Author Archives: jlieblan

Jason Lieblang Course Syllabi for Winter 2023-2024

Feel free to check out recent syllabi for courses I’ll be teaching this upcoming year (September 2023-April 2024) below. Please just ignore any COVID stuff, obviously. I’ll definitely also make a few content changes over the rest of the summer, but you’ll get a good idea of course texts and assessment practices from these.

Note that GMST 335 used to be called GERM 304, hence that file name here.

GERM 304 2023 Syllabus Revised 25 Feb 2023

CENS 202 Lieblang SYLLABUS Winter 2 2021

CENS 308 Syllabus W1 2022-2023

You may also want to see what students say about my courses on ratemyprof.

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Where to get help with your writing …

You’ll do a lot of writing in Arts One, and it’s the academic essay you’ll be writing most. My expectation is that you strive to write well-organised essays and with good English grammar. I’m not the only resource to help you improve your writing, though. UBC has a Writing Centre, which offers resources to help you improve, including tutoring. I may encourage you to work with the Writing Centre at some point, and in some cases I might expect you to.

The Writing Centre Website: Writing Centre

You can make appointments to work with a tutor through this site: Appointments

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“How could you quench the fire of your eyes?”

… asks the leader of the chorus upon learning of Oedipus’ self-blinding (P85, line 1729). Such poetical phrasing is what we’d expect of the chorus, of course. In Greek tragedy the dialogues constituting the episodes were prosaic in comparison with the loftier, lyrical style of the choral stasima. After all: the chorus emerged out of songs, specifically improvised songs chanted in honour of Dionysus. (The dithyramb.)

We would be too quick to dismiss the chorus leader’s wording as simply metaphor, though. There’s something to be learned here about the way the Ancient Greeks understood vision.

When Sophocles composed the play, around 429 BC, evidence suggests that competing theories of vision existed. (I’ll get to these competing ideas in a moment.) What wasn’t at issue at the time was that the eye consisted of “internal fire.” For the Greeks, four elements — air, water, earth and fire — composed the entire universe. And the eyes, the Greeks held, were composed of the element fire.

The dispute was over whether this fire made vision possible by means of emission — a kind of flaring outwards towards objects, if you like — or if the reverse was the case: that something representative of the object entered the eye, where it was then processed into visual perception. The former theory was championed by no less than Ptolemy and Euclid; and was also held by our soon-to-be friend Plato. A complex form of intramission, as the latter general theory is called, is what we, of course, still hold today. Aristotle was of a similar mind to us in believing that the experience of vision was worked out in the eye, which was the final destination of rays entering from outside the body.

The chorus leader’s question doesn’t tell us which view Sophocles subscribed to. (Unless you’ve found further evidence in Oedipus Rex, perhaps?) That blinding constituted the destruction of fire, however, is very likely exactly what Sophocles believed.

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