Shimer Syllabi

Classes start on Tuesday, so I thought I’d post my Shimer syllabi thus far, with a little commentary. I taught Humanities 3: Philosophy and Theology in the fall but never posted the syllabus. Most of the curriculum is pre-defined for this one, though I do have some flexibility with which selections to use. If I were doing it again, I would add more preparatory sections of Aristotle’s Metaphysics and find ways to include more Jewish thought — I have a predefined option to include Exodus, and I’m sure my colleagues would have no problem with me adding some rabbinic commentary and Maimonides to the mix. Doing the whole of Fear and Trembling wasn’t part of the default options, but I would also want to do that again, as my students really objected to the idea of doing just a portion of it.

This semester, I’m teaching Humanities 2: Poetry, Drama, and Fiction, which is basically their introductory literature course. This one is pretty standardized, and I don’t think you’ll find any huge surprises — it’s definitely very “Great Books,” with the Odyssey, Oedipus, Hamlet, etc. I’m excited about this one, because I haven’t had an opportunity to teach very much literature so far. This is also a designated writing course, and I’m looking forward to being able to work closely with students on their writing “on the ground floor.” Their systematic approach to incorporating writing into the curriculum was one of the things that most impressed me about Shimer, in fact.

I’m also doing Humanities 4: Critical Assessment in the Humanities (the other instructor listed is doing another section with the same syllabus — it’s not team-taught). Kant, Nietzsche, and Heidegger are the only required figures — the rest is a freshly designed course, as they regard this one as being in an “experimental phase.” The guidelines call for us to draw from three major schools of 20th century thought, and we decided to use feminism, phenomenology, and poststructuralism. A couple other themes emerged out of that as well: modern Jewish thought and a focus on works that comment on texts from earlier in the curriculum. The last third of the course or so is taken up with the latter theme, looking first at Irigaray and Derrida on Plato and then a wide variety of thinkers on Antigone. The Antigone sequence also allows us to go much more “meta,” as the Butler text engages with all the earlier readings of Antigone that we are going through.

As part of my training, I also sat in on Humanities 1: Art and Music, so by the end of this semester, I will have done their entire Humanities core sequence. We’re required to do courses in at least two areas in our first two years, so next year I will definitely be doing some work in their Social Sciences core. (I assume one of those courses will be Social Sciences 1, since it’s a designated writing course and both of my new colleagues taught it in their first semester.)

You can see the whole core curriculum starting at this page if you’re curious.

9 thoughts on “Shimer Syllabi

  1. This shimer alum really likes the Hum 3 syllabus, although I think the Aquinas is perhaps overdoing the theology (you get plenty of the corpulent dominican in Soc 2 and IS5/6), and I also always thought that Hum 3 should have some David Hume, maybe the Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals (the division of is and ought in Hume would be a good counterpart to the consensus to the exact opposite running through the ancients to Aquinas).

    Also, as far as I know, there is no such work by Descartes as the Meditations on First Theology (insert winky face here).

    Hum 4 syllabus is strange. It used to be an aesthetics course, but now I don’t know what I would describe it as. Where’s the critique of judgment!? Where’s anything on music? Will the Humanities area comp require an analysis of expressive content but Hum 4 have no Stravinsky (much less Mozart?). From reading your blog I expected Adorno’s Philosophy of New Music to show up here.

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