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No thinker has done more to shape the Western intellectual tradition than Augustine (354-430 CE), and no book displays Augustine’s dynamic vision of reality more compellingly than the Confessions. Its probing and intimate reflections on the meaning of human life, the nature of God and mind, time and eternity, will and world, good and evil, love and sexuality have challenged every generation since Augustine’s own. The seminar will be structured around a close, critically engaged reading of the Confessions (in English translation) and will give attention to its historical context and significance as well as to its philosophical and theological ideas. (There will be optional, supplementary opportunity to engage with the Latin text for interested students with some facility with Latin.)
Format: seminar; The course will be taught in a hybrid (partly in-person, partly remote) or wholly remote format--a final decision about format will be made in early September, prior to the first class. Class meetings (in whatever format) will consist primarily in student presentations and open, directed discussion of assigned readings.
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
no fifth course option
Regular reading assignments from the Confessions and related secondary literature. Weekly participation in online discussion on Glow (15% of final grade); 3 class presentations (of various lengths and kinds) (20%); a short paper (maximum 1500 words) due around the middle of the semester (20%); a term paper in two drafts (maximum 3000 words) due near and the end of the semester (40%); preparation for and participation in class that shows thoughtful engagement with the assigned readings (5%).
Advanced students in Philosophy, Religion and/or Classics
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit: