Like all new semesters, Winter Semester 2008 promises all the pleasures of a complex and unpredictable new beginning.
This is especially true for me this year because for the first time I'll be teaching a class for the Honors Program called "Modern Legacies." 25 years ago I taught a slightly different version of the course for Vanderbilt University honors students, and the good memory is still with me.
Like the photo I took through the entryway window of Lyn's and my house in which it's hard to distinguish between reflections from outside and the stairs and windows inside, the idea of "modern legacies" has so many variables that it's hard to know just where to focus.
I've decided to start with four of the lenses we must look through, no matter who we are, as citizens of the 21st Century: the work of Wollstonecraft, Darwin, Marx, and Freud. With those tools in hand, we'll move from Boccaccio through Voltaire to James Joyce and Kafka -- writers of short fiction all -- and try to make some sense of how each of the authors conceives human nature. Just who are we? And how will we change once we have read and discussed these stories?
With about 15 students, each of whom will bring expectations and expertise to the class, it should be a stimulating journey.