Faculty Course Description
HUM200: E Pluribus Unum: Moments in American Democracy
Dr. Christina Bucher
Office: Evans 225A
Office phone: 233-4076
E Pluribus Unum, the Latin motto that appears on the Great Seal of the United States, means “from many, one.” This course is designed to investigate the concept of the one and the many in American democracy, especially by questioning whether or not there is a distinct, unified identity that can be defined as “American” and by examining some of the tensions that have arisen between the one and the many throughout American history. We’ll especially focus on how the impulses of unity and diversity, equality and liberty, and inclusion and exclusion have played out for a number of issues in American culture over the last two centuries.
HUM200 is a course designed to give students at Berry a common intellectual experience with an interdisciplinary approach. Students in all sections of HUM200 will be reading and discussing some of the same texts and issues; we may even meet with other classes at some point in the semester. In addition to this common base, each section of HUM200 will also reflect the interests and expertise of the professor. In this particular section of HUM200, we will be using literature and film to aid in our exploration of the course content. This is not, however, a literature course, so we will not be spending most of our time examining literary techniques, movements, and ideas (though we will do some of that where appropriate). We will instead be using the literary and film texts as a way to discuss the topics related to the one and many and to enrich our discussion of the two common books, de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America and Sinopoli’s anthology From Many, One: Readings in American Political and Social Thought.
The purpose of the course is for students to critically examine American democracy by studying key moments and texts dealing with questions of the one and the many.
1) To gain cultural literacy about issues of unity and diversity that have shaped the American experience.
2) To form your own ideas about issues of unity and diversity in America.
2) To sharpen your critical reading and writing skills.
You will show that you have met the course goals by demonstrating an acceptable level of competence and knowledge on summary & response cards, two papers, and two exams.
Method of instruction
The primary method of instruction will be class discussion of the assigned reading material with lecture when needed. I thrive -- and I suspect most of you do too -- in a class in which instructor and students learn from each other by engaging in a lively exchange of ideas. While I will occasionally talk “at” you, I will also ask you to bear a good bit of responsibility for your own learning by participating in class.