Fall (September 7 – December 22, 2016)
No classes, 11/23, 11/24
Last day to withdraw: 11/22/2016
LS 660.401: Practicing Death
Facing his own approaching execution, Socrates proclaims (as recounted in the Phaedo) that “it seems to me natural that a man who has really devoted his life to philosophy should be cheerful in the face of death.” For Socrates, the philosophical manner of existing, what he called “care of the soul,” is properly practicing death. Much more than a morbid consideration driven by darkness and fear, the thoughtful examination of death is precisely an engagement with life.
This course will examine the notion of “practicing death” as a uniquely philosophical/religious way of approaching life, noting some historical philosophical/theological foundations and locating its more immediate presence in specific examples from literature and film. Underlying our examination will be the question of the creation of individual value and the determination of individual meaning in response to the inevitability that is one’s death.
The main purpose of this course will be the examination of the question of the creation of individual value and the determination of individual meaning in response to the inevitability that is one’s death. While the philosophical/theological groundwork may provide us with specific tools for understanding and formulating the question, and while the more “artistic” examples may further enhance our understanding of what is at stake in posing and attempting to answer the question, the main trajectory of our efforts will be directed at a responsible, individual understanding of the question and the formulation of a possible response.
Dr. Steven Burr, Wednesdays, 6:30–9:00 p.m. [9/7–12/21, no class 10/12, 11/23, 12/21]. (Thematic)
Required of all students in their first semester
LS 679.401: Literary Biography
This course looks at biography as a literary art form, while examining the role biography plays not only in understanding the significant accomplishments of certain individuals, but in illuminating the times in which they lived. Has biography changed over the decades? Are biographies ever entirely unbiased? Are popular biographies invariably less accurate than academic ones? What privacy rights do public figures retain? These are some of the questions this seminar addresses as it looks at biographical writings about such figures as Madame Curie, Thomas Jefferson, Ulysses Grant, Mohandas Gandhi and Coco Chanel. Students will also be asked to write a biographical essay about a public, artistic or historical figure of their own choice.
Dr. Brian Murray, Thursdays, 6:30–9:00 p.m. [9/8–12/22, no class 10/13, 11/24, 12/22]. (Creative)
LS617.501: Voters, Campaigns, and Elections in the United States: Elections 2016
Focus on the 2016 U.S. Presidential election and its context. We use academic scholarship, political rhetoric, historical documents, and current news analysis. We consider U.S. politics and elections in historical context, the evolution of the 2016 elections, and the American electorate itself. Finally, we look ahead to possible implications of the new President, his or her policies, and the political environment in which he or she will govern.
Dr. James Quirk, Mondays hybrid, 6:30–9:00 p.m. [9/12–12/19], face-to-face meetings, 9/12, 10/10, 11/7, 12/5. (Historical)
LS689.601: American Film Classics
Everyone loves the movies, and we all have our favorites. We recommend some to friends, noting that the acting was “brilliant,” the camera work was “awesome,” or the story “moving.” Yet we don’t often pause to consider the meaning behind the words. In this course we will take a close look at several films generally considered classics and attempt to establish how they achieve their effect on us. Once we’ve established a framework for discussion we will take up an additional ten films, selected at least in part from a survey of those in the class.
The emphasis in each class will be on discussion and developing a critical eye for the way a film is made. Each student will be asked to submit a viewing report for each of the initial films. Four short papers (750 words), two presentations, and a final written project are also required.
Dr. Randall Donaldson, Tuesdays, 6:30–9:00 p.m. [9/7–12/20, no class 10/11, 12/21]. (Creative)