Preparation for Mon. Mar. 6
Prepare for Test 1 - no further
NOTE: if you feel that the first test didn’t go as well as you had hoped, don’t wait to get your test back - come and see me so that we can strategize together about how you can prepare for Test 2. I want you to do well in this class, so take the initiative and come and see me.
Preparation for Wed. Mar. 8
1. For the
rest of this week, we will be studying Euripides’ Trojan Women. The play takes its name from the chorus of
women of Troy who have just seen their homes destroyed by the invading Greek
soldiers and are about to begin new lives as refugees facing forced deportation
by their captors. The play portrays the moment of transition: it tells the
story of their past, and presents their uncertain future unfolding on
stage. Your main assignment for today
is to investigate the experience of refugees.
Their lives intersect with ours in so many ways of which we are not even
aware (if you’ve seen the film Crash which just garnered Oscar awards,
you’ll know what I mean by the matrix of relationships that tie people
together). The Somali woman working as
a cashier at Cub Foods, the Sudanese boy who struggled in his high school class
in the Minneapolis public school system - each has a life story that is VERY
different from yours and mine. If we
are to understand these valuable but vulnerable new members of our community
(and after Hurricane Katrina the imperative to welcome strangers is etched even
more deeply onto our consciousness), we have to learn about them on both a
cognitive and emotional level. The
readings below are divided into two halves: the first five web links (with
asterisks) are required reading that it is very important that you read BEFORE
Wednesday’s class in order to be able to participate in class; the other links
are not required reading, but have been added for those of you who would like
to pursue this topic further. Be sure
to do the web-based readings before reading the play. The second part of today’s assignment is to read the first
section of Euripides’ Trojan Women (through the first choral ode, i.e.
pp. 460-83). As you do so, you should
already be thinking about Friday’s study questions, including the question that
will be the written assignment, especially if you are in the group writing on
the first half of the play (see below).
*The story of Vumi, a Congalese war refugee, told in words (from BBC News)
*The story of Congalese war and rape survivors, told in pictures (from BBC News)
* Rape as a tool of war (this phenomenon, widespread in warzones, is a central element of the Trojan Women)
* A short personal account of the experience of a high-school age refugee once in the U.S.
*The Minnesota scene: who our immigrants are
Minnesota is a very important player in refugee advocacy and is home to several of the most important human rights organizations. Here are three of them:
Browsing the Minnesota Advocates for human rights’ website will give you a sense of some of the ways in which such organizations help refugees.
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, the second largest U.S. refugee organization (perhaps the main reason why so many refugees come to Minnesota). This is a collection of ten personal stories of refugees who come to the U.S. fleeing persecution.
The Center for Victims of Torture has its headquarters in Minneapolis.
Try navigating the website of the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (now part of the Dept. of Homeland Security). Now imagine you were an immigrant who didn’t speak English, and that your future depended on a successful visa application. This is just one of the challenges that many refugees have to face after they have survived genocide at Troy.
Preparation for Fri. Mar. 10.
1. Read the rest of Euripides’ Trojan Women (i.e. pp. 483-512). As you do so, bear in mind the study questions below.
particular aspects of the experience of those displaced by war does Euripides’ Trojan
Women bring up? Tie your observations to specific points in the text
(citing page number). Students with
last names A-L, focus on first half of play (pp. 460-83), students with
last names J-Z, focus on second half of play (pp. 483-512).
3. Euripides’ Trojan Women was written in the middle of a long and drawn-out war, the Peloponnesian War, between Athens and her allies and Sparta and her allies. Like the Vietnam War, it was a war of attrition; Athens had suffered high casualties, and morale was at a low. Read the following extract from the historian Thucydides’ account of Athens’ treatment of the Melians, a small city-state on the island of Melos that was fighting on the Spartan side. This event took place in the same year that Euripides’ Trojan Women was performed (415 B.C.). Think of the impact of performing such a play in a war situation.
4. In what
ways is this play intratextual: i.e. in what ways does it remind us of the
subject-matter of other literary works (both Homeric epic and other tragedies)?
5. What ideas about life and death that are expressed in Euripides’ Trojan War are specific to ancient Greek culture and different from modern views?