Courses

Fall 2020

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

The Christ College Symposium is a premier co-curricular program of presentations featuring distinguished guests from all fields of scholarship, including religion, the arts, public affairs, and science, and other arenas who present their work and engage in lively exchange with the audience. 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 a minimum of two events per semester.  Students have multiple options from the Speaker Series and Firesides, which feature presentations by faculty members.  Failure to do so will result in a “U” on your transcript and may jeopardize your standing in CC.

 

 

3 Credits

Section A: MWF 11:30-12:20 pm – Professor Smith
Section B: MWF 1:30-2:20 pm – Professor Smith
Section C: TR  8:30-9:45 am – Professor Upton

Fulfills foundational (THEO 200) theology and Writing Intensive Course (WIC) 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.

The course aims to strengthen the student’s: (1) knowledge of Christian theology and practice; (2) ability to read theological texts closely and to think critically about them; and (3) communication and research skills.

Requirements include active participation in class discussions and three papers (5-6 pages each).

3 Credits
Section A: MWF 12:30-1:20 p.m. – Professor Graber

Fulfills humanities: fine arts component of the general education requirements.

Human beings are image makers. We represent and communicate what we see, imagine, and understand in words and pictures. This course introduces students to certain problems in the history of visual and literary representation from Plato to the present. The course is divided into three sections. The first focuses on questions regarding the truth and authority of representations. The second section explores aesthetics, especially the rise of modern ways of seeing in eighteenth and nineteenth-century Europe and America. Finally, we will consider the ethical or moral duty of makers of images and texts in the modern world. Among the variety of questions that we will consider this semester are: What is this human practice of representation, and how do words and images operate? Can words claim legitimacy that images may not and vice-versa? What do makers of representations owe their viewers/readers?

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Fulfills 3 credits of social sciences requirement.
3 Credits

Section A: TR 12:00-1:15 pm – Professor Jakelic
Section B: TR 1:30-2:45 pm – Professor Jakelic

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.

3 Credits – Cross-listed with MUS 319 AX
MWF 2:30-3:20 pm – Professor Uhde

Fulfills humanities: fine arts component of general education requirements.

The course Late Romantic & Modern Music (MUS-319-A [95505]) covers music history from the mid-19th century through the 21st century. Students will learn about genres and styles, concentrating on listening, analytical study of music, as well as cultural and literary studies. Among the topics of investigation are opera, music drama, and symphonic music; the great symphonic works of the late nineteenth century; music before and after Wagner; the interactions between politics, music, and opera; music and social life; the continuation of (19th century) and abolition (20th century) of standardized classical tone systems and forms; composer-specific neo-baroque, neoclassical, and neo-romantic tendencies (20th century); modernism; impressionism; expressionism; minimalism; and literary works in music. This course is WID-approved.

Written components:

25-30-page research paper

5-page analytical comparison of two texts treating the same music-historical time span.

Exams:

Three “factual” exams

Three listening quizzes

Interdisciplinary components:

An essay about interdisciplinarity in a musical composition from the 19th or 20th century.

Note:  The pre-requisite for this course will be waived for any non music major CC students who wish to enroll.

3 Credits – Cross-listed with PSY 365 / 366 / 367 and EAST 365 / 367
MW 3:30-4:20 pm – Professor Nelson

Psychology and religious traditions have a long, distinguished and sometimes contentious history of conversation.  Both are intensely interested in the human person and the search for fulfillment.  Unfortunately, these quests have often been viewed as conflicting with each other.  A much more fruitful approach is to conceive of psychology and religious traditions in dialogue with each other attempting to answer great questions like:

  • How do we learn about the world? Are science and religion incompatible with each other, or can they work together toward common ends?
  • What is the nature of religious experience? Does it have truth value, if so what can we learn from it?
  • What is the goal of human development, and how can we as persons seek a “good life” as we pass through life’s stages?
  • How can communal and individual religious practices offer positive benefits to us and others?
  • What can we learn about health, illness and mental health by studying these important topics from both a psychological and a religious perspective?
  • As we seek to help others, what can we learn from a religion-psychology dialogue about the nature of true helping?

The class has an unusual structure, we will meet twice a week to talk about these important topics as they are addressed by psychologists and others.  Then, in a third meeting, we will read and discuss important primary source religious texts that deal with these topics from a different perspective.  Participants will either attend a Christian traditions group reading material from authors like Teresa of Avila (who has an outstanding developmental psychology), or a Buddhist traditions group studying the writings of Dōgen and other Eastern spiritual masters.  (Or for those not faint of heart, you may attend both reading groups).

