Greece and Turkey in the Anglo-American Imagination
(ENGL 275 / HUMN 275)
May 15 - June 4, 2013
GENERAL COURSE OBJECTIVES for ENGL 275/HUMN 275
The broad goals of this course are (1) to introduce students to the challenges and rewards of study abroad in general and (2) to analyze how some the West's most crucial self-definitions, distinctions, and myths of identify have been formed and sustained. Using course readings, paintings, film, and personal observations, we will analyze how "Western Civilization" has from the beginning been founded on cultural exchange and cross-fertilization from the "Orient" and reflect on how we represent and categorize cultures and ways of life that are different from our own. The course will thus aim to complicate the supposed separateness of East and West; Europe and Asia; Christian, Muslim, and Jewish; historical and contemporary; material and textual. Specifically, we will examine the way that “Greece” re-entered the Western imagination during the Greek struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire, the ways that English and American writers tried to construct an image of Greece as the source of Western culture on the embattled borderline between Europe and Asia; accordingly, we will also examine assumptions and depictions of Turkish culture through the eyes of Western writers from the early 19th century to the present.
Through this intellectual work, the students will be encouraged to reflect upon their responses to their experiences in Greece and Turkey as a case study of "study abroad." They will be encouraged to go beyond vague quests to "find themselves" and to instead analyze how we construct our categories of the familiar and the alien, and how we can become more self-aware readers of ourselves and the cultures we inhabit.
II. DESCRIPTION OF SUBJECT MATTER
The principal subject matter will be provided through visits to a number of important sites in Greece and Turkey. They have been carefully chosen to provide opportunities to study not only discrete historical episodes, but also the layering and interactions of different cultures over time and the processes by which they influence each other. The readings that go along with the site visits will encourage students to go beyond mere admiration to see the historical contexts that determined the ways “Greece” and “Turkey” have been reinterpreted and are still being constructed and reread by British and American cultures.
III. METHOD OF INSTRUCTION AND STUDY
The course will work through a combination of site visits, readings, group discussions, and journal writing (see attached itinerary). Each student will be responsible for keeping a journal in which s/he responds to the course issues under discussion and for assembling the materials for a final project that will be handed in after our return to the United States. They will also be required to take photographs that will be used as part of their final assignment. Attendance for all course excursions is mandatory, and regular opportunities for writing and discussion are provided in the itinerary.
The final assignment will consist of a 10-15 page paper (plus an appended photo essay with commentary) that draws on the student's experiences/readings and that responds to one or more of the themes of the course. This assignment is designed to (1) be a scholarly analysis of one of the themes of the course and (2) to be a reflection one how personal experience, bias, and desire can inflect how we think about "foreign" cultures or "our" civilization. The challenge of integrating these two goals will be the culmination of the intellectual work of the course and will get to the heart of both study abroad as an experience and the impact of ancient Greece and the Near East on contemporary Western culture.
Class Participation (35%)
Four Journal Entries (25%)
Final Paper/Photo Essay (40%)
IV. LEARNING GOALS
In addition to the goals pertaining to the specific subject matter outlined in the General Course Objectives above, student in this course will:
- develop further the ability to collect, analyze, and interpret a variety of information and to communicate the results in a coherent way to others
- engage in a free exchange of ideas involving respectful discussion
- deal in significant ways with questions or points of view about areas of knowledge or controversies within areas of knowledge, rather than simply
- with the details of such areas themselves
V. INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIAL AND SOURCES
See the itinerary for a detailed matching up of text to site visit. Most readings will be on pdfs that can be easily transported on a laptop/netbook computer. Where possible, mp3 files will be used so that students can make productive use of bus/ferry rides. The course is designed to be flexible in its subject matter (to accommodate different instructors in future years). Among the issues that could be included are:
- Europe's self-definition
- Asia/Muslim/Turkish self-definition (including Turkey's application to join the EU)
- strategic importance of the region
- fetishization of Greece as "cradle of the West"
- Byzantine empire (incl. sack of Constantinople in 1204)
- appropriation of Greek culture by Turks and of Turkish culture by Greeks
- church design: pantheon => church => mosque
- Religion (ie. Islam vs. Christianity, Byzantine/Ottoman Empire, Monasticism, the Greek Patriarchate, etc)
- minorities (ie. Armenians, Jews, Greeks, Kurds, etc.)
- women's rights (ie. the wearing of headscarves, voting, political power)
- globalization (ie. influences of America, Europe, the Internet, telecommunications, etc.)