Finding Freedom in the World


















PHONE: (O) 610-519-7904 (H) 610-645-5405 (BETWEEN 8-10 P.M.)

Pep Talk

Can a course which spans 200 years in 15 weeks be fun? Maybe. It depends on you. If you see this as series of texts and assignments which have to be read and written in order to get a good grade, then chances are this course will be a drag. If, on the other hand, you see this course as an opportunity to expand your field of vision and see the variety of ways that people have explored and searched for freedom in this life and in this country, then we have chance to really enjoy ourselves. There should always be an element of fun in reading and thinking. It is, like art and music, an act of self-expression. It is an encounter between a text and your life experience. There are no ‘right’ answers in a course like this. This can be liberating for some and confusing for others. The whole idea of this course, and education in general, is to let these texts and writing exercises move you further toward becoming a sensitive, thinking, and interesting adult. (If nothing else, you might walk away with great dinner conversation.)

This is not, however, a passive exercise. Quite the opposite. These texts and music have no power unless you invest yourselves in them. There is risk involved in putting yourselves into the text. It is risky to interact with ideas because there is the chance that you might actually change your thinking, broaden your mind and maybe even shake you up. Scary stuff. My hope for this course is that we can, as a group, create the kind of environment where you feel safe to speak your mind, be honest about what you know and what you don’t, and use this material to bring us that much closer to living the ‘informed life’.


The letter in Bold is the letter under which the text is alphabetized in the VU bookstore. They are all there, I checked! Where possible I have given you the hyperlink to texts on-line. I want you, however, to bring the appropriate text to class with you. Simply print it out from the web site and bring it to class. Even printing out a long document is a lot cheaper than buying it.

Wiesel –Trial of God. Random House (Paper) (November 1995); ISBN: 0805210539

Flannery O’connor – The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor. With an introduction by Robert Giroux. Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, Reissue edition (September 1996) Noonday Press; ISBN: 0374515360  I recommend you buy this book because it is a gem, but there is also a .pdf of this story attached to the syllabus.

Many of the texts that you will use in this class have hyperlinks to the Web. Or are on WebCT as .pdf files (Acrobat).  I do this to reduce the number of books you must buy.  But I do it on three conditions:  1)that you print out the documents from the Web 2) read them and 3) bring them to class for discussion.


Writing Assignments: This is a reading, talking, and writing course. No matter what your major, you will need to learn to communicate your ideas effectively. I suspect that writing is the most difficult for most people. It is for me! The writing assignments are designed to give you experience with different kinds of writing (summary, descriptive, journal, and different kinds of essays). Please submit all of your work in electronic form in Word as an e-mail attachment. All essays must be in 12 point Times New Roman with standard margins. All assignments are due by midnight of the day indicated. I will mark drafts as quickly as I can and send them back to you in electronic form.

The Portfolio Method: For most of your classes, you will turn in a paper and that is it: you get your grade and move on. The portfolio method takes a different approach to writing. It is based on the idea that your writing improves more when you have to confront your own writing and actually make it better. This means that all your essays will be turned into me and then we will work together to improve it. During the term we will have at least two scheduled meetings to discuss your work. A also recommend that you visit the Writing Center, Dalton Room, Old Falvey (519-4604) for at least one of your essays. Earlier is better of course. The writing center is a great way to improve your writing skills. They are incredibly helpful and the whole thing is run by someone from IOWA, like me. How great is that?

What is a draft in this course? It is not what you think. In this course a draft is defined as the paper you would hand in under normal circumstances. It is what you would hand in as your best work. It is what you would give to me as a final. Have I said this enough?

The idea is to do a fewer number of essays, but make them better. Quality over quantity! There is no reason why you should not produce your best ever work in this course. That is what I want from you, your best. At the end of the semester you will have a portfolio of your written work. This portfolio will be graded accordingly along with your project, Quest II, Class Participation, and the Final Exam. See below for grading details.

