     80-86 = B                                      60-69 = D

It is the student's responsibility to read the Policies and Grading section of the syllabus. See link above .
Unusual circumstances may necessitate a change in the syllabus and/or calendar