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PERSPECTIVES ON THE INDIVIDUAL
University Core Curriculum


Texts
Thich Nhat Hanh, "Thây's Fourteen Precepts." This text may be taught wherever the faculty members wishes.
Anne Fausto-Sterling, "The Five Sexes," in Core I book.
Videos: Is It a Boy or a Girl and The Transgender Revolution
Genetics: Readings are to be found on the web. Links will be found in the syllabus at the appropriate place.
Margaret Atwood. The Handmaid's Tale.
David Ferry. Gilgamesh. Noonday Press/Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Plato. Euthyphro, Apology, Crito. Translated by Church. Macmillan.
The Sermon on the Mount from the Gospel according to Matthew, in Core I book.
The Sermon at Benares.
Pico della Mirandola, from "Oration on the Dignity of Man," in Core I book.
Wordsworth. "Tintern Abbey," and "Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood," in Core I book.
King Melinda document (handout).
Freud. Civilization and Its Discontents. Norton.
Tillie Olsen. Tell Me A Riddle. Dell
The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Ballantine. To be read either completely or in selections. Required passages are noted below, in the syllabus.
Elie Wiesel. Night.
Style Manual for Papers
Diana Hacker. A Pocket Style Manual. Boston: Bedford Books/ St. Martin's Press, 1993. The proper guide for making references to on-line sources is the MLA style sheet. It is not available on line. However examples of correct references may be found at the University of Georgia Libraries' MLA Style Sheet site.




Grading
Class
Participation
and
Journals
25%

Journals are to be turned in weekly. Some of the journal assignments may be submitted on Blackboard. Sometimes the topics may be assigned, but if an assignment is not given, the journal is to be done on the subject matter of the course, on readings, videos, class discussions. If they are written on a computer or a typewriter, they should have one inch margins and fill more than one page. If they are hand written they must fill at least two pages. A journal need not be all on one topic. You may stop and start as often as you wish.
Papers 40%

Two formal papers, one of 3 pages, the second of 5 pages. Each paper will be submitted in a preliminary draft and a final draft.
Tests 35%

There will be a midterm examination (worth 15%) of your grade and a final examination (worth20%). The final examination will be cumulative; it will be composed of essay-questions.
Academic Integrity

Please note the university's policy on cheating, plagiarism, and other violations of academic integrity.

University Education

By a crude mathematical formula, it can be suggested that what students teach students should be one-third of an undergraduate education, what professors teach students should be another third, and what each student does alone in the library, the laboratory, and the study should be the remaining third;... From Jeroslav Pelikan, The Idea of the University: A Reexamination (New Haven: Yale UP, 1992): 61.