If you have any questions about the assignments or are struggling with something, please feel free to get in touch with me. As one who struggled with this kind of stuff when I was an undergrad, I know how torturous it can be. Don’t let yourself get behind because you hesitated to ask for help. Early intervention is key. Coming to me the day before an essay is due and saying you are stuck does not allow much room for solutions; we are into the realm of damage control at that point. And if I suggest that you meet with me about something, take me up on this. Problems do not magically disappear, they turn into bad grades. This is your chance to learn new habits that will make your whole college experience more productive and actually give you more time to have fun while everyone else is tearing their hair out and thinking up new and imaginative, but ineffective, excuses!

E-Journaling: This course has a strong emphasis on writing. I have assigned 12 e-journal entries this term, I want you to give me 9 of these 12. If you do all 12 that will be counted as extra credit. Just the thing for borderline cases. The final exam will be a take home essay where you convert one of your e-journals into a 5 page essay. Keep that in mind when you are writing. And keep track of your e-journals.

These E-journals can be in casual language. I am more concerned with content and your view than I am about style – although really good ideas travel on the wings of good style. These do not have to be essays. They simply help me to know that you are reading the material (although that will be apparent in class discussions) but more importantly, journaling will help me get to know you and your ideas and it will help you to sort out your own thinking about these texts and the issues they raise for us. If you like a text, tell me why. If you are confused, tell me why and what it is that confused you. If you think a text is boring, tell me why. If it makes you angry tell me why. Do you see the pattern? Give me examples, don’t just tell me what, tell me why!

Quest II: This term we will be moving on with Quest. You think last term was fun? Just listen. This is an exercise that is designed to give you some experience doing research without actually writing a paper. You will have a topic, but instead of handing in a paper you will turn in an annotated bibliography and a paper outline. That is a list of ten to twelve sources that you would use if you were to actually write a 10 pager. But this is annotated which means that I want you to give me a summary of each article, chapter, or book and – this is the important part – HOW AND WHERE THIS SOURCE FITS INTO YOUR HYPOTHETICAL PAPER! This means you have to know what you want to say and how this source supports your argument. That means that you need to have a variety of sources and you need to state how you are going to use them and where they fit into the outline of your paper. This is a vital step in learning how to write a well-balanced resource paper. Each annotated entry should be about a third of a page. That means that the whole thing should be at least three pages long.

My Generation Project: For this presentation, you need to pick out a piece of music and another piece of poetry, visual art, or literature.  These two items should embody some aspect of freedom.  I am trying to get you to make a connection between art and reality (ideal or real).  I also want to be thoughtful and look beyond the obvious meanings of freedom.  Beware of Lee Greenwood!  However you come at this it is important to be articulate about what you think and why. What do you want the class to take away from your presentation?  Each presentation should be about 15 minutes including the media Q & A. You need to have lyric sheets for the class.  You will also need to turn a written statement (1 page double spaced) which is the essence of your idea. You will be graded according to originality, presentation, and how well you capture the spirit of the assignment.


My basic standpoint is to assume that you are all capable of excellent work (A and B level). Throughout this term, however, you can to earn a lower grade if you wish, but this is up to you. Skipping class, not keeping up on the reading, and taking a lax attitude to the assignments and class discussions is a sure fire way to lower your grade. I wish we lived in a world without grades. But we do, so I do. Let’s make this as simple as possible.



Class participation:


My Generation:


Final Exam:


E-Mail Journaling

Good, consistent, and thoughtful journaling can raise your grade a level! Poor and incomplete journaling will bring you down a level.

Academic Integrity

In a class such as this, it will be easy for me to pick up plagiarism or any impropriety. If you have any questions as to what constitutes plagiarism, please refer to your Villanova Student Handbook. But it is simple really: Do your own work, think your own thoughts, write your own essays. I want to know what you think, and I will be impatient with any attempt to sell me something that is not yours. Villanova takes this issues very seriously and consequences for violations usually end with failure of the course. There is too much at stake to risk your future and compromise your integrity in this way. It is simply not worth it.

