Dr. Baumler - History
Connecting with the past
All of us have a personal history, and we like to link it with the grand narrative of “real” national history, as a way of connecting ourselves to the world around us. (Ask an old person where they were when Kennedy was shot.) We connect ourselves to the past through the stories we tell about our lives and other people’s lives, biographies and autobiographies. We will read the stories of a medieval Chinese alchemist, an American land speculator/congressman/con man, a British mercenary, and a sensitive and artistic young man who became a novelist. By the end of the unit, we should understand some things about how and why history is made and why it matters so much to people.
Our main readings will be:
- Bickers, Robert. Empire Made Me: An Englishman Adrift in Shanghai. Columbia University Press, 2004.
- Pamuk, Orhan. Istanbul: Memories and the City. Vintage, 2006.
- Tai, Hue-Tam Ho Passion, Betrayal and Revolution in Colonial Saigon: The Memoirs of Bao Luong California, 2010
Dr. Berlin - Literature
In this unit, we'll be examining perceptions of events in the Third Reich in three ways. We will begin with the West German film, "The Nasty Girl" (1990), based on events in the life of Anna Rosmus. This is the true story of a teenager who decides to write an essay about her hometown of Passau during the Third Reich. The film follows the town's attempts to block her from doing historic research on this topic. Next, to derive a sense of the past as it was experienced, we will collaboratively create a history for one bland sentence, found in many history books: "The ghetto was liquidated." To do so, we will examine an array of literary and other materials, including Art Spiegelman's classic, Maus, a graphic narrative of the survival of Spiegelman's father that details events in the Sosnowiec Ghetto; short stories of ghetto liquidation by survivor Ida Fink; interviews; documentary poetry written in Vilna Ghetto; excerpts from ghetto chronicles and children's diaries; photographs; a popular 1936 board game from the Third Reich, Juden, Raus! (Jews, Out!); an illustrated Nazi schoolbook for children, Trust No Fox (in English with the color illustrations); etc. Our unit will conclude with a Holocaust memoir, either Alicia Appleman-Jurman's Alicia: My Story or Gerda Weissmann Kelin's All But My Life. We will probably view at least one film that will allow us to create a sense of how Americans imagined and understood ghettos.
Dr. Caraway - Philosophy
This unit is an investigation of the core question "How do we create and use the past? What, therefore, should we do?" and its relationship to Western Philosophy. The branch of philosophy we will study - "the History of Western Philosophy" -- is concerned with the evolution of Western philosophy through history and with the role of philosophy in the intellectual history of the Western world.
In this unit, we will consider some of the following questions:
- Is knowledge possible, or are we doomed to skepticism?
- What is the ultimate nature of reality? Is there both a physical reality and a non-physical reality?
- What is the nature of a human being? Are we a nonphysical mind or soul in a physical body or a purely physical being?
- What is the mind? What is the soul?
- Do humans have a soul that survives bodily death?
- How should we decide what is the right thing to do?
- Should future human-like robots be given human rights?
- How have philosophers viewed the nature of women?
- What is love? Is it something we should seek as part of a good life?
- Why do bad things happen to good people?
Dr. Sweeny - Fine Arts
"How do we create and use the past? What, therefore, should we do?" Students will analyze these questions through the exploration of a variety of relevant, challenging readings in 20th and 21st century Art History, Literature, and Sociology. An analysis of the relationship between history and artistic production and reception will allow students to better understand how the arts, in various forms, have helped to form the concept of history, and vice versa. In the process, students will become more critical and analytical in their reading and both verbal and written responses, and will be able to synthesize information based on their previous readings and educational experiences.