The Search for Values in the Light of Western History and Religion


Geoffrey Bakewell, Department of Ancient Mediterranean Studies
Gordon Bigelow, Department of English
Elizabeth Bridges, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures

Miriam G. Clinton, Department of Art and Art History
Daniel E. Cullen, Department of Philosophy

Sarah Ifft Decker, Department of History

Erin Dolgoy, Department of Philosophy and Department of Politics and Law
Scott Garner, Department of Ancient Mediterranean Studies
Patrick Gray, Department of Religious Studies
Judith P. Haas, Department of English
Stephen R. Haynes, Department of Religious Studies
Timothy Huebner, Department of History
Joseph Jansen, Department of Ancient Mediterranean Studies
Jonathan Judaken, Department of History
Ariel Lopez, Department of Ancient Mediterranean Studies
Laura Loth, Department of Modern Languages and Lituratures
David Mason, Media Studies Program
Bernadette McNary-Zak, Department of Religious Studies
Kenneth S. Morrell, Department of Ancient Mediterranean Studies
Vanessa Rogers, Department of Music

Sarah Rollens, Department of Religious Studies
Eric Sampson, Department of Philosophy

Susan Satterfield, Department of Ancient Mediterranean Studies
David H. Sick, Department of Ancient Mediterranean Studies
Rebecca Tuvel, Department of Philosophy
Stephen H. Wirls, Department of Philosophy

Humanities 101-102-201. The Search for Values in the Light of Western History and Religion.

Fall-Spring-Fall. Credits: 4-4-4.

Degree Requirements: F1.

The “Search” curriculum is a three-semester sequence of Humanities courses that focuses on major works that have formed the western tradition. In a small, seminar setting, Search students and faculty engage in sustained examination of vital questions arising from an individual’s relationships to the natural world, human society, and the products of human culture.  We approach these questions by interrogating central texts within, and written in contestation of, western intellectual traditions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.  Students read the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Qur'an in conjunction with other selected works from the ancient and medieval worlds. The texts we study over the course of our three semesters speak directly to each other, often radically critiquing the traditions out of which they emerge.  In Search, we critically examine the assumptions that emerge from these disputed traditions, assumptions that underlie cultures and institutions in the modern world.  Throughout, we stress the skills that are central to the whole curriculum (careful reading, analytical writing, critical thinking and discussion), and we equip students to enter into a lively and lifelong conversation of ideas.  


HUM 101 and 102

The first semester of Search focuses on the ancient world and follows the history and literature of the Israelites and the Greeks.  Texts include the ancient Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, the Hebrew Bible, and the selected works of Homer, Thucydides, Plato, and Aristotle.  The second semester of Search covers literature from the Hellenistic period to the Middle Ages.  Texts include Virgil’s Aeneid, the New Testament, the Qur’an, and Dante’s Divine Comedy. During the first year of the course, all Search colloquia follow a common syllabus; every 2-3 weeks, all Search students meet for a plenary lecture delivered by one of the Search faculty.

HUM 201

The third semester of Search pursues the questions raised in the first year as they play out in the modern world. Students trace the roles of biblical and classical heritages in the shaping of the values, character, and institutions of Western culture and its understanding of self and world. Different sections follow different themes and disciplinary focuses determined by the instructor.

Prerequisites: Humanities 101 is a prerequisite for Humanities 102. Humanities 102 is a prerequisite for Humanities 201. These prerequisites may be satisfied alternatively by the permission of the instructor.