Education Programs: Enduring Questions: Pilot Course Grants

Period of Performance

5/1/2014 - 12/31/2015

Funding Totals

$22,000.00 (approved)
$21,994.10 (awarded)

NEH Enduring Questions Course on the Nature of Friendship

FAIN: AQ-51033-14

CUNY Research Foundation, John Jay College (New York, NY 10019-1007)
Olivera Jokic (Project Director: September 2013 to May 2016)

The development of an undergraduate course on friendship.

The development of an undergraduate course on friendship. Olivera Jokic, an assistant professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, develops and teaches a course that examines the nature of friendship from a variety of perspectives. The course begins by looking at how writers from several time periods and cultures have represented friendship and then considers whether friendships are a function of culture. Next, the course turns to the question of whether friendship is a common good or is motivated by self-interest, and examines the ways that gender and gender roles might influence friendship. The final section of the course investigates the relationship between friendship, difference and equality, and distance, including the role that technologies like Facebook play in developing and maintaining friendships. Course readings include Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Plato's Phaedrus and Lysis, The Epic of Gilgamesh, Jane Austen's Persuasion, Zadie Smith's White Teeth, Oscar Wilde's De Profundis; essays by Vine Deloria, John Stuart Mill, and Michel de Montaigne; and poetry by Sappho, Li Bai and Du Fu, William Blake, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and Langston Hughes. Readings are supplemented by the viewing and discussion of such films as Some Like it Hot, 4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days (from Romania), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Thelma and Louise, and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Throughout the course, students keep a journal of their reactions to the readings, produce midterm analytical projects related to course readings and discussions, and create final exhibits about friendships that are displayed on campus.