Great Books. Great Conversations.

Program Description

The Masterworks Program at Christ College, co-sponsored by Valparaiso University’s interdisciplinary honors college as well as the Graduate School, offers continuing education opportunities for members of the larger Valparaiso community.

The program consists of a two-semester sequence of courses in the “Great Books” tradition, pioneered at places such as the University of Chicago and Columbia University. Upon completion of this two-semester sequence, students will earn a certificate from Christ College and will be invited to take part in topics seminars that focus on particular authors or themes, such as Jane Austen or modern poetry. Classes meet weekly for 1.5 hours; students may earn continuing-education or graduate credit, or they may enroll simply for personal enrichment.

Regardless of participants’ individual goals and motivations, this program offers intellectual engagement and lively discussions in the tradition of Christ College’s intimate seminars. We hope you’ll consider joining and contributing to this dynamic community, built around great books and great conversations.

Masterworks Courses

Please Note: Masterworks courses need not be taken in sequence; participants are welcome to join the program in either the fall or the spring semester.

What is a good life? The first course in a two-semester sequence, Masterworks I examines classic works of Western civilization from the ancient Greeks through Shakespeare to reflect on this central question.

A discussion-based seminar, the class will consider how great literary works have engaged enduring issues. As we explore the thought and art of Plato, Aeschylus, Chaucer, and Shakespeare, we will also examine our own beliefs and assumptions about the individual and community; the importance of faith, ritual, and tradition; and the role of creativity and imagination in the pursuit of a good life.

The course, which meets weekly for one and a half hours, is available as a non-credit option or may be taken for 1.5 graduate credits. Those taking the course for graduate credit will be assessed on the basis of their participation, engagement, and final paper.

Schedule (subject to revision)

Our first unit explores rich texts of the ancient world, centering on the city of Athens and the literary and philosophical traditions to which it gave birth.

Week 1 — Introduction; Beginning discussion of Athens, Plato, and the Apology

Week 2 — Plato, Apology

Week 3 — Plato, Crito, Phaedo

Week 4 — Aeschylus, Oresteia (Agamemnon)

Week 5 — Aeschylus, Oresteia (The Libation Bearers, The Eumenides)

Our second unit investigates the transition from pagan to Christian culture within the medieval European world.

Week 6 — Beowulf

Week 7 — Chaucer, Canterbury Tales

Week 8 — Chaucer, Canterbury Tales

Our final unit in the semester turns to a moment of vibrant cultural rebirth — the Renaissance — by exploring texts whose legacies in political philosophy and drama endure to this day.

Week 9 — Machiavelli, The Prince

Week 10 — Machiavelli, The Prince

Week 11 — Shakespeare, The Tempest

Week 12 — Shakespeare, The Tempest

Plato. The Trial and Death of Socrates. Trans. GMA Grube. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 2001. ISBN-978-0872205543.

Aeschylus. Aeschylus II: The Oresteia (Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, The Eumenides, Proteus [Fragments]). Eds. David Grene, Richmond Lattimore, Mark Griffith, and Glenn W. Most. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013. ISBN – 978-0226311470. (Note: this is the third edition.)

Beowulf. Trans. Seamus Heaney. New York: Norton, 2000. ISBN- 978-0393320978.

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. Trans. David Wright. New York: Oxford, 2011. ISBN-978-0199599028.

Machiavelli, Niccolo. The Prince. Trans. Harvey C. Mansfield. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. ISBN- 978-0226500447.

Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. Ed. Peter Holland. New York: Penguin, 1999. ISBN- 978-0140714852.

“Please note: course readings subject to revision in spring 2016.”

The second course in a two-semester sequence, Masterworks II continues to explore the question of a “good life” through major literary works of the Western tradition. Spanning the last four centuries, the course begins with Shakespeare and moves through a series of classic authors including Jane Austen, Frederick Douglass, and Virginia Woolf.

Throughout these readings, we will consider how the search for a good and meaningful life changes and is challenged by our experience in the modern world, focusing primarily on the rise of the individual from the Renaissance onward. What does it mean to be human in this modern and rapidly shifting world? And how do we develop ourselves as individuals and members of communities even as traditional societies, norms, and values are constantly changing? These are just some of the many questions these powerful works will address and prompt us to consider and discuss.

The course, which meets weekly for one and a half hours, is available as a non-credit option or may be taken for 1.5 graduate credits. Those taking the course for graduate credit will be assessed on the basis of their participation, engagement, and final paper.

Early in our semester, this class will have the opportunity to attend a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream during Christ College’s “Shakespeare Week,” which features the renowned Actors from the London Stage.