Web Resources Throughout the syllabus you will find words that appear underlined and in a different color. Click on these words and you will be taken to web pages which offer further information on the material of the course. For more web resources, please click here. For web resources useful to all core courses and for advice on searching the web, please click here.
Syllabus
PART I: BIOLOGY AND PERSONALITY
1 Class Lecture: Orientation.
Assignment: Read "The Five Sexes" in Core I book.
2 Video: The Search for Mind.
Focusing Questions: (1) Why are the anthropologists so impressed by the simple figure of a man painted on the French cave wall? How does the picture relate to what the cave man actually saw? Could a chimpanzee have painted it? (2) Is man essentially different from or like the rest of the animal kingdom according to Charles Darwin's theory of the descent of man? (3) "Ed" says that his condition, autism, "means to be different from other people." How is he different in his relationship to other people? Is the source of his behavior cultural (poor parenting) or biological (brain damage)? How does he compensate for his difficulty? (4) What do "Joe" and "Ed" have in common? How do they differ? What effect does the severance of the corpus callosum have on the way Joe processes information? Explain in terms of the brain structure why Joe is unable to name an object that he sees but is able to draw it. Is it a conscious process? (5) Clive Wearing, the musician, has sustained damage to his temporal lobe. What specific effect does this injury to his brain have on his mind functions? By what process is he able to "remember" how to play the piano and sing?
3 Class Lecture and Discussion: "The Five Sexes." Optional Videos: Is It a Boy or a Girl and The Transgender Revolution.
Focusing Questions: (1) In "The Five Sexes," Fausto-Sterling states that experts estimate "as many as four percent of births" are intersex or hermaphrodite babies who are neither male nor female, but some kind of true or pseudo- hermaphrodite. What do you think and how do you feel, knowing that one in 20 to 25 students attending class at FDU, about 400 of our roughly 10,000 students, are intersex, hermaphrodite, or transsexual persons? (2) How might you react if you discovered that a member of your family, a close friend, or a fellow student is a hermaphrodite or intersex? How might you react and feel if you discovered that a parent, family member, close friend, or fellow student was seriously planning to have a sex change operation? (3) Until recently few questioned the "assumption that without medical care [and early genital surgery to correct an intersex condition] hermaphrodites are doomed to a life of misery. Do you agree or disagree with this assumption, and why? (4) Fausto-Sterling concludes that the medical community is finally recognizing the real harm and psychological damage its "biopower"–-its ability to alter anatomical sex, and surgically and hormonally force intersexual persons and hermaphrodites into either male or female pigeonholes-–has done to intersex and hermaphrodite persons. How do you think people, and our society as a whole, will react now that the gender experts, physicians, and psychologists are concluding that it is better not to operate on or medically treat intersex and hermaphrodite babies right after birth, and more humane and ethical to let them grow up as intersex persons until they can make a decision about their own treatment? (5) Explain why you agree or disagree with Fausto-Sterling's suggestion "that the three intersexes, herm, merm, and ferm, deserve to be considered additional sexes each in its own right." Remember, she clearly suggests "that sex is a vast, indefinitely malleable continuum that defies the constraints of even five sexes." Why are male and female not enough? Why are five sexes not enough? (6) Intersexual and hermaphrodite persons, Fausto-Sterling tells us, were recognized and discussed by Plato, early interpreters of the Bible and the Genesis story of creation, and in the Jewish books of laws. Why did this change at the end of the Middle Ages? Do you think new medical knowledge about the biological origins of intersex, hermaphrodite, and transsexual persons, and our new knowledge about the varieties and biological causes of our sexual orientations will force us to again recognize this diversity of human sexualities? Will we and our society be able to recognize the equality and rights of all persons, whatever their sexual identity, role, and/or orientation?
Assignment" Read what the professor assigns from The American Museum of Natural History's  The Genomic Revolution: (1) Our Genetic Identity, (2) Our Genome, (3) Choosing Our Genes, (4) Changing Our Genes, (5) Reshaping Our World, (6) DAN Detectives, (7) Epilogue; and from the Education Kit of the National Human Genome Research Institute: (1) Milestones in Genetics: Timeline, (2) Genes, Variation, and Human History, (3) How to Sequence a Gene, (4) Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications, (5) Video: Exploring Our Molecular Selves." Other material may be found under DNA on the Core B Websites page.
4 Class Lecture and Discussion: Genetics.
