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Arts and Letters adds new minor

Nicole McAlee | Monday, October 14, 2013

The College of Arts and Letters recently announced a new cross-disciplinary minor in Philosophy, Religion and Literature (PRL), open to students of all majors     
Professor Henry Weinfield of the Program of Liberal Studies will direct the new minor, which he said will replace the former Philosophy and Literature minor.

“Last year, I was asked by John McGreevy, the dean of the College of Arts and Letters, to take over the directorship of the Philosophy and Literature minor, which had existed for at least a decade,” Weinfield said. “In the discussions I had with the dean, we both agreed that it made sense to combine Philosophy and Literature with Religion and Literature, which had not yet been formally organized as a minor.”

Weinfield said the minor, which will be formally launched in the spring semester, will require 15 credit hours. The requirements will include a three-credit Gateway Seminar in philosophy and literature or religion and literature, a three-credit capstone essay and three additional three-credit courses.

According to the minor’s website, the course of study will be organized along two separate tracks, Philosophy and Literature and Religion and Literature. Despite the existence of two options, Weinfield said students in the minor will take classes that incorporate elements of the other track.

“If students concentrate in Philosophy and Literature, for example, they must take at least one course in Religion and Literature,” Weinfield said.

Weinfield said he worked with professors Vittorio Montemaggi of the Department of Romance Languages and Literature, David O’Connor of the Department of Philosophy and Susannah Monta of the Department of English to craft the new minor.

Weinfield said he is looking forward to the exchange among disciplines that the minor will facilitate.

“The PRL minor brings together disciplines that have traditionally been central to Notre Dame,” he said. “Literature frequently has a religious or philosophical dimension, and so it’s natural that philosophy, religion and literature be conjoined and brought into conversation with one another.”

Weinfield said the minor is open to all students who want to consider the relationships among the three disciplines.” “There are many students at Notre Dame who are pursuing majors that previously did not allow them to accommodate their interests in philosophy, religion and literature,” he said. “These students will now have a home.”

Montemaggi said the minor is intended to be simple for students of all colleges and majors to pick up.

“Without compromising academic rigor, the minor is designed to have maximum flexibilit, so as to allow students to pursue the trajectory within it most congenial to them, in fruitful connection with the rest of their studies and interests,” Montemaggi said.

Weinfield said he hopes the new minor will also prompt interchange among students and faculty of all departments.

“In the College of Arts and Letters, we want to be building bridges and creating conversations that involve undergraduates, graduate student, and professors in ways that go beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries, and we want people in other colleges to be part of those conversations,” Weinfield said. “Hopefully, the PRL minor will be a vehicle for doing all of this.”

Contact Nicole McAlee at nmcalee@nd.edu