Webmaster's note: Prof. Williams will not be attending the meeting.

"Menander in Second-Year Greek? Have You Lost Your Mind?"—Alternative Approaches to the Second-Year Canon

Frederick Williams

Southern Illinois University

The mossbacks in our company are reluctant to change the canonical Plato (or Xenophon)/Homer secmnd-year Greek curriculum, and for good reasons:

  1. For many second-year students, this will be their last exposure to Greek literature;
  2. we want them to read the best Greek available at their level; and
  3. if they will only read extensively from two Greek authors, they should not miss Homer, and they should not miss Plato.

We mossbacks believe so strongly in the validity of this canon that we will teach The Apology of Socrates and The Iliad, year after year, even if it kills us. Even if it kills our students. Even if it kills our enrollments. Therein lies the problem: what to do about an intermediate curriculum that is by most accounts essential, if it is in fact extinguishing the very flames of passion that we work so hard to ignite?

One answer may lie in what may seem a radical approach: Abandon the Canon, and substitute authors you really enjoy, irrespective of their status—on the premise that students read, enjoy, understand, and remember best what their instructor reads, enjoys, understands, and remembers.

At a loss for suggestions? Try one of these:

OK—who's your favorite?

I have tried all of these, and while some students may have had to postpone (or forgo) Iliad I, they all learned Greek well, and had a good time doing so.


Back to 2006 Meeting Home Page