Course Objectives

·      Students will explore how societies define and portray heroes in art, literature, and film, and how these depictions reflect specific cultural values and beliefs.

·      Students will analyze why societies create heroes, and how the depictions of heroes meet societal and cultural needs.

·      Focusing on the theme of the hero, students will gain knowledge of the terminology and methodologies of the disciplines of art history, archaeology, and literary studies, and apply this knowledge in their own scholarly work.

·      Students will evaluate different disciplinary approaches and types of evidence, and apply these methodologies in written assignments and class discussions. Notably, students will compare visual and textual material and analyze the scholarly approaches to these different media.

·      Students will produce a high-quality research paper that will require them to conduct original research, synthesize material, and construct a written argument. Through the analysis of scholarly articles and primary sources, students will develop critical thinking skills and learn to break down arguments and summarize written and visual material.

·      Students will effectively communicate the results of their research projects to their fellow students in an oral presentation.

·      Students will analyze how artistic and literary endeavors construct and reflect their historical and cultural contexts.

Required Textbook

·      All readings are available on the course page or will be distributed in class. Unless otherwise noted all readings are mandatory.

·      You may want to have digital copies of readings handy in class.  

Course Communication/Resources

·      All students are required to access the course pages site at  The syllabus, course materials, announcements, and detailed guidelines for the submission and assessment of written work will be posted. Please keep in mind that the syllabus may change somewhat as the semester progresses depending on our access to primary materials and our progress. You will be given ample notice of any changes to the syllabus.

  • The best way to reach me is by email at Many questions can be answered by reading the materials on the course page. Please allow up to 24 hours for me to respond to your messages. I also ask that you follow appropriate academic etiquette when writing or leaving a message. Please address me, sign your name, and make sure that you fill in the subject line for all emails.
  • I encourage you all to stop by my office hours or to make an appointment to meet with me at other times. I encourage you to come to my office hours not only for specific questions or concerns but also for any broader questions or topics you would like to discuss, research assistance, and advice.
  • Finally, please check the pages site and your Wash U email regularly for updates and announcements related to the course.


Students will be graded with letter grade of A, A-, B+, B, etc. Late work will be accepted without penalty only by prior arrangement with the course instructor or in the case of an emergency. In all other instances the assignment will be penalized by a third of a grade for every day that it is late. Grades will be determined on the following bases:

·      20% - Attendance and participation

·      15% - Article Responses (approximately five over the course of the semester)

·      10% - Visual Analysis

·      15% - Podcast Assignment

·      Components of Final Paper (40% total)

o   5% - Title and Short Abstract

o   10% - Preliminary Outline and Bibliography

o   20% - Final Paper (including timely submission of the Draft)

o   5% - Paper Presentation

I reserve the right to adjust these percentages in computing final grades to account for additional factors such as effort and improvement. All course requirements must be fulfilled in order to receive a passing grade in this course.

* See the document Class Participation to understand what constitutes Participation. 

Attendance and Participation

Class attendance is essential for this course. I reserve the right to withdraw you from this course if you exceed four unexcused absences over the course of the semester. Your final grade may be lowered by one-half grades for each unexcused absence after the first two unexcused absences. Absences will be excused only in cases of medical issue with documentation or religious holidays. You must contact me in advance of your absence for the absence to be excused. Please arrive for class on time, and in return I will not allow class to run late.  Consistent and active participation in discussions is required.  You should feel free to express your opinions and ask questions in class discussions; in return, I request that you listen and respond to the opinions of others with close attention, courtesy, and respect.

Writing Assignments

There will be various writing assignments throughout the semester, including reading responses to assigned articles, description/visual analysis of artworks, and a research paper. The individual assignments will be handed out to you during the course of the semester. Each writing assignment is due in WUSTL box at the beginning of class on the day that it is due. Unless otherwise specified reading responses are due on Tuesdays. If you turn it in after the beginning of class, it is late. I will lower your grade a full letter grade for each day that a written assignment is late (from A to B, not from A to A-). If you turn a paper in after the beginning of class, it counts as one day late. For example, if a paper is due in class on Monday morning and you turn it in on Monday afternoon, it will count as one day late; if you turn it in on Tuesday, it will count as two days late. All writing assignments are to be typed in double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font with one-inch margins.

