Sunday, January 8, 2017

Spring, 2017 Syllabi (scroll down to desired syllabus)

Art and Philosophy-Honors
Spring, 2017
MWF 10-11:50
Bowman 201

Professor:            Dr. David Kenneth Braden-Johnson                         
Department:       Philosophy, Interdisciplinary Studies, and Modern Languages
Office:                  Office #2, 100 Porter Street
Office Hours:      MWF 9-10
Phone:                  (413) 662-5448
Email:                   d.johnson@mcla.edu
Blog:                      http://www.critojazz.blogspot.com

Required Text:  Neill and Ridley, Arguing About Art

Focus of Class
This is an introductory yet rigorous seminar in the philosophy of art (often called “aesthetics”).  In the context of a philosophical (essentially theoretical, rather than a more narrowly historical, psychological, or sociological, etc.) approach to the products and processes of human artistic efforts, this course surveys and employs a variety of traditional and contemporary concepts for describing accurately our experience, understanding, and appreciation of all forms of art.

Our philosophical inquiries will set out from two central questions of aesthetics: “What is art/the aesthetic?” and “What is the source of art’s unique value to humans?”  We will then take up several related, domain-specific, or applied questions such as:

What are the significant connections between artists and their audiences, society, history, politics, and the so-called “art-world”?  What is the nature of artistic innovation and/or creativity?  How are emotions/feelings, knowledge, truth, taste, beauty, and interpretation related to the arts?

Online Activities
My blog listed above contains links to all supporting course handouts and assignments, including a noninteractive page that lists weekly writing assignments for this course (“Q&As: Art and Philosophy”).  Since I prefer to devote class-time to the exposition and analysis of student and textual positions, I typically reserve my own views for this online medium.

Class Policies and Expectations
Carefully review Handout CL and the honors Director’s short essay, designed for honors students but to my mind applicable to good students everywhere, “What Makes Honors Students Honorable?” in Thesis XII Online (http://thesisxii.blogspot.com)

Cancellations
I will attempt to email the entire class on Office 365 to warn of any unanticipated cancellations.

Laptop Policy
Like a concert hall or theater, our classroom is reserved for face-to-face interaction. Thus, barring special needs or circumstances, you may bring but not use your laptop during class. The same policy applies to cell phones, IPods, and all other distracting gadgets. Please print out in advance any electronic material required for class.

Q&As
Each week (with a couple of exceptions), students will complete short, highly-polished, critical (See Handouts CR1, CR2, and CR3) writing assignments (typically based on a specific reading from our text) called “Q&As” (see Handout QAHO).

My grading policy is, therefore, transparent and simple, based solely on the scores of your Q&As. (See Handouts QAHO and CL, “grading”).

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Art and Philosophy
Spring, 2017
MWF 11-11:50
Bowman 201

Professor:            Dr. David Kenneth Braden-Johnson                       
Department:       Philosophy, Interdisciplinary Studies, and Modern Languages
Office:                  Office #2, 100 Porter Street
Office Hours:      MWF 9-10
Phone:                  (413) 662-5448
Email:                   d.johnson@mcla.edu
Blog:                      http://www.critojazz.blogspot.com

Required Text:  Neill & Ridley, Arguing About Art

Focus of Class
This is an introductory yet rigorous seminar in the philosophy of art (often called “aesthetics”).  In the context of a philosophical (essentially theoretical, rather than a more narrowly historical, psychological, or sociological, etc.) approach to the products and processes of human artistic efforts, this course surveys and employs a variety of traditional and contemporary concepts for describing accurately our experience, understanding, and appreciation of all forms of art.

Our philosophical inquiries will set out from two central questions of aesthetics: “What is art/the aesthetic?” and “What is the source of art’s unique value to humans?”  We will then take up several related, domain-specific, or applied questions such as:

What are the significant connections between artists and their audiences, society, history, politics, and the so-called “art-world”?  What is the nature of artistic innovation and/or creativity?  How are emotions/feelings, knowledge, truth, taste, beauty, and interpretation related to the arts?

Online Activities
My blog listed above contains links to all supporting course handouts and assignments, including a non-interactive page that lists weekly writing/reading assignments for this course (“Q&As: Art and Philosophy”).  Since I prefer to devote class-time to the exposition and analysis of student and textual positions, I typically reserve my own views for this online medium.

