Sophomore Level Courses

ENG 1975-H01 Sophomore Writing Seminar (Beautiful)

HELENA TOMKO
TR 11:30-12:45

“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, Hume, and Nietzsche, as well as more recent assessments by Roger Scruton, Elaine Scarry, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, 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.

Restricted to students in the Global Scholars Humanities and Good True Beautiful Cohorts.

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ENG 1975-H02 Sophomore Writing Seminar (Beautiful)

JAMES WILSON
TR 11:30-12:45

“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, Hume, and Nietzsche, as well as more recent assessments by Roger Scruton, Elaine Scarry, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, 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.

Restricted to students in the Global Scholars Humanities and Good True Beautiful Cohorts.

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ENG 1975-H03 Sophomore Writing Seminar

CATHERINE STAPLES
TR 1:00-2:15

What do modern day organic farming, bee-keeping, and bird-banding have to do with country life and the concept of the pastoral as seen in poetry, prose, drama, and fiction, ranging from Virgil, Wordsworth, and Thoreau to Frost, Heaney, Dillard, and Frazier? Is the desire to live and work deliberately and simply in the natural world an idealized notion or is it full of harsh realities and rural truths? Is it both? What is the nature of contentment? Our field trips to Rushton Farm will be occasions for writing, for deepening the semester-long inquiry into pastoral traditions. As we tour Rushton farm, we might begin to see the practical applications of Virgil’s two-thousand-year-old advice about planting, harvesting, and animal husbandry in the Georgics. With a warbler or owl banding session, we’ll get a glimpse of something Frost so often explores: the intimacy between the human and the wild. The works we will read include poetry by Wordsworth, Heaney, Frost, Fallon and Kumin; Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain, essays by Annie Dillard, Wendell Berry, Henry David Thoreau, Virgil’s The Georgics, and Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia.

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HON 2002-001, 2005-001 Interdisc II

EUGENE MCCARRAHER (HIS), MARK WILSON (ETH)
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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ETH 2050-H01 Ethics

SARAH-VAUGHAN BRAKMAN
TR 2:30-3:45

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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ETH 2050-H02 Ethics

KEVIN VANER SCHEL
MW 1:30-2:45

This course explores the question of the good life and the nature of the human good. The long history of reflection on these themes in the western intellectual tradition has significantly shaped our understandings of human morality and continues to impact the ways we respond to contemporary moral questions. In this course, we will examine a variety of notable ethical theories ranging from classical to contemporary sources, paying particular attention to the distinctive vision of human flourishing articulated in the Roman Catholic and Augustinian tradition. In addition, we will consider a number of pressing and controversial contemporary moral challenges, regarding issues such as world poverty, economic and political justice, immigration, technology, bioethics and euthanasia, and the rapidly changing environment. Through careful reading and active discussion, students will be encouraged to expand and deepen their understandings of the ethical life and will be challenged to reevaluate their relationship to themselves, to others, and to the natural environment.

Restricted to students in SLC.

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HON 5700-001 Justice Seminar (PPE)

PETER BUSCH
MW 3:00-4:15

This course is a semester-long investigation of political justice.  We begin with Aristotle’s Politics, the work of classical philosophy that educates citizens and statesmen in their political practice.  We will ask questions like these:  Who should rule, and for what purpose?  How to judge the rival claims made for oligarchy, democracy, and aristocracy, the regimes concerned with wealth, freedom, and virtue?  How to decide which of these, or what combination of them, is best for a given community?  The second half of the course considers the case for liberal republics, which secure the rights of individuals, govern themselves by representatives, and thrive on commerce.  Why would philosophers like Montesquieu and statesmen like James Madison think that justice is better served by these modern governments than by the regimes recommended by Aristotle?  Were they right to think so?

Restricted to students in the Global Scholars PPE cohort.

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