LIBERAL STUDIES COURSES
GLIB 5891 Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov Spring 2011. Three credits. Noah Isenberg
I. Intellectual History GLIB 6315 Modernity and Its Discontents Fall 2010. Three Credits. Jim Miller
An introduction to liberal studies at the New School for Social Research, this seminar brings new students and faculty together to explore a variety of themes and texts that epitomize some of the critical concerns of our age. Among the topics discussed are freedom and the problem of progress; human rights; individualism; the end of slavery and the implications of European world domination; new views of human nature; the idea of the avant-garde; and the moral implications of modern war and totalitarianism. Among the authors read are Rousseau, Kant, Goethe, James Madison, Robespierre, Condorcet, Hegel, Marx, Emerson, Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky, Joseph Conrad, Darwin, Freud, Ernst Jünger, Georg Lukács, André Malraux, Jean Améry, Walter Benjamin, Hannah Arendt, and Michel Foucault. GLIB 5531 The Great War in Narrative Perspective(s) Spring 2011. Three credits. Ann-Louise Shapiro
The legacies of World War I continue to be felt nearly a century later. Because it was a “total war,” it drew virtually all aspects of human life into its orbit. Yet these legacies have been understood differently by different kinds of authors writing in different times, in different genres and within different historiographical frameworks. This course explores the various resonances and interpretations of the “Great War” by asking: How did eye-witness accounts shape the war story? How did the understanding of the war’s legacies change in light of subsequent conflicts? What role did novelists and filmmakers play in telling the war story? And how have more popular accounts intersected with those of professional historians? What are the important differences of interpretation that have emerged from different analytic frameworks? In addressing these questions, the course uses primary and secondary documents, novels, and films to explore the creation and transformation of historical knowledge.
II. Art, Literature, and Society GLIB 5536 Drama of Opera Spring 2011. Three credits. Stefania de Kenessey
Contrary to commonly accepted wisdom, opera was not invented as an essentially musical form but as the recreation of Greek drama, understood to be a perfect synthesis of all the arts (such as poetry, theater, dance, song, instrumental music, painting and architecture). In this course, we examine the evolution of opera from this perspective, tracing its development from Monteverdi’s pioneering L’Orfeo (1607) to its music-theater incarnations in the twentieth century with Kurt Weill’s Threepenny Opera (1928) and Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story (1955), concluding with contemporary examples of multi-media performance art work. For the final project, students either conduct independent research on a composer, period or related non-Western genre, or write the book and lyrics for a 15-minute opera on a topic of their choice.
For Fyodor Dostoevsky, real ideas were things felt and not simply thought. This could explain why one might think that a novel like The Brothers Karamazov—his last and arguably greatest work—has a philosophical, theological, or ideological value that would lend passion to what one already happens to believe. This course will attempt a close reading of the novel that appreciates but ultimately exceeds its status as a source for social psychology, for theories of carnival and dialogue, Christian dogma, anti-theodicy, ethics, and political philosophy. After their initial encounter with what is, before anything else, a thrilling murder mystery, students will examine the novel’s contexts in a few of Dostoevsky’s shorter works and in his notebooks, alongside secondary readings by Mikhail Bakhtin, Lev Shestov, Robert Belknap, Joseph Frank, Michael Holquist, Harriet Murav, Caryl Emerson, James Rice, Rene Girard, Emmanuel Levinas, and Gary Saul Morson. GLIB 5533 Love in the Western World: What Happened? Fall 2010. Three credits. Ernestine Schlant-Bradley
In 1940, the French scholar Denis de Rougement published his monumental study Love in the Western World, based on a detailed analysis of the Tristan myth. With this text as background, we will survey a wider terrain, starting with the ancient distinction between Eros and Agape, and surveying a variety of different other modes of love: passion, obsession, jealousy, destructiveness, suffering, transcendence. Among the readings will be Hippolytus by Euripides: poetry by Catullus and Ovid; the letters of Abelard and Heloise; the myth of Tristan and Isolde; the mystical poetry of the Troubadours and of Mechthild of Magdeburg; Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos; Sufferings of Young Werther by Goethe; Madame Bovary by Flaubert, Lolita by Nabokov; Couples by John Updike; Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; The Hours by Michael Cunnginham; Atomized by Michel Houellebecq; and two films, Brokeback Mountain and Breaking the Waves. GLIB 5529 Evil and Sin in Western Literature Spring 2011. Three credits. Melissa Monroe
The problem of evil is central to any examination of the human situation. Philosophers and social scientists have taken various stances on this problem, as have different religious traditions. Some hold that people are essentially good, succumbing to evil only as a result of temptation or social pressure. Others maintain that we are fallen creatures who must constantly struggle to overcome our base impulses. Still others view human nature as essentially divided, a battleground between good and evil. Many recent thinkers would argue that all these viewpoints are meaningless, that the terms good and evil have no objective validity, referring only to socially constructed beliefs which vary enormously over time and space. In this course, we read texts from the Western tradition which approach evil from various perspectives, both religious and secular. Some major themes include Satan and other personifications of evil, knowledge as temptation, transgression as heroic rebellion, the figure of the Doppelgänger and the allure of decadence. Our main focus will be on how these themes are addressed in works of literature, but we also read selections from nonliterary authors whose views will inform our discussion of the literary texts. Among the authors read are Saint Augustine, Shakespeare, Goethe, Milton, Hawthorne, James Hogg, Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche, William James, Flannery O’Connor, Hannah Arendt, Stanley Milgram, Philip Zimbardo, J.M. Coetzee, Kazuo Ishiguro and José Saramago.