College Of Arts And Sciences | Civilization & Its Discontents
E104 | 0178 | Sheehan, J. & Wahrman, D.


Sex and death-pain and pleasure-greed and generosity-good and evil:
civilization has made it all possible. For the last 500 years, people
have loved civilization's benefits and pursued its perfection. At the
same time, they have hated civilization and attacked the very virtues
it is supposed to instill. From the Bible to Pulp Fiction,
civilization has been a mixed blessing indeed. This course will
explore the paradoxes of civilization from the Renaissance to the
century of the Holocaust. Together we will look at critical turning
points in the history of Europe and America, times when civilization
made great leaps forward, and introduced whole new species of social
evils. Topics will include: exploring and exploiting the New World,
religious emancipation and religious violence, courtly culture and
decadence, industry and luxury, slavery, sexual pleasure and sexual
pain.