Focusing Questions: (1) Is science objective? Why? Why not? (2) What percentage of our humanity is directed by our genetic structure? (3) Is genetic engineering against the "natural order" of things? (4) If you could protect your child genetically against developing AIDS, would you? (5) Should there be legislation against modifying the human genome (engineering of a gene that would affect future generations)? (6) What would constitute a genetic "improvement"? Could this be culture specific or time specific? (7) Don't we already reward/punish genetic traits like intelligence, appearance, talents? Is this unfair? discriminatory? arbitrary? (8) Who should decide what a "good" gene is? (9) Where should be draw the line? (10) Can we draw the line? Questions in relation to other texts in the Course: "The Five Sexes": who should decide what is biologically normal? Should we intervene in future generations? The Handmaid's Tale: What is the danger of genocide of the genetically handicapped? Do the needs of society take precedence over the needs of the individual in the use of genetic information? Socrates teaches that the search for knowledge and the search for justice are the ultimate goods. Do these conflict with each other with respect to genetic research and engineering? The Sermon on the Mount tells us to "Beware of false prophets. By their fruits you shall know them." Is this relevant to the new study of genetics? Pico: Does man have the capacity to equal or supercede the divine power of creation? Freud: Science has always tried to control nature but never achieves human satisfaction. Will the aggressive instincts of man, pointed out by Freud, always thwart our efforts to achieve civilized lives. Night: What does the medical experimentation that went on during the holocaust tell us about the human capacity for evil? Is there anything to control this darker side of humanity?
5 Class Lecture and Discussion: Genetics.
Assignment: Read The Handmaid's Tale. Three-page paper due, class 10.
PART II: DYSTOPIA
6 Class Lecture and Discussion: THT.
Focusing Questions: (1) The Handmaid's Tale warns us that we must address certain threats to our individuality in the present-day USA if we are to avoid having to face them in a fully realized way in the future. Discuss these threats to our individuality. (2) Aunt Lydia talks of two kinds of freedom: "freedom to" and "freedom from," and warns the handmaids not to underrate "freedom from." What does each kind of freedom mean? Give examples. What does Lydia mean in warning not to underrate "freedom from?" (3) Offred tells the commander that what is missing from Gilead is the opportunity to "fall in love." Do you agree that this is the greatest failure of Gilead? (4) Handmaids' names are composed of "of," followed by the names of their commanders. In our own society, the majority of married women adopt their husbands' names. Discuss similarities and differences between the two practices. (5) Do you agree with Professor Piexoto that "our job is not to censure [practices in Gilead], but to understand [them]"? (6) Is Offred a heroic individual? Why or why not? (7) The Handmaid's Tale presents us with a dystopia in which individuality is largely crushed. Which one of all your freedoms today now seems more precious as a result of reading The Handmaid's Tale.
7 Class Lecture and Discussion: THT.
8 Class Lecture and Discussion: THT.
Assignment: Read Gilgamesh.
PART III: SOURCES OF THE SELF
9 Class Lecture and Discussion: G.
Focusing Questions: On Gilgamesh: (1) Heroes provide one perspective on the individual, since heroes serve as exemplary individuals or models of conduct. Gilgamesh is one of the first heroes in world literature. How does he exemplify heroic behavior? (2) Other perspectives on the individual are provided by consideration of those factors that shape our identities. Enkidu first appears in Gilgamesh as a wild man, totally outside human society. How is he socialized into human society? What role does his friendship with Gilgamesh play in Enkidu's socialization? (3) as Enkidu lies dying he bitterly complains that the temple prostitute "Made me see things as a man, and a man sees death in things"(49). To what extent is awareness of mortality a distinctive human train? (4) In their adventures together, Gilgamesh and Enkidu defeat the monster Humbaba. Exactly what is Humbaba? Do you think this figure, at least in some respects, symbolizes some natural phenomenon? You may wish to reread the descriptions of Humbaba on pages 29 and 38. (5) As Gilgamesh and Enkidu approach Humbaba's forest, Gilgamesh is described as being "revitalized by danger"(35). To what extent is a person's individual development enhanced by confronting danger or adversity? Are challenges and hardships essential to building character? (6) The death of Enkidu drives Gilgamesh into a frenzy of grief. To what extent do extreme pain or bereavement isolate or "desocialize" an individual? (7) Gilgamesh's search for Utnapishtim and the secret of immortality is an early example of the heroic quest. While there are possible elements of a real journey in Gilgamesh's quest, it is easy to see this quest as a symbolic journey that brings Gilgamesh to a deeper understanding of human mortality. Which elements of the journey seem to you to be the most realistic? Which elements seem the most symbolic? Little is said in the text about Gilgamesh's behavior and actions after his return. How would you imagine him to have been changed by this journey? (8) The story of Utnapishtim is clearly similar to the biblical account of Noah and the Ark. What are the similarities between the two stories? What important differences are there? (9) What can you infer from Gilgamesh about the religious beliefs of the ancient Mesopotamians? What attitudes to the Mesopotamian gods appear in the story? See, for example, Utnapishtim's comments to Gilgamesh on pages 78-79. What beliefs, if any, about an afterlife seem to be implied in the story?
