Tutorial, Mears 202

Daniel H. Kaiser

Fall, 2003

Mears 216/x3088

 

 

First-Year Tutorial: Freedom

Is freedom the "natural" condition of humankind, as some theorists maintain, or are humans subject to forces over which they can exercise little control? Indeed, do humans covet freedom at all, or do they, as Dostoevsky has the Grand Inquisitor say, prefer to abandon their freedom in favor of happiness? From numerous perspectives, both classical and modern, this tutorial will examine freedom and its limitations. We will consider how dystopian fiction, religious discipline, slave narratives, Nazi culture, neuroscience, and molecular biology, among others, contribute to our understandings of freedom and its boundaries, and what these understandings mean for a liberally educated person.

Required Texts Available for Purchase in College Bookstore

Coursepack [CP], Tutorial "Freedom." XanEdu, 2003.

Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.NY, 1995.

Fulwiler, et al. The College Writer's Reference [CWR]. 3d ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 2002.

Gazzaniga, Michael S. The Mind's Past. Berkeley, 1998.

Moore, David S. The Dependent Gene. The Fallacy of "Nature vs. Nurture." NY, 2001.

Zamyatin, Yevgeny. We. Trans. Clarence Brown. NY, 1993.

Aims and Organization of the Tutorial

The First-Year Tutorial is the only course required for graduation from Grinnell College, and therefore occupies a correspondingly important place in the curriculum. Many aims drive the tutorial, but most importantly the tutorial aims to teach students to become acute analysts of information, skillful and persuasive writers, and better public speakers--in classroom discussion as well as in more formal contexts. All these skills will serve the student well, no matter what major or area of study the student may subsequently concentrate upon. Therefore, although the exact texts or subject matter of the tutorial may never recur in any other Grinnell course the student takes, conscientious participation in the tutorial will inevitably contribute to the student's later success at Grinnell (and after Grinnell).

For much of the time, the tutorial will operate like any other course, although with fewer students than many courses, and often in a consciously less formal atmosphere than many other courses. However, to fulfill the promise of its name, the tutorial will also employ some small-group and even individual sessions that resemble the "tutorials" made famous by instruction at Cambridge and Oxford; these tutorial sessions are specially noted in the course schedule below. At these occasions, students will be expected to bring to tutorial a piece of their own writing about which they're prepared to speak; they will also receive copies of writing from other students who may join them for the tutorial session. Each student will be expected to have read and thought about the other students' writings, and be prepared to discuss them as well.

For the tutorial to work, everyone must be prepared to participate, every day. Therefore, it is vital that everyone keep up to date with the assigned reading (and viewing, in the case of videos), and come to class already having thought about the assignment. To help stimulate useful discussion as well as encourage regular writing, each student will be asked to maintain a journal in which the student records both what the piece under discussion aspires to say, as well as what the reader thinks about that work. A handout will suggest a format to observe. It may prove easiest to open a file in which one can simply add a page for each day's writing; that way, by semester's end, all students will have available an entire folder of their thoughts and writing to consider. All students must bring a printed copy of the appropriate daily journal entry to tutorial each time we meet.

Students in the tutorial will be expected to organize much of the learning themselves. Among other things, this means the execution of several writing assignments, indicated in the schedule below. It will also mean regular participation in class discussions, and occasional participation in debates or other alternative forms of class organization. All students will also participate in the construction of a course website that identifies resources appropriate to a careful consideration of freedom and its meaning for a liberally-educated person. We will discuss the construction of this site in more detail in class.

The final essay will require students to consider the two basic questions around which the tutorial is organized: Is freedom the "natural" condition of humankind? Or, "Do humans covet freedom at all?" All essays should adopt a clear point of view, and must depend upon and make specific reference to our semester's study. All the final essays will be printed and distributed to everyone in the tutorial as a way of sharing our learning experience. All students must submit a first version no later than November 25; final, revised essays are due no later than December 11.

Assignments, Grading

Academic Honesty Assignment

required, not graded

Writing Assignments

 

  • Journal
  • First Essay/Tutorial
  • Second Essay/Tutorial
  • Final Essay

20%
10%
20%
25%

Website Research & Contribution

10%

Oral Assignments

 

  • Discussion/Participation

20%

The total, 105%, serves as a bonus, making possible a slight upward adjustment in grades.

