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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Course Redesign Update: May 13 - a classical day

Today I created two more of the units that will go in the Week 2-3 section that includes Classical topics. Many students expect this course to be all about ancient Greece, and there are students who are very interested in classical mythology, so I am really excited about the new units I will be able to offer.

Here are the two units I added today:

Apuleius's Cupid and Psyche. The story of Cupid and Psyche is one of the great folktales of all time, and the way it is recorded inside the frame of Apuleius's novel The Golden Ass is really marvelous. I included a bit from the novel both before and after the tale of Cupid and Psyche in order to show students how that works. I'm using Tony Kline's translation here, although there are some fun older translations online too. I really enjoy reading old-fashioned English myself but not so many of my students do, so I am very grateful for Kline's translations which allow me to use primary sources but in a contemporary English idiom.



Homer's Odyssey. This is a unit I already have in the class, again from Tony Kline's translation, and it is one that has been very popular with the students, so I am glad to repeat it again here. I focus on another frametale set-up: these are the stories that Odysseus himself tells, in first-person, when he finds himself shipwrecked on the island of Phaeacia. My students are very interested in first-person narration, so I am really delighted how this offers an example of first-person storytelling in an ancient source. Of course, Apuleius also offers an example of this because the frametale about Lucius the donkey is in first-person!


Still lots of work to do here, of course - proofreading, adding pictures, and perhaps adding notes if the pages really cannot stand on their own (but the two annotated units I have target for Fall are Aesop's Fables and one of the Ovid units, not these two).

So, in terms of the Classical units overall, there are these two, plus there is an Aesop's Fables unit, plus three units drawn from Ovid's Metamorphoses, making a total of six, which is all I have room for in this first content development drive. There are so many other Greek or Roman sources I could included, though, so I will surely add more in the years to come. That is one of the best things about my new system: I can keep adding more and more content easily!

One unit I am not renewing is the Roman unit based on Vergil's Aeneid. Even in a contemporary translation, Vergil's style of storytelling just did not click with my students, and I know they were often frustrated with that unit if they chose it, much more so than with the other Roman option (Ovid) in my current course design. Hence my decision to expand on Ovid (I could do even more Ovid, truth be told... I love Ovid) and to remove Vergil. Of course, I should have trusted myself to do that from the start. I absolutely love Ovid, but there is no love lost between me and Vergil, and at least to some degree my own personal enthusiasm for a text does influence my students' reaction. Vergil is more like a duty for me, but Ovid is a pure pleasure! I am really excited about having more Ovid to offer and letting students choose the Ovid unit based on whatever myths in that unit might grab their attention.

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