This course asks students to think critically about what they believe and why they believe it. We will consider both the things we commonly think of when we think of “beliefs” (religious faith, atheism, secular morality, scientific fact, truth, politics, identity categories like race and gender) as well as the not-so-common things (UFOs, ghosts, true love, lying, superstitions, astrology, psychics, and cryptids). We will explore questions of skepticism and belief through a number of different disciplines as we ask ourselves: What makes us “believe” in something? What is the difference between skepticism and doubt? What evidence informs our beliefs? To what extent are beliefs passed down to us from our families and our social groups, and to what extent do we decide for ourselves what we believe? What is the difference between an opinion and a belief? How do competing epistemologies within our society dictate what we can and can’t believe? What exactly is an epistemology? These are some of the questions we will be exploring over the course of the semester as we delve into critical theory like Stuart Hall’s “The Work of Representation” as well as pop culture television mainstays like Ghost Adventures.
Like other First Year Seminars, this course is primarily focused on developing oral and written communication skills and introducing students to the basics of college-level thinking and college-level work. Over the course of the semester, we will improve our writing and hone our ability to construct convincing academic arguments using evidence and reasoning. We will develop these skills both in and outside the classroom through a series of readings, written assignments, group work, one-on-one writing tutorials, and peer-conducted writing workshops, all of which cluster around the central concepts of “skepticism” and “belief.”
Reading, Amity, "ENG 197C FYS Skepticism & Belief Reading Fall 2023" (2023). Course Syllabi. 15, Scholarly and Creative Work from DePauw University.