Courses for Summer 2017

LST 7100    Foundation/AncientGod and Philosophy-- The Guide of the Perplexed

Dr. Brian Satterfield

W 6:15-9:30 p.m.

Written in the twelfth century by an Arabic-speaking Jewish philosopher, Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed is an esoteric masterwork, posing key questions of the relation of faith and reason with unrivaled clarity and fundamentality:  what is the nature of God, prophecy, providence, and miracles? How is the figurative language of the Bible to be interpreted? What are its claims and how are they to be understood?  Are they in conflict with the teachings of reason as adumbrated by classical philosophy? And what is a thinking person to believe about the teaching of the Bible? On all these questions, Maimonides’ strange and enchanting text, putting into dialogue Judaism, Islam, and classical philosophy, remains startlingly fresh and illuminating. It is probably also the single most profound and arresting philosophic exploration of the question: what is God?
 

LST 7102:    Great Books:  Horror and Terror: The Uses of Fear

Dr. Ruth Anolik

T 6:15-9:30 p.m.

Horror and terror entertainments are often dismissed as irrelevant escapism.  Yet a careful examination of horror and terror fiction reveals that it actually hides and projects the deepest fears of the culture that generates it.  In this course, we will examine moments of horror and terror from their earliest appearances in the Bible and in Greco-Roman literature.  We will read a medieval story of a werewolf.  We will read the most horrifying play of William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus. Turning to a high moment of horror and terror, the eighteenth-century Gothic (which was admittedly influenced by Shakespeare) we will read Ann Radcliffe’s useful distinction of terror from horror.  We will then read Gothic texts that exemplify each: Radcliffe’s terrifying Sicilian Romance, and Matthew Lewis’s horrifying The Monk.  We will read four nineteenth-century texts – two poems and a novella that represent the monstrosity of female sexuality, and a short story from the turn of the century that reveals the horrors of death.   We will then move to American culture to examine a variety of texts that express particularly American anxieties.  Our last written text will be Sarah Water’s Affinity, a gripping English novel of possession, terror and eros.  Throughout the semester we will turn to the scholarly work of critics to help us make some meaning of the anxious texts we encounter.  Since the medium of film is entwined with the terror/horror tradition, we will view and discuss some key films.  At each moment we will ask: what real social anxieties lurk within the text?  What are the cultural, social and psychological uses of such expressions?

LST 7300:  American Studies:  American Religion and Culture

Dr. Eugene McCarraher

R 6:15-9:30 p.m.

In this course, we will examine the mutual influences of religion and culture in American history, from the Puritan "city on a hill" in the 17th century to the arrival of "New Age" movements in the 21st.  We will explore how religion has influenced and been influenced by the rise of capitalism, changing ideas about the meaning of "freedom" and "pluralism," the development of mass culture, the shifting demographics of immigration, and evolving conceptions of race, gender, and sexuality.