Honors Rhetoric: Language and Experience

Honors Humanities Seminar I: Human Responsibility

2000-level Honors writing seminar

Course Description: Discernment and Discourse 2305, the first course in the Honors Humanities sequence, poses fundamental questions about how we understand the physical, political, emotional, and social worlds we inhabit. We will read, discuss, and write about texts from a range of disciplines, including literature, psychology, linguistics, and science that ask to think twice about limits and possibilities of knowledge. The goal of the course is to learn to think and write clearly about even those matters that remain uncertain, and to take pleasure in the process of discovery.


John Fowles, The French Lieutenant’s Woman
Sigmund Freud, Five Lectures on Psychoanalysis
Heinrich von Kleist, The Marquise of O
Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
Plus short stories, fables, and parables posted on Blackboard.

Class schedule:

 I. Knowledge and Learning

T Aug. 27       Introduction to course; Lydia Davis “Story”

R Aug. 29       Parables of Jesus; Fables from Aesop

(Common reading author to lecture tonight at 5pm; attendance encouraged)

T Sept. 3        Plato, “Allegory of the Cave”; Kafka, “Before the Law”

R Sept. 5        Kleist, “The Marquise of O—”

T Sept. 10      Kleist, cont’d.; Paper 1 assigned

R Sept. 12      Kleist, cont’d.; Writing workshop on first 2 paragraphs of Paper 1

II. Language, Signs, and Meaning

T Sept. 17      Semiotics presentation; St. Augustine, from On Christian Doctrine; Graves, “The

Cool Web”

R Sept. 19      Borges, “Funes the Memorious”; Donne Holy Sonnet 14; Frost, “Design”;

Stevens, “Anecdote of a Jar”; Paper 1 due

T Sept. 24      Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chapters 1 & 2)

R Sept. 26      Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chapters 5 & 7)

III. Interpreting the Self

T Oct. 1         Freud, Five Lectures on Psychoanalysis (Lectures 1 & 2)

R Oct. 3         Freud, Five Lectures (Lectures 3 -5)

T Oct. 8         Freud, cont’d.; Paper 2 assigned

R Oct. 10       Faulkner, “A Rose for Emily”; Workshop on first two paragraphs of Paper 2

T Oct. 15       Fall Break

IV. Interpreting Society

R Oct. 17       Marx, The Communist Manifesto (Chapters 1 & 2); Paper 2 due

T Oct. 22       Marx, cont’d.

W Oct. 23      Slavs! Thinking About the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness by

Tony Kushner, Margo Jones Theatre, 8:00 pm (attendance is mandatory)

R Oct. 24       No class (Slavs! On Wed. 23rd in lieu of today’s class)

T Oct. 29       Joyce, “The Boarding House”

R Oct. 31       Midterm exam

T Nov. 5        Woolf, A Room of One’s Own (Chapters 1-3)

R Nov. 7        Woolf, A Room of One’s Own (Chapter 6)

T Nov. 12      Woolf, cont’d.; Rossetti, “Goblin Market”; Paper 3 assigned

V. Interpreting Everything

R Nov. 14      Fowles, The French Lieutenant’s Woman (Chapters 1-13)

T Nov. 19      Fowles, cont’d. (Chapters 14-21)

W Nov. 20     Paper 3 due

R Nov. 21     Fowles, cont’d. (Chapters 22-35)

T Nov. 26      Fowles, cont’d. (Chapters 36-46)

R Nov. 29      Thanksgiving, no class.

T Dec. 3         Fowles, cont’d. (Chapters 47-56).

R Dec. 5         Fowles, cont’d. Conclusions/last day of class