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One of the more dominant features of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century drama is its preoccupation with spectacular acts of murder and revenge and with the psychological, social, familial, and political circumstances that motivate and justify violence. This course will consider both the stylistic and formal traditions of revenge drama and the genre’s place within the framework of Renaissance debates about concepts of revenge, justice, honor, gender, family, and individuality. We will be especially interested in how violence operates in the plays to construct notions of ideal femininity and masculinity, often through the dramatization of rape, necrophilia, and honor-driven reciprocal killing. And we will consider how various playwrights makeuse of a shared vocabulary of revenge tragedy conventions that include ghostly appearances, supernatural intervention, madness (real and feigned), language of horror and darkness, plays-within-plays, necrophilia, and counter-revenge. Our study will include the period’s seminal revenge tragedies, Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy, Middleton’s The Revenger’s Tragedy, and Shakespeare’s Hamlet; tragedies that blend revenge elements with political intrigue, such as Macbeth and Beaumont and Fletcher’s The Maid’s Tragedy; as well as so-called “sex tragedies” focused on forbidden desire and jealousy, like Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, Middleton’s The Changeling, and Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi. Coursework includes a performance assignment, a presentation, and a research paper.
The material of this course is developed around the narrative of English History from the early-fourteenth century until the religious reformations of the sixteenth century. We will consider the ebbs and flows of royal power, the social dynamics of economic dislocation, the crisis of the plague, the dynastic strife of the fifteenth century, and the convulsive changes in religion and politics precipitated by Henry VIII and his three successors. In addition to historical primary texts, we will make use of some English literature and religious tracts, as well as music and church architecture.
An intensive study of the controversies, ancient and modern, surrounding the Declaration. We will explore the views of John Calhoun and Roger Taney and Alexander Stephens in contrast to John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Herman Melville (Benito Cereno) and Harriet Stowe ("The Two Altars," and Uncle Tom's Cabin), as well as the "exchange" between Harry Jaffa and Carl Becker and the contrast between Martin Luther King and John Hope Franklin.
How does one search for a God who is, as St. Augustine says, “closer to me than I am to myself ”? This course is a sustained exploration of this very question from various angles by examining ancient Christian teachings on silent prayer and contemplation all of which reveal startling and liberating relevance.
Like Buddhism and Hinduism, Christianity likewise has a sophisticated tradition of cultivating interior stillness and peace by confronting the sources of anxiety within. This inner noise creates and sustains personal suffering and the sense that God is distant (or doesn’t exist at all). This interior stillness facilitates the deepening of personal identity and ultimately the overcoming of the sense of alienation from God and others. Union with God is not something we acquire but discover over the course of many seasons to be what is causing us to seek ultimate Mystery to begin with. The course is both theoretical and practical.
On the theoretical level there will be an interdisciplinary sampling of texts. We will read ancient Christian authors (fourth- fourteenth centuries) who talk about the search for God by first dealing with the sources of anxiety within--what we will come to call the world of “mind-tripping.” In order to highlight the contemporary relevance of this ancient wisdom, we shall look at contemporary authors on such topics as depression, eating disorders, relationship junkies, the process of addiction. We shall also examine (a) how the timeless practice of contemplation anticipates the discoveries of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and (b) why the cutting-edge research in neuroscience has become so interested in meditation’s impact on the human brain. The purpose of the reading, writing, and discussion is to cultivate and value an integrated sense of what is involved in that deep spiritual flourishing of what St. Paul terms our life “hidden with Christ in God (Col 3: 3).”
There is also a practical component. The first 13-15 minutes of each class meeting will be devoted to contemplative practice itself, so that the student not only gains a theoretical understanding of the ancient Christian practice of contemplation / meditation, but also knows how to practice it in daily life.
This course provides an introduction to the basic principles and key themes in the study of the relationship between religion and science, with an emphasis on Christian theology. Some of the topics we will investigate are the Greek, Christian, and Islamic contributions to the development of science; Biblical hermeneutics; faith and reason; miracles; historical controversies; and the ethical questions raised by artificial intelligence, “designer drugs,” cloning and genetic engineering, and other contemporary concerns. We will also consider the impact on Christian thought of recent developments in evolutionary biology, neurology, sociobiology, cosmology, and quantum physics. Students do not need expertise in either science or theology to benefit from this course, just a willingness to read deeply, think critically, write carefully, and discuss passionately.