Schedule of Meetings

8/24

INTRODUCTORY MEETING

 

 

Introductions

 

 

What is the Tutorial?

 

 

What Will Be Expected? How Will This Course Work?

 

 

Registration; Advising Appointments; Placement Tests (today!); Reading Test (Mon . and Tues. 2 PM. ARH 102)

 

 

What is Liberal Education?

 

 

 

 

 

8/25-26

ADVISING APPOINTMENTS, MEARS 216 (see posted schedule)

 

 

 

 

 

8/27

REGISTRATION: HARRIS CENTER

 

If you need to make amendments in your schedule, you can find me at the Department of History table.

 

 

 

 

 

8/28

THE ABSENCE OF FREEDOM: A SLAVE'S ACCOUNT

 

 

Douglass, Narrative of the Life, vii-xiii, 1-69

 

 

Writing Assignment: Bring to class a brief (1 paragraph) description or definition of "freedom."

 

About Writing: read CWR on diction: 159-82. Find in the CWR "Glossary of Usage" (437-54) two or three examples of confusing word choices or diction errors, and bring them to class for discussion.

 

 

 

 

 

9/2

IS THERE "FREEDOM" WITHOUT SLAVERY?

 

 

CP 13-37

 

About Writing: read CWR on sentences: 148-59. Find a particularly effective, well-worded sentence either in Douglass's Narrative or in the selections we read from Patterson's Freedom, and bring it to class. Be prepared to explain your choice.

 

 

 

 

 

9/4-12

SMALL-GROUP TUTORIALS: The Meaning of "Freedom"

 

 

Writing Assignment (3-5 pp.): Use Frederick Douglass's Narrative either to support or contest Orlando Patterson's claim about the relationship between freedom and slavery.

 

 

Begin reading Zamyatin's We (see assignment for 9/16)

 

 

 

 

 

9/16

FREEDOM OR HAPPINESS?

 

 

Zamyatin, We, 3-225

 

About Writing: read CWR on paragraphs: 135-41.

 

 

 

 

 

9/18

FREEDOM OR HAPPINESS?

 

 

Zamyatin, We

 

About Writing: read CWR on openings/closings: 142-47).

 

Library Resources at Grinnell College: Ms. Catherine Rod, Associate Librarian of the College and College Archivist.

 

 

 

 

 

9/23

FREEDOM OR HAPPINESS? THE GRAND INQUISITOR

 

 

CP 1-11

 

 

"The Grand Inquisitor" is drawn from Fyodor Dostoevsky's famous novel, Brothers Karamazov, which you might wish to read in its entirety sometime, if you have not already done so. Before reading "The Grand Inquisitor," you might find it helpful to know about the temptations of Jesus as recounted in Christian scriptures, since Ivan Karamazov refers to them in describing the encounter between the Grand Inquisitor and his "visitor." If you are not familiar with the Christian account of the temptations of Jesus, please read the Gospel of Matthew 4:1-11. You will find convenient access to a variety of English translations here. In the "Passage Search" box type "Matthew 4:1-11," select the version of your choice, and click on "search." You can print the text if you like.

 

About Writing: read CWR on "explaining" and "interpreting": 34-50.

 

 

 

 

 

9/25

FREEDOM OR OBEDIENCE? Benedictine Monasticism

 

 

Read "The Rule of St. Benedict," chapters 5-7:

 

 

 

Click on "Obedience" and follow to end of frame ("Obedience," "Silence," "Humility").

 

 

Also read "To Be a Monk," available on-line at The New Melleray Abbey Website.

 

 

 

Click on "Vocation" and then "To Be a Monk," and follow all the links through this page. Also read the account of the profession of vows by a new monk. Click on "Abbey News Index," then click on "Fr. Jonah's Profession of Vows." Pay special attention to the photograph of the prostrate monk before the abbot and brothers; read the abbot's exhortation, and finally the monk's own vow at the bottom of the text.

