Perspectives II, Modernism and the Arts

  • Six credits philosophy
  • Three credits fine arts
  • Three credits literature core

By the time the students begin Perspectives II, they will have already explored the most fundamental questions of meaning and value found in the great philosophical and religious traditions of the West. Perspectives II confronts the student with the classical question: Can one discover a common cultural vision informing the literature, music, painting, sculpture and architecture of a specific historical period? The specific historical period selected is the one that bridges the late 19th and 20th century and has often been characterized as the age of modernism. Students will explore each of the five areas in order to identify and relate some distinctive features that appear with the emergence of twentieth-century culture.

In addition to grappling with the issue of Modernism, the students will also have the opportunity to explore through the various artistic media questions of a philosophical and religious nature. Reading Doestoevsky's Crime and Punishment or Brothers Karamazov, alongside Flaubert and Nietzsche or Eliot's Wasteland, Ash Wednesday and Four Quartets, alongside Kafka and Woolfe, opens the student up to the possibility of encountering a distinctly religious response to the dilemmas of modernism: the fragmentation of culture and fracturing of the notion of self. Musically, special attention is given to the spiritual roots of Jazz, a source that is made explicit in W. E. B. DuBois' Sorrow Songs.

Reading List