Class Times

I want our class to be a place of safety and fun. It is a place where you can talk about almost anything. It is my job to turn that anything into a learning experience. This seminar uses interesting and sometimes profound pieces of writing to stimulate discussions on issues that we in the Humanities think are vital to maturity and adulthood. For every class, I want you to bring at least one question that cannot be answered in a sentence. I will also e-mail particular instructions as the need arises. I live on e-mail. CHECK YOUR EMAIL EVERYDAY (as if I need to say that!).

I also want you to come to class having read the material. That does not mean that if you are not up on the reading you can skip class. I want you in class! But it is difficult to have a discussion about a text you have not read. It is not impossible, but difficult.

This is a seminar class. That means that if you are not very talkative, you will have to work hard to make sure you kick in something at least once a class. It’s the American way! My goal is to hear from everyone at least once per class. That helps me know you are tracking, which reminds me…


I know that people (usually the same ones) nod off during class. I don’t take this personally, yet. But let me warn you now: I cannot resist the temptation to have a laugh and there are few things more amusing than seeing someone wake up to see the entire class staring right at them. It is the stuff of nightmares. Be warned.

The Shape of Things to Come

Week 1

Jan 14 T

Intro to Freedom

E-JOURNAL #1: Freedom: Mine, Yours, Everyone’s: Any Problems?

16 H

America the Free: Declaration of independence.

Bill of Rights and Amendments

E-JOURNAL #2: Any surprises?  What is your favourite amendment and why?

Week 2

21 T Special Event: Class will be held at 7:30 pm at Connelly Cinema

We will hear Michael Eric Dyson: Villanova Freedom School’s MLK 2003

23 H  In-class debate: We propose that America should/should not break free of mother England: Discuss. The fate of the Colonies hangs in the balance.

Here are two revolutionary writings and two Loyalist tracts to help you prepare your arguments:

Thomas Paine: Introduction to Common Sense

Charles Inglis: The True Interest of America Impartially Stated, 1776

A Westchester Farmer, [Samuel Seabury], A View of the Controversy Between Great Britain and Colonies, etc., etc., Boston, 1775

Sam Adams. American Independence, 1776

Villanova's annual Freedom School will be held on Thursday, January 23 throughout the day at the Connelly Center. You are encouraged to attend.

Week 3

28 T Sören Kierkegaard:

        Fear and Trembling

ESSAY #1 DUE (5-6 pages)   Write a persuasive essay based on the debate.  You may take either side you wish.  I will of course play devil's advocate.  I want you to make sure you know both sides of the issue so that you can use this in your essay.  You must visit the writing center before submitting this essay.

30 H Neitzsche:

Beyond Good and Evil (Part 5)

E-JOURNAL #3: Compare and Contrast these two thinkers concerning the freedom of the will, or lack thereof.

Week 4

4 T

        Quest II: Meet in the Griffin Room, Falvey Library (I trust you all know where the library is by now.)

6 H       Freud

Civilization and its Discontents This is a helpful explanation of some of Freud’s terminology in this treatise.

Week 5

11 T Small Group presentations (5-7 minutes) on each of the chapters followed by discussion

                Du Bois: The Souls of Black People (Chapters 1,3, and 6)

13 H Small Group presentations (5-7 minutes) on each of the poems followed by discussion

Langston Hughes -

The Weary Blues -

Let America be America -

I too Sing America -

                Negro Sings of Rivers –

E-JOURNAL #4: What is this poetry trying to express?

Week 6

18 T

Birth of Jazz & The Harlem Renaissance


   Looky Looky Yonder

    Good Morning Blues

Jelly Roll Morton:

   Kansas City Stomps

   Steamboat Stomp

Scott Joplin:


Louis Armstrong:

    12th St. Rag

Essay #1 Final Version Due

20 H

Jazz Grows Up and Out

History of Jazz Chapter 4 (You do not have to print this out.  Just read.)

