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Fall 2013 Course Descriptions

English/Philosophy 3100G Cultural Foundations I

Section 001       CRN 90785
Otto
Cultural Foundations I     1100-1215 TR

This core-curriculum course centers on three five-week segments, introducing distinctive cultural foundations by studying primary texts. The first segment examines the foundations of Western culture in classical Greece and Rome. Among the themes to be discussed are the differences in mythic and rationalist world views, relations between mind and body, concepts of reality versus appearances, and the development of tragic dimensions in humanity. Readings from the Greeks will be taken primarily from Homer, Sophocles and Plato; those from the Romans will be primarily from Virgil.

The second segment will examine Jewish and Christian foundations for Western culture, drawing on readings from the Hebrew Bible and continuing to trace the development of Judaism. As the segment unfolds, the foundations of Christianity and its development in the Medieval Church, in the Protestant Reformation and in the modern period will be discussed, with readings drawn from the New Testament.

The third segment introduces Sub-Saharan African cultural foundations in contrast to the earlier emphasis on Western culture. The segment introduces traditional African culture by examining late 19th C. Ibo culture in Nigeria through a reading of the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. To conclude the segment, a short novel by Kenyan Ngugi wa Thiong’o and a long poem by Ugandan Okot p’Bitek will enable students to explore the relationships between colonizing and colonized cultures and to reflect on the impact of Western culture upon non-Western, African cultures.  

The course format will be informal lecture and exploratory discussion; course requirements will consist of three essay examinations (20% each, including the final) and two five-to-six page essays (15% each) [90%] as well as participation (10%)—consisting of discussion, quizzes and written responses to reading assignments. (Group 5)