Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 3 sessions / week, 1 hour / session

Class Rules

  1. Class attendance is mandatory. If you are ill, or have a good reason for missing class, e-mail me—in advance, if possible—to let me know.
  2. You are expected to prepare yourself for each class by doing the reading for each session in advance. There may be graded drop quizzes, so make sure to keep up with the readings!


21L.001X is a HASS-D/CI subject. In this class, CI requirements will be satisfied by

  1. A minimum of 20 pages of writing, in 3–5 assignments
  2. Revision and resubmission of at least one of the assignments
  3. An oral component (spelled out in the syllabus, i.e. student led discussion, presentation, 

This course will be reading and writing-intensive. Each week, you will be required to submit two questions—that you have come up with—to me (via e-mail) that you think will enrich our class discussions the next day.

You will have three writing assignments. These 7–8 page essays will be based on essay questions that I will hand out in class a week prior to the submission date. You are expected to formulate a coherent argument, and support it with material from the books that you have read (For more information, read the ‘Advice on Writing’ section. And feel free to ask me).

You will need to revise one of your first two essays; you may choose which one. When I hand the corrected copies back, you have two days to decide if you’d like to revise it. If you do, we will schedule a meeting to discuss your paper, and work together to make plans for revising it. You will then have a week to submit your revision. You must revise at least one of your first two papers. You cannot submit a re-write without talking to me first.

You will also be responsible for a brief (15–20 minute) oral presentation on the topic of your choice.


Essays 75%
Class participation (including oral presentation) 25%

MIT Statement on Plagiarism

Plagiarism—use of another’s intellectual work without acknowledgement—is a serious offense. It is the policy of the Literature Faculty that students who plagiarize will receive an F in the subject, and that the instructor will forward the case to the Committee on Discipline. Full acknowledgement for all information obtained from sources outside the classroom must be clearly stated in all written work submitted. All ideas, arguments, and direct phrasings taken from someone else’s work must be identified and properly footnoted. Quotations from other sources must be clearly marked as distinct from the student’s own work. For further guidance on the proper forms of attribution, consult the style guides available at the Writing and Communication Center and the MIT Web site on Plagiarism.


1 Introduction  
2 The Epic of Gilgamesh, Tablets 1–6  
3 The Epic of Gilgamesh, Tablets 7–11  
4 The Odyssey, Books 1, 5, 9  
5 The Odyssey, Books 12–14  
6 The Odyssey, Books 18, 19, 24  
7 The Republic, Chapter 4 [Preview with Google Books]  

The Republic, Chapter 13

1st essay topics distributed

9 Aristotle, “Poetics.” In The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism  
10 Aeschylus, “Agamemnon.” In The Oresteia  
11 Aeschylus, “Agamemnon” (cont.) 1st essay due
12 Oedipus Rex  
13 The New Oxford Annotated Bible, Genesis, Chapters 1–11  

The New Oxford Annotated Bible, Chapters 22, 32, 37

1st essay returned

15 The New Oxford Annotated Bible, The Gospel of Matthew  
16 The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation, Books 1–4  
17 The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation, Books 5–12  
18 The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation, Books 13–20  
19 What the Buddha Taught, Chapters 1–5  
20 What the Buddha Taught, Chapters 6–8  
21 What the Buddha Taught, pp. 91–136  

The Bhagavad-Gita, Introduction, Teachings 1–8

2nd essay topics distributed

23 The Bhagavad-Gita, Teachings 9–18  

Selections from The Jataka Tales:

“The Monkey and the Crocodile”
“How the Turtle Saved his own Life”
“The Foolish, Timid Rabbit”
“The Wise and the Foolish Merchant”
“The Ox Who Envied the Pig”
“The Princes and the Water-Sprite”
“Why the Owl is not the King of the Birds”


Selections from the Qur’an:

Sura 1, “The Opening”

Sura 13, “Thunder”

Sura 96, “The Blood Clot”

2nd essay due

Selections from the Qur’an:

Sura 2, “The Cow”

Sura 3, “The House of ‘Imran”

Sura 16, “The Bees”


The Divine Comedy, Selections from Book 3 Hell (Inferno), Cantos 1–3, 5, 25–28, 32–34

2nd essay returned

28 The Divine Comedy, Selections from Book 2 Purgatory(Purgatorio), Cantos 1, 5, 10, 11, 30, 33  
29 The Divine Comedy, Selections from Book 1 Paradise (Parasdiso), Cantos 1, 2, 9, 18–20, 31–33  
30 The Ramayana, Chapters 1–4  
31 The Ramayana, Chapters 5–10  

The Ramayana, Chapters 11–14

Final essay topics distributed

33 The Arabian Nights, Prologue, Nights 1–14  
34 The Arabian Nights, Nights 102–110  
35 Don Quixote, selections from Part 1: Chapters 1–5, 7–10, 16–19 Final essay due
36 Don Quixote, selections from Part 2: Chapters 1–7, 10–14, 42–45, 72–74  
37 Wrap up day  

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2011