Courses

Because we cross-list so many courses, it is inevitable that some courses that are advertised on the college catalog will be canceled, moved, altered, etc., and there are always a few grad-level courses offered through the Committee on Social Thought that do not appear in the college catalog at all. These are the courses actively offered for the academic year; it will be updated as the year progresses. To see the projected list of courses to be offered this year, see the catalog.

Autumn 2017

FNDL No. Title Instructor Description
FNDL 20502 Frank Lloyd Wright Taylor This course looks at Wright's work from multiple angles. We examine his architecture, urbanism, and relationship to the built environment, as well as the socio-cultural context of his lifetime and legend. We take advantage of the Robie House on campus and of the rich legacy of Wright's early work in Chicago; we also think about his later Usonian houses for middle-income clients and the urban framework he imagined for his work (Broadacre City), as well as his Wisconsin headquarters (Taliesin), and spectacular works like the Johnson Wax Factory (a field trip, if funds permit), Fallingwater, and the Guggenheim Museum. By examining one architect's work in context, students gain experience analyzing buildings and their siting, and interpreting them in light of their complex ingredients and circumstances. The overall goal is to provide an introduction to thinking about architecture and urbanism.
FNDL 20700 Thomas Aquinas Meredith This course considers sections from Saint Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica. Among the topics considered are God's existence; the relationship between God and Being; and human nature.
FNDL 21001 Poe: Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque Pop Though Poe wasn't the first famous writer of short stories, his tales of horror, mystery, and ratiocination made the short prose form a modern medium, inspiring artists ranging from Baudelaire and Manet to Arthur Conan Doyle and the inventors of science-fiction. Their unreliable narrators, copious displays of learning, and contrary effects of shock and verisimilitude have shaped modern fiction. At the same time, the "book" wherein Poe collected his tales on his lifetime grew in fits and bounds, absorbing both his theoretical speculations and his poems as extended means of "telling tales". Their chief concerns, subjectivity and reason in their compatibility and conflict, are still--or should be--our own. We approach Poe's short works in as close to the order of composition as we can achieve, and we read them carefully.
FNDL 21717 Xenophon on Leadership Tarcov An introductory reading of one of the classic treatments of political leadership Xenophon’s The Education of Cyrus. We will consider Xenophon’s art of writing and the literary character of the book. Themes will include the qualities and motives of a successful leader or ruler, especially in acquiring and expanding rule, relations between rulers and ruled, the relation between political and military leadership and more broadly between politics and war, the tension between empire and freedom, Cyrus’s bi-cultural education and multinational rule, the roles of morality, religion, and love in politics, and differences between legitimate and tyrannical or despotic rule.
FNDL 21403 Shakespeare 1: Histories and Comedies MacKay This course will explore a selection of seven or eight plays representing Shakespeare’s youthful genres of Comedy and History. We will consider how each play fits, or doesn’t fit, within organizing dichotomies like playhouse versus print, popular versus elite, and early versus late. We will also consider how terms that structure our encounter with Shakespeare both form and deform his work, leaving us to ask, Can we do better? 
FNDL 21411 Art of Michelangelo Cohen The focus of this course will be Michelangelo’s sculpture, painting and architecture while making use of his writings and his extensive body of drawings to understand his artistic personality, creative processes, theories of art, and his intellectual and spiritual biography, including his changing attitudes towards Neoplatonism, Christianity and politics. Our structure will be chronological starting with his juvenilia of the 1490s in Florence at the court of Lorenzo the Magnificent through his death in Rome in 1564 as an old man who was simultaneously the deity of art and a lonely, troubled, repentant Christian. Beyond close examination of the works themselves, among the themes that will receive attention for the ways they bear upon his art are Michelangelo’s fraught relationship with patrons; his changing attitude towards religion, especially his engagement with the Catholic Reform; his sexuality and how it might bear on the representation of gender in his art and poetry; his “official” biographies during Michelangelo’s lifetime and complex, ambivalent, reception over the centuries; new ideas about Michelangelo that have emerged from the restoration and scientific imaging of many of his works. At the same time, the course will be an introduction of students with little or no background in art history to some of the major avenues for interpretation in this field, including formal, stylistic, iconographical, psychological, social, feminist, theoretical and reception.
FNDL 21700 Le Roman de la Rose Delogu The mid-thirteenth-century Roman de la Rose was arguably the single most influential vernacular text of the (French) Middle Ages. A sprawling, encyclopedic summa composed by two separate authors writing some forty years apart, whether taken as a source of inspiration or an object of condemnation, the Roman de la Rose became an obligatory point of reference for generations of authors.   

