What are you teaching this fall?

I am going to be teaching a couple sections of the first course in Shimer’s social science sequence. Social Sciences 1 is a “designated writing course,” so there will be more grading than average, but even so, I’m looking forward to helping students get off to a good start with their college writing. (For training purposes, I will also be auditing a Shimer course to be determined, like I did last fall.)

In addition, I’m going to be doing a directed reading over Lacan with a CTS PhD student. We’ll be going over the majority of the translated seminars and a good chunk of the Écrits, with a little help from Bruce Fink.

How about you, dear readers? What are you teaching this coming fall?

17 thoughts on “What are you teaching this fall?

  1. I’m teaching a course at Lancaster Theological Seminary titled “Roots of Wisdom II: Exploring Religious Phenomena.” It’s an unusual course that fits a specific curricular need: a little comparative theology, a little philosophy of pluralism, a little introduction to phenomenological modes of religious studies, and an introduction to the world’s religions through these various methodologies. Some of the readings include Prothero, Tillich, Rahner, Hick, Moojan Momen, and Ogden. And we read nearly all of the Qur’an.

    The first part of the course (Roots of Wisdom I) is instructed by the Seminary’s Vice President and is an introduction to philosophy. They’re not required courses for the seminarians but most of them take the classes, especially if their undergraduate programs didn’t cover these subjects.

    What I find interesting about teaching this class is the diversity of the student body and the very different entrance points of the students to the subject matter. Last semester I had Assembly of God students with Unitarian Universlists in the class, and everything in-between. If the students are preparing for parish ministry, which most of them are, the final projects of the course are writing a sermon (and delivering the sermon) that engages the Qur’an in asubstantive way and to create a working theological paper on religious plurality for later use with an ordination or interview committee.

  2. I’m finishing up teaching Intro to Political Philosophy. This time, I significantly revised the syllabus and preps. While this caused more work on my end, I found it to be exceptionally useful for future courses as well as my own project. Soon, I’ll begin teaching the usual (1) Intro to Philosophy and (2) Bioethics, in which I spend half the course on ethics pertaining to other-than-human animals. This course is somewhat of a service to other departments, and the students enrolled therein often come from Enivironmental Studies and Healthcare. It is outside my aos/aoc, but nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoy teaching it.

    This one is still up in the air: (3) a senior level course on Social Psychology. While I have an abiding interest in psychoanalysis, I know very little of psychology. The course focuses on social groups that have been oppressed due to sex, gender, race, class, ability, etc. I think the psych faculty considered me for the class because of my interest in the latter and not my knowledge of psychology.

    My proposal for the course was something like this: I’d feel better teaching something like “psychoanalysis and diversity,” in which we’d read some Freud, Klein, Lacan, Fromm, and Guattari for a basis, Marcuse on civilization, Fanon on Race, Irigaray on sex/gender, Judith Butler on gender, Michael Kimmel on sexuality, and Althusser (and members of the Frankfurt School) on class, and also look at very recent discussions as found in Sedwick’s Touching Feeling, Abel et al.’s Femal Subjects in Black and White, Butler’s The Psychic Life of Power, etc.

    What I’d try to do at first is show how the binary of individual agent vs. society is already problematic. I’d want to argue that we are socially constituted but then we also constitute the social. If there are various sites and modes of agency, some explicit and some hidden (e.g., the unconscious), then one should reconsider (a) the very notion of an essentialist human nature and individual autonomy, and (b) the game of identity politics. One question for me would be how do we avoid identity politics (one way is by queering identity) while still recognizes human difference associated with various social/collective identities? I’d want to conclude with thinking about the way one navigates through a social matrix and produces (or doesn’t) a new social imaginary.

    I should know in the next week if I’ll be teaching this one. It’s up to the admininstration whether or not a philosopher can teach a psychology course, specifically one that is more aligned with psychanalysis than it is with psychology.

  3. There is a tradition within Jesuit education to try to teach “eloquentia perfecta.” Fordham has worked this pretty deeply into their core curriculum.

    So I’ll be teaching the same basic introduction to theology/religious studies (“Faith and Critical Reason”), only in a seminar format with an emphasis on writing and speaking. 19 students will be a nice change from 35, but with the additional assignments, I don’t think the grading will be any lighter.

  4. Looks like I’ve got at least three weeks of Judaism in the Level 1 World Religions course, and two weeks on Jewish mysticism in the Level 2 Mysticism course. If the granting agency that funded me this past year renews, then I’ll also have Honours Judaism, a dissertation supervison, some portion of master’s level teaching yet to be determined, and probably covering the odd bit here and there in Bible & Literature and various theology modules; otherwise, it will be just level 1 and 2 as a sessional lecturer.

