Fall 2019 Courses
Great Texts Upper Level Courses - Fall 2019
Wayfarers All: Exile, Pilgrimage, and Hope in the Middle Ages (GTX 3320)
Dr. Melinda Nielsen – TR 3:30 – 4:45
We are wayfarers: in this life we find ourselves midway wandering “in a dark wood,” as Dante famously begins the Commedia. Medieval writers called man a homo viator: one journeys in hope, longing for divine happiness and yet alienated from it. In this course we will explore their visions of order and stability; exile and estrangement; and the quest to regain a joy greater than what was lost. Readings include Augustine’s On Christian Teaching, The Rule of Saint Benedict, Thomas Aquinas on the theological virtues, the Gawain poet, and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, as well as selections from Tolkien’s Silmarillion, an epic that re-forges the medieval quest for modern readers.
Great Texts in the Origins of Science (GTX 3343)
Dr. Eric Martin – MW 4:00 – 5:15
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 How were religious world views entwined in the beginnings of scientific thought, and has science now superseded religious understanding?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 Leadership (GTX 3350)
Dr. Scott Moore – MW 1:00 – 2:15
In GTX 3350 we will read a selection of great texts of literature, philosophy, and politics which address the nature and character of leadership. We will be confronted with classic models of decision-making, with concrete historical examples of good and bad leadership, with sustained reflection and argumentation on legitimate and illegitimate means and ends of action, with the prevalence of self-deception, naiveté, and overconfidence, and with an astute understanding of the role of habit and character formation. We will read selections from Aristotle, Plutarch, Shakespeare, Machiavelli, Jane Austen, Graham Greene, Isabel Allende, and others.
Great Texts in Business: Wealth, Success, and the Imagination (GTX 3351)
Dr. Michael Stegemoller – TR 2:00 – 3:15
In this course, we will read and discuss some of the great texts that address questions of business and commercial life. These texts may include historical and/or philosophical treatments of business, such as Adam Smith's Of the Wealth of Nations, Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto, Alexis De Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, John Ruskin’s Unto This Last, and excerpts from the Old and New Testaments, as well as literary treatments of business, such as Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, Dickens's Hard Times, Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, or short stories and essays by Louis Brandeis, Leo Tolstoy, Wendell Berry, William Law, and C.S. Lewis.
The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries – (GTX 4320)
Dr. Ralph Wood – TR 11:00 – 12:15
This course will trace an arc that begins with the European Enlightenment as it is embodied in the work of Rousseau, Goethe, and Diderot. In quite different ways, they seek to transcend the particularities of revealed religion (i.e. Judaism and Christianity) for the sake of universal reason, religious tolerance and ethical striving. We will then turn to drastic critiques of this tradition, first in the atheism of Friedrich Nietzsche, then to three radically divergent responses to both Enlightenment humanism and its Nietzschean alternative: Tolstoy, Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, and Hopkins.
Great Works in Music (GTX 4340)
Dr. Junius Johnson – TR 11:00 – 12:15
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 not 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. No formal musical training required.
Confessions and Autobiography (GTX 4351)
Dr. Alan Jacobs – MW 1:00 – 2:15
This course explores the many and various ways that people write the stories of their lives. Who am I? What is my story? Do I even have a story? If so, in what way can I tell it? To whom do I address it? To answer these questions we will need to have an adequate understanding of what a self is, or might be, and what would count as a coherent self-narrative. In pursuing these endeavors, we shall consistently pursue knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.
Theological Interpretation of Scripture (GTX 4V99)
Dr. Barry Harvey – MW 2:30 – 3:45
Christianity has at its heart a rich heritage of biblical interpretation, centered on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, that is both theologically profound and spiritually edifying. This tradition treats scripture as a gift from the triune God that ushers them into deeper fellowship with God and their fellow creatures. We begin with the New Testament’s interpretation of the Jewish scriptures, and then investigate the likes of Augustine, Aquinas, Luther and Calvin, extending into the twentieth century with such figures as Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Gustavo Gutierrez.
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