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Exploration and Discovery

Fall Section Descriptions

Common Works for E&D Fall 2018

All sections of fall E&D read a set of common works in addition to the individual texts assigned by each instructor.

Fall 2018 Course Descriptions are listed below.


Fall 2018 Online Preference Form is now CLOSED.

The form was open June 1st through June 24th.  If you were unable to complete the preference form, please contact the E&D Office at or 503-768-7208.


All incoming students should receive an email from regarding the process for preference form submission at the end of May.

Please contact the E&D Administrative Specialist at or 503-768-7208 if you have any questions.

It is important for students to note:

  • If you do not complete the on-line E&D section preference form by the June 24th deadline you will be assigned to a section on a space-available basis.
  • Please select six sections that interest you but select each only once on the preference form. Selecting the same section more than once cancels one of your choices, thereby reducing the number of sections you have selected, and can result in you being randomly placed in a section.
  • The date/time you submit your E&D Preference form has NO impact on your E&D assignment.
  • You may make changes to your preference form during the above registration time by simply completing another on-line form. The form completed closest to the June 24th, deadline will be considered your final submission.
  • All classes are held on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Generally class times are 1:50 - 2:50pm, however there are a few sections taught at other times to resolve schedule conflicts with other classes.
  • Several faculty members teach multiple sections; therefore it is important to note the time of the class you are selecting.
  • Overload or wait-list requests not accepted.

If you have additional questions, please review the E&D Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

After assignments are made it is important to note:

  • Changing sections is limited to open seats.  Changes have to be made before the start of the third class day; the deadline to change your E&D section is Thursday, September 6th.
  • All changes must be approved by the E&D Administrative Specialist, no add/drop slip needed.
  • The standard add/drop policy, timing, and process does not apply to Exploration and Discovery.
  • Your account must be free of registration holds by the September 6th deadline.

Please email if you have questions.


Fall 2018 Section Descriptions 


Identity and Transcendence – POD   MWF 1:50-2:50pm

Students in the “Identity and Transcendence” POD will have the benefit of working with four professors, as individual sections will come together from time to time throughout the semester.

  • David Galaty       Ph.D., History of Science – Core 106-20
  • Karen Gross       Ph.D., English—Medieval Literature – Core 106-21
  • Jerry Harp         Ph.D., English—Poetry & Renaissance Literature – Core 106-17
  • Ben Westervelt   Ph.D., History – Core 106-15

One of the most compelling processes for a human being to undertake is the formation of an identity.  What makes this process especially compelling for someone in the global 21st century is that the range of choices seems almost endless.  Furthermore, these choices exist in a set of contexts: family, town, culture, society, and physical environment to name only a few.  We cannot just be someone in general.  We are someone in particular, and who we are may shift as our position in time and space shifts.  Is there an “I” or “We” that exists beyond these bounds? As we understand more about time, place, and culture, we find that we are able to somehow move outside of them—we “transcend” (Latin trans— “beyond”—and scandare— “to climb”).  In other words, the pursuit of a liberal education helps us transcend our apparent limitations.

In this course, we will investigate the twin processes of identity formation and transcendence by reading texts by people who themselves developed novel ways of approaching this human problem and who have often served as an inspiration to others.  Belief in a transcendent God provides one ladder to climb beyond self, as Augustine and Ibn Tufayl discover.  Science aims to help us move beyond the apparent limitations of senses and reason and to discover new aspects of the universe, our world, and ourselves. Galileo, for instance, asserted that God wrote the universe in mathematics: we can learn that language but it doesn’t depend upon us to exist. Alternatively, personal liberation may be subsumed within society’s transcendence of oppressive structures and categories, as Marx and Douglass urge. Or, for those who cherish the inviolate separateness of the individual, the imagination and senses can lead us beyond ourselves, as Sor Juana and Emerson explore. Thus, we shall start our journey with Plato and end with the current American moment (i.e., Diaz, Smith), encountering a variety of approaches to these enduring questions: Who am I? Is there meaning outside of myself, and how do I find it? How do I reconcile my uniqueness as an individual with a society that clamors ever more urgently for equality among its members?


Remainder of sections are listed alphabetically by last name of instructor.

Sara Appel

Ph.D., Literature, Feminist & Queer Studies

  • Core 106-28 MWF 1:50-2:50pm
  • Core 106-33 MWF 3-4pm

Nailed It: Failure and Success in Thought and Practice

We’ve all seen the memes. The Cookie Monster cupcakes, blue-frosting mouths perfectly molded to hold a miniature chocolate-chip cookie. But cut to the next photo: “NAILED IT” stamped on the resulting DIY monstrosity, frosting oozing off the pan in a sad, inedible mass. We laugh; it’s a cathartic, low-stakes brand of “Fail.” But there’s also rebellion in that laughter. We resent that a task presented as “easy” might include few instructions. We recognize that often, this implied ease masks access to specialized tools and training.

