Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas

Core Texts and Ideas: CTI

Lower-Division Courses

CTI 301. Ancient Philosophy and Literature.

Studies classical philosophy and literature, primarily from ancient Greece, to explore fundamental questions about human nature, justice, ethics, and humanity's place in the cosmos. Readings include one or more masterpieces of epic or tragedy and one or more dialogues of Plato. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester.

CTI 302. Classics of Social and Political Thought.

Same as Government 314 (Topic 10). Explores the origins of social scientific thought in the history of political philosophy and traces the development of one or more of the social sciences in modern times. Focuses on fundamental ideas about human nature, civil society, and politics, explored through reading such authors as Aristotle, Aquinas, Locke, Rousseau, Marx, Weber, Durkheim, and Freud. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester. Only one of the following may be counted: Core Texts and Ideas 302, Government 314 (Topic: Classics of Social and Political Thought), 314 (Topic 10).

CTI 303. Competing Visions of the Good Life.

Same as Government 314 (Topic 6). Introduces the great rival conceptions of the moral basis and goals of political life as elaborated by revolutionary thinkers throughout the history of political philosophy, including Aristotle, Aquinas, Locke, late modern critics of the Enlightenment, and others. Core Texts and Ideas 303 and Government 314 (Topic 6) may not both be counted.

CTI 304. World Religions: Traditions and Texts.

A study of basic religious texts, including both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, examined from various perspectives (including comparative, historical, philosophical, and literary), with emphasis on the fundamental questions and ideas raised in those texts. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary.

Topic 1: The Bible and Its Interpreters. Same as Religious Studies 315 (Topic 1). Seeks to develop a wide-ranging familiarity with the Jewish and Christian Bibles and with the dominant modes of ancient, medieval, and early modern biblical interpretation. Readings include an extensive range of primary sources, including both the Scriptures themselves and some of their most influential exegetes. Only one of the following may be counted: Core Texts and Ideas 304 (Topic 1), Religious Studies 315 (Topic: The Bible and Its Interpreters), Religious Studies 315 (Topic 1).

CTI 305G. Introduction to the Old Testament.

Same as Jewish Studies 311 (Topic 4), Middle Eastern Studies 310 (Topic 3), and Religious Studies 313C. Introduction to the many interpretations of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) and its meaning in the context of its historical and cultural setting in the ancient Near East. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. Only one of the following may be counted: Core Texts and Ideas 305G, 310 (Topic: Introduction to the Hebrew Bible), Jewish Studies 311 (Topic: Introduction to the Hebrew Bible), 311 (Topic 4), Middle Eastern Studies 310 (Topic: Introduction to the Hebrew Bible), 310 (Topic 3), Religious Studies 313 (Topic: Introduction to the Hebrew Bible), 313C.

CTI 310. Topics in Core Texts and Ideas.

Introduction to fundamental texts and questions that have helped shape the world. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester. Core Texts and Ideas 310 and Western Civilization 303 may not both be counted unless the topics vary. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary.

Topic 3: Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion. Same as Philosophy 305 and Religious Studies 305. A critical examination of various conceptions of God and of the relationship of the human and the divine. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one laboratory/discussion hour a week for one semester. Only one of the following may be counted: Core Texts and Ideas 310 (Topic: Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion), 310 (Topic 3), Philosophy 305, Religious Studies 305.

CTI 111. Core Texts Seminar.

Close reading and discussion of primary sources, normally pursued in conjunction with another three-hour course in a field of study such as history or government. One discussion hour a week for one semester. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary.

Upper-Division Courses

CTI 320. The Classical Quest for Justice.

Same as Government 351C. Introduces students to classical political thought through a study of seminal works of antiquity, focusing on those of Plato and Aristotle. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. Only one of the following may be counted: Core Texts and Ideas 320, 335 (Topic: Classical Quest for Justice), Government 335M (Topic: Classical Quest for Justice), 351C. Prerequisite: Completion of at least thirty semester hours of coursework.

