Bachelor of Arts - Liberal Arts

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  • Objectives
    The Liberal Arts Foundation courses are designed to address some of the most pressing and important themes in Western civilization—love, beauty, our relationship with nature, empire and globalization, religion and the divine and the experience of freedom. Each is taught in a interdisciplinary and historical way so that students learn not only the present-day issues, but the breadth and depth of its emergence in our experience.
  • Academic title
    Bachelor of Arts - Liberal Arts
  • Course description
    The Liberal Arts Program offers Major and Honours Programs, both of which are structured to accommodate students wishing to combine studies in Liberal Arts with studies in other programs.

    The Major in Liberal arts consists in a 9 credit Liberal arts Core Curriculum and 57 credits of Required Courses. Of these required credits at least 12 credits must be drawn from the Liberal Arts Foundation Courses (LIB210-216), 3 from the First Year Seminar (Lib100), which is required for all first year Liberal arts majors, and a further 3 from the final year Interdisciplinary Seminar (LIB300).

    The Honours in Liberal Arts requires 12 credits beyond the Major, including a 6 credit interdisciplinary Honours Thesis.

    Double Majors, Concentrations and Minors

    Since Liberal Arts is a flexible and interdisciplinary program we encourage students to do double majors (normally 48 credits), concentrations (36 credits) and minors (24 credits) in other disciplines. Many courses can count towards both your Liberal Arts major and your major, concentration or minor in another discipline.

    Concentrations within Liberal Arts have been designed for study in philosophy, classics, religious studies and art history. Please see these departments for concentration requirements.

    The Liberal Arts Major
    A. Liberal Arts Core Curriculum
    It is strongly advised that the Core Curriculum be completed in the first year of study.

    Imaginative Literature Component:

    3 credits chosen from the following:
    CLA 212    Classical Mythology I DRA 102    Introduction to Theatre ENG 112    English Literary Tradition I ENG 113    English Literary Tradition II

    Historical/Philosophical/Religious Component:

    3 credits chosen from the following:
    CLA 105    Introduction to Greek and Roman Civilization HIS 104    The Development of the West PHI 1xx    Any introductory Philosophy course REL 100    Introduction to Religion

    Fine and Performing Arts Component:

    3 credits chosen from the following:
    CLA 205    Greek Art and Architecture CLA 208    Art and Architecture of Imperial Rome FIH 102    formerly FIN 102 Survey of Western Art II MUS 110    The Art of Listening

    B. Required Courses

    First Year Seminar Course
    First year Liberal Arts majors enroll in this course in their first semester at Bishop’s, or the first time it is offered after they become a Liberal Arts Major.

    LIB 100a     Introduction to the Study of Western Culture     3-3-1
    By means of a study of classic texts in the Western cultural tradition this class develops foundational skills in interdisciplinary education, reading, writing, conversation and seminar presentation.

    2. Liberal Arts Foundation Courses

    Normally Liberal Arts students are enrolled in one Liberal Arts Foundation Course in each semester of their degree. Majors must complete at least 12 Foundation Course Credits. Each course has a “culture” component that requires students to attend and discuss a selection of plays, musical performances, art exhibitions, or lectures each semester.

    Lib 210     Eros, Love and Desire     3-3-0
    When Plato wrote that eros is “giving birth in beauty” he sparked a debate that has lasted millennia. Does the erotic lead us upwards toward wisdom, truth and love of thy neighbour? Or is eros the chaotic, anti-social and even destructive force of Dionysian rapture? This course will explore these and other classic theories of eros, love and desire.

    Lib 211     Empire and its Enemies     3-3-0
    “The sun never sets in my empire” said Spanish King Carlos I in the 16th century—a phrase then adopted by the British to signal not only the planetary breadth of their imperial achievement, but also the divine, solar blessing conferred on their conquests by God. What is this imperial aspiration, the desire to dominate? Why is Western history in a sense the history of empires constructed and empires resisted and destroyed? This course will trace the imperial aspiration and its enemies from the Roman city-state, to the British nation-state to the eclipse of the state altogether by the modern capitalist corporation. It will analyze the various forms and modes of dominance and resistance up to and including the non-state actors of today.

    Lib 212     In Search of Justice     3-3-0
    “Let justice roll down like water, and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” So cried the prophet Amos, echoed thousands of years later when Martin Luther King insisted that “Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice!” This course will explore the changing and always contested meaning of justice in its many forms in Western history. Is justice little more than the ancient Greek claim that one should “do good to one’s friends, and harm to one’s enemies”? Or is there a universal form of justice that recognizes civil rights and social justice for the poor, women, racial and ethnic minorities, gays and lesbians and other marginalized peoples?

