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Senior Seminar Topics, fall 2014

Seminars are concentrated studies in a particular area (literature or writing). Students select either the literature or the writing seminar based on their major; writing seminars are offered in several different genres. These courses are generally taken senior year and are a capstone to the DePauw English major.

The following seminar courses will be offered fall semester of the 2014-15 academic year.

Eng 412a: Senior Seminar:  Truth: Mostly Fiction (S course) (Professor Chiarella)

The study of the intersection of two genres (fiction and non-fiction) and their particular relationship to truth, as in fidelity to fact, level of detail and the broad practice of storytelling, including a range of exercises and readings meant to explore various literary frauds (like, pseudo interviews), as well as artistic use of  “found” texts.  Final projects can be centered in one genre or the other, with subject matter open.


Eng 451a:  Senior Seminar:  Aesthetics and the Project of the Enlightenment (S course) (Professor Alvarez)

By examining the relationship of aesthetics to the project of the Enlightenment, we will try to understand the promise of literature for us today. The course is designed to give you the opportunity to reflect upon the meaning of your experience with literature at DePauw by placing us in dialogue with thinkers and writers who have fundamentally shaped our approach to it.

The discipline of aesthetics and literary criticism was born in the eighteenth century, and we begin our historical overview of its development with the period’s odd reception of Longinus’ On Sublimity. Through readings in literature, literary criticism, and philosophy, we will try to understand both the promise of aesthetics and its risks. (Such peril may be seen, for example, in Walter Benjamin’s famous labeling of Nazism as the “aestheticization of politics.”)

We will reflect on the pleasure we take in reading literature, the relationship between ethics and aesthetics, the beautiful and the sublime, the possibilities and dangers of aesthetic community, the place of art after philosophy, aesthetic experience and secularism, and the kinds of knowledge offered by literary experience.

Students will have the opportunity to obtain a rigorous introduction to the foundational texts of aesthetics, an understanding of the philosophical work that supports contemporary literary theory, and a better grasp of the basic tensions and conflicts that constitute the Enlightenment project. We will close our course with some recent thinking about the apparently perennial political and ethical promise of the aesthetic. Above all, the course is designed to give you the ability to think more fully about your experience with literature. What has it all been about?

On Sublimity. Longinus

Paradise Lost, John Milton

Essays: Moral, Political, and Literary. David Hume

Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, Shaftesbury

Letter to D’Alembert on the Theatre. Rousseau

A Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime and Beautiful. Edmund Burke

The Critique of Judgement. Immanuel Kant

Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man, Friedrich Schiller

Introductory Lectures on Aesthetics. G. W. F. Hegel

The Birth of Tragedy. Friedrich Nietzsche

Poetry and Prose of Alexander Pope. Alexander Pope

The Portrait of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

Howard’s End, E. M. Forester

On Beauty and Being Just, Elaine Scarry