CTI 321. The Theoretical Foundations of Modern Politics.

Same as Government 351D. Examines competing foundations of the ongoing development of political and social modernity. Examines a selection of major authors from Machiavelli to Nietzsche. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. Only one of the following may be counted: Core Texts and Ideas 321, 335 (Topic: The Theoretical Foundations of Modern Politics), Government 335M (Topic: The Theoretical Foundations of Modern Politics), 351D Western Civilization 320 (Topic: The Theoretical Foundations of Modern Politics). Prerequisite: Completion of at least thirty semester hours of coursework.

CTI 321F. Spinoza and Modernity.

Same as European Studies 346 (Topic 21), History 362P, Jewish Studies 364 (Topic 9), Philosophy 354 (Topic 7), and Religious Studies 357 (Topic 8). Introduction to the core of Spinoza's writings and the diverse reactions they have elicited. Examines Spinoza's refusal of mind-body dualism, as well as a transcendent god or ideal as a way of understanding Spinoza's concepts and ideas. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. Only one of the following may be counted: Core Texts and Ideas 335 (Topic: Spinoza and Modernity), 321F, European Studies 346 (Topic: Spinoza and Modernity), 346 (Topic 21), 347 (Topic: Spinoza and Modernity), History 362G (Topic: Spinoza and Modernity), 362P, Jewish Studies 364 (Topic: Spinoza and Modernity), 364 (Topic 9), Philosophy 334K (Topic: Spinoza and Modernity), 354 (Topic: Spinoza and Modernity), 354 (Topic 7), Religious Studies 357 (Topic: Spinoza and Modernity), 357 (Topic 8). Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

CTI 322. Critics of Modern Liberalism.

Same as Government 351G. Selected critics of the philosophy of the Enlightenment from both the Left and the Right, and from the time of Rousseau to the present. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester. Only one of the following may be counted: Core Texts and Ideas 322, Government 335M (Topic: Liberalism and its Critics), 351G. Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

CTI 323. Might and Right among Nations.

Same as Government 351J. Major alternative approaches to the question of the moral character of international relations, as elaborated by some of the greatest political thinkers. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester. Only one of the following may be counted: Core Texts and Ideas 323, 335 (Topic: Might and Right among Nations), Government 335M (Topic: Might and Right among Nations), 351J, Western Civilization 320 (Topic: Might and Right among Nations). Prerequisite: Upper-division standing and six semester hours of lower-division coursework in government.

CTI 324. Politics and Literature.

Same as Government 335M (Topic 15). Explores the "old battle between the poets and philosophers," in which the two sides battle for recognition as the deepest source of wisdom about politics and ethics. Includes readings from great works of political philosophy and literature. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester. Only one of the following may be counted: Core Texts and Ideas 324, Government 335M (Topic: Politics and Literature), 335M (Topic 15). Prerequisite: Upper-division standing and six semester hours of lower-division coursework in government.

CTI 325. Morality and Politics.

Same as Government 351L. Interdisciplinary readings from major works exploring issues of ethics and leadership. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester. Only one of the following may be counted: Core Texts and Ideas 325, Government 335M (Topic: Morality and Politics), 351L. Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

CTI 326. Core Texts on American Democracy.

A close study of major texts and documents that shed light on fundamental issues in American democracy such as rights, equality, individual liberty, and the proper ends and limits of government. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary. Prerequisite: Varies with the topic.

