Fall 2021 - HUM 350 D100

Special Topics: Great Figures in the Humanistic Tradition (4)

Class Number: 4463

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:


  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



An interdisciplinary study of the life and works of an individual who has made a lasting contribution to the humanistic tradition in more than one field of endeavour (e.g. philosophy, politics, literature, economics, religion). This course may be repeated once for credit. Students with credit for this topic under another Humanities course number may not take this course for further credit. Breadth-Humanities.


From the Peloponnesian War to Conflict in the Crimea: Thucydides and his Legacy

"Those in positions of power do what their power permits, while the weak have no choice but to accept it." These severe words, allegedly spoken by the Athenians to the Melians almost 2500 years ago during the Peloponnesian War continue to be cited by policy makers to this day in order to justify their actions. While many politicians can quote this phrase, significantly few can immediately name the individual who wrote them for posterity: Thucydides. In fact, despite being considered one of the fathers of political realism, Thucydides and his writings are often used solely for quotes, and not examined by individuals trying to gain a greater understanding of the human condition and the political realms in which we exist.

This course will examine the life and writings of Thucydides with the goal of assessing how he came to his ideas, as well as how they continue to impact human interaction and politics to this day. Key questions to consider include: What role has Thucydides writings had in the humanistic tradition? Was Thucydides devoid of morality? How did Thucydides view democracy? How have politicians and policymakers used Thucydides’ writings throughout history? By answering these and other questions, this class aims to situate Thucydides not only in his specific historical context but see what legacies his writings have bequeathed upon the world today.


  • Paper Proposal 10%
  • Remote Discussions 20%
  • 2 Quizzes 30%
  • Final Paper 40%


Note that students can choose to attend lectures either live or access a recording afterwards. No graded component is attached to the live lectures. Live lectures will be held on BB Collaborate on Tuesdays, 11:30-2:30. Recordings can be found under the recordings tab in BB Collaborate.

Lectures in this course will be recorded. As a result, Simon Fraser University may collect your personal information under the authority of the University Act (R.S.B.C. 1996, c.468) and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (R.S.B.C., 1996, c. 165). It is related directly to and needed by the University to support student learning. If you have any questions about the collection, use and disclosure of this information please contact your instructor.



All readings will be made available to students through the SFU Library.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.