10 Class Lecture and Discussion: G.
Assignment: Read Plato's "The Apology" and "Crito." First three-page paper due.
11 Class Lecture and Discussion: Apology and Crito. Optional Video: The Death of Socrates.
Focusing Questions: (1) Socrates claims that "An unexamined life is not worth living. What is an "examined life"? How is examining one's life related to being an individual in our culture? Is living an examined life always desirable? Is it possible to examine everything about our lives? Do you accept Plato's suggestion that the more heroic individual is the reflective, independent thinker rather than the warrior? (2) What role does reasoning play in freeing us from the domination of traditional myths and social demands? What is the community's interest in controlling dissent? (3) Socrates claims that his sole "wisdom" consists in the realization that he is not wise. What does he mean? Is his behavior during his trial and imprisonment consistent with this claim? (4) It is sometimes argued that Socrates committed a form of suicide. In what sense, if any, is this true?
12 Class Lecture and Discussion: A&C.
Assignment: Read the Sermon on the Mount. Outline and commentary. First paper returned; revision due in class 14.
13 Class Lecture and Discussion: Sermon.
Focusing Questions: (1) The beatitudes (5:3-10) are considered a proclamation of a new approach to the good life. Would Gilgamesh have accepted these notions of goodness? Would he have rejected them all, accepted some? What about Socrates? (2) Do you see any similarities between Socrates's attitude toward the gods and Jesus' attitude toward God? (3) In these sayings there is a heavy emphasis on heaven and hell. What value do you think this has for the formation of a self? Is it necessary? Is it good? Is it harmful? (4) There is also a strong emphasis on an interior goodness that goes beyond outward good behavior. Is this important, valuable? or does it impose an impossible ideal? (5) Similarly, what do you think of such well-known ideas as turning the other cheek? loving your enemies? and so on. Do they have any validity or are they unreal or even unjust notions? (6) Jesus' insistence that we not be anxious about food and clothing sounds like Socrates's insistence than men not be anxious about acquiring honors and possessions. In what ways are they the same? different?
Assignment: Read "The Sermon at Benares."
14 Class Lecture and Discussion: Benares.
Assignment: Revised paper due.
15 Midterm Examination.
Assignment: Read Pico della Mirandola, "Oration on the Dignity of Man."
16 Class Lecture and Discussion: Pico.
Focusing Questions: (1) What is the importance for the individual human person of having a particular place in the "Great Chain of Being," that is, in the immense natural world, from atoms to galaxies? (2) In what way does Pico de la Mirandola's understanding of human nature differ from the duality we saw in Gilgamesh between man as animal (Enkidu) and man as God (Gilgamesh)? (3) In what way do human persons differ from the rest of nature in Pico de la Mirandola? Is Pico's a legitimate way to define the relationship in today's science-governed understanding?
17 Class Lecture and Discussion: Pico's world in art.
Focusing Questions: (1) Can you list six or seven details you noted in the pictures shown in the class? (2) Does what's in the foreground always seem more important than what's in the background? (3) What of Pico's ideas did you find in the slides shown in the class? (4) Do these pictures say something to us even if we don't know exactly who the characters are? (5) How much does knowing the society in which art is produced determine our ability to understand art? (6) Do the pictures you've looked at seem to have a purpose? If you answer yes, then what is it that the slides teach? (7) Write one journal page on one of the slides describing as carefully as you can the details you consider important.
Assignment: Read William Wordsworth, "Tintern Abbey" and "Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood." Begin five-page paper, due class 22.
18 Class Lecture and Discussion: TA and/or Ode.
Focusing Questions: (1) What does it means to say "the child is father to the man"? Is it true? (2) Wordsworth's natural world is much more intimate and vivid than the abstract vision of the cosmos considered by Pico. In what way does this modify the way we think of ourselves in relation to nature? (3) Why is it the child's relation to nature that is so important in "Tintern Abbey" and "Ode"? (4) For Wordsworth the outer self is the social self. Why does he reject this outer self in favor of an inner, private self? Is this same rejection found in any way in Gilgamesh or in Plato's "Apology" and "Crito"? (5) Why does Wordsworth find the Socratic or Platonic ideal of reason inadequate for the making of a self? Who would Wordsworth admire more, Socrates or Gilgamesh? (6) Wordsworth suggests that we become prisoners as we grow older. Do we find this experience reflected, for instance, in Gilgamesh or in Socrates? Do we find it in our own experience? (7) Childhood, nature, and the folk are the sources from which Wordsworth builds an inner self. How are they related?
Assignment: Read the "King Melinda" document.
19 Class Lecture and Discussion: Melinda.
Assignment: Read chapters III to VII of Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents.
PART IV: CHALLENGES TO THE SELF
20 Class Lecture and Discussion: CD, or Video Lecture: Freud or Socialization.
