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HNR 340 – Writing, Scripture, Law

Course Schedule:

MW 03:45pm – 05:05pm


Bowne 306A

*Class times and locations are subject to change.
Please verify your class schedule in MySlice.


Watts, James

Counts toward:

HNR Hum, Interdisciplinary, Course Global

MySlice Info:

Class #: 20623
Section: M002
# Credits: 3

Course Description:

Written texts direct our behavior every day. Whether the U.S. Constitution or the syllabus for this class, we regularly grant normative authority to writing on paper. This course explores how and why writing gained such normative power. We will focus on the ancient history of writing and of normative texts, starting with the invention of writing in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. We will examine the growing authority of ritual texts, then turn to religious scriptures, especially the Torah of Judaism and the Bible of Christianity.

The course will conclude by examining the religious and legal motives behind the collections of Roman law by Christian emperors that laid the basis for later Western national law. Throughout the course, we will engage the social power of writing in economics, law and religion, and we will also pay close attention to the social impact of the material forms and visual displays of written texts. The course includes a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collections of ancient texts and artifacts in New York City.

Notes about this course:

Notes about this section:

This course includes a required field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collections of ancient texts and artifacts in New York City.

Class times and locations often change. Please verify your class schedule in MySlice as these will not be updated after their initial posting.

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