Featuring classics texts in philosophy, literature, and history, this course explores the nature of success and its perhaps more provocative underside, failure. What are the stakes of framing the success-failure binary as a product of individual effort? What happens if we instead conceive of success and failure as the results of a system rife with “goals” that may not be readily accessible to all? What does success look like when, as Frederick Douglass knew well, failure implies the continued absence of human freedom? What might it mean to fail spectacularly at a bare-life level—as Socrates does on the day of his execution—while becoming one of the most “successful” influences on western thought? We’ll read works by Plato, Douglass, Karl Marx, and Virginia Woolf, among other texts that challenge us to rethink our assumptions about failure and success—Arthur Miller’s play Death of a Salesman paired with the TV series Breaking Bad; Roxane Gay’s essay collection Bad Feminist; and Allan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ graphic novel Watchmen.


Jon Arakaki  

Ph.D., Communications

  • Core 106-11 MWF 12:40-1:40pm
  • Core 106-31 MWF 1:50-2:50pm

Discovery, Courage, and the Heroic Life

What, exactly, does it mean to be courageous?  What does it mean to be a hero?  Who is a hero?

It is these types of questions that we will be addressing this semester, as well as exploring what it means to stand and fight, to express and follow one’s beliefs, to explore the unknown, and sometimes, to merely endure.  Susan Drucker and Robert Cathcart (1994) noted, “All cultures have heroes, but the hero and the heroic varies from culture to culture and from time to time.  What constitutes the heroic and who becomes the hero is a function of cultural priorities and values…” (p. 2).  As we survey the selected works listed below, we recognize that taking risks and holding firm to values often frame our experience.

This course will explore various aspects of discovery, courage, and heroes through the core texts that all sections of E&D will be reading together: the dialogues of Plato, the slave narrative of Frederick Douglass, the Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels, and the twentieth century cultural criticism of Virginia Woolf.  In addition, our sections will be reading Stephen Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West, Lauren Kessler’s  Stubborn Twig: Three Generations in the Life of a Japanese American Family, and I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai.

One of our main intentions is to ask why we can often attain insight, truth, and knowledge only after challenging and courageous journeys of discovery.  The course is also intended to develop your skills as a critical thinker, writer, classroom participant, and close reader of texts.


Susan Cohen 

Ph.D., Political Science

  • Core 106-07 MWF 11:30am-12:30pm
  • Core 106-18 MWF 1:50-2:50pm

The Good Life and the Good Society

What does it mean to live a good life, to flourish?  And what kinds of social and political structures best facilitate human flourishing?  Our focus will be on ethics and political philosophy as we explore these questions.  We’ll ask whether there are universal moral truths that constrain our choices as we search for a good life.  We’ll attempt to understand what it means to be an ethical person:  Is ethics primarily a matter of respecting the rights of others?  Cultivating emotions like empathy and compassion?  Honoring cultural traditions?  Obeying, or loving, God?  What responsibilities do we have to family, friends, community, nation, humankind, the divine?  What do we owe to the poor and the marginalized in our own country and abroad?  How might government, and we as individuals, negotiate the tensions among our various responsibilities, and how do we remain true to ourselves as we try to carry them out?  Can one even have a good life if its path is not of one’s own choosing?  Through close reading of and engagement with philosophical, religious, and literary texts we will wrestle with these and other questions.  Readings will include, among other works, Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? (by contemporary political philosopher Michael Sandel), and selections from the Hebrew Bible.


Chana Cox

Ph.D., Philosophy

  • Core 106-13 MWF 1:50-2:50pm

What is Piety?

Technically Socrates was tried and convicted for the crime of impiety, but as Socrates asked Euthyphro, “What is piety?”  Even in ancient Athens there was no consensus on the answer to that question.  We will explore that question through readings from Plato’s dialogues, Euripides’ Bacchae, and Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy.   We will continue that exploration with readings from Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Abraham Lincoln, in their struggle against American slavery, and with Ludwig Feuerbach and Karl Marx in their struggle against traditional European religions.  Finally, we will read Terry Pratchett’s Small Gods and Dostoyevsky’s Grand Inquisitor.


