DWC Pilot Colloquia for Spring 2013
The Myth of the Warrior (East and West)
Dr. Colin Jaundrill, history
Dr. Robert Stretter, English
By the end of your third semester in DWC, you will have encountered warriors in a number of different contexts, ranging from their celebration in Homeric epics to the gritty, anti-war stories of the twentieth century. This colloquium invites you to bring these encounters together by thinking critically about the “myth of the warrior,” both in the West and in Asia. In other words, we’ll explore how the ideals associated with warriors were understood in different times and places, as well as how those ideals shape our understanding of war. Some of our subjects—like Greek heroes, medieval knights, holy warriors, and modern American soldiers—might recall topics you’ve dealt with previously in DWC. Other topics—such as women warriors (including the real Chinese story of “Mulan”), the Japanese “way of the samurai,” and warriors in WWII propaganda—will be new territory. Join us for a spirited march through history, literature, philosophy, theology, and art!
(Note: This is not a military history class. We will deal primarily with issues of social and cultural significance. If you want to learn about tactics and battlefield decision-making, this isn’t the class for you.)
From Childhood to Community
Fr. John Allard, theology
Dr. Peter Costello, philosophy
What is a child? What is a community? How does a person develop and grow from childhood to participation in a healthy and effective adult community? In order to understand this development, the course will explore two themes. The first is the reality of childhood, which you our students have already experienced; and the second is that of establishing a community, a process in which you currently find yourselves engaged. The course will investigate these two issues in terms of their philosophical and theological dimensions. In addition, the work of the course will challenge students to enhance their grasp of the subject matter by making use of appropriate resources in history, psychology, sociology, public service, women’s studies, and global studies. Students will use their experience and their knowledge not only to respond to the books of the course, but also to shape a narrative by which they can integrate and synthesize their learning about the human person within the larger educational context of the Development of Western Civilization Program.
Islam and Modern Politics (repeat of 2012 pilot colloquium)
Dr. Sandra Keating, theology
Dr. Michael O’Neill, philosophy
In the past decade, the Muslim community has become the object of media attention as news of terrorist attacks hit front pages everywhere. This has caused people to ask: What do Muslims believe? How have different Muslim groups responded to these attacks? Most importantly, why are they happening? Many scholars, Muslim and non-Muslim, have identified the conflict and violence as response to the imposition of certain modern ideologies and values on their societies and cultures. It is a recognized characteristic of “modernity” that it causes a challenge to, and even a crisis within, the identity of communities whose tradition is pre-modern. Is this conflict between “modern” and “pre-modern” the best way to think about the issues?
This colloquium will examine some seminal works expressing the ideals of “modernity” along with Muslim responses to these ideas. Our goal is to situate the apparent conflict of Islam with some aspects of modernity within the larger context of Western thought on what it is to be human, reason, law, governance, and economic structures. No previous knowledge of Islam is required.
The Politics of Memory in the Twentieth Century (repeat of 2012 pilot colloquium)
Dr. Colin Jaundrill, history
Dr. Paola Cesarini, political science
Our colloquium examines both the history and remembrance of the twentieth century’s most traumatic moments, including European imperialism, the First World War, the Holocaust, the ward of decolonization in Southeast Asia, and the genocide in Rwanda. Drawing on sources from the fields of history, social science, art, literature, and law, our class will explore why the past continues to be relevant in the present.
The Science and Politics of Energy: Past, Present, Future
Dr. Joe Cammarano, political science and public & community service
Dr. Lynne Lawson, engineering-physics-systems
Have you ever wondered why our core requires students to take courses outside of their major? Why do science majors need to take courses in the social sciences? Why do majors in humanities or social sciences have to take science courses? Why does everyone enroll in DWC? This colloquium seeks to answer these questions, finding the connection between seemingly unconnected fields of study by focusing on the following question: “How are we going to cope with the increasing demand for energy resources while also trying to prevent the environmental crises that come with increased consumption of carbon-based energy?”
We will examine the origins of energy science and politics, the current state of important energy debates, and the future of energy policy. We do so through use of the “Wedges Game,” which requires teams of students to develop a plan to mitigate the increasing level of hydrocarbons in the atmosphere that comes with global development. Books, readings, and activities from a variety of scientific, journalistic, political, and philosophical sources will be used to study the science of energy, the politics of science, and how the development of a wide array of western and non-western intellectual traditions inform and constrain energy solutions.
The Newness Game: Art & Literature in an Era of Endless Invention
Dr. Eric Bennett, English
Dr. Heather McPherson, art/art history
From the books you read to the art you look at to the television shows you watch to the music you listen to, people in the world around you tend to care about what’s new. Innovation in the arts matters as much or more than technique. What’s surprising? What’s exciting? What’s different? What’s happening NOW? Yet for most of the course of history, the arts preserved and refined the old, cultivating a tradition that always renewed itself in the distant inspirations of the past. What happened?
This colloquium explores newness in fine art and literature since the French Revolution. Students will read texts and analyze images from mid nineteenth-century French realism and impressionism, the modernist movements before and after World War I, and the shift to postmodernism since World War II. The course will place recent developments—the art and literature of today—in this broader context. How did it come about that innovation trumped tradition? And has the concept of innovation itself changed over time?
Capitalism: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
Dr. Elizabeth Bridgham, English
Dr. Sharon Murphy, history
Think you understand capitalism? Think again! Capitalism is not (just) about demand and supply, buying and selling, investing and making money. It is more than a financial asset sheet or a marketing campaign. It is a living, breathing system that continues to have a complex and direct impact on individuals, societies, and governments throughout the world. Capitalism has improved the lives and living conditions of millions of people, while millions of others have suffered enormously as a result of its triumphant grasp. Yet for many Americans, capitalism is both mythical and misunderstood. It has become an all-or-nothing ideology that exists outside of an historical context, demanding to be either embraced or rejected in its entirety. To criticize capitalism is often considered un-American and undemocratic—even though capitalism is not a political system; to call for its regulation is deemed socialistic and tyrannical—even though unregulated capitalism has never existed in any time or place. This course will study the reality of capitalism in its historical and social context: what capitalism is; how it developed; the positives and negatives of the system in different times and places and for different groups; and responses to the system from literature, theology, philosophy, economics, art, film, and music. Starting with the roots of capitalism in the 16th century, the course continues to contemporary times, ending with discussions of Occupy Wall Street and modern globalization.
In Sickness: The Experience of Illness (repeat of 2012 pilot colloquium)
Dr. Licia Carlson, philosophy
Dr. Deborah Levine, health policy and management
This colloquium will take an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the history and significance of illness in shaping the individual and society. Drawing upon texts from anthropology, history, literary theory, philosophy, and works of literature, we will examine questions regarding the experience of illness, including: How has the experience of illness shaped society? Is there anything essential about illness, anything shared in this experience across humanity?
Music, Beauty, Eros and God
Dr. Robert Barry, theology
Dr. Catherine Gordon-Seifert, music
Can music and art express and communicate something eternal and divine? This seminar will explore how philosophy, theology, and literature in the Western world have reflected upon “The Beautiful” in music and art, from the ancient world through the modern era, with a special focus on the flowering of the theory and practice of music and art in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. This class will culminate in the question today of whether the art and music of our contemporary world can strive to be anything more than individual self-expression, and what cultural resources the world has available for recapturing and communicating the transcendent and sublime.