Nicolaas Barr Clingan
Ideas in historical context. Comparative and developmental analysis of Western conceptions of "community," from Plato to Freud. Offered: jointly with CHID 207.
This course introduces students to the discipline of intellectual history. It will explore the idea of "community" through an historical and critical examination of the works of canonical figures in the Western intellectual tradition, as well as critical reflections from prominent theorists who have challenged this tradition from within. Rather than striving for comprehensiveness, we will focus on key turning points in the idea of community and the historical crises out of which they often arose. Throughout, we will consider how specific conceptions of truth have figured into attempts to define, construct, and contest community and its limits.
Student learning goals
Describe some of the major historical contours of Western ideas of community.
Become familiar with the methodological tools of intellectual history as a discipline.
Read, analyze, and discuss canonical texts with a critical perspective.
Explicate challenging theoretical ideas and situate texts in different historical contexts.
General method of instruction
Lectures and discussion sections.
There are no prerequisites for this course, although some background in Western history is helpful.
Class assignments and grading
Active participation in class (lectures and discussion sections) is a major component of the grade. Although there are no comprehensive midterms or final examinations, there will be weekly quizzes. Two short papers (approx. 1500 words) are required.