Note on Plagiarism: Plagiarism includes using text from a book, article, notebook, video, website, person, or other source material, whether published or unpublished, without giving proper credit through the use of quotation marks, footnotes, or other customary means of identifying your sources. It is important to note that plagiarism is not limited to exact copying but also includes paraphrasing, putting someone else’s idea in your own words, and so on. You will receive a zero on any assignment you do that is plagiarized in any way. In addition to receiving a zero on your work, you may also be subject to further disciplinary action through the University. If you have any doubts about when and how to cite your sources or what constitutes plagiarism, please contact me in advance. I am happy to answer questions. Please also see the Wash U policy on academic integrity:

Note on Writing: I will evaluate your written assignments based on the quality and clarity of your writing as well as on the content. In fact, quality of writing and quality of content and thought are closely interrelated; you might have the best idea in the world, but if it is not coherent and articulate, your reader will have no way of understanding or appreciating your great idea. Please proofread your written assignments yourself, instead of relying solely on spellchecking software. For your research project, I encourage you to begin the writing process early and to meet with me to evaluate drafts of your paper. I also recommend that students take advantage of the Writing Center at Wash U (, which provides assistance and guidance on writing assignments.

Article Response

The student will write a one-page response to a scholarly reading by providing a critique or evaluation. Unlike a summary, the response is composed of the student’s opinions in relation to the article. The response will raise questions and examine ideas with which the student agrees or disagrees and identify strengths and weaknesses in reasoning, logic, and quality of supporting evidence. Each student will be responsible for five responses and you all will be assigned to two groups and alternate each week. Responses will generally be due on Tuesdays unless otherwise noted.

Visual Analysis

Provide a close visual analysis of a work of art in the Kemper Museum of Art Teaching Gallery Exhibition (Re)Presenting Heroes, Defining Virtue. The response will be approximately 3 pages in length (double-spaced, 12 point, Times New Roman font, 1-inch margins), plus appropriate bibliography and illustrations. You are not required to conduct any outside research, but remember that all sources that you do consult must be properly cited. You will receive more instruction regarding this assignment.

Final Paper

Your final project is a written paper that should be between 7-8 double-spaced pages, Times New Roman 12-point font with 1-inch margins on each side. Illustrations, bibliography, and appendix should be added to the end of the paper, and are not counted within the 7-8 page limit. You will receive more instruction regarding this assignment, which will consist of the following four components:

Title and Short Abstract

Submit the preliminary title for your project (which can be altered later) along with a 150-200 word abstract explaining: What is your research question? What forms and sources of data and/or evidence will you use to answer it? How will you approach this body of data for your specific research question?

Preliminary Outline and Annotated Bibliography

Draft an outline of your paper with headings for the multiple different sections that you will be writing (headings can be preliminary or descriptive and can change later). For each section write one or two sentences explaining the topic of that section and relationship to the whole. Submit together with a preliminary list of sources that you are/will be using.

Draft and Final Paper

The draft of your paper should clearly demonstrate the main arguments of all the sections. I am not expecting to see a fully finished and polished product. This is a working draft that I will use to give you feedback for your project. The more that you submit the more feedback I can give. You will process the feedback and then submit the final, complete, polished version of your paper with appropriate bibliography and illustrations.

Paper Presentation 

Students will receive feedback on the written draft of their paper from the Instructor, as well as from their classmates after a 7-8 minute presentation that students will give to the class. The presentation will be of their ideas in progress and will include images.

Additional Class Policies

  • Cell Phones: No cell phones may be used for any purpose in the classroom (including as a watch or clock).  Phones must be turned off and stowed away for the duration of class.  If your phone rings, I will confiscate it for the remainder of the class and may ask you to leave for the remainder of class.
  • Laptop Computers: Laptops may be used during class only to take notes. You are encouraged to take notes by hand, as I have found this enables students to focus more on looking at the images in class, rather than looking at their computer screens. If you prefer to take notes by typing, that is acceptable. I will monitor laptop use. If a student uses a laptop for purposes other than note-taking, that student will lose permission to use one for the remainder of the semester.
  • Food and drink: Beverages are welcome, but food is not; both the noise and the smells may be a distraction to you, others, and me.
  • Incompletes:  Incompletes will be granted only in cases of documented medical or family emergencies that make it impossible for you to complete your coursework by the end of the term.  Any incompletes must be arranged with me in advance and require a contract stipulating deadlines for completing any outstanding work.

