Shared Inquiry. Although I am a historian by training, the approach I take towards Great Books courses isn’t historical but follows Shared Inquiry. Used by many GB instructors, it emphasizes the honing of interpretative skill in the context of group discussion and essay writing.
Students coming into Great Books I in Fall 2015 may want to take a look at the booklet on Shared Inquiry. I will go over it with them during the first week of class.
Essays. Students in my GB I sections typically write one 1000-word essay and three essays of 1500-2000 words each. For II and III, they write three (3) essays of 2000 words or more. In IV, they write two (2) essays of 2500 words or more and complete a special project to be determined in consultation with the instructor.
Reading list for 2015-2017.
Click here for an explanation of the list.
War & love – Homer, Iliad ~ Sappho, Poems
Women & society – Euripides, Medea (plus viewing at the Getty Villa)
Justice – Plato, Republic
Virtue & friendship – Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics
Political biography – Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars
Mission & journey – Virgil, Aeneid
Self & conversion – Augustine, Confessions
Medieval vision – Dante, The Divine Comedy
Women & mysogyny – De Pizan, The Book of the City of Ladies
Renaissance – Vasari, Lives of the Artists ~ Machiavelli, The Prince
Christian reform – Luther, On the Freedom of a Christian
Love & loss – Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
Folly & rebellion – Molière, Tartuffe ~ Milton, Paradise Lost
Modernity & Enlightenment – Descartes, Discourse on the Method ~ Rousseau, A Discourse on Inequality ~ Voltaire, Candide
Ethics & society – Kant, Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals ~ Austen, Persuasion
The private self – Dickinson, selected poems
March 2017: Thanks to a teaching grant from the Glazer Institute for Jewish Studies, for this semester I’ll substitute Solzhenitsyn and Tocqueville with two texts from Jewish writers: Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism; and Saul Bellow, Seize the Day. The Arendt book will be read right after Nietzsche, and Bellow after Du Bois.
The esthete – Kierkegaard, Either/Or ~ Percy, The Moviegoer
Modernity in crisis – Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals ~ Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
American experience – Tocqueville, Democracy in America ~ Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk
Modernism – Pirandello, Six Characters in Search of an Author ~ Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway ~ Bergman, Persona (film)
Readings for 2014-2015
Aeschylus, Persians (plus viewing at the Getty Villa)
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics
Plutarch, Roman Lives
Benedict, The Rule of Benedict
Dante, The Divine Comedy
De Pizan, The Book of the City of Ladies
Machiavelli, The Prince
Luther, On the Freedom of a Christian
Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
Readings for 2013-2014
Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound (viewing at the Getty Villa)
Milton, Paradise Lost
Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy
Locke, Second Treatise on Government
Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals
Percy, The Moviegoer
Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals
Beckett, Waiting for Godot
Weil, Waiting for God
Proust, Swann’s Way
Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway