Fall 2004

HUMS 631
Reformation to Postmodernism: Cosmic Dissolution/Evolution?

Arnold,Herbert A.

09/13/2004 - 12/18/2004
Tuesday -

This course examines the movement of central concepts, values, images, and institutions from the late Middle Ages to modern times. This succession may be viewed as progress, or as a breakdown, or as a series of conflicts. It may give rise to questions about the notion of a dominant culture or a univocal tradition; in any case, students will be encouraged to interpret the meaning of this sequence. Class discussion and assignments will emphasize interdisciplinary work with literary, philosophical, historical, and other texts. The central concepts of discussion will include the tendency toward greater democratization or inclusiveness of more and more social strata, and the replacement of hierarchical structures fixed in time by more fluid, open conceptual systems, constantly renegotiated. The course will also trace a major transformation in the use of language and images leading to our postmodern modes of perception and expression. Finally, and importantly, we will consider the unintended effects of reforms and revolutions, in terms of the transference of ideas and assumptions from one field to another, e.g., the Christian notion of equality before God to the political aspirations of peasants and bourgeoisie.

Major readings include Dante Alighieri, ON WORLD GOVERNMENT; Niccolo Machiavelli, THE PRINCE; Martin Luther, OPEN LETTER TO THE GERMAN NOBILITY; Anonymous, LAZARILLO DE TORMES;Denis Diderot, JACQUES, THE FATALIST; Mikhail Lermontov, A HERO OF OUR TIME; Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO; Charles Darwin, ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES; and Umberto Eco, FOUCAULT'S PENDULUM.

Students will be required to participate actively in class discussion and to complete three papers (10-12 pages each), or, with the instructor's permission, two papers, and one oral report.

This course may, by petition, count toward the social sciences concentration.

Herbert Arnold (Ph.D. University of Wurzburg) is professor of letters and German studies, emeritus. He is author of numerous articles and essays, including "Aspects of Otherness in Adolf Muschg and Erica Pedretti," in the Germanic Review.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Anonymous, LAZARILLO DE TORMES (Penguin), Paperback

Darwin, DARWIN (W.W. Norton), Paperback

Denis Diderot, JACQUES THE FATALIST (W.W. Norton), Paperback

Umberto Eco, FOUCAULT'S PENDULUM (Ballantine Books), Paperback

Goethe, FAUST (W.W. Norton), Paperback

Sigmund Freud, CIVILIZATION AND IT'S DISCONTENT (W.W. Norton), Paperback

Martin Luther, THREE TREATISES (Fortress Press) Paperback

Niccolo Machiavelli, THE PRINCE (W.W. Norton), Paperback

Karl Marx & Frederick Engels, COMMUNIST MANIFESTO (Bedford Books), Paperback

Pope, AN ESSAY ON MAN (MacMillan), Paperback

PLEASE NOTE: A course packet will be available for purchase at Broad Street Books.


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