Reading to Live

Instructor: Karel Rose
Thursdays, 2:00 – 4:40 PM
Macaulay Honors College

This course will assist students to recognize the relationship between academic experiences and personal questions about how to live a more fulfilled and meaningful life. As upper level students complete their formal education at Macaulay and consider more specialized studies, a primary concern that many share is how their education has clarified their personal goals, increased their respect for truth and their responsibilities in a democratic society.

Through a scholarly examination of literary and philosophical sources and selected experiences in New York City, this course will tackle the questions that have engaged both ancient and contemporary writers. Students will recognize that, not surprisingly, they share with Socrates, Boethius, Epicurus, Montaigne, Fitzgerald, Woolf, Rich and Achebe, to mention only a few, the same hunger for understanding what it means to live the good life with some degree of personal freedom. Many CUNY students wrestle with complex, difficult personal lives which need this kind of examination. Through the identification with writers and their own writing, students may derive both solace and direction. Literature and philosophy feed from the same trough and these seminars will provide rich opportunities for reflection on the deepest of life’s concerns. The course provides a challenge to the stated objectives of more conventional pedagogies which may value a kind of documentation that the humanities cannot always deliver.

Questioning traditions, our own and others, is rigorous work requiring both personal and academic courage. The readings raise metaphysical questions about free will and morality. Challenges will also emerge from the study of writers who in the examination of their own lives have created works of art that address the most profound axiological questions. An understanding of the intertextuality of gender, race, ethnicity and class will be central to our work. Personal writing will address the major topics interrogating concerns about invisibility, loneliness, love and loss, failure and childhood’s end. These explorations require a thinking disposition from the students and the tenacity to explore the complicated relationship between our academic and personal lives.

Interested in this course? Please contact your advisor.

Course Code:

MHC 344

The Macaulay Building is closed until further notice. All classes, meetings, and appointments will take place remotely.