Legacy of Success
Legacy - HNRS 1120

Instructor(s): Richard Obenauf

Course Description

How do you measure success?  Money?  Power?  Fame?  Glory?  Beauty?  Sex?  Love?  Happiness?  Although success is universally valued, there is no universal concept of success.  In this course we’ll examine how success and failure have been measured and critiqued in some of the most outstanding literature of the Roman world, of the English Middle Ages, and in modernity.  We will focus on the ways various values both reflect and affect the cultures that produced our readings, as well as their legacy on our society.  Along the way you will develop a deeper knowledge of literature, of history, and of yourself. 


Our lively reading list opens with a short story by Kurt Vonnegut and then zips back to ancient Roman satire by Horace, Juvenal, and Petronius.  We will delve into sublime medieval romances as well as a raunchy medieval morality play translated just for this course.  Modern works include Christopher Marlowe’s “Dr. Faustus,” Samuel Johnson’s “Rasselas,” Mozart and da Ponte’s “Don Giovanni,” autobiographies by Benjamin Franklin and Frederick Douglass, and two great American novels, both from 1925, Anita Loos’s “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” 


As with all Honors courses, consistent attendance and active participation are required.  Students are expected to keep a reading journal, which will form the basis for a series of ungraded (but required) one-page response papers.  There will be two short analytical papers, a longer personal or creative final project, and a group presentation. 

About the Instructor(s): Richard Obenauf

A fourth-generation Lobo, Richard Obenauf earned his BA from UNM and his MA and PhD from Loyola University Chicago. His research centers on the relationship between knowledge and society, with a particular emphasis on censorship and intolerance.