Spring 2022 Colloquia

Registration on Nov. 4, 2021

DWC 202 C01: T 2:30-4:20, S01 & S02: R 2:30-4:20
Beauty and Desire in the (Post) Modern World: Music, Markets and the Moral Self
Robert Barry, Catherine Gordon

This class will explore the depictions, considerations and critiques of the modern engagement of human desire. We will explore proposals and projects that go beyond modern engagements such as commodification and consumerism, employing especially music as a creative and interpretive lens.

DWC 202 C02: T 10:30-12:20, S03 &S04: R 10:30-12:20
The Western Way of War and Peace
John Lawless, Melissa Huber

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 C03: T 8:30-10:20, S05 & S06: R 8:30-10:20
Faith and Doubt
Christopher Brophy, Vance Morgan

Anne Lamott writes that “The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty.” In this colloquium, we will explore the relationship of faith and doubt. Although faith and doubt have often been imagined as incompatible opposites, we will engage with texts which suggest that doubt not only can coexist with faith in a coherent worldview, but also is a necessary feature of a vibrant and growing faith. 

Our considerations will be guided by a wide range of interdisciplinary figures, including but not limited to Job from the Jewish Scriptures, Michel de Montaigne, Blaise Pascal, Søren Kierkegaard, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Simone Weil, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ludwig von Beethoven, Benjamin Britten, Vincent van Gogh, Mother Teresa, and Tomas Halik. Topics studied and questions asked will include the following: 

  • Does faith require certitude? If so, how much and what kind? 
  • What is the place of existential questioning in religious practice?
  • What do the militant atheist and the militant Christian share in common?
  • What about the honest agnostic and the humble believer?
  • To what extent does a serious discussion of doubt and faith influence our understanding of divine transcendence and immanence?

DWC 202 C04: F 10:30-12:20, S07 & S08: W 10:30-12:20
Between the Wars
Alexander 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 Great Migration of African-Americans to the industrial north, 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 C06: M 12:30-2:20, S11 & S12: W 12:30-2:20; C34 M 2:30-4:20, S67 & S68: W 2:30-4:20
Ancients and Moderns
Christopher Parrott, William Hogan

The literature of the Classical Greek and Roman world forms one of the foundations of Western culture, and it features many powerful myths and stories—stories of the Trojan War, of gods and monsters, of heroes and of 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, including the adventures of Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey; Virgil’s tale of Orpheus and Eurydice; and the myths of Daedalus & Icarus, the Minotaur, and the Labyrinth. Then we will study modern adaptations of these works and tales, and consider how artists, storytellers, and thinkers react to, reuse, and reinterpret these Classical sources in a variety of different cultural and historical contexts and from diverse perspectives—including those of women, of authors and artists of color, and of non-“Western” figures. In reading varying adaptations of 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.

DWC 202 C07: M 12:30-2:20, S13 & S14: W 12:30-2:20
Understanding East and West
Colin Jaundrill, Chun Ye
Pre-registration: History, English

This colloquium is an interdisciplinary exploration of the oft-posed dichotomy between “East” and “West” in the modern era, viewed from the perspective of both Asian and Western sources, including texts that address the Asian diaspora. We will begin by exploring the first contacts between Asia and the West (in which Catholic missionaries played a leading role), before considering how the East-West dichotomy was framed in the era of imperialism, as well as the ways it persisted in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, when diasporic communities began to participate in the discourse. Our readings will include works of history, literature, philosophy, and theology.

