COVID HEALTH PROTOCOLS:  In this class, as elsewhere on campus, you must comply with all University health and safety protocols. Here is the University’s statement:

        • Face masks that completely cover the nose and mouth will be worn by all students and instructors;
        • Physical distancing will be maintained in all instructional spaces;
        • Students will sit in assigned seats throughout the semester, which will be documented by faculty for purposes of any needed contact tracing.

We are part of a community of learning in which compassionate care for one another is part of our spiritual and social charter. Consequently, compliance with these protocols is an expectation for everyone enrolled in this course. If a student refuses to comply with the University’s health and safety protocols, the student must leave the classroom and will earn an unexcused absence for the class period and any associated assignments/assessments for the day. Persistent deviation from expected health and safety guidelines may be considered a violation of the University’s “Standards of Conduct,” as articulated in du Lac: A Guide for Student Life.



Read these requirements carefully.   Please copy them and put them with your other printed materials.


I love to read.  We will do a lot of reading in this seminar.

Required Books

You must purchase hard copies of these books. Not kindles.

        • Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
        • Sophia Rosenfeld, Democracy and Truth: A Short History
        • Lee McIntyre, Post-Truth
        • Václav Havel, Open Letters: Selected Writings,1965-1990

Readings on this Syllabus

But wait! We’re not only reading a few books.  One of the main reasons I only use web-based syllabi is to save you $$$.  For this reason, you will find the majority of your readings on this Syllabus.  I will also provide you with hand-outs.  You must read everything.

Our class discussions will only work well if you have these readings physically in front of you.  Therefore, please remember these rules:  1) Copy and print all of the readings on this site that are marked PRINT (otherwise, you do not need to copy them—but I will assume that you have READ them. Should there be a quiz?);  2) Bring each required reading to class on the day we are scheduled to discuss it.

It is likely that we will use major newspapers, such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, for some assignments in this class. You can get access to them through Factiva. To find Factiva, click on the Research tab in the Hesburgh collection, then on Databases.

Please do not use Kindles, Laptops, I-Phones, or similar electronic devices in our seminar.  In particular, any use of Zoom will interfere with my Zoom communications with your classmates.

Other Media

I love to look at things.  We will watch some films and TV series.  I have included other types of media on the Course Syllabus.  Several are on Course Reserve in the Hesburgh Library. I encourage you to use visual and audio media when you lead class discussions.  Please send me the relevant photos and links beforehand, and I will post them on this Syllabus.

Class Visits

The age of the Corona virus has encouraged me to arrange virtual visits by distinguished speakers. We will have the honor of hosting guest visitors this semester.


I also love discussions. Since this is a seminar and not a lecture class, all of our class sessions will be based on discussion. I will give no lectures.  Each of you will have the honor of serving as a discussion leader several times during the semester.  To the extent that I am able, I will resist the  temptation to monopolize discussion.  Your challenge, if you will accept it, is to restrain me when I fail.  By the end of our class, you should not need me at all!


It is a special privilege to take a seminar.  You should treat our seminar accordingly.  Seminars are small and they allow for intimate and lively discussions.  They also provide me with the pleasant opportunity to work closely with each of you as individuals.  My aspirations are modest.  If I can enhance your ability to speak, read, write, think critically, and persuade, I shall be pleased.  These objectives are reflected in the breakdown of my grading standard.

        • Participation and Short Assignments (35%)
        • First Reflective Essay (15% )
        • Second Reflective Essay (20%)
        • Semester Essay (30%)

Paper assignments will be docked 1/3 of a letter grade for each day they are late.

To receive a passing grade in this class, you must visit me during my virtual office hours at least one time this semester.  Please do not make me sweat over your ability to live up to this arduous requirement.


Class attendance is MANDATORY.  Unless you are ill, you must consult with me beforehand if you know you will miss a class.  If you are ill, please send me an email so that I do not worry about you.  University-approved absences are fine, but please tell me beforehand if you will be gone. Naturally, if you cannot make class, I will broadcast our meeting on Zoom. I am also willing to send you taped videos of our session. Please remind me.

Honor Code

This seminar is based upon communication.  Therefore, I welcome all of the conversations you have with each other, inside or outside class.  You are perfectly welcome to discuss your readings and writing assignments with each other (with the exception of your final essay).  In fact, I encourage it. However, every writing assignment you turn in to me must be clearly, unmistakably, and unequivocally your own work!

Office Hours

I enjoy meeting with all of my students, and I hope to see each of you on a regular basis.  Due the Coronavirus, I will (reluctantly) hold all of my office hours over Zoom. When you visit, you do not need to have specific questions about the class.  I view your education holistically, and I am interested in learning about your adventures.  My office hours are:

My office hours are Wednesday 1:30-4:30, as well as by appointment.

Visit me soon!