Courses for the SPRING 2023 quarter are listed below.  You may also check the SPRING 2023 Course Schedules (published by the Registrar) for the most up-to-date information.  Course descriptions from previous years (and previous courses from this academic year) can be found to the left under "Course Archive."


SCTH 31210 The Iliad
Instructor: Laura Slatkin

In this course we will read the Iliad in translation, supplemented by selections from other works from the archaic period, including fragments from the Epic Cycle and the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women. We will also make some turns toward recent Iliadic ventures in English, including Alice Oswald's Memorial and Christopher Logue's War Music. "The poem of force" according to Simone Weil, the Iliad is also the poem of marriage, homosociality/the "Männerbund", and exchange. Among our concerns will be: the poetics of traditionality; the political economy of the epic; the Iliad's construction of social order; the uses of reciprocity; gender in the Homeric poems. Although no knowledge of Greek is required for this course, there will be assignment options for those who wish to do reading in Greek. Requirements: weekly readings; response paper posted on Canvas for each class meeting; final paper.  Mondays/Wednesdays 1:30-4:50 (course runs 3/20-4/21), X CLAS 44300, FNDL 21214 

SCTH 31701 Machiavelli's Literary Works
Instructor: Nathan Tarcov

A reading of Machiavelli's plays, stories, poems, and selected letters both as literary works and for their relation to his comprehensive works, The Prince and Discourses on Livy. Themese to be explored include politics, erotics, and religion. Familiarity with The Prince is assumed. 
Thursdays 12:30-3:20, FNDL 20801, LLSO 20802, PLSC 20801, PLSC 32101 

PHIL 21724 Virtues of Citizenship
Instructor: Gabriel Lear

What are the qualities of character that enable us to be valuable members of our political communities, the institutions that employ us, and any other groups of which we are a part? Do the right answers to these questions depend on where you are situated in the community or on the form of political constitution in question? Do they harmonize with each other? And are these the same as the qualities that make us morally good human beings? These are questions that the Ancient Greek philosophers thought hard about and we will take the works of those thinkers as our starting point and constant companions. But we will consider some moderns as well, and our goal will be to enrich our reflection about the kinds of people we ourselves would like to be. Virtues we may discuss include: civic friendship, justice, forthrightness in public speech (parrhesia), courage, and (for lack of a better term) effectiveness. (A)
Mondays/Wednesdays, 1:30-2:50, X SCTH 31724, PHIL 31724

PLSC 22013: Adam Smith's Social and Political Thought
Instructor: Jennifer Pitts

Adam Smith's thought, and his immense influence, ranged across a remarkable array of subjects: from rhetoric and the art of writing, through the early history of language and thought, through moral philosophy and the history of law and government, to the political economy of the modern commercial state and the politics of global empires. This seminar reads Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments and Wealth of Nations in light of his broader intellectual concerns in less well-known works, and in the philosophical and political context of the Scottish Enlightenment, especially in relation to the work of David Hume. We will pay particular attention to such topics as Smith's ambivalent account of progress, his narrative of global history, his critique of European commercial society and imperial expansion, and his polemical and didactic purposes. We will also read selectively from the rich body of new scholarly literature on Smith. Wednesdays, 1:30-4:20, X SCTH 32013, PLSC 42013, CCCT 22013, CCCT 42013 

PLSC 23010: Liberalism and Empire
Instructor: Jennifer Pitts

The mutual constitution of liberal political thought and modern European empires has been the subject a vibrant new body of work in both political theory and the history of political thought over the past two decades. The evolution of liberal thought coincided and intersected with the rise of European empires, and those empires have been shaped by liberal preoccupations, including ideas of tutelage in self-government, exporting the rule of law, and the normativity of European modernity. Some of the questions this course will address include: how was liberalism, an apparently universalistic and egalitarian theory, used to legitimate conquest and imperial domination? Is liberalism inherently imperialist? Are certain liberal ideas and doctrines (progress, development, liberty) particularly compatible with empire? What does, or what might, a critique of liberal imperialism look like? Readings will include historical works by authors such as Mill, Tocqueville, and Hobson, as well as contemporary works of political theory and the history of political thought (by authors such as James Tully, Michael Ignatieff, David Kennedy, and Uday Mehta). Thursdays, 2:00-4:50, X SCTH 33010, PLSC 33010, CCCT 33010, HMRT 23010, KNOW 21401, LLSO 25903