DWC 202 C08: T 12:30-2:20, S15 & S16: R 12:30-2:20
Persuasion, Judgment, and Rhetoric in Liberal Democracies
Iain Bernhoft, Jiyoon Im

We live in times of increasingly extreme political polarization, siloed in “filter bubbles” with our ideological allies and treating our political adversaries as deplorable. Some observers fear that freedom of speech and thought are dying out—that “cancel culture” is replacing open discussion and debate. Is persuasion a dying art? Have we lost faith in our fellow citizens’ capacity to exercise good judgment? This colloquium investigates the proper place of persuasion and judgment in liberal democracies. In it, we will consider why persuasion is necessary in a liberal democracy, and what are the necessary conditions for persuasion. We will read closely texts and speeches from ancient Athens and contemporary America, in order to understand more clearly the proper role and effective practice of democratic persuasion. Readings will include selections from Thucydides, Aristotle, Shakespeare, Rousseau, Abraham Lincoln, and Frederick Douglass. Students will also analyze contemporary political speeches and messaging on today’s hot-button issues in order to see the art of persuasion in practice. Finally, students will have the opportunity to cultivate their own art of persuasion through composing and delivering short speeches and debates.

DWC 202 C09: W 12:30-2:20, S17 & S18: M 12:30-2:20
Islam and the West: A History of Conflict and Coexistence from Muhammad to War on Terror
Vefa Erginbas, Sandra Keating

This interdisciplinary course examines a particular aspect of the civilization of the West in depth through literature, philosophy, theology, history, and art. The relationship of Islam to Western Civilization has been at the center of heated debates for centuries. In 1978, Edward Said published Orientalism, in which he argued that the western view of Islam and Muslim societies had become critically flawed.  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. During the final weeks, Islam in America, the growth of the Nation of Islam and figures such as Malcolm X, war on terror, and anti-Americanism in the Muslim world will be also examined. 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 history, literature, art, and cinema.

DWC 202 C10: R 12:30-2:20, S19 & S20: M 12:30-2:20
La Belle Epoque: Society and Culture Before World War I
Richard Grace, Matthew Dowling

This course will investigate the society and culture of Europe and America in the quarter century before the First World War. This quarter century was rich in new developments (airplanes, automobiles, movies, radio, etc.) and fragile in its political stability (arms races, national ambitions and fears and threats). Hence, the term “belle époque” has about it a combination of exhilaration and foreboding, as we look at it from the distance of over a century.

What we hope to achieve is an understanding that a civilization is as fragile as a human life, and a recognition of how decisions that are sometimes impulsive and shortsighted have consequences that stretch far into the future at great expense. We also hope to arrive at an appreciation of how widely the material circumstances of life in the West changed. Paralleling the new machines and strikingly different perspectives on society, there were radically new approaches to fine art and the performing arts – in painting, music, architecture, and dance. This was the great age of Art Nouveau, and it introduced shocking innovations in music. 

For many people above the level of the working classes, life was very comfortable and enjoyable. It was “the beautiful era.”  However, for many people, especially migrants, upward progress out of poverty was slow. There were also traditional social prejudices as well as aggressive competition in business. We shall take into account the great promise of life in this age, as well as the limitations of that promise, both in economics and in social opportunity. 

DWC 202 C12: R 5:30-7:20, S23 & S24: T 5:30-7:20
Skin Deep: Living in Your Body and Other Space Oddities
Amy Foley, Jeffery Nicholas

Essential Questions:

  1. How are we alienated from our bodies, our spaces, from culture and nature, in the contemporary world and why is that important?
  2. How does architecture and building shape our identity and our possibilities for flourishing agency?
  3. How does the body relate to the world?
  4. In what ways do “race,” “sex,” and “gender” condition the relation of the body to the world that affect identity and agency?
  5. How do we build a better home and a better world?

This course invites us into a space to explore the relation of our bodies to our identities and the relation of our bodies to the world. We take it as given that we are alienated in many ways, but our focus here will be on that alienation that we experience from our body, from space, from nature and culture. Alienation does not mean we have no control here. Rather, our actions—the way we move our bodies—both constructs and is constructed by the spaces we create in acting. The way, for instance, that a teacher or a CEO positions his or her body so that both his/her and other bodies that come into a shared space are constructed to relate to each other—often without our awareness. The way we dress a space and the way we dress ourselves conditions the way our bodies move in and between spaces and with other bodies. A hoop skirt makes the relation between two dancing bodies different, and large dancing halls allow for these kinds of relations, in contrast to the way other clothes and spaces condition the relation between bodies.