    Dizzy Gillespie:

        Blue and Boogie

 Charlie Parker:


       Laird Baird

Miles Davis:

        So What

    Thelonius Monk


Don't Blame me

Nice Work if You Can Get It

SPECIAL EVENT:  ARPEGGIO JAZZ ENSEMBLE will be performing on Thursday, Feb. 20, at 8:00 p.m. in St. Mary's Chapel. The topic for the evening is "Be Bop and Beyond: The Rise of Modern Jazz" and the members of "Arpeggio" will speak about modern jazz and then treat us to a concert of incredible music.  Attendance is required.

23 Sunday: Essay #2 Due (5-7 pages)

Option 1: Discuss DuBois’ vision for attaining freedom. How far have we come in realizing this vision of DuBois? Is this a helpful way to understand African-Americans or humanity in general? What is the significance of this work today.

Option 2: Choose one of Hughes poems and discuss in detail how the poem works, what you think Hughes is trying to say, how it effects the reader, and the use of imagery to create a social message.

Week 7

25 T Beyond Bop

    History of Jazz Chapter 5 (You do not have to print this out.  Just read.)

Ornette Coleman


Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers

            Dr. Jackle

Max Roach and Clifford Brown


John Coltrane

            My Favorite Things

27 H Out of Bop

          Modern Jazz Quartet

            Softly as in a morning Sunrise

          Dave Brubeck

            Blue Rondo a la Turk

          Antonio Jobim

            Black Orpheus

            Girl from Ipanema

         Sun Ra

            Outer Nothingness


           E-JOURNAL #5: What do you think about Jazz as an art form of freedom?

Quest II Project Due

Semester Break

Week 8

11 T

James Baldwin Sonny’s Blues

13 H              

Alan Ginsberg: Howl Part II; A Supermarket in California; America

Essay #2 Final Version Due (5-7 pages)

Week 9

18 T


20 H


Art of the Holocaust by Samuel Bak: Amazement; Helping; Horror; Capo; Triangle Christ; Scales 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12

More Art:  Burning 1995; Absence; Victim 1990; Study I 1995

E-JOURNAL #6: What did you learn from this documentary and/or this art?

Week 10

25 T

                 Weisel – Trial of God

27 H

                Weisel – Trial of God

E-JOURNAL #7: How does this fit in with the other readings from the last few weeks? How might this fit in or affect your thinking about Easter?

Week 11

April 1 T

                Flannery O’Connor: The Displaced Person

E-JOURNAL #8: Who are our displaced persons? What is the threat? How are we like Mrs. MacIntyre? How do we differ?

3 H


Letter from Birmingham Jail and

Letter to American Christians

Week 12

8 T

White Supremacy, Race, and Freedom

(Read 3 out of the 4)

Richard McCulloch: Racial Diversity

The Church of the Creator (this is optional since this is extremely racist): Essence Beliefs

Jeff Jacoby: Defeated in the Bedroom

March of the Titans: History of the White Race (chapter 68)

E-JOURNAL #9: If you had to join either the American Civil Liberties Union or the Anti-Defamation League which would you choose and why?

10 H

                   My Generation: Viewing room 4 (Falvey Library)

Week 13

15 T

My Generation: CEER 001 (where we did the Jazz stuff)

Easter Break

Week 14

22 T

My generation: Viewing room 2 (Falvey Library)

24 H

My generation: Viewing room 2 (Falvey Library)

Week 15

29 T No Day Class: Friday Schedule…BUT

American Cinema and Freedom   


7:00pm-10:30pm. This is a very powerful piece of Cinema recently released with 40 minutes of additional footage.  If you have seen this before, think again.  This will be on the big screen (DVD) and will be much more of an experience than what you could ever get from a TV.  Bring your Friends!  Make it a night out! It is also required, so attendance is expected.  No class during the day. This will be our class time 

May 1 T

The Way Forward

E-JOURNAL #10: Is this just a disturbing movie or is there something more about freedom here?

Final Exam: Take Home Exam: Choose one of your E-Journals and expand it into a 5-7 page paper, adding material from other sources that strengthen or even change your thinking.  You may visit the Writing Center, but this is the only outside help you may use.