Honors | Ideas and Experience -- Modern
H212 | 0004 | Burke, R.
We will examine the concepts of justice, fairness, equality and the search
for the "good life." We will begin with Rousseau's Discourse on
Inequality and Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents as attempts to
demonstrate how the growth of civilization corrupts natural happiness and
freedom. We will continue with the Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels
and Hard Times by Charles Dickens as examinations of conditions that
create artificial inequalities of wealth, power, and social privilege.
The second segment of the seminar will concentrate on the various roles of
individuals in society. In this segment we will consider "heroes, dreamers
and survivors" as represented in Ibsen's Enemy of the People, Miller's
Deathe of a Salesman, Brecht's Mother Courage and The Good Person of
Szechwan, and Bolt's A Man for All Seasons.
In the third segment of the seminar we will study questions of race,
gender and social class. Our readings will be Shaw's Major Barbara, and
Pygmalion, Ibsen's A Doll's House, and Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man.
In the final segment of the seminar we will consider writers who seem to
be asking "do these questions of fairness, justice and the good life have
any meaning?" In this final segment we will read The Death of Ivan Ilych,
The Plague, and Waiting for Godot.
Throughout the semester we will be considering questions such as:
How do we form societies that encourage a sense of community?
How do human beings fulfill their responsibilities to themselves and to
Must there be social "winners" and "losers"?
Are we asking the "right" questions?