The Tory’s Guide to Spring 2016 Courses


“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.” -Franklin Delano Roosevelt. To this end, The Tory hopes to help our readers make wise selections for their spring 2016 class schedule. In alphabetical order, we present our top ten recommended courses to craft an enriching academic program for the upcoming semester.

  • ART 209/ARC 209: Baroque Art and Architecture. A well-rounded liberal arts education surely must include at least one visual arts class. The Tory suggests this course because it will cover some of the world’s greatest artists, including Caravaggio, Bernini, and Rembrandt, and the Baroque period happened in the context of other events essential for shaping European society, including the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. Take the opportunity to learn about these historical events through the lens of beautiful art.
  • CLA 217/HIS 217/HLS 217: The Greek World in the Hellenistic Age. Alexander the Great and Cleopatra – two famous world figures whom you will have the opportunity to study in this fascinating course. The class examines a transformative time period that links great civilizations, and a serious student must understand this historical context.
  • COM 415/SLA 415/RES 415: Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace, and the Tasks of Literature. This seminar is an incredible opportunity to read one of the greatest works of world literature, War and Peace, with premier Tolstoy scholar Caryl Emerson. Emerson, an Emeritus Professor, has not offered the class since Spring 2014 (earning a 4.91 out of 5 quality rating in course reviews), but is coming back to teach this course one last time. Sources within the Slavic Department tell us it is unlikely the University will have the faculty to offer such a course again for a long time, so do not miss your chance this semester!
  • ECO 100: Introduction to Microeconomics. Every Princeton student should graduate with at least a basic understanding of economics. If you have not taken Microeconomics yet, this coming semester is the time to do so because the course will be taught by Harvey Rosen. Rosen, who chaired President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors during 2005, is an incredible lecturer who regularly earns rave reviews and teaches this important subject in an accessible and interesting way.
  • HIS 367: English Constitutional History. One cannot fully understand American history, especially the Revolutionary and Constitutional periods, without a firm grasp of English history. This class surveys the period from the Norman Conquest until the Glorious Revolution, with an emphasis on the development of political institutions and legal concepts such as trial by jury, common law, due process, and executive prerogative. Professor Jordan is extremely engaging and witty and makes waking up for a 9:00 Monday lecture incredibly rewarding.
  • HUM 218-219: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Western Culture II. The Tory advocates taking the Humanities Sequence every semester, and we will not be stopping anytime soon. Team-taught by six all-star professors including Classics Professor and Chair of the Council of the Humanities Denis Feeney and English Professor Esther Schor, this intensive, double-credit course is the best way to study the history, literature, philosophy, and art of Western Civilization.  
  • MUS 225: Instrumental Music: The Symphony from Haydn to Stravinsky. Many universities have long recognized the key role of Western music in a liberal arts education; Columbia still requires a semester-long course in music history. This introductory course (that requires no musical background beyond “some ability to read music”) examines the symphonies of Bach, Beethoven, Dvorak, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky and seeks to instill appreciation for and understanding of some of humanity’s greatest cultural achievements. An added bonus: do not miss this opportunity to take a course with teaching maestro Professor Scott G. Burnham!
  • PHI 300/HLS 300: Plato and His Predecessors. You should take this course because of two men. The first is Plato, one of the most important philosophers of all time and author of The Republic, one of the greatest philosophical works of all time. The second is Professor Benjamin Morison, one of four Princeton professors recognized last spring as a recipient of the “President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching.” Incredibly erudite and engaging, Professor Morison will make Plato come alive during both lectures and his office hours, of which you should be sure to take advantage if (when) you take his course.
  • PHI 303/ECS 306: Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz. It’s three philosophers in one! This course will provide an excellent overview of early modern philosophy, primarily through reading the works of three important thinkers, Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz. If you are concerned with reasoning and developing your mind, this class is for you.
  • POL 380: Human Rights. Professor Gary Bass teaches this politics class on the subject at the heart of classical liberalism: human rights. Professor Bass is a wonderful lecturer who clearly and thoroughly outlines content, while still finding time to intersperse humor and keep students engaged. This review from when Professor Bass last taught the class in Spring 2014 summarizes why we strongly recommend it to students: “This is one of those few life-changing courses that you can take at Princeton.”

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