Tuesdays, 7:00-9:30 p.m. (RM 102 St. Als)

Dr. Mark Smillie, Discussion Leader


In this course we explore the development of the Western intellectual and spiritual tradition during the Renaissance era. We will focus on some of the period's most influential works from a variety of academic disciplines, ascertaining and discussing the ideas that are presented there. By critically assessing the concepts and values that contribute to our cultural heritage, we will strive to question and understand who we are today. As the course progresses, we should develop a view of the interrelationships and ramifications of pivotal ideas within the Renaissance era, and between it and past epochs we have studied.

Course Requirements

All assigned readings are to be completed before each seminar meeting. Participants should read closely to understand the author's fundamental position, to interpret the author's principal ideas, to form a critical judgment, and to formulate questions and observations for group discussion. The required HSP journal provides a vehicle for this process.

Each seminar will be led by two student presenters, who will open the meeting with a brief review of key ideas from the assigned reading (including indicating any connections with other readings read in the program) and then initiate discussion with a thought-provoking question.  For the leaders, the participation grade for that seminar will include their leadership of the seminar--here is a summary of the requirements.  Here are some guidelines for presenters. Here are some suggestions about the different ways you can start a discussion.) Participants are expected to attend all seminars, to submit to the presenters at least two written questions or problems for discussion, and to respond respectfully to the ideas presented by others.

Two five-page critical essays (guidelines) are to be submitted on or before the due dates listed on the schedule. Revisions are accepted through one week prior to the next deadline for written work and must be accompanied by the first draft with my comments.  Each student will also complete and present a final project based on some aspect of the course content.  The project, to be chosen by midterm, must be approved by the director. Some thoughts on submitting your proposal for a final project.


Grades will be determined as follows: Essays 30%; Journal 10%; Final Project 20%; Seminar Participation 40%.


SPRING, 1999

January 12 Introduction to the Course; In class-viewing of "The High Renaissance" (video from the Art of the Western World series)

Reading: Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind, pp223-281

January 19 Machiavelli, The Prince
January 26 Castiglione, The Book of the Courtier First & Fourth Books ("The Warriors," video from Renaissance Series)
February 2 Montaigne, Essays, selections in Donald Frame, ed., and I.30 "Of Cannibals"
February 9 Shakespeare, Richard II
February 16 Shakespeare, King Lear

* * * Essay #1, first draft, due for in class peer review * * *

February 23 Shakespeare, The Tempest

* * * Essay #1 Due * * *

March 2 Galileo, Two New Sciences
March 9 ****Spring Break****
March 16 Cervantes, Don Quixote, Part I, Ch. 1, 2, 7, 8, 10, 20, 25, 31, 50; Part II, Ch. 3, 4, 5, 22, 23, 28, 30, 32, 33, 42, 43, 45, 47, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 55, 73, 74.
March 23 Bacon, Novum Organum, "The Great Instauration," Preface, & Book I; ("The Scientists," video from Renaissance Series)

* * * Final Project proposals due * * *

March 29 Descartes, Discourse on Method, Meditations

* * * Essay #2, first draft, due for in class peer review * * *

April 6 No Class…Monday Schedule
April 13 Milton, Paradise Lost I-IV; ("The Dissenters," video from Renaissance Series)

* * * Essay #2 Due * * *

April 20 Milton, Paradise Lost, V-XII
April 27 Pascal, Pensees

* * * Journals Due * * *

May 6 Presentation of Final Projects (in the Cube; friends and family members are welcome)