Spring 2020 Courses
Great Texts Upper-Level Courses Spring 2020
Early Modern Age (GTX 3321) - Dr. William Weaver – TR 9:30 – 10:45 AM
The early modern age was an age of literary as well as scientific discovery. Erasmus and Marguerite de Navarre were champions of the “new learning,” which represented a new approach to both sacred and secular texts. Shakespeare wrote for an institution – the London public theater – that was only three decades old when King Lear was first performed. Cervantes, a failed playwright, arguably invented the novel with Don Quixote. Everybody on the syllabus, it seems, was pursuing “things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme” (Paradise Lost 1.16). What questions about the self and its place in the world were driving these literary endeavors?
Great Texts by Women GTX3330 – Dr. Melinda Nielsen – TR 3:30 – 4:45 PM
“Love and Friendship” - What makes a person truly himself or herself? For many of the great writers, one’s identity is not ultimately defined by “what” one is, but rather by the choices that one makes and the communities in which one participates, whether physical, textual or across time. That is, as St. Clare of Assisi wrote, we become what we love. This course will interrogate how charity, eros, and friendship may shape human identity in relationship to God, neighbor, self, and nature. Readings include Plato’s Symposium, women’s canticles in Scripture, Marie de France, Julian of Norwich, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Willa Cather, and Virginia Woolf.
Great Texts in Christian Spirituality (GTX 3331) – Dr. Alan Jacobs – MW 1:00 – 2:15 PM
For the purposes of this course, “Christian Spirituality” will be defined thus: The modes of encountering the triune God, and our neighbors made in that God’s image, through the practices and experiences of the Christian life. Texts may include: the Didache; Augustine, Enchiridion; the PhilokaliaI; writings of Bernard of Clairvaux; Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love; Martin Luther, selected writings; John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress; Charles Wesley, William Cowper, and others, selected hymns; The Gospel music of Mahalia Jackson, Thomas Dorsey, and others; T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets; C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed; Ron Hansen, Mariette in Ecstasy.
Masterworks in Art (GTX 3340) - Dr. Elizabeth Corey – MW 2:30 – 3:45 PM
The great twentieth-century art historian Ernst Gombrich wrote the following: “To enjoy works of art we must have a fresh mind, one which is ready to catch every hint and to respond to every hidden harmony: a mind, most of all, not cluttered up with long high-sounding words and ready-made phrases.” This summarizes what our class will do in surveying art from the early Renaissance through the contemporary world. We will look at paintings, sculptures, and architecture from the great tradition, read essays by the best critics and art historians, and learn to see art with fresh eyes. Our aim will be not to acquire an encyclopedic knowledge of images, but rather to learn how to love the art itself.
Masterworks in Drama (GTX 3341) – Dr. David Jortner – TR 12:30 – 1:45 PM
The nature and function of dramatic literature, in both cultural and theatrical history, are hotly debated. Is drama merely a blueprint for theatrical practice, an art form in its own right, or a hybridization of the two? What is the role of philosophy, art, literature, and cultural studies in writing and analyzing drama? How do we, as artists, scholars, and critics, discern artistic and literary value? We will wrestle with these questions (and others) throughout the semester. This class involves a survey and analysis of some of the most important works of dramatic literature in our intellectual tradition; as such, we should have vibrant class discussions about issues such as the role of theatre and art in society, the value of literature, and the understanding and adaptation of drama for the stage. Students should gain a better understanding of how to interpret and understand drama, but with a renewed sense of their own critical faculties and reasons for their aesthetic preferences.
Great Texts in Business (GTX 3351)—Dr. Scott Moore – MW 1:00 – 2:15 PM
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, Thomas More's Utopia, Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, and Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography, as well as literary treatments of business, such as Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, Dickens's Hard Times, Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, Forster's Howard's End, Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth, Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, or short stories by Flannery O'Connor, Franz Kafka, or Wendell Berry.
Great Texts in the Twentieth Century (GTX 4321) – Dr. Ralph Wood – TR 12:30 – 1:45 PM
“The Culture of Death and the Witness of Protest” – In the 20th century, more people were killed by violent means than in all previous centuries combined—roughly 180 million, most of them slaughtered by their own governments. 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, deliberate starvation, gross economic calamities, racial apartheid, etc. This course will seek to fathom some of the complicated causes of these unprecedented horrors, but also to hear some of the voices that were raised in protest against it. Our readings will focus on Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, Alexsandyr Solzhenitsyn, Nelson Mandela, Czeslaw Milosz, Primo Levi, Hannah Arendt, Ma Bo, and others.
Augustine and Aquinas (GTX 4331) – Dr. Junius Johnson – TR 2:00 – 3:15 PM
This course examines two related questions: a) what is the job description for the savior and b) what type of person would Christ need to be in order to do the job? The first question belongs to the area of soteriology (theology of salvation), and the second belongs to Christology. These interrelated questions often control much of one’s theology. This course will examine major Medieval thinkers from Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) to Martin Luther (1483-1546) on one or both of these questions.
Great Texts in Modern Science (GTX 4341) – Dr. Eric Martin – MW 4:00 – 5:15 PM
Science is indisputably a central facet of modernity; this class will equip students with analytical tools needed to better understand the sciences, their history, and their role in society. Students will learn the foundational content and context of several lineages of natural sciences through engagement with primary texts from Darwin, Huxley, Freud, Watson and Crick, Gould, Carson, and others. This will provide students familiarity with multiple aspects of modern sciences and will set the stage for the latter part of the class, which involves theoretical reflection on the nature of those sciences more generally. What is the nature of scientific progress? Do natural sciences provide any sort of unified or coherent world picture? If so, what kind? What is the role of human beings in that picture, and what are the possibilities for religious belief, free will, or ethical commitment? Is there a particular scientific method, or a multiplicity of ways of knowing about the world?
Great Texts Capstone (GTX 4343) – Dr. Phillip Donnelly – M 2:30 – 5:15 PM
“Utopia and Other Places” - This course focuses on a series of texts, ranging from antiquity to the twentieth century, each of which appeals to a fictive “other place” (allos topos) in order to address questions regarding moral and political wisdom. Taking Thomas More’s Utopia (“no place”) and Plato’s “city-in-speech” as points of departure, we shall consider a series of fictive “other places.” These include Shakespeare’s Denmark, Milton’s Heaven, Hell, and Eden, Swift’s tropical islands, Shelley’s North Pole and Swiss Alps (even exotic Scotland!), and Huxley’s futurity. In each of these cases, we shall consider how the use of an “other place” is central to the very character of the critique advanced regarding the present place of implied readers. These works take positions on a range of debates that we may consider, including, most notably, the contest between philosophical and rhetorical dialectic, as well as the personal and social limitations of instrumental rationality.
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