Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

The Ancients & Shakespeare

ENGL 016.301
MWF 10

Title: "The Ancients and Shakespeare on Justice and Happiness"

In this course, we will wrestle with questions fundamental to a liberal education--the nature of human happiness and its connection to justice. In sifting these questions, we will turn to the thought of the ancient Greek philosophers and of Shakespeare. With the various thinkers we take up, we will be considering the nature of the human soul, the connection between knowledge and virtuous action, the importance of friendship, and the importance to happiness of the individual's connection to his or her political community. We will read Plato's Gorgias, Phaedrus, and sections of The Republic; we will also read Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics; and finally we will read Shakespeare's Tempest, I and II Henry IV, and Hamlet. The focus in the writing assignments will be to formulate a thinker's argument as precisely as possible.