In addition, sex, gender, and race comprise different ways we think of our bodily relations to space and other. This condition may allow some to experience an agency unavailable to others, from man-spreading to where someone parks her car in relation to other cars, how someone carries his or her body through a plane. Nowhere does this relation become more relevant than in the hospital birthing room where the unnatural lithotomy position situates the birthing woman to be passive and the obstetrician to stand over her and cut into her body. Black and brown bodies experience space and other bodies under extreme threat of violence as well: is it safe to walk to the store? Am I able to wear a hoodie? Is my body both sexualized as black/brown and my intellect diminished by society? How is my body as sexed/gendered/raced implicated in the accumulation of surplus value while denied access to basic needs?

These ways of relating to body and space stem from an orientation to nature and matter itself. Am I a soul inhabiting a body, or a soul-body unit moving about the world? Or am I just a machine, like other machines, moving in empty space? Alienation from nature becomes a central lens through which to understand our alienation as embodied beings. Whether I understand nature as “good” or as something over which I have “dominion” determines my relation to nature and body. How I think of nature also determines how I shape the space around me, from whether I build a fence, to whether I live in a four-cornered house or a round hobbit hole. Is my home a space apart from nature or a space that belongs with nature? Does architecture work with the natural world, capturing light and sound, or does it stand like a monolith to a disencumbered god?

These kinds of thoughts allow us to ask how we might more consciously build better spaces, better buildings. They challenge us to think of the relationship between our agency and our bodies and the spaces we create for those bodies to move in and between. They invite us to consider how we might construct buildings that open ourselves to relations with nature, to reflect on how we arrange furniture that might invite equal sharing and the possibilities of learning from each other. Can we construct a city so that surplus value is shared, its distribution determined by the members of the community rather than forced down upon us from someone in a chair in a skyscraper? How might we better affirm our relations to each other, to nature, and to God if we consciously shape space, place, and body?

DWC 202 C13: T 2:30-4:20, S25 & S26: R 2:30-4:20
The World that Exchange Created in the Americas
Maia Bailey, David Orique

This historically and environmentally-oriented course combines in-class examination with in-field exploration of themes and topics related to conflictual and complex interactions of commodities with cultures of Western Civilization—considering philosophical, theological, economic and political questions—as seen through the lens of the region of Latin America and the Caribbean. Domestically, 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. Internationally, via web-based interactions, 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 students 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 international, 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 C14: R 4:30-6:20, S27 & S28: M 4:30-6:20
The Mirror for Princes Tradition: From Late Antiquity to the French Revolution
Jonathan Wales, Christopher Berard

Mirror for princes, as defined by historian Björn Weiler, is a “genre of advice literature that outlines basic principles of conduct for rulers and of the structure and purpose of secular power, often in relationship either to a transcendental source of power or to abstract legal norms”. This colloquium will explore notable examples of this genre in the Latin West, Byzantine Empire, and Islamic World from Late Antiquity through to the French Revolution. It offers students a unique opportunity to explore the foundations of modern political science and also occasion to obtain some pearls of practical wisdom applicable to one’s own conduct and self-rule. Texts that we will explore include St Augustine’s City of God, Pseudo-Aristotle’s Secret of Secrets (Arabic), Melech Artus (Hebrew), Erasmus’s The Education of a Christian Prince and Charles Leslie’s The Case of the Regale and the Pontificat. The counsel to princes of moderation, justice and the taking of counsel has application to contemporary concerns of young people as they navigate the challenges of their personal and professional lives.

DWC 202 C16: T 4:30-6:20, S31 & S32: R 4:30-6:20
Through the Senses: Ritual and Practice in Judaism and Islam
Jackie Satlow, Ann Shafer

This course will explore key intersections between Western civilization and the global religious traditions of Judaism and Islam. Through first-hand sensory experience, students will learn the role of sight, sound, taste, smell, touch and movement in a variety of Jewish and Muslim practices. We will study rituals and celebrations, music and text recitation, culinary events, dress and fashion, architectural design, artistic expression and more. In this unique experiential approach, students will expand their usual field of academic inquiry to include the performative and intangible aspects of religious culture and heritage. Whether through listening to traditional songs or sharing a communal meal, we will come to better understand the role of religion in creating and maintaining essential societal structures, such as written languages and other forms of expression, legal systems, social justice, environmental and economic sustainability, communal ceremonies and rites of passage, gender roles, and familial relationships.

