Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Seminar: I'm into it.

Many people question the usefulness of Dominican's required seminar courses, as evidenced by previous blogs and the campus voice section of the Star. Yes, on the surface they may feel like a drag to most people. However, I believe if you take a closer look, they are highly relevant to our lives.

This semester I'm enrolled in Professor Quentin Kossnar's seminar: Ethics and Poetical Action. Out of the plethora of selections, I chose this particular course because it said we'd be reading works from Aristotle, Plato, Sophocles, Dostoevsky, as well as Frankenstein, an excerpt from Flow, and short stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

The course description asked: What is the relation between ethics and poetics: the imitative art of story telling? What role do stories play in how we view ourselves and in how we conduct ourselves in society? That's what drew me in--being able to apply these readings to my life.

First off, I'm a complete book nerd and especially have a deep affinity for Sophocles and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Reading stories is a big part of my life, but I feel that the way in which we examine these stories in the seminar class really gives them more meaning for me.

I'd never really been big into philosophy (although at all three colleges I've attended, I've taken MORE than enough courses in that area), but I've discovered a true passion for it this semester after examining Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and Poetics.

A couple years ago, you couldn't have convinced me that I'd be seriously into reading philosophy, but several courses I've taken here at Dominican, including Dean Carlson's Mystery of God course (which I highly recommend) have sparked a genuine interest in me.

I feel that through our seminar classes, which are geared toward the general state of our lives in a particular year of college, are so beneficial. Last year's junior seminar had us examine work, and explore our career options. This year, we're focusing on what it means to live "the best life" and how work and virtue are interconnected. The stories we read examine the human condition, and I think especially as a senior with so many experiences thus far that test character, it's important to have a ground understanding of the things that truly matter in life and know how to handle life's obstacles.

The coursework, essays, and readings are not only pertinent to our lives, but there are common themes in all that we've read that you may only discover through a classroom discussion setting.

Instead of questioning the validity of seminars, I suggest putting that energy into getting the most out of them and applying them to your life. These professors and administrators make us take these classes for a reason, and if you truly utilize this "mandatory opportunity," you will be all the more better for it.

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