Courses

Spring 2019

0 Credits
R 6:30-7:30 p.m. (S/U grade)

Christ College sophomores, juniors and seniors must register for CC 201 EV: Symposium each semester they are on campus. Every CC sophomore, junior or senior must attend two Symposia per semester. Failure to do so will result in a “U” on the transcript and may jeopardize standing in CC.

3 Credits
Section A: MWF 1:30-2:20 p.m. – Professor Buggeln

Fulfills humanities: fine arts requirement.

What is representation and how do words and images communicate?

What makes a representation “true”?

Can words claim legitimacy that images may not, or vice-versa?

What do makers of representations owe their viewers/readers?

Word & Image introduces students to problems and questions associated with the nature, form, and circulation of images from Plato to the present. The course is divided into four sections. The first questions the ability of images and text to convey truth and justice, with a special focus on what we call “documentary” images. The second considers historical and contemporary problems in the representation of the sacred and the use of images and objects in worship and devotion. The third section explores the rise of modern ways of subjective seeing and representing, with a particular emphasis on the traveler. Finally, we will turn our attention to comics and film, considering contemporary representation in light of course questions about truth telling and subjectivity.

3 Credits
Section A: TR 8:30-9:45 am – Professor Puffer
Section B: TR 10:30-11:45 am – Professor Puffer
Section C: TR 1:30-2:45 am – Professor Rittgers

Fulfills theology 200 requirement, and WIC (writing intensive course) requirement.

This course introduces students to central developments in the history of Christianity and to diverse forms of Christianity today. It also explores the nature and purpose of Christian theology and encourages students to reflect more deeply on their own religious convictions and questions. The course focuses on the close reading and discussion of primary texts in the Christian intellectual and spiritual tradition. Readings include selections from the Bible and the writings of various classical theologians, such as St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as well as contemporary theologians from a variety of Christian traditions and perspectives.

Fulfills 3 credits of social sciences requirement.
3 Credits
Section A: MWF 1:30 – 2:20 p.m. – Professor Prough
Section B: MWF 2:30 – 3:20 p.m. – Professor Prough

Continuing the important questions addressed in the First-Year Program–what it means to be human–this course examines the ways that human beings are deeply social creatures that both make and are made by their communities. The class points to the questions of good life and good society–questions that people share regardless of their cultural background and context–but also looks at various ways in which specific cultures answer those questions. The course will draw its theoretical emphases from major figures in the human sciences including Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Max Weber, Clifford Geertz, and Michel Foucault. The social thinkers that we study in this course each posit theories and methods for examining the relationship between individuals and their society. We start with the assumption that we are not isolated individuals; our opportunities and even our very identities are shaped by a social environment that we help create.  Thus, we shape our society and in turn our society shapes us.   We end the course by being social theorists ourselves, applying the tools of social analysis that we have honed all semester to contemporary issues of importance in the 21st century–this year, new media and technology. Thus, this class helps students learn how to move from the kinds of big ideas we discuss in our CC classes to critical analysis of the contemporary social events they read about in the news; it is a process of translation for engagement in the contemporary world. 

In addition to weekly discussion, and small preparatory assignments, major assignments will include short (5 page papers) and one longer (10 page) paper. 

3 Credits – Cross-listed with ART 390 X and HIST 492 AX
MWF 11:30-12:20 pm – Professor Buggeln

In the second half of the 19th century, Americans increasingly moved to the space between city and country—close to urban employment and other advantages, but in quieter, greener places especially geared to family life. After WWII, the suburbs absolutely boomed, and they continue to be a central feature of America’s landscape and culture. Pointed criticisms of suburban life abound: it is boring, homogenous, racist, materialistic, sheltered, and soulless. Yet many Americans have chosen to live in these places, and still do.

This course takes a historical look at the American suburb, mid 19th century to the present, from the perspective of the built environment. How have designers and residents literally made these places? What ideas have shaped the design of houses, green spaces, schools, churches—even doctors “parks”? What infrastructure has made suburban life possible? What barriers have kept some people out? We’ll look closely at regional examples such as Greendale, Wisconsin; Riverside and Park Forest, Illinois; as well as more recent suburban developments in Valparaiso.

