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The Great Books
Executive Committee Minutes


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Minutes of the Great Books Committee

Members: Assoc. Dean Michael Brown, Anne Bunnell, Charles Fantazzi, John Given, Robert Hammond, Thomas Herron, Kevin Moll, Frank Romer, David Smith, John Stevens, Anoush Terjanian, Edmund Wall, David Wilson-Okamura, Tricia Wilson-Okamura

Members Present: Professors Bunnell, Given, Herron, Stevens, Terjanian, Wall, D. Wilson-Okamura, T. Wilson-Okamura. Guest: Professor Wilson

Dec. 7, 2007, Meeting #2, 3pm, Bate 3321

Agenda Item 1. Guest
Professor James Wilson, Department of English, was welcomed as a guest to the meeting.

Agenda Item 2. Minutes
The Minutes of the previous meeting, 21 September 2007, were approved with 3 minor adjustments.

As agreed at the 21 September 2007 meeting, the duty of Secretary fell on Professor Terjanian for this meeting, next on the alphabetical list of Committee members.

Agenda Item 3. Report on GRBK 2000 (Fall 2007)
Professor Given, coordinating instructor for "Great Books of the XXth century," reported on this year's introductory course which contained 14 students, 3 of whom were in the Honors section. Questions including the appropriateness of the theme chosen, the reading of a text a week, the writing assignments and the role of the guest instructor in the course were raised by Professor Given and discussed by the Committee.

Professor Given was thanked and congratulated heartily by all members of the Committee for his excellent and diligent stewardship of the course.

Agenda Item 4. Program Development
Professor Stevens reported that he was in consultation with the College about how best to expand the Great Books program to 2 courses per semester soon and ultimately to 3 courses per semester.

Agenda Item 5. Future format of GRBK 2000
Professor D. Wilson-Okamura proposed that GRBK 2000 focus on a 2 semester core wherein students would read 4 classical texts in the Fall and another set of 4 early modern and modern texts in the Spring There was much discussion about the disadvantages and advantages of the current "round-robin" format. Professors Given, Stevens and D. Wilson-Okamura raised concern that the current format excluded longer texts, including novels. Professor Terjanian spoke in favour of the current format and questioned whether the Committee ought to "re-invent the wheel" instead of focusing on building a curriculum of courses in the 3000-level, based on Professor D. Wilson-Okamura’s previous proposal, which students who succeeded in GRBK 2000 might pursue. This could in turn be followed by a 4000-level seminar.

Agenda Item 6. GRBK Fall 2008
Professor David Wilson-Okamura will lead next Fall's introductory Great Books seminar on "Great Books of War."

Agenda Item 7. Items for the next meeting

  • Professor Stevens advised members of items to anticipate for the next meeting of the Committee in late January or early February. These include:
  • Invitation of Professor Mona Russell, Department of History, to the meeting to discuss her possible membership
  • Discussion of the cursus and texts for GRBK 2000 (Fall 2008)
  • Re-design of the brochure
  • Report on recommendations from the College on program growth

Agenda Item 8. Future Curriculum
Professors Given, D. Wilson-Okamura and T. Wilson-Okamura volunteered to participate in a sub-committee that would devise a proposal for a new curriculum for students in the Great Books program.

Agenda Item 9. Great Books sponsorship of Rivers Chair Lecture Series
The Committee decided to endorse Professor Given's suggestion that the Great Books program sponsor and support Professor Julian Lethbridge's forthcoming lecture series, tentatively entitled: "The Function of the Humanities in the Present Moment."

The meeting was adjourned at 4:40 p.m.