As a capstone project for the class, students will pick two authors—one psychological and one religious—and do a paper holding their works in dialogue with each other on one or more important questions.

Jim Nelson, M.Div., Ph.D. is a theoretical and philosophical psychologist and a Professor in the Department of Psychology at VU.

3 Credits – Cross-listed with PSY 366 AX
M 4:30-5:20 pm – Professor Nelson

Psychology and religious traditions have a long, distinguished and sometimes contentious history of conversation.  Both are intensely interested in the human person and the search for fulfillment.  Unfortunately, these quests have often been viewed as conflicting with each other.  A much more fruitful approach is to conceive of psychology and religious traditions in dialogue with each other attempting to answer great questions like:

  • How do we learn about the world? Are science and religion incompatible with each other, or can they work together toward common ends?
  • What is the nature of religious experience? Does it have truth value, if so what can we learn from it?
  • What is the goal of human development, and how can we as persons seek a “good life” as we pass through life’s stages?
  • How can communal and individual religious practices offer positive benefits to us and others?
  • What can we learn about health, illness and mental health by studying these important topics from both a psychological and a religious perspective?
  • As we seek to help others, what can we learn from a religion-psychology dialogue about the nature of true helping?

The class has an unusual structure, we will meet twice a week to talk about these important topics as they are addressed by psychologists and others.  Then, in a third meeting, we will read and discuss important primary source religious texts that deal with these topics from a different perspective.  Participants will either attend a Christian traditions group reading material from authors like Teresa of Avila (who has an outstanding developmental psychology), or a Buddhist traditions group studying the writings of Dōgen and other Eastern spiritual masters.  (Or for those not faint of heart, you may attend both reading groups).

As a capstone project for the class, students will pick two authors—one psychological and one religious—and do a paper holding their works in dialogue with each other on one or more important questions.

Jim Nelson, M.Div., Ph.D. is a theoretical and philosophical psychologist and a Professor in the Department of Psychology at VU.

 

3 Credits
TR 10:30-11:45 am – Professor Howard

Fulfills upper level theology requirement.

How has Christianity understood and interacted with other faiths?  What is interfaith dialogue and how does it square with Christian notions of mission?  Drawing from the instructor’s new book, The Faiths of Others: Modern History and the Rise of Interreligious Dialogue (Yale University Press), this course will explore these questions (among others) as it seeks to give students historical and theological tools to think well and wisely about the nature of religion in the contemporary world.  Crucially, the course seeks to problematize the words “faith” and “religion,” applying such terms to what we customarily regard as a religion—namely, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism–but also to two powerful, resurgent worldviews/ideologies–namely, socialism and nationalism.

3 Credits – Cross-listed with THEO 328 AX / HIST 492 AX
TR 1:30-2:45 pm – Professor Rittgers

This seminar will examine Martin Luther’s famous debate with Erasmus on the status of the human will. The debate turned on the question of whether the human will has any role to play in salvation. Is the human will in some measure free and thus able to turn to God with the help of divine grace, or is it completely bound by sin and thus unable to cooperate with such grace, requiring instead a more radical divine rescue in which God is the sole actor? Behind this question lay even weightier issues regarding the character of God, the problem of evil, the nature of human personhood, and the proper exegesis of Scripture; in other words, this debate involved the central issues of the Reformation movement itself. This seminar will first examine the historical context of the Luther-Erasmus debate, turn to the debate itself, and finally touch on its implications for the subsequent shape of the Reformation movement, which were profound. Students should have completed a course on the Christian Tradition (THEO 200/ CC 215) before enrolling for this one.

3 Credits – Cross-listed with ENGL 360 AX 
TR 12:00-1:15 pm – Professor Danger

Fulfills cultural diversity requirement.

Contrary to popular belief, women authored some of the most revolutionary, groundbreaking, and popular texts of the 19th century. In the process, they redefined literary conventions and created new audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. Between 1830 and 1870, writers such as Charlotte Brontë, Fanny Fern, Louisa May Alcott, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Mary Prince became celebrities through the act of writing, pioneering new genres of fiction—including domestic realism, social problem novels, and sensation literature. Just as significantly, their bestsellers foreground the stories of the socially ostracized, marginalized, and disadvantaged, placing readers behind the mind’s eye of the enslaved, the poor, children, intellectual women, and orphans. These phenomena—women n writers giving voice to the voiceless and the transatlantic popularity of their texts—will form the springboard for our investigation. We will consider questions such as: how did women writers intervene in literary and cultural debates about gender, race, disenfranchisement, and power during a period of tremendous social change? Why did fiction targeting controversial social and political issues become so popular on both sides of the Atlantic? To what extent did literature by women work to estrange the familiar, resist cultural stereotypes, and imagine new roles and identities? Finally, our discussion of recent film adaptations of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and Toni Morrison’s Beloved allow us to compare nineteenth-century negotiations of women’s identities and social roles with contemporary retellings of women’s lives in the nineteenth-century. **This course helps fulfill the Cultural Diversity requirement.

