ICS Calendar Title: Meaning and Method

ICS Course Code: ICS 132501/232501 F15

Instructor: Dr. Gideon Strauss

Term and Year: Fall 2015 - Distance

Last Updated: September 14, 2015

1. Course Description

2. Course Learning Goals

3. Course Requirements and Description and Weighting of Elements to be Evaluated

4. Required Readings

5. Some Recommended Readings

6. Course Schedule

1. Course Description

How does one get at the meaning of things? How does one make sense of how people experience the world? How does one make sense of one’s own experience of the world? Is it possible to do rigorous research into human experience without dehumanizing that experience? Are there methods by means of which to study human experience that allow for the description of our discoveries in ways that share some of the nuance, luminosity, and breathtaking insightfulness that we sometimes encounter in poetry?

In this course we will consider these kinds of questions. Together we will explore phenomenologically-informed human science research practices that have been shaped by these kinds of concerns. We will experiment with our own small-scale research projects, which we will bring into juxtaposition with the exploration of meaning in key extracts from primary texts in the phenomenological philosophical tradition, in some poetry that explores concerns similar to those of the phenomenological tradition, and in the work of the environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy.

As we craft our research projects we will consider how the phenomenological tradition has informed four different contemporary approaches to doing human science research (and how our own research craft might be honed in interaction with these approaches): reflective lifeworld research as pioneered by Karen Dahlberg, interpretive phenomenological analysis as pioneered by Jonathan Smith, Mark Vagle’s post-intentional approach to phenomenological research, and Max van Manen’s phenomenology of practice.

2. Course Learning Goals

Upon completion of this course you will have:

  1. Gained a critical and comparative understanding of a number of phenomenologically-informed research approaches in order to develop a personal approach to the craft of phenomenological research that you can defend in long essay form;
  2. Essayed forth into the craft of phenomenologically-informed research in order to advance experimentally in the examination of your own experience of meaning and the experience of meaning in your cultural context, by means of a personal blog; and
  3. Become familiar with the phenomenological tradition and its interaction with poetry in order to develop a sense of its influence on contemporary research methodologies, by means of the formal criticism of a film.

3. Course Requirements and Description and Weighting of Elements to be Evaluated

  1. Regular blog entries (as detailed in the syllabus), engaging in the examination of one’s own experience of meaning and the experience of meaning in one’s culture;
  2. Timely completion of a long essay (as detailed in the syllabus);
  3. Timely completion of a formal criticism of a film (as detailed in the syllabus); and
  4. Active participation (as detailed in the syllabus) in the online forums for this course.
  5. Description and weighting of elements to be evaluated:        

        i.   Blog entries: 20%

        ii.  Long essay (between 2,750 and 3,250 words): 20%

        iii. Film criticism (between 1,750 and 2,250 words): 15%

        iv. Online forums: 45%

  1. In this course we will use the grading scale of the Toronto School of Theology:

Letter Grade

Numerical Equivalents

Grade Point

Grasp of Subject Matter

Other Qualities Expected of Students

A RANGE: Excellent: Student shows original  thinking, analytic and synthetic ability,  critical evaluations, broad knowledge base

A+

90-100

4.0

Profound and Creative

Strong evidence of original thought, of analytic and synthetic ability; sound and penetrating critical evaluations which identify assumptions of those they study as well as their own; mastery of an extensive knowledge base

A

85-89

4.0

Outstanding

A-

80-84

3.7

Excellent

Clear evidence of original thinking, of analytic and synthetic ability; sound critical evaluations; broad knowledge base

B RANGE: Good: Student shows critical capacity and analytic ability, understanding

of relevant issues, familiarity with the literature

B+

77-79

3.3

Very Good

Good critical capacity and analytic ability; reasonable understanding of relevant issues; good familiarity with the literature

B

73-76

3.0

Good

B-

70-72

2.7

Satisfactory at a post-baccalaureate level

Adequate critical capacity and analytic ability; some understanding of relevant issues; some familiarity with the literature

F

0-69

0

Failure

Failure to meet the above criteria

  1. If you are taking this course for credit you should plan to commit between 9 and 12 hours a week to completing the coursework. If you are auditing this course you should plan to commit between 6 and 9 hours a week. If you find you need substantially more time than suggested here, please contact the instructor. As this course is in its first iteration, some accommodation may be possible.

