CIE 200 Spring 2012 syllabus

Every liberally educated student should confront three questions that form the foundation of a liberal arts education:

What does it mean to be human?
How should we live our lives?
What is the universe and how do we fit into it?

These questions get to the heart of a liberal arts education because they engage students and faculty in conversations about the fundamentals of human experience. Together, we will explore some of the diverse and conflicting responses to these questions expressed in the most thoughtful literature, music, and art throughout history. The Common Intellectual Experience is designed to facilitate this experience. Every First-Year student will study the same set of readings so that each will be able to discuss and debate these important ideas beyond the walls of the classroom. In this way, each of you will become a participating member of our intellectual community.


The usual penalty for plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty is failure in the course. I also report academic dishonesty to the Dean’s Office. A second offense at any time in your college career may result in dismissal from the College. This policy applies to all cases of academic dishonesty, from lifting a paper from a friend to lifting a sentence from Wikipedia, and from directly copying to paraphrasing without naming your source. If you have any doubt about what plagiarism is please consult me or the freshman handbook. My papers should not require you to consult sources outside of the class readings. I urge you strongly not to consult such sources as the point of the course is not to become familiar with what other people have to say about the texts but to grapple with them ourselves. But if you must consult such sources, you need to cite them.


The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
English Romantic Poetry: An Anthology (Appelbaum Ed.)
Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
Civilization and Its Discontents by Sigmund Freud
The River Between by Ngugi wa Thiong'o
A Mathematician’s Apology by G. H. Hardy
The Drowned and the Saved by Primo Levi
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
CIE200 Reader [CR]


Writing (60%)
Paper 1 – 15%
(1200-1500 words)
Paper 2 – 15%
(1200-1500 words)
Paper 3 – 15%
(1200-1500 words)
Paper 4 – 15%
(1500-1800 words)

Discussion (40%):
In-class participation – 30%
Informal writing (pre-class / in-class) – 10%


Winter Reading Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Week 1
“The American Dream”

*CIE evening event 1/16: MLK documentary*

Jefferson, “Letter to Weightman” [CR]
Declaration of Independence [CR]
Martin Luther King, “I Have a Dream” [CR]
Douglass, “What the Fourth of July Means to the Negro” [CR]
Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Weeks 2-3

Foundational Liberalism
Locke, Second Treatise [CR]
Smith, Wealth of Nations [CR]

Week 3
Women's Rights
Declaration of Sentiments [CR]
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, “Address to the Legislature of New York” [CR]
Truth, “Ain’t I a Woman?” [CR]

[Paper 1 first draft due 2/2–2/3]

*CIE evening event 2/2: Ron McCurdy Quartet “The Langston Hughes Project”*

Week 4

Romantic Poetry
Blake, “London” and “Proverbs of Hell”
Shelley, “Song to the Men of England” and “England in 1819”
Wordsworth, “The World is Too Much With Us,” “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey,” “Composed upon Westminster Bridge,
Sept. 3, 1802

Weeks 5-6

Marx: The Communist Manifesto [Preface to the English Edition of 1888, Chapters I, II, and IV], Excerpts from Marx [CR]

Week 6-7
Paley, Natural Theology [CR]
Darwin, On the Origin of Species [CR]
Darwin and His Critics on what it means to be human [CR]
Arnold, “Dover Beach” [CR]
New York Times, “Genetic Ties May Be Factor in Violence in Stepfamilies” [CR]
Pearson, “Imperialism Justified by Nature” [CR]

[Paper 2 first draft due 3/1–3/2]

*CIE evening event 3/1: Eternal Enemies*
Spring Break

Week 8
Ngugi, The River Between

*CIE evening event 3/19: African Dance and Music*

Weeks 9

Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents

Weeks 10

Rite of Spring: Nijinsky
Hodson, Nijinsky’s Crime Against Grace (preface) [CR]
Acocella, “Imagining Dance” [CR]
Preston-Dunlop, Looking at Dances: A Choreological Perspective on Choreography [CR]

[Paper3 first draft due 3/29-3/30]

Weeks 11
Hardy, The Mathematician’s Apology
Documentary: Fractals: Hunting the Hidden Dimension


Weeks 12-13(4/9-4/18)

Hitler, Mein Kampf
Browning, “One Day in Jozefow”
Levi, The Drowned and the Saved (“The Gray Zone,” “Shame,” “Useless
Violence,” and “Letters from Germans”)

No class on Thursday, April 19 for COSA (class made up on Monday 4/30)

*CIE evening event 4/16: Last Days*

Weeks 13-15

Fun Home
Bechdel, Fun Home
Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist

[Paper 4 first draft due 4/27–4/30]  

CIE 200 Common Event Schedule (attendance required)

Week 1 Documentary:
MLK: "I Have a Dream"
Lenfest Theater
Mon, Jan 16  
4:30-5:30 PM
7:00-8:00 PM

Week 3 Performance:
Performance: Ron McCurdy Quartet:
Langston Hughes Project       
Bomberger Auditorium

Wed, Feb 2
4:30-6:00 PM
Week 7 Documentary:
Eternal Enemies

Lenfest Theater
Tues, Mar 1  
4:30-6:00 PM
7:00-8:30 PM

Week 8 Performance:
African Dance & Music                            
Lenfest Theater
Mon, Mar 19
4:30-5:30 PM
7:00-8:00 PM

Week 13Documentary:
Last Days
Lenfest Auditorium  
Mon, Apr 16
4:30-6:00 PM
7:00-8:30 PM


Academic Honesty




Film, Theater and Lectures

Fall Syllabus