Always Remember That This University Belongs To Us: Student Activism in the USA and South AfricaCourse taught by: Jonneke Koomen
From walkouts to occupations, from the DREAMers to sanctuary campuses, from the black consciousness movement to #FeesMustFall, students have long been at the forefront of struggles for racial and economic justice. This class investigates and learns from student activism in South Africa and the USA. We will examine students’ demands for access to higher education; student-led efforts to transform classrooms, curriculum, schools and universities; and student resistance to racism, rising tuition fees, and labour exploitation. We will ask: What strategies have students of colour and first generation college students developed to survive and thrive in ‘historically white’ universities? What does it mean to decolonize education? And what are our responsibilities to ensure access to higher education for future generations? Class texts will include Steve Biko’s, I Write What I Like.
Arguing About Life and DeathCourse taught by: Robert Trapp
Although most, if not all Americans would say that human life is to be preserved and cherished, issues of life and death are among the disputes that divide us most deeply. Questions about abortion, capital punishment, and assisted suicide profoundly divide us. The divisions are so severe, that most Americans are unable to make other than the most simplistic arguments: “I’m pro-life,” “I’m pro-choice.”
In this colloquium, we will learn about methods of arguing about values and how those methods can be applied to matters of life and death. We will use these methods of argumentation to consider questions such as: How do argue about values? How can we use arguments to resolve arguments about competing values? We also will consider questions arising from some of the more sophisticated arguments about abortion, capital punishment, and abortion.
The Artistry of Spanish Filmmaker Pedro AlmodóvarCourse taught by: Maria Blanco-Arnejo
The films of Spanish contemporary director Pedro Almodóvar represent a landscape of Spanish modern history and popular culture. Through the study of several of his movies, we will discuss his personal development from a bold, unpolished director, to a sophisticated master of filmmaking. We will concentrate on three constants of his films: art, sex, and transgression. How is his particular conception of art understood by the audience? Is Almodóvar reacting to social and political pressures? Is the constant presence of uninhibited sex in his movies a means of expression, or liberation? Does Almodóvar use transgression as an instrument to shock people, or as a way to reach out and engage the audience?
Ball Caps to Ball Gowns: clothing & memory as embodied thoughtCourse taught by: Bobby Brewer-Wallin
The clothes we wear tell stories about our life’s journey and are embedded with memory and meaning. From a Victorian frock coat or our favorite jeans to an early 20th century evening dress, how do our clothes communicate identity, offer protection, and celebrate the past? How do we read or interpret the performance of ourselves and others by the garments we inhabit? How have the rapid changes in fashion and technology since the 16th century altered our physical bodies and rewritten the narrative of our clothing choices? Through the reading of fiction and plays, personal narrative and letters, ordinary and extraordinary garments, we will explore and make sense of the meaning and memories created by the clothes hanging on our bodies and in our closets.
The Beauty, Mystery and Terror of ColorCourse taught by: James B. Thompson
Through the ages, color has been used as an expression of one’s passion, an outward display of values, a demonstration of one’s commitment level, a statement of belief, a manner of bestowing honorific status or even a symbol of exclusion, terror, banishment and the utmost degradation. This interdisciplinary examination of color, its development, manufacture, uses, meanings and history will allow us to learn more about its impact on trade and politics, governmental restrictions, psychological and scientific perceptions and their overall influences on art and culture. By looking at the history of color and its use, its chemical make-up, our perceptions about it, the role it plays in our lives, the response it elicits through the ages, and our use of it to define aspects of our selves and our shared humanity, we take a traditional liberal arts interdisciplinary approach to learning that allows for thoughtful decision making, critical thinking and free inquiry. The course serves as a forum for approaching these concerns as well as posing some interesting questions students can explore independently and collectively about their passions, sense of purpose, choices they make, consequences of those choices and perhaps even their role in civic engagement as they experiment with the notion of color and what it has come to mean through the ages as an expression of our humanity.
Biodiversity, Innovation, and Renewal: Sustaining our FutureCourse taught by: Susan Kephart
Imagine life’s diversity—tree frogs perched high in the canopy of a tropical forest, orchids that mimic the scent of female wasps, or tiny archaeans buried deep within volcanic vents at 200° F. Whether in Madagascar, Hawai’i, or on the slopes of Oregon’s Mt. Hood, life’s mosaic inspires and fascinates all—poets, naturalists, musicians, and scientists. We will critique a rich tapestry of writings, books, and artistry as we discover the natural world and its remarkable diversity, including the processes that generate novelty, the innovations that trigger new radiations of species, or the events that lead to extinction. We’ll hike through majestic forests that sustain Oregon’s hotspots of coastal diversity, and later bury our boots in refurbished wetlands to decipher firsthand the ecological services they provide to sustain natural communities. We will question our roles as sapient beings still new to earth: What can natural cycles of destruction and renewal teach us about how we might live our lives? Can we influence patterns of global change in this emerging web of life? Will we leave behind just a thin layer of fossils, as writer Lewis Thomas warned, or will we be inspired instead by the poet-scientist Goethe, who declared, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it"?
