Robert A. Wren, Ph.D. Instructor
Ofice Phone: 747-5288
Home Phone: 585-8253
This is an upper-division multi-discipline Liberal Arts course which investigates the elaboration of ideas within the frame of Western Culture (the intellectual traditions, events, and personalities associated with European and North American cultures between 1758 and the present). Texts for this course are seminal texts for ideas and concepts vital to the shaping of western cultural institutions and practices, drawn from the fields of history, literature, political science, music, theoretical science, religion, and the fine arts.
There will also be a number of shorter readings taken from contemporary records made available through the course web page and discussion board, including images of paintings and music (in MP3 format).
The sheer breadth of what we will be attempting to study may appear intimidating but the intensive nature of what we will be doing will assure that our interactions will be of appropriate depth and the participation of the ambitious individuals comprising the course will serve to make up for the deficiencies of the instructor.
Policies and Procedures
You will not be asked to repeat what you read in the PowerPoint presentations, or what you may have read on the discussion board, or in the lectures, but we do ask that you take what you are presented with as a starting point from which you may develop your own insights and understanding. This course has not been designed to instruct students in how to regurgitate discrete facts.
Students with Disabilities
As per Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, if a student needs an accommodation, contact your professor and we will help you with the appropriate modification, within the procedures established by the University.
The real key to success in this course is handling the reading assignments diligently and carefully. These texts form an awesome body of material which can be intimidating. Keep in mind, however, that many of the assigned readings were originally written as entertainment, and for the most part, they still retain this quality. These texts, therefore, are not meant to be read as you would read a text book, but as you would read a novel; looking for ideas as opposed to hunting for facts, dates, or names. Additionally, you are not expected to fully understand these texts in all their complexity, but you are asked to engage them and the ideas they present. These texts may appear a formidable task, but you have had enough experience as a student to be quite formidable yourself.
Plagiarism is using ideas or wording from a source without attribution, or giving credit to the source. It is unethical and unacceptable. Do not submit work in exams or on-line that you do not do yourself. You may not submit work you are doing for another class in this class. If you are found to be cheating or plagiarizing, you will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the policy set forth in the UTEP catalog. Refer to: http://www.utep.edu/dos/acadintg.htm
I will have access to tools that will enable me to identify plagiarism, and these tools will be used. After all, no one ever invites me to parties, for reasons obvious by now, so I have nothing better to do.
Were your essays really essays, or merely lists of things?
Do your essays evidence an adequate command of English grammar, syntax, and diction?
Are your essays coherent, or do they rely upon me to figure out what you were trying to say?
Do your essays respond to all of the questions various parts?
Do your essays identify and address issues implicit and explicit in the question?
Do your essays regurgitate information and examples covered in class lecture? If they do, it will cost you.
Do your essays give evidence of an individual mind at work with the issues raised in the question?
Fairness to text
Are your answers grounded in the subject text and the historical and social backgrounds peculiar to that particular text?
Do you support your assertions with references to the texts that substantiate your assertions?
In the addition to the other components of this course, you will also be required to participate in a “Computer Conference.” The computer conference is an on-line discussion group where you can share ideas related to the course texts and lecture content.
The following "rules" will make for a more helpful and inclusive conference community. They are generally common sense ideas that you probably already use when you communicate both in person and by writing notes or letters. Please read them carefully and strive to be as thoughtful as possible in your use of this medium.
Above all else, remember that you're not writing to a computer, but to and for your peers. They are real people with real thoughts and feelings. It is dangerously easy to forget that though we may be separated by time and space, we are still a community of sorts, at least for the duration of this semester.
Though it may be easier to simply hit the caps lock key and bang away, messages in all caps are routinely interpreted as expressing anger in internet communications. So if you are not angry, do not type in all caps. If you are angry, count to ten, take a walk, and then write your entry.
This is another one that is easy to forget. When you write, paragraphs serve to organize your ideas and present them more clearly to your readers. Reading material on line can be hard on the eyes, especially if you are using a monitor that has seen better days in the last century. Paragraphing serves to make the physical act of reading a bit easier for your reader.
If you are responding to a specific entry made by one of your classmates or one of the TA's or professors, make sure that you make this clear in your entry. Sometimes, it is a good idea to "address" your audience specifically. Doing so will avert misunderstandings and confusion, usually, by most people, considered a good idea.
Please reread your entries before you post them. The Webboard program includes a built-in spell checker. Please make use of it. Sloppy spelling, punctuation, diction, and syntax indicate a lack of interest or intelligence and are so interpreted by most readers.
Because your conference was set up for use with a specific course FOR CREDIT here at UTEP, it is not a sandbox where you can write whatever you happen to think or feel. It was created as a place for you to discuss ideas that directly (to a greater or lesser extent) deal with the class. Keep your entries topical and use your knowledge of the texts to help you make your points. We are not against "free speech", quite the opposite. We are very much in favor of it. But "Free Speech" means that you are free to take complete responsibility for what you've said. If your entries do not relate to the course, do not expect credit for them. If they are silly and meaningless, expect others to ignore you, or even ask you your point.
Consider the conference a symposium or study group. It is open-ended and EVERYONE will end up learning. Feel free to make connections to life, the universe and everything...but remember that this is a course at a university. Free Speech is not "meaningless speech", nor is it graffiti tossed up on a computer screen.
Participation in your conference is potentially one of the most exciting and intellectually rewarding things you will do in your academic career. Take advantage of it! It is a lot of fun.
The course is divided into TWO parts. Each part is a little different in theme
Overall, we will be investigating the relationship between the individual and the corporate body of which the individual is a part. Hobbes’ Leviathan is the ideal starting point for this endeavor as his description of the functioning of political bodies defines the relationship between the individual and the state still prevalent in contemporary western political bodies.
Mary Wollstonecraft used the ferment of the French Revolution to articulate an argument for the intellectual equality of the genders. Her essay also outlines a social role for women that require a different form of education that that usually provided to women in the 18th century. Much of what she has to say about women and sexuality is still relevant to discussion of gender issues in the contemporary western world.
Edmund Burke’s response to the claims of the Rousseau inspired French Revolutionaries gives us an opportunity to consider why Burke would be so opposed to the French revolution while he had stood as one of the most determined supporters of the American revolutionaries in the British Parliament.
The French Revolution and the achievements of Napoleon Bonaparte inspired Carl von Clausewitz to write treatise on war and the nation state--a new politics and a new warfare redefined Western culture, and its institutions.
Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel, Demons, allows us to study the bourgeois world created by the French Revolution and the early industrial revolution.
Ernst Junger's Storm of Steel takes us into the mud, blood, and misery of World War I's trenches where we are introduced to forces which will dictate the 20th century's bloody course.
Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents is short but rich in insight into the perilous condition of Western culture in the 1920’s. He offers the most comprehensive and influential discussion of human psychology since Plato and Aristotle and though much of his work has been discredited since, still the modern fields of psychiatry and psychology have been heavily influenced by his work.
A Brief History of Time will allow us to frame a discourse on the relationship of science and technology, fields which are in a constant state of revolution in contemporary culture.