Over the course of quarter we will read the conjoined text, each student focusing their reading through a critical optic of their
choice (e.g. gender studies, animal studies, ethics and philosophy, reception studies, manuscript studies, etc). Students will select and read ancillary texts to enrich their understanding of the Rose, and will collaborate with one another to chart a rich and diverse set of interpretive paths through this complex work.

Taught in English. All reading in French.

Prerequisites: FREN 20500 and at least one other literature course taught in French
FNDL 22001 Foucault: History of Sexuality Davidson This course centers on a close reading of the first volume of Michel Foucault's The History of Sexuality, with some attention to his writings on the history of ancient conceptualizations of sex. How should a history of sexuality take into account scientific theories, social relations of power, and different experiences of the self? We discuss the contrasting descriptions and conceptions of sexual behavior before and after the emergence of a science of sexuality. Other writers influenced by and critical of Foucault are also discussed. One prior philosophy course is strongly recommended. 
FNDL 23610 Flaubert & Marx Desan Our approach to Flaubert will be sociological. Three novels will be studied (Madame Bovary, Un cœur simple, and L’Education sentimentale) in direct relation with texts from Marx, Althusser, and other critics on alienation, merchandise, value theory, and the revolution of 1848 (Capital, Manuscripts of 1844, The German Ideology, and 18 Brumaire de Louis Napoleon). 
FNDL 22405 Greek Comedy: Aristophanes Austin We will read in Greek Aristophanes' Frogs, a play widely admired as an early instance of clever literary criticism and creative metatheatricality that brings its audience into the underworld and suggests several fantasies of salvation, a play whose production marks the end of the great century of Greek drama. Reading will include translation as well as secondary readings.
FNDL 24003 Kieślowski: The Decalogue Shallcross In this class, we study the monumental series “The Decalogue” by one of the most influential filmmakers from Poland, Krzysztof Kieślowski. Without mechanically relating the films to the Ten Commandments, Kieślowski explores the relevance of the biblical moral rules to the state of modern man forced to make ethical choices. Each part of the series contests the absolutism of moral axioms through narrative twists and reversals in a wide, universalized sphere. An analysis of the films will be accompanied by readings from Kieślowski’s own writings and interviews, including criticism by Zizek, Insdorf, and others.
FNDL 24905 Darwin's On the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man Richards This lecture-discussion class will focus on a close reading of Darwin's two classic texts. An initial class or two will explore the state of biology prior to Darwin's Beagle voyage, and then consider the development of his theories before 1859. Then we will turn to his two books. Among the topics of central concern will be the logical, epistemological, and rhetorical status of Darwin's several theories, especially his evolutionary ethics; the religious foundations of his ideas and the religious reaction to them; and the social-political consequences of his accomplishment. The year 2009 was the two hundredth anniversary of Darwin's birth and the one hundred fiftieth of the publication of On the Origin of Species.
FNDL 25121 Nietzsche: Culture, Critique, Self-Transcendence Wellbury This course is conceived as an introduction to the work of Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900). A range of Nietzsche’s work will be considered, but the focus will be on three themes to which Nietzsche recurred throughout his writing career:

1)    Culture: Nietzsche’s thought on the anthropological roots and the expressive forms of human meaning-making.

2)    Critique: Nietzsche’s critique of moralism, religion, and the vacuous character of much modern culture.