Bouncing Back: how resilience worksCourse taught by: Carol S. LongCourse taught by: Edward G. Whipple
How do you learn to thrive in times of rapid change? How do individuals respond successfully to extreme challenge, such as Viktor Frankl experienced in Nazi concentration camps? How do businesses like Kodak survive disruptive technology and develop resiliency in highly competitive times? How does Thoreau document change in the natural systems around him in rural Massachusetts and what can his observations tell us about climate change? Resilience is defined as "the ability of a system to cope with change," and has been called "the rubber ball factor." What does resilience mean for you as a Willamette student and your success? We will look at the resilience of human individuals, businesses and organizations, and natural systems through readings from multiple disciplines and genres. Discussion, research and service projects and interviews with community partners will inform your written work and reflection. Readings will include Thoreau's Walden, Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning, Zora Neale Huston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Andrew Zolli's Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back.
College Access, College Culture and College SuccessCourse taught by: Michael Niño
This course will investigate three of the most fundamental aspects of higher education: access, culture, and completion. Using a number of different academic achievement and college completion readings, we will begin by exploring common questions students have upon arrival to college campuses. For instance, how do I know I am choosing the “right” major? What are effective strategies for managing my course work and my social life? Do I belong here? Using Lisa Wade’s, American Hookup, The New Culture of Sex on Campus, we will then shift our focus to campus cultures and critically examine how the Industrial Revolution, the emergence of college fraternal organizations, and the gay liberation movement all influenced the pervasive hookup culture that exists on college campuses. In the final section of this course, we will take a deep dive into college access. Using the book, Grit and Hope, we will examine common challenges high school students of color face, as they aim to be the first in their families to attend college. We will also examine how college access programs aim to provide the support and encouragement to overcome many of these challenges. During the final section of this course, we will also be involved in a number of service learning projects with our very own college access program, The Willamette Academy.
Constructing RealityCourse taught by: Meredyth Goldberg Edelson
What is reality? Is there a single reality reflecting the “truth?” Philosophers and scientists have identified characteristics of things that are “real” in nature, but most human experiences are not easily defined by these characteristics. If that is the case, then what we believe is “real” might actually be a socially constructed reality that humans create and shape. How do we socially construct our reality? What are some examples of how we can come to believe “truths” that aren’t real? Are some of the most salient parts of our own identities, such as gender and race, actually socially constructed realities rather than “real” characteristics of ourselves? How does time and place affect our notion of “reality?” In this course, we will consider each of these questions as we explore how much of our reality may not actually be “real.”
Contested Illnesses and Medical UncertaintyCourse taught by: Melinda Butterworth
In this course we will investigate a range of medical conditions classified as Contested Illnesses. Contes
ted illnesses are those, ”where sufferers claim to have a specific disease that many physicians do not recognize or acknowledge as being distinctly medical” (Conrad & Barker 2010). Common examples are Fibromyalgia, Chronic Lyme Disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, and disputes over the environmental causes of a number of chronic diseases. But why are some illnesses contested while others are not? What are the experiences of patients living with these illnesses, and how are their lives impacted? Why do some doctors consider these conditions to be bio-medically grounded, while others suggest that the illness has a psychological underpinning? Should an illness only be considered real if it is validated by a physician or laboratory test? How are these tensions ultimately negotiated, and by whom? And how does medical and scientific uncertainty fit in to these questions?
We will grapple with these questions by engaging a wide range of sources: academic texts, science reporting, personal blogs, and films. These sources, coupled with class discussions, will force us to consider, evaluate, and respond to multiple competing perspectives surrounding some of the most prevalent and highly debated contested illnesses
The Creation and History of Middle Earth: J.R.R. Tolkien's The SilmarillionCourse taught by: Colin Starr
What myths did Tolkien draw on for his vision of Middle Earth, and what was purely his invention? How did good and evil develop in Middle Earth, and in what form did they take? What roots of The Lord of the Rings can we see forming in the stories of The Silmarillion?
