Reading recommendations from January Term courses

Reading recommendations from January Term courses

January 16, 2018

Scholars and academics are likely to tell you that anytime is a good time to read, but shorter days and colder weather tend to make winter a popular time to curl up in a chair with hot beverage in hand and enjoy a good book.

For students enrolled at Maryville College during January Term, some reading is required, but that doesn't mean the texts are boring. Below, we’ve compiled some titles (mostly non-fiction) that you may want to look for online or in the local library or bookstore.

As has been the case for decades, January Term is a popular time for seniors to take Ethics 490: Philosophical and Theological Foundations of Ethical Thought. A part of the core curriculum and designed to be a senior capstone, Ethics 490 is an interdisciplinary course “which considers the ethical dimension of the human experience, including historic and contemporary ethical frameworks designed to engage the students' ethical stances.”

Six sections are offered this year, but all classes are reading and discussing Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?  by Michael Sandel. Based on the “Justice” course that Sandel, a political philosophy professor at Harvard University, teaches online, the book helps readers use philosophy to make better sense of some of the most controversial issues of the day.

Ethics students enrolled in sections taught by Dr. Sam Overstreet, Dr. Mardi Craig and Dr. Bill Meyer also are reading Denise Giardina’s book Saints and Villains, a fictionalized account of the life and death of German Protestant theologian, philosopher and author Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Romulus, My Father is required reading for students enrolled in Dr. Andrew Irvine’s Ethics 490 section. Written by Australian philosopher and author Raimond Gaita, the memoir chronicles the loving relationship he had with his father and the life of Romulus Gaita, who emigrated to Australia from Yugoslavia after World War II and built a new life despite a struggle with mental illness.

Dr. Scott Brunger, Maryville College professor emeritus, has returned to campus to teach World Cultures 370: Sub-Saharan Africa. Along with the Understanding Contemporary Africa textbook, So Long a Letter is required reading for his course. Written by Mariama Bâ of Senegal and originally published in 1981, the book explores the oppression of women in many African countries.

As a part of the Sociology 149: Road to Justice course, the Rev. Dr. Anne D. McKee, campus minister, and CCM Program Coordinator David Clifford ’16 are leading several Maryville College students to locations significant to the Civil Rights Movement: Memphis, Tenn.; and Selma and Montgomery, Ala. Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965 by Juan Williams is recommended reading, as is Just Mercy, a New York Times bestseller and award-winning book by Bryan Stevenson, founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery.

Stevenson has spent his law career helping the poor, the incarcerated and the condemned, and his book tells the stories of EJI clients who were wrongly convicted and treated unjustly by the legal system.

For her Psychology 149: Intersectionality of Women’s Experiences course, Dr. Kathie Shiba, professor of psychology, is requiring her students to read Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics by bell hooks and The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession with Virginity Is Hurting Young Women by Jessica Valenti.

Feminism is for Everybody is an introduction to feminist politics and explores the idea of interlocking systems of oppression. The Purity Myth argues that a focus on chastity places a young woman's worth entirely on her sexuality.

Sociology 149: Action to Advocacy, taught by Mr. Jordan Conerty, is “designed to marry readings, class discussions, guest speakers and field trips to equip students with the skills, language and experiences necessary for grappling with and responding to the intricacies of poverty and homelessness.”

Conerty requires his students to read and prepare to discuss several articles and books. Those include Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help by Robert Lupton, Experiencing Poverty: Voices from the Bottom by D. Stanley Eitzen and Kelly Eitzen Smith and Down and Out, on the Road: The Homeless in American History by Kenneth Kusmer.

Written by Karen Beaty Eldridge '94, Executive Director for Marketing & Communications


Maryville College is a nationally-ranked institution of higher learning and one of America’s oldest colleges. For more than 200 years, we’ve educated students to be giving citizens and gifted leaders, to study everything, so that they are prepared for anything — to address any problem, engage with any audience and launch successful careers right away. Located in Maryville, Tennessee, between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Knoxville, Maryville College offers nearly 1,200  students from around the world both the beauty of a rural setting and the advantages of an urban center, as well as more than 60 majors, seven pre-professional programs and career preparation from their first day on campus to their last. Today, our 10,000 alumni are living life strong of mind and brave of heart and are prepared, in the words of our Presbyterian founder, to “do good on the largest possible scale.”