4. Required Readings

Texts to be purchased:

Vagle, Mark D. Crafting Phenomenological Research. Walnut Creek, California: Left Coast Press, 2014.

Van Manen, Max. Phenomenology of Practice: Meaning-Giving Methods in Phenomenological Research and Writing. Walnut Creek, California: Left Coast Press, 2014. (Hereafter referred to as PoP.)

Other required reading:

Selected poetry of Matsuo Bashō, Friedrich Hölderlin, Mary Oliver, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Rumi, and selections from the Psalms. [Approximately 20 pages]

Dahlberg, Karin, Helena Dahlberg, and Maria Nystrom. Reflective Lifeworld Research. 2nd Revised edition. Lund, Sweden: Studentlitteratur AB, 2008. [Chapter 2, “An open lifeworld approach,” and Chapter 3, “An approach of ‘bridling,”pp. 95 to 170: 75 pages] (Hereafter referred to as RLR.)

Glas, Gerrit. “Elements of a phenomenology of evil and forgiveness,” in Nancy Potter (ed.), Trauma, Truth and Reconciliation. Oxford: University Press, 2006. [pp. 171 to 200: 29 pages]

Glas, Gerrit. “Persons and their lives: Reformational philosophy on man, ethics, and beyond,” in Philosophia Reformata 71 (2006), pages 31-57. [26 pages]

Gosetti-Ferencei, Jennifer Anna. Heidegger, Hölderlin, and the Subject of Poetic Language: Toward a new Poetics of Dasein. New York: Fordham University Press, 2004. [“Introduction: The Dialogue Between Poetry and Thinking,” pp. 1 to 26, and Chapter 7, “A New Poetics of Dasein,” pp. 237 to 258: 47 pages] (Hereafter referred to as Poetics.)

Madsbjerg, Christian, and Mikkel B. Rasmussen. The Moment of Clarity: Using the Human Sciences to Solve Your Toughest Business Problems. Harvard Business School Press, 2014. [Chapter 4, “The Human Sciences,” pp. 75 to 105, and Chapter 8, “How to Lead to Your Moment of Clarity,” pp. 153 to 155 and 158 to 169: 43 pages] (Hereafter referred to as Clarity.)

Moran, Dermot, and Timothy Mooney (eds.). The Phenomenology Reader. London and New York: Routledge, 2002. [“Editor’s Introduction,” pp. 1 to 22, “Edith Stein,” pp. 231 to 241, Hannah Arendt on “What is Existenz Philosophy?,” pp. 345 to 361, and Jean-Paul Sartre on “Intentionality: A Fundamental Idea of Husserl’s Phenomenology,” pp. 382-384: 47 pages] (Hereafter referred to as TPR.)

Riedelsheimer, Thomas, Annedore Donop, Andy Goldsworthy, Trevor Davies, Leslie Hills, and Fred Frith. Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time. Burlington, VT: Docurama, 2004. [90 minutes of viewing] (Hereafter referred to as Rivers and Tides.)

Smith, Jonathan A., Paul Flowers, Michael Larkin. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis: Theory, Method and Research. London: Sage, 2009. [Chapter 3, “Planning an IPA research study,” pp. 40 to 55, Chapter 4, “Collecting date,” pp. 56 to 78: 35 pages] (Hereafter referred to as IPA.)

Vagle, Mark D. Crafting Phenomenological Research. Walnut Creek, California: Left Coast Press, 2014. [Section 2: “Phenomenological Research Approaches,” pp. 47 to 107: 60 pages] (Hereafter referred to as CPR.)

