Complementing the Great Books Seminars is a required sequence of Tutorials in literature, philosophy, theology, political theory, music and aesthetics, intellectual and cultural history, and the natural and social sciences. In introducing you to the methods and concerns of individual disciplines, the Tutorials will enable you to read the Seminar texts in new ways and to consider critical perspectives.
While all of the Tutorials are required, on rare occasions students can receive exemptions or make substitutions. These may be allowed if the student is completing a full second major in one of the disciplines treated by a Tutorial sequence or if a student takes an equivalent course abroad. The decision to permit exemptions or substitutions is made on a case-by-case basis by the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Eric Bugyis, who makes every effort to balance the particular needs of each student against the corporate enterprise of maintaining the comprehensive, integrated, and interdisciplinary curricular experience that is unique to PLS.
If you have questions about your personalized course plan or to begin the process of constructing one, please contact Dr. Bugyis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Natural and Social Science Tutorials
PLS 20412 Fundamental Concepts of Natural Science
This course raises questions fundamental to our experience of the physical world. Questions such as "What is space?" and "What is time?" and broader issues about the nature of life are initially raised through a close reading of Plato's Timaeus and Aristotle's Physics, along with excerpts from other ancient texts. In attempting to answer these questions over the course of the semester, we will read a wide variety of sources: principally ancient and modern primary texts, with some secondary readings. These readings will include Euclid's Elements, Descartes' Principles of Philosophy, and Einstein's Theories of Relativity.
PLS 30411 Scientific Inquiry: Theories and Practices
Using major historical texts as primary material, students will investigate crucial philosophical and methodological issues that arise in modern scientific inquiry, especially in the physical and life sciences. What can cause scientists to adopt (or resist) new theories? What relationships has science held to other intellectual disciplines, and how have those relationships changed over time? What fundamental assumptions about the natural world are adopted in much of modern science? What methods have scientists advocated for creating reliable knowledge? Students will grapple with these questions as we study and discuss central texts in the development of modern science, including the works of Ptolemy, Copernicus, Galileo, Descartes, and Newton.
PLS 40412 Science, Society, and the Human Person
In this course students will explore what can science tell us about human nature and human social interactions. By reading and discussing important historical and contemporary texts, students will engage the conundrums, challenges and insights created through the scientific study of human beings and society. Readings will include works by Charles Darwin, William James, and Jean Piaget.
PLS 20301 Philosophical Inquiry
This course introduces philosophical inquiry, both as distinct from and as it relates to other disciplines, through the exploration of primary texts representative of its different forms and questions, and within the context of an integrated liberal education. It also investigates the formal and informal principles of logical reasoning. Readings include selections from the Pre-Socratics, Plato's Meno, selections from Aristotle, beginning with his Organon and Physics, and such authors as Boethius, Descartes, and Aquinas.
PLS 30301 Ethics
An examination of modes of moral reasoning and what constitutes the good life, based primarily on the study of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and the moral philosophy of Kant. Readings may also include a selection from the Utilitarian ethical tradition as well as from works in moral development and in moral theology, such as by Augustine, Aquinas, and Newman.
PLS 40302 Metaphysics and Epistemology
An engagement with philosophical conceptions of the nature of knowledge, reality, and the relation between them. 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 20th Century authors.
PLS 20302 The Bible and Its Interpretation
A close study of the selected books of the Bible. The course will consider the role of the Bible in the life of the church, the history of its interpretation, and the various approaches of modern scholarship.
PLS 40301 Christian Theological Traditions
A study of the major Christian doctrines in their development, including God as Trinity, creation and humanity, incarnation and redemption, and the sacraments. The course moves toward a historical and systematic understanding of Christianity, especially the Roman Catholic tradition. Readings typically include patristic authors, medieval authors such as Aquinas, the documents of Vatican II, and contemporary theologians.
PLS 20201 Literature I: The Lyric Poem
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 20th century, and may include Shakespeare's sonnets and Keats' odes, along with the works of other major poets such as Donne, Herbert, Marvell, Gray, Wordsworth, Dickinson, Hopkins, Yeats, Eliot, and Stevens.
PLS 30202 Literature II: Shakespeare and Milton
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).
Fine Arts Tutorial
PLS 30501 Music and Meaning
This course examines music as a case study for the non-verbal communication of meaning. We will ask what music means? How does it mean? Does it mean anything? We will engage these questions not simply on a philosophical level—reading core texts in the history of aesthetics—but also on a historical one: studying a diverse selection of musical works from across (and beyond) the Western canon. Rather than simply asking what music means, then, we will ask what it has meant, charting the changing conceptions of the medium’s form, function, and significance. In the course of this music-historical journey, students will interrogate the relationship between artistic theory and practice; and they will draw comparisons with other art forms (painting, sculpture, literature, and so on). Last but not least, students will confront the central challenge of translating their own ephemeral, seemingly ineffable, musical experiences into clear, verifiable, and eloquent written prose.
Typical core aesthetic texts encountered in the class include: Kant’s Critique of Judgment (1790), Schiller’s On the Aesthetic Education of Man (1794), Schopenhauer’s World as Will and Representation (c. 1844), Moreas’s “Symbolist Manifesto” (1886), W. E. B. Dubois “Criteria of Negro Art” (1926), Adorno’s “On the Fetish Character in Music” (1938), and Cage’s “Future of Music: Credo” (1937). Typical repertoire includes Bach’s cantatas, Beethoven’s symphonies, Schubert’s songs, Wagner’s music dramas, African-American spirituals, Tchaikovsky’s ballets, Cage’s experimental music, classical Hollywood film scores, and contemporary popular music.
PLS 30302 Political and Social Theory
An approach to understanding the fundamental problems of political community and the nature of various solutions, especially that of democracy. Readings will include, but are not limited to, Aristotle's Politics, Locke's Second Treatise, and selections from The Federalist Papers and American founding documents.
Intellectual and Cultural History Tutorial
PLS 40601 Intellectual and Cultural History
This course will deal with the issue of historical consciousness and with the limits and possibilities of historical understanding. The first portion of the course will examine the issues of historiography and the use of historical analysis in the contextualized reading of texts. From this foundation, the issue of history will be explored with reference to authors such as Augustine, Bossuet, Montesquieu, Kant, Hegel, Ranke, and Eliade.
PLS 30101: Junior Reading Course
As a complement to the traditional PLS Great Books Seminars, in which students read multiple texts and authors rather quickly, this course is designed to give PLS students the opportunity to engage in a focused reading of one work or a collection of closely related works. The text or texts studied changes regularly depending on the instructor and the interests of the students.
PLS 30251: Liberal Arts as Liberation
From their origins, the liberal arts have been associated with the freedom that their name implies. These are the arts practiced by free persons, who are not forced to serve any ends but those chosen by themselves, and they are the arts that ultimately create free individuals and societies. Nearly co-original with the liberal arts, however, is the critique that only a privileged few, limited by perceived ability or circumstance, can access this liberation. Reading material from the social sciences and humanities, this course will consider whether and how the liberal arts can be truly liberating for all people. This course is typically team-taught by two PLS faculty and fulfills the "integration" requirement for the university core curriculum.