DVPR 31800 Introduction to Phenomenology
Instructor: Ryan Coyne

Phenomenology has exerted an unparalleled influence on the history of twentieth century and twenty-first century continental thought. In this course we will examine its development as well as its impact on related areas of inquiry: existentialism, hermeneutics, critical theory, and deconstruction. We will focus our attention on the problematic status of phenomenology as what Edmund Husserl called “universal knowledge.” Readings will be drawn from: Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Emmanuel Levinas, Simone de Beauvoir, Frantz Fanon, Hannah Arendt, and Jacques Derrida, among others. Tuesdays/Thursdays 3:30-4:50, X SCTH 33905, THEO 33905, RLST 24905

GRMN 35223: Modernism, Fascism, Avant Garde: Thomas Mann's Dr. Faustus
Instructor: David Wellbery

This seminar convenes seventy-five years after publication of Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus in its final version (1948). The overriding intention is to foster a conversation bearing on the novel’s relevance to the contemporary historical moment in thought, art, and politics. In a collective reading/discussion of the novel, we shall concentrate on the following issues: a) the significance of modernism in the arts; b) the relation between literature and music; c) myth and modernity; d) the question of national guilt; e) the relevance of humanistic learning; f) the responsibility of the artist; g) the possibility of grace. The core assignment is simple: Read the novel caringly and carefully! There will also be some brief adjacent readings: one or two political essays by Mann and T.W. Adorno’s essay on Beethoven’s late style (a source for some of Mann’s thinking). It is recommended (but not requisite) that participants familiarize themselves with Mann’s other probing meditation on the artist, Death in Venice. We will take occasional side glances at the situation of German exiles in Southern California at the time the novel was written. (Chicago enters into this background story as well.) Our text will be the translation by John E. Woods published by Vintage Books. For those who will also be consulting the German original, the edition of the Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag (In der Fassung der Großen kommentierten Frankfurter Ausgabe, 2012) is indispensable. Wednesdays 3:30-6:20, X SCTH 35223

SCTH 35994 Epistemic Virtues
Instructors: Lorraine Daston and Glenn Most

Epistemic virtues are to the pursuit of scientific and scholarly truth what moral virtues are to the pursuit of the ethically good: personal qualities more likely (though never certain) to advance these goals and therefore ones instilled and praised by the communities dedicated to such pursuits. In both the contemporary humanities and the sciences, epistemic virtues include rigor, precision, objectivity, and productivity; in past epochs, certainty ranked high. As in the case of moral virtues, various epistemic virtues can not only coexist with or even support but also come into conflict with one another, raising the question: how to adjudicate their competing claims? Using historical and contemporary case studies, this seminar will explore a range of epistemic virtues in both the humanities and sciences. The aim is to reflect on commonalities and differences across the disciplines and on the ways in which ethics and epistemology converge. Mondays/Wednesdays 9:30-12:20, X CHSS 35994, CLAS 33722, HIST 39505, PHIL 35994, CLCV 23722, HIPS 25994, PHIL 25994

SCTH 35995 Sophocles, Philoctetes
Instructor: Glenn Most

A close literary and philological analysis of one of the most remarkable of all Greek tragedies. This is the only play of Sophocles that does not include even one female character; it raises important and perplexing issues of gender, ethics, politics, suffering, the body, education, and trust, to name only a few. While the poetic text, in its many dimensions, including staging, will offer more than adequate material for classroom analysis and discussion, attention will also be directed to comparing what can be known about other versions of the story and to exploring the reception of this play. Fridays, 9:30-12:20X GREK 44722, GREK 24722

SCTH 37325 Politics and Philosophy: Leo Strauss's "The City and Man"
Instructor: Heinrich Meier
The City and Man is a philosophical discussion of the complex relation between politics and philosophy. In chapter 1 (on Aristotle) politics is considered from the perspective of the citizen or statesman; in chapter 2 (on Plato's Republic) it is reflected on from the point of view of the philosopher; and in chapter 3 (on Thucydides' History) it is seen within the horizon of the prephilosophic political community.

