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.

PLEASE NOTE: Fall 2017 courses are currently in session. For Spring 2018 courses listings, see College Courses or Adult Courses.

 


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.