We will explore the world of Middle Earth from its creation up to the Third Age through a collection of Tolkien works compiled in The Silmarillion, setting the stage for The Lord of the Rings. Along the way, we will encounter several important characters who appear in The Lord of the Rings and see how their roles develop. Familiarity with The Lord of the Rings is recommended.
Dissecting Medical EthicsCourse taught by: Lucas Ettinger
Human longevity and quality of life have been greatly enhanced over the past century because of advances in modern medicine. We owe a lot of our understanding of disease progression, illness, injury and medical treatments to the use of animals, cadavers, embryotic stem cells, and living humans in medical research and training. That progress resulted from the dynamic tension between human mortality and the morality of our decisions; in essence ‘when do the ends justify the means?’
In this class we will dissect the ethical principles that guide knowledge acquisition on disease, illness, injury and decisions regarding the effectiveness of treatment. Undoubtedly, you all have encountered difficult decision moments in your lives and you know that careful consideration of facts and consequences dictate our choices. In our discussions we will use multiple lenses to examine this topic, such as the perspectives of the laboratory scientist, animal rights activists, patients, and medical practitioners. Finally, we will have the opportunity to encounter these issues firsthand through discussions with scientists, visits to animal testing laboratories, and explorations in the Human Anatomy Laboratory on Willamette's campus.
From Pygmalion to the Phantom of the Opera: Myths of Yesterday and TodayCourse taught by: Patricia Varas
How do we define myth? How do myths shape human beings and culture? Why are they so important in our lives? We will begin by exploring the meaning of myths and their relevance in a variety of cultures around the world. Then we will examine how Greek and Roman mythology is fundamental for understanding our Western culture today through contemporary texts and films such as Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, among others. We will include in our discussion approaches from anthropology, semiotics, psychology, cinema, literature, art history, and religion to further understand the power of myth.
Genocide SurvivedCourse taught by: Mark Stewart
How do survivors of genocide process seemingly incomprehensible and unimaginable trauma? How does the international community define and respond to crimes against humanity? What light can scholars shed on the psychology of victims, perpetrators, and bystanders? This course examines genocide through firsthand accounts by survivors, as well as discussing and debating the various crimes against humanity typically cited as evidence for genocide, focusing primarily on the late twentieth-century tragedies in Cambodia and Rwanda. Close readings will include historical and contemporary texts, memoirs, courtroom testimony, and the occasional film. Students will complete an independent research project that allows them to explore a topic of their choosing.
The Great American Road TripCourse taught by: Ruth Feingold
The open road has long occupied a major role in the American imagination. Travel and exploration—both literal, physical journeys, as well as the inner quests that often accompany them—appear again and again in American literature, film, art, and song. What is so American about the road trip? Why do we value it as much as we do?
We’ll begin the semester studying the myths and realities of the American frontier, both via classic nineteenth-century first-person accounts, and through later revisions of frontier imagery, such as Hollywood westerns. We’ll then move on to works that explore the darker side of the road as a site of escape, exile, and dispossession—texts whose heroes and heroines are runaways, hobos, escaped slaves, or economic migrants. Finally, we’ll encounter works that tap into the popular contemporary notion that outward journeys can be linked to inward discovery. Throughout the semester, we’ll pay attention to the ways gender, race, and ethnicity affect individuals’ experiences of the road.
Higher LearningCourse taught by: Frann Michel
This course investigates the history, representations, challenges, and possibilities of higher education, especially but not exclusively in the United States today. Do universities provide sanctuaries for free intellectual inquiry and growth, or marketable skills and research? How much common ground do we see among medieval and early modern seminaries, small liberal-arts colleges, and land-grant universities? How has the meaning of college education changed with developments in coeducation, racial integration, open admissions, and increasing availability of student loans? Do universities transmit or challenge a shared culture? Do they enable social mobility or ratify inequality? Together we will explore such questions about the significance of advanced education.
“It’s the End of the World as We Know it……”: Views of Apocalypse, Natural Disaster, and the End of the World in (mostly) Western CultureCourse taught by: Monique Bourque
Humans have perhaps always envisioned our own end: divine wrath, epidemic disease, natural events from floods to asteroid collisions, man-made disasters from wars to monsters created by nuclear waste, and the scientifically- and politically- contested apocalypse of climate change. In this course we will examine why humans are always predicting our own demise, studying a series of specific, apocalyptic events to understand the social, political, and religious forces that have shaped our expectations of the end of the world. We will read primary sources including medical and religious texts and newspaper accounts; fictional narratives including movies, novels and poetry, and artistic productions like paintings and plays. Specific topics we will examine include the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Black Death in fourteenth-century Europe, the consequences of nuclear proliferation and bomb testing in mid-twentieth century America, “reports” of alien invasions in the twentieth century, and climate change in the twenty-first century.
