Fine Arts Tutorial

In the Program of Liberal Studies, we think of our tutorials, three-credit disciplinary courses, as orbiting around the seminars.  We have tutorial sequences in philosophy, literature, theology, science, fine arts, and intellectual and cultural history. 

The tutorials allow for a  more concentrated focus on particular texts and topics than the seminars.  These courses build on one another (as do the seminars), so that what one learns in an earlier course will serve as a foundation for later ones.

Fine Arts Tutorial

Music and Culture

PLS 30501

This course offers methods and tools to study music in a variety of cultural and social contexts. Its organization reflects the Program of Liberal Studies' distinctive commitment to a humanistic perspective and interactive learning. Typically, each section focuses on a different theme or repertory. The course fulfills the Fine Arts requirement. For specific information on the current content of each section, please consult the Instructor Course Descriptions (ICD) in Class Search.

Back to Top

Intellectual History Tutorial

Intellectual and Cultural History

PLS 40601

This course treats the principles of historical interpretation, investigates the philosophical and theological foundations of different paradigms of historical analysis, and traces the origins and development of modern historical science in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. From year-to-year, students read texts by Augustine, Lorenzo Valla, Benedict de Spinoza, Pierre Bayle, Giambattista Vico, Ernst Cassirer, Karl Loewith, Isaiah Berlin and Quentin Skinner.


Back to Top


Literature Tutorials

Literature I: The Lyric Poem

PLS 20201

This course offers an introduction to poetry through intensive study of several lyric poets writing in English. Through close reading of selected poems, students will become familiar with central literary devices, including rhythm and meter, image, metaphor, symbol, paradox, and irony. Poems studied will range from the Renaissance to the twenty-first century, and may include Shakespeare's Sonnets and Keats's Odes, along with the works of other major poets such as Donne, Herbert, Marvell, Gray, Wordsworth, Dickinson, Hopkins, Yeats, Eliot, and Stevens.

Literature II: Shakespeare and Milton

PLS 30202

Building on the techniques of close reading developed in Literature I, this course will focus on the expressive power of literary genres, modes, and conventions and will take up the question of the unity and coherence of long works. The reading list will include several plays by Shakespeare and Milton's Paradise Lost. In some years, another major English narrative poem may be substituted for Paradise Lost (such as Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, Spenser's Faerie Queene, or Wordsworth’s Prelude).


Back to Top

Natural Science Tutorials

Fundamental Concepts of Natural Science

PLS 20412

This tutorial raises fundamental questions regarding our orientation to the world.  It examines the concept of nature and the relationship of human beings to the natural world. In addition, it includes an exploration of ancient and modern mathematics, and raises the abiding question of the relationship between mathematics and the physical world: whether mathematics is embodied in nature, or somehow above nature, or both, or neither. Readings include texts from Plato (e.g. Meno, Timaeus or Republic), Aristotle, and Euclid’s Elements.

Scientific Inquiry: Theories and Practices

PLS 30411

Using major historical texts as primary material, this course, the second in the Natural Science sequence, investigates crucial philosophical and methodological issues that continue to arise in the sciences. Why do scientists adopt or resist new theories? How have the relationships between the sciences and other intellectual disciplines changed over time? What fundamental assumptions about the natural world has modern science adopted? What methods have scientists advocated for creating reliable knowledge? Authors include Francis Bacon, Galileo, and Newton.

Science, Society, and the Human Person

PLS 40412

This course, the third in the Natural Science sequence, involves an exploration of what science tells us about the human person. Through the reading of important historical and contemporary texts, students confront the conundrums, challenges, and insights relevant to the scientific study of human beings both as individuals and as social beings. Readings will focus on a range of disciplinary perspectives, such as evolutionary biology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and neuroscience.


Back to Top

Philosophy Tutorials

Philosophical Inquiry

PLS 20301

While serving as an introduction to philosophical inquiry, both as a distinct discipline and within the context of an integrated liberal arts curriculum, this course seeks to help students cultivate a philosophical habit of mind. In addition to familiarizing them with the fundamental modes and questions relevant to philosophy as a discipline, the course examines the formal and informal principles of logical reasoning and argumentation. Readings include selections from the Pre-Socratics, Plato's Meno, selections from Aristotle’s Organon, Physics, and other texts, and from such other authors as Boethius, Descartes, Aquinas, and Nietzsche.


PLS 30301

This course examines different modes of moral reasoning and what constitutes the good life, primarily through the study of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and the moral philosophy of Kant. Readings may also include works in moral development and moral theology, as represented by the Stoics, Augustine, Aquinas, and thinkers working in the Utilitarian ethical tradition.

Metaphysics and Epistemology

PLS 40302

This course examines different philosophical conceptions of reality and of the possibility of knowledge and truth claims. Selections from the Platonic tradition, Aristotle's Metaphysics, and Kant's Critique of Pure Reason form the basis of the course. Other readings may include works by such thinkers as Aquinas, Heidegger, and other twentieth-century authors.


Back to Top

Politics Tutorial

Political and Constitutional Theory: Ancient and Modern

PLS 30302

This course examines fundamental problems involved in political communities and the nature of various solutions, especially democratic ones. Readings include Aristotle's Politics, Locke's Second Treatise, and selections from The Federalist Papers and American founding documents.


Back to Top

Theology Tutorials

The Bible and Its Interpretations

PLS 20302

This course involves a study of biblical texts as well as an examination of various traditions of biblical hermeneutics, including the classical exegetical traditions of Christianity and, to a lesser extent, Judaism.  The course engages with the Scriptures from the different perspectives of patristic and medieval exegesis, literary analysis, modern historical-critical interpretation, philosophical hermeneutics, theological exegesis, and interpretive representations contained in art, literature, film, and liturgy. In addition it emphasizes how the interpretation of Scripture is embodied in the life of the Church. 

Christian Theological Traditions

PLS 40301
This course involves a systematic and historical study of the Christian intellectual tradition, specifically from a Roman Catholic perspective.  Topics include the relationship of faith and reason, Christological and Trinitarian doctrines, mystical or apophatic discourse, theological anthropology, the development of doctrine, and questions concerning authority and the nature of tradition as such.  Readings are drawn from patristic and medieval figures such as Origen, Pseudo-Dionysius, Augustine, Bonaventure, and Aquinas, from documents pertaining to Vatican II, and from modern and contemporary theologians such as John Henry Newman, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Karl Rahner.


Back to Top