Senior Perspective Course
SRP435, ENG 435, PHL 435




Emphasizing ethical approaches to the analysis of human ways of making a living, this course examines the representation economic phenomena in selected literary and philosophical texts from antiquity to the present. Giving special attention to critical representations of commercial life, the course undertakes a characterization of its underlying social forms as well as the specification of how these ethically consequential forms tie in with problems of poverty, unequal distributions of wealth and income, overconsumption, depletion of natural resources, conflict and social instability.


Required Materials

Texts (available at University Bookstore)

Patrick Murray, ed., Reflections on Commercial Life: An Anthology of Classic Texts from Plato to the Present (Routledge) ISBN 0-415-91196-6

Charles Dickens, Hard Times (W.W. Norton/Norton Critical Edition), ISBN 0-393-95900-7

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath (Penguin/Viking Critical Library), ISBN 0-14-024775-0

SRP 435 Course Pack (containing a variety of readings not included in the anthology)

Films (may be purchased or rented, also available at Reinert Alumni Library)

Wall Street (1987), dir. Oliver Stone, starring Michael Douglas & Charlie Sheen

The Matrix (1999), dir. Andy & Larry Wachowski, starring Keanu Reeves & Carrie-Anne Moss



U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

World Bank, Global Poverty Monitoring

U.S. Census Bureau

U.S. Census Bureau: World Population "Clock"

U.S. Census Bureau: World Population Past and Future

United Nations: Social Indicators

United Nations: Income and Economic Activity Indicators

United Nations Population Information Network



1) Two Essays (25% each)
The essay exercises will ask students to read closely, analyze, and comment on a particular passage from one of the texts studied and/or a theme/issue related to the readings, lectures, or class discussions. Both essays will be take-home papers (see deadlines for Essay #1 and Essay #2 in the Schedule below). The essay topics will be distributed a week in advance of the deadline. Essays will be graded on the basis of relevance, clarity, analytical depth, use of evidence, persuasiveness of arguments, and constructive engagement of the material under examination. For other criteria used in the grading of essays (see "Grading of Essays and Other Written Work"). Essay length should be around 5 pages, approx. 1,250-1,500 words. See also the instructor's writing guidelines.

2) Term Project and Presentation (25%)
All students will be required to design and complete a project which may be an original paper or a creative work such as a short story, play, or set of poems (5-10 written pages or equivalent). Also acceptable are substantial and original art works (performance pieces, painting, drawing, photography, music, film, videotaped documentaries, websites, etc.). ALL PROJECTS MUST INVOLVE PERSONAL REFLECTION AS WELL AS OBJECTIVE RESEARCH AND CRITICAL TREATMENT OF SOME ASPECT OF COMMERCIAL LIFE. All creative options must be clearly relevant and related to the class materials. All works must be created during and for the specific purposes of the course. Students will make a 5-minute in-class presentation describing and/or performing their projects (see Schedule below). All projects must be approved by the instructor in advance (see Schedule below). Students choosing to write a paper must follow MLA, APA or the guidelines provided by the instructor. For further information on the writing and grading of essays see Grading Standards and Procedures, and Grading of Essays and Other Written Work.

3) Participation and Other Performance (25%)
In addition to other grades, the instructor will assess and grade each student's overall accomplishment, development, and involvement in the course. This grade will take into account aspects of a student's performance such as class participation, preparation, contributions, effort, attentiveness, interest, improvement, responsibility, etc.

4) Other Policies

Make-Up Work
Make-ups/extensions for a missed deadline will only be given in cases of documented serious illness or other valid, non-frivolous excuse such as documented participation in official University sports or academic/service events (it will be up to the instructor to determine and decide on the acceptability of an excuse).

Attendance and Class Conduct
All absences, late arrivals and early departures, regardless of the reason, will be taken into account in the attendance measurement (notice that the policy described here has a built-in margin of tolerance before it begins to affect the course grade). The attendance measurement will be calculated as the percentage of total class time attended. The course grade may not exceed the percentage of total class time attended (i.e. if a student attended only 75% of the total class time, the course grade may not be higher than 75 or C). Notice also that, at the discretion of the instructor, any student missing more than 30% of the total class time may fail the course. Problems such as repeated lateness arriving to class, inattentiveness, or disruptive behavior will adversely affect the class participation grade. Problematic behavior of this sort can also result, at the discretion of the instructor and with the advice of the Dean, in more severe penalties, including failing the entire course.

Academic Honesty
All students in the class are expected to observe the University's guidelines on student conduct as described in Creighton University's Student Handbook (see "Code of Conduct," and especially the section on "Academic Misconduct" dealing with problems of plagiarism, cheating, etc.). All work submitted under a student's name must be personal and original and must be created during and for the specific purposes of the course. Cheating in exams, engaging in plagiarism, misrepresentations of authorship, omission of credits or other acknowledgment of outside sources (including other students' papers, fraternity/sorority files, internet materials, books, periodical articles, and other printed or published matter), as well as other forms of academic dishonesty will result in failing the given assignment or, at the discretion of the instructor, the entire course.

All aspects of the course will be graded on a 100-point scale where 90-100 = A, 87-89 = B+, 80-86 = B, 77-79 = C+, 70-76 = C, 60-69 = D, and 0-59 = F. At the discretion of the instructor, a normative curve may be applied to the grades at the end of the term. The course grade will be calculated according to the following formula:

Two Essays 50%
Term Project and Presentation 25 %

Participation and Other Performance



100 %




In the online version of the syllabus you may click on selected individual subjects for study questions (whenever available). These questions will guide class discussions. All reading must be completed BEFORE the day when it is scheduled for discussion.

Tue Jan 18

Tue Jan 25

Tue Feb 01

Tue Feb 08

Tue Feb 15

Tue Feb 22

Tue Mar 01

Tue Mar 08

Tue Mar 15

Tue Mar 22

Tue Mar 29

Tue Apr 05

Tue Apr 12

Tue Apr 19

Tue Apr 26

Tue May 03


Recommended Further Readings

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Last updated: 1/9/2005