Fall 2016



Ron Bashford (Section 01)


What does it mean to “be present?”  What do we mean when we say that someone “has presence?”  Presence is a characteristic of the human condition that pervades many spheres of our lives: work, play, relationships, entertainment, politics, and our relationship to the arts and nature.  Indeed, many of our most significant memories and experiences are those with which we associate “being present.”  In addition, we tend to associate presence with the work of performing artists, leaders, and athletes.

Yet presence can be hard to define.  It is often ephemeral, elusive, or illusory.  Can we truly say that we are ever fully present?  Can we recognize presence in ourselves or in others?  Can another person, nature, a work of art, or particular activities help us to become more present?  Are there different kinds of presence relating to intimacy, work, and social life?  Over the course of the semester, we will explore these and other questions about the nature of presence.  We will also examine the work of performing artists, athletes, and leaders of various kinds.

This is a discussion-based seminar, augmented by close attention to frequent student writing fashioned to a variety of purposes.  As an introduction to liberal studies, the goal of the seminar is to develop our abilities in close reading skills, and dialectical thinking and writing.  We will also learn to think with versatility about presence, and for this reason, we will encounter the subject of presence in a variety of media and texts, ranging from live and video performances to performance theory, literature and philosophy.  A small number of class field trips will be required.

Fall semester. Professor Bashford.


Attention to Writing


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016