Upper Level Electives: Arts


TR 4:00-5:15PM

Course description forthcoming.

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MW 3:00-4:15PM

In this course we will study several of Shakespeare’s comedies. We will explore them in their own historical and intellectual context while also attending to how they speak to us today. In addition, we will consider them as examples of the comedic genre and reflect upon the nature and purpose of comedy itself. Readings will include The Comedy of Errors, The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado about Nothing, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, and All’s Well That Ends Well.

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MW 1:30-2:45 PM

During the last two years of an undergraduate education, students generally transition from the “what do I want to major in” question to the “what do I want to do with my life” question. This course helps students meet this challenge with the help of sociologists, philosophers, writers, theologians, and historians--both ancient and new. This course will address three main clusters around which students learn to shape an adult life: relationships, work, and leisure. The first segment on “relationships" will address how to find and maintain adult friendships. The “work" segment of the course will address issues in career and vocation as well as our attitudes toward money and possessions. The final segment of the course takes up the question of “leisure" in the modern world and asks how to feed the mind, body and spirit while building an adult life.

The course will be framed by two contemporary analyses, one by a social psychologist from MIT and another by a sociologist from the University of Notre Dame. Christian Smith’s Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood (Oxford, 2011) provides a sociological analysis of the problem of emerging adulthood during and after college. Sherry Turkle’s Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age (2015) argues for the importance of conversation in digital cultures, including in education and business.

By the end of the course, students will be more thoughtful and reflective about their career prospects, their friendships and relationships, and their approach to leisure time. Emphasis in this course will be placed upon short and regular writing assignments (both formal and 2


informal), group projects, public speaking, and analytical writing. Students will write position pieces and participate in class debates.


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TR 10:00-11:15 AM

Justice is the habit whereby we give what we owe each other.  So asking about justice is to ask about the ultimate basis for a common life.  In this course we will inquire into the meaning of justice by interrogating several rival arguments about the meaning of justice.  Does justice mean equality?  If so, what kinds of equality?  And if so how do we make that equality manifest in politics and policy?


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TR 11:30-12:45 PM

This seminar 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.


Enrollment is not limited to Honors Students. Please email honorsprogram@villanova.edu if you hold a 3.33+ GPA to be placed on a list for the course.


This course fulfills Diversity 1 & 2 and WREN requirements, as well as advanced English, Sociology, Peace and Justice, Africana Studies, Honors, and Gender & Women’s Studies electives.


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TR 2:30-3:45 PM

This class introduces students to the elements of dramatic writing from the seed of an idea to the completion of a full play. Students will read and discuss plays, explore approaches to writing through writing exercises and writing prompts, view live performance of plays, engage with living playwrights and offer support and feedback to classmates as they develop their work in class.

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TR 11:30-12:45 PM

How do we search for God who is already, as St. Augustine says, “closer to me than I am to myself ”? This course is a sustained exploration of this very question.  By examining ancient Christian texts on the cultivation of inner calm, inner vigilance, and recollection in the face of whatever life brings our way we will come to a deeper understanding of the roots ofanxiety, self-doubt, self-loathing, depression, among other inner afflictions.  But more than just this, we will learn that there is something practical to do about this suffering: the ancient art of the practice of contemplation.

Like Buddhism and Hinduism, Christianity likewise has a sophisticated tradition of cultivating interior stillness and peace by drawing to stillness the inner noise that creates and sustains not only muchof the suffering and anxiety within each of us but also maintains the sense that God is far away (or doesn’t exist at all).  This interior stillness facilitates the deepening of personal identity and ultimately the overcoming of the sense of separation from God and others. Union with God is not something we acquire but gradually come to realize has always been the case.  The course is both (A) theoretical and (B) practical.

(A) On the theoretical level there will be an interdisciplinary sampling of texts. We will read ancient Christian authors (fourth- fourteenthcenturies) who talk about the search for God by first confronting the sources of anxiety within--what we will come to call the world of “inner chatter” or “mind-tripping.” But in order to highlight the contemporary relevance of these ancient texts, we shall look at contemporary authors on such topicsas depression, eating disorders, relationship junkies, the process of addiction, among others.  We shall also examine (1) how the timeless practice of contemplation anticipates the discoveries of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and (2) why the cutting-edge research in neuroscience has becomeso interested in meditation’s impact on the human brain.  The explicit goals of ourreading, 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 lives “hidden with Christ in God (Col 3: 3).”

(B) There is also a practical component of this course. The first 13-15 minutes of each class meeting will be devoted to the practice of contemplation so that the student gains not only a theoretical understanding of the ancient Christian practice of contemplation / meditation, but also knows how to practice it in daily life.  Explicit instruction and guidance will regularly be offered and revisitedThis is an essential (indeed the most important) component of this course. Hence, if you are not interested in this vital, practical component, this might not be the class for you.  Moreover, each student is also expected to devote 10 minutes each day that we do not have class to the practice of contemplation.

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