Click here to access the grading contract as a Google Doc.

Grading Contract | Absence Policy | Guidelines: Quizzes | Responses | Midterm and Final | Midterm or Final Alternative: Essay | Creative Projects

Grading Contract

Grading and assessments in this course will be unorthodox. We will be following a form of specification grading, in which all assignments and assessments (including quizzes) are graded on a satisfactory or unsatisfactory basis (except for the midterm and final, on which see below). Each assignment and assessment will have an explicit set of guidelines and criteria for what will be considered “satisfactory.” Your semester grade, then, will be based on the number and type of satisfactory assignments and assessments completed. In other words, you will be in control of your semester grade — you decide the grade that you want and commit as much time and energy towards that grade as you desire.

The following is a rubric for semester-end grades in the course.

  A A- B- C- D+ D
Unexcused Absences 0 ≤ 2 ≤ 4 ≤ 6 ≤ 7 ≤ 8
Quizzes 12 10 8 6 4 2
Responses 12 10 8 6 4 2
Creative Projects 4 3 2 1 0 0
Midterm and Final* 2 A-'s 2 B+'s 2 C+'s 2 D+'s 2 D's 2 D's

To achieve a certain grade level, you must complete the listed number of satisfactory assignments or requirements from each of five different categories. For example, if you want a B- for the semester, you must have no more than four unexcused absences; and you must complete 8 quizzes, 8 responses to secondary readings, 2 creative projects, and earned at least a C+ on both the midterm and the final. When you have completed the minimum number of satisfactory assignments for the final grade that you want, you do not need to submit further examples of that assignment type.

Once you have reached either the C- or B- range, you can improve within that letter range (e.g., from a B- to a B or a B+) by meeting the criteria in the next grade level in any one or two of the following categories: quizzes, responses, or creative projects. The completion of one improves your semester grade from a minus to the regular letter; the completion of two improves your semester grade from the regular letter to a plus; the completion of all three moves you to the next letter range if your midterm/final grades and unexcused absence tally allow it. For example, a student in the B- range can move to a B by completing two more quizzes. The student can then improve to a B+ by completing another creative project in addition to completing the quizzes. If the student then completes two more responses AND earns at least an B+ on both exams AND has two or fewer unexcused absences, then the student earns an A- for the semester!

* The midterm and final are the only elements of the grading contract that I will grade subjectively; see the specific details below under Midterm and Final Guidelines.

It is possible to make up unsatisfactory assignments or requirements. At the beginning of the semester, each student will be allotted three (3) tokens. One token can be used to make up an unsatisfactory response or quiz or to subtract 1 from your number of unexcused absences, and three tokens are required for another attempt at an unsatisfactory creative project. You are able to make up lost points on the midterm exam or essay; see the appropriate section below. You are not able to revise the final exam or essay.

No late assignments will be accepted without documented permission. I strongly encourage you to be proactive in reaching out to me if you anticipate not being able to make a deadline; it is far preferable to set up a later due date than to ask for an extension after the fact!

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Absence Policy

You must attend each meeting of the course to attain a good grade. I will be explaining many terms and concepts in class in ways that are not readily available through any other course materials, and your participation in the class’ discussion of the course’s readings and ideas is vital to building a strong classroom and your own foundation of knowledge.

Attendance will be taken via a sign-in sheet at every class meeting. The sign-in sheet is the only way to verify that you were in attendance at class that day.

If you must miss a class meeting for any reason, please inform me as soon as you know of the absence via e-mail before the class meeting begins, and we will correspond accordingly. If you notify me before class begins, the absence is considered excused. The reasons for an excused absence can range from illness to family emergency to mental health or anything else; you do not need to specify it to me. All I ask is that you notify me via e-mail before the class begins.

You may take up to four (4) excused absences for the semester. If you need to be absent for any classes beyond four excused absences, I ask that you provide a reason in your e-mail notifying me about the absence, and I will decide on a case-by-case basis whether I will excuse it or not.

Any absence without a notifying e-mail or beyond the four excused absences can be considered excused for compelling and verifiable reasons (including but not limited to extended illness, a death or medical emergency in the family, a wedding in the immediate family, and participation in a college-sponsored athletic event). Such an absence falls under Holy Cross’ Excused Absence Policy and requires a note from your Class Dean. See the full Excused Absence Policy here.

Any absence about which I do not receive an e-mail from you or which is not excused by a note from your Class Dean will be considered unexcused.

The semester grading contract takes into account only unexcused absences, though I reserve the right to take excused absences into account if the student’s number of excused absences become excessive.

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Quiz Guidelines

There will be twelve (12) quizzes administered in class throughout the semester every Monday, including the first Monday of the course. Each quiz will take up the first 5 minutes of the class period in which it’s administered. The format for each quiz can be any combination of the following formats: multiple choice, fill-in answers, or matching (e.g., authors to names of works, events and dates, etc.). All quiz-able material will be drawn from the underlined terms on the slideshows.

I purposefully write the slideshow terms without much detail, and the definitions and explanations that I will provide in class cannot be found through Google searches or the like. It behooves you to take good notes, study constantly, and contact me with any questions about terms as they arise. Make sure to have a buddy in class from whom you can get notes if you are absent on a given day.

If you are absent or late on a quiz day, I will allow you to take a make-up ONLY if the absence or lateness is excused. If the absence or lateness is unexcused, you will receive a 0 for that quiz.

A satisfactory quiz grade will be 7 out of 10 points.