Journey to the WestCourse taught by: Xijuan Zhou
Journey to the West, also translated as The Monkey, is one of the masterpieces of Chinese literature. It is a story based on the journey of a famous Chinese monk named Xuanzang who traveled to India to seek Buddhist scriptures in the 7th century C.E. The novel combines elements of Chinese folk religion with Taoist and Buddhist philosophies and Confucian social values. It not only portrays adventurous fantasies but also reveals spiritual insight and serves as an allegory of the religious journey. In this colloquium, we will examine Chinese religions and folk beliefs through close reading and discussion of this classic text. Some of the questions we will discuss include: How does one interpret a text? What are the key factors in cultural integrations? What challenges does one face in one's spiritual journey? Class activities will also include writing exercises, short research reports, and class presentations, involving materials such as religious scriptures, films, and historical documents.
Knitting CultureCourse taught by: David Altman
During the last decade, knitting, crocheting, and the fiber arts in general have experienced a remarkable increase in popularity in the U.S. In part, this is because activities such as knitting have the ability to play many roles and serve diverse functions. Knitting can be practiced as a craft, and it can also be a medium for art and fashion. Knitting can be used to express political views, and it can also simply be a way to relax. And these various facets are not mutually exclusive. For example, if I am knitting a sweater with an American flag on the front, I may be partaking in craft, political activism, and leisure all at the same time.
The goal of this class will be to examine the impact and value of knitting through a multidisciplinary approach, exploring its significance through the lenses of history, fashion, politics, science, psychology, and philosophy. Questions that will be addressed include: What has driven the recent knitting revival? How is knitting perceived, and in what ways is it an effective method of expression? Does hand knitting present opportunities and experiences that machine knitting is incapable of providing? What is the relationship between knit products and social equality? During this exploration, you will also learn how to knit (if you do not already know how). Through speakers and off-campus visits, we will learn about the process of making a knit object, starting from the plant or animal from which the yarn is derived.
Leadership Without Easy Answers: Is Ethical Leadership an Oxymoron?Course taught by: Wallace Long Jr.
This class will explore the development of leadership skills. Were you a leader in your high school? Do you aspire to be a leader in some aspect of your life on this campus and beyond? In this class, students will examine the leadership styles of historical figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon to begin to understand the pressures, problems and promise of leadership. How do leaders motivate followers to achieve their goals? What is the moral relationship between leaders and followers? Are ethical leaders driven by self-interest or altruism? What is the ethical value of a leader's accomplishments? Do their actions serve the greatest good? We will explore what the answers to these questions mean for today's leaders, offering hands-on insights into the ethical dynamics that make the heart of leadership tick.
Media, Consumption and CultureCourse taught by: Huike Wen
Consumption plays an important part in our culture, and mass media has greatly expanded its influence. Sampling and focusing on topics about food, our class will look at the historical origin, development and change in consumption and culture in modern society. We will explore the interactions between technological, commercial and emotional mechanisms that encourage people to spend and consume more. We will discuss the ways in which the development of technology fueled and was fueled by consumption and media expansion. We will also look at globalization by examining how consumption connects people from different countries, and impacts different cultures in terms of gender, lifestyle and other social norms. The semester will end by examining current trends in consumption that have been promoted by the media, such as “green” consumption and “lifestyle” television. Throughout the course, we will consider whether we are passive media audiences and dumb consumers, or active media users and powerful consumers.
Nation of ImmigrantsCourse taught by: Ellen Eisenberg
The overwhelming majority of Americans are either immigrants or the descendants of immigrants; it is no surprise that we frequently celebrate our identity as a “nation of immigrants.” Yet the social, cultural, economic, and political questions surrounding the arrival of immigrants, their legal status, and their incorporation into the nation have long been hotly contested. In this course, we will use history, social science, and media analysis to examine questions of immigration, past and present. What are the forces that drive individuals and families to leave their homelands? What challenges do they face as newcomers to a foreign land and how do they fare? How do Americans already here respond to newcomers, and how do these responses shape evolving immigration policies? Students will compare contemporary migrations to those of the past, and will engage policy debates over current immigration-related issues.
