The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas

Larry D Carver

ProfessorPh.D., 1973, University of Rochester

Doyle Professor in Western Civilization, Department of English; Director, Liberal Arts Honors Program
Larry D Carver



English, Humanities, Rhetoric and Composition, Restoration, 18th century British poetry and drama


CTI 345 • Our Lives In Fiction

34197 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm SZB 286
(also listed as LAH 350)

In this course we will explore the hypothesis that human beings have and continue to create and recreate themselves through the telling of stories.  While we tell stories for many reasons--pleasure, escapism, will to power, and so forth--one of the principal reasons, or so the course posits, is to find out what is significant, what is praiseworthy, what is it we should value and why.  As the infant Akhilleus sat on the lap of his tutor, Phoenix, "wet[ing] [his] shirt, hiccuping/wine-bubbles in distress," the greatest of ancient Greek heroes was listening to stories "instruct[ing] [him] in these matters/to be a man of eloquence and action."  Years later, Phoenix will seek once again to guide the actions of his extraordinary charge by telling him a story.  If you are like me, as a child and now an adult, you too heard and continue to hear stories; you too have sought and now continue to seek in these stories patterns of how to live.  It is this educative function of story that we will be exploring.  We will begin the course with two 20th-century coming of age novels, one about a young man, and one about a young woman. We will then turn back to read four great novels of our literary history.

Texts and Works: (assigned readings from)

Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior

J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye

Requirements and Grading Policy:

Grades will be based on the following:  (1) regular class attendance, careful preparation of the readings, and active participation in the games; (2) short papers responding to the day’s reading; (3) timely submission of all work; and (4) a final examination, which will ask you to identify and tell the significance of selected passages from the semester’s reading.  Grades on writing will make up 35% of the grade; class participation will constitute 35%; and the final examination 30%.

CTI 375 • Rhetoric Of Great Speeches

33185 • Fall 2010
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm MEZ 2.210
(also listed as LAH 350)


This course has three goals:  (1) to learn about the nature and history of rhetoric; (2) to introduce ourselves, or reintroduce ourselves, to some of the great speeches of the Western tradition; and (3) in carrying out goals one and two, to learn a good deal of history.  

The course opens by tracing the ancient Greek ideal that the hero must be accomplished on the battlefield as well as in the assembly, a doer of deeds but also a speaker of words.  We will read and analyze speeches from The Iliad and Odyssey as well as those from Xenophon and Thucydides, Plato, and Euripides.  Along the way, we will learn about the art of rhetoric.  Following a brief look at the place of rhetoric in the Roman Republic and early empire, we will continue our study of rhetoric by focusing on the "Gettysburg Address," an astonishing 272 words that William Safire considers "the best short speech since the Sermon on the Mount."

Having then acquired the proper tools, we will read famous, and perhaps not so famous, speeches, literary and historical, from the Renaissance forward, from Henry V's St. Crispin Day speech to those by Churchill, President Kennedy, and Barbara Jordan.



Edward P.J. Corbett, Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student

William Safire, Lend Me Yours Ears: Great Speeches in History

Euripides, Medea (Dover edition; trans. Rex Warner)

Gary Wills, Lincoln at Gettsburg

Packet of speeches by Winston Churchill available from I.T. Copy, 214 West MLK Blvd.



 For writing assignments, we will analyze speeches but also write speeches; and we will, given the proper occasion, listen to some speeches.  As a final assignment, I am thinking of a choice between a commencement speech or a study of a body of speeches of your own choosing.

Curriculum Vitae

Profile Pages