The courses begins by examining the human mind and seeing the ways in which logic is and is not a natural part of the way we think. We’ll look at some of our cognitive biases, ways in which social psychologists have demonstrated that the brain naturally works against good inferences. Humans can be rational beings, but it takes work to realize the pitfalls we need to avoid. Then, we’ll introduce a wide range of logical concepts. We will rigorously introduce the notion of an argument and examine both the types of arguments—deductive and inductive—and the criteria by which we assess an argument—validity and well-groundedness. We will learn that arguments have two parts: conclusions (that which is being argued for) and premises (the support given for the conclusion). Next, we’ll focus on informal logic—that is, considerations of well-groundedness, the criterion of assessment that considers the truth of an argument’s premises. We’ll learn to spot common fallacies, reasoning errors that sound good to the ear but that undermine the support for the conclusion.

The goal of this course is to introduce students to the world of opera. This is not a comprehensive history of opera, but an overview designed to impart knowledge of arguably the greatest, most complex art form on earth. The course opens with an analysis of perhaps the most famous aria in operatic history: “Nessum Dorma” from Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot. This aria exemplifies opera’s unique marriage of words, music, and visual art, before students are transported back to Monteverdi and the birth of opera. Students will track the various influences of opera including Neoclassicism, the Roman Catholic Church, Secularism, the Enlightenment, Postmodernism, and more in the operatic masterpieces of Gluck, Mozart, Verdi, Strauss, Wagner, Puccini, et al.