HUM-H332 — Don Quixote — Winter 2019–2020

Professor John Gardner

A204 Moench Hall
+1 812 877 8524


Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. Translated by Tom Lathrop. New York: Signet Classics, 2011. ISBN: 978-0-451-53181-0
• [You may also use the (now out of print) earlier edition of this translation, published by Juan De La Cuesta Press: ISBN-13: 978-1589770256.]
• You also need access to the film Lost in La Mancha, released in 2002 by directors Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe, and based on director Terry Gilliam’s attempt to make a film to be called “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.” I have on copy on DVD I can lend you if needed, but I obviously can’t lend it to everyone on the same day, so please plan ahead.

Course Objectives

This course studies Cervantes’ masterwork, Don Quixote, in translation and examines its relationship to the society and literature of its day as well as its relevance to our own. Our goal is to read, enjoy, appreciate and learn from the Quixote. The course is taught in English.

Be Here Now!

A large part of this course will be discussion of the novel. I want you all to express your opinions during our discussions. If you participate frequently with insightful, useful comments, you will get a high participation grade. If you contribute occasionally, with comments that are usually show some insight or independent thought, you will get an acceptable participation grade. If you rarely or never contribute to our discussion, or only make comments that are unhelpful to our discussion, you will get a low participation grade. I realize that in a class of this size it can be difficult for everyone to have a chance to say something every day. Strive to participate daily, but make sure you participate weekly. To the degree possible I will assist you by calling on students who have not participated recently with some of the questions that are listed in the daily homework, but ultimately participation is your responsibility.

You are required to attend all classes, and attendance is part of your Participation grade. You are allowed four absences per term, including absences for illness, religious obligation, job interviews, etc. For each additional absence the Participation portion of your grade will be lowered by 10% from what it would have been. Attendance will be taken either by me reading the class roster, by passing a roster on which you should sign your name, by using the submission of a reading quiz as an indicator of attendance, or in some other fashion. If you are present in class it is your responsibility to make sure you are counted as present. If unusual circumstances will cause you to miss more than 4 classes during the term please speak with me; you will need to be able to document the absences. Because participation is important, and since listening to and learning from the contributions of your fellow students is an important part of that participation, if you miss more than ten class meetings (that is to say, twenty-five percent of the term) you will fail the course unless it is due to extraordinary circumstances beyond the your control.

Reading Quizzes and Assignments

Reading quizzes will be given almost every day at the beginning of the class period. They will usually be very short —about one or two minutes— and designed to reward students who have read and encourage those who have not read to do so. You get to drop your two lowest quiz grades. Sometimes short assignments will be collected and counted a quiz. At other times a short written assignment will be collected in addition to a quiz and will be counted as part of your overall quiz grade. If you have a documented need for extra time on test and quizzes and wish to request it for these quizzes, be sure to let me know that at the beginning of the term.


Everyone will give a five to seven-minute presentation on an assigned topic related to the novel. Before you give your presentation in class, you will need to schedule a meeting to take place in my office at least 48 hours before your presentation. At that meeting you will do your presentation for me in advance and receive feedback. Your grade is based on your both your in-class presentation and the one you do in my office. (Students giving their presentations during week one of the term are not required to schedule an in-office critique of their presentation since meeting 48 hours in advance may not be possible; their grade is given with the understanding that they have not had the benefit of instructor feedback prior to the presentation.) Many of the presentation topics are tailored to specific passages or themes in the book, and with about twenty-five students in the class, there is a presentation on over half of the class days. For that reason rescheduling a presentation is difficult. If you are sick or involved in an emergency, of course we’ll deal with it, but otherwise any rescheduling needs to be done with sufficient advance notice to allow for you to easily switch topics with another student.


There will be two tests on dates listed on the class reading schedule. The first test will be given after we have finished reading Part One (published in 1605) and will be related to Part One of the Quixote and associated issues, including in-class presentations and discussions. The second test will be given on the last day of class and will cover some broad-ranging topics dealing with the text as a whole, topics related specifically to Part Two (published in 1615) of the Quixote, and concepts presented through in-class presentations and discussions. Tests could include short answer (a sentence or two) paragraph-length answer, or essay length answer questions and could include a take-home portion.


You get to plan and do two different projects related to the Quixote. At least one of your projects will be a traditional academic paper, which you will submit to the RosE Portfolio to help RHIT maintain its academic accreditation, as well as submitting it in printed form on or before the due date shown on the daily homework page. (Directions about how to submit it to the portfolio will be given later.) Your other project can be anything of your choosing that relates to the novel or its themes, topics or ideas in some fashion. Before doing both projects you will submit a project description or proposal, about one paragraph long, by the deadline listed with the daily homework. If you need additional time to complete either Project, ask for an extension at least a day in advance; do not ask the day it is due.

Here are some guidelines for the project that is an academic paper: Your paper should be between 750 and 1250 words long, typed and double-spaced. Your paper should have a clear structure to it. There are many good ways to do this. Perhaps the most traditional is to begin with an introductory paragraph that states what your thesis is, that is to say, what the central idea of your paper is. Following paragraphs should offer your ideas, supported by textual evidence from Don Quixote or other sources, that support your thesis. The paper should end with a conclusion that, if possible, points to the relationship between your topic and the novel as a whole or some of the predominant themes of the novel.

