Each semester, the Newman Institute offers a selection of integrated humanities courses. Below is a selection of past courses, which can give you an idea of the types of questions and texts that students consider at the Newman Institute.


Fall 2018

ENG 241 – Introduction to the Great Books I: Seekers, Sojourners and Pilgrims

UNL Transfer ID: Clas2t*@

Section 1: Tues & Thurs, 11:00am – 12:15pm

Section 2: Tues & Thurs, 2:00pm – 3:15pm

Aristotle rightly observes “all men by nature desire knowledge.” And the fundamental knowledge each of us seeks has to do with the most pressing questions of existence: What is life’s meaning and purpose? What is happiness and how may we obtain it? What or who should we love and how ought we live? Drawing from the rich heritage of Western literature, this course attempts to lay the groundwork for a lifelong consideration of these and other questions. Each of the seekers, sojourners and pilgrims studied, from Homer’s Odysseus to St. Augustine, from Boethius to Shakespeare’s Prospero, wrestle with the age-old questions that remain with us today. What they discover sheds light on our own efforts to understand the human condition.

Required Texts: Plato, Apology; Homer, The Odyssey; Marcus Aurelius, Meditations; St. Augustine, Confessions; The Wanderer and The Seafarer; Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy; Dante, Inferno; Shakespeare, The Tempest; Pieper, Josef, On Hope; shorter readings as assigned


HUM 251 – Humanities Seminar I: Love and Friendship

UNL Transfer ID: Gncr***@

Section 1: Mon & Wed, 2:00pm – 3:15pm

Section 2: Mon & Wed, 3:30pm – 4:45pm

What is “this word ‘love’ that graybeards call divine?” So asks the poet concerning the greatest of realities. For Dante, love “moves the sun and the other stars.” For Shakespeare, it is an “ever-fixed mark / That looks on tempests and is never shaken.” William Blake sees it as the reason for our existence, asserting that we are “put on earth a little space / That we may learn to bear the beams of love.” Love in all its manifestations – in romance and marriage, in friendship and family – is a theme that lies at the very heart of our shared human experience. This interdisciplinary seminar explores the nature of love as understood by Aristotle and Augustine, Dante and Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Willa Cather, among others.

Required Texts: Shakespeare, King Lear; C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves; Plato, The Symposium; Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn; Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Book VIII; Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop; Song of Songs; Dante, Vita Nuova and poems; Dietrich von Hildebrand, On Marriage; Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice; Joseph Pieper, On Love; Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale; shorter readings as assigned


Spring 2018

*The courses below are currently in session. For Fall 2018 courses listings, see College Courses. Information on fall semester evening seminar courses will be available by mid-April here.

ENG 244 – Introduction to the Great Books II: The Literature of Mercy, Compassion and Forgiveness

Meetings: Tues & Thurs, 2:00 – 3:15pm, UNL Newman Center

Instructor: Dr. John Freeh, Director of the Newman Institute

Credit Hours: 3

 “Our twentieth century has proved to be more cruel than preceding centuries,” Nobel laureate Alexandr Solzhenitsyn once famously remarked, adding that the “world is torn asunder by the same old cave-age emotions as greed, envy, lack of control” and “mutual hostility.” This second-semester introduction to the Great Books seeks to provide insight with respect to the problem of human cruelty and suggest remedies through a deeper understanding of mercy, compassion and forgiveness. One such remedy comes through Shakespeare’s Jewish moneylender, Shylock, who implies that mercy is possible only when human beings see the “other” as somehow related to themselves. “Hath not a Jew eyes,” he poignantly asks his Christian adversaries, going on to argue the case for a common humanity which transcends any and all differences.

 Required Texts: Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice; Shakespeare, Measure for Measure; Chaucer, The Franklin’s Tale; anonymous, Everyman; Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter; Greene, The Power and the Glory; Newman, The Dream of Gerontius; shorter readings as assigned

 


HUM 253 – Humanities Seminar II: The Mystery of Iniquity

Meetings: Mon & Wed, 3:30 – 4:45pm, UNL Newman Center

Instructor: Dr. John Freeh, Director of the Newman Institute

Credit Hours: 3

“Today I have set before you life and death, a blessing and a curse, choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live.” With these words the Hebrew book of Deuteronomy underscores the “mystery of iniquity,” that human tendency to choose what is destructive of self and others.  If, as Origen says in the 3rd century, “the power of choosing good and evil is within the reach of all,” why does humankind continue to choose evil? And how can we comprehend the claim of Satan in Milton’s Paradise Lost that “only in destroying I find ease”? The battle between good and evil lies at the heart of the human story, and some of literature’s most memorable characters – Medea, Faustus, Macbeth, Raskolnikov – provide a foundation for beginning to explore and perhaps understand this ancient “mystery.” By looking at these and other characters, as well as relevant texts from philosophers and theologians, this three-credit course will attempt to discover patterns of thought and action in those who embrace evil – and in those who reject it.

