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TUESDAYS AT 2;30 P.M. (ends at 3:30 P.M.)

When someone asks me the best place to start with philosophy, I recommend the existentialists. There are no more literary and philosophical texts than the ones written by Nietzsche, Sartre, Camus, de Beauvoir, and the other existentialists, and they address the kinds of questions that feel immediately important: absolute freedom, the intensity of choice, the absurdity of everyday life, the anxiety of finding meaning. In this class, we’ll use these very readable philosophical texts as a starting point for conversations about these ideas, which we’ll consider in their historical and cultural context as well as from our present-day perspective.


What students will get out of this class

  • Students will engage with a variety of primary philosophical tests through close reading, writing, and discussion.
  • Students will identify major thinkers and ideas in existentialism.
  • Students will develop critical thinking skills and discussion skills through Socratic class discussions.
  • Students who opt in to a final paper will have a suitable paper to support college admissions and scholarship applications.


What students should be prepared to put into this class

  • You should show up for class having read the assigned materials for each session and be prepared to join the class discussion
  • The weekly journal assignment is optional, but it’s a great way to focus your thoughts for class discussions.
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Required materials: TBD


About the teacher: Shelly Denkinger earned her B.A. in Philosophy at New College and completed her M.A. and Ph.D. coursework and exams in Comparative Philosophy at the University of Hawai'i. She worked as an instructor and lecturer at the University of Hawai'i for ten years, teaching Introduction to Philosophy, Logic, Asian Philosophy, Ethical Theories, and other philosophy courses. She has also taught reading enrichment and critical thinking classes to elementary through high school students. In addition, she has organized, moderated, and presented papers at international philosophy conferences.