CLCIV 479 - Socratic Tradition of Conscientious Objection
Section: 001
Term: WN 2019
Subject: Classical Civilization (CLCIV)
Department: LSA Classical Studies
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
Advisory Prerequisites:
Junior or Senior standing.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

An Inside-Out class offered to students of junior and senior standing, meeting off campus at a local Correctional facility.

In this class, we will study the prison writings of the world’s great thinkers, starting from Plato’s Apology of Socrates, moving on to the prison diaries of Christian martyrs, to Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, to Thoreau, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela and Angela Davis. We will study of the principles of free speech as they are revealed in these writings: the necessity of speaking truth to power; the confession of one’s religious convictions; giving voice to the views of the minority, and non-violent resistance to the violation of human dignity.

What we will discover is that many of the world’s greatest humanists have been prisoners! We will study the extent to which Socrates provides a model for this kind of resistance and truth-sharing. The concept of parrhesia (Greek for free speech; truth telling in its public form) or to use Foucault’s neologism, veridiction, is an important Socratic legacy and we see its power voiced in these masterpieces of literature.

Finally, students will research a contemporary conscientious objector and share this research with the class. Another component of the class will be to make contact with or write to, someone who is currently a prisoner of conscience.

As a result of taking this class, students will become familiar with the tradition of conscientious objection as it is reflected in the great letters of well-known conscientious objectors. They will also become familiar with the history of prisons as a tool for intellectual, political, and religious social control. By writing to prisoners of conscience and by speaking across the prison-society divide, students will practice and reflect upon the principles of free speech.

Students meet in a seminar format at the Women’s State Correctional Facility located in Ypsilanti. We meet side by side with “Inside” incarcerated students. Through dialogue and exchange, we attempt to understand the meaning and structure of justice and incarceration in our society.

Course Requirements:

No exams. Short response papers and a final group project are the only assignments.

Intended Audience:

CBL class for CLCIV majors or anyone interested in the subject. Permission of instructor required.

Class Format:

One meeting per week at a correctional facility -i.e. prison

CLCIV 479 - Socratic Tradition of Conscientious Objection
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
Tu 3:45PM - 9:00PM
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