As we study the historical and material development of American suburbs, we will be attentive to ways both champions and critics have represented the suburbs in popular culture. Using literature, art, photography, music, film and television, we will consider how representations of suburbia have shaped its appeal, celebrated its accomplishments, and drawn attention to its faults.

3 Credits – Cross-listed with GER 300
MWF 12:30-1:20 pm – Professor Malchow

Fulfills cultural diversity requirement.

How people remember the past influences how they understand themselves and behave in the future. In this course, we will compare the diverse ways that German speakers have represented the Nazi past in prose, drama, and film with those more familiar to Americans. Students will also learn about the interdisciplinary field of memory studies and apply some of its insights to this comparison. Representations of Nazism from various eras and contexts demonstrate not only that speakers of German and English have tended to remember differently, but also that within a nation-state, cultural memory changes across time. We will examine the divergent forms of public memory in East and West Germany during the Cold War and the resurgent emphasis on German wartime suffering since Germany’s unification in 1990, asking what role ideologies play in how memories are represented. We will also explore criticisms of American texts and movies about Nazis and the Holocaust, as well as the tendency in the U.S. on both the left and the right to invoke the Holocaust as an analogy for rhetorical purposes. We will consider when comparisons to Nazism are valid and what ethical problems they pose. Students will read, view, and discuss works by an international array of award-winning authors and directors of the past seventy years. Assignments include short papers, class presentations, an interpretive paper involving research, and a final exam.

3 Credits – Cross-listed with ENGL 360 AX
MWF 1:30-2:20 pm – Professor Potter

Fulfills cultural diversity requirement.

This course examines multiple contested and overlapping traditions in how Arab identity is performed and represented on contemporary stages and screens. These representations will be drawn from works from the Middle East, the Arab diaspora, Orientalist representations, and sympathetic non-Arab representations. Through these works, we will examine the goals and challenges of such representations, questions of what it means to represent ourselves and others to diverse populations, and the ways in which cultural forces affect our artistic interpretations.

3 Credits – Cross-listed with INTL 320 AX
MW 3:30-4:45 pm – Professor Schaefer

This class examines the connection between intergovernmental agencies and the nonprofit sector—humanitarian aid—in historical perspective. Its reach is global.  Much criticism has been leveled against relief aid, development aid, missionary efforts, and, in certain circles, even human rights agencies.  These criticisms along with endorsements for each effort will be examined.  The format of the seminar will begin by reading a book representative of a form of humanitarian aid in order to comprehend the issues both historical and contemporary.  Then two to three cases studies will be assessed pertaining to that form of humanitarian aid in order to evaluate their success(es) and failure(s); these cases will be drawn from musty-archives to the Internet.  For example, why was Norman Borlaug’s “Green Revolution” a transformative success in Asia, yet his Sawakawa program to increase agricultural yields in Africa such a dismal failure?  The intent of the seminar is to leave students aware of the pitfalls associated with the history of humanitarian aid, but resolute in their determination to improve the world wisely and considerately.

3 Credits – Cross-listed with PSY 380 X
M 5:00-8:00 pm – Professor Puffer

This Inside-Out Prison Exchange course brings together students from Valparaiso University and residents of a local correctional facility to engage in meaningful dialogue about philosophy, justice, the criminal justice system, imprisonment, and human behavior. It is an opportunity for all participants to gain a deeper understanding of these topics from both theoretical and practical perspectives. “Inside” and “outside” students will work together, share ideas and perceptions, and learn from one another over the course of the semester. The course is limited to juniors and seniors. Inclusion in the course requires completion of an application and interview, and consent of the instructors.

Requisite Courses: Junior or Senior Standing Required

3 Credits – Cross-listed with THEO 339 AX
TR 8:30-9:45 am – Professor Denysenko

Fulfills upper-level THEO requirement.

