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The Early Moderns: Old Western Culture

The Early Moderns: Old Western Culture
This class is currently archived, but if you're interested in it being taught again, you can express your interest here!
09/06/2021 - 05/14/2022
Full Year
3.0 credits in
Grade 9

Taught by:

About the course

The Early Moderns is a 3-credit integrated humanities course designed to lead the student through the greatest and most influential works of the early modern period. Students in The Early Moderns course will learn to read and appreciate works of poetry, theology, novels, and political treatises from the period, think critically about, and cultivate answers to, perennial human questions, and expand their imaginative faculties to envision truth in a context outside of reason alone.

This 32-week course consists of four eight-week quarters. Each quarter students will be assigned a weekly pre-recorded lecture, reading appropriate for the week, relevant reading questions, a weekly 1.5 hour live recitation, one 1200-word essay, and a quarterly exam. In the course of the year, the students will read all the texts listed below, listened to 32 lectures, write four essays and attended a minimum of 30 (ideally 32) live recitations to discuss the texts in Socratic fashion.

Course Objectives:

  1. To become proficient in the conversational approach to learning: close readings, interpretive questions, and Socratic discussions of the texts.
  2. To gain a grasp of the literary figures and the historical framework of the time period. • To develop lateral thinking skills by analyzing and synthesizing themes and motifs. • To cultivate an appetite for learning as a way of life (the life of the mind). • To cultivate a desire to pursue the highest things.
  3. To be able to think Christianly and write persuasively about perennial human questions.


Students taking this course will need to purchase the Old Western Culture: The Early Modern's lectures and readers (students may access the PDFs of the readers free of charge). Roman Roads Media provides Kepler students with a 25% discount on all OWC Materials.

William Shakespeare - Sonnets 3,73,55,60,103,106 - King Lear - Richard III - Merchant of Venice

John Donne - A Valediction Forbidding Mourning - Holy Sonnets 10 & 14 - Meditation 17

George Herbert - Redemption - The Collar - Love III

Andrew Marvell - To His Coy Mistress

John Milton - On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity - On His Blindness - On the Late Massacre in Piedmont - Paradise Lost

Alexander Pope - Essay On Criticism - Iliad - Essay on Man - Epistles 1 & 4 - Ode on Solitude

C.S. Lewis - On the Description of Times

Edmund Burke - Selections & Letters - Reflections on the Revolution in France

Lord Byron - She Walks in Beauty - The Destruction of Sennacherib

John Keats - On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer

Percy Shelley - Ode to the West Wind

Alexis De Tocqueville - Democracy in America

Edgar Allan Poe - The Cask of Amontillado - Annabel Lee - To Helen - The Raven - The Bells

Alfred, Lord Tennyson - The Lady of Shalott - In Memoriam - The Eagle - Crossing the Bar

Robert Browning - Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister - My Last Duchess - Fra Lippo Lippi - Dover Beach

Christina Rossetti - Song - A Better Resurrection

Gerald Manly Hopkins - God’s Grandeur Windhover - Pied Beauty

Immanuel Kant - What Is Enlightenment?

Galileo Galilei - The Sidereal Messenger - Letter to Benedetto Castelli - Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina of Tuscany

Rene Descartes - Meditations

Sir Isaac Newton - Principia: Laws of Motion & Gravity - Principia: General Scholium

David Hume - An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

Thomas Reid - An Inquiry into the Human Mind

Jane Austen - Pride and Prejudice

Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol

Fyodor Dostoevsky - The Brothers Karamazov

Anton Checkov - The Bet

J.R.R. Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings

C.S. Lewis - XMas and Christmas - De Descriptione Scriptorum - On the Reading of Old Books

About the teacher

Ryan Griffiths Ryan Griffiths lives in Taylorville, Illinois and has a Master's degree in English from the University of Illinois. He has taught composition and critical reading to college freshmen, and enjoys English literature, creative writing, and film.