Spring 2020 Colloquia

DWC 202 C01: T 02:30-04:20, R 02:30-04:20
Music, Beauty, Eros & God

Cathy Gordon, Bob Barry

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 be 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.

DWC 202 C02: T 10:30-12:20, R 10:30-12:20
Hooked: The Stories Behind Drug Use in Western Culture

Katharine Kranz, Seann Mulcahy
Pre-registration: Social Work, Chemistry, Biochemistry

This colloquium focuses on addiction as a mechanism for exploring the development of Western culture. The course will be structured around stories of addiction that are based on human experience. We will use philosophical texts, significant works of literature, theological analyses, research in the social sciences, data from scientific experiments, and contemporary art, music, and film to showcase the many voices of drug use throughout history. The colloquium will challenge students to consider questions central to DWC, but focused on a more contemporary topic: How do we define addiction and what causes it? Why do people use drugs? How have drugs been represented or perceived throughout history or in different cultures? Is addiction an expression of something wrong with society? How do we treat addiction? What role do politics or economics play in recovery? What roles do race, gender, and class play in drug use? Does the neuroscience of addiction change our view of it? Do theological discussions of drug misuse add to our understanding of it? By approaching addiction from this interdisciplinary perspective, students will be able to see how users of recreational drugs understand the world and how the drugs themselves have shaped Western culture.

DWC 202 C03: T 08:30-10:20, R 08:30-10:20
Islam and the West: A History of Conflict and Coexistence from Muhammad to War on Terror

Vefa Erginbas, Sandra Keating

Islam’s relation with the Western Civilization had been at the center of heated debates for centuries. Most recently, Edward Said in his seminal work Orientalism displayed how flawed the western view of Islam and Muslim societies had become. In this class, a history of the uneasy relationship between the Muslim societies and cultures and the Western world will be examined beginning with early Islamic expansion, continuing through the period of the Crusades, the age of the Ottoman Empire, and finally through the periods of imperialism, colonialism, and the American century in the world. During the final weeks, Islam in America, growth of Nation of Islam and figures like Malcolm X, war on terror, and anti-Americanism in the Muslim world will be also studied. Utilizing primary sources, artifacts from arts and architecture, movies, and documentaries, this class offers students an eye-opening journey to the relationship of two great civilizations and cultures through the lenses of literature, art, and cinema.

DWC 202 C04: F 10:30-12:20, W 10:30-12:20
Between the Wars

Alex Moffett, Darra Mulderry
Pre-registration: English, History, Black Studies, Global Studies, Political Science

In this colloquium, we will be studying the two decade period between 1918 and 1939, a period of vast cultural and societal upheaval. We will consider the historical events that shape this period: the traumatic aftermath of the First World War, the period of economic depression that gripped the world in the early 1930s, and the political reforms and movements that burgeoned in the wake of these events. As we do so, we’ll be analyzing the effects those events had on the cultural landscape. This period saw an outpouring of stylistic innovation in a variety of different fields: popular music, literature, fashion, dance, and the visual arts. We’ll be studying each of these disciplines, and considering how those cultural innovations resonated not only in the West, but also in the rest of the world. We’ll also be discussing the new media–cinema and radio– that transformed the culture of the twenties and thirties and created a template for the pop culture of today.

DWC 202 C05: F 02:30-04:20, M 02:30-04:20
“Be Not Afraid!” The Life, Times, and Teaching of Pope St. John Paul II

Matthew Cuddeback, Fr. Alan Piper
Pre-registration: Philosophy, Theology, Humanities

This course is a sustained study of the life and thought of Pope St. John Paul II (1920-2005), a figure of world-historical importance and one of the greatest spiritual leaders of the twentieth century. A survivor of Nazi occupation in Poland, he became one of the chief adversaries of the Soviet Union and a leading agent in its dissolution. A poet, philosopher, and theologian, he spoke to a broad range of topics including human dignity, human freedom, the nature of marriage, family, and social life, and the importance of God and the Church in modern life. Addressing large crowds throughout the world in the era of mass communication (he was seen and heard by more persons than anyone in history), he gave the papacy, and therefore Jesus Christ, a new visibility. He advanced the “New Evangelization,” and led the Church and even the world into the third millennium.

