Course Details

Course offered Winter 2018

HONORS 394 A: The Disenchantment of the West: From Shakespeare to the Coen Brothers (A&H / SSc)

HONORS 394 A: The Disenchantment of the West: From Shakespeare to the Coen Brothers (A&H / SSc)

SLN 15437 (View UW registration info »)

John (Jack) Whelan (Foster School of Business)

Credits: 5
Limit: 30 students

Honors Credit Type

Are we still moderns in our thinking and imaginations? Or are we postmoderns now? What do those terms even mean?

This is a course in the history of ideas that will look at how key themes in philosophy, literature and film, science, and religion have come to shape the way we think about and imagine what is real and unreal, what is legitimate or illegitimate in our practices and thinking.

This course is designed to help students become more aware of the cultural forces that otherwise unconsciously impinge on them to shape the narratives that give their lives meaning. It will do so by looking at the remarkable transformation of the North Atlantic social imaginary in the last five hundred years-from a premodern, enchanted world full of magic, spirits, and invisible forces to the late modern one that Max Weber described as ‘disenchanted’, a world that lacks any robust, commonly imagined sense of the supernatural that our ancestors in all world cultures took for granted.

The course will require coursepack readings that will include excerpts from Plato, Marsilio Ficino, Castiglione, Friedrich Nietzsche, Michel Foucault, Charles Taylor, and others. The course will examine how these readings and other concepts presented in class have been dramatically represented in films that include The Matrix, As You Like It, King Lear, Fargo, Hail Caesar, Harry Potter, and others to be determined.

Lectures on Mondays and Wednesdays along with assigned coursepack readings will provide necessary historical and conceptual background. Students will be required to watch and analyze assigned films. Students can watch films on their own or view them out-of-class Thursday evenings when I will schedule on-campus viewings. Scheduled class time on Fridays will provide the opportunity for discussions led by me or students to hash through the themes and materials presented each week during the quarter.

Grade will be determined by short quizzes, class participation, and final project.