Kurt Fosso

Ph.D., English—British Romanticism & Literary Theory

  • Core 106-05 MWF 10:20-11:20am

Narrative Crossroads: Discovering Knowledge

This section will focus upon the discovery and production of knowledge and its relationship to narrative and authority. We will consider how narrative produces knowledge—of ourselves and the world—and what roles language, interpretation, and authorship play in articulating (and constraining) what we deem to be real and “true.”  What indeed is truth when it can or must be narrated?  All the works we read will explore these and other challenging aspects of knowledge and ignorance, from eating forbidden fruit to reading wrong-headed books to testing, say, the difference between human and machine.  Along with E&D’s common works we’ll examine Sophocles’ tragedy Oedipus the King, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Ridley Scott’s Frankenstein-inspired, postmodern sci-fi-noir film, Blade Runner.


JM Fritzman

Ph.D., Philosophy

  • Core 106-09 MWF 11:30am-12:30pm

Exploration & Discovery, and their Discontents

In this section, we will read and discuss the course’s four common works. Each is paired with another that variously complements and contests it. Specifically, Plato’s Crito is paired with the Bhagavadgītā, Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels are paired with Oscar Wilde, Frederick Douglass with W. E. B. Du Bois, and Virginia Woolf with Angela Y. Davis. Through critically engaging with these works, we will learn to see, to think, and to speak and write, thereby developing a noble culture (what Germans call Bildung).


Kristin Fujie

Ph.D., English – Modern American Literature

  • Core 106-14 MWF 1:50-2:50pm

Traversing Boundaries

This course is all about boundaries and their traversal.  To “traverse” means to cross through or over, but it also means to move back and forth, to cross and recross.  In our readings for this course we will traverse boundaries of all kinds, temporal, disciplinary, and thematic.  Our texts will take us from the ancient world to a dystopian version of our recent past.  They will touch upon the lives of philosophers, scientists, slaves, artists, and human clones, all of whom test, transgress, or transcend the boundaries that define who they are, what they know, or where they belong.  By urging us across those limits that seem the most absolute—between the human and the divine, life and death, bondage and freedom, nature and culture, pleasure and suffering, to name just a few—they will compel us to consider both the possibilities and the limitations, the expansiveness and the boundedness, of human knowledge, belief, agency, imagination, and love.  Students in this course will be encouraged throughout the semester to draw connections between texts that go beyond our designated section theme.  At the semester’s conclusion you will be invited to reimagine the boundaries of this course by proposing your own course theme, title and description. 

In addition to the core texts shared by all sections of E&D (Plato, Douglass, Marx and Woolf), we will also likely read the following: Sigmund Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents; Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go; and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me.


Joseph Gantt

Director of Forensics     M.A., Communication Studies

  • Core 106-01 MWF 9:10-10:10am

Oppression and Resistance

Former Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas once said, “As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air – however slight – lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.” In this course, we will explore the darkness that is systemic oppression from a variety of perspectives while also examining methods of resistance to that oppression. Through the examination of works common to all E&D sections- works from Plato, Frederick Douglass, Virginia Woolf and Karl Marx, as well as works from W.E.B. DuBois, Sinclair Lewis, Leslie Feinberg and Vaclav Havel, our journey will give us opportunities to read, speak and write on injustice both past and present and to consider how to respond to such injustice.


Leah Goldman

Ph.D. History — European

  • Core 106-12 MWF 12:40-1:40pm — newly changed 8/17
  • Core 106-26 MWF 1:50-2:50pm  — newly added 8/15
  • Core 106-25 MWF 3-4pm  — newly added 8/15

Speaking Up, Speaking Out, Speaking Together

What does it mean to speak truth to power? Who has the right to speak out, and on whose behalf? How do we mobilize our voices and experiences in service of justice, for ourselves and for others? In this class we will explore fundamental questions concerning speech and activism through primary sources ranging from Ancient Greece to modern Europe to contemporary America. E&D’s four core texts will guide our journey. In Plato’s Socrates, we will discover the model of the citizen who speaks his mind despite official censure. Further on, Frederick Douglass, Karl Max and Friedrich Engels, and Virginia Woolf will provide insight into how marginalized communities—African-Americans, workers, and women—have adopted and adapted this model to fit their experiences, often in the absence of genuine citizenship. Alongside these sources, we will also read and discuss a variety of related texts to explore how subsequent authors and activists have used, updated, or even disputed their claims in addressing the circumstances of our ever-evolving society. Finally, we will wrap up the semester by interrogating the potential for intersectional activism—modes of speech that acknowledge and empower multiple marginalized communities simultaneously—and by taking a close look at the major movements speaking out in America today: Black Lives Matter, Democratic Socialism, and #MeToo. 



