Philosophical Perspectives on the Humanities

Humanities Division

University of Chicago


General info on teaching in the college

Instructors and schedule for 2008-09

Syllabi from previous years

Texts and editions

General info on teaching in the college


I (Jason Bridges) am the director of Phil Perspectives for 2008-09.  Please feel free to  me with any questions you may have.

The core curriculum is administered by the Humanities Collegiate Division.  This is a division of the College, and as such is distinct from the Humanities Division.  The Humanities Collegiate Division, along with the rest of the collegiate administration, is on the second floor of Harper.  (The Humanities Division, on the other hand, is in Walker.)  If you're new to the campus, the U Chicago website has a great map.

Starting in 2008, The Master (i.e., divisional head) of the Humanities Collegiate Division is Thomas Christensen, a professor of Music.

The assistant to the Master is Norah O'Donnell.  She runs the Humanities core curriculum from the administrative end, and is exceedingly accessible and knowledgeable (, or walk-in at HM 228).


There are four types of instructors who teach in the core: U Chicago faculty (primarily but not exclusively drawn from the philosophy department), Harper-Schmidt fellows, advanced graduate students (primarily but not exclusively drawn from the philosophy department) and lecturers.

2008-09 Phil Perspectives instructors are listed here.  Information about individual Harper-Schmidt fellows can be found here, about Philosophy faculty here, and about Philosophy grad students here.

The registrar provides a few useful tools for instructors: online class lists, photo rosters, and mass emailing to your students (which call also be done via a Chalk web site; see below). You will need a CNet ID.


Keep in mind that almost all of the students taking Philosophical Perspectives are first-years.  It's true that on the whole they are unusually driven and intellectually engaged college students, but they will still have their share of insecurity and inexperience.  One thing they will be learning in the course is what is involved in being a college student.

Plagiarism is one important issue in this regard.  Fall instructors will receive copies of Doing Honest Work in College for yourself and to distribute to your students.  The university's official policy on academic honesty is here. The library also offers a guide on plagiarism resources.

The university leaves punishment for plagiarism, in the first instance, to the discretion of the instructor.  If you are not sure how to proceed in a given case, please do not hesitate to talk to me ().  Regardless, instances of plagiarism, as well as other serious forms of misconduct, should always be reported to Susan Art (), Dean of Students in the College, to be entered into the student's file.


Prior to each quarter, there will be a meeting of instructors to plan texts and syllabi and to address administrative matters.  We will also meet every other week or so throughout the quarter to discuss teaching.  I'll contact you to schedule the meetings.

Writing interns

Most (hopefully all) sections of Philosophical Perspectives will have writing interns.  Writing interns are graduate students who have received training from the University of Chicago Writing Program (a.k.a. the Little Red Schoolhouse).  Their job is to help teach the students how to write effective college papers.  To that end, they will meet with students individually or in small groups throughout the quarter, and they will help you with grading and commenting on the student's work.

The Writing Program has written a guide (updated in 2008) for core instructors on the role of writing interns.

Assignments of writing interns to sections are usually not finalized until a few days before the start of the fall quarter.  Your writing intern will contact you by email once she has been assigned.

Book orders, library reserve and desk copies

Few if any instructors in the Humanities Division order books from the official campus bookstore.  Instead, we order them from the Seminary Co-op.

The easiest way to place a book order is directly with Amy Repp at the Seminary Co-op.  The order can be placed via email, web, phone (773-752-4381) or by mailing or dropping off this form.  (You might also want to look at the form to see what information to include in an email order.)

Sections are capped at 20 students. Since students can stop taking the sequence after the Winter quarter, there are generally fewer than 20 students in Spring sections. Spring instructors can probably safely order 18 or so copies.

Books may be placed on reserve at Regenstein Library.  Chapters and articles from collections and journals can be placed on electronic reserve, a very convenient service. You may also have articles and chapters xeroxed for student purchase at the Humanities copy room in the basement of Walker.

The Humanities Collegiate Division will order desk copies for each of the core texts taught in each quarter. If you already have a copy of a text, let me know. For the remaining texts, you'll need to request copies yourself (two for each book, as you need to give one to your writing intern) directly from each publisher. If you are unable to secure the needed desk copies, you can buy the books and the Division will reimburse you.

Chalk web sites

Chalk is the university's online internet course management system.  It generates a web site for your class, which you can then use in various ways, e.g.: to disseminate course materials, to provide a safe way for student to submit assignments electronically, or to host discussion boards.

Chalk websites utilize a structured software framework (specifically, Blackboard Academic Suite), and thus you do not have the freedom you would if you were designing a website from scratch.  The compensation is that Chalk is easy to use.  If, say, you just want to use your site to make paper assignments available to students (and thus to avoid having to worry whether absentee students have gotten their hands on them), the whole process, from requesting the site to posting the assignments, will take you about five minutes.

To start using Chalk, new instructors will need to have obtained their CNet ID.

Research stipend

Faculty teaching in the core receive a research stipend upon completion of the quarter. Contact Norah O'Donnell (, or walk-in at HM 228) for questions pertaining to the stipend.