Shimer College


As a distinctive feature of Shimer’s Great Books curriculum, you’ll choose electives that complement and deepen your engagement with the classics of Western thought. As a four-year student at Shimer, about one-third of your coursework will be elective courses, most of them in an area of concentration you choose.

Spring 2014 Electives:

The Devil in Christian Thought

Adam Kotsko, Humanities, 5 Credits, IIT Equivalent: Hum 300-level 

Prerequisites: Hum 3 or Soc 3 

This course will trace the evolving place of the devil in Christian theology and culture, starting from its roots in the Hebrew Bible and moving through the New Testament, the early church, the medieval period, and finally to the dawn of modernity with Milton’s unforgettable portrayal of the prince of darkness. By means of a close reading of representative texts and artworks, the course will focus particularly on the political implications of this enigmatic theological figure.

Feminist Theories

 Ann Dolinko, Social Sciences / Humanities, 5 Credits, IIT Equivalent: Hum 300-level or Soc 300-level 

Prerequisites: Basic Comp or Instructor Approval

In this course we will look at how the gender roles of women and men are socially constructed. We will begin this exploration by examining the anthropological and historical roots of patriarchy. From there we will read some early documents in the feminist movement by such authors as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, Frederick Douglass, and Sojourner Truth. Once we have this historical context we will examine various contemporary feminist theories such as liberal, radical, psychoanalytic, poststructuralist, and postcolonial. We will compare these diverse approaches to feminist theory and apply their respective insights to an analysis of contemporary society.

The Logic of Stories and Figures

Stuart Patterson, Humanities, 5 Credits, IIT Equivalent: Hum 300-level 

In this course, students will examine and practice some of the basic tenets of storytelling as well as various forms of figurative writing, including metaphor, metonymy, simile, analogy, fable, allegory and even anagogy. Students will use texts in and close to the core curriculum as models of storytelling and figuration, and produce their own work accordingly in a workshop format.

Environmental Sciences 

Jim Ulrich, Natural Sciences, 3 credits, IIT Equivalent: Free elective

This course will cover a variety of topics such as the significant historical movements, preservation and conservation of wilderness and farmlands, impacts of governments and businesses, and sustainability as applied to biological and social systems. We will use classic, original texts to gain a broad understanding of the issues, events, and people shaping the field.

Film Genre Study: Hitchcock

Aron Dunlap, Humanities, 3 Credits, IIT Equivalent: HUM 300-level 

The perverse horror of Psycho, the unbearable sexual tension of Notorious, the brilliant criminality of Dial M for Murder, and the profound strangeness of Vertigo — undoubtedly, the films of Alfred Hitchcock constitute one of the great artistic treasures of the 20th century. In this elective we will examine the broad range of his films, from The Lodger (1927) to Marnie (1964). We will watch and discuss one film every week, and we will also read key critical thinkers to help us recognize and articulate the more subtle aspects of Hitchcock’s inimitable style.