Intellectual Heritage Program

Intellectual Heritage Program

Temple University

The unexamined life is not worth living, said Socrates. No body warned us, however, that the examined life would be so much work. Indeed, I required a lot of my students and myslef in Temple University’s Intellectual Heritage Program, where I spent five years as an assistant professor after completing my doctorate in 1994.

Every semester I taught three sections of this two-semester writing-intensive introduction to the Great Books Tradition. Intellectual Heritage was required of all 30,000 Temple undergraduates. Many of my students were first generation college students or first generation immigrants. I really thrived as a teacher, in part because I was renewing an old love of philosophy, history, literature, and poetry and also recovering from some of the po-mo and p.c. excesses of graduate studies in the academy at that time. I also love the students and felt like I was making a difference in their lives.

My five-year sojourn in the Intellectual Heritage Program at Temple University also coincided with the boom in personal computers and the growth of the World Wide Web. During this period 1994 to 1999 I was one of the early innovators in computer assisted learning at Temple — creating email distribution lists for each class (and requiring weekly postings), building one of the first course websites at Temple, and leading one of Temple’s first experiments in distance learning. In additions to my teaching duties, I presented at several faculty IT trainings.

IH51 – First Semester


UNIT I: Classical Greek Foundations (Four Weeks)

Thucydides Pericles’ “Funeral Oration”

Sappho Selected Poems

Sophocles The Three Theban Plays

Oedipus, Antigone, and (optional) Oedipus at Colonus


Aeschylus The Oresteia

Plato The Last Days of Socrates, Euthyphro, Apology, and Crito


Plato The Republic (Books I, V, VI, VII)



UNIT II: Religious Foundations (Five Weeks)

The Holy Bible, NRSV:

  • The Hebrew Bible:
  • Genesis 1-9: Creation through Covenant with Noah
  • Exodus 12-24: 31:12-33, Deliverance from Egypt;
  • Ten Commandments; Golden Cafe; renewed Covenant.
  • Recommended: selections from Psalms, Isaiah 6, Amos 5, or Job.

The New Testament:

  • Matthew 1-16: Birth of Jesus; Sermon on the Mount; Healing;

Parables; Miracles.

  • Matthew 17-28: Transfiguration; Laws; in Jerusalem; Crucifixion;
  • John 1:1-14

The Koran: Sura 2: The Cow (contains all major themes)

Recommended: Sura 1 (Exordium); Sura 96 (The Blood Clot);

Sura 4 (Women); Sura 20 (Ta’Ha); Sura 33 (Confederate Tribes).

Sundiata: Epic on Old Mali



UNIT III: Humanist Foundations (Four Weeks)

Galileo Discoveries and Opinions: “Introduction;” “The Starry Messenger.”

Machiavelli The Prince: “Introduction” and Chapters 1-10; 15-18; 26.

Shakespeare Othello.



IH52 – Second Semester


UNIT I: The Enlightenment and Civil and Political Rights (Two Weeks)

  • Thomas Jefferson The Declaration of Independence
  • Frederick Douglas “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro.”
  • Lucrietta Mott “The Seneca Falls Declaration.”
  • John Locke The Second Treatise of Government: Chapters 1-10; 18-19.


UNIT II: The Romantic Rebellion (Two Weeks)

Selected poems by Blake, Wordsworth and Whitman.


UNIT III: Revolutionary Thinkers (Six Weeks)

  • Marx and Engels The Communist Manifesto: Parts 1, 2, and 4.
  • Charles Darwin The Origin of Species: Introduction, Chapter 1-4, Conclusion.
  • Sigmund Freud Introductory Lecturers in Psychoanalysis
  • Sigmund Freud Civilization and Its Discontents


UNIT IV: Nonviolent Struggle and Anti-Colonialism (Two Weeks)

Mohandes Gandhi The Gandhi Reader, edited by Homer Jack: selections.

Martin Luther King, Jr. “Letter from the Birmingham Jail.”


UNIT V: Imagining the World (Two Weeks)

One of the following:

  • Chinua Achebe No Longer at Ease.
  • Toni Morrison Sula.
  • G.G. Marquez Leaf Storm and Other Stories.
  • M. Hong Kingston Woman Warrior.

One of the following (optional):

  • Albert Camus The Stranger.
  • James Joyce Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
  • Franz Kafka The Trial.
  • Virginia Woolf To the Lighthouse.