Courses, taught by award-winning faculty, deal with the great texts, thinkers and ideas of the past and present, and the responses they provide to questions of contemporary life.

Fall Courses

CLAS 095 - Rise and Fall of Popular Rule

Instructor: John Franklin Associate Professor of Classics (More on Professor Franklin ... )

This class will concentrate on key Greek historical and literary texts relating to the seminal period of 700–323 BCE, including the birth of democracy in Athens (510–507 BC), the Persian Wars (490–480), the Peloponnesian War (403–404), and finally the world-changing career of Alexander the Great. We will then examine, as a parallel and contrast, the key events behind the tumultuous transition from Roman Republic to Empire. Herodotus and Thucydides will provide much of the historical framework for Greece, supplemented by readings from the Greek lyric poets, Aristophanes, Plato, Xenophon, and selected biographies of Plutarch; we shall also read Mary Renault’s classic The Praise Singer, which will serve as a civilization textbook and lead-in to other authors of the period. Rome will rely mainly on relevant biographies by Plutarch, and Julius Caesar’s own words in The Civil War.

Requirements Satisfied: one Humanities course


ENGS 027 - Literature of the Western Tradition

Instructor: Tom Simone Professor of English (More on Professor Simone ... )

This course is a multidisciplinary survey of central texts of Homer, the Greek tragedians, Sappho, Greek Philosophy on art, Virgil, and Dante. It is presented in conjunction with IHP courses in Religion and Classics and Political Science.

The primary emphasis is on the traditions of reading and reimagining of the central range of texts from the Ancient and Medieval worlds. The purpose of the course is to give you a solid grounding in the texts and values of a liberal education, and to underscore the pervasiveness of Classical (and reinterpreted Classical) works and ideas as they persist into the modern world.

Requirements Satisfied: one Literature course


REL 027 - Religion, Philosophy, and the Search for Self-Knowledge in the Greek and Biblical Traditions

Instructor: Richard Sugarman Professor of Religion (More on Professor Sugarman ...)

In this course, we will examine some of the most formative texts in each tradition with emphasis on self knowledge, human identity and relations with others. Our exploration will focus on those texts, thinkers and traditions that have shaped the western philosophical and religious outlook to the present. Subjects explored include: war and peace, the relation between self and others, facing mortality and a life of purpose.

Requirements Satisfied: one Humanities course


Spring Courses

ENGS 028 - Literature of the Western Tradition

Instructor: Tom Simone Professor of English (More on Professor Simone ... )

This course offers students the opportunity to read major authors and significant books in the Western literary tradition, focusing on the development of the modern period. We will begin imaging of the formation of the modern world in Shakespeare's Hamlet and the beginning of Rationalism and the Scientific Revolution. The focus, however, will be on works from the Enlightenment to the twentieth century and Modernism, including authors such as Blake, Wordsworth, Keats, Jane Austen, Tolstoy, Ibsen, Joyce, and Virginia Woolf. The major work of the semester will be Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. If time allows, we will sample a few films showing the emergence of cinema in the early twentieth century.

As part of IHP, this course if offered in parallel with Religion 28 and Political Science 96.

Requirements Satisfied: one Literature course


POLS 096 - Modern Political Ideas in Western Tradition

Instructor: Patrick Neal Professor of Political Science (More on Professor Neal...)

John Locke gives the classical expression of political society understood as a contractual relation between consenting free and equal adults concerned to protect their natural rights to freedom and property.  What can be said in defense of such a vision?  What are the primary alternatives to it?  Is this vision relevant to our contemporary global political situation?  This course confronts these questions through an examination of a number of the canonical political writers in the western intellectual tradition: Locke, Rousseau, Burke, Marx, Nietzsche and others.  Reading from these authors serves not only as a means to allow students to address the questions above, but to also engage directly with certain minds and texts of human genius.
Requirements Satisfied: one Humanities course


REL 028 - The Search for Meaning after the Scientific Revolution in the Modern and Contemporary Worlds

Instructor: Richard Sugarman Professor of Religion (More on Professor Sugarman...)

Emphasis will be on how our scientific understanding of the world presents challenges to our understanding of human existence. How does the crisis and opportunity of technology alter our understanding of human identity, purpose, and our relations with other people. We will explore these questions at the juncture between religion and philosophy. Our approach will primarily be existential. That is to say focused on meaning in a world that sometimes does not easily lend itself to making sense out of what appears absurd.
Requirements Satisfied: one Humanities course