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Advanced Electives

SPRING 2015

Freshmen are not permitted to enroll in Advanced Electives without permission from the Honors Director.

ARM 360 Shakespeare and Opera in Musical Theatre

Courtade
The works of Shakespeare have been a rich source of inspiration in opera. This course will examine great musical works that are based on Shakespeare as students learn how the plays transformed to opera and musical theater works. Class discussion is an integral part of the course; students will be assigned particular acts or set pieces to research ahead of time and be responsible for leading those discussions. Literature, music and theater all play a part in how these works are viewed, and students are encouraged to share their views from their various backgrounds.

ENG 360 The Literature of the Working Class

J. Lutz
Since the invention of capitalism three centuries ago, workers have been writing and telling stories about their experiences. The industrial proletariat, slaves, unskilled workers, and unpaid domestic laborers have generated a rich literature addressing their struggle to live, express themselves and find happiness in economic and social environments that often present challenges to their physical survival and undermine their psychological well-being. Through the examination of a wide range of genres that include fiction, drama, poetry, music, folk tales, memoirs and manifestos, this course will explore the experience of workers across a wide variety of cultures and time periods. The treatment of worker’s struggles will cut across race, gender, continents and cultures in an effort to identify commonalities of experience shaping the perspectives of manual laborers.

MUS 360 Movie Music: How Smart Film Composers Use Every Trick in the Book to Play on our Emotions

Shapiro
Why does music succeed in evoking images, creating atmospheres, stirring emotions? Students will listen to and analyze film scores (as well as view films) across a wide range of film genres, including (but not limited to) epic, adventure, comedy, romance, fantasy, suspense, and horror. Film music will provide a window onto the evolution, techniques and possible applications of essential elements of musical practice.

PHI 360 The Philosophy and Fiction of Albert Camus

Lothstein
We will explore in this course the philosophical essays and fiction (novels, short stories, plays) of Albert Camus (b. 1913, d. 1960), one of the 20th century’s most important literary and philosophical figures, who died at the summit of his powers. By birth Algerian, Camus was by turns a journalist, director of a theatrical company, and one of the leading writers of the French Resistance to the Nazi occupation of France during World War II. He was also an editor of “Combat,” a major underground newspaper.

In the first half of the course, we will read and discuss Camus’s two greatest books of essays, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays, published in occupied Paris in 1942, and The Rebel (selections) published in 1951. The former contains Camus’s philosophy of the absurd and his resolution of the problem of suicide. The latter contains his concept of metaphysical rebellion and attempts to resolve the problem of murder; and in both cases, “without the aid of eternal values...” As Camus wrote, there are “...gods of light and idols of mud. But it is essential to find the middle path leading to the faces of man...” Or, as he elsewhere puts it, “... nothing on which to hang a mythology, a literature, an ethic, or a religion, but stones, flesh, stars, and those truths the hand can touch...” We will also read and discuss selections from Resistance, Rebellion and Death, including Camus’s classic moral argument against capital punishment in “Neither Victims nor Executioners.”

In the second half of the course, our attention will shift to Camus’s fiction, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1957 as “the moral conscience of his era.” Specifically, we will read and discuss The Stranger (1942), The Plague (1947) and The Fall (1956). We will also read and discuss several of his short stories from the collection Exile and the Kingdom (1957), including “The Artist” and “The Adulterous Wife,” who is seduced by the North African desert night. By “exile” Camus meant the world’s refusal to accommodate our nostalgia for absolutes and certainty. By “the kingdom,” he meant naturalistic beauty as sublimely instanced by his North African experience of the desert, stones, wind, trees, and the ocean. As Camus wrote, “We must simultaneously serve suffering and beauty,” “history and heather,” noting that “isolated beauty ends up simpering; solitary justice ends up oppressing... To come alive again, one needs a special grace, self-forgetfulness, or a homeland.” It was the sensuous entwining of the lived body and the beauty of nature that afforded him (and I would argue us) such a “homeland.”

We will also read and discuss several of Camus’s plays, including “Caligula” (1938) and “The Just Assassins” (1949). The extraordinary relevance of the latter to our contemporary world is as obvious as it is apt. For Camus, the revolutionist’s and terrorist’s distinction between revolutionary violence (which has a claimed future) and bourgeois violence (which is simply murder and so has no claimed future) was arrant moral nonsense; and was finally the reason for Camus’s break with Jean-Paul Sartre, who subscribed to the cogency of this distinction. For Camus, murder was murder, period.

Camus was and remains a saving remnant, one whose seminal and healing voice, is much needed nowadays, which, following Camus, is a time of “exile, desiccated life, of dead souls.”