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BURNING LIFE: APPROACHING THE PROMETHEAN IDEA

Leslie Donovan and Samuel Shoemaker-Trejo
ldonovan@unm.edu and wierdcobbler@gmail.com

COURSE DESCRIPTION

The founding of the modern understanding of the Promethean Idea—the concept of striving to a goal and bettering the self regardless of the attainability of one’s goals—began with the play Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus. From that seminal work forward, students of this course will examine the ideals of Promethean philosophy, investigate the concepts of triumph and success, and uncover and apply the useful aspects of the Promethean idea in their assignments. This idea should not be mistaken for Prometheanism, which involves assuming human superiority or divine right over the resources of the earth. Instead, this course encourages students to delve into the Promethean Idea from both a scholarly and personal angle, answering such questions as “how does the structure of a story reflect the Promethean Idea in form?” alongside such questions as “how do I define personal success?” To accomplish this, students will: gain a familiarity with major works from a variety of Promethean thinkers; complete assignments in a class structure that reflects the Promethean Idea; and develop strong skills in revision, personal assessment, and measurable goal-setting.

The practical work of the course will revolve around two independent projects: an extensive research paper with an annotated bibliography and a self-designed “TED Talk.” Instead of many smaller homework assignments, this course will focus on multiple revisions of these major projects. Students will revisit their work over the course of the semester and refine it through a series of revision goals. The objective will be to craft polished, publishable products. In turn, the instructors promise a similar process with the course itself and will actively revise (within reason) the course to better serve its students.

READINGS AND TEXTS

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Other texts and materials provided online may include:

Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (selections); Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust (selections); Langston Hughes, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain”; Octavia Butler, “The Book of Martha”’; Logicomix; Gurren Laggan; The Mandelbrot Set.

STUDENT REQUIREMENTS

1 extensive research paper with an annotated bibliography (with multiple revisions), 1 TED Talk style video presentation (also with multiple revisions), daily attendance, meeting deadlines, and active seminar participation.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTORS

Leslie Donovan earned her B.A. in Creative Writing-Poetry and M.A. in English from UNM, followed by graduate programs in Iceland and Ireland before earning her Ph.D. in Medieval Literature from the University of Washington. She is an alumnus of UNM’s Honors College and currently teaches courses on the future, J.R.R Tolkien, creative expression, ancient and medieval subjects, and popular culture. She also has led Honors study abroad programs to England on Tolkien and Shakespeare.

Samuel Shoemaker-Trejo is a Senior majoring in Honors Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts and minoring in Theatre. He is an Honors Peer Advisor, has performed in and worked on many UNM and local theatre productions. Most recently, he directed a highly successful run of A Bench at the Edge by Luigi Jannuzzi. In addition, he competes in regional and national tournaments of Magic: The Gathering™.