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HUM 241: Interdisciplinary Principles of the Humanities (3 Credits)

The amazing thing about the Trojan War is that, although it occurred about 3200 years ago, people have been creating literature and art about it ever since. Consequently, stories, art and artifacts dealing with the Trojan War offer a consistent context for studying the evolution of Greek, Roman, Byzantine, European and American history and culture over a very long period of time.

You will select and read several stories about the Trojan War, starting with Homer and finishing in the late 20th century. You will learn about the fall of the real Troy at the end of the Bronze Age and examine Bronze Age artifacts and ancient Greek myths relating to Troy. Starting with Homer's Iliad, you will explore each new Troy story you select in its historical and cultural context. For example, you will learn about the Dark Age along with Homer's Iliad, about Classical Greece along with a Greek play about Troy. The purpose is to get a feel for the incredible length of time that these stories have been retold, and the continuities as well as differences in the civilizations that have enjoyed them.

There are a wide variety of suggested Activities, including:

  • reading and writing about Troy literature
  • reporting on a Troy film
  • comparing characters in Troy visual art to characters in the stories
  • visiting either a real or a virtual museum and reporting on the Troy artifacts you find there
  • reading about Amazons and comparing them to the fighting women in the Aeneid or The Firebrand

If you can think of interesting Troy-based Activities that are not listed, let me know what you'd like to do and I'll almost certainly ok it if it is relevant to Troy. You may even get five points extra credit if I decide to add it to the list of Activities.

This is a distance course. We will not see one another, but we will be in contact:

  • you will post your writing to public Forums
  • your instructor will respond to your writing on the public Forums
  • you will read other students' writing and may respond to some of it
  • you will receive email frequently from your instructor

In short, you will not be isolated, although you will be doing your work apart from other students.


Concepts you should learn from this course:

  • Some stories are so important to people that they continue to be retold for thousands of years.
  • Powerful stories, such as that of Troy, may be represented in art, architecture, history, philosophy, music and film, as well as in literary texts.
  • Stories and works of art are created and retold in particular times and places; it is important to understand the historical context of each story in order to better understand and enjoy the story.
  • Studying such related stories and art is a great way to get a sense of the past and its connections to the present.
  • Human ideas about what a person is and what is worth living and/or dying for change over time.
  • Understanding such changes helps us to understand ourselves.

By the end of this course you should be able to:

  • Read a Troy story from another time and place with pleasure and understanding;
  • Write about various aspects of the literary and artistic tradition of Troy, from different times and places, explaining how they are the same, how they are different, and so what;
  • Recognize some of the literary, artistic and other cultural traditions that carry themes and ideas from one time and place to the next, creating an intellectual history of human civilization.



In this course, after you read Homer's Iliad you will have many choices for your reading and Activities (10 total). Consequently, different students will use different texts, depending on their choices. A basic guideline will be provided for these choices, and there are many alternative readings listed in each Activities list. Many, but not all, texts are available online and the Troy website provides links to them. Other readings are only available as paper books, and if you select any of those, you need to acquire the books. Many will be in libraries or available as used books, so plan ahead to acquire them.

Unit 1 is based on reading the Iliad. Until you get the book, you can read the Iliad in a free online version. Here is one place you can find the Iliad:
However, you cannot get The Trojan War book as a free etext, so order it as soon as you enroll in the course.


Your course grade will be determined by the following assignments, according to the following percentages.


Possible Points

Total Points

Introduce yourself



10 Activities

50 each


Exam 1



Exam 2



Exam 3



You can earn up to 1000 points for the entire course, or more if you successfully complete one or more double credit Activities. There is no "extra credit" available in this course. Final grades will be assigned according to the number of points you have earned.

Your final grade will be based on the following scale. Please note that you must also pass at least two of the three exams with at least a D in order to pass the course, regardless of your scores on the other assignments.>

Grading Scale
900 -1000
800 -899
700 -799
600 -699
0 - 599

NOTE: There is an introductory quiz in Unit 1. There are 11 multiple choice questions. You must get 9 questions or more correct on this quiz in order to pass the quiz and see the remaining assignments in the course. You can only see Unit 1 in the Assignments area at the start of the course. You may take this quiz as many times as you wish until you pass. Please note that this score is not included in the computation of your final grade.


There are 3 online exams in this course.

ELI Policies and Procedures
Beginning the Course

Last Updated: February 7, 2014