While we tend to value courage—Hannah Arendt even called it the highest political virtue—historically the concept has veered from the noble to the dangerous. From Antigone to suicide bombers, courage has been construed as heroic and/or dangerously solipsistic. This series of seminars asks the question: What is the practice of courageous action in the 21st century? Courses are open to Sophomores and Juniors and are limited to 16 students. Students are required to attend three evening lectures on Mondays from 6-8. There will also be dinner discussions with guest speakers and students from other sections of the College Seminar.



LIT 2142


Thomas Bartscherer

M W        6:20 pm-7:40 pm

HEG 308


Cross-listed: Classical Studies; Philosophy  What is courage? In this course, we shall approach this question, in the spirit of Plato, both directly and obliquely. In the Republic, Socrates maintains that courage is one of the four virtues (or excellences) to be found in a good regime and in a good soul. Yet it is not entirely clear from his argument whether courage should be understood the same way in all contexts, and if so, how. Is a warrior’s courage the same as that of a philosopher? Who is truly courageous, the one who defends the regime, the one who questions it, or both? Is the courage of Hektor or Achilles the same as that Socrates or Antigone? In this course, our discussion of courage will proceed through close readings of philosophical texts, both ancient and modern (Plato, Aristotle, Emerson, Tillich, Arendt) and imaginative representations in literature and film (Homer’s Iliad, Sophocles’ Antigone, Brecht’s Mother Courage, Fugard’sThe Island, Zinneman’sHigh Noon, Bertolucci’sThe Conformist). Among other things, we will be asking whether and in what way it makes sense to speak of a single virtue, courage, as being manifest in varying circumstances and in different times and places, and what we may mean today when we characterize a person or an act as courageous.  Class size: 16



HIST 222

 A History of the Modern Police

Tabetha Ewing

 T Th              3:10 pm-4:30 pm

OLIN 305


Cross-listed: American Studies; French Studies; Global & International Studies; Human Rights (core course) This course explores the invention and evolution of the police, including the international police, as a modern institution from the late 17th century to the present. It focuses largely on France, Britain, and America. However, students will be encouraged to think comparatively and globally. We will consider the development of the police as an expression of sovereign right and of citizens’ rights, from enforcer of the king’s will to public servant. Changing ideas of security and order not only undergird the history of the police but have developed through police practices. We will observe how resistance to diverse forms of policing entered into civil and human rights discourses almost from the start. The course is organized chronologically and around public space: the market, food security, and price regulation; the port and contraband; the urban street, vice, and violence; the road, highwaymen, and runaway slaves; the public housing project and domestic violence; the neighborhood and resistance to policing; and from the more abstract sites of early international cooperation to state and international investigative agencies, such as the FBI, MI 6, and Interpol. In these spaces, we study the vulnerabilities of individual bodies and social groups, including those of the police. We study vulnerabilities that resulted from the institutional growth of the police, especially in its powers to identify, classify, and contain mobile populations and commit acts of violence with legitimacy. Today, many police departments include “courage” in their mission statements, accepting that the job requires their members throw themselves bodily into high-risk situations. Members of marked populations describe as “courageous” activities that unmarked populations take as commonplace or as their right, from walking in a different neighborhood to raising children. Beyond bold acts in the service of order or outstanding acts of opposition, we will consider how the policed world incited and incites everyday forms of courage, contributing to ideas of citizenship and personhood. Class size: 16



REL 235

 Liberation and Theology

Bruce Chilton

 T Th       10:10 am-11:30 am

OLIN 305


Cross-listed: Theology; LAIS  Liberation became a major theme within theology, and contributed to movements of national and class revolution in several parts of the Western hemisphere after Vatican II. Despite enduring a systematic effort during the pontificate of John Paul II to silence them, liberation theologians have persisted, and there approach has been embraced on an interfaith basis. The seminar will engage both the thought and the practice of Liberation Theology.  Class size: 18



PS 132


Jana Schmidt

M W               1:30 pm – 2:50 pm

HEG 300


Cross-listed: Literature   Since the development of mass culture, political and aesthetic thinkers have questioned how it is possible for us to be part of massive institutional structures such as state bureaucracy, the market, and education without compromising what it means to be a self. In order to be someone, we might wager, we must be both separate and together, participate in recognizing others and recede from the world in solitude. Yet today, subjectivity appears to pertain to what we buy rather than to who we are as personalities. Personal conviction can thus be immobilized by an overwhelming feeling of uncertainty: Who am I? What do I stand for and why does it matter? At the same time, such insecurities may be employed to fuel the political and literary imagination and envision new ways of being in the world. This course will turn to writers including Franz Kafka, Albert Camus, Walter Benjamin, Jean Améry, and Hannah Arendt to explore different answers to the question of selfhood as both an ethical and aesthetic problem in a mass society. After considering some of the theoretical foundations of modern subjectivity, we will investigate what emerges as (or remains of) selfhood after the large-scale degradation of human beings in the two world wars. The course will ask how writers and thinkers reconceive of the idea of subjectivity precisely through its crisis. As examples, we will look at some paradigmatic “lost” subjects of the postwar period such as Kafka’s protagonists, the “schizophrenic” child (Bruno Bettelheim), and the disenchanted stranger (Camus). Open to Sophomores and Juniors and limited to 16 students. Students are required to attend three evening lectures on Mondays from 6-8. There will also be dinner discussions with guest speakers and students from other sections of the College Seminar.  Class size: 16