The Nature and Origins of ConsciousnessCourse taught by: K. Fritz Ruehr
We think of human beings as different from animals because we are conscious, thinking beings, possessing language, a sense of self, and free will. But where did consciousness come from, and how does it work? Many people have tackled these questions over the millennia, but some of the most intriguing ideas were presented by psychologist Julian Jaynes in the 1970’s: Jaynes described the development of consciousness as an almost cultural phenomenon, relating it to language, social hierarchies, brain structure, and the “voices of the gods”. His ideas are compelling and well-defended, but so outrageous that they are difficult to take seriously, leading to a wide variation in reactions to his work. Jaynes’ influence nevertheless continues to this day, for example as the basis for the development of “android consciousness” in the popular TV series Westworld. We will read Jaynes’ original book and several related articles, as well as some critical works attacking and supporting his ideas. We will also read a number of other authors to explore related topics in consciousness and the philosophy of mind; the origins of language and writing; brain hemisphere specialization (“left brain/right brain”); and academic controversy.
PlatoCourse taught by: Anthony Coleman
Plato is arguably the most important philosopher who ever lived. His writings are thousands of years old, and yet they still have the power to provoke and captivate. His influence on the development of Western intellectual history is so great that some have said that it consists of "a series of footnotes to Plato." This course will be a study of several major works by Plato, works that stand out not only as wonderful examples of philosophy but also as examples of great literature. Some of the questions we'll address are: What is the nature of reality? Do we have souls, and is there life after death? What does a just society look like? And what is the nature of love?
Refusing to be EnemiesCourse taught by: Jeanne Clark
Gandhi and Martin Luther King demonstrated the power and the perils of nonviolent resistance in promoting political and social change. This course will explore how varied nonviolent resistance strategies have been utilized in a one of the world’s most intractable conflicts, a conflict typically reported in the news as a “cycle of violence,” i.e. Israel/Palestine. From slingshots to hip hop, tax resistance to tree planting, refusing military service to rebuilding homes, monitoring checkpoints to painting walls, milk production to cultural boycotts, Palestinian and Israeli activists have engaged a range of nonviolent methods to promote what they understand as a peaceful end. The methods are often controversial; their “nonviolence” is sometimes disputed; their potential for efficacy is uncertain.
Together we will ponder what constitutes “nonviolence” and what may be required for such strategies to work. We will examine media coverage of the “cycle of violence” and consider what a “peace journalism” coverage of events might look like. We will review documentary accounts of nonviolent resistance groups. We will evaluate the use of the social media by Palestinian and Israeli nonviolent activist groups. In addition to analyzing the nonviolent strategies employed by others, you will develop messages and strategies to promote your own chosen cause through nonviolent resistance.
Rhetoric in children's films: Analyzing portrayals of gender, capitalism, and heroes and villainsCourse taught by: Tabitha Knight
Most of us grew up watching Disney/Pixar movies and recall with great joy the hours we spent role-playing our favorite characters. These movies did more than just entertain us; they taught us lessons about fairness, determination, and how we should interact with the world. Stories have been told to children throughout human history as a way to socialize the next generation and teach them our values. In this course we will analyze the messages we ourselves have received and those we are passing onto the next generation in the context of children’s movies--including "The Lego Movie" (2014), "Wall-E" (2008), "The Incredibles" (2004), "Beauty and the Beast" (1991), "Despicable Me" (2010), and "Megamind" (2010). We will draw upon works, such as Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom and Karl Marx’s Capital in addition to readings on gender socialization and the hero/antihero to inform our critical inquiry into questions such as: What messages do these films convey about gender roles? How is capitalism portrayed in these films? What do these films teach us about the natures of villainy and heroism?
The Riddle of RussiaCourse taught by: Sarah Clovis Bishop
In 1939 Winston Churchill described Russia as “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” He was not the first to puzzle over the nature of Russia—a country historically torn between East and West—nor was he the last. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia endured economic disaster and two ferocious internal wars. The uncertainty of everyday life was matched by a crisis of national identity. Russians found themselves in a new country and were faced with pressing questions: What does it mean to be Russian in a post-Soviet world? How do you relinquish the security and beliefs of the past? In the 2000s, the economic and political situation in Russia largely stabilized, but this stability fostered a new paradox—a nostalgia for the Soviet past alongside a desire for a new future. Russia now faces a new economic crisis and an increasingly strained relationship with the West. Questions about the relationship between the Russian and American presidents abound. Where is Russia headed? Back to its Cold War past or towards a new future? Through a careful investigation of contemporary fiction, essays, and films, we will attempt to unravel this new riddle of Russia.
