The First-Year Seminar Requirement

All first-year students are required to take two Seminars, one in the fall and the other in the spring semester. The Seminars are courses in which the student is introduced to the literary, philosophical, and artistic legacies of several interrelated cultures. Works are chosen to represent a wide range of intellectual discourse, from poetry, drama, and fiction, to history, philosophy, and polemic.

Education and Its Discontents

This semester the First-Year Seminar explores what constitutes education, and how education is culturally, politically, economically, and socially determined. Who decides how to educate and who receives education? Who is excluded from education and how does this exclusion define education? In what ways is education important, both to individuals and societies? Education has been figured both as the introduction of a body of knowledge into a more or less receptive (and empty) mind and as the drawing out of the individual's inherent potential. How do the two models of education play themselves out in various works? This seminar will be not about teaching methods, but about definitions of education; resistance to education; problems with education; responsibilities in the transmission of knowledge; gender and education; the philosophy of education; the politics of education; and the like. As a structured principle, the seminar will be organized around a sequence of paired texts. It is our hope that these sets of texts will enable students to perceive the history of education less as a series of great works than as a series of conflicts around the central issues of this topic. The core texts are:

Plato: Republic

Aristotle: The Nicomachean Ethics

Virginia Woolf: A Room of One's Own

Mary Woolstoncraft: A Vindication of the Rights of Women

W.E.B. Du Bois: The Souls of Black Folk

Booker T, Washington: Up From Slavery

Professor Section CRN Days Time Room
information on sections of the seminar will be posted as soon as available