Spring Semester

Humanities 104: Conversatio II

Liberal Arts & the Good Life

Course Description

Rooted in the Benedictine vow that encourages faithfulness to a way of life within community, Conversatio is the foundational shared learning experience for every Saint Anselm student. HU 104 is the second semester of a year-long interdisciplinary course that provides students with an intellectual orientation to studies in the Liberal Arts and acquaints them with the distinctive value of those studies within the Catholic Benedictine tradition. The second semester of Conversatio builds upon the intellectual work that students have accomplished during the first semester, where they contemplated who we are as individuals, what our responsibility is within a community, and what our relationship is with the divine. In this second semester students are asked to consider three additional foundational areas of study central to the Liberal Arts: 1) Politics, rhetoric, and the emergence of democracy in human history; 2) The nature of science and the role of scientific understanding in our world; 3) The nature of beauty and the place of art in the lives of individuals and communities. As the common academic conversation orienting students to Saint Anselm College, Conversatio invites individuals to discover their intellectual place and voice within the Saint Anselm learning community by encouraging them to read critically, to contemplate significant questions about human existence, and to communicate their ideas to others with greater effectiveness and respect.


Reading List:

  • Joseph Pieper, Only the Lover Sings: Art and Contemplation.
  • Selections from great speeches including Patrick Henry, Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King, and Abraham Lincoln.
  • Selections from Alexis De Tocqueville, Democracy in America.
  • Rebecca Skloot. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
  • William Shakespeare,  The Tempest.
  • Each seminar leader makes their own selections of readings for the Science and Society unit, so selections will be different for each section. Many sections also make visits to the Chapel Arts Center or other local museums.

Films and Events:

  • Film, The Great Debaters
  • Play, William Shakespeare's The Tempest
  • Live Music Performance by Saint Anselm faculty and students
  • Each seminar leader chooses their own readings and activities for the Art and Society Unit. Many sections make visits to the Chapel Arts Center or other local museums.
  • Day trip to NYC Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Optional)


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