The Ancient World
Course Description
Fall 2021

Humanities 101
Section 03 [HUM] [H]
Fall 2021
SLN 06538
MWF 1:10 – 2:00pm.
Zoom until it’s safe; then maybe Todd 413.

Dr. Michael Delahoyde
Avery Hall 355 — Washington State University



Course Description:

This course, Humanities 101, represents one half of what remains when old Classical Studies departments faded away and were absorbed into English departments. If you take a literary anthology of Classical (Graeco-Roman) works and distribute it into two courses, you’d have what we in fact do have: Humanities 101 and 103. Here, for example, we read Homer’s Odyssey; there they read Homer’s Iliad. I have taught 103 a kajillion times; 101 barely at all. (So I’m pretty jazzed.) While 103, titled Mythology, coheres under that concept and is a mega-popular option for racking up your three Humanities credits, I had thought of 101 as a scattered assortment of other materials, until preparing for this semester, when I realized that as diverse as the types of readings and other works may be, viewing it all as “wisdom literature” imbues the course with cohesion and integrity.

The Humanities division of the Department of English was initiated with a mission that includes interdisciplinary dimensions, easy to accomplish in later periods such as Hum 302: The Middle Ages and Renaissance, or Hum 304: The Modern World. Antiquity has left us, basically, texts and some pottery shards. I will do what is possible to diversify the materials of the semester: a bit of music, some artworks. One way to diversify, originally unconsidered by the architects of the program, is to include wisdom materials from ancient cultures other than the Greeks. Though often considered “sacred” texts, religion is not our enterprise or focus — rather, how can insights into life from ancient shores help us navigate our current journeys?

I wouldn’t make you read this stuff otherwise; but I’ve come to believe that this material contains real and useful wisdom — better than most “literature,” much more valuable than those cheap one-line adages being bandied about constantly these days, and more healing and affordable than psychotherapy.

Required Texts:

[The text(s) below may show up at the Bookie and at the Crimson & Gray, but that’s uncertain. Other scholarly editions are fine with me, but use at your own risk: exams will be based largely on quotations drawn from the versions supplied. For texts more substantial than the pdfs I have in our Canvas space, I will usually supply links to good scholarly online editions of the works — not the cheesy ones that tend to lack line numbers, explanatory notes, and other more professional and helpful features.]

Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fagles.



[Lots of other crucial and cool materials will be provided through Canvas and visually in class.]

Student Learning Outcomes:

At the end of the course, students should be achieved the following objectives. The Course Requirements detail how these outcomes will be addressed and evaluated in the class work.

  • Students will gain exposure to basic terms in the study of mythology and to some of the major artistic works that have recorded the human experience and have shaped Western culture, its later arts, and the way we think.
  • Students will increase intellectual maturation and clarification of their own values through examination of ideas and attitudes in cultural contexts and especially through articulation of these in academic discourse.
  • Students will develop skills in careful verbal analysis and critical thinking through reading and communicating (in discussion and writing) about literary and cultural texts and other artistic media, so that they will be able to communicate successfully with other audiences both within and outside the University.

Course Requirements:

A significant part of at least your “job” of being a student this semester (but maybe also part of your life) is focusing on the study of ancient materials. Responsibly reading and studying the works is not especially demanding, and we have the opportunity to be doing it together as a learning community. The university provides a space and a time in which I, as instructor, do my best to craft an opportunity for engagement and learning (and, truth be told, the thrill of it all). In no strict numerical way, absences will end up affecting your final grade; but worse would be your general “absence”: that is, approaching the class under the assumption that your education is a consumer product being served to you, that you can “multi-task” between class and your phone, that you can coast along with a cursory skimming of Sparknotes, that the experience should be reduceable to some kind of “study guide” (if it were, we wouldn’t need to meet at all). Do you even have the capacity to be present and “plugged in” to the classroom experience? You will never realize how rewarding this can be unless you are. Because classroom interaction is essential for this to be a valuable experience, and because occasional quizzes and homework writings will be exchanged and in-class voting will take place, absences will affect your grade regardless of reason. Here’s the math:

