The Collegiate Honors Program at Magdalen College offers students the opportunity to advance their liberal education in new areas by embracing academic challenges and experiences beyond those of our core Program of Studies. Each semester, through an honors colloquium seminar, students explore selected texts, themes, authors, or media that complement our larger Program of Studies.
Magdalen College is excited to announce two seminar offerings for the fall term:
The History of the English Language
Dr. Anthony Esolen
This seminar will introduce students to the development of English from a brief look at the ancestor language, Indo-European, to a more deliberate look at Old English and some elementary prose and verse texts. The course then will survey Middle English, the language of Chaucer and of the Gawain-poet, and Modern English both in the time of Shakespeare and the King James Bible, as well as developments closer to our own time. Such a study will necessarily involve an exploration of culture, and the movements of people here and there and everywhere as soldiers or merchants or pilgrims or migrants, so that the history of English is also a history, properly speaking. To learn why we say “chair,” we must learn about the Norman Conquest; to learn why we borrow so freely from Latin and Greek, we must learn about the Renaissance; and to learn why the word “squash” for the vegetable is not the same as the word “squash” for the action, we must come to America. The course will thus be an excellent complement to our Humanities sequence.
The Human Worlds of Field, Forest, and Fresh Water (Phenomenology Outdoors)
Dr. Eric Buck
Though not a course in wilderness or environmental writing, this seminar will surprise students with its love of the Creation, the world in which humans live, where they find much of the Beautiful, and where they are given to make beautiful, even living, things. Students will follow a few strands of post-Enlightenment reaction to Rationalism and Empiricism, examining American literature that speaks of the place of man and his works in the natural world: his farms and gardens, his love of rivers and ponds, his homey buildings and the way they sit on the land, and his enjoyment of tamed spaces, which nonetheless point to the Transcendent. Such outdoor philosophy is a philosophy best expressed by people working in a definite, lovable landscape and working with universal essences.