Van Manen, Max. Phenomenology of Practice: Meaning-Giving Methods in Phenomenological Research and Writing. Walnut Creek, California: Left Coast Press, 2014. [Chapter 1, “Phenomenology of Practice,” pp. 15 to 25, Chapter 2, “Meaning and Method,” pp. 26 to 71, Chapter 3, “Opening,” pp. 72 to 87, Chapter 8, “Philosophical Methods,” pp. 215 to 239, Chapter 9, “Philological Methods,” pp. 240 to 296, Chapter 10, “Conditions for the Possibility of Doing Phenomenological Analysis,” pp. 297 to 310, Chapter 13, “Phenomenological Writing,” pp. 357 to 374: 199 pages]

5. Some Recommended Readings

Those portions not required in the books listed above.

Dooyeweerd, Herman. A New Critique of Theoretical Thought. Jordan Station: Paideia Press, 1984. (The instructor shall provide recommendations about selections particularly relevant to this course upon request.)

Kurtz, Glenn. Practicing: A Musician’s Return to Music. New York: Knopf, 2008.

Laidlaw, James. The Subject of Virtue: an Anthropology of Ethics and Freedom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

March, James G. The Ambiguities of Experience. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2010.

Martin, Steve. Born Standing Up. New York: Scribner, 2007.

Mattingly, Cheryl. Moral Laboratories: Family Peril and the Struggle for a Good Life. Oakland: University of California Press, 2014.

Schein, Edgar H. Humble Inquiry. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2013.

Wearne, Bruce C. “Research note: The Christian critique of phenomenology,” in Philosophia Reformata 65 (2000), pages 189-194.

6. Course Schedule

There will be several opportunities for Google Hangouts with the instructor during this course. Those opportunities will be announced well in advance in the Syllabus and Course Questions topic thread in the Google Classroom for this course. While these Google Hangouts are not required, they may serve as a helpful opportunity to come to grips with the readings and other assignments in conversation with the instructor - and particularly in conversation with other students.

All assignments for a particular week must be completed by no later than 11pm Eastern Time on the Monday of the following week (unless the instructor provides specific alternative instructions), although a total of two emergency exceptions to this requirement may be arranged by means of timely email correspondence with the instructor. In the absence of such timely arrangements, assignments not completed within the required time frame will receive a zero grade.

Week 1

Assignments

  1. Read the Welcome Message in the Google Classroom for this course and watch the two videos (“Welcome to Meaning and Method” and “A Slow Read through the Syllabus”) mentioned in that message.
  2. Introduce yourself to the other course participants in the Introductions topic thread in the Google Classroom for this course, responding to the five questions raised in the introductory post under that topic.
  3. Read through the course syllabus carefully and ask any initial questions you have about the syllabus and the course in the Syllabus and Course Questions topic thread in the Google Classroom for this course. Please note in particular the long essay due in Week 10, and begin work on your essay well in advance.
  4. Read Clarity, Chapter 4 and the required portions of Chapter 8.
  5. Create a blog for the exclusive purpose of posting entries assigned as part of the work for this course and provide the URL to your blog to the instructor and other course participants in the Blogging topic thread in the Google Classroom for this course. The blog will provide you with a context in which to experiment with phenomenologically-informed research, using your own experience and drawing on the course readings and conversations.

Week 2

Assignments

  1. Read Poetics, Introduction and Chapter 7.
  2. Watch the following course videos: “Instructor Remarks  after Week 1,” “Poetry and Phenomenology,” and “At the Threshold” (you can find links to the videos in the Videos topic thread in the Google Classroom for this course).
  3. On your course blog post two photographs taken this week: one of you entering your home and one of you leaving your home. With reference to the course video “At the Threshold” write a lived experience description (hereafter: LED) of about 250 words on being at the threshold of your home.
  4. Post a response of about 250 words to the question raised by the instructor in the Readings topic thread in the Google Classroom for this course by Wednesday. Subsequently post a further response of about 150 words to the response of any other student participant by Friday. (Further participation in the discussion of the readings in this topic thread is encouraged but not required.)

