Undergraduate Courses

Arendt's writings are taught in the Language & Thinking Program, The First Year Seminar, and The College Seminar, as well as many other courses. Listed below are current courses connected with Arendt's Work. While Arendt herself is not read in all these courses, the courses listed address works, themes and traditions that are important foundations for those who want to engage in political and humanist thinking about the world in conversation with Hannah Arendt. 

Undergraduate Courses
Fall 2019 Course Offerings
  • PHIL / LIT 337 Life of the Mind: Hannah Arendt - Thomas Bartscherer
    Cross-listed: German  Studies; Literature  What is the life of the mind? What makes us think and where are we when we think? What is the relationship between thinking and willing, between thought and action? What is the history and meaning of the concept of a “free will”? Hannah Arendt engaged these and related questions intensively in the last several years of her life, in conversation with a wide array of predecessors, including Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Duns Scotus, Descartes, Kant, Heidegger, Nietzsche, and Kafka. Our objective in this course will be a careful study of that engagement. The posthumously published book called The Life of the Mind, comprised of two volumes, "Thinking" and "Willing," was assembled on the basis of manuscripts Arendt left incomplete at the time of her death. We shall be reading not only from the published text, but also from the manuscripts on which that text is based and from the newly constituted texts that are to be published in the forthcoming critical edition of this material. The philological and interpretative questions that emerge from this state of affairs will also be on our agenda. Put differently, we will be asking not only, with Arendt, the philosophical question, “what is the life of the mind?,” but also the philological question, “what is The Life of the Mind?”

  • Is there something like a sensate thinking? Do we have a capacity to formulate the unspeakable? How can we address— with words— the crisis of language? Is humor a thought or a sentiment? Poetry and philosophy have for centuries offered fascinating responses to such questions— not least in the German tradition. Poets, philosophers, and poetic thinkers—from Goethe and Baumgarten, to Kleist and Schlegel, or from Nietzsche, Rilke, and Hofmannsthal, to writers of the Avant-Garde, and on to Kafka, Brecht, and Arendt—have all had something to say on these questions. The beauty and precision of their language(s) will foster our analytical vocabulary and will (we hope!) inspire ambitious and playful writing experiments and provoke a semester of joyful discussions with these thinkers of and in the German language. Conducted in German.

  • GER 331 Poetry and Philosophy - Thomas Wild
    Is there something like a sensory reasoning? Who has the capacity to formulate the unspeakable? How can we address— with words— the crisis of language? Is humor a thought or a sentiment? Poetry and philosophy have for centuries offered fascinating responses to such questions— not least in the German tradition. Poets, philosophers, and poetic thinkers—from Goethe, Kant, and Schiller, to Hölderlin, Heidegger, and Rilke, or from Heine, Nietzsche, and Kafka, to writers of the Avant-Garde, and on to Benjamin, Brecht, and Arendt—have all had something to say on these questions. Expand >

  • FSEM I - Samantha Hill 
    This Year's Theme: The Self in the World
    The First-Year Seminar invites students to reflect on how writers and thinkers past and  present have grappled with the question of how the self relates to other people and to the wider community. The year-long course is underpinned by two narratives of discovery and (self-)exploration: Homer’s ancient Greek epic, the Odyssey, and its latter-day adaptation, the Afro-Caribbean epic poem Omeros by Derek Walcott (1990). The class also reads—slowly and carefully—a series of touchstone works that grapple with this central question of the self in the world from a wide range of perspectives: from the fragments of Sappho to the autobiography of Frederick Douglass, and from Dante’s Inferno to Rabindranath Tagore’s classic Bengali novel, The Home and the World. The readings in these core works are illuminated by companion texts from Genesis to Marx and Freud. Seminar-style discussion and writing-rich assignments ask students to consider how ideas about “citizenship,” both broadly and narrowly defined, have emerged over the centuries as responses to the complex relations between the self and the wider world, providing then with a foundation for their work at the College and for life beyond Bard. In addition to work in the classroom, the whole first-year class comes together in regular forums to engage creatively and critically with the ideas of the course.

The Practice of Courage Courses 2019
  • (Super) Heroic Politics 
     Elizabeth Barringer

    A fascination with heroes has been a constant feature of Western political thought stretching back to classical times. Yet their role in political orders is complex, varied, and dynamic—and frequently not aligned with the common good, or with democratic conceptions of politics. Our task in this course is to look at recent superhero movies as a continuation of this long tradition of heroic politics and to critically examine their potential for (or against) democratic practices: what kinds of political relationships do these stories imagine or support? Expand >

  • The Courage to Judge

    Samantha Hill
    If we are in a world, as many fear, where truth no longer matters and cultural criticism is dictated by Internet mobs, how are we to judge? With the phenomenal appearance of totalitarianism in the middle of the 20th century, Hannah Arendt famously argued that the traditional moral categories of good and bad have lost their relevance. The inability to discern fact from fiction, and make critical judgments paves the ground for the emergence of fascist propaganda and rhetoric.  Expand >

  • Introduction to Christianity in Revolutions
    Prof Bruce Chilton
    Christianity has both promoted and resisted revolutions during the course of its history. The aim of this course is to understand why and how that process has unfolded. The method of the seminar is to understand how Christianity developed through systemic changes, and to read selected authors against the background of that evolution. This course is part of the Courage To Be College Seminar Series; students are required to attend three lectures in the in Courage to Be Lecture Series sponsored by the Hannah Arendt Center.

  • Theorizing Facebook: Technology, Society, and Social Networks
    Laura Ford
    In this course, we will seek to understand social media, as social and moral phenomena. Each week we will “theorize” social media from a different perspective, seeking new sociological insights into social media-related “spaces,” and into the ways that morality, ethics, and politics are enacted within such spaces. Expand >

Affiliated Bard Programs
  • Human Rights Project Courses
    The Human Rights Project helps the Bard community examine the theory and practice of human rights through teaching, research, and public programs.

  • Political Studies Program Courses
    The political studies program curriculum is anchored upon a set of introductory courses generally regarded as the intellectual foundations of political science: Political Theory, Comparative Politics, International Relations, American Politics, Political Economy, and Foundations of the Law.

  • Philosophy Program Courses
    The philosophy course list that follows is divided into several categories: introductory courses; historical courses; ethics; logic; aesthetics; epistemology, metaphysics, and philosophy of language; and single-philosopher seminars. Courses numbered in the 100s are introductory courses; 200-level courses, while more specialized in content, also are generally appropriate as first courses in philosophy; 300-level courses require previous courses in philosophy and permission of the instructor for admission.