DWC 202 C17: F 2:30-4:20, S33 & S34: M 2:30-4:20; C20: F 12:30-2:20, S39 & S40: M 12:30-2:20
From Whence Comes Evil? Suffering and Injustice in the Ancient and Modern Worlds
Christopher Sauder, Katherine Wrisley Shelby
Pre-registration: Psychology, Biology, Philosophy, Theology, Art, French and History/Classics.

Do deadly diseases, natural disasters, war, conquest, slavery and genocide come about by accident or by the arbitrary actions of a few malign individuals? Or do all these forms of evil, in the ancient sense of the term, have some sort of common root? And, of course, why does God allow suffering to exist? This course will begin by attending to particular atrocities in the modern world that demand these questions be continuously re-raised, such as the current Covid-19 pandemic, the Holocaust and racial injustice.

From there, we will examine these questions by returning to the ancient world, beginning with the book of Job and Greek Tragedy before considering the philosophical treatments of the problem in the Stoic and Platonic schools. Patristic and medieval theological responses to the question, most especially those proffered by St. Augustine, will be presented alongside opposing viewpoints within Gnostic and Manichean mythological systems. Finally, we will read a selection of 20th-century theological and philosophical texts that respond to the problems of evil and suffering in the modern world. These often critique the ancient responses to the problem, and students will be asked to read these texts with an eye towards evaluating the contemporary arguments against the antique sources discussed earlier in the course. Through this exercise, students will gain a contemporary “vocabulary” for talking about evil and suffering.

DWC 202 C19: T 8:30-10:20, S37 & S38: R 8:30-10:20
Race and Identity in Contemporary America
Iain Bernhoft, Jiyoon Im

Questions of identity lie at the heart of American politics and culture. Your race, your sexual orientation, your chosen pronouns—these are the categories by which we define ourselves and our politics. At the same time, we understand the ways in which certain identities are marginalized or subject to violence. Hence, fundamental questions of freedom, justice, and representation are newly cast in terms of “identity.” This course examines the way we talk about identity in America today—race, gender, and sexual identity. It will ask questions such as: To what extent are individuals free to choose their identity? What kinds of assumptions do we make about race, gender, and sexual identity, and why? What role should nature—and human nature—play in navigating these issues? Why are these identity claims so controversial in an age dominated by self-expression and equality? And what is the Catholic response to these urgent moral claims? While the course will focus on contemporary America, it will also include perspectives from Britain, Jamaica, Ghana, and South Africa in order to help us see beyond the American bubble. Our readings will include Anglo-American essays, novels, and films from the 21st century.

DWC 202 C21: M 10:30-12:20, S41 & S42: W 10:30-12:20
Traditionalism and the Philosophia Perennis 
Patrick Macfarlane, Jonathan Wales

Since the Renaissance, there has existed a school of thought which believed in primordial transcendent realities before contemporary religions. This perennial philosophy argues that current religious faiths contain shards or refracted prisms of this original link between the divine and the mortal. In the twentieth century, the Traditionalist School led by such metaphysicians as Rene Guenon and Fritjof Schuon sought to connect mankind with these archaic truths. Additionally, the Traditionalist School influenced both the comparative religious studies of the historian Mircea Eliade and the analytical psychologist Carl Jung.
This class will intensively study the work of Traditionalist mystics and religious scholars. It will utilize both academic studies on the subject along with original texts on the nature of archaic religion. Additionally, literature and films on the Traditionalist world-view will be incorporated into the class. Above all, the class will introduce students into a unique school of comparative religion and philosophy that greatly affected Western intellectual history.

