Courses for Fall 2014

LST 7100   Foundation/Ancient: Fate, Freedom, and Necessity
Professor Helen S. Lang
T 5:20-7:20

This course will focus on three major works of ancient Greek literature and philosophy: Hesiod’s poem the Theogony, the three plays that make up the Oresteia [the only trilogy from ancient stage that survives complete] of Aeschylus, and a dialogue by Plato, Timaeus, which imagines a perfect city, the lost continent of Atlantis, before explaining the origins of the cosmos. These works define problems central to European culture: what is the nature of personal freedom; what is the nature of the gods and what control do they exercise over humans and nature; how is it that the world around us can be both regular and random; can we understand nature as controlled and free in a way that parallels the human condition? The solution to these problems in the ancient Greek world provide us with insight into ancient pagan culture, particularly as expressed in Athens, as it was quite different from the Judeo-Christian tradition. But even as Christianity rejects many features of paganism, it accepts and redefines these problems in order to articulate its own answers. Hence understanding them in the ancient world allows us access to a culture at once strikingly different from and yet at the same time foundational to our own. Each work implies or argues that the individual is freer within a structure than outside it; structure does not restrict, structure “provides space” (literally in Plato), and so enhances freedom. What modern culture thinks of as freedom in ancient Greek culture resembles an element of randomness in the natural or political order. In all three readings, problems are solved when persuasion trumps power – no omnipotence, no creation, no omniscience here. Throughout this course, we shall ask ourselves what difference this view makes for ethical questions that in modern culture require a notion of choice, or even free will.

LST 7300   Baseball and Justice
Dr. Jenny Joyce
M 5:20-7:20

This course will examine American culture through the lens of its national pastime - baseball. We will explore the politics of race, citizenship, gender, labor, public and private space, popular culture and advertising, among others, as we ask what baseball represents, what it should represent, and how it relates to justice. How might baseball and the ideals of the American dream correlate? How do they fall short? What does baseball reveal about our national identity? Our values? Our ethics? Through literature, film, and essays, we will examine baseball as an agent of socialization, a source of economics, a construction of masculinity, a powerful generational connection, and as a transmitter of rhetoric and culture. In critiquing its failings and celebrating its efficacy, we will investigate how baseball continues to be an important component of American society. Knowledge and/or love of baseball are not a pre-requisite, but are welcomed.

LST 7302  Eve’s Side of It: Women’s Voices in Western Culture
Dr. Ruth Anolik
T 7:30-9:30

From the time of Genesis, the discourse of Western culture has been dominated by the male voice.  But women have never been entirely silent.  In this course we will follow the stream of female voices as they respond to the powerful texts disseminated by a male-dominated culture.  Some of the responses will be contemporaneous with the male texts; some will be from a later period.  Some will be by women and some by men.  For example, we will read the biblical story of Eve, and Milton’s negative portrait in Paradise Lost.  Then we will read Laura Riding Jackson’s twentieth century text, “Eve’s Side of It.”  We will read the Song of the Sea attributed to Moses in Exodus, and then read feminist theologians who argue that the song was actually sung by Miriam at the Red Sea.  We will read the story of Mary in the Gospels and then read the newly discovered Gospel of Mary, and Colm Toibin’s radical new novel, The Testament of Mary.  We will read the story of Penelope in Homer’s Odyssey, and then Margaret Atwood’s retelling of her story.  Moving from the ancients to the Renaissance, we will read selections from Stephen Greenblatt’s biography of Shakespeare, Will in the World, along with Virginia Woolf’s imagined biography of Shakespeare’s fictive sister, Judith.  We will also read A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley’s retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear.  Moving closer to our modern time, we will read Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Men and Vindication of the Rights of Women as a response to Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, and Abigail Adam’s “Remember the Ladies Letter” as a response to Jefferson’s “Declaration of Independence.”  We will then read Henry James’s Portrait of a Lady and view Jane Campion’s filmic reinvention of the novel.  We will end with the icon of feminist writing, Simone de Beauvoir and consider The Second Sex, as a response to the philosophy of Sartre.  Together these texts and others, should generate a lively intertextual discussion as well as engendering lively class discussion and inspiring further student research. 

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Liberal Studies

The Enlightenment . . . The Renaissance. . . War and Peace. . . The Fall of the Roman Empire. . . The novels of Jane Austen. . . The American Founding. . . The plays of Shakespeare. . . The Civil Rights Movement. . . The Reformation. . . .

These are examples of ideas, books, people, and events that have truly changed the world. What is the best way to study them? History, literature, philosophy, theology, political science, languages – all of these disciplines have something important to say. But how is it possible to combine such different courses into just one master’s degree? The answer is Liberal Studies.