DWC 202 C06: M 12:30-2:20, W 12:30-02:20
Individualism, Community, and Media Culture

Matthew Guardino, Jeffrey Nicholas
Pre-registration: Political Science, Public Service and Policy

How do electronic media promote (or subvert) democracy, community, and individuality? In an age of social networking, fake news, and cutting-edge technology, how can we engage critically with news, advertising and entertainment discourse to become more fully informed, philosophically reflective and politically active human beings? Such questions have long preoccupied philosophers, social scientists, and political economists concerned with how capitalist media impact our images of ourselves, our relationships to others, and our beliefs about what society can and should be like. This course is designed to help students understand how media culture in its many forms reflects and shapes individualist and communitarian values, and to equip them with new skills for critical analysis and civic engagement. We will analyze concrete media products such as news stories, social media posts and television commercials, and discuss critiques of media culture expressed in scholarship, fiction and film. In melding philosophy, culture, communication and politics, this colloquium places a distinctively contemporary twist on very old (and very important) questions of how to construct a just society and how to live a moral and fulfilling life.

DWC 202 C07: M 12:30-02:20, W 12:30-02:20
The Character of Business: The Ethical Nature of Business and Business Leadership in Their Contemporary Settings

Sylvia Maxfield, Tim Mahoney

We aim to help students to understand ethical business leadership within the context of global society. This naturally lends itself to an interdisciplinary approach.

The first step is to understand basic frameworks of ethics, which provide the foundation for notions of responsibility. We emphasize the virtue approach to ethics; without virtue, ethics is a mere theoretical exercise, without practical effect.

Then we turn to the specific notion of Corporate Social Responsibility. We explore the challenges of extending individual-level understanding of moral reasoning and virtue to an organizational level. What are the dimensions of this responsibility, and how can there be an objective assessment of how well a business meets these responsibilities? The identification of these responsibilities usually begins with stakeholder analysis. Stakeholders are not viewed simply from the narrow perspective of how they can contribute to the achievement of a firm’s financial goals, such as how to maximize long-term profits. Instead, the stakeholders are recognized as having inherent dignity and value that must be respected by a business in the course of its operations. In this connection, we will examine Catholic Social Thought, which makes a noteworthy contribution here as it has a long and distinguished history of dealing with such questions.

DWC 202 C08: T 12:30-02:20, R 12:30-02:20

Rob Stretter, Vance Morgan

This colloquium asks students who have spent three semesters considering the development of civilization to think about how civilization – and even humanity itself – might end. With a bang? A whimper? A rapture? A flu? Zombies? Visions of the destruction of civilization are experiencing a renaissance, from literature (e.g., Emily St. John Mandel’s award-winning 2014 post-pandemic novel Station 11) to television (the hit series The Walking Dead) to film (the Oscar-winning Mad Max: Fury Road) to video games (the popular Fallout series). The “Apocalypse” colloquium is designed to connect this contemporary moment with the long tradition of apocalyptic writing and thinking. We will study Biblical apocalyptic texts such as Daniel and Revelation; the theology of “the Rapture” in evangelical Christianity; novels, films and comics about nuclear war and natural disaster; and dark fantasies about the ruin of civilization by monsters and aliens. By asking ourselves to think about the end of civilization and its aftermaths, we come to reconsider some of the fundamental questions that form the intellectual core of DWC: what is civilization? what are the limits of its “development”? what responsibilities do human beings have to each other? what role does the divine play in promoting moral behavior? what is virtue, and does it apply in all circumstances, including post-apocalyptic wastelands? what things are essential in life? At a time when a lost internet connection or missed flight or speeding ticket can seem like a minor catastrophe, it can be instructive to imagine life in a world without electricity, planes, cars, police, or laws.

Requirements include:

  • Careful study of seven novels, two books of the Bible, two plays, four documentaries, two feature films, a podcast, and a selection of scholarly articles
  • Weekly writing assignments, totaling about 12,000 words
  • An 8-page research paper
  • Regular reading comprehension and vocabulary quizzes
  • A final exam

DWC 202 C09: W 12:30-02:20, M 12:30-02:20
American Slavery in History, Film, and Literature

Patrick Breen, Eric Bennett
Pre-registration: English, History

Since 1865, how have Americans told the story of slavery? Who are the heroes, who are the villains, what were the historical causes, and what have been the long-lingering consequences? How has the story of slavery changed over time? Which aspects have been omitted, and which have hardened into cultural mythology despite the facts of history? This colloquium explores representations in film, literature, and history from the end of the Civil War to 2018. The films range from D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation (1915) to Jordan Peele’s Get Out (2017); the literature from Zora Neale Hurston’s posthumously published Barracoon (1931/2018) to Edward Jones’s The Known World (2003). The course ultimately considers the contemporary significance of the role slavery has played in American history.

