The Foundations in Western Thought and Civilization (FWTC) provides students with a comprehensive, interdisciplinary and critical survey of the development of Western civilization from its birth in Antiquity to our contemporary global multi-cultural world. The FWTC provides a collaborative approach to the study of the humanistic tradition in a small group setting with intensive faculty-student interaction. Although the principal academic units are History, Literature and Philosophy, the FWTC explores a wide range of diverse cultural expressions including the visual arts, architecture and music, as both a mirror of their times and a catalyst to socio-political change. The emphasis in the FWTC is to explore the diversity and richness of this tradition from a plurality of disciplinary perspectives as well as its relation to and influence from other non-western traditions.
The FWTC is an intense, first-year experience designed for students who desire to get the most out of university and are looking for a unique and challenging approach to their education. The instructors are recognized for their scholarship as well as for their excellence in teaching. Together the instructors and students undertake the critical study of the art, history, literature and philosophy of the humanistic tradition. In addition to lectures and small seminar discussions, the FWTC has an experiential learning component. Students participate in a number of diverse cultural events, such as trips to art galleries, the theater, and musical performances. The FWTC provides students with a well-rounded educational experience that will serve not only as a foundation for their university studies, but also for a richer and fuller life after university.
The FWTC provides a global perspective and comprehensive background that is applicable to future specialization in all domains of study. The FWTC fulfills the entrance requirements for the three principal disciplines (English, History, and Philosophy), the King's Scholar Program and themed module in Western Thought and Civilization, as well as a number of other programs at King's and Western. Students are advised to consult the Academic Calendar for admission requirements for the programs they hope to pursue in second year.
Course Content of Foundations in Western Thought and Civilization
The FWTC explores the development of the humanistic tradition across various historical periods: Classical Antiquity and the Greco-Roman World; the Middle Ages; the Renaissance, the Reformation and Counter-Reformation; the Age of Reason, Exploration and European colonialism; the Age of Revolutions; and the 20th century. This broad chronological framework functions primarily as an organizing principle that will be punctuated by thematic considerations of the variegated origins and expressions of the Western tradition.
Through a study of the art, literature, philosophy and history of each period, students explore the development of the Humanities in relational and human terms, as a study of peoples, groups, beliefs, values and practices in diverse regional, cultural and geo-political contexts. Students study how interaction and exchange, conflict and accommodation, characterized the development of the West in its interaction with other cultures.
Students in the FWTC examine works written by historians, politicians, military leaders, dramatists, novelists, poets, painters, composers, philosophers, and theologians, as well as by critics and thinkers interpreting these primary texts and cultural works.
A sample of authors and works that might be studied includes: Homer, The Odyssey; the poems of Sappho; Plato, The Republic; Aristotle, Physics; St. Augustine, Confessions; St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica; Dante, The Divine Comedy; Machiavelli, The Prince; St. Thomas More, Utopia; Cervantes, Don Quixote; Madame de Lafayette, The Princess of Cleves; Shakespeare, King Lear; Mozart, Don Giovanni; Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; Shelley, Frankenstein; Marx and Engels, Communist Manifesto; Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil; Freud, The Ego and the Id; Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway; Heidegger, Being and Time; Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex; Frantz Fanon, “The Fact of Blackness” from Black Skin White Masks; and Spivak, In Other Worlds: essays in cultural politics.
These and other works are examined from the perspective of their historical, literary and philosophical importance to the development of Western civilization and the creation of our contemporary world. At the same time, students investigate the perennial questions of humanity: the meaning of human life; the role of the divine; the nature of reality; the problem of truth and beauty; the individual, society and the state; the source and nature of historical change; the problem of evil; the relationship of faith and reason; the function of power and authority, and others.
These questions will be explored in concrete terms through a study of such topics as:
• How the Greeks invented the Humanities
• Greek, Jewish and Muslim Influences on St. Thomas Aquinas
• The Expressive Power of Opera, Baroque Art
• The Development of Modern Subjectivity and State Power
• Narrative and the Rise of the Novel
• Europe and its Impact on Indigenous Cultures of Africa and the Americas
• The Rococo, Neo-Classicalism, Romanticism, Realism and Naturalism
• Slavery and Abolitionism in the Atlantic World
• The Age of Extremes: Genocide in the 20th Century
• The Question of Woman
• Modernism and Post-Modernism in the Arts
• Social Change in the West after 1945
• The Virtual Internet World
Structure of Foundations in Western Thought and Civilization
The FWTC comprises three units of study in Modern Languages, History and Philosophy, plus an integrative stream that is purposefully designed to have students think critically and in an integrated manner about the diverse ways of understanding and representing the human experience.
The disciplinary component will provide students with a sound foundation in the distinctive critical methods and sources of the respective disciplines. The integrative stream, by contrast, comprises modes and venues of cross-disciplinary interaction and exchange. Three carefully choreographed, parallel syllabi - whose thematic content and critical methodologies echo, challenge, contrast, and develop one another - will promote students' active, cross-disciplinary learning. Integration functions elsewhere in the small group seminars, an integrated response paper, common tests and a portion of the final exam, as well as participation in experiential learning cultural excursions.
Admission Requirements for Foundations in Western Thought and Civilization
Admission into FWTC requires Grade 12U in English. As FWTC is a competitive, limited enrolment program, meeting the minimum admission requirements to King's University College does not guarantee admission into the FWTC. Applicants must also submit a Statement of Interest. (See the King's University College website for details.)
Evaluation, Grading, and Credit
Students in the FWTC are enrolled in three academic courses, each worth 1.0 credit: History 1901E, English 1901E, Philosophy 1901E. Each week features three separate sessions for the instruction and study in the respective disciplines. Students will meet weekly in small integrated seminar groups, whose aim is to facilitate a cross-disciplinary study of course content that combines literary, philosophical and historical perspectives and approaches. While each unit will have its own course requirements, some of the requirements are integrated and shared by all three units. At the end of the year, students will receive a specific grade for each unit that will be recorded on his/her transcript.
Note: It is not possible to register in only one unit of the FWTC.
The FWTC also satisfies both the Arts and Social Science (Category A and B) university breadth requirements.