Fall 2021


Moodle sites: Course  |  Section 01  |  Section 02  |  Section 03  |  Section 04


Hannah E. Hunter-Parker (Section 01)
Catherine V. Infante (Section 02)
Yael R. Rice (Section 03)
Christopher S. van den Berg (Section 04)


This course offers a sustained encounter with premodern worldviews, lifeways, and models of being human--that is to say, with the vast majority of human experience in recorded history. In this course we will consider a wide variety of premodern literatures and cultures, focusing on a broad range of works from western antiquity through medieval and early modern history in Mediterranean, South Asian, Eurasian, and Islamic societies.

Part of the explicit aim of our endeavors is to destabilize the centrality of western patterns of historical and intellectual development by offering robust alternatives to it. We will explore various kinds of beginnings, such as arts and technologies, languages, ideas, material cultures, literatures, cities, and civilizations. For fall 2020, the course theme is “Worlds and World-Making.” We will study cosmologies and cosmogonies, both scientific and mythic; and we will explore theories that explain the beginnings of human beings and key inventions and innovations across multiple histories and traditions.

The course has two weekly meetings: one plenary session (lecture) and one small-group discussion section. The two components are aimed at different yet essential skills: the art of attention to lectures and effective spoken and written communication in small-group meetings. The course is taught by a cluster of faculty from across disciplines and thereby offers an interdisciplinary introduction to liberal arts studies and to the essential tools for exploring the cultural, material and literary legacies of our diverse fields of study.

Readings for this class will be available online and through the Moodle website. Tuesday's meetings will include all sections together with the faculty, with one faculty member lecturing in their area of expertise. There may be occasional, required asynchronous (online) lectures before Tuesday's meetings. Thursday's meetings consist of small discussion sections (15 students) with your designated faculty member, who will remain constant throughout the semester. These meetings are focused on discussion of the weekly material. While we anticipate returning to in-class offerings, you should be prepared for some synchronous online sessions if necessary.

Fall semester. Assistant Professor Hunter-Parker, Associate Professor van den Berg, Assistant Professor Rice and Assistant Professor Infante.


Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing, Transnational or World Cultures Taught in English


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021