21L.002 Foundations of Western Culture II (MIT)

Complementary to 21L.001. A broad survey of texts - literary, philosophical, and sociological - studied to trace the growth of secular humanism, the loss of a supernatural perspective upon human events, and changing conceptions of individual, social, and communal purpose. Stresses appreciation and analysis of texts that came to represent the common cultural possession of our time. Enrollment limited. HASS-D, CI.Readings this semester ranging from political theory and oratory to autobiography, poetry, and science fiction reflect on war, motives for war, reconciliation and memory. The readings are largely organized around three historical moments: the Renaissance and first contacts between Europe and America (Machiavelli, Cortés, Sahagún); the European age of revolutions (Voltaire, Blake, Williams); the American Civil War and the abolition of slavery (Stowe, Whitman, Lincoln). Readings from the twentieth-century include poetry by Lowell and Walcott and fiction by Ondaatje and O.S. Card.

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