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Grant number: AQ-50621-12

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AQ-50621-12

Concordia College, Moorhead (Moorhead, MN 56562-0001)
Linda Johnson (Project Director: 09/21/2011 to present)
Stewart Herman (Co Project Director: 05/04/2016 to present)

NEH Enduring Questions Course on "How Can Meaning Be Found When a Culture Has Been Lost?"

The development of a fourteen-week course on the question, How do people respond to severe cultural upheaval and loss?

Project directors Linda Johnson, a historian of East Asia, and Stewart Herman, a theological ethicist, design a new upper-level "global perspectives" course, open to all Concordia College students, that enables students "to explore the ethical, cultural, and historical dimensions of human experience with a heightened sensitivity to contingency and vulnerability." Jonathan Lear's Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation and Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart provide a framework of theoretical questions and vocabulary for discussing the ways that humans and human societies respond to "radical cultural upheaval" and loss. The course is built around six "strategies," each strategy represented by a pair of readings from different cultures and time periods, that help individuals cope with such loss. Augustine's City of God and Albert Camus' The Plague, for example, are paired to illustrate how some individuals, facing societal collapse, re-envision their lives in either religious or humanistic terms. Boethius's The Consolation of Philosophy and Kamo no Chomei's Hojoki: Visions of a Torn World are used to show how some individuals turn to religion to cauterize the wounds of individual loss. Euripides' Andromache and Nguyen Du's The Tale of Kieu illustrate how some individuals await (or renounce) a personal rescue that restores wholeness and liberty. Sophocles' Antigone and Chikamatsu Monzaemon's Chushingura demonstrate how individuals can reassert traditional cultural and political values by noble self-sacrifice. Elie Wiesel's Night and Peter Gay's My German Question: Growing up in Nazi Berlin demonstrate how individuals can devote themselves to living out their lives "without slipping into the cultural abyss." Finally, Winona LaDuke's Last Standing Woman chronicles the decline and reconstruction of Anishinabe Indian culture in northern Minnesota by returning to traditional ways. The latter reading is paired with a visit to White Earth Tribal and Community College fifty miles from campus.

Project fields:
Interdisciplinary Studies, General

Program:
Enduring Questions: Pilot Course Grants

Division:
Education Programs

Total amounts:
$24,998 (approved)
$24,998 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2012 – 5/31/2015