Woolf, Marx and Balzac, or forgiveness and apologies? Where will my head be when September begins and I start my third year of graduate liberal studies at Simon Fraser University?
A Friday-night preview of the courses being offered in the 2016-17 school year showcased a very excellent professor offering a course called "Mercy and Regret: An Inquiry into the Nature of Forgiveness and Apologies." Is there such a thing as forgiveness? Are apologies worth anything? He posed some interesting ideas, but unfortunately (in my view), the course looks heavy on philosophy and light on literature, so I will likely give it a miss.
Instead, I will likely be tracing major shifts in the western tradition, hopping from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, to the Industrial Revolution, through feminism and into colonization and its downfall. The authors include Kant, Marx, Woolf and Balzac, as well as Rachel Carson (Silent Spring) and Pope Frances (encyclical on the environment and the economic system.) It sounds like a good solid survey course, filling in some of my knowledge gaps. Not exciting, but I have a lot of gaps to fill.
In the spring of 2017, there's a real downer of a course called "Apocalypse Now (and Then)" -- a survey of dystopian literature over the last 100 years, including authors like Conrad, Huxley and Atwood. All people I shy away from because of their sheer depressingness. The other choice is "Sex and Gender in the North American Sixties: Cold War to Counterculture and Beyond." Hmm. Not sure if I'm ready to revisit women's liberation, the Vietnam War and the hippie era. It seems so ... close.
One of the more interesting ideas is a concentrated, six-week "travel study" course, but in Vancouver. The prof is trying to replicate the atmosphere of the travel study courses the university offers to places like Rome, but situating it instead in our home town. It will be focused on arts -- music, dance, theatre, etc. -- and students will go to performances, museums and galleries. The idea is they will learn to better understand and critique all these different art forms. Kind of like going to university to learn how to be an art critic!
The good thing? There are still six precious weeks of summer left before I load up my books and become a student again.