Fall 2021 Courses

Great Texts Upper-Level Courses - Fall 2021

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 The Rule of Saint Benedict, Thomas Aquinas, Norse mythology, 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 developed from antiquity to the Early Modern period 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 How were religious world views entwined in the beginnings of scientific thought, and has science now superseded religious understanding?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 Business: Wealth, Success, and the Imagination (GTX 3351) 
Dr. Michael Stegemoller – TR 2:00 – 3:15 & TR 3:30 – 4:45

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.

GTX 3360: Great Texts on the Principles of the Liberal Arts (GTX 3360)
Dr. William Weaver – TR 9:30 – 10:45

An introduction to how historical disciplines of grammar, logic, and rhetoric have shaped and continue to shape the reading and writing of great texts. Primarily designed for students exploring vocations in teaching great texts and/or graduate study in the humanities, it is open to all interested in thinking through vocation in terms of classical ideals of learning. Through an examination of representative texts and traditions we will get in focus a vision for ordering study within a capacious and inspiring framework. 

The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (GTX 4320) 
Dr. Ralph Wood – MW 2:30 – 3:45

This course will trace an arc that begins with the European Enlightenment as it is embodied in the work of Rousseau and Goethe. 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 in two radically divergent responses to both Enlightenment humanism and its Nietzschean nihilism: Dostoevsky and Hopkins.

Augustine and Aquinas (GTX 4331)
Dr. Michael Foley – TR 2:00 – 3:15

This course attempts to facilitate a better grasp of the thought and historical context of St. Augustine of Hippo, from his earliest writings to his last. Our interest is both historic and existential: Historic. Augustine had a tremendous impact on Western Christianity. Before we can assess how he has been received historically, we must first determine what he actually thought and wrote and whether or to what degree his thought developed over time or in response to particular challenges.  Existential. Augustine, we might go so far to say, was obsessed with the question of happiness. What can he teach us about happiness today? 

Confessions and Autobiography (GTX 4351) 
Dr. Alan Jacobs – TR 11:00 – 12:15 

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.


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