 

 

 

 

 

**TRIP TO NEW MELLERAY ABBEY, PEOSTA, IOWA--TENTATIVE**

An optional overnight trip to the New Melleray Abbey, a Cistercian (Benedictine) monastery near Dubuque. We will depart Grinnell Friday afternoon, and spend all day Saturday at the Abbey, joining in the services and meals of the community. There will be opportunities to read and consider why individuals pursue the monastic vocation, and also a chance to visit with the abbot or another monk to discuss the relative appeal of "obedience" and "freedom." We will return to campus late Saturday.

 

 

 

 

 

9/30

FREEDOM OR OBEDIENCE? Benedictine Monasticism

 

 

Read two "Monastic biographies," available at website of New Melleray Abbey. Click on "History," and then on "Monastic biographies." Then click on "Second Abbot of New Melleray" (Dom Alberic Dunlea) and "Mary's Monk" (Brother Joachim Dunn), and compare them with the "awakening" of the Buddha.

 

 

 

 

 

10/2

FREEDOM OR OBEDIENCE? Buddha and Freedom

 

 

Read Bhikkhu Bodhi, "The Taste of Freedom."

 

 

Read "Right Resolve" (samma sankappo).

 

About Writing: read CWR on evidence and arguments: 64-73.

 

 

 

 

 

10/6-10

TUTORIALS

 

 

Writing Assignment (5-6 pp.) Consider the materials we've examined on the relationship between freedom and obedience, and prepare a paper that defends a point of view on this relationship. Be sure to make specific reference to materials we have considered in class, including Benedictine monasticism, Buddhist asceticism, the Grand Inquisitor, and We.

 

 

 

 

 

10/14

FREEDOM IN POLITICAL OBEDIENCE? Nazi Germany

 

View the classic film of Leni Riefenstahl, "Triumph of the Will"

    View one of the following:

 

 

  • GRM VHS-VT-103 (41 mins; abridged), AV Center Reserves, or
  • GRM VHS-VT-117 (109 mins.), AV Center Reserves, or
  • T7342 (109 mins.), Burling Listening Room Reserves

10/16

FREEDOM IN CULTURAL CONFORMITY? Merchandising America

 

View documentary video "The Merchants of Cool"

 

 

M5412 (56 mins.), Burling Listening Room Reserves

 

 

 

 

 

*******************F A L L     B R E A K******************

 

 

 

 

 

10/28

A GENETICALLY-DETERMINED WORLD?

 

View the video from director Andrew Niccol, "GATTACA"

 

 

G2211 (107 mins.), Burling Listening Room Reserve

 

Handouts

 

 

 

 

 

10/30

MY GENES MADE ME DO IT! Genetic Determinism

 

Dean Hamer and Peter Copland, Living with our Genes, in CP 59-93

 

 

 

 

 

11/4

DID NOT! NATURE AND NURTURE

 

Moore, The Dependent Gene, 3-15, 32-63, 67-128

 

 

 

 

 

11/6

DID NOT!

 

Moore, The Dependent Gene, 129-168, 180-244

 

 

 

 

 

11/11

NEUROSCIENCE AND FREEDOM: ARE "WE" CAPTIVES OF OUR BRAINS?

 

Steven Pinker, "How the Mind Works" in CP 39-57

 

Handouts: Locke, Descartes, Damasio

 

Read the on-line account of Phineas Gage at either:

 

 

The NIH website

 

 

 

or

 

 

 

Here

 

 

 

 

 

11/13

THE BRAIN AND I: BRAIN CONSTRUCTION AND THE "FICTIONAL SELF"

 

Gazzaniga, The Mind's Past, xi-xiii, 1-83

 

 

 

 

 

11/18

THE BRAIN AND I: "INTERPRETERS" AND HUMAN AGENCY

 

Gazzaniga, The Mind's Past, 85-175

 

 

 

 

 

11/20

NO CLASS

 

 

 

 

 

11/25

FREEDOM AND HUMAN NATURE

 

DUE: Final Essay

 

 

 

 

 

***********************T H A N K S G I V I N G**************************

 

 

 

 

 

12/2

RECONSIDERING FREEDOM: CONCLUSIONS & RESOURCES

 

 

 

 

 

12/4

RECONSIDERING FREEDOM: CONCLUSIONS & RESOURCES

 

 

 

 

 

12/9

OPEN

 

 

 

 

 

12/11

DUE: FINAL VERSION OF FINAL ESSAY


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