Required Texts: Euripides’ Medea; Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus; Shakespeare’s Macbeth; Milton’s Paradise Lost; Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment; Conrad’s Heart of Darkness; Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral; shorter readings as assigned

 


Seekers, Sojourners and Pilgrims: An Evening Seminar for Adults

Meetings: Bi-weekly Wednesdays, 7:00 – 8:30pm, UNL Newman Center

Instructor: Dr. John Freeh, Director of the Newman Institute

Aristotle rightly observes “all men by nature desire knowledge.” And the fundamental knowledge each of us seeks has to do with the most pressing questions of existence: What is life’s meaning and purpose? What is happiness and how may we obtain it? What or who should we love and how ought we live? Drawing from the rich heritage of Western literature, this course attempts to lay the groundwork for a lifelong consideration of these and other questions. Each of the seekers, sojourners and pilgrims studied, in works from Sophocles, St. Augustine, Shakespeare, and others, wrestle with the age-old questions that remain with us today. What they discover sheds light on our own efforts to understand the human condition.

 


Fall 2017

*ENG 241 – Introduction to the Great Books I: Seekers, Sojourners and Pilgrims

Section 1: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:00 – 3:15 pm

Section 2: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:00 – 6:15 pm

Aristotle rightly observes “all men by nature desire knowledge.” And the fundamental knowledge each of us seeks has to do with the most pressing questions of existence: What is life’s meaning and purpose? What is happiness and how may we attain it? What should we love and how ought we live? Drawing from the rich heritage of Western literature, thought and culture, this introductory course attempts to lay the groundwork for a lifelong consideration of these and other questions. Each of the authors studied, from Plato and Homer, to Dante and Shakespeare, wrestle with the age-old questions that remain with us today. What they discover sheds light on our own efforts to understand the human condition.

 

*HUM 251 – Humanities Seminar I: Love and Friendship

Section 1: Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:30 – 4:45

What is “this word ‘love’ that graybeards call divine?” So asks the poet concerning the greatest of realities. For Dante, love “moves the sun and the other stars.” For Shakespeare, it is an “ever-fixed mark / That looks on tempests and is never shaken.” William Blake sees it as the reason for our existence, asserting that we are “put on earth a little space / That we may learn to bear the beams of love.” Love in all its manifestations – in romance and marriage, in friendship and family – is a theme that lies at the very heart of our shared human experience. This interdisciplinary seminar explores the nature of love as understood by Aristotle and Augustine, Dante and Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Willa Cather, among others.

* ENG 241 and HUM 251 correspond to the numbering system of St. Gregory the Great Seminary

 


Spring 2017

ENG 244 – Introduction to the Great Books II: The Literature of Mercy, Compassion and Forgiveness

“Our twentieth century has proved to be more cruel than preceding centuries,” Nobel laureate Alexandr Solzhenitsyn famously remarked. But he also acknowledged the persistence of human weakness by contending that “our world is torn asunder by the same old cave-age emotions as greed, envy, lack of control” and “mutual hostility.”

Which raises some questions: How is it possible for us to inflict such terrible pain on others? How do we justify cruelty, genocide or racial cleansing? What allows us to dehumanize our fellow human beings? The answers to such questions are found in the great literature of Western Civilization, which is replete with examples of those who extend mercy to others and those who fail to do so. The practice of mercy and forgiveness seems possible only when one sees the “other” as related to oneself. Shakespeare’s Jewish moneylender, Shylock, makes this very appeal to his Christian adversaries in The Merchant of Venice when he poses the question: “Hath not a Jew eyes?” He goes on to argue a common humanity which shares the same “organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions….”

This three-credit, spring semester course will focus on deepening our understanding of mercy and forgiveness. Readings will include Genesis, the medieval play Everyman, Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice and Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop, along with selections from Aristotle, Aquinas, Chaucer, Hugo, T.S. Eliot and Josef Pieper.

 


Fall 2016

ENG 241 – Introduction to the Great Books I: Seekers, Sojourners and Pilgrims

Aristotle rightly observes “all men by nature desire knowledge.” And the fundamental knowledge each of us seeks has to do with the most pressing questions of existence: What is life’s meaning and purpose? What is happiness and how may we attain it? What should we love and how ought we live? Drawing from the rich heritage of Western literature, thought and culture, this Newman Institute course attempts to lay the groundwork for a lifelong consideration of these and other questions. Each of the seekers, sojourners and pilgrims studied, from Homer’s Odysseus and St. Augustine, to Shakespeare’s Prospero and Thomas Merton, wrestle with the age-old questions that remain with us today. What they discover sheds light on our own efforts to understand the human condition.

Texts: Homer’s Odyssey, Plato’s Apology, Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, Augustine’s Confessions, The Wanderer and The Seafarer, Dante’s Paradiso, Shakespeare’s Tempest, Thomas Merton’s Seven Story Mountain, Josef Pieper’s On Hope, & selected poetry from the Psalms, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Tennyson and T.S. Eliot.