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Freedom without Freedom

Try to define freedom. Do you land on words like choice, speech, or even obligation? Does your language emerge from the realm of politics or literature, psychology or religion? In this course, we will study the evolving idea and experience of freedom, especially in the American context. Studying texts chosen from ancient philosophy, modern literature, and political history, we will read excerpts from Thucydides, the American Founding Fathers, Frederick Douglass, and Herman Melville. We will ask ourselves how the idea of freedom has developed in American life and begin to shape our own definitions of a concept that has great relevance for our moral and political lives, particularly in a time of uncertainty, instability, and anxiety.