Your paper must be your own work, that is to say, you must be the author of your paper... to copy it in whole or in part from other sources or other authors without attribution is considered cheating. Although it is not strictly required, you will probably want or need to reference or make use of the ideas of others in your paper. I do not require that this be done in any particular format, but in doing so you should make sure that it is clear what ideas are yours and what ideas are from another source, and what that source is. You should do so in such a way that I could find the source and the relevant passage without difficulty. One good way to so this is to put quotation marks around anything you quote directly, and at the conclusion of the quote put the last name of the source's author and the page number(s) where the quotation is found. At the end of the paper, include a bibliography of sources cited where you give complete information about the source and how to find it. If you summarize a source rather than quoting it directly, introduce or conclude your summary with a phrase such as “Smith, in her book, Sancho Wasn't So Dumb After All, notes that…” and then give your summary. At the conclusion of the summary cite in parenthesis the pages numbers of your source. Be sure to include the complete reference in your list of works cited at the conclusion of the paper. Note that you may elect to follow the norms of any style guide, such as the MLA or the Chicago Manual of Style, or you may simply format your sources as you wish, provided they are clear.

Here are some examples of topics that I have assigned in the past. I am not assigning any topics this year, and I don’t want you to do any of these, but they should help you think of your own:

• Novelist Phillip K. Dick has defined reality in the following manner: “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.” Write an essay relating this quote to any scene, passage, chapter, part, or the whole of the Quixote. (In thinking about the nature of reality, you may find this wikipedia entry to be a helpful starting point. The entire essay that the quote is taken from, How to Build a Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later, may be found at however, in writing on this topic you are not required to consider the quote in its original context.)

• Mirrors: Some characters can be seen as being similar to each other in certain ways, such as don Quixote and Cardenio, or even don Quixote and Gristóstomo. Take any two such characters and show how they are similar (you may also wish to discuss their differences) and what the similarity reveals about each, and about broader issues as well.

• Relate the character Marcela to the concept(s) of feminism.

• Write an essay relating any scene, passage, chapter, part or the whole of part I of the Quixote to the concepts of orality and literacy.

For your other project you may chose from a wide variety of topics:

• You may write a traditional literary analysis paper

• You may analyze any aspect of a work of music* related to Don Quixote, such as the operas by Telemann, Mendelssohn or Massenet, or the songs by Ravel. (*If you wish to write about "The Man of La Mancha", you must submit a detailed and well-focused topic statement beforehand and receive my approval. It may be the first work related to the Quixote that comes to mind for many people, and if you decide to write about it I want you to do so because you have something to say, not because it's the first thing you thought of.)

• You may analyze any aspect of a ballet related to the Quixote.

• You may analyze any aspect of a film related to the Quixote. If you chose to write about the film we view in class, your paper must address issues we did not address in class, or, if you do address issues discussed in class, go considerably beyond the in-class discussion.

• You may analyze any aspect of a work of visual art related to the Quixote. There have been many illustrated editions of the novel that provide a wide range of visual interpretations of the work, as well as sculptures, paintings, etc. Such a study could take several forms: you could look at how several different artists depict the same scene from the Quixote; you could study one particular work in detail; you could look at related series of works by the same artist, etc. You are certainly free to write about the work of Jack Davis, illustrator the first printing of our translation of the Quixote, or about any of the well-known images by Doré, or by any other artist, famous or lesser known, from any of the many editions of the novel. Your paper should be not simply descriptive, but analytic… although you may need to describe the works under consideration, your paper should not limit itself to simply stating what the art shows, but should study what it is saying, not only through what it shows, but also how it shows it, as well as what it does not show.

• You may write about some aspect of the Quixote as related to popular culture.

• You may do any sort of creative project related to the Quixote.

• If you think of an appropriate topic that is not really described above, I am open to good suggestions, but you must have your topic approved in advance.

Academic dishonesty

Do not cheat. Cheating can consist of copying from another student during a quiz or test, turning in someone else’s work as your own, changing answers after a quiz, test or other work has been returned and then claiming they were incorrectly marked as wrong, using a book, cheatsheet or internet device during a quiz or test where such aids are prohibited, and many other things. I prefer to make cheating hard in order to deter cheaters, but some people find a way to cheat anyway. If I catch you cheating your penalty will depend on the circumstances, but it will be much more than simply an F on the assignment you cheated on; the amount your grade is lowered will probably make you want to drop the course. Some of the things I do to deter cheating (like seating students a comfortable distance apart during tests) will be obvious; others may not be apparent to you. I don't discuss all the measures I take to make cheating hard, because if I did it would make no different to the honest students, and would only help the cheaters find a better way to cheat. So, to put it simply: don’t cheat.

Grade category weighting
Participation 10%
Project 1 18%
Project 2 18%
Test 1 19%
Test 2 20%
Quizzes and Assignments 10%
Presentation 5%

Grading scale
A 90 - 100%
B+ 88 - 89.99%
B 80 - 87.99%
C+ 78 - 79.99%
C 70 - 77.99%
D+ 68 - 69.99%
D 60 - 67.99%
F 0 - 59.99%