Week 3

Assignments

  1. Listen to Mary Oliver reading her poem "The Summer Day" (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16CL6bKVbJQ) and then read the poem (link: https://www.loc.gov/poetry/180/133.html).
  2. Read RLR, Chapters 2 and 3.
  3. Watch the following course videos: “Instructor Remarks after Week 2” and “Openness and Bridling” (you can find links to the videos in the Videos topic thread in the Google Classroom for this course).
  4. On your course blog again post two photographs taken this week (one of you entering your home and one of you leaving your home) and write a second LED of about 250  words on being at the threshold of your home.
  5. Post a response of about 250 words to the question raised by the instructor in the Readings topic thread in the Google Classroom for this course by Wednesday. Subsequently post a further response of about 150 words to the response of any other student participant by Friday. (Further participation in the discussion of the readings in this topic thread is encouraged but not required.)

Week 4

Assignments

  1. Read Matsuo Bashō’s poem “In Kyoto ...” (link: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/178450).
  2. Read the required pages in IPA.
  3. Watch the following course videos: “Instructor Remarks  after Week 3” and “Bashō and Phenomenology” (you can find links to the videos in the Videos topic thread in the Google Classroom for this course).
  4. Post a response of about 250 words to the question raised by the instructor in the Readings topic thread in the Google Classroom for this course by Wednesday. Subsequently post a further response of about 150 words to the response of any other student participant by Friday. (Further participation in the discussion of the readings in this topic thread is encouraged but not required.)
  5. On your course blog (yet again!) post two photographs taken this week (one of you entering your home and one of you leaving your home) and write a third LED of about 250  words on being at the threshold of your home.
  6. Write a reflection of about 500 words on the experience of “being at the threshold,” following the instructions provided by the instructor in the Threshold Reflections topic thread in the Google Classroom for this course, and also post this reflection on your course blog.

Week 5

Assignments

  1. Read the short extract from the poetry of Rumi quoted by Omid Safi in his blog post “In Praise of Softness.” (link: http://www.onbeing.org/blog/in-praise-of-softness/7659).
  2. Read the required pages in CPR.
  3. Watch the following course videos: “Instructor Remarks  after Week 4” and “Phenomenology and the Research Process” (you can find links to the videos in the Videos topic thread in the Google Classroom for this course).
  4. Post a response of about 250 words to the question raised by the instructor in the Readings topic thread in the Google Classroom for this course by Wednesday. Subsequently post a further response of about 150 words to the response of any other student participant by Friday. (Further participation in the discussion of the readings in this topic thread is encouraged but not required.)
  5. Write a short poem on being at the threshold of your home and post your poem on your course blog.

Week 6

Assignments

  1. Read the translation by Maxine Chernoff and Paul Hoover of Friedrich Hölderlin’s poem "Der Ister” in Jacket magazine (link: http://jacketmagazine.com/27/hold-trans-2.html).
  2. Watch the following course videos: “Instructor Remarks  after Week 5,” “At the Threshold again,” and “Preparing to Read the Primary Texts” (you can find links to the videos in the Videos topic thread in the Google Classroom for this course).
  3. Read Chapters 1 and 2 in PoP.
  4. Read the Google Doc on “The Zen of Research” (you can find a link to the Google Doc  in the Research Process topic thread in the Google Classroom for this course).
  5. Post a response of about 250 words to the question raised by the instructor in the Readings topic thread in the Google Classroom for this course by Wednesday. Subsequently post a further response of about 150 words to the response of any other student participant by Friday. (Further participation in the discussion of the readings in this topic thread is encouraged but not required.)
  6. Write about 500 words on the phenomenon of “the threshold,” following the instructions provided by the instructor in the Threshold Reflections topic thread in the Google Classroom for this course, and also post this reflection on your course blog.

Week 7

Assignments

  1. Read a translation of Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem “Blaue Hortensie” (Blue Hydrangea). You can, for example, find a translation quoted in Rick Barot's VQR essay "Rilke's Blue Flower" (http://www.vqronline.org/essay/rilkes-blue-flower), but several other translations are available in print and online.
  2. Watch the following course video: “Instructor Remarks  after Week 6.”
  3. Read Chapters 8, 9, and 10 in PoP.
  4. Post a response of about 250 words to the question raised by the instructor in the Readings topic thread in the Google Classroom for this course by Wednesday. Subsequently post a further response of about 150 words to the response of any other student participant by Friday. (Further participation in the discussion of the readings in this topic thread is encouraged but not required.)
  5. Write a reflection of about 500 words on what you have found to be one of the most significant insights from the required reading so far for your study of the phenomenon of “being at the threshold” and post your reflection on your course blog.

