Great Books at Pepperdine. Here are a brief overview of the program, a video channel, the Facebook page, and the course website of a long-time Great Books faculty.

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.

Great Books IV in Spring 2014

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.

FALL 2015

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 & misogyny – 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

FALL 2016

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 DayThe 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)

10154912_593647234063838_951805004312985388_nReadings for 2014-2015

Homer, Iliad

Aeschylus, Persians (plus viewing at the Getty Villa)

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

Plato, Republic

Virgil, Aeneid

Plutarch, Roman Lives

Augustine, Confessions

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

Molière, Tartuffe

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound (viewing at the Getty Villa)

Milton, Paradise Lost

Shelley, Frankenstein

Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy

Locke, Second Treatise on Government

Defoe, Robinson Crusoe

Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals

Franklin, Autobiography

Kierkegaard, Either/Or

Percy, The Moviegoer

Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals

Beckett, Waiting for Godot

Weil, Waiting for God

Proust, Swann’s Way

Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

Last but not least, let’s dance and let’s rap to Great Books!