DWC 202 C10: R 12:30-02:20, M 12:30-02:20
Capitalism: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Sharon Murphy, Elizabeth Bridgham
Pre-registration: English, 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 has a complex and direct impact on individuals, societies, and governments throughout the world. Capitalism has improved the lives 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. Critiques of capitalism are often considered un-American and undemocratic – even though capitalism is not a political system; calls for its regulation are deemed socialist and tyrannical – even though unregulated capitalism has never existed in any time or place. This course will examine the reality of capitalism in its historical and social context: what capitalism is; how it developed; the positives and negatives of the system; and responses to the system from literature, theology, philosophy, economics, art, film, and music. Starting with Adam Smith in the late-18th century, the course continues to contemporary times, ending with discussions of wealth inequality and modern globalization.

DWC 202 C11: M 08:30-10:20, R 08:30-10:20 & C27: M 08:30-10:20, T 8:30-10:20
The History of Sports

Fr. John Vidmar, Sean Holley

This course is designed to familiarize the student with the cultural history and development of sports in the West. The course will attempt to integrate not only the history of actual sports (such as the beginnings of the Olympics and golf) and current issues in sports, but also philosophical, theological, social, medical, economic and career issues throughout the history of the West. Lectures by the professors combine their expertise with guest speakers drawn from leaders and opinion-makers in all facets of the sports industry from on and off-campus.

DWC 202 C12: T 12:30-02:20, R 12:30-02:20
The Western Way of War and Peace

John Lawless, Melissa Huber

Pre-registration:  Classics, History

Few topics are as important in the study of Western Civilization as consideration of our recurring pursuit of warfare and our dogged attempts to achieve and to preserve peace. This colloquium looks at both theoretical reflections (Is war inevitable? in our genes? Are we psychologically uneasy with lasting peace? Is there an identifiable “western” way of war and peace?) and practical matters of waging war (such as sieges, tactics, weapons, etc.) and of maintaining lasting peace in the ancient, medieval, early modern, and modern periods. We will have opportunities to look at how history, literature, art, film and music reflect the glory and horror of war or poignantly express the deep human longing for peace.

DWC 202 C13: T 02:30-04:20, R 02:30-04:20 & C24: T 04:30-06:20, R 04:30-06:20
Magic, Mysticism and the Occult

Christopher Sauder, Jonathan Wales

Pre-registration:  Philosophy, History, Classics, English, Theology, French, German, Art History, Music

The moods of disenchantment and estrangement felt by modern individuals echo in many ways those of ancient Platonists and Gnostics and certain Christians. In light these uncanny resemblances, many modern thinkers, writers and artists have demonstrated affinities for ancient practices of reunification with the sacred (mysticism), as well as for theories promising a knowledge of the hidden networks of influences linking this world to a sacred world beyond (magic). This class will study the foundations of these theories in Plato’s Timaeus and Neoplatonic authors, the Gnostic movements of late antiquity and the German mystics of the middle ages, as well as later alchemistic and esoteric movements of the Renaissance. After studying these movements on their own terms, students will carry out their own research into their diverse historical manifestations, as well as seeking to identify their modern and contemporary avatars.

DWC 202 C15: F 12:30-02:20, T 12:30-02:30
Me, Myself, and I: The Reading and Writing of Autobiography

Cristina Rodriguez, Alison Espach
Pre-registration: English: Creative Writing

How do we write ourselves? This interdisciplinary course will ask students to examine the autobiography as both critics and authors. In addition to studying multiple genres of autobiography, including memoir, personal essay, and autobiographical fiction, students will also write and workshop original autobiographical pieces. Authors include St. Augustine, Frederick Douglass, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Walt Whitman, Richard Rodriguez, Beyoncé, and others.

DWC 202 C19: T 08:30-10:20, R 08:30-10:20
The Meaning of America

Iain Bernhoft, Jiyoon Im
Pre-registration: English, Political Science, History

“America” has been and remains a contested term, used to describe land, dreams, and ideals. But on what basis was it founded, and whom does it include? The aim of this interdisciplinary course is not to arrive at a comprehensive answer to those questions, but rather to investigate major accounts of America’s formative principles, so as to illuminate how they still inform our moral, social, and religious lives. Through careful study of primary sources, we will aim to understand more clearly some of the challenges and contradictions “America” contains, including: the tension between American freedom and equality, the role of religion in American political life and culture, and above all the problems presented by slavery and its legacy. Texts include selections from the Federalists and Anti-Federalists, Tocqueville, Lincoln, James Baldwin, and Colson Whitehead.

DWC 202 C20: F 12:30-02:20, M 12:30-02:20
Cuba Libre: Global Commodities in Latin American and Caribbean History

Maia Bailey, Fr. David Orique

NOTE: Registration for this seminar is handled through the Center for Global Education. If you wish to enroll, please contact pcabroad@providence.edu for further information.

This historically and environmentally-oriented course combines in-class examination with in-field exploration of themes and topics related to conflictual and complex effects of commodities on the environment, history, and cultures of Western Civilization as seen through the lens of the region of Latin America and the Caribbean. At Providence (Spring Term 2020), students will evaluate the historical trajectory, environmental and ecological impact, political realities and economic influence of the major commodities of the region as evaluated in pivotal events, texts, and ideas that students considered during the first three semesters of DWC. In Cuba (Spring Break 2020), students will work with and listen to commodity producers and other stakeholders to hear and understand different points of view and the various forces acting on labor and the environment, as well as those pertaining to social justice; this will give them new voices to assess crucial events in the history of the Americas and their connections to broader global narratives. For both course components—in Providence and in Cuba, the seminar format will especially aid students to engage as thoughtful citizen practitioners, nurturing cross-cultural understanding, and participating in ongoing reflection activities with primary texts and first-hand experiences.

DWC 202 C21: M 10:30-12:20, W 10:30-12:20 & C34: M 2:30-4:20, W 02:30-04:20
DWC Goes to the Movies

Despina Prassas, Raphael Shargel
Pre-registration: English, Theology, Theatre, Dance and Film

In this colloquium, we will analyze the development of Western Civilization in relation to the movies. We will watch nine substantive, entertaining, and influential films, all of which depict a crisis of faith. We will cover a diverse set of movies that includes Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal (a medieval allegory that depicts a battle of wits between a crusading knight and the figure of Death personified), Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (a depiction of a day in the life of an interracial Brooklyn neighborhood in the 1980’s) and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life (a Brad Pitt/Jessica Chastain drama that reflects upon the origins and the ends of human existence). Over the course of the semester, students will develop an appreciation of film as an art form, analyze cinematic interpretations of important moments in the development of Western civilization, and deepen their understanding of the films that depict these moments through the close reading of important texts.

DWC 202 C22: R 10:30-12:20, T 10:30-12:20
DWC Through Food

Anthony Jensen, Alex Orquiza

The story of Western civilization can be told through its great ideas, its battles, its progressive steps or its social tragedies. But what touches on all aspects of the development of Western civilization — from its poorest to its richest populations, from its greatest empires to its humblest villages — is food. Food is the undeniable glue of civilization, that without which no other story in history, philosophy, literature, or theology could have been told. It is the necessary condition for survival regardless of race, class, and culture. And it is the product of larger social and economic forces. Accordingly, this class will examine the history of food as it has impacted Western Civilization. Through both studying the primary texts of culinary theorists and by means of hands-on practical examples, it will address questions such as: What did the Greeks and Romans eat? — and why did they eat that from an agricultural, a sociological, and a culinary perspective? What did the French Renaissance table look like? — and who was serving it, eating at it, cooking for it? How did the TV dinner transform American culture? How did empires transform cuisines in their colonial peripheries? Are pizza and pasta Italian? What role has wine played in the monastic era, the Western expansion, and in the development of the contemporary global south? What does Western cuisine owe to other cultures? — and how did those cultures transmit their cuisine to the West? What are and what have been the ethical implications of food?

DWC 202 C26: T 10:30-12:20, R 10:30-12:20
Money, Markets and Morality

Jiyoon Im, Gizem Zencirci
Pre-registration: Political Science

This course examines the effects of market economies and commercial activity on our moral, social, and religious lives. We will explore the impact of capitalism on our understanding of ideas such as equality, justice, and political order.  Questions we will consider include, but are not limited to the following: What kind of presuppositions do free commercial societies make about human nature, and why? How does philanthropic activity cultivate or constrain the flourishing of human societies?  What kind of claims do major world religions make about the aspirations or challenges of capitalism? Our approach will aim to show how ideas from the past can still illuminate contemporary debates we have about inequality, justice, or liberty. We may read classical and modern authors such as Aristotle, Locke, Montesquieu, Marx, Polanyi, Smith, and Mauss. We may discuss contemporary issues such as globalization, consumer culture, sweatshops, and the ethics of incentives. 