DWC 202 C22: R 10:30-12:20, S43&S44: T 10:30-12:20
The Life and Writings of C. S. Lewis
Fr. Issac Morales O.P., Fr. Jordan Zajac O.P.
Pre-registration: English, Theology

World War I vet. Oxford don. Poet. Literary critic. Christian apologist. Writer of children’s fiction. Perennial bachelor turned married man and, not long after, widower. In his sixty-five years on this earth, C. S. Lewis wore many hats. His writings, both voluminous and insightful, would have been impossible were it not for his unparalleled command of the literature and thought of Western civilization, and they touch on some of life’s most pressing existential questions: What is the nature of love? Is there a God, and if so, what implications does his existence have for my life? What might grieving over the loss of a loved one teach us about ourselves and about God? Is there an objective basis for morality that transcends cultures east and west? In this course we will explore these and other questions through a critical engagement with a sampling of Lewis’s writings, including his fiction, his poetry, his letters, and his essays, both long and short. Thinking with (and, at times, in disagreement with) Lewis will hone students’ critical thinking skills and serve as a fitting capstone to the four-semester study of Western culture.

DWC 202 C23: F 8:30-10:20, S45 & S46: M 8:30-10:20 & C27: F 8:30-10:20, S53 & S54: T 8:30-10:20
The History of Sports
Fr. John Vidmar O.P., 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 golf) and current issues in sports, but also philosophical, theological, social, medical, and economic issues throughout the history of the West. Guest speakers drawn from the various athletic disciplines both on and off-campus will augment the lecture material. The professors will also supply literature on the subject as well as audio-visual support.  

DWC 202 C24: T 4:30-6:20, S47 & S48: R 4:30-6:20
The Bricks and Mortar of Civilization: From Ancient Merchants to Amazon’s Marketplace
Courtney Bozigian, Guolin Yi

While we are living through the shift from brick & mortar shopping to e-commerce, we are also witnessing a reimagination of the shopping experience.Students will create plans for modern retail experiences that can co-exist in today’s online world, by learning about and discussing the evolution of retail models within time periods and cultures.

This colloquium not only traces the history of retail from early marketplaces through the rise of department stores and e-commerce, but also compares the retail models in the West (Netherlands, England, and the U.S.) and the East (China, Japan, and Korea).

We will explore modern global retail brands through multiple lenses including history, economics, sociology, religion, art & architecture, as well as branding & marketing. Questions and topics will include:

  • How do retail models emerge and evolve?
  • How do retail models reflect the societies in which they exist?
  • What factors impact the development of retail beyond economic or financial models?
  • What are the possible factors that would contribute to the success/failure of Western retail models and brands in East Asia?
  • How can we leverage historical retail models to reinvent or reimagine the modern retail experience?

DWC 202 C26: T 10:30-12:20, S51 & S52: R 10:30-12:20
American Socialism
William Hudson, Jeffrey Johnson

This colloquium will focus on the history of socialism in America, but we know to accomplish this analysis we will need to begin with a review of socialism as a political ideology, its intellectual origins, its variety, and its impact on politics around the world.  To set the stage, we will review the emergence of socialist ideas and critiques of capitalism in the work of Marx and other nineteenth century thinkers.  We will examine how these ideas evolved in theory and practice as socialist movements developed in Europe and around the world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  This analysis will include a discussion of terminology and the varieties of socialist practice such as democratic socialism, social democracy, and different authoritarian socialist forms.  Most of the semester course, however, will discuss how socialist ideas did and did not take root in American soil.  This will begin with studying the variety of attempts to establish socialist utopian communities in the 19th century.  We then will look at the variety of ways that socialist ideas influenced American political and labor organizations, such as the Populist Movement, the Knights of Labor, and the International Workers of the World.  We will analyze the successes and failures of forming a Socialist Party in the early decades of the twentieth century, including the role of influential figures like Eugene Debs, John Reed, Mother Jones, etc.  Special attention will be given to the considerable success of socialist politicians at the state and local level around the country and their lasting impact.   Our analysis will show how the prospects of socialism foundered by mid-century after World War I repression, the emergence of splits in the socialist movement after the Russian revolution, the struggles over the Great Depression and New Deal, and, of course, the Cold War. This historical analysis will lay the groundwork, by the end of the semester, for critical analysis of the new socialist revival and what the long history of American socialism can tell us about its future.

