What is a Person? The answer to this seemingly simple question has been constantly changing since the time of the Roman Empire. Now, thanks to a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities, Eastern University’s Professor Steven McGuire has designed a course that will examine the history of “personhood” and how the definition of “personhood” may change in our technology-filled future.
Students will examine the history of, and attempt to define, personhood through the readings of texts by several philosophers and sociologists, including Aristotle, Descartes, and Plato, as well as several legal cases and novels such as Huxley’s Brave New World and Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. Students will also be required to write multiple posts on a communal blog in order to enhance their understandings of both the assigned texts and the definition of “personhood.”
The course will not limit the study of personhood to the classroom. At two points during the semester, students will get together for dinner and a movie. The films will tie into material being discussed in class, and after each viewing the students will discuss the questions and issues each film raises. Towards the end of the semester, the class will also visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art in order to explore the history of personhood as depicted in artwork.
Professor McGuire will offer the course during the Spring 2013 Semester, and registration will open during the Fall 2012 Semester. It will be a 300-level class that will meet twice a week, and will be open to all undergraduate students regardless of their major.