Scribner Seminar Program
Thinking for Yourself
Instructor(s): Robert Boyers, Professor of English
What do we mean when we say that we value one thing more than other? Are there works of art—movies, paintings, works of pornography—that are contemptible and ought to be avoided? How powerful is the influence upon us of clichés, political formulas, ideas that sound “advanced” or “correct”? What is the relationship between authority and liberty? Is it possible to be religious and to be genuinely committed to reason? In this seminar, we will confront the idea of modernity and reflect upon the difficulty of thinking for oneself by asking these questions and others. Readings will be drawn from such authors as Matthew Arnold, John Stuart Mill, Virginia Woolf, Jean Paul Sartre, James Baldwin, Susan Sontag, Edward Said, and other contemporary writers and thinkers.