This course examines the complicated dynamics of religion and politics in Eastern Europe. Problematic issues such as nationalism, antisemitism, persecution of religious minorities, state-sanctioned violence in the name of religion and/or political ideology, controversial legislation, and violations of human rights are among the central topics for discussion and analysis. Regionally, the course surveys case studies in countries and regions such as Russia, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, and Central Asia among others. A survey of significant historical antecedents foregrounds the course schedule. Students are introduced to transhistorical issues such as Byzantine symphonia, Russian ideological conceptualizations of autocracy and Orthodoxy, the Ottoman millet system, and the legacy of significant historical events in shaping religious polices. The schedule continues by analyzing the intersection of religion and politics through case studies during the period of imperial collapse, the rise of the nation-state, the Soviet interlude, and the search for identity in the post-Soviet era. Information literacy is a unique learning objective of this course, especially with regards to some of the most recent controversial cases involving accusations of state interference in religious policy, and the assignment of ownership of community properties. The course is conducted as a seminar discussion. Assessments include exams, and a research paper and presentation.

3 Credits 
TR 1:30-2:45 pm – Professor Western

Humanity now has the power to destroy ourselves – and not just ourselves but all life on Earth – in ways both unprecedented and terrifying. We live under the loom of an ecological crisis that’s potentially apocalyptic in scope and the product of human handiwork. We hunker before the threat of nuclear annihilation and have done so for generations, since the creation of the first atomic bomb. With the expansion of trade, travel, and globalization in general we face fast-spreading and rapidly-evolving diseases. While it might seem like science fiction, there are thinkers who seriously ponder whether our own robotic creations will surpass and replace us in the future. Has there ever been a moment when humanity has faced so many existential threats of our own making?

This course begins with the notion that such existential threats can be seen as ‘karmic reckonings’ – by which we’ll mean simply the consequences of humanity’s own character, cultures and actions – and then investigates what it is about our character, cultures or actions that lead to such threats. Put another way, this course poses the question, “to avoid existential threats of humanity’s own creation, what aspects of contemporary human behavior should we look to change?” For the sake of focus the course will linger on current ecological crises – for example, climate change, species extinction, deforestation, sea level rise – investigating both the facts of ecological crises and human behaviors that may account for them. But students can anticipate some space to explore other deep threats they may find interesting.

3 Credits – Cross-listed with PHIL 290
TR 3:00-4:15 pm – Professor Woodward

Many people have an intuitive sense of what “human nature” is. Sometimes they appeal to their intuitions as a way excusing behavior (“It’s human nature to want to win” or “it’s in our nature to sin”), and sometimes as a way of condemning behavior (“Terrorism is inhuman” or “if she had an ounce of humanity, she would apologize”). What do people mean when they make claims like these?

Questions about human nature are relevant to many contemporary ethical controversies. Is technology altering our human nature, and if so, is that a good thing or a bad thing? Do human beings exhibit a special moral status (such as dignity or sanctity) in virtue of their nature, and in contrast to non-human animals? Are some sexual behaviors more or less ‘natural’, and would that tell us whether we should engage in them?

Is there really such a thing as human nature? If so, how do we determine what it is? If not, where does this leave us?

In our attempt to answer these questions, we will survey:

(1) The Teleologists: Classical thinkers such as Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas who believe that human nature is an ideal to which we must aspire (even if nobody actually meets that ideal);

(2) The Mechanists: Modern, scientific thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes and Steven Pinker who believe that human nature can be discovered by scientists, since humans are just biological machines;

(3) The Existentialists: Recent, radical thinkers such as Simone de Beauvoir and Soren Kierkegaard who believe that human nature is a blank canvas on which each of us must paint a life.

3 Credits – Cross-listed with THTR 390SA3
Spring Break, 2020 – Professor Orchard

This 3-hour seminar is CC 300 SBX The London Stage–and it will include excursions to Buckingham Palace, The National Gallery, The British Museum, and Stratford-Upon-Avon; tours of the National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, and Westminster Abbey; and tickets to 10 plays and musicals performing at a wide variety of theatres throughout Greater London.

3 Credits 
TR 1:30-2:45 pm – Professor Howard

Fulfills cultural diversity requirement.

