Discover New Courses

These exciting new courses are being offered for the first time in Fall 2016!


Engl 234: American Literature and Culture. Hamilton! Behind the Music

This course draws on the popularity of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s current Broadway hit Hamilton, using it as a lens through which to explore both Alexander Hamilton’s (1755/7?-1804) era and our own. We’ll start with the soundtrack and lyric book for the production, identifying the thematic and historical building blocks upon which Miranda constructs his revisionist historical account. We’ll then explore the history, biography, and events upon which the musical is based. Our focus will be on primary texts: political documents, letters, and literary representations from the Revolutionary era as we critique and perhaps revise the interpretive choices Miranda has made in reshaping the source material. The course will be run as a research seminar, with a set of shared central readings and additional materials provided by participants through research on 1) a key figure from Hamilton’s life and 2) a key issue or event represented in the musical. In addition, we’ll collaborate digitally on historical and interpretive annotations of various materials, and students will edit, annotate, and present a “scholarly edition” of a manuscript letter from a key figure. Finally, you’ll be asked to revise the lyrics to one musical number based on the historical material from the course. This course will build your familiarity with the eighteenth-century U.S. (and perhaps help make sense of some of the deep schisms that continue to define our politics) while honing your skills in interpretation, research, and the development of evidence-based arguments. We’ll conclude the course by broadening our conversation to include the implications of this musical—with its deliberate re-invention of America’s “founding,” its use of vernacular musical forms, and its conscious casting of actors of color in its key roles—in today’s political and social climate. This course fulfills a pre-1800 requirement.


Days and Times: TuTh 12:30-1:50PM
Instructor: Alison Tracy Hale


PHIL 305: Classical Chinese Philosophy

Chinese Philosophy

This course introduces students to influential debates in early Chinese thought. What is the relationship between social conventions and morality? Is human nature good or bad? How do words relate to knowledge and reality? Philosophical questions like these are central to classical Chinese philosophy and remain just as relevant here and now. This course familiarizes students with philosophical views of thinkers such as Confucius and texts such as Tao Te Ching, and encourages student to critically consider their relevance to practical and philosophical discourses today.


Days and Times: MoWe 3:30-4:50PM
Instructor: Shen-yi Liao