DWC 202 C29: W 12:30-2:20, S57 & S58: F 12:30-2:20
“He was Providence: The World of Howard Phillips Lovecraft”
Kathleen Troost-Cramer, Jonathan Wales

Providence native H.P. Lovecraft is considered the greatest author within twentieth century horror literature. His works have influenced figures from the famous authors Clive Barker and Stephen King to lesser-known authors such as Ambrose Ibsen, Darcy Coates, and Chris Sorensen.

Lovecraft spent the majority of his life in Providence and its people, culture and architecture greatly affected his fiction. Many locales associated with Lovecraft still stand in the city; the title of this course is a play on Lovecraft’s epitaph engraved on his grave marker at Swan Point Cemetery: “I Am Providence.” Lovecraft’s stories of primordial cults, Outer Gods and Old Ones and his love for the grotesque and alien have drawn many readers to him who savor his short stories and poems.

This interdisciplinary colloquium will intensively study both Lovecraft’s fiction and non-fiction in the context of his life and American society of his day. It will incorporate both his best-known stories in addition to little-known pieces. The class will incorporate the four core subjects of History, Literature, Philosophy and Theology in its examination of Lovecraft’s oeuvre. It will also introduce students to the history of Providence as a city; as Lovecraft was happiest when he dwelt in that “universal haven of the odd, the free, and the dissenting”. The class will also view and critically analyze film adaptations of Lovecraft’s fiction. Above all, the colloquium will serve as an introduction to a unique American author now recognized for his contribution to literature.

DWC 202 C30: W 8:30-10:20, S59 & S60: F 8:30-10:20
The Write Way to See: Natural History, Nature, and the Self
Alison Espach, Ryan Shea
Pre-registration: English: Creative Writing

This colloquium is primarily a creative writing workshop that will help you improve the quality and depth of your observations about the natural world. As Henry David Thoreau once wrote in his voluminous nature journals, when you observe the natural world, “The question is not what you look at, but how you look and whether you see.”  These questions of how you look and whether you see will be at the center of this creative writing colloquium as we read and write about the natural world. Much of the course will be spent analyzing the work of nature writers and poets (e.g., Annie Dillard, Mary Oliver, Aldo Leopold, Henry David Thoreau, and more) to better understand the many ways writers have already looked at the world and reported what they have seen. In our discussions, we will ask the following questions of each text: how does this writer capture the world’s qualitative diversity, its interlocking complexity, and its interpenetrating depth?; what does looking at the natural world in this way show us about our ourselves, our relationship to nature and each other?; and how can we use this piece of writing as a model for sharpening our own understanding and writing about the natural world? Toward this final end, we will assign many creative writing exercises and outdoor field trips/excursions that will become the basis of the nature essays, poetry and fiction that you will be asked to write, share, and workshop this semester. As the artist and critic John Ruskin said, “Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion, all in one.” 

DWC 202 C31: M 10:30-12:20, S61 & S62: W 10:30-12:20
Democracy in America
Patrick Breen, Raymond Hain
Pre-registration: Political Science, Philosophy, History, Classics, American Studies

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 C32: M 4:30-6:20, S64 & S64: R 4:30-6:20
How the Right Became Right: The Origins and Development of Modern American Conservative Thought
James Keating, Patrick 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, S69 & S70: M 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 will slay quite a few dragons and shed some light on the continent of Africa. We will be looking at the history of some Africa’s ancient empires – Songhai, Mali (home of arguably the first recorded billionaire). We will 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 will also be studying some African Literature and further look at African Cinema-particularly Nollywood.

DWC 202 C36: T 1:30-3:20, S71 & S72: R 1:30-3:20
Genesis and Exodus in Jewish and Catholic Tradition
Fr. John Allard O.P., Jacqueline 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 C37: W 12:30-2:20, S73 & S74: F 12:30-2:20
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.