Mercer University hosted its first ever Great Books Games on Porter Patch last Saturday, Oct. 27.
The idea stemmed from two professors teaching in the Great Books Program, Dr. Kevin Drace, assistant professor, and Dr. Kathryn Kloepper, assistant professor.
“We were thinking of ways to have a fun event that was outside the classroom that could bring students together,” said Dr. Kloepper.
Some of the inspiration for the activities at the Great Books Games comes from the funeral games featured in Homer’s “The Iliad.” The Great Books Games included athletic activities such as a three-legged race, a chariot race, a rock throwing competition and a tug of war. The Games also included a trivia session that tested each team’s knowledge of the literature they have been studying.
Participation in the Great Books Games was encouraged in all levels of the Great Books Program. The classes that did participate formed teams named after figures from Mythology such as Hephaestus, Yahweh, Poseidon, Athena, and Zeus.
When asked about which students were participating in the event, Dr. Drace replied, “Most of the Great Books 101 classes are involved, and there are also upper level classes involved, as well.”
All Great Books students were invited to participate according to Dr. Kloepper.
Both Dr. Drace and Dr. Kloepper said that they hope that students would have fun and that the games would promote a sense of community amongst them.
According to Dr. Kloepper, students in the Great Books program are in small classes during the rest of their general education and that events such as the Great Books Games are a good way for freshmen to start building relationships with their fellow students.
When asked about what he thought about the Great Books Games, Lake Lambert, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said he thought it was a great idea.
“I hope that students will increase their excitement for the Great Books program. I hope especially for freshmen it will be another reason they want to continue the Great Books program,” said Dean Lambert
The Great Books program is an alternative general education program offered at the College of Liberal Arts at Mercer University. Great Books differs from the regular core curriculum in that it is a set curriculum were everyone enrolled in it takes the same set of courses, rather than taking different courses from several different areas.
The Great Books program emphasizes studying the great works of literature from Western Civilization starting with older texts such Homer’s “The Iliad” and moving all the way to modern times. There are eight required courses in the Great Books program, starting with the class “Gods and Heroes.” Classes within the program are discussion-based and focused on reading and writing.
Although this is the first time Mercer has organized the Great Books Games, both Dr. Drace and Dr. Kloepper hope that it will become an annual tradition at Mercer University. Given the level of enthusiasm displayed by participants of the Games, it would appear the students do, as well.