Honors Course Archive

Summer 2010

Honors 251 A: Theories of Justice (I&S)

SLN 11446 (View UW registration info »)

Louis Wolcher (Law School)
Office: 335 William H. Gates Hall, Box 353020
Phone: (206) 543-0600
Credits: 5
Limit: 35 students

A Term only (June 21 - July 21)

What is justice? Is it possible for a person to know that he or she is acting justly? What criteria must a society fulfill in order to be considered just, or at least reasonably just? Does justice necessarily proceed from the so-called "social contract"? And what is the relation between justice and law? Do we have a moral duty to obey the laws of a just state, and, conversely, to disobey the laws of an unjust state? When it comes to punishing wrongdoers who have both violated the law and acted unjustly, is vengeance the same as justice? This class considers these and other kindred questions by means of a close reading of many of the answers (both ancient and modern) that Western thinkers have given to them. The goal is to make possible critical thought and informed debate about the important theme of justice in public and private life.

Honors 261 A: Reading the Other-Worldly in an African Religion

SLN 11447 (View UW registration info »)

Clarke Speed (Anthropology)
Credits: 5
Limit: 20 students

B Term only (July 22 - August 20)

Cross-listed with RELIG 490 A.

This course seeks to know the extraordinary in the context of the ordinary. As a theologically based exercise, we seek to explore how the sacred is cloaked in the profane, and how the mystical transforms the material as well as the social. Simply, all cultural production is theological. Our starting point is a dialectic - the other-worldy transforms and is transformed. Humans and spirits engage in the politics-of-belief. And the politics-of-belief is not about some high truth, or even what is intrinsically good. Rather, the politics-of-belief is about a dialectical construal and representation of the legitimate. It is a space of ethics. First, we read Igbo Literatures (SE Nigeria) to grasp the dynamic alterities of Igbo religious modernities. Our readings include Achebe's The Arrow of God, Emecheta's The Joys of Motherhood, and Oguine's A Squatters's Tale. Second, we will unpack mystical otherwise-than-being as the genesis of religious and social difference by marrying Igbo alterities with concepts found in Levinas' Totality and Infinity (1969). Finally, we come to see religious world-making as an infinite, totalizing, meta-physic of collapse and rebuilding. It is through collapse that paradoxically an uncertain otherness is made anew. Following the Socratic method, there are no right answers. I merely seek well argued and substantiated positions. Course material includes four weekly concept exercises that culminate in a final theoretical paper. There are also daily student Presentations and Precis. Friday is a British style tutorial at the Burke Museum Cafe. This course is NOT a repeat of Summer 2009. Also note that because of the level of reading and abstraction in an intense but brief time frame, the course is not for the weak of heart. Email Speed at landogo@u.washington.edu with any questions.