He is at home in any society, he has common ground with every class; he knows when to speak and when to be silent; he is able to converse, he is able to listen; he can ask a question pertinently, and gain a lesson seasonably, when he has nothing to impart himself; he is ever ready, yet never in the way; he is a pleasant companion, and a comrade you can depend upon; he knows when to be serious and when to trifle, and he has a sure tact which enables him to trifle with gracefulness and to be serious with effect.
–John Henry Cardinal Newman, The Idea of a University
Most contemporary courses of study in higher education aim at the production of a specialized skill that will be immediately profitable in the modern economy. Liberal education, however, aims at the production of a certain kind of human being, a man or woman whose soul is characterized by a love for what is noble and whose speech and action are compelling witnesses to the value of a life spent in pursuit of the good. At Thomas More College, even those parts of the curriculum which are devoted to specialized learning have a crucial role to play in integral human formation.
The College’s tutorial system provides an opportunity for individual students to shape a portion of their course of studies. Students take one tutorial course in each of their last four semesters of study. Some students will choose to pursue their own personally-tailored course of study in a particular academic discipline. Others may opt for a systematic testing of different talents and subjects. Classes may be arranged around an author, genre, time period, or problem, or may be devoted to a vocational pursuit, such as Architecture, Education or Law. In either case, the small size of the tutorials provides for careful training in thinking, writing, and speaking, so that students might further hone the abilities they have gained from the common curriculum.
Natural History is the observation and accounting for plant and animal life, with a clear understanding of how plants and animals flourish or decline within specific contexts (bioregions, climates, and habitats). This course will assist the student in cultivating the ability to observe and account for (through journals, drawings, auditory recognition, and taxonomy) the flora, fauna, and ecosystems of central New England.
In addition to taking the same course as first year students, advanced tutorial participants will meet every other week to discuss selections from the great works of those western writers who have sought to understand the origin and purpose of life. Possible authors include: Plato, The Timaeus; Aristotle, Physics, History of Animals, and the Parts of Animals; St. Basil the Great, The Hexameron; St. Augustine, On the Literal Meaning of Genesis; William Paley, Natural Theology; and Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species.
This course will be dedicated to a deeper exploration of the art of storytelling in Western literature. From Scripture to ancient philosophy, from beast fables to medieval saints’ lives, narrative has played a central role in man’s comprehension of himself, his Creator, and his place in creation. Shorter narratives are a central feature of pre-Christian and Christian consciousness throughout Western history, and these roots are evident in the great modern Russian, Celtic, and American short story traditions.
In this course, we will examine the narrative pattern set out by the first literary critic of the Western world, Aristotle, in his Poetics. We will also consider the formal elements which go into the crafting of a short story—elements like setting, plot, foreshadowing and characterization—and discuss the way in which these contribute to the rich artistry and meaning of the best short narratives. Finally, we will discuss the way in which modern short story writers explore the complexities of faith, culture, and history in their narratives.
Readings for the course will include excerpts from ancient and medieval writings—Aesop’s Fables, the Golden Legend of Jacobus, the Gesta Romanorum, The Canterbury Tales—and fuller explorations of modern masters of the short story like Gogol, Pushkin, Turgenev, Chekhov, Joyce, Hawthorne, Melville, Faulkner, Hemingway, Eudora Welty, and Flannery O’Connor.
In his Church of the Fathers, Blessed John Henry Newman states that it is “…about the fourth century I am proposing to write. An eventful century, a drama in three acts… The first is the history of the Roman Empire becoming Christian; the second, that of the indefectible Church of God seeming to succumb to Arianism; the third, that of countless barbarians pouring in upon both Empire and Christendom together.”
This tutorial on the Greek Church Fathers will follow the lines of Newman’s theological and ecclesiastical account of the fourth century by concentrating on the shorter writings of the four “Great” Greek Church Fathers—St. Athanasius, St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory of Nazianzus and St. John Chrysostom—as well as St. Gregory of Nyssa. The major topics to be considered include: the Nicene Creed, Eastern monasticism, the vocations of marriage and priesthood, as well as theological reflection and argument in the philosophical and poetic modes.
St Thomas Aquinas’s discussion of the passions, or emotions, is one of the longest ‘treatises’ within the Summa Theologiae. If the angelic doctor gave so much space to this subject, it is no doubt because he considered it very helpful for understanding, and living, the virtues and the spiritual life.
In this course we shall read through the treatise, and learn what he has to say about the nature and number of the passions, their inter-relation, and their power for good or evil within the human soul. We shall finish by considering briefly his discussion of how the passions were present in Christ.
Students of Advanced Readings in Greek will read approximately fourteen hundred (1400) lines from Homer’s Odyssey in the original language. This course is for students who wish to exercise their reading knowledge of Ancient Greek beyond the intermediate level. It is also an opportunity for both students and teacher to explore how Homer communicates his insights into the human condition via the form of epic poetry. Regular class meetings with the teacher in addition to a final translation project are the means for evaluating the course grade.
Students of Advanced Readings in Latin will read Cicero’s In Verrem in the orator’s original language. This course is intended for students who wish to exercise their reading knowledge of Latin beyond the intermediate level. It is also an opportunity for both students and teacher to access Cicero’s insights into the human condition via the form of forensic oratory. The completion of course assignments, including a philological paper, and participation in the course are the basis for determining the course grade.
There will be no required text for this tutorial. Handouts will be provided, to give students examples of different sorts of journalistic presentation. Students may be asked to bring to the class some of their own favorite newspaper or magazine articles.
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