Schedule of Sections

During the Fall semester of First-Year Seminar, the course focused on the constructive agenda of “enlightenment.”  The authors we read gave life to Kant’s dictum, "Have the courage to use your own reason!" to describe the world they saw and how they thought it should be.  The Spring semester begins with the eventful culmination of Enlightenment thinking, and then explores the complex and ambivalent re-evaluation of the Enlightenment’s ideals throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries.  Our readings and discussions will show how enlightenment thought was challenged by its encounters with different cultures and traditions, as well as its own limitations.  Throughout the semester, our readings and discussions will contrast different approaches to the challenges faced during these historically and intellectually tumultuous times.


The reading list will be:

        Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Discourse on the Origin of Inequality

        Mary Wollstonecraft:  Selections from A Vindication of the Rights of Women

        Immanuel Kant: Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals

        William Blake: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

        Mary Shelley: Frankenstein

        Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground

        Friedrich Nietzsche: Also Sprach Zarathustra

        Karl Marx: The Communist Manifesto

        Max Weber: Selected essays

        Albert Einstein: Relativity

        Sigmund Freud: Civilization and Its Discontents

        Lu Xun: The Story of Ah Q

        Chinua Achebe: Things Fall Apart


Beyond the reading assignments, students and faculty will explore enlightenment in other ways.  Seminar discussions and extensive writing throughout the semester will challenge us all to actively engage in addressing difficult questions, rather than to take the writings of any our predecessors as the last word on a subject.  Weekly symposia will supplement our text-based studies with lectures and other presentations that will focus on historical, artistic, and scientific perspectives of the ideas raised in the course.