DWC 202 C28: R 5:30-7:20, T 5:30-7:20
Genesis and Exodus: Jewish and Catholic Perspectives

Fr. John Allard, Jackie Satlow

The Bible is, among other things, an extended discussion about the human condition. Its influence upon our culture is tremendous. This colloquium focuses on the Book of Genesis and the first fifteen chapters of the Book of Exodus. This portion of the Bible is of foundational importance for Judaism and Christianity, and students will examine this material with the help of a Jewish rabbi (Prof. Jacqueline Satlow) and a Roman Catholic priest (Fr. John Allard, O.P.). The course will foster an encounter between the two religious perspectives, which sometimes align and at other times diverge as they approach the Bible. Likewise, students will have the opportunity to be engaged with questions about the Divinity, human life, history, and culture, all of which lie at the heart of the Bible.

DWC 202 C29: W 12:30-02:20, F 12:30-02:20
Racism and Theologies of Liberation

Jen Illuzzi, Dana Dillon

This course seeks to understand the historical and theological underpinnings of western definitions of humanity and community, and to offer a new image of community, the beloved community, that can create the basis for a new kind of civilization rooted in justice. We will study two key groups, Jews and African Americans, that have been marginalized throughout history, in order to address these issues.

DWC 202 C30: W 08:30-10:20, F 08:30-10:20
Living Revolutions: Two Role-Immersion Games

Richard Barry, Fr. Patrick Briscoe

In this colloquium, we will play two multi-week role-immersion games. Through these games, we will plunge into a pair of revolutions that have transformed Western thought and have given birth to the modern world. In the first game, we find ourselves in Rome in the early 1600s. It is a world that has already been shattered by the Reformation and by the wars of the emerging nation-states; in this context, Galileo and others are advancing theories that will pit scientific, political, and religious parties against each other in a dispute that will literally transform the way people see and experience the cosmos. In the second game, the year is 1791, and we are in Paris, a city that has become a political and social powder-keg…and it’s about to erupt. The French Revolution was, without a doubt, one of the most influential events in history; it continues to shape us in profound ways today. Both of these games will follow the “Reacting to the Past” approach to learning, where classes consist of “elaborate games, set in the past, in which students are assigned roles informed by classic texts in the history of ideas.” Students will be given unique “victory objectives,” depending on their assigned roles; the outcome of the game is largely determined by how well each faction plays its part as we together debate our way through some of history’s most profound disputed questions.

DWC 202 C31: M 10:30-12:20, W 10:30-12:20
Staging History

Robin Greene, Rob Stretter

The past has been the playground of dramatists since the earliest days of the ancient Athenian theater. Whether a play stages events drawn from the remote past or confronts audiences with a representation of contemporary history, theater has been and remains a critical force in both reflecting and creating history.

In this colloquium, students will explore the interplay between history and drama by reading a selection of stage plays dating from the ancient through the modern world. We will consider such topics as: 1) When and why do we stage performances of history in the present? 2) How do historical plays speak to their contemporary audiences? 3) What responsibility, if any, do playwrights have to historical accuracy? 4) What is the role of plays in creating popular history, and how can their historical characters take on lives of their own? 5) How do historical plays inspire audiences to adopt new perspectives or to change their contemporary realities?

While our main focus will be on stage plays, we will occasionally examine film and TV adaptations of those plays as a way to extend our understanding of how and why history is transformed into dramatic art.

DWC 202 C32: M 04:30-06:20, R 04:30-06:20
How the Right Became Right: The Origins and Development of Modern American Conservative Thought

Jim Keating, Pat Macfarlane

Pre-registration:  Political Science

This colloquium investigates the political, religious, historical, and cultural background of modern American conservative thought. Because conservatism represents a significant dimension of contemporary politics, and has allied movements in philosophy, aesthetics, and religion, we believe that offering such a colloquium will be of great interest and contemporary relevance to our students, and will also serve as a fitting capstone to the first three semesters of DWC. Students will engage with a wide variety of primary texts from the history of American conservative thought. This legacy is quite rich, and encompasses themes beginning with the founding of the American republic and the debates about the ratification of the constitution, outlined in The Federalist Papers, to current issues uniting (and possibly dividing) traditional conservatives, neoconservatives, and libertarians. The colloquium begins by examining the global political background – national socialist, collectivist, and totalitarian – against which American conservative thought developed. It ends by examining current issues important to American conservative intellectuals, such as the defense of free speech.