Week 8

Assignments

  1. Read the two required readings by Gerrit Glas.
  2. Read one of the following sets of three Psalms, in your language and/or translation of choice: 8-51-23, 19-88-98, 104-137-103.
  3. Watch the following course videos: “Instructor Remarks  after Week 7” and “Doing Phenomenology and Christian Spirituality.”
  4. Post a response of about 250 words to the question raised by the instructor in the Readings topic thread in the Google Classroom for this course by Wednesday. Subsequently post a further response of about 150 words to the response of any other student participant by Friday. (Further participation in the discussion of the readings in this topic thread is encouraged but not required.)
  5. Write a reflection of about 500 words on what you have found to be a significant insight from your reading of Gerrit Glas for your study of the phenomenon of “being at the threshold” and post your reflection on your course blog.

Week 9

Assignments

  1. Read IPA, Chapter 6, and PoP, Chapter 13.
  2. Watch the following course videos: “Instructor Remarks  after Week 8” and “Phenomenological Writing and Poetry.”
  3. Read the Google Docs on “Style Guidelines for the Long Essay” and “How to post a Google Doc” (you can find a link to the Google Docs in the Research Process topic thread in the Google Classroom for this course).
  4. Write an essay of between 2,750 and 3,250 words in which you articulate and defend your personal approach to the craft of phenomenological research with reference to the required readings for the course, following the “Style Guidelines for the Long Essay.”  Upload your essay as a Google Doc, following the procedure described in the Google Doc “How to post a Google Doc.” Your essay must be uploaded by no later than 11pm Eastern Time on the Monday of Week 10 (the exact date will be provided in the Research Process topic thread in the Google Classroom for this course).
  5. Write a summary of about 500 words of your long essay and post your summary on your course blog.

Week 10

Assignments

  1. View Rivers and Tides.
  2. Read the required sections of TPR.
  3. Watch the following course video: “Instructor Remarks  after Week 9.”
  4. Read the Google Docs on “Style Guidelines for Film Criticism” and “How to post a Google Doc” (you can find a link to the Google Docs in the Research Process topic thread in the Google Classroom for this course).
  5. Write a criticism of between 1,750 and 2,250 words of the film Rivers and Tides with reference to the required readings for the course, following the “Style Guidelines for Film Criticism.” Upload your criticism as a Google Doc, following the procedure described in the Google Doc “How to post a Google Doc.” Your criticism must be uploaded by no later than 11pm Eastern Time on the Monday of Week 11 (the exact date will be provided in the Research Process topic thread in the Google Classroom for this course).
  6. Write a summary of about 500 words of your film criticism and post your summary on your course blog.

Week 11

Assignments

  1. Watch the following course video: “Instructor Remarks  after Week 10.”
  2. Post a response of about 250 words to the question raised by the instructor in the Readings topic thread in the Google Classroom for this course by Wednesday. Subsequently post a further response of about 150 words to the response of any other student participant by Friday. (Further participation in the discussion of the readings in this topic thread is encouraged but not required.)
  3. Write a concluding reflection of about 500 words and post your reflection on your course blog.

Week 12

Assignments

  1. Watch the following course video: “Instructor Remarks  after Week 11.”
  2. In our concluding week of forum conversations we will, in the absence of other writing assignments, thoroughly debrief our experience in this course. Post a response of about 250 words to the each of the three questions raised by the instructor in the Readings topic thread in the Google Classroom for this course by Wednesday. Subsequently post a concluding response of at least 750 words to the forum conversation as a whole, by Friday.

There will be opportunities for continuing discussion in the Syllabus and Course Questions and Readings topic threads in the Google Classroom for this course, as well as Google Hangout opportunities, until the last day of classes.

Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. In particular, if you have a disability/health consideration that may require accommodations, please feel free to approach me and/or Student Services as soon as possible


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