Topic 1: Constitutional Interpretation. Same as Government 357M (Topic 5). Designed to improve reasoning and communication skills through constitutional interpretation. Determining what the Constitution means, how to determine what it means, and who should determine what it means. Only one of the following may be counted: Core Texts and Ideas 326 (Topic: Constitutional Interpretation), 326 (Topic 1), Government 357M (Topic: Constitutional Interpretation), 357M (Topic 5). Prerequisite: Six semester hours of lower-division coursework in government.
Topic 2: The Tragicomedy of American Democracy. Same as African and African Diaspora Studies 372F (Topic 15) and American Studies 370 (Topic 44). Examines the foundational ideas and practices essential to the unfolding of American democracy by focusing on founding documents, public speeches, major political conflicts, and canonical texts of political philosophy. Only one of the following may be counted: African and African Diaspora Studies 374D (Topic: Tragicomedy of American Democracy), 372F (Topic 15), American Studies 370 (Topic: Tragicomedy of American Democracy), 370 (Topic 44), Core Texts and Ideas 326 (Topic: Tragicomedy of American Democracy), 326 (Topic 2), Western Civilization 320 (Topic: Tragicomedy of American Democracy).
Topic 3: African American Social and Political Thought. Same as African and African Diaspora Studies 374D (Topic 21), American Studies 321J, and Government 335M (Topic 10). Examines the speeches and writings by major theorists and critics of the prophetic tradition of black political thought. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. Only one of the following may be counted: African and African Diaspora Studies 374D (Topic: African American Social and Political Thought), 374D (Topic 21), American Studies 321 (Topic: African American Social and Political Thought), 321J, Core Texts and Ideas 326 (Topic 3), 335 (Topic: African American Social and Political Thought), Government 335M (Topic: African American Social and Political Thought), 335M (Topic 10). Additional prerequisite: Upper-division standing and six semester hours of lower-division coursework in government.

CTI 335. Core Texts in Philosophy.

Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary. Prerequisite: Varies with the topic.

Topic 2: History of Christian Philosophy. Same as Philosophy 354 (Topic 2). Examines the history of Christian philosophy through classic Christian thought, concerning what can be known and how people should live. Only one of the following may be counted: Core Texts and Ideas 335 (Topic: History of Christian Philosophy), 335 (Topic 2), Philosophy 354 (Topic: History of Christian Philosophy), 354 (Topic 2). Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

CTI 345. Core Texts in Literature.

Major works of literature from one or more cultures, studied with special attention to questions of universal human concern. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary. Prerequisite: Varies with the topic.

