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Course Summary
Content Type
collapse Program : APL ‎(7)
APLA 3rd Term of Foreign Language
A 3rd Term of Foreign Language

As part of your USMA foreign language sequence, you will take a foreign language course (level 300 or better).  The APL major requires a total of only three terms of foreign language study.

ItemA 3rd Term of Foreign LanguageRequired Courses
APLEP333Cultural Studies (topic changes each year)
EP333 - Cultural Studies (topic changes each year)

This course analyzes a culture through the study of its art, philosophy, and literature.  It will not only acquaint you with a particular period and place but also introduces you to various definitions of culture and to recent themes and debates in cultural studies.  Various theorists inform the teaching team's interdisciplinary approach to cultural artifacts as well as its investigation of aesthetics, ideology, and issues of ethnicity, gender, and class.  Cultures under study have included Ancient Greece, Enlightenment France, and Renaissance Europe.

ItemCultural Studies (topic changes each year)Required Courses
APLEP360Eastern Art
EP360 - Eastern Art

Most of us know the major art objects of the Western world:  the Sistine Chapel Ceiling, the Parthenon, Warhol's Campbell Soup Cans.  But what about art objects from the rest of the world - from the "East"?  Are you familiar with the ukiyo-e prints of Japan or the architecture of the Black Pagoda in India?  This course will expand your understanding of the history, religions, and (of course) art and architecture of China, India, and Japan.  You will survey the various currents and crosscurrents of artistic production in these influential and fascinating cultures, from the Bronze Age to the 19th century.

ItemEastern ArtOne Art History Course
APLEP361Western Art I:  Ancient to Medieval
EP361 - Western Art I: Ancient to Medieval

Travel back in time to discover the art and architecture of the Ancient and Medieval worlds.  We will, among other things, uncover King Tut's tomb in the Valley of the Kings, cheer the gladiators in the Roman Colosseum, and follow Richard the Lionhearted on a crusade to the Hold Land.  Throughout our journey, we will consider how the art, architecture, and ideas of these earlier cultures continue to influence us.

ItemWestern Art I:  Ancient to MedievalOne Art History Course
APLEP371Special Topics in Art History
EP371 - Special Topics in Art History

This course will provide an in-depth examination of a specific topic in visual culture, closely investigating the way images and monuments engage with and discuss economic, cultural, socio-political, and historical forces.  Classroom discussion will be supplemented by trip sections to New York City to see many of the actual images and monuments under investigation.  Topics might be focused on a theme (like the visual culture of war), a genre (like portraiture), or a medium (like photography).  Whatever our topic, however, you will emerge from EP371 with a new perspective; this course is sure to develop your ability to interpret the visual world.

ItemSpecial Topics in Art HistoryRequired Courses
APLEP382Western Art II:  Renaissance to Modern
EP382 - Western Art II: Renaissance to Modern

Travel back to Giotto's 13th-century Italy before winding your way to present-day New York City, through many countries and epochs, investigating key art objects and movements, with a particular focus on the 18th - 20th centuries.  If you have always wondered why Jackson Pollock was splattering all that paint, or why Mayor Giuliani tried to close down the controversial "Sensation" exhibition in the late 90's, this is your opportunity to find out.

ItemWestern Art II:  Renaissance to ModernOne Art History Course
APLEP433Senior Seminar (topic changes every two years)
EP433 - Senior Seminar (topic changes every two years)

EP433 is the "Integrative Experience" in the Department of English and Philosophy.  Its foundation is archetype studies, an approach found in the humanities and social sciences.  In one of two discipline-specific seminars (literature or philosophy), cadets trace the history of a given archetype through a variety of cultural artifacts.  Bridging past and present, the course examines a specific contemporary incarnation of the archetype; finally, students look toward the future by reimagining the archetype in response to contemporary issues.  Archetypes have included the City, the Self, and the Traveler.  The course emphasizes independent work, creativity, and intellectual risk-taking.

ItemSenior Seminar (topic changes every two years)Required Courses
collapse Program : Core ‎(4)
EN101 - CompositionCatalog Description

The goal of EN101 Composition is to significantly contribute to the accomplishment of the following statement taken from the Communication goal chapter in Educating Future Army Officers for a Changing World:

“By the end of their first year, cadets meet a college-level standard of basic proficiency in argumentative writing and establish their competence as writers ready to develop their skills in future undergraduate assignments” (52).
EN102 - Literature

Taken in the second semester of plebe year, this course helps cadets develop an understanding of important cultural themes and to cultivate a respect for the beauty and power of language.  Focused on the study of literary texts, EN102 helps cadets to refine writing skills introduced in EN101 and to develop active reading and communication abilities.  Course activities include theatrical presentations by the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, cadet performances, and opportunities for creative writing.

CoreEN302Advanced Composition
EN302 - Advanced Composition

This course refines basic writing skills, develops sophisticated techniques of written expression, and establishes a critical editorial sense with respect to the cadet's own composition and the writing of others. Exemplary readings give substance to daily writing, while revision and conferencing emphasize the requirement for restriction, unity, precision, and organization. The course requires the achievement of competence appropriate for a college graduate and necessary for an Army Officer. Course activities include a lecture by renowned travel writer Pico Iyer.

ItemAdvanced Composition
PY201 - Philosophy
  • Course Overview:
    This course helps third class cadets develop their capacities to think clearly and critically. It acquaints cadets with various view points on major philