The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas

Teaching for Core Texts and Ideas

The Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas invites all faculty to propose new courses and cross-list existing courses with CTI. In preparing proposals, please consult the following guidelines, adapted from the those used by the National Endowment for the Humanities for its Enduring Questions pilot course grants.

We are looking for courses that:
  • are based entirely or almost entirely on the close study of primary texts, including major works of philosophy, religion, and literature; seminal writings in the sciences and social sciences; works of art; or political documents and speeches;
  • are built around a sustained engagement with one or more fundamental and enduring questions of profound philosophical, ethical, or political significance; 
  • reflect intellectual pluralism, exploring more than one answer to each of the questions examined; and 
  • enable the students to engage as directly as possible with the thought of the authors they are studying, with the goal of being challenged by and learning from the books and authors, not simply learning about them.
We welcome not only courses focused entirely on literary and theoretical masterpieces but also historical courses that give sustained attention to the major creative and intellectual works and ideas of the period under study. Every course in CTI will discuss the historical context of texts and ideas; courses in history will do so much more extensively and in ways that normally require considerable use of secondary sources. For historical courses, we are looking for the same features as above, except that:
  • the proportion of class time and assignments devoted to primary sources of significant artistic, intellectual, or historical importance should be at least one-third in general history courses and at least two-thirds in courses in intellectual history and the arts; and
  • the relation between artistic and intellectual developments and the broader political, social, economic, and cultural context in which they arose and to which they spoke should be raised as a question. The class should be encouraged to consider more than one of the answers that have been offered to this question by serious thinkers over time.
Faculty members who would like to teach occasionally for CTI and be added to our mailing list for lectures and other events are invited to join the Jefferson Center as faculty affiliates. To propose a course or to become an affiliate, please contact our co-director Lorraine Pangle.