Rob Kugler 

Ph.D., Religious Studies – Jewish & Christian origins

  • Core 106-03 MWF 9:10-10:10am
  • Core 106-06 MWF 10:20-11:20am

The sources of the modern self:  Learning how to be a liberal arts student

Some say these days that our modern understanding of the individual as absolute in her self-determination and self-possession that lies at the heart of much western political, moral, and social imagination and practice has led to a dangerous fragmentation of community that threatens the stability of our common future. If there is anything to that claim—and it feels as if there might be—there is considerable value in learning the origins, nature, expressions, and critiques of the self-determining, self-possessing self. Such an understanding equips a person to appreciate his own place in society and in relationship to the other, and his potential responsibility to both.

In this course, we set out to acquire that understanding. And there is a bonus for us in doing so: wrestling with a topic like this one in a community of scholars is also, as we shall see, to become acquainted with what it is to be a student of the liberal arts, to open ourselves to the breadth and depth of ideas and perspectives arising from the human imagination and intellect.

To achieve both aims we will read texts from a wide range of authors and texts, including Plato, Aristotle, the Jewish and Christian Bible, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, Frederick Douglass, Virginia Woolf, John Rawls, James Baldwin, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Marilynne Robinson. Our reading will be guided by an appreciation of the intellectual horizons within which these authors lived and worked and will issue in an appreciation of how we live and work within the extended arc of those same horizons. And with luck, our semester’s study together will also provide something of a framework for thinking about the liberal education that lies ahead of you at Lewis & Clark.


Read McFaddin

M.A. (ABD), History of Art and Architecture

  • Core 106-29 MWF 1:50-2:50pm
  • Core 106-34 MWF 3-4pm — newly added section (8/9)

The City

What defines a city? Shakespeare believed it to be defined by the community and its people. Sixteenth-century French jurist Jean Bodin believed the city to be defined by its laws and social bonds, while contemporary Italian architect Aldo Rossi recognizes the city through the architecture that gives voice to its history. De Certeau and Baudelaire proposed that the city is understood by moving through urban space. With these approaches in mind, our course considers the city a living and dynamic organism, both a human construct and ever-present agent shaping urban social performance. We will explore the visual and textual image of the city, both in its civitas (the people) and urbs (the structure) characterizations, as a crucial actor in the polemics of Plato, Frederick Douglass, Karl Marx and Virginia Woolf (E&D common works). Works from Sir Thomas More, Michel de Certeau, Jane Jacobs, and Italo Calvino will complement our core readings, and we will consider our local “cities” of the L&C campus and Portland. Participating students should be interested in the study of images and occasional off-campus site visits.


Michael Mirabile

Ph.D., Comparative Literature

  • Core 106-04 MWF 10:20-11:20am
  • Core 106-19 MWF 1:50-2:50pm

Critique of Institutions

This section of Fall E&D will address the influential role that various institutions play in our lives.  Through the close reading of selected texts, we will examine how they describe, stage an encounter with, and / or subject to criticism a number of social institutions.  The critical perspectives we will engage take many forms and are concentrated on distinct institutions in the writings of our authors, whether it be in Plato (the court), Frederick Douglass (slavery), Virginia Woolf (education), Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (economic institutions), Frantz Fanon and Edward W. Said (colonial institutions), or Saskia Sassen (contemporary globalization).  In the course of our discussions of these authors over the semester, we will additionally gain valuable insights into the traditions of modern social thought and critical theory.  Although our readings will cover a range of historical contexts, there will be a particular focus on the many-sided significance of modernity and globalization – keys to understanding the formation of our contemporary institutions.  


Will Pritchard

Ph.D., English - 17th/18th Century British Literature

  • Core 106-16 MWF 1:50-2:50pm

Exile and Belonging

In this section of Exploration and Discovery we will study works that dramatize and theorize the condition of exile: enforced residence in a foreign land. Beginning (as all the sections of E&D do) with Plato, Frederick Douglass, Virginia Woolf and Karl Marx, we will encounter several authors who articulate the challenge of belonging and the drama of exile. Plato prefers death to exile from his beloved Athens, Woolf struggles to belong to a world that excludes or marginalizes her, Douglass asks what it takes for an African slave to become an American, and Marx writes as an exile in England trying to foment revolution on the continent. We will follow these works with some classic texts of banishment and repatriation: the biblical books of Genesis and Exodus, and Shakespeare’s play The Tempest. We will conclude the semester with two more contemporary texts by and about exile: Van Morrison’s 1968 LP Astral Weeks and Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoir Persepolis (2004).


