Cowell College One, Imagining Justice

Cowell College One, Imagining Justice, is a first year analytical reading and critical thinking seminar required of all first year students, offered only in the Fall Quarter. It provides intensive practice in critical thinking and analysis, while also giving students opportunities to increase their speaking and presentation skills, and to engage in creative expression. More broadly, it introduces students to university-level discourse including key skills and common practices, and UCSC’s academic expectations. It works to build an intellectual community here at Cowell College not only within the incoming class, but across all students at Cowell, since some texts are held over from year to year, so that students from frosh to seniors have reading and ideas in common.  Core course seminars are limited to about 30 students to provide an opportunity for students to work closely with each other and the instructor.

Directed by Provost Alan Christy, and by Lecturer Catherine Carlstroem, the Cowell Core Course focuses on conceptions of justice, both historic and contemporary, and considers how theorists, artistic media, and societies themselves may transmit, question, or revise notions of what is just. How do we define justice? When can we say that justice has been served? Do ideas about what is just differ according to time, place, and culture, or are some notions of justice recognizable as general human values?

The course is based upon a slowly changing syllabus of significant texts–classical and modern–chosen because they reward close reading and stimulate thoughtful interaction between students and reflection on each students’ own experiences. Readings for 2018 cover works from classical to modern times, from the early Greek Oresteia trilogy, chronicling how Athenians first established a court of law in order to end a cycle of passionate violence, to contemporary authors and current controversies. Texts include scholarly works on political and sociological issues, philosophical treatises, fiction, drama, poetry, visual texts including painting and photography, oral history, and digital works. By the time of our summer orientation, we hope to have the assigned books and the required reader ready for purchase at the bookstore.

On this site, you can find the following information:

Texts for Cowell College One:  Imagining Justice 2018

Fall Books

  1. Cowell Core Course Reader. Available only through Bay Tree Bookstore.
  2. Oresteia, by Aeschylus Trans. Meineck. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1998. (Please buy this translation.)
  3. Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare. New York: Pelican Shakespeare (Paperback) eds. Braunmuller, AR; Orgel, Stephen. New York: Penguin 2017
  4. Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil. New York: Crown Publishing/Penguin Random House 2016 
  5. Maus by Art Spiegelman (This book was published in two volumes originally, so please get either The Complete Maus, which includes both, or Maus volumes 1 & 2). New York: Pantheon Books, 1980
  6. Twilight Los Angeles 1992 by Anna Deveare Smith. New York: Knopf Anchor books, 1994

We prefer that you have paper copies (rather than ebooks) of Fall Quarter books for use in class. Buy your books at the Bay Tree Bookstore. This summer, during orientation the books will be offered with a 20% discount. If you buy your books elsewhere, please be sure to get the version that is indicated in the list above. Please pay special attention to the translation version of the Oresteia.

2018 Reading Assignment

Summer Reading

  1. Nayomi Munaweera: Island of a Thousand Mirrors. New York: St Martin’s Griffin 2012
  2. Nick Sousanis: Unflattening. Cambridge: Harvard University Press 2015

Summer 2018 Writing Assignment

Information about the Summer Writing Assignment will be posted mid to late July.