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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Wei Zhi Gao
B CUSP 117
Bothell Campus

Discovery Core II: Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts

Examines an important social issue such as ecology, art, political change, the power of media, educational reform, or the role of science in contemporary culture through interdisciplinary investigation and the lens of the visual, literary, and performing arts. Offered: W.

Class description

Entitled Crime & Punishment: Justice in Literature, Religion, and Philosophy, the 117F section of DCII guides students in examining the problems of justice and moral dilemmas across a wide historical range from ancient times to the present. How do we define justice, and from whose point of view? How does it relate to ideas of crime and punishment? To respond to these questions, we are going to broadly survey various texts and several rival theories of justice.

In Unit 1, we are going to draw a dynamic connection between the legal and moral dimensions of justice, in different cultural traditions. Themes include Ideas of Law and Moral Edicts; Mercy & Punishment; Forgiveness and Reflection. Readings include selections from The Bible and Plato's The Republic.

Unit 2 is on Moral Reasoning and Theories of Justice. The central guide is Michael J. Sandel’s book, Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?

Unit 3 is on Consequences and Complexities with an emphasis on the importance of imaginative literature and imaginative empathy. Two plays are juxtaposed for critical examination: Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Additional readings include selected poems from some prominent poets.

While going outbound to identify sources of injustice out there in the world, this course also steers students’ critical attention to the role of imaginative empathy and inward self-critique, a fundamental feature that distinguishes this class. What is especially revealing is the transformative nature of seeking justice as exemplified in the two plays.

To pave the way for a smooth transition to DCIII, this course also offers step-by-step training on how to put together a coherent portfolio online with informed scholarship and reasoned arguments.

Student learning goals

Acquire a set of skills in critical thinking, reading and writing;

Become more efficient learners by following three links in learning: preview/view/review;

Critique different texts with intellectual maturity and balanced judgment;

Discover and explore thematic patterns and connections at the textual/ contextual/inter-textual levels;

Engage in reasoned and responsible academic work.

General method of instruction

Lectures, group presentations, movies, etc.

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Wei Zhi Gao
Date: 11/16/2012