Analytical Inquiry: Society and Culture
ENGL 1110-1 (CRN 2377): Literary Inquiry, Bin Ramke, TR 10:00-11:50, Mary Reed 1
Look up the word “pastoral” and you are likely to find yourself among theology school syllabi—courses on the care of the soul. Next you might be negotiating among Latin poems, then eventually you settle into an array of British poems and the occasional American ecologically-minded discussion of the virtues of wilderness. All of this is relevant, but not sufficiently descriptive of what this course is about. The term “pastoral” refers to an ancient literary form, primarily poetic, and it refers as well to content—descriptions of the rural with an implicit contrast to the urban. And there is a skeptical use of the term as pejorative; often in contemporary usage “pastoral” implies a failure to see current conditions, needs, and dangers. We will consider political, psychological, aesthetic, and historical uses of the term so we might come to understand how the binary oppositions of country and city have been contrasted and used to various purposes over time. But notice also the book list—we will examine pastoral in its absence, by examining the imagined and the real authority of The City.
ENGL 2742-1/JUST 2742-1 (CRN 4302): Modern Hebrew Literature in Translation, Adam Rovner, TR 2:00-3:50, Sturm 311
This course offers a survey of significant works of modern Hebrew literary fiction by major authors in translation. Students will consider how the development of Hebrew literature has contributed to the formation of contemporary Israeli identity, and how the conflicts that define the turbulent history of Israel are treated in works of prose fiction by canonical authors. The selection of diverse voices and literary materials exposes students to the social, political, and historical changes wrought by the rise of modern day Israel. Through lectures, close-reading, and exercises, students will gain an appreciation for some of the fundamental tensions that define Hebrew literature and Israeli culture: (1) collective vs. individual identity, (2) Jewish vs. Arab/Palestinian nationalism, (3) the concept of Diaspora vs. Zion. Our study aims to reveal the historical and ideological context of these tensions to offer a nuanced perspective on an area of the world in conflict. Readings are roughly chronological, and will be drawn from a variety of sources, both primary and secondary. Students will be coached on various interpretive strategies, the intent of which is to make their time spent reading more valuable. While helpful, no knowledge of Hebrew, Jewish tradition, or Israeli history is necessary.
HIST 1360-1 (CRN 4307): World War I, Carol Helstosky, TR 12:00-1:50, Sturm 496
Historians have argued that the First World War definitively shaped the twentieth century. It set the stage for World War II; it redefined the role of government in citizens’ lives; it brought technology full-force into power struggles between nations; it simultaneously birthed communism and fascism; and it desensitized entire generations to violence and brutality. Historians have also argued that the First World War was tragic, incoherent, and senseless. The war was sparked by a minor incident; military leaders never fully grasped the concept of “modern” warfare; and governments were slow to react to constantly shifting military and social circumstances. How could something so irrational be so important? In this class we will explore this central paradox of the war by reading both primary and secondary sources, discussing significant themes and ideas related to the war, and delving into several micro-levels of analysis for this global catastrophe. Students unfamiliar with the war will more firmly grasp the historical significance of the event while students who may be familiar with the war will gain new insights and interpretations of how the war was conducted and why the war mattered. Students will read the words and thoughts of those who participated in the war, as well as interpretations of the war by historians.