Sophomore Level Courses

ENG 1975-H01 Sophomore Writing Seminar GTB/HUM

Helena Tomko
TR 11:30-12:45

(Restricted to Good True Beautiful Cohort and Global Scholars Humanities Cohort)

“What beauty saves the world?”—Dostoyevsky, The Idiot

Where do we find the beautiful?  How does an encounter with beauty change us?  Does it move us to love and to justice?  Or does it mislead and seduce us?  Does beauty walk rightly with goodness and truth, or do philosophical and theological concerns distract and deaden the artist or the lover?  These questions will guide our inquiry into the beautiful across disciplines and across centuries.  We will read literary works by Dante, Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, and Walker Percy and attend to visual and musical encounters with the beautiful.  We will pursue the contested interpretations of beauty among classical thinkers such as Plato, Kant, Hume, and Nietzsche, as well as more recent assessments by Roger Scruton, Elaine Scarry, Josef Pieper, John Paul II, and Hans Urs van Balthasar.  With these great minds, we will ask not only if beauty can save the world but also what beauty could save the world.

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ENG 1975-H02 Sophomore Writing Seminar GTB/HUM

Michael Tomko
TR 11:30-12:45

(Restricted to Good True Beautiful Cohort and Global Scholars Humanities Cohort)

“What beauty saves the world?”—Dostoyevsky, The Idiot

Where do we find the beautiful?  How does an encounter with beauty change us?  Does it move us to love and to justice?  Or does it mislead and seduce us?  Does beauty walk rightly with goodness and truth, or do philosophical and theological concerns distract and deaden the artist or the lover?  These questions will guide our inquiry into the beautiful across disciplines and across centuries.  We will read literary works by Dante, Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, and Walker Percy and attend to visual and musical encounters with the beautiful.  We will pursue the contested interpretations of beauty among classical thinkers such as Plato, Kant, Hume, and Nietzsche, as well as more recent assessments by Roger Scruton, Elaine Scarry, Josef Pieper, John Paul II, and Hans Urs van Balthasar.  With these great minds, we will ask not only if beauty can save the world but also what beauty could save the world.

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ENG 1975-H03 Sophomore Writing Seminar

Catherine Staples
TR 10:00-11:15


Versions of the Pastoral: From Arcadian Visions to Rural Truths
Originally, the term “pastoral” referred to works dealing with shepherds and their sheep, but in time it’s come to mean “works dealing with country life.” What do we think of when we consider the concept of the pastoral?  An idealized way of life?  Working knowledge of the land and its inhabitants? Rigors and hardships? The art of cultivation? A balanced way of living?

In this course, we will read pastoral poetry, fiction, prose, and essays, ranging from Virgil and Wordsworth to Frost, Kumin, Berry, Heaney, Fallon, and Frazier. Through a series of rural fieldtrips, we will take a close look at organic farming and beekeeping, and we will learn about bird habitats and migrations through the banding of warblers and saw-whet owls at the Rushton Woods Preserve. The field trips are designed to ground your reading in particulars, to introduce you to the accuracy of “field notes,” and to encourage you to get to know one small farm and feel a direct link with its inhabitants. Emphasis will be placed upon close reading, lively participation, and the art of revision. With journal entries, critical essays, poems, and field notes, students will write critically and creatively.

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HON 2002-001, 2003-001 Interdisciplinary Humanities II

Eugene McCarraher, Mark Wilson
MWF 10:30-12:20

HON 2002-McCarraher
The idea of “progress” has dominated the Western world since the middle of the 18th century.  Scientific and technological development, industrialization, democracy, the “disenchantment” of ancient religious beliefs and popular superstitions – these and other historical changes of the last two hundred and sixty years have enlarged our knowledge of the world, extended the length and health of our lives, and multiplied our material comforts.  Thus, we’ve come to believe almost instinctively that “progress” has been unambiguously positive, and hope that it will continue indefinitely.  Yet these same processes of modernization have provoked profound and often militant doubt, criticism, and resistance, often from among the most learned and sophisticated representatives of modern culture. And at the beginning of the 21st century – with capitalist “globalization” in disarray, with climate change an unavoidable challenge, and with the emergence of a new religious “awakening” all over the world -- new quandaries about the meaning of “progress” have already begun to appear.  

I will be tracing both the idea of “progress” and the currents of discontent with progress from the mid-18th to the early 20th century.  Readings will cover economics, social thought, political philosophy, and cultural criticism.  Representative authors will include David Hume, Adam Smith, William Blake, Karl Marx, John Ruskin, Max Weber, Fyodor Dostoevsky, William James, and Simone Weil.    