DWC 202 C35: W 10:30-12:20, M 10:30-12:20
Democracy in America

Patrick Breen, Raymond Hain
Pre-registration: PSC, PHL, HIS, CLA, AMS

Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America is at once the best book ever written about the United States and the best book ever written about democracy. The purpose of this colloquium, centered around a close reading of Democracy in America, is consequently three-fold: first, to understand Tocqueville’s achievement on its own terms and in its proper historical context, allowing us insight into the birth of modern democracy; second, to recognize a wide variety of serious and significant political questions that confront us today and, often enough (though in different clothes), likewise confronted Tocqueville in the 1800’s; and finally, to bring Tocqueville’s claims to bear on our own contemporary situation in order to help us come to a deeper understanding of the nature and demands of genuine democratic life.

DWC 202 C36: T 1:30-3:20, R 1:30-3:20
In Pursuit of Infinity: God, Mind, and Cosmos

Joe Cosgrove, Fr. Humbert Kilanowski

Explores the mystery of the infinite in the many settings in which it arises: religion and philosophy, mathematics, and the natural sciences, encouraging students to consider infinity not just quantitatively, but also in the qualitative sense of an existence not bounded by the physical or sensible world. From infinite numbers to the infinity of the human mind, from the infinity of space and time to the infinity of God, the course blends mathematics, philosophy, physics, and theology to contemplate what lies beyond what can be seen, measured, and grasped, toward the infinite horizon of eternity.

DWC 202 C37: W 10:30-12:20, F 10:30-12:20

Chuka Okoye, E.C. Osondu

Hic Sunt Dracones – meaning – Here are the dragons – was to be found in the ancient map describing the African continent. Some ancient historians referred to Africa as the ‘dark continent’. In the course, we would slay quite a few dragons and shed some light on the continent of Africa. We would be looking at the history of some Africa’s ancient empires – Songhai, Mali (home of arguably the first recorded Billionaire). We would also cover Religion in Africa (St. Augustine and some African theologians) and themes from African traditional Religion; what constitutes African theology and nature-related worship system, and African cultural philosophy. We would also be studying some African Literature and further look at African Cinema-particularly Nollywood.

DWC 202 C38: M 12:30-2:20, W 12:30-02:20
Dialogue, Inclusion, and Democracy

Quincy Bevely, Nicholas Longo

“All social change begins with a conversation.” – Meg Wheatley

We live in divisive and polarizing times, often remaining in comfortable bubbles and experiencing few genuine interactions with people who are different or with whom we disagree. Stepping out and turning to one another is difficult but necessary. We need to learn to listen, think, and act with others to solve public problems. The learning necessary for deliberative democracy is also part of a history and philosophy of not only Western civilization, but also traditions across our interconnected world.

This colloquium will examine the theory and practice of deliberative pedagogy in an inclusive democracy, specifically geared to equip student leaders for using dialogue and deliberation in diverse settings. As a course about participatory processes—in teaching and learning, along with in reflective decision-making—we will strive to have the course be co-created among members of our learning community. While using a collaborative process of deliberative pedagogy, our seminar will learn about various approaches to deliberative democracy in Western civilization and globally, and then examine how deliberative practices might be useful in creating democratic learning environments elsewhere, including on campus. The seminar will meet at the Center at Moore Hall, an innovative site for dialogue, inclusion, and equity, while offering the opportunity to participate in and lead conversations on inclusion and civic action on campus and in the community.

DWC 202 C39: T 02:30-04:20, R 02:30-04:20
Ancients and Moderns

Bill Hogan, Chris Parrott

Pre-registration:  CLA, ENG

The literature of the Classical world forms one of the foundations of Western culture, and tells many powerful myths and stories – stories of the Trojan War, of gods and monsters, of heroes and ordinary human life. Why have these works been so influential through the centuries, and why do they still endure so powerfully in the imagination of the modern world? Why do writers and artists of our own time – from poets to graphic novelists to Hollywood filmmakers – continue to retell and reimagine these ancient stories? In this colloquium, we will read several ancient works that have proven especially fertile ground for modern rethinking and retelling – the adventures of Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey; Virgil’s tale of Orpheus and Eurydice; and the myth of Daedalus, the Minotaur, and the labyrinth. Then, we will study modern adaptations of these works, and consider how artists, storytellers and thinkers react to, reuse and reinterpret the Classical sources across a variety of different cultural and historical contexts and from diverse perspectives – including those of women, non-white and non-Western authors. In reading transhistorical and cross-cultural variations on these foundational stories, we will reflect on the way they help to illuminate both the radical differences and the surprising continuities between the ancient and modern world.