The center of the book is Strauss's dialogue with Plato's Republic. Strauss interprets “the broadest and deepest analysis of political idealism ever made” as a work of education. This education has a moderating effect on political ambition and leads its best readers to the philosophic life. The longest and perhaps most intriguing chapter, Strauss's discussion of Thucydides, focuses on the political life and leads up to the question “what is a god?” Mondays/Wednesdays, 10:30-1:20 (course runs 3/20-4/21), PHIL 37325, CLAS 37422, CLCV 27422, FNDL 27004, PHIL 27325

HIST 64612 Colloquium: Political Economy and the Enlightenment's Long Twentieth Century
Instructors: Joel Isaac and Paul Cheney

Beginning in the 1970s, intellectual historians in the Euro-American world began to rediscover what had been a temporarily lost world of Enlightenment-era political economy. During the interval of comparative oblivion before this rediscovery, nineteenth-century classical political economy appeared to hold the keys to understanding the origins and evolution of advanced industrial societies; but the political and economic turbulence of the 1970s announced the end of that implicit consensus. We shall begin by examining, among others, members of the "Cambridge School" such as John Pocock and Istvan Hont, as well as non-Cantabridgian pioneers like Albert Hirschman, Jean-Claude Perrot, Reinhart Koselleck, and Hugh Trevor-Roper. In the first part of the course, our aim will be to reconstruct the late twentieth-century questions to which the political economy of a resolutely preindustrial eighteenth century seemed to be an answer. At issue will be increasingly contested understandings of sociability; the autonomy and rationality of market processes; the role of the state; globalization; and the anachronism of virtue in individualistic, liberal societies. We will then turn our attention to the debates and analytical refinements among the political economists of the long eighteenth century. These may include Charles Davenant, Bernard Mandeville, Charles de Montesquieu, William Petty, François Quesnay, Adam Smith, and Anne-Robert Jacques Turgot. Fridays, 9:30-12:20, X SCTH 40132

PHIL 50113 The Concept of World and Its Vulnerability
Instructors: Jonathan Lear and Matthew Boyle
We will be interested in the special and problematic notion of an attitude toward the world as a whole, and in some questions that arise in contexts where people face what they experience as the end of their world or its vulnerability to destruction. Readings will include texts from Freud, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein, as well as more contemporary readings from Cora Diamond, Jonathan Lear, Brian O’Shaughnessy, and others. Mondays, 1:30-4:20, X SCTH 50113

SCTH 50305 Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil
Instructor: Robert Pippin
A close reading of the book Nietzsche considered the most accessible and thorough account of his views. Tuesdays, 3:30-6:20, X PHIL 37319, PHIL 27319

CDIN 50622 Creations: the Popol Vuh and Paradise Lost
Instructor: Edgar Garcia and Timothy Harrison

While apparently worlds apart, John Milton's Paradise Lost (1667) and the K'iche' Maya story of creation the Popol Vuh (1702) are historically adjacent works of world creation that remind us that world creations happen in historical circumstances, that creation itself is nothing if not historically, socially, and critically tensioned. This class thinks with and between these works to ask conceptual questions about creation and its relationship to myth and history. What are creations for? What kinds of thinking and feeling do they enable? And how should we understand the framework of comparability itself? At the same time, we will rethink the global historical currents within which the texts were written: the early modern anglophone, hispanophone, and indigenous worlds whose interconnections bind together the creation stories told by Milton and the anonymous K'iche' Maya authors. Listening closely for shared engagements with colonialism, race, religion, political power, historical experience, pedagogy, intellection, imagination, critique, and social crisis, we will look for through-lines between these works but also for distinct points of departure and incommensurability. Tuesdays, 11:00-1:50, X SCTH 50306, CDIN 50622, ENGL 50622


Share this page