Upper Level Courses
Early Modern Age (GTX 3321)
Dr. Barry Harvey, MW 2:30-3:45 p.m.
It has been said that in the year 1500 in Western society it was virtually impossible not to believe in God, while in the twenty-first century many find this not only easy, but in some ways inescapable. In this course we shall study the first steps of that transition with the following books as our guides: René Descartes, Discourse on Method and Related Writings; Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan; John Locke, A Letter Concerning Toleration; Martin Luther, The Freedom of a Christian; Thomas More, Utopia; Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince; John Milton, Paradise Lost; William Shakespeare, Hamlet; and Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle.
Great Texts by Women (GTX 3330)
Dr. Melinda Nielsen, TR 9:30-10:45 a.m.
This course focuses on significant texts written or narrated by women across the centuries. The readings will be an opportunity to explore facets of the frequently neglected third transcendental—beauty—and how women have variously understood and communicated beauty’s relationship to philosophy, art, holiness, love, education, and suffering. Authors include: Sappho, Plato, Perpetua, Hildegard of Bingen, Marie de France, Jane Austen, Mary Wollstonecraft, the Brownings, Willa Cather, Virginia Woolf, Edith Stein, and Flannery O’Connor.
Great Texts in Christian Spirituality (GTX 3331)
Dr. Robert Miner, MW 1:00-2:15 p.m.
What is “spirituality”? For some, the term suggests a feel-good approach to divine things, accompanied by meditation on the beauty of sunsets and the awesomeness of the Universe. For others, it evokes a way of life that is marked by austere renunciation, or a determined effort to separate oneself from the world. Our course will take a different approach, little resembling either of the above extremes. It follows Pascal in assuming that genuine spirituality demands a commitment to the “study of man,” without which spirituality is likely to collapse into sentimentality. Moreover, it assumes the potential for Christian spirituality to promote self-discovery. Authors and texts include: Catherine of Siena, Dialogue; Pascal, Pensées; Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life; Søren Kierkegaard, Works of Love; Evelyn Underhill, The Spiritual Life; Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation; Dag Hammarskjöld, Markings.
Masterworks in Art (GTX 3340.01/02)
Dr. David Jeffrey, TR 9:30-10:45 a.m.
A survey of selected (mostly Western) masterworks of art –chiefly painting but with diversionary expeditions into sculpture and architecture—from the classical public art of Greece and Rome to the more personalistic (and sometimes nihilist) art of late 20th C North America and Europe. Special attention to biblical and Christian iconography.
Masterworks in Drama(tic Writing) (GTX 3341.02)
Dr. Sarah-Jane Murray, TR 3:30-4:45 p.m.
Ever thought about (re)writing a novel or screenplay? Not sure where and how to begin? Intrigued by the idea of exploring how to bridge your love of reading with the study of story design and launching into creative endeavors? Then this unique course is for you. We’ll bridge the gap between great stories in literature, theatre and film, and the creative process by exploring the art of dramatic writing and completing a creative project of your choosing. This year, creative works explored will include stage (and film adaptations of) plays by William Shakespeare and hit Broadway musicals, including Les Misérables and Phantom of the Opera. Learn, process, discuss and create!
Great Texts in the Origins of Science (GTX 3343)
Dr. Eric Martin, MW 4:00-5:15 p.m.
If humans have always sought to understand the world, what is distinctive about the methods, philosophies, or institutions that arose in early modern Europe that we recognize today as ‘science’? What characterizes scientific inquiry, and does science have the ultimate authority to pronounce on matters of reality? How were religious world views entwined in the beginnings of scientific thought, and has science now superseded religious understanding? This course will investigate such questions through engagement with primary texts in the origins of science, including selections from Aristotle, Bacon, Descartes, Galileo, Newton, and Boyle. The class will help students navigate difficult questions about science’s multifaceted history, its place in society, and its philosophical significance.
Great Texts in the Twentieth Century (GTX 4321)
Dr. Ralph Wood, TR 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
The Culture of Death and the Culture of Life – In the 20th century, more people were killed by violent means than in all previous centuries combined. It was the cruelest epoch in human history. St. Pope John Paul II called it “the culture of death,” while others labeled it “the century of blood” and “the age of ashes.” The buoyant optimism that marked its beginnings was quickly shattered by two world wars, fascist and communist tyrannies, unprecedented genocides, gross economic calamities, racial apartheid, etc. This course will seek to fathom the causes of these unprecedented horrors, but also to hear some of the voices that were raised in behalf of “the culture of life.” Our readings will focus on Czeslaw Milosz, Karl Barth, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Alasdair MacIntyre, Flannery O’Connor, Evelyn Waugh, Martin Luther King, Jr., and others.
Great Works in Music (GTX 4340)
Dr. Junius Johnson, TR 3:30-4:45 p.m.
Musical discourse, while more limited than verbal discourse, is something to which most of us are drawn with an immediacy that is hard to explain. Though the specific point the composer would like to communicate may never be thematized in words when we hear the piece, somehow it is still conveyed in a wordless manner that leaves a lasting and deep impression. In this course, we will explore the various ways in which transcendent meaning is conveyed through music. How are things like key, rhythm, and orchestration put into the service of expressing and communicating complex existential longing? Special attention will be given to the relationship between musical form and emotional or conceptual content of the piece. While the focus will be largely on classical music, larger questions about the way that meaning is constructed in music in general will be of central concern.
Great Texts Capstone (GTX 4343)
Dr. William Weaver, TR 2:00-3:15 p.m.
The Healing Word: Reading, Writing, and Health in the Western Literary Tradition – Do reading and writing have healing properties? What sort of texts are therapeutic, and what sort of ailments do they heal? What kinds of reading and writing are salutary? What kinds are harmful? These questions are at the heart of several great texts of the western literary tradition. This class will examine the therapeutic use of literary texts, from Aristotle's theory of katharsis in the Poetics to contemporary "bibliotherapy." Representative authors include Plato, Ovid, Chaucer, Julian of Norwich, Montaigne, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Walker Percy.
Great Texts on Education (GTX 4v99)
Dr. Wesley Null, TR 12:30-1:45 p.m.
Who should be educated and why? What curriculum ought we to teach each generation and why? Is teaching an art, a science, or both? To address these and related questions, students in this course will explore the subject of education from a broad, interdisciplinary perspective that takes into account philosophical, historical, theological, social/political, and pedagogical perspectives. Texts to be discussed include Plato’s Republic, selections from Aristotle’s Ethics and Politics, Aristophanes’ The Clouds, Augustine’s On Christian Teaching, Locke’s Some Thoughts Concerning Education, Comenius’ The Great Didactic, Rousseau’s Emile, and Dewey’s Democracy and Education. These authors and texts will be compared/contrasted on numerous key aspects of educational thought and practice that include curriculum, pedagogy, the purpose of education, moral formation, teaching as a vocation, and the relationship between education and the larger social/political order. This course is open to upper-level students across the university.
Get Beyond Slogans: Study Great Texts