Ritual and Myth in U.S. CultureCourse taught by: Peter Wogan
This course treats rituals and myths as windows into culture in the United States, exploring what they reveal about cultural values, social structures, and tensions. The case studies include tipping in restaurants, coins thrown in water fountains, sports, birthdays, New Year’s Eve, the Day of the Dead, and popular movies. Special attention will be given to the cultural symbolism of ostensibly minor details, such as visual aspects, verbal phrases, and spatial orientation. For example, why do Americans from various walks of life tend to throw coins in shallow bodies of water, such as ponds and fountains, rather than oceans, rivers, or lakes? How might this water and the aesthetic patterns made by the coins lying in the water symbolize social belonging, resistance, and/or purification? What might the foul lines in various sports represent? In their papers, students will write critiques of previous theories and create original interpretations of rituals like these, based not only on the readings, but also their own interviews.
Visual Stories of Who We Are: Salem as a Memory BoxCourse taught by: Catherine A. Collins
The campus, the city, the Willamette valley are a memory box of people, and events offering a visual record of who we are, what we have done, and what we value. The course examines monuments, architecture, formal spaces and informal, even temporary, markers of memory whether of achievement, grief, or historical record. We will study historic buildings and memorials, roadside shrines and cemeteries, public art, gardens, and war memorials. These visual stories of who we are celebrate, mourn and record institutions, people and events that mark Salem as place. We explore how memorialization makes space sacred. Visual memory records that we will study may affirm official narratives or offer evidence of a disputed past. By choosing what will be remembered in these ways – whether highly personal or easily forgettable and formulaic – we shape future understandings of who we are, even as we have been shaped.
Walt WhitmanCourse taught by: Mike Chasar
This class will focus primarily on the history and interpretation of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, commonly viewed as the first major work in American poetry to break from British influences and forge a new American poetic style and democratic literary spirit. Revised and expanded six times between 1855 and 1892, the collection would eventually incorporate Whitman’s responses to the U.S. Civil War, changing gender and race relations in America, his expansive (and sometimes scandalous) sexual energies, and his philosophies of American democracy and the American individual. Thus, his poems ask large and complex questions about American identity: What values does “America” represent (especially compared to Britain)? What is an authentic American voice? What constitutes the American individual? How does the nation overcome the divisiveness of the Civil War and the country’s history of slavery? As we pursue these questions, we may turn to various editions of Leaves, some of Whitman’s draft materials and notebooks, newspaper reviews, prose writings about democracy, photographs, his short and funky temperance novel Franklin Evans, and perhaps poems, movies, and TV shows like Dead Poets Society and Breaking Bad that respond to or incorporate Whitman's work.
What does music mean?Course taught by: Daniel Rouslin
One way of thinking about western music is that it is a genre of non-verbal language that nevertheless has a story to tell. Another is that it is a method of depiction and imparter of feelings and moods. Yet another is that music is a vehicle for lyrics. Few musicians or consumers of music would challenge these concepts, as there are copious examples of all three in most genres and styles of music. And yet the idea that music actually means anything beyond its own particular way of organizing sound has been hotly debated, and the question may never be fully resolved. Perhaps it shouldn’t be.
In this course we will explore these various ways of regarding music by examining what has been written on the subject of music’s alleged purpose, function, and yes, meaning. For example, we will examine Leonard Bernstein’s Harvard Lectures (1973), specifically his talks on musical syntax and semantics and look at criticism of his theories. But we will also attempt to form our own opinions on the subject by experiencing various musical examples that seem to fall into one or more of these categories:
1. Music’s ability to make us feel and imagine
2. Music as a bearer of words3. The elusive “message” of absolute music
What is a Just Society?Course taught by: Jennifer Jopp
This course engages students in a consideration of justice and the role of ideas about justice in the construction of polities. We will ask: what is a just society? Do we live in a just society? How might justice be measured? Attained? Maintained? Beginning with Plato’s Republic, we will engage with philosophers and thinkers across many centuries who have pondered how best to construct a society that fosters justice. We will talk about the related themes of the role of faith and of reason in society, the possibilities for equality, and the processes by which we might bring our ideal visions of society closer to fruition. Reading works from authors as diverse as Plato, Karl Marx, and Iris Young we will –together and with others in the community-engage in discussions about the nature of the human quest for justice. The materials for the course are, likewise, diverse and reflect a variety of approaches to the questions above. We will read works of philosophy, as well as political manifestos, song lyrics and poetry. The final project for the course is the creation of a blueprint for a just society.