HON 2003-Wilson
This course examines selected themes in late eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and early twentieth-century Western cultural history.  Along with the emphasis on history, economics, and the social sciences provided by Dr. McCarraher’s part of Interdisc III, this course highlights theological and ethical themes as well.  Complementing Professor McCarraher’s considerations of progress, I will invite us to explore the moral and religious “self” that emerges in the wake of the Reformation and the Enlightenment.  One way to interpret Western modernity is to see it as a radical reimagining of the self and its relationship to others and the divine.  This story of progress entails the liberation of one’s authentic self from the tethers of tradition, superstition, and social convention.  The modern self, so construed, aims to be an autonomous agent whose loves, commitments, obligations, and beliefs (not to mention jobs, votes, and purchases) are freely chosen and self-expressive.  The ancient Delphic command to “know thyself” is in this paradigm a challenge to discern what is private, interior, and uniquely yours.

As with all history, this story is one among many and is challenged by alternative visions.  We will explore these stories and the tensions between them with a focus on the way that they inform and complicate our contemporary experience.  When we eat, love, and pray, we do so as the children of a complex and often confused parentage in modernity.  By studying the works of 18th-20th century theologians, philosophers, and ethicists, we will attempt to better understand the operative and often overlooked assumptions we make about human nature, freedom, goodness, and God, and why (perhaps) our hope for progress depends on this.

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HON 5700-001 Theories of Justice PPE

Peter Wicks
MW 3:00-4:15

(Limited to the Global Scholars PPE Cohort)

Justice is often considered to be the primary virtue of politics, understood in the broad sense of making and sustaining communities. While there is agreement about the importance of
justice, the nature of justice has been a central topic of debate throughout the history of systematic political thought. This remains true today, when many of our deepest political disputes are rooted in disagreements concerning the nature and requirements of justice. In this course we will examine some of the most influential theories of justice in the history of Western political theory along with a number of contemporary debates concerning justice and its relationship to liberty, equality, and fairness. The readings will be a mixture of classic and contemporary authors.

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ETH 2050-H01 Ethics SLC Section

Cynthia Nielson
TR 10:00-11:15

This course invites students to participate in an ongoing dialogue about what constitutes the good life. We will read texts from ancient, modern, and contemporary thinkers, considering not only philosophical but also theological perspectives regarding the good life. As we examine historical and contemporary texts, we will regularly pose questions such as: What is the good life?  What is justice? Is a just life superior to an unjust life? What kind of community best promotes human flourishing for all? How should I respond to structural injustice, and can I make a difference? Does it matter what I believe about human beings, society, or God when it comes to how I live my life?  In addition to helping students to become conversant with key ethical theories (e.g. virtue ethics, deontological ethics, etc.), the course is designed to enable students to engage these resources as they might bear upon some contemporary moral challenge and/or reality. Thus, in addition to reading challenging texts, we will examine contemporary moral issues, and students will write essays designed to synthesize the insights of the first two activities.

This is also a service-learning course.  Everyone in this class is also a member of the Sophomore Service-Learning Community.  All individuals in the class will be involved in some type of service such as tutoring disadvantaged children in public schools, assisting adults in their GED preparation, and working to better the lives of inmates and former inmates. Given the experiential and existential dimension of this course, students are expected to bring their personal experiences (both positive and negative) of serving vulnerable communities into “dialogue” with the texts assigned for the course. By creating this dialogue between text and experience, my hope is that your concrete engagements with the lives and struggles of real human beings will make the texts will “come alive” in ways not possible apart from such experiences.

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ETH 2050-H02 Ethics

Sarah Vaughan Brakman
MW 3:00-4:15

This course will introduce you to classic and contemporary sources in ethics, including primary sources from thinkers such as Aristotle, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Immanuel Kant, and John Stuart Mill. We will be exploring how these sources have contributed to different traditions of moral thought and how these traditions continue to contribute to our contemporary moral and political discourse. This will involve reading and discussing a range of contemporary sources that draw on these thinkers and the traditions to which they have contributed in defending moral positions on particular contemporary topics, including sexual ethics, euthanasia and assisted suicide, and economics. The main objectives are to promote a more sophisticated grasp of the moral dimensions of human life and an increased awareness of our continued participation in complex, living traditions of critical reflection and debate on what it means to be moral and how to live a good human life.

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