    Someday, I would like to have a job where I can plan the year’s teaching out a bit sooner than a month before classes start.

  5. I have two “first year seminars.” Limited enrolment and “special topic” for both: “Sociology of the Weird and Apocalyptic” and “Power and Violence.” Both are full-year courses. For about five years (I think) I’ve been teaching “Power and Violence” and I change it around fairly regularly. This year we’ll talk about the significant decline in interpersonal violence over the past seven hundred years, the increase in destructive warfare, and the slight blip in increased interpersonal violence since 1960 in the first semester. (Guess what I’m using for one of the two texts for that?) In the second semester we’ll talk about violence in popular culture. When I proposed “Sociology of the Weird and Apocalyptic,” I didn’t know if I’d go more in the “weird” or more in the “apocalyptic” direction. Looks like I went more in the apocalyptic direction, although they’ll read Lovecraft and Mieville, which is pretty weird–especially for a class in a sociology department.

  6. Teaching Hinduism course. Also will do first year Philisophy module, and ‘Love, Sex & Death’ with third years.. And some ethics. Fun awaits..

  7. Thirteen or so weeks of introductory philosophy for a first year undergraduate module called Truth and Value, a few weeks of the Pre-Socratics, Aristotle and then some Kant for a new first year module, the first part of a two semester module on Life and Meaning (plenty of material on absurdity, mortality, immortality, identity and existentialsm), a second year independent research module in philosophy for fifteen or so students, ten to fifteen third year dissertation supervisions, and some religious studies methodology lectures (the insider-outsider problem, psychology of religion, feminism and gender critical approaches).

  8. Senior undergrad seminar on philosophy of language, focused on Wittgenstein, Rorty, and Brandom (framed by Augustine’s notion of “use” in De doctrina christiana); and a doctoral seminar on Augustine’s City of God at the seminary. I’m looking forward to both. Not sure about the students.

    These both look remarkably unsexy compared to what y’all are doing.

  9. Sexiness is overrated in my view. I tend to enjoy teaching the more “boring” stuff, because the greater the distance, the greater the payoff when the students start to get it.

  10. An interdisciplinary seminar on infinity with a member of the math department. I’ll be doing theological, philosophical, and literary approaches while she takes on the math. And a special topics course on existentialism and religion.

  11. Intro to the Study of Religion where we are going to focus on religious experience. Obviously read a small chunk from James and an overview of different methods for studying religion before turning to the sexy stuff: Augustine’s Confessions, which I like because I think he comes across very pathetic and then has the great chapter on time at the end, Vonegut’s Cat’s Cradle, Bataille’s Theory of Religion, and Malcolm X’s Autobiography.

    Then a course called Contemporary Religious Thought where the focus is going to be on contemporary responses to the Book of Job. We will read the Alter translation of Job, then read Gutierrez, Buber, a book entitled Terror of God by an German Shi’a Muslim named Kermani, Jung, and finish with Negri. I’m looking forward to this. The point of the class will focus on the intersection of suffering and abstract thought.

  12. I’ll be taking some paternity leave this semester, alongside teaching a high school course on History and Philosophy (nb rtf document). It’s taught all over the country, and is something of a stretch, but it’s a great pedagogical challenge. Starting off with Mesopotamia followed by antiquity, so I’ve been reading up on the Gilgamesh and Herodotus in summer and have got hold of the complete Aristotle and Plato (but that’s just because I’m an incorrigible completist).

  13. not much teaching in the fall, just two courses. I look forward especially to do a Christian classics reading group where I’ll have the chance to read some texts I should have read a long time ago. Also a course on “christianity, the arts and culture” (sounds better in Swedish). I have no idea what I will do with that one yet, except watch a bunch of movies, and read som Zizek and some Hauerwas (on novels). Suggestions welcome!

  14. Impressive list of courses! Good luck to all! Moi, I am offering a year-long reading of Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy in Latin (partly to read it myself, partly to make sure there isn’t anything striking) – if anyone comes…

  15. Patrik, a couple of quick suggestions in case you haven’t already thought of them (I am omitting others I am sure you have): for films, Dreyer’s The Word, Bergman’s Winter Light (if you want to skip the Seventh Seal) or The Passion of Joan of Arc, Kulidzhanov’s Crime and Punishment and Beauvois’ Of Gods and Men; for texts (maybe too obvious) H. R. Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture, Tillich On Art and Architecture, Florensky’s Iconostasis, and maybe selections of Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison (if you need a funky kick-off, you could even start with Basil’s Hexaemeron). If you want to read a novel, you might choose something by Endo.

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