Topic 1: Boccaccio's Decameron. Same as Italian Civilization 349 (Topic 6). An in-depth look at one of the masterpieces of Italian literature and how its author explores the fundamental elements of the human condition - love and desire, power and politics, virtue and fortune - while at the same time exposing the ambiguities of language and the pitfalls of representation. Only one of the following may be counted: Core Texts and Ideas 345 (Topic: Boccaccio's Decameron), 345 (Topic 1), European Studies 347 (Topic: Boccaccio's Decameron), Italian Civilization 349 (Topic: Boccaccio's Decameron), 349 (Topic 6), Women's and Gender Studies 345 (Topic: Boccaccio's Decameron).
Topic 2: Satan and the Idea of Evil. Explores the history and breadth of Satan's role as a character (or background presence) in literature while developing close-reading techniques for literary analysis that can be applied across diverse eras, forms, and genres. Only one of the following may be counted: Core Texts and Ideas 345 (Topic: Satan and the Idea of Evil), 345 (Topic 2), Religious Studies 357 (Topic: Satan and the Idea of Evil). Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.
Topic 4: Fictions of the Self and Other. Same as Comparative Literature 323 (Topic 39), European Studies 347 (Topic 25), French Civilization 349 (Topic 2), and Women's and Gender Studies 345 (Topic 55). Focuses on representative works from nineteenth- and twentieth-century French fiction, from Balzac's Realism to the present. Examines literature in its relation to history, culture, and society, with special attention to both form and style in the development of the novel, poetry, and theatre. Only one of the following may be counted: Comparative Literature 323 (Topic: Fictions of the Self and Other), 323 (Topic 39), Core Texts and Ideas 345 (Topic: Fictions of the Self and Other), 345 (Topic 4), European Studies 347 (Topic: Fictions of the Self and Other), 347 (Topic 25), French Civilization 349 (Topic: Fictions of the Self and Other), 349 (Topic 2), Women's and Gender Studies 345 (Topic: Fictions of the Self and Other), 345 (Topic 55). Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.
Topic 5: The Major Works of Dostoevsky. Same as Comparative Literature 323 (Topic 30) and Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies 325 (Topic 10). Explores the dilemmas of homicide, suicide, patricide, and redemption in the novels of Fyodor Dostoevsky. Only one of the following may be counted: Comparative Literature 323 (Topic: The Major Works of Dostoevsky), 323 (Topic 30), Core Texts and Ideas 345 (Topic: Major Works of Dostoevsky), 345 (Topic 5), European Studies 347 (Topic: Major Works of Dostoevsky), 347 (Topic 10), Russian 360 (Topic: Major Works of Dostoevsky), 360 (Topic 1), Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies 325 (Topic: Major Works of Dostoevsky), 325 (Topic 10). Additional prerequisite: Upper-division standing.
Topic 6: The Russian Novel. Same as Comparative Literature 323 (Topic 29) and Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies 325 (Topic 9). A survey of classic Russian authors as well as experimental works from the nineteenth through the twenty-first century. Only one of the following may be counted: Comparative Literature 323 (Topic: The Russian Novel), 323 (Topic 29), Core Texts and Ideas 345 (Topic: The Russian Novel), 345 (Topic 6), English 322 (Topic 37), European Studies 347 (Topic 22), Russian 356 (Topic 1), Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies 325 (Topic 9). Additional prerequisite: Upper-division standing.
Topic 8: War and Revolution in Russian Literature and Culture. Same as Comparative Literature 323 (Topic 31) and Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies 325 (Topic 18). Examines Russian narratives of war and revolution as represented in fiction, cinema, and journalism. Only one of the following may be counted: Comparative Literature 323 (Topic: War and Peace in Russian Literature and Culture), 323 (Topic 31), Core Texts and Ideas 345 (Topic: War and Peace in Russian Literature and Culture), 345 (Topic 8), Russian 356 (Topic: War and Peace in Russian Literature and Culture), 356 (Topic 3), Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies 325 (Topic: War and Peace in Russian Literature and Culture), 325 (Topic 18). Additional prerequisite: Upper-division standing.
Topic 10: Love in the East and West. Same as Comparative Literature 323 (Topic 36), Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures 321 (Topic 25), and Middle Eastern Studies 342 (Topic 33). Three lecture hours a week for one semester. Only one of the following may be counted: Comparative Literature 323 (Topic: Love in the East and West), Comparative Literature 323 (Topic 36), Core Texts and Ideas 345 (Topic: Love in the East and West), Core Texts and Ideas 345 (Topic 10), Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures 321 (Topic: Love in the East and West), Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures 321 (Topic 25), Middle Eastern Studies 321K (Topic: Love in the East and West), Middle Eastern Studies 342 (Topic 33), Turkish 372 (Topic: Love in the East and West). Additional prerequisite: Upper-division standing.
Topic 11: Epics and Heroes of India. Same as Ancient History and Classical Civilization 330 (Topic 2), Asian Studies 372 (Topic 40), and History 350L (Topic 54). Only one of the following may be counted: Ancient History and Classical Civilization 330 (Topic: Epics and Heroes of India), 330 (Topic 2), Asian Studies 372 (Topic: Epics and Heroes of India), 372 (Topic 40), Core Texts and Ideas 345 (Topic: Epics and Heroes of India), 345 (Topic 11), History 350L (Topic 54).

CTI 350. Masterworks of World Drama.

Studies major tragedies, comedies, and historical plays from various epochs, including at least one of Shakespeare's plays. Explores themes related to ethics, politics, and human nature, as well as the craft of the playwright. Students attend and discuss at least one play performance. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester. Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

CTI 351. The Idea of the Beautiful.

Classical philosophical discussions of the idea of the beautiful (or noble or sublime), illustrated through selected works of art, drama, and literature. Explores the human perception of and response to beauty and its relation to such ideas as happiness and the promise of happiness, moral nobility or selflessness, and the divine. Philosophical works are studied in connection with examples drawn from the arts and are considered in their historical contexts. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester. Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

CTI 365. Classics of Social Scientific Thought.