Megan Pugh

Ph.D., English – Modern American Literature

  • Core 106-32 MWF 1:50-2:50pm

We Tell Ourselves Stories

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” wrote Joan Didion in “The White Album,” an essay about the struggle to find order within the tumult of 1960s and 70s California. But Didion was skeptical about storytelling, too: was it an attempt to find meaning that didn’t exist? In this section of E&D, we’ll consider the powers and shortcomings of narratives. What stories do we tell ourselves? Are there other, better stories we ought to tell? How do stories do cultural, political, psychological, and artistic work? As we ask these questions, we will pay close attention to the intersections of race, class, gender, art and politics. 

In addition to reading the works common to all E&D sections—by Frederick Douglass, Karl Marx, Plato, and Virginia Woolf—we will study film, photography, poetry, essays, and fiction by Joan Didion, Robert Frank, Herman Melville, Claudia Rankine, Alice Walker, and others. Along the way, we will devote a great deal of time to improving your skills in composition, analysis, and argument, so that you can become more confident and careful writers and thinkers.


Christopher Roberts

Ph.D., Religious Studies – Religion & Culture

  • Core 106-27 MWF 8-9am
  • Core 106-02 MWF 9:10-10:10am

Dialogue and Narration as Creative Contestation

This section of Exploration & Discovery will analyze transgressive instances of reality contestation and world creation in works of literature and socio­cultural critique. For the first half of the course we will read texts by Plato, Galileo, Marx, Douglass and Woolf that foreground individuals who take a critical perspective on received ideas, stereotyped images and “common sense” notions of “reality” in general. In each text we will examine the relationship between voice, expression and contestation, with a particular focus on the various rhetorical strategies of argumentation and narration that we encounter. For the second half of the course we will shift from texts centered on an individual voice or perspective to others in which, as the scope widens, an entire world is brought into being. Though each of these texts (Genesis and Exodus from the Hebrew Bible, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea and Patrick Chamoiseau’s Texaco) is replete with compelling characters, these works stand out for the singular way each brings a lifeworld into being. With these counterfactual life­worlds each of these texts contests “reality” and takes distance from the everyday world in ways that offer the reader an opportunity to reflect upon it in critically significant ways.


Joel Sweek

Ph.D., Religious Studies

  • Core 106-08 MWF 11:30am-12:30pm
  • Core 106-22 MWF 1:50-2:50pm

Responsibility, Praise and Blame

In order to realize autonomy, one must embrace its necessary principle: responsibility. Taking responsibility embodies care for others, so communities distribute praise and blame in the measure with which we bring benefit or misery. Ironically, where we seek to evade responsibility, we find ourselves fleeing meaningful agency, our liberty to act. In this class we read fundamental, enduring texts that treat praise, blame, and responsibility. As college is primarily about learning how to read, this class offers the opportunity for assembling the tools for close reading, analytical thinking, and incisive writing: tools only developed over the course of careful study and critical conversation. The occasions to write will include instruction in the essentials of expository composition and professional style. We read across a broad range of time and genre in Sappho, Plato, Virgil, Beowulf, Shakespeare, Douglass, Marx, Engels, Woolf, and Freud.


Don Waters

M.F.A., Fiction M.F.A., Creative Writing

  • Core 106-10 MWF 12:40-1:40pm
  • Core 106-30 MWF 1:50-2:50pm

Documents of Change: Visionaries and Outsiders

The written word can not only alter our perceptions but also change the course of human history. Change in the social and political spheres often arises from outsider voices seeking truth, justice, and equality. In this course, we will read and discuss the ways various “documents of change” inform, educate, influence, entertain, and impact our shared human experience. Our investigations will feature the course-wide readings, including powerful texts by Plato, Frederick Douglass, Virginia Woolf, and Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

We will intersperse the course-wide readings with a compilation of other documents and manifestos written by visionaries and outsiders that further examine race, class, power, the environment, gender, and art. Texts will include Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, Ayad Akhtar’s play Disgraced, samplings from Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist, Rachel Carson’s prophetic Silent Spring, Andre Breton’s Surrealist Manifesto, as well as shorter, rousing pieces by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Joy Williams, Joan Didion, Jonathan Lethem, Percival Everett, Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau, and Banksy, among numerous others. Along the way you should develop ample questions, such as: What are these visionaries and outsiders asking of us? How do such disparate artistic, personal, philosophical, and political documents achieve similar goals? How do these writers’ views conform or conflict with their historical backdrops and with current ideology? How do these writers’ narratives challenge your ideas of the human experience? We will end the semester by briefly touching on our new, ever-changing techno-reality, where a single symbol can transform language, where accepted narratives can quickly shift, and where outsiders can easily tweak recognizable symbols to create powerful new ideas about the human condition.

Exploration and Discovery

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