Required Texts:

Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (1847)

Fanny Fern, Ruth Hall (1854)

Harriet Wilson, Our Nig (1859)

Eizabeth Gaskell, Mary Barton (1848)

Mary Prince, The True Narrative of Mary Prince (1831)

Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Lady Audley’s Secrets (1862)

Louisa May Alcott’s Behind a Mask (1866)

3 Credits – Cross-listed with THEO 346 AX
TR 3:00-4:15 pm – Professor Holman

Fulfills upper level theology requirement. 

Seminar Theme:  Medicine Before Microscopes:  Health Matters in Christian History

 This seminar invites students to begin to explore and discuss the complex connections between spirituality, religious practice, the history of medical health care in the Christian tradition, and community/public health around the world today. Focusing on material culture of health narratives and practices, class sessions combine lectures with student discussion to explore questions such as: How did people view and treat sick bodies between the Graeco-Roman world of the New Testament and the discovery of bacteria in the 19th century? What Christian health concerns shaped religious ideas and therapeutic practices related to: food and water, books, art, sermons, music, amulets, healing spaces, narrative medicine, death, disability, and the health inequities due to social marginalization and poverty? How might we learn from history (and some truly weird stuff!) to help us think about timeless challenges like malnutrition, plague, migration, bleeding, disease stigma, sanitation, and environmental disorder?

Students in this course will deliberately connect historical sources (learning facts, names, ideas) with creative and critical thinking about how the past might relate to wellness and health care delivery across cultures in the world today. Students are expected to complete 60-100 pages of reading each week, as well as carefully reflect on bioarchaeological images, illustrated medical manuscripts, and related art, including those in the University’s art and archival collections. The seminar is intentionally introductory, and does not presume knowledge about health, medicine, or the fine points of Christian theology.

Pre-requisite: Theo 200

 

3 Credits – Cross-listed with ART 290 AX and COMM 290 AX
TR 1:30-4:00 pm – Professor Wuerffel

Podcasting is a studio art course open to all majors. The course design is hybrid – there will be time to develop hands-on production skills while simultaneously listening, reading, writing, and reflecting on the increasingly popular field of podcasting, including related fields of documentary, sound art, journalism, oral history, and pop culture. In the first seven weeks, we will dive into the culture and history of the region while producing our first audio pieces using methods from the field of oral history. In the second seven weeks, we will embark upon our own podcasting projects, individually or in production teams, including writing and producing the first episode. Given that this is a production class, seats are limited.

3 Credits – Cross-listed with PSY 367 AX
W 4:30-5:20 pm – Professor Nelson

Psychology and religious traditions have a long, distinguished and sometimes contentious history of conversation.  Both are intensely interested in the human person and the search for fulfillment.  Unfortunately, these quests have often been viewed as conflicting with each other.  A much more fruitful approach is to conceive of psychology and religious traditions in dialogue with each other attempting to answer great questions like:

  • How do we learn about the world? Are science and religion incompatible with each other, or can they work together toward common ends?
  • What is the nature of religious experience? Does it have truth value, if so what can we learn from it?
  • What is the goal of human development, and how can we as persons seek a “good life” as we pass through life’s stages?
  • How can communal and individual religious practices offer positive benefits to us and others?
  • What can we learn about health, illness and mental health by studying these important topics from both a psychological and a religious perspective?
  • As we seek to help others, what can we learn from a religion-psychology dialogue about the nature of true helping?

The class has an unusual structure, we will meet twice a week to talk about these important topics as they are addressed by psychologists and others.  Then, in a third meeting, we will read and discuss important primary source religious texts that deal with these topics from a different perspective.  Participants will either attend a Christian traditions group reading material from authors like Teresa of Avila (who has an outstanding developmental psychology), or a Buddhist traditions group studying the writings of Dōgen and other Eastern spiritual masters.  (Or for those not faint of heart, you may attend both reading groups).

As a capstone project for the class, students will pick two authors—one psychological and one religious—and do a paper holding their works in dialogue with each other on one or more important questions.

