Last semester we offered you, dear reader, a shortlist of ten recommended courses that we hoped might help you cobble together an enriching class schedule for the pursuit of the liberal arts (properly understood). We now present our recommendations for this spring:
PHI301: Aristotle and His Successors– Every student of the liberal arts should study the thought of The Philosopher. Aristotle may well be the single most important thinker in the Western Tradition. Professor Benjamin Morrison is a stellar lecturer and Aristotelian extraordinaire, known for living according to the gospel of the Nicomachean Ethics. You simply must take this course.
HIS344: The Civilization of the High Middle Ages– Take this course because (a) Professor Bill Jordan is amazing, (b) the High Middle Ages are epic, and (c) this is an important era for the development of Western Civilization. Prof. Jordan is an animated lecturer, full of hilarious anecdotes and clever ways of making history come alive in the classroom.
POL316: Civil Liberties– To be a good citizen, you must resist the instinct to be conflict averse. Democratic institutions like our own depend on robust civil discourse about controversial issues. To further that discourse, take this classic course taught by Professor Robert George, wherein you will learn to think seriously about some of the pressing issues in our society today. This course will challenge you, regardless of your current worldview. This is a must-take class.
POL 210: Political Theory– This survey course offers an overview of Western political thought since Ancient Greece. Through the study of seminal works by theorists such as Aristotle, Machiavelli, Locke, and Mill, the course will introduce students to authors whose ideas have shaped modern theories about government, society, and the world. As a bonus, the Politics Department has assigned an all-star duo of professors to teach the class: Vice Chair Melissa Lane and Values and Public Life Director Anna Stilz.
HIS 210: The World of Late Antiquity– Studying the history of late antiquity was legitimated by Princeton professor Professor Peter Brown, and his student Professor Jack Tannous keeps up the tradition of offering this class. Late antiquity extends from the later Roman Empire in the 3rd century AD to the early middle ages, and it’s a period too often ignored by high school history classes and caricatured in the popular imagination despite its importance in shaping our culture and institutions today. Tannous’ class is the Eastern counterpart to Helmut Reimitz’ class Civilization of the Early Middle Ages, which covers late antiquity in the western half of the Roman Empire. Tannous is an engaging young teacher and has students come to his office hours at least once so that he can get to know them.
HUM 470/POL 415: Adventures in Ideas– This primary-source-only seminar focuses on “the meaning of human existence and the terms of social and political life” in works by renowned philosophers from Plato to C.S. Lewis. Perhaps its most enticing aspect, however, is that it is taught by Professors Robert George and Cornel West, whose well-known political views promise to ensure students are offered radically different perspectives on issues such as law, faith, and philosophy.
CLA 218/HIS 218: The Roman Republic– Western civilization has inherited countless cultural, political, and social structures from its Roman ancestors. Professor Edward Champlain, popular among students as a great lecturer, will provide an overview of perhaps the greatest republic the world has ever seen and in doing so will help foster a more thorough appreciation of both our own culture and the enduring influences of history.
HIS 280: Approaches to American History– By focusing on specific case studies, this in-depth course for prospective history majors teaches the vital skill of primary-source historical analysis, thereby enabling students to draw their own conclusions rather than relying on the interpretations of others. Perhaps more interesting than the topics discussed in the class is the professor himself. Professor Kevin Kruse’s lectures are like performances, and his analysis of history forces students to question their own perceptions of the past and its implications.
ENG 321: Shakespeare II– This lecture course covers the latter half of Shakespeare’s works including such timeless classics as Macbeth, Othello, and The Tempest. The Bard is generally considered to be the greatest literary figure in the English language and has exerted significant influences on centuries of authors, poets, and playwrights. Shakespeare offers profound insights into love, tragedy, relationships, and the human experience, and all educated individuals should familiarize themselves with his plays.
HUM 218-219: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Western Culture II: Literature and the Arts– The title of this double credit course says it all – there is no better way to obtain a well-rounded foundation in Western thought. With some of Princeton’s best professors joining the team of six lecturers, each class should be highly enriching and engaging. The reading list includes many of the greatest works in the Western canon, and students will also have the opportunity to attend fully funded trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Opera.