3)    Self-Transcendence: Nietzsche’s account of individual self-realization and freedom.

The selection of these themes is motivated by the fact that they may be considered as fundamental dimensions of humanistic inquiry and in this sense the course may be thought of as a pathway to the Humanities. Students will develop a sound understanding of a writer whose intellectual influence continues to grow, but at the same time they will become acquainted with such core concepts of humanistic/interpretive inquiry as form, expression, ideology, genealogy, discourse, self-fashioning, individuality, and value.
FNDL 25305 Inventing the Chinese Short Story Fox This class will trace the emergence of the vernacular short story as a new genre in the late Ming and early Qing. We will focus on the seveteenth-century story collections of Feng Menglong, Ling Mengchu, Aina Jushi, and Li Yu, whose stories map the social whole of late imperial China—from merchant schemes to courtesan romances, from the friendships of students to the follies of emperors. Alongside close readings of selected stories, we will examine the structure, sources, and publication histories of these collections and locate them in a broader discussion of the meanings and functions of vernacular literature. All readings in English, though students with Chinese reading ability will be encouraged to read the original texts.
FNDL 25406 Hawthorne & Melville Knight In the two-year period between 1850 and 1852, Hawthorne and Melville produced five remarkable books: The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables, The Blithedale Romance, Moby-Dick, and Pierre. During this same time they lived within six miles of each other in the Berkshires, a circumstance that initiated a strong literary friendship and that prompted a number of shared literary, aesthetic, and political preoccupations. This course will focus on four texts: Hawthorne’s Mosses from an Old Manse and The Scarlet Letter, and Melville’s “Hawthorne and his Mosses” and Moby-Dick. Monomania—in its psychological, sexual, aesthetic, religious, epistemological, and political manifestations—will focus much of our inquiry into these texts and into the body of critical discourse surrounding them. 
FNDL 26401 Torquato Tasso Maggi This course investigates the entire corpus of Torquato Tasso, the major Italian poet of the second half of the sixteenth century. We read in detail the Gerusalemme Liberata and Aminta, his two most famous works, in the context of their specific literary genre. We then spend some time examining the intricacies of his vast collection of lyric poetry, including passages from his poem "Il mondo creato." We also consider some of his dialogues in prose that address essential issues of Renaissance culture, such as the theories of love, emblematic expression, and the meaning of friendship.
FNDL 26560 Shakespeare & the Ancient Classical World Bevington This course will look closely at the plays written by Shakespeare on the ancient classical world: Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar, Troilus and Cressida, Antony and Cleopatra, Timon of Athens, and Coriolanus, with an emphasis on the second, third, and fourth titles in this list. Why did Shakespeare turn to the ancient classical world for dramatic material, and what did he find there that was not available to him in the Christian world he knew at first hand? What philosophical ideas, experiments in forms of governance, and understanding of the human condition did he discover? In what ways is Shakespeare a different writer and dramatist as a result of his imaginative journey to the world of ancient Greece and Rome?
FNDL 27620 La Boétie et le Discours de la servitude volontaire Desan This course will study one of the founding text of modern political theory.

Prerequisites: FREN 20500 and one literature course taught in French. Open to advanced undergrads.
FNDL 26402 The Films of Charlie Chaplin   The course looks at Chaplin and his long film career from a number of perspectives. One of these is Chaplin’s acting technique inherited from commedia dell’arte and enriched by cinematic devices; another is Chaplin as a person involved in a series of political and sexual scandals; yet another one is Chaplin as a myth fashioned within twentieth-century art movements like German Expressionist poetry, French avant-garde painting, or Soviet Constructivist art.
PQ: CMST 10100 Introduction to Film or consent of instructor.
FNDL 29117 Burke's Politics Lerner A broad but intensive examination of Edmund Burke’s principles and political practice as exhibited in his writings and parliamentary speeches.

Winter 2018

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Spring 2018

Coming Soon