Jim Nelson, M.Div., Ph.D. is a theoretical and philosophical psychologist and a Professor in the Department of Psychology at VU

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

Fulfills cultural diversity requirement.

In this course we will think about the variety of ways that we humans have encountered people who are different than us. Through interdisciplinary readings from around the globe, both historical and contemporary, we will analyze ways to navigate cultural, economic, and religious differences. The first half of the semester will be spent reading travelers from the past including Herodotus, Ibn Battuta, early anthropologists, all illustrating the ways that for centuries people encountered difference when one party or the other was travelling, conquering, or living far from home. Building on these historical encounters, in the second half of the semester, we will focus on the challenges and benefits of living in a pluralist society where we encounter difference on a regular basis at home. Guided by readings from contemporary thinkers such as Kwame Anthony Appiah, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, and Eboo Patel we will think about what it means to live together today with difference. Across the semester we will read three fictional accounts by Nadine Gordimer, Barbara Kingsolver, and Shusaku Endo, which provide us with rich examples through which to think about encounters of all kinds. In the final assignment, students will put these social theories in dialogue with contemporary social phenomena and national conversations to think concretely about encountering difference in our own context. Major assignments will likely include a short paper based on our course readings (5 pages) and a final interdisciplinary research paper (12-15 pages).

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

Fulfills humanities-literature component of general education requirements

Satan, Mephistopheles, Lucifer, the Devil, Beelzebub: whatever the name, the Prince of Darkness makes his appearance throughout the Western literary and artistic tradition.  This course will focus on the figure of the devil as a way to explore the problem and symbolism of evil in literature and in life.  Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, it is clear that the personified character of the devil has been used in numerous ways to represent and explain the reality and power of sin, error, and evil in the world.  To paint a portrait of the devil in poetry, novels, music, or film is to explain our own sense of alienation from the divine.  How did we come to be separated from God?  How was it possible to “fall”?  Why do we give in to temptation?  And how could God allow us to stray so very far?  On another level, the figure of the devil prompts us to wonder why it seems more powerful, and compelling, to represent the “forces of evil” as a “personal” character—the devil—rather than as an abstract idea or power.

Human engagements with the devil in literature express the reality of temptation, and the very real decisions we make in life that make our estrangement from God and from one another worse.  To be tempted, and to yield to temptation, can be understood as making a “deal with the devil,” as we find in the Faust narrative.  Such narratives, and others we will examine, focus our attention on the existential decisions we make every day, decisions that continue to orient our lives long after we make them.  Literature, music, and film all bring these questions to our attention in an immediate, visceral way, provoking us to reflect on our own struggles with temptation, evil, malice, and sin.

Texts for this class may include such works as Dante’s Inferno, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Goethe’s Faust, poems by William Blake, Shelley’s Frankenstein, C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.  Films could include The Exorcist and No Country for Old Men.

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

Marriage in the United States has figured not only as a private good but as a public institution and social norm. Experience, moral tradition, science, politics, religion, and culture have shaped attitudes about love and marriage. By the twenty-first century, autonomy, consent, pleasure, and risk assumed higher priority. With focus on social and cultural history, this course examines some related questions. How are people encouraged to express affection or choose partners? What rules govern relationships? How do relationships get formalized in marriage, or not? How do legal, cultural, and institutional practices respond? In addition to scholarly treatments we will examine film, advertising, and other elements of popular culture in order to trace and analyze these changes. Students taking the course will write a research paper and give a formal presentation on some aspect of this history.

3 Credits
Professor Puffer

The “TA Course” provides selected CC seniors a unique opportunity for both teaching and learning. As more advanced and mature students, the Tutorial Assistants are well equipped to introduce first year students to foundational liberal arts texts as well as to the general atmosphere and expectations of Christ College. As students about to complete their undergraduate careers, seniors have an opportunity to return to some texts they read as first-year students, as well as some new texts, and reconsider them in light of their acquired skills and knowledge.  Through the preparation for teaching FYP course materials, TAs engage more deeply with these fundamental liberal arts texts and think more deeply about the overall CC experience.

Senior standing required.  Consent of the Dean and Instructor are required; Professor Puffer will interview prospective seniors.  (For approved seniors, this course may count as a CC 300 level seminar toward Scholar designation or the major and minor in the humanities.)

1 Credit
Dean Stewart

Christ College Senior Colloquium provides a capstone, integrative experience for Christ College Scholars.  CC students will gather to reflect upon their college years; integrate academic, practical, social, and spiritual experiences; consider their transition from college; and plan for closure on their undergraduate careers.