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Response Guidelines

This requirement asks you to respond to secondary articles, chapters, or podcasts that treat ancient gender and sexuality. Articles or chapters to which you can respond are designated with an asterisk in the course schedule and in the course general bibliography. You are encouraged to write responses to articles, chapters, or podcasts that deal with a topic in which you are interested for any given week! So, for example, in Week 4, we will discuss symposium culture and lyric poetry, and one element of the conversation will be the Greek poetess Sappho. If you’re particularly interested in her, you should write a response to Ella Haselswerdt’s Eidolon piece, “Re-Queering Sappho.”

You may submit up to one (1) response per week, defined as the period from one Saturday at 12am to the next Friday at 11:59pm. To make this clearer, response submission deadlines are listed for each week of the semester in the course schedule. If you miss a response deadline, you will not have the opportunity to make it up later unless you use a token, so please plan accordingly and be proactive in informing me if you think you’ll miss a deadline.

Your response should be written in one of three formats: 3-2-1, argument analysis, or personal reflection. All three formats should be 1-2pp. double-spaced. If you go beyond 2 pp., that’s fine too; 1-2pp. is just a general guideline. The response will be graded “satisfactory” if it answers each prompt or question under the appropriate heading below.

Every response should include in the header the type of response (3-2-1, argument analysis, or personal reflection) and the author and title of the article or chapter or the podcast name and episode number/name of the podcast to which you are responding. Feel free to copy and paste the author/title or podcast and episode name from the course schedule or course bibliography.


A 3-2-1 does not need to be written in paragraph form; you can use bullet points or numbered lists.

Argument Analysis

Answer the following questions:

Personal Reflection

If the article speaks to you on a personal level (in terms of lived experience, personality traits, gender or sexual orientation, political affiliation, etc.), what resonates with you? How can you connect the topics or ideas in the article to events, relationships, or beliefs in your own life? (Disclaimer: see “Mandated Reporter” section of Nuts & Bolts in the syllabus.)

All responses should be submitted via the upload portal.

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Midterm and Final

There will be two (2) 50-minute exams in this course, a midterm that will cover all the Greek topics in the course and a final that will cover all the Roman topics in the course (i.e., the final will not be cumulative). Each will be graded out of 100 points and formatted like larger quizzes (e.g., multiple choice and matching sections) with some modifications (e.g., fill in the blanks with a word bank) and additions (e.g., short answers). The short answers may ask you to compare two passages that we’ve read during the semester, to describe social institutions like marriage or pederasty, etc.

The midterm and final block of the grading contract explains the grades that you need to get in both the midterm and the final to achieve that grade level. So, for example, if you received an A on the midterm and an A- on the final, you are eligible for a semester grade of A; if, however, you received an A on the midterm but a B+ on the final, you are eligible for a semester grade of A-. See the chart above for further details on how all the elements of the contract work together.

On the midterm exam, if you score less than 100, you are able to make up up to half of the lost points by completing a revision of your incorrect answers. I will set individualized revision guidelines for each student who decides to complete one. You will not be able to complete revisions or make up lost points on the final exam.

The numerical grade of the exam will be converted into a letter grade according to the following guidelines:

Grades ending in .45 or greater will be rounded up to the nearest whole number; grades ending in .44 or less will be rounded down to the nearest whole number.

The midterm will be administered via Google Form and it will be due by Friday, March 27, at 11:59pm. The midterm revisions will be due a week and a half later, on Wednesday, April 8, by 11:59pm.

The final will be administered via Google Form and it will be due by Tuesday, May 12, at 11:59pm.

Midterm or Final Alternative: Essay

PLEASE NOTE: If you know that you’re a stronger essay writer than exam taker, you have the option of replacing one or both of the exams with an essay. If you choose this option, you will be required to make and substantiate an argument about gender and sexuality in the ancient world in a 5-6 pp. essay. To be clear, 5-6 pages is not a lot of space; the challenge of this essay is making a persuasive argument using proper primary and scholarly secondary evidence in a small amount of space. Sample prompts include:

You will be required to draw on at least two primary sources and two secondary sources to write your essay.

Essays will be assigned a letter, rather than a numerical, grade. You will be able to increase your grade on a midterm essay by up to two stops (e.g., from a B- to a B+ or from a A- to an A) if you complete a revision of your essay according to my corrections, questions, and suggestions. You will not be able to revise a final essay.

You must opt into writing an essay; otherwise, I will assume that you’re taking the exam. Once you notify me that you’d like to write an essay, I will provide further guidelines.

Guidelines for writing an essay can be found here.

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Creative Projects: General Guidelines

Creative Project Prompts

I will designate a number of possible projects for you to complete that will draw on your creativity. The tasks range from writing poetry to creating artwork, recording a podcast to recording a video, analyzing an object to making a pitch to a journal to creating a playlist. If you would like to complete a creative project that isn’t listed in the possibilities here, you are more than welcome to pitch your idea for a creative project to me via e-mail or in office hours.

You are allowed to submit only one (1) of each type of creative project. That means that you can, for example, submit a poem, an artwork, a selfie and object analysis, and a Spotify playlist as your four creative projects if you are aiming for a semester grade of A. You cannot submit, for example, four poems or two poems and two artworks.

All text-based creative projects should be submitted via the upload portal.

The guidelines for submission of all media-based creative projects are listed under the appropriate headings.

You may submit up to four (4) creative projects according to the following suggested deadlines:

The only hard deadline is that all creative projects must be submitted by 11:59pm on 5/12.

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