English 84

Sophomore Seminar: Socrates as a Cultural Icon

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
4 Fall 2010 Coolidge, John S.
Coolidge, John
F 12-2 205 Wheeler

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Socrates has often been compared to Jesus, an enigmatic yet somehow unmistakable figure who left nothing in writing yet decisively influenced the mind of his own and later ages. In the first weeks of the course we will read and discuss Aristophanes' comic send-up of Socrates in Clouds and the Platonic dialogues purporting to tell the story of Socrates' trial and death (Euthyphro, Apology of Socrates, Crito, and selections from Phaedo), attempting to (a) trace the original construction of the Socratic icon, and (b) briefly note its relevance to present-day “issues” such as generational conflict, science vs. religion, free speech, academic freedom, self and society, etc. After that class sessions will consist of team presentations, prepared in consultation with the instructor, on contemporary controversies involving some of these issues. The object is to provoke lively debate. The course is intended to appeal especially to students who are desirous of getting in on the intellectual conversation of our time and curious about its cultural antecedents.

This 2-unit course may not be counted as one of the twelve courses required to complete the English major.

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