This course will examine alternative cultures of medicine in the United States, predominantly in late-nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We will investigate diverse traditions specific to three groups: African-Americans, American Indians, and immigrants. Minority cultures within a dominant culture shaped their own views of the body, institutions devoted to its care, ideals of health, and relations among humans and the natural world. The distinctiveness of each culture is salient during this period, when the scope of professional, Western medicine expanded over a greater breadth of Americans’ lives. Approaches offered by these communities both have helped to shape mainstream medicine and also have offered critiques to it. Students will write and present a substantial research paper.

3 Credits 
TR 3:00-4:15 pm – Professor Smith

Fulfills upper-level theology requirement.

All of us live on earth, but there are alarming signs that we are not living well. Climate change. Ozone depletion. Deforestation. Poisoned waterways. Hypoxic zones. Soil erosion. We are in the midst of a crisis that is not merely environmental, as though the problems existed solely within the environment in which humans happen to live. Rather the problem is ecological, since everything on earth exists in a complex web of interdependence. This means that the crisis is also one of human culture. Until fairly recently, human societies were closely involved with agriculture and were thus guided to varying degrees by an agrarian ethic that enabled humankind to live in ecological balance with the land that sustains us. As a result of globalization and industrialization, however, agrarian communities and their characteristic virtues have faded nearly out of existence. Today, the vast majority of urban and suburban dwellers not only contribute to the ill health of the planet, but we lack a coherent and compelling vision for how we might live differently. Some have argued that a Christian anthropocentric worldview is to blame for this catastrophe, while others insist that the Christian tradition possesses a wealth of theological resources that can in fact help us better care for the earth. This course engages with a variety of approaches—philosophy, literature, theology, ethics, biblical studies, conservationism—to better help us understand and respond to the present ecological crisis. Assignments include an interdisciplinary research paper (12-18 pp). Major readings will include: Bauckham, Living with Other Creatures; Berry, Remembering: A Novel; Berry, The Art of the Commonplace; Bouma-Prediger, Earthkeeping and Character; Davis, Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture; Leopold, A Sand County Almanac; Wirzba, From Nature to Creation.

3 Credits 
W 6:30-9:15 pm – Professor Jakelic

It has become commonplace to think of nationalism as a source of intolerance, conflict, and domination, and of patriotism as a generator of ideals, hopes, and aspirations. This type of thinking is especially appealing in our moment defined by a global rise of exclusionary and violent forms of nationalism—events due to which American universities can become a site for marches of the torch-bearing neo-Nazi white nationalists, and the ruling parties of the European Union’s states can unapologetically produce and post antisemitic advertisements.

Keeping in mind the challenges of our time, in this course we shall ask: is the view of nationalism as a problem and patriotism as a source of political redemption too simplistic? Is patriotism really politically omnipotent and morally beyond reproach? Do various traditions of patriotism stand only for ideals that shape our aspirations, or do they also have complicated and turbulent histories—histories that indicate how patriotic values helped justify colonial projects, slavery, and wars?

Is nationalism necessarily the generator of conflict or could it also be a democratizing force that drives one society toward political, cultural, and economic equality? Is a shared sense of national identity indispensable if we are to transcend political divisions that have come to impede our democratic and civic life? Most importantly, perhaps, can we belong to a national community in a way that involves not only a sense of identity with those who live within but also a sense of solidarity with those who live beyond the borders of our particular community? What could and should be the role of religious traditions in developing such more inclusive and open narratives of national identity?

This interdisciplinary seminar will seek to develop both theoretical and empirical appreciation of nationalism and patriotism in a global perspective. It will be reading/writing/discussion intensive, and will include two papers, a group research project, and class presentations.

1 Credit 
Dean Stewart

Christ College Senior Colloquium provides a capstone, integrative experience for Christ College Scholars.  Through conversations, readings, and written work, students will be led to give shape to the substance of their lives through autobiographical narrative, and they will be led to reflect upon the character and meaning of their future work.  The practical dimensions of these reflections will include attention to the transition from college.  [For seniors who were unable to take this in the fall.]