The first class meeting will be held Tuesday evening, January 12th, from 6-7.30pm. Classes meet weekly on Tuesday evenings. Please note that the university’s spring break, February 29-March 11, will be observed, so there will be no classes during those two weeks.

Note: new and continuing Masterworks participants are welcome to join this class! You do not have to take Masterworks I before enrolling in Masterworks II.

Schedule (subject to revision)
Week 1, Jan 12 — Introduction; William Shakespeare, Macbeth
Week 2, Jan 19 — William Shakespeare, Macbeth
Week 3, Jan 26 — John Milton, Paradise Lost
Week 4, Feb 2 —John Milton, Paradise Lost
Week 5, Feb 9— John Donne, George Herbert, & Anne Bradstreet, selected poems
Week 6, Feb 16—Walt Whitman & Emily Dickinson, selected poems
Week 7, Feb 23— Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life (guest facilitator)
~Spring Break (Feb 29-March 11) ~
Week 8, Mar 15— Jane Austen, Persuasion
Week 9, Mar 22— Jane Austen, Persuasion; Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
Week 10, Mar 29— Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
Week 11, Apr 5—Anton Chekhov, selected short stories
Week 12, Apr 12—Flannery O’Connor, selected short stories

 

Please note: course texts subject to revision in spring 2016.

Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Ed. Stephen Orgel. New York: Penguin, 2000. ISBN: 978-0140714784.

Milton, John. Paradise Lost. Ed. Stephen Orgel. New York: Oxford, 2008. ISBN: 978-0199535743.

Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Ed. Deborah E. McDowell. New York: Oxford, 2009. ISBN: 978-0199539079.

Austen, Jane. Persuasion. New York: Oxford, 2008. ISBN: 978-0199535552.

Woolf, Virginia. A Room of One’s Own. New York: Harvest (Harcourt), 2005. ISBN: 978-0156030410.

Chekhov, Anton. Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov. Trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. New York: Modern Library, 2000. ISBN: 978-0553381009.

O’Connor, Flannery. The Complete Stories. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN: 978-0374515362.

Professor Cynthia Rutz

Miguel de Cervantes’ famous knight, Don Quixote, seeks to do great deeds for his beloved lady Dulcinea. Out of step with his time, he mistakes windmills for giants, prostitutes for ladies, and thinks his broken down nag to be a fine steed.  But who is to say that he is not right and it is the realists who are in the wrong?  Join us as we accompany this mad knight and his gullible squire Sancho Panza on their comic quest to save the world from those who see no romance anywhere.

The course, which meets weekly for one and a half hours, is available as a non-credit option or may be taken for 1.5 graduate credits. Those taking the course for graduate credit will be assessed on the basis of their participation, engagement, and final paper. Early in our semester, this class will have the opportunity to attend a performance by one of Cervantes’ great contemporaries, William Shakespeare, when the renowned Actors from the London Stage perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream during Christ College’s “Shakespeare Week.” Class members are also encouraged to attend a special event on Tuesday, January 12th as part of Shakespeare Week—“Shakespeare and Cervantes: A Celebration in Readings and Music” at 7 p.m. in the Duesenberg Recital Hall.

The first class meeting will be held Wednesday evening, January 13th, from 6-7.30pm.  Classes meet weekly on Wednesday evenings. Please note that the university’s spring break, February 29-March 11, will be observed, so there will be no classes during those two weeks.

Note: new and continuing Masterworks participants are welcome to join this class!

Miguel de Cervantes. Don Quijote. Trans. Burton Raffel. New York: Norton, 1999. ISBN 978-0393972818   (This is a Norton Critical Edition.)

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Registration and Fees

For those interested in personal enrichment or the continuing education option (which awards (CEUs), continuing education units), a single course costs $295, and both courses may be taken for $495. For those interested in pursuing a course for graduate credit, the course price is determined by the graduate school’s set rate.

  Registration Form »

 

For more information email the program coordinator.

Spring 2016 Schedule

Interested community members have the opportunity to sign up for the “Masterworks II” course (which surveys great texts from the Renaissance onward) or a special seminar on Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quijote, a lively, profound, and often funny tale of a knight and his squire that is now widely recognized as the first modern novel.

Masterworks II meets on Tuesday evenings from 6-7:30pm.

The Masterworks Topic Seminar: Don Quixote meets on Wednesday evenings from 6-7:30pm.

New and continuing Masterworks participants are welcome to take part in either or both of these classes. Ideally, participants will enroll in Masterworks I and II before participating in [or while concurrently taking] a topics seminar, but we understand that this arrangement may not work for everyone.

In addition to these weekly class meetings, Masterworks participants are invited to attend the Christ College Symposia.