Focusing Questions: (1) How does Freud differ from Wordsworth in his explanation of the struggle between instinctual drives and the expectations of civilization? Which one, do you think, better explains the tension? (2) Wordsworth sees nature as a refuge from civilization. How does Freud see it? (3) Does the struggle between civilization and instinct contribute to or inhibit personal growth? (4) What is the difference between Freud's notion of law and that of Socrates? (5) How widespread is discontent in American civilization? What are the principal sources of this discontent? Can technology relieve us of these problems? What does Freud think? (6) What is the relationship between Freud's theories and the way the struggle between instinct and culture has been managed in The Handmaid's Tale?
21 Class Lecture and Discussion: CD.
22 Class Lecture and Discussion: CD.
Assignment: Read Tillie Olsen's "I Stand Here Ironing." Second paper due.
23 Class Lecture and Discussion: Olsen.
Focusing Questions: (1) There are many sources of the pain which Emily has experienced in her life. Who or what is mainly responsible for this pain? (2) Does Emily have the freedom to overcome the difficulties of her early life? What might Freud say? Pico? (3) "I Stand Here Ironing" has been called a work which de-romanticizes motherhood. Is it? Why or why not?
Assignment: Read The Autobiography of Malcolm X. (Page numbers are given according to the present edition) Minimum selection: "Nightmare," 1-22; "Detroit Red," first half, 84-96; "Satan," last half, 162-168; "Saved," last two-thirds, 178-190; "Savior," first 10 pages, 191-199; "Minister Malcolm," last half, 222-235; "Black Muslims," 236-265; "Mecca," 318-342; "El Hajj," 343-363; "1965," 364-382. Additional passages–optional: "Ella's Pride," 32; "Be a Carpenter," 36; "Hustler," 114-117, include West Indian Archie; Section on Bimbi, 153; "Satan," whole chapter; "Saved," whole chapter; "Epilogue, 383-456; "On Malcolm," 457-460.
24 Class Lecture and Discussion: MX.
Focusing Questions: (1) In what ways was Malcolm's individuality denied him because of his race? (2) Malcolm said his life was a series of changes. What were the major changes in his life? How did the various names and nicknames he had mark some of the changes. What was the difference between the childhood of Malcolm X and the childhood that Wordsworth describes? (3) What personal experiences made him open to accepting the teaching that "the white man is the devil"? What reading in history? In what way did his hajj change his attitude? (4) What message did Malcolm have for African-Americans? For white Americans? Why did human rights become his central idea, and not just civil rights? What were his final spiritual teachings? (5) Malcolm's life can be seen as a process of mental liberation, of "decolonizing the mind." How did his self-education contribute? How did his break with Elijah Muhammad? (6) What can Malcolm tell us about the value of education? (7) What was his attitude toward women in general, and in particular, towards Ella, his mother, Betty Shabbaz? What was his attitude toward Jews? Toward violence? (8) What would you say about the claim that Malcolm found himself through commitment to a higher cause? (9) How do racial and other group identifications shape our sense of who we are?
Assignment: Second paper returned for revisions.
25 Class Lecture and Discussion: MX.
26 Class Lecture and Discussion: MX.
Assignment:  Read Night. Revision of second paper due.
PART V: THE DENIAL OF THE SELF
27 Class Lecture and Discussion: N.
Focusing Questions: (1) In what way is the narrator's early life in Sighet like the early life described by Wordsworth? Note several elements of this early life which constitute the narrator's individuality. Show how each is taken away from him by his life in the camps. (2) The relationship of Eliezer to his father is very important in the second half of the book. Why? From this relationship, what lesson does Eliezer learn about an individual's potential for good and evil? (3) Just prior to the Nazi invasion of Hungary, the Jews of Sighet took comfort against rumors to the effect that Hitler was harming European Jews by asking: "Was he going to wipe out the whole people?. . . So many millions! . . . And in the middle of the twentieth century!" The twentieth century individual, they thought, was incapable of repeating the atrocities, the mass murders of the dim past. What assumptions about the effect of Western culture on the "twentieth century" individual are being made here? How have your ideas about "progress" been affected by this text? (4) The Holocaust could not have occurred without the active collaboration of many ordinary citizens and the silent compliance of countless others. At the war crimes tribunal following World War II at Nuremberg, many Nazi defendants pleaded the case that they were "just following orders," that actions taken against Jews were "legal." Individual citizens in our own society sometimes confront laws they find to be immoral. Give some instances in recent United States history in which individuals have refused to obey laws they condemn morally. Are there any laws which would prompt your disobedience for ethical reasons? (5) This course begins with a dystopia. Toward the close of the course we have now read a tale of a lived dystopia. What similarities to Gilead do you find in the world described in Night. (6) Imagine that Plato and Freud are alive and have just completed reading Wiesel's Night. Compose letters written by them to Wiesel telling him how their own thoughts relate to the tragedy depicted in Night.
28 Class Lecture and Discussion: N.
FINAL EXAMINATION