Fall 2020 Courses
Great Texts Upper-Level Courses - Fall 2020
Wayfarers All: Exile, Pilgrimage, and Hope in the Middle Ages (GTX 3320)
Dr. Melinda Nielsen – TR 3:30 – 4:45
We are wayfarers: in this life we find ourselves midway wandering “in a dark wood,” as Dante famously begins the Commedia. Medieval writers called man a homo viator: one journeys in hope, longing for divine happiness and yet alienated from it. In this course, we will explore their visions of order and stability; exile and estrangement; and the quest to regain a joy greater than what was lost. Readings include The Rule of Saint Benedict, Thomas Aquinas, Norse mythology, the Gawain poet, and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, as well as selections from Tolkien’s Silmarillion, an epic that re-forges the medieval quest for modern readers.
Great Texts in the Origins of Science (GTX 3343)
Dr. Eric Martin – TR 3:30 – 4:45
If humans have always sought to understand the world, what is distinctive about the methods, philosophies, or institutions that arose in early modern Europe that we recognize today as ‘science’? What characterizes scientific inquiry, and does science have the ultimate authority to pronounce on matters of reality? How were religious world views entwined in the beginnings of scientific thought, and has science now superseded religious understanding? This course will investigate such questions through engagement with primary texts in the origins of science, including selections from Aristotle, Bacon, Descartes, Galileo, Newton, and Boyle. The class will help students navigate difficult questions about science’s multifaceted history, its place in society, and its philosophical significance.
Great Texts in Leadership (GTX 3350)
Dr. Scott Moore – MW 1:00 – 2:15
In GTX 3350 we will read a selection of great texts of literature, philosophy, and politics that address the nature and character of leadership. We will be confronted with classic models of decision-making, with concrete historical examples of good and bad leadership, with sustained reflection and argumentation on legitimate and illegitimate means and ends of action, with the prevalence of self-deception, naiveté, and overconfidence, and with an astute understanding of the role of habit and character formation. We will read selections from Aristotle, Plutarch, Shakespeare, Machiavelli, Jane Austen, Graham Greene, Isabel Allende, and others.
Great Texts in Business: Wealth, Success, and the Imagination (GTX 3351)
Dr. Michael Stegemoller – TR 2:00 – 3:15 or TR 3:30 – 4:45
In this course, we will read and discuss some of the great texts that address questions of business and commercial life. These texts may include historical and/or philosophical treatments of business, such as Adam Smith's Of the Wealth of Nations, Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto, Alexis De Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, John Ruskin’s Unto This Last, and excerpts from the Old and New Testaments, as well as literary treatments of business, such as Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, Dickens's Hard Times, Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, or short stories and essays by Louis Brandeis, Leo Tolstoy, Wendell Berry, William Law, and C.S. Lewis.
Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (GTX 4320)
Dr. Alan Jacobs – TR 11:00 – 12:15
Starting in the latter third of the eighteenth century, a series of social and political movements arose that permanently and radically transformed Western culture, and indeed the whole world. Wholly new political philosophies were devised; and a new literary genre, the novel, emerged to chronicle the experiences of people whose lives were being turned upside down. In this class we will chronicle some of these massive transformations.
Great Works in Music (GTX 4340)
Dr. David Corey – TR 12:30 – 1:45
Musical discourse, while more limited than verbal discourse, is something to which most of us are drawn with an immediacy that is hard to explain. Though the specific point the composer would like to communicate may not be thematized in words when we hear the piece, somehow it is still conveyed in a wordless manner that leaves a lasting and deep impression. In this course, we will explore the various ways in which transcendent meaning is conveyed through music. How are things like key, rhythm, and orchestration put into the service of expressing and communicating complex existential longing? Special attention will be given to the relationship between musical form and emotional or conceptual content of the piece. While the focus will be largely on classical music, larger questions about the way that meaning is constructed in music, in general, will be of central concern. No formal musical training required.
Confession and Autobiography (GTX 4351)
Dr. Ralph Wood – TR 2:00 – 3:15
Why should one tell the story of one’s life? What makes a life worth narrating—its discovery of ultimate purpose, its failure to find transcendent meaning? Whom does an autobiographer address and for what purposes? Confession to God and others, so as to account for both dark sin and shining faith? To show how we have created our lives by our own will and desires, to admit that, even at best, we are no more than co-authors of our life story?