A Note on Course Content and Inclusive Learning Environment

Inevitably in a course on visual arts about cultures foreign in time and space from our own and with different values and conceptions we will see, discuss, and reflect upon images that may be upsetting to some people. If you are concerned about your responses to the course content, you are encouraged to discuss the matter with the Instructor, privately if you prefer. The best learning environment––whether in the classroom, studio, laboratory, or fieldwork site––is one in which all members feel respected while being productively challenged. At Washington University in St. Louis, we are dedicated to fostering an inclusive atmosphere, in which all participants can contribute, explore, and challenge their own ideas as well as those of others. Every participant has an active responsibility to foster a climate of intellectual stimulation, openness, and respect for diverse perspectives, questions, personal backgrounds, abilities, and experiences, although instructors bear primary responsibility for its maintenance. A range of resources is available to those who perceive a learning environment as lacking inclusivity, as defined in the preceding paragraph. If possible, we encourage students to speak directly with their instructor about any suggestions or concerns they have regarding a particular instructional space or situation. Alternatively, students may bring concerns to another trusted advisor or administrator (such as an academic advisor, mentor, department chair, or dean). All classroom participants––including faculty, staff, and students––who observe a bias incident affecting a student may also file a report (whether personally or anonymously) utilizing the online Bias Report and Support System

Academic Integrity

All students are expected to adhere to high standards of academic integrity. In this class that means that all work presented as original must be original, and that the contributions of others must always be appropriately acknowledged. Quotations must be acknowledged, and so must summaries, paraphrases, and the ideas of others. Students are encouraged to study and discuss the course material together, but all final work must be the product of the individual student who completes it. Course Listings and Bearings, and the Washington University Policies website all contain full statements of the University’s policy on academic integrity. If you have any doubts or questions about documentation requirements, please ask the course instructor. Since this course is offered through the College of Arts and Sciences, any violations of the academic integrity policy will be referred to the College’s Academic Integrity Officer.

Resources for Students

·      Disability Resources: If you have a disability that requires an accommodation, please speak with instructor and consult the Disability Resource Center at Cornerstone ( Cornerstone staff will determine appropriate accommodations and will work with your instructor to make sure these are available to you.

·      Writing Assistance: For additional help on your writing, consult the expert staff of The Writing Center ( in Olin Library (first floor). It can be enormously helpful to ask someone outside a course to read your essays and to provide feedback on strength of argument, clarity, organization, etc.  < The Engineering Communication Center offers students in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences help with oral presentations, writing assignments, and other communications projects, as well as job-search documents such as resumes and cover letters.>

·      The University’s Preferred Name Policy for Students, with additional resources and information, may be found here: .

·      Sexual Assault: The University is committed to offering reasonable academic accommodations to students who are victims of sexual assault.  Students are eligible for accommodation regardless of whether they seek criminal or disciplinary action.  Depending on the specific nature of the allegation, such measures may include but are not limited to: implementation of a no-contact order, course/classroom assignment changes, and other academic support services and accommodations.  If you need to request such accommodations, please direct your request to Kim Webb ( ), Director of the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center.  Ms. Webb is a confidential resource; however, requests for accommodations will be shared with the appropriate University administration and faculty.  The University will maintain as confidential any accommodations or protective measures provided to an individual student so long as it does not impair the ability to provide such measures.

Sexual Assault Reporting: If a student comes to me to discuss or disclose an instance of sexual assault, sex discrimination, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence or stalking, or if I otherwise observe or become aware of such an allegation, I will keep the information as private as I can, but as a faculty member of Washington University, I am required to immediately report it to my Department Chair or Dean or directly to Ms. Jessica Kennedy, the University’s Title IX Coordinator.  If you would like to speak with the Title IX Coordinator directly, Ms. Kennedy can be reached at (314) 935-3118,,  or by visiting her office in the Women’s Building.  Additionally, you can report incidents or complaints to Tamara King, Associate Dean for Students and Director of Student Conduct, or by contacting WUPD at (314) 935-5555 or your local law enforcement agency.  You can also speak confidentially and learn more about available resources at the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center by calling (314) 935-8761 or visiting the 4th floor of Seigle Hall.

·      Bias Reporting: The University has a process through which students, faculty, staff and community members who have experienced or witnessed incidents of bias, prejudice or discrimination against a student can report their experiences to the University’s Bias Report and Support System (BRSS) team.  See:

·      Mental Health: Mental Health Services’ professional staff members work with students to resolve personal and interpersonal difficulties, many of which can affect the academic experience. These include conflicts with or worry about friends or family, concerns about eating or drinking patterns, and feelings of anxiety and depression.  See:


The instructor reserves the right to make modifications to this information throughout the semester.