1) I will frequently ask you for relatively minor homework assignments to be posted to discussion spaces in Canvas), designed primarily to stimulate subsequent discussion and to practice conventions for writing about humanities. At other times I will ask you to answer questions in writing in class, often ad lib responses to the reading before class discussion begins. Homework assignments and quizzes will receive numerical grades (points) and the final semester totals will be curved if necessary. I acknowledge that there are many valid reasons for missing the deadline on these postings (almost always shortly before the start of class); however, since I don’t have the luxury (with classes usually of 50 and more) to backtrack, and since the point of the posting is to hash out your impressions and notions and letting me see what you come up with before we discuss the material in the class period following (otherwise it’s just pretty pointless busy-work), late postings will not be graded. Know that missing a posting due-date is not a disaster, because there are several optional extra-credit prompts through the semester and, besides, every posting demand is an opportunity to earn extra-credit points simply by exceeding general expectations, which you can probably estimate by reading what others are posting. (30%)

2) Your presence will be kindly requested at a midterm exam. No make-ups. The exam will consist of “in-class” identification questions and short-answer questions, and a “take-home” essay whose prompt will be supplied ahead of time. (Late essays will receive no points; but failure to turn anything in, even late, will result in an F for the course. Excellent work, however, earns lovely grades!) (30%)

3) You will be assailed with an end-of-semester exam (administered before “finals week”), structurally the same as the midterm exam with essay. (30%)

4) Class participation and other service to the learning community will be expected (occasional group work, for example). (10%)

Some introductory advice about succeeding with homework and exams can be found here.
And here is an explanation of letter grades assigned to class work. No make-up exams or assignments will be constructed. No incompletes will be given.

Students with Disabilities:

Reasonable accommodations are available for students with documented disabilities or chronic medical or psychological conditions. If you have a disability and need accommodations to fully participate in this class, please visit your campus’ Access Center/Services website to follow published procedures to request accommodations. Students may also contact their campus offices to schedule an appointment with a Disability Specialist. All disability related accommodations are to be approved through the Access Center/Services on your campus. It is a university expectation that students visit with instructors (via email, Zoom, or in person) to discuss logistics within two weeks after they have officially requested their accommodations. For more information contact a Disability Specialist: 509-335-3417. Access Center: E-mail

Academic Integrity:

As an institution of higher education, Washington State University is committed to principles of truth and academic honesty. All members of the University community share the responsibility for maintaining and supporting these principles. When a student enrolls in Washington State University, the student assumes an obligation to pursue academic endeavors in a manner consistent with the standards of academic integrity adopted by the University. Any student plagiarizing on any assignment or cheating on any exam in this class will receive an F for the course and will be reported to the Office of Student Standards and Accountability, who remind us that Washington State University reserves the right and the power to discipline or to exclude students who engage in academic dishonesty. Cheating is defined in the Standards for Student Conduct WAC 504-26-010 (3). It is strongly suggested that you read and understand these definitions and stop plagiarizing that Icarus essay on file in your sleazy frat.

Safety and Emergency Notification:

Classroom and campus safety are of paramount importance at Washington State University, and are the shared responsibility of the entire campus population. WSU urges students to follow the “Alert, Assess, Act” protocol for all types of emergencies and the “Run, Hide, Fight” response for “an active shooter incident,” which seems to be precisely the one emergency the university expects. Remain ALERT (through direct observation or emergency notification), ASSESS your specific situation, and ACT in the most appropriate way to assure your own safety (and the safety of others if you are able).


COVID-19 Statement:

Per the proclamation of Governor Inslee on August 18, 2021, masks that cover both the nose and mouth must be worn by all people over the age of five while indoors in public spaces. This includes all WSU owned and operated facilities. The state-wide mask mandate goes into effect on Monday, August 23, 2021, and will be effective until further notice.

Public health directives may be adjusted throughout the year to respond to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Directives may include, but are not limited to, compliance with WSU’s COVID-19 vaccination policy, wearing a cloth face covering, physically distancing, and sanitizing common-use spaces. All current COVID-19 related university policies and public health directives are located at

These are most of the required syllabus inclusions, but the suffocating mountain of more of these statements perpetually added by administrators is making it impossible to create a syllabus that isn’t a booklet. (If all syllabi are supposed to include these, why aren’t they just sent to all students from the university itself instead of rendering the syllabi unreadable and moot? — because you wouldn’t read them?) Here’s more.