This course is designed to give students a thorough introduction to the worldviews that have shaped modern (and postmodern) man as reflected in several major literary works of the 20th century. Students will explore works by influential authors such as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, Albert Camus and C.S. Lewis, seeking to uncover the sources and implications of the underlying worldviews. They will be introduced to aspects of literary theory and how narrative is used to communicate truth. They will also be comparing and contrasting the views espoused in these works with the biblical worldview — God’s narrative revelation of truth.
From previous study of The Great Conversation, students should already be familiar with the way current thought has developed over the centuries. Having worshiped at the altar of unaided Reason in the 18th century, Western man drifted toward a more subjective, emotionally-driven philosophy of progress and optimism in the 19th century. In the early 20th century, however, the deterioration of belief in objective reality and morality accelerated. This combination of subjective relativity and the violence of two world wars extinguished the unbridled idealism of the 1800s. In its place, worldviews such as existentialism, relativism, communism, atheism, multiculturalism and feminism captured the hearts and minds of academia. In our day, this trend has continued with intersectionality, gender dysphoria and various forms of “Critical Theory”. All of this means that as we prepare WHA students for success at the university level, it is essential that we model for them how to engage with these worldviews while “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) that they might “sanctify the Lord God in [their] hearts, and always be ready to give a defense … for the hope that is in [them], with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).
This course carries an honors designation. Due to the apologetic component of the class, students may receive credit against graduation requirements for either Literature or Theology.
Prerequisites: 12th graders with substantial exposure to great books such as those included in The Great Conversation series
Homework Habits: Students typically spend 3-4 hours a week on reading assignments, though this depends on the student’s reading speed. Weekly assignments also include writing a discussion board post and two papers or presentations per semester.
Suggested Grade Level: 12