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ERIC Number: EJ1080490
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 13
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1559-0143
Against Teleology in an Honors Great Books Curriculum
Harlan-Haughey, Sarah
Honors in Practice, v10 p95-107 2014
Chronologically presented courses that span centuries often catalyze unwitting buy-in to unexamined narratives of progress. While useful for helping students make connections between the human past, present, and future, Great Books honors curricula like the one used at the University of Maine have a few inherent problems that require careful navigation. Both students and faculty tend to discard--or misinterpret--the values, cultural products, and successes of older cultures in favor of newer ones. Instead of valuing the uniqueness of a foreign place and time, often emphasized is the transformation for the sake of narrative coherence in a program that needs focus to bring heterogeneous elements together. At times, such a curriculum seems to imply that previous civilizations came into being only to create modern culture as known, a fallacy that can have a negative impact on students' learning and the general tenor of cultural and historical sensitivity in an honors college. As an honors faculty member trained as a medievalist, the author has developed strategies for avoiding a teleological approach to the Great Books curriculum, offering several exercises and resources to help teachers and students avoid the pitfalls of an unexamined teleological approach. These curricular supplements and exercises call out implicit teleological narratives at important junctures, staging interventions in the linear process of thinking, learning, and teaching.
National Collegiate Honors Council. 1100 Neihardt Residence Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 540 North 16th Street, Lincoln, NE 68588. Tel: 402-472-9150; Fax: 402-472-9152; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Maine
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A