    Lib 213     The Use and Abuse of Beauty     3-3-0
    French writer Stendhal said in the 19th century that “beauty is the promise of happiness” and upon seeing the beauty of Florence he wondrously proclaimed, “I was in a sort of ecstasy…absorbed in the contemplation of sublime beauty ... Everything spoke so vividly to my soul.” Yet only decades later his compatriot, poet Paul Rimbaud, claimed that he wanted to “abuse” beauty, for he found her “bitter.” Dadaist and surrealist artist Tristan Tzara went even further, “I have a mad and starry desire to assassinate beauty…” Does Tzara signal not only a dramatic change in Western art, but the claim that all forms of harmony and beauty, including the personal and the political, are conservative. Or is the beautiful in some important sense still of what we might call “transcendent” importance to human life? This course will explore the fate of the beautiful, from the Greeks to 21st century life.

    Lib 214     The Human Will and Nature     3-3-0
    The ecological crisis facing humanity today is not, German philosopher Martin Heidegger would claim, merely the product of recent economic productivity nor can we solve it with yet more technology. It is the product of a “will to mastery” that has obsessed our culture, he claims, since the Greeks. Heidegger ominously warns that this “will tomastery becomes all the more urgent the more technology threatens to slip from human control.” This course will explore ideas for and against claims like those of Heidegger and in so doing address the global ecological turning point we appear to face.

    Lib 215     Ecstasy and Excess     3-3-0
    “Joy is the most comprehensive mind…and it is from the summits of joy alone that each one will see the path to take.” American philosopher Alphonso Lingis claims here that humanity is the “ecstatic” species. In Greek the ek-static means literally to be outside, even beyond oneself—to transcend what and who one is. In the last few hundred years artists, writers, philosophers and others have claimed that ecstasy and excess are not merely temporary states, but the very condition of human life. This course will explore a variety of theories, from the biological to the philosophical and the virtual, inspired by the idea that there is no “human nature” that we can’t exceed.

    Lib216     The Divine and Ultimate Concern     3-3-0
    The divine is that about which we are “ultimately concerned”—so said theologian Paul Tillich of Union Seminary in New York. Is this just a last-ditch attempt to salvage faith and spirituality in the midst of charges that religion is, at best, an “opiate of the masses” (Marx) and, at worst, “patently infantile” (Freud)? Or again, is the role of religion being taken over by its long time sister in spirit—art? This course will explore the troubled and passionate place of religious experience and the aesthetic in Western civilization.

    3. Liberal Arts Thematic Seminar Courses
    These courses are in-depth, interdisciplinary seminar courses on topics relevant to the program of study of Liberal Arts majors. Instructors and topics are determined each year. These courses count for “Humanities Breadth/Depth Requirements” as appropriate. See Section 8 below.

    LIB 250     Thematic Seminar I     3-3-0
    LIB 251     Thematic Seminar II     3-3-0
    LIB 350     Thematic Seminar III     3-3-0
    LIB 351     Thematic Seminar IV     3-3-0

    Pre-requisite: At least one of Lib201-206 or permission of the instructor.
    LIB 300ab     Interdisciplinary Seminar     3-3-0

    A team-taught seminar which will explore a selected theme of interdisciplinary interest.
    5. Language Requirement
    At least 9 credits in the declared second language of the student.
    6. Social Sciences Requirement
    At least 12 credits in the Social Sciences and/or Department of Economics. Six of these credits must be at the level of 200 or above.
    7. Natural Sciences/Mathematics Requirement
    At least 3 credits from the Natural Sciences or Mathematics
    8. Humanities Breadth/Depth Requirements
    At least 15 credits in the Division of Humanities at the 200 level or higher, at least 6 credits of which must be at the 300 level or higher. Moreover, at least three credits of these must be taken from each of the following areas:

       1. Drama, Fine Arts, Music
       2. Classics, History, Philosophy, Religion
       3. English, French, German, Italian, Spanish

    The Liberal Arts Honours Degree

    The Liberal Arts Honours student must meet all the requirements of the major, plus 12 further credits. Of these 3 must be obtained in courses at the 200 level or higher with the Division of Humanities or Social Science and 3 must be obtained in the completion of a fifth Foundation Course (for a total of 15 Foundation Course Credits). The remaining six credits must be obtained in an Honours Thesis of an interdisciplinary nature. In keeping with Divisional regulations, a 70% average, calculated on the best 60 credits in the program, would be necessary for graduation with an Honours degree.

    LIB 400f     Honours Thesis     6-3-0
    An individual research project of an interdisciplinary nature, chosen by the student in consultation with one of the members of the Program Committee, who shall act as the thesis supervisor. The thesis will be assessed by a committee composed of the thesis supervisor and one other member of faculty.

    Program Director:
    Bruce Gilbert, Department of Philosophy
    Program Committee:
    Jean Manore, Department of History
    Jamie Crooks, Department of Philosophy
    Jack Eby, Department of Music
    Shawn Malley, Department of English
    George Rideout, Department of Drama
    Dale Stout, Department of Psychology

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