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The mythology of minimalist, outdoor education runs deep. Socrates famously prodded his students with questions while strolling through and beyond the city of Athens, and his intellectual descendant, Aristotle, enshrined the value of learning-in-motion through his Peripatetic (“walking around”) school of philosophy. Here at Williams, the enduring image of “the log” idealizes direct dialogue between professor and student(s) in a natural setting. Henry David Thoreau, in a quote inscribed near the summit of Mt. Greylock, remarks that “it were as well to be educated in the shadow of a mountain as in more classic shades. Some will remember, no doubt, not only that they went to college, but that they went to the mountain.” In addition to celebrating outdoor learning, these models all valorize an education stripped of classroom and technological trappings–an education that requires only a curious mind and an intellectual guide. What might these models have to offer us in this extraordinary historical and cultural moment?
In Greek 201 this fall, we will read excerpts from Plato’s Ion and Hesiod’s Theogony in their original Greek. These texts will give you a taste of both Classical prose and Archaic poetry and enable you to improve your ability to read, comprehend, and translate ancient Greek literature. Plato and Hesiod also offer important and influential perspectives on the origins, effects, and value of poetry, and we will use their work as a starting point for asking ourselves questions like: what is poetry? Where does it come from? What is it good for? In keeping with the minimalist models of education described above, we will explore those questions and read Greek together with as few trappings as possible: see “additional information” for course format details.
Format: seminar; This is a hybrid course, and it is designed to be fully accessible to both in-person and remote students. We will meet during the assigned class times (outdoors, as much as possible), with Zoom sessions available for those who need to study remotely for all or part of the semester.
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
Your work in this course will be assessed through in-class participation and the completion of a set of take-home assignments (including a cumulative final assignment).
CLGR 101-102 or two years of Greek in secondary school
Classics majors and intended Classics majors