Herbst Program of Humanities

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Since 1989, the Herbst Program has equipped engineering students with the right tools to gain intelligent and relevant access to the great ongoing conversations of human existence. Our core classes are small (12-14), highly interactive and practical. We emphasize the development of communication and thinking skills that will enhance both your life and your career. As a program of "applied humanities," we wrestle with how a more skillful engagement of literature, philosophy, film, drama, music, and art can enrich, inform, transform and enliven how we choose to engage ourselves, others and our world.

All Herbst classes count toward Humanities and Social Sciences requirements in the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Herbst Students Say ...

"Herbst was a breath of fresh air in my engineering education.  While traditional engineering classes seem to focus on straightforward "plug and chug," Herbst seminars provided me with an opportunity to analyze situations with many different answers ...   Having been in the workforce for several years now, I often find myself in situations of complete uncertainty.  Successfully navigating these open-ended challenges requires developing an idea while accepting and adapting to feedback ...  It's not just like being in a Herbst seminar; it's like writing a Herbst essay!" - Nick Little (AeroEngr '09)

"I cannot say enough about the Herbst program, and not just because it afforded me my first opportunity to leave the country to spend a Maymester in Italy (though that was an experience of a lifetime!).  I would never have been exposed to Greek philosophers, Italian artists, and lesser-known novels of American novelists without Herbst.  The intimate classes, engaging discussions, and emphasis on critical thinking outside of a technical area were invaluable."  - Heather Doty (BS/MS CivEngr '01)

Herbst Lunchtime Seminars 

A directed reading group for engineering faculty and staff during the academic year.
Wednesdays, 12:00-12:50 p.m. in ECOT 831

The Herbst Program of Humanities hosts a series of drop-in brown bag seminars for engineering faculty and staff throughout the academic year. Bring your lunch and join us to learn and share your thoughts and insights on a variety of great books and other works. For more information, email herbst@colorado.edu.

JANUARY'S SELECTION:  Anja Lange - Goethe's Faust, Part I

While the Brothers Grimm were collecting fairy tales in post-revolutionary France, and the Napoleonic occupation of Europe was well under way, J. W. von Goethe published his adaptation of the famous medieval legend of Dr. Faustus in his tragedy Faust.  There are countless variations of this story in music, poetry, film, and art, but I would consider Goethe's Faust to be pivotal in the critique of modern man.  Much will remind you of our discussion on Voltaire and the Enlightenment last spring.

In Dr. Faust Goethe creates a man who finds himself disillusioned with the usual accomplishments of a scholar and statesman.  As he looks back on his life, he becomes bitter with despair and ultimately rejects God.  Instead of making the usual amends, he makes a pact with the devil (Mephistopheles) and commits his soul to eternal damnation in return for absolute knowledge.  Will Mephistopheles win Faust's soul?  When will Faust realize the folly of such a deal, and when will he, like Job in the bible, return to the right path?  How tolerant is Goethe's God of such reckless behavior?  Ultimately, Goethe explores the dangers and joys of pursuing knowledge.  The work becomes a psychological odyssey that leads the reader into the deepest and darkest regions of the human soul and questions his place in the universe.  The text celebrates the human spirit but also reveals man's destructive and murderous impulses.

January 14th - Dedication, Prelude on Stage, Prologue in Heaven, Scenes 1-6
January 21st - Scenes 7-15
January 28th - Scenes 15-25

I will be using the translation by David Luke, available at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Faust-Part-Oxford-WorldsClassics/dp/019953621X

The following translation is quite accessible as well if you want to use a e-text:  http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/German/FaustIProl.htm



February - New Herbst faculty member Andrea Kowalchuk:  Necessity and Nobility in Euripides' Hecuba
March - Wayne Ambler:  "A Week in Rome"
April - Scot Douglass:  TBA


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