Class Policies and Expectations
Carefully review Handout CL and the honors Director’s short essay, designed for honors students but to my mind applicable to good students everywhere, “What Makes Honors Students Honorable?” in Thesis XII Online (http://thesisxii.blogspot.com)

Cancellations
I will attempt to email the entire class on Office 365 to warn of any unanticipated cancellations.

Laptop Policy
Like a concert hall or theater, our classroom is reserved for face-to-face interaction. Thus, barring special needs or circumstances, you may bring but not use your laptop during class. The same policy applies to cell phones, IPods, and all other distracting gadgets. Please print out in advance any material required for class.

Q&As
Each week (with a couple of exceptions), students will complete short, highly-polished, critical (See Handouts CR1, CR2, and CR3) writing assignments (typically based on a specific reading from our text) called “Q&As” (see Handout QA).

My grading policy is, therefore, transparent and simple, based solely on the scores of your Q&As. (See Handouts QA and CL, “grading”).

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Philosophy of Literature
Spring, 2017
MWF 1-1:50
Bowman 218

Professor:            Dr. David Kenneth Braden-Johnson                         
Department:       Philosophy, Interdisciplinary Studies, and Modern Languages
Office:                  Office #2, 100 Porter
Office Hours:      MWF 9-10
Phone:                  (413) 662-5448
Email:                   d.johnson@mcla.edu
Blog:                      http://www.critojazz.blogspot.com

Required Texts: (all other readings online or in handout form or TBA)
1. John and Lopes, Eds., Philosophy of Literature (in bookstore) 
2. F. Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment (arriving soon at bookstore)

Focus of Course
This course hybridizes two distinguishable yet overlapping approaches to the intersection of philosophy and literature: 1. The philosophy of literature and 2. Philosophy in literature.  The former approach (that of John and Lopes, eds.) considers ways in which philosophical analysis augments our appreciation of literature, while the latter approach focuses on the contributions of literature to philosophical understanding.  To this end, and partly in response to the resurgence in the US and Western Europe of simple-minded Russophobic and dangerous cold-warlike sentiment and behavior, we will take up a close reading/analysis of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, along with brief introductions to elements of Russian history, culture, and language.

The first approach typically raises these sorts of questions (see the John and Lopes volume):

How ought we to define literature and fiction?
Do fictional characters exist?
Can we make true or false claims about fictional characters and events?
What is the nature and source of our emotional responses to literature?
Must we accept any particular constraints on our interpretations of a work of literature?

And the second approach typically raises these sorts of questions:

Should a writer whose aims are essentially philosophical incorporate elements of literary form?
Should a writer whose aims are essentially literary make use of philosophical analysis or ideas?
Can (should) literature improve our philosophical understanding or knowledge?
Can (should) literature improve its readers morally?

Online Activities
My blog listed above contains links to all supporting course handouts and assignments, including a noninteractive page that lists weekly writing assignments for this course (“Q&As: Phil. of Literature”).  Since I prefer to devote class-time to the exposition and analysis of student and textual positions, I typically reserve my own views for this online medium. Please feel free to offer comments on my blog posts.

Class Policies and Expectations
Carefully review Handout CL and the honors Director’s short essay, designed for honors students but to my mind applicable to good students everywhere, “What Makes Honors Students Honorable?” in Thesis XII Online (http://thesisxii.blogspot.com)

Cancellations
I will attempt to email the entire class on Office 365 to warn of any unanticipated cancellations.

Laptop Policy
Like a concert hall or theater, our classroom is reserved for face-to-face interaction. Thus, barring special needs or circumstances, you may bring but not use your laptop during class. The same policy applies to cell phones, IPods, and all other distracting gadgets. Please print out in advance any electronic material required for class.

Q&As
Each week (with a couple of exceptions), students will complete short, highly-polished, critical (See Handouts CR1, CR2, and CR3) writing assignments (typically based on a specific reading from our text) called “Q&As” (see Handout QAHO).

My grading policy is, therefore, transparent and simple, based solely on the scores of your Q&As. (See Handouts QAHO and CL, “grading”).