First-year students may choose to take one of three Learning and Living seminars offered this Fall semester and described below. More details about each seminar can be found on WesMaps, Wesleyan's on-line course catalog.


Great Books Unbound: How to Live Forever

COL 150F – Sections 01, 02, 03
Fall 2018

(01)  Professor Gabrielle Ponce-Hegenauer, literature 

(02)  Professor Daniel Smyth, philosophy 

(03)  Professor Jesse Torgerson, history   

How do classic works in literature manage to break the bounds of humanity and live forever? This multidisciplinary humanities course explores in-depth four compelling works, which each run up against the very limits of being human through their explorations of love, reason, fame, and evil itself. Interwoven weekly lectures by three professors from different disciplines will bring out complementary and/or conflicting dimensions of meaning. These dynamic interpretative tensions flow into the twice-weekly small discussion seminars and periodic writing workshops to bring students' critical reading to the next level.

We will ground our ambitious inquiry into the immortal and the infinite in three texts representative of the College of Letters' three core methodologies: history (the ALEXANDER ROMANCE), philosophy (Descartes' MEDITATIONS), and literary studies (Shakespeare's ROMEO AND JULIET). Then, with our heightened skills in critical reading, analytical interpretation, and persuasive writing, we will conclude by developing our own interdisciplinary approach to Boito's MEFISTOFELE (an opera based on Goethe's FAUST). The course will travel to the Metropolitan Opera in New York to experience the opera live.