Studies a selection of foundational modern classics in economics, psychology, sociology, political science, and anthropology, drawn mainly from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester. Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

CTI 366. Topics in Economic and Social Thought.

Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary. Prerequisite: Varies with the topic.

CTI 370. Core Texts of Science and Mathematics.

Studies works of major scientists, mathematicians, and philosophers, and explores the fundamental ideas from one discipline or time period and the nature and grounds of human knowledge. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary. Prerequisite: Varies with the topic.

Topic 2: Biology, Behavior, and Injustice. Same as History 366N (Topic 16). Explores questions about human behavior related to biological factors as compared with personal experiences and societal standards. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. Only one of the following may be counted: Core Texts and Ideas 370 (Topic: Biology, Behavior, and Injustice), 370 (Topic 2), History 366N (Topic: Biology, Behavior, and Injustice), 366N (Topic 16).

CTI 371. Einstein in the Age of Conflict.

Same as History 350L (Topic 64: Einstein in the Age of Conflict). Following the life and work of Albert Einstein, course examines the rise of the theories of relativity and quantum mechanics upon the stage of international political upheaval. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. Only one of the following may be counted: Core Texts and Ideas 370 (Topic: Einstein in the Age of Conflicts), 371, History 350L (Topic 64). Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

CTI 372. Darwin and the Politics of Evolution.

Same as Government 353D. A careful reading of Darwin's influential Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection, together with an examination of the religious, political, and scientific controversies the book has inspired from its first publication to the present day. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester. Only one of the following may be counted: Core Texts and Ideas 370 (Topic: The Politics of Evolution), 372, Government 335M (Topic: The Politics of Evolution), 353D. Prerequisite: Upper-division standing and six semester hours of lower-division coursework in government.

CTI 375. Topics in Core Texts and Ideas.

Study of classic texts, connected historically or thematically. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester. Core Texts and Ideas 375 and Western Civilization 320 may not both be counted unless the topics vary. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary. Prerequisite: Varies with the topic.

Topic 1: The Qur'an. Same as Comparative Literature 323 (Topic 37), Islamic Studies 340 (Topic 2), Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures 321 (Topic 9), Middle Eastern Studies 342 (Topic 16), Religious Studies 325G, and Women's and Gender Studies 340 (Topic 54). The history, language, style, and themes of the Qur'an. Only one of the following may be counted: Arabic 372 (Topic 2: The Qur'an), Comparative Literature 323 (Topic: The Qur'an), 323 (Topic 37), Core Texts and Ideas 375 (Topic: The Qur'an), Core Texts and Ideas 375 (Topic 1), Islamic Studies 340 (Topic 2), Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures 321 (Topic 9), Middle Eastern Studies 320 (Topic 14: The Qur'an), 342 (Topic 16), Religious Studies 325G, Women's and Gender Studies 340 (Topic: The Qur'an), 340 (Topic 54). Additional prerequisite: Upper-division standing.
Topic 2: Islamic Theology. Same as Islamic Studies 340 (Topic 7), Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures 321 (Topic 27), Middle Eastern Studies 342 (Topic 35), and Religious Studies 358 (Topic 14). Three lecture hours per week for one semester. Only one of the following may be counted: Core Texts and Ideas 375 (Topic: Islamic Theology), 375 (Topic 2), Islamic Studies 340 (Topic: Islamic Theology), 340 (Topic 7), Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures 321 (Topic: Islamic Theology), 321 (Topic: 27), Middle Eastern Studies 321K (Topic: Islamic Theology), 342 (Topic: Islamic Theology), 342 (Topic 35), Religious Studies 358 (Topic: Islamic Theology), 358 (Topic 14). Additional prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

CTI 379. Conference Course.

Intensive tutorial study of selected major texts. Individual instruction. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: Upper-division standing and consent of the director of the Jefferson Center and instructor.