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Our main theme will be to examine the ideas of Justice and Law in ancient Greece from the time of Homer down to the time of Plato (ca. 750-380 BCE). To this end we will be reading and discussing a variety of ancient texts. We will also consider the role of the divine and the role of the state in these matters. Since context is important, we will also be looking at other issues such as status and gender. A central concern will be how perceptions of these matters change through time.
Suspended between medieval and modern, the Baroque age (c. 1600-c. 1750) was a time of paradox. While it was characterized by war, upheaval, corruption, and persecution, it was also period of tremendous social, political, scientific, and artistic innovation and renewal, giving rise to such figures as Galileo, Descartes, Rembrandt, and Cervantes, and laying the foundation for modern ideas about science, religion, individuality, feminism, political theory, and artistic self-determination.
This course will be serve as an introduction to some of the major themes and protagonists of this vibrant era, as well as serving as an introduction to interdisciplinary historical method. The focus of the course will be upon the investigation of primary sources—original texts, images, and rare books—and the secondary scholarly literature, as well as developing research, writing, and presentation skills.
Darkness and Light: Tales from Medieval France and Premodern Japan
Throughout the ages writers have sought to give form and shape to that which troubles our spirits and haunts our dreams. What is this dark thing, this shadow? Carl Jung used the word “shadow” to describe the part of a human psyche that a person does not want to think about or cannot acknowledge—a mythological name for the dark, unlit side of the ego. But Jung’s is a modern view. How were premodern writers influenced by the dark side of human nature? What did they call it and how was it seen? What methods were used to harness it’s force and tap the potential therein? These are some of the questions we will ask as we compare and contrast literary works from Medieval France (lais of Marie de France and ballades of François Villon) with those from premodern Japan (a tale by Murasaki Shikibu and haiku of Matsuo Bashō). Our purpose is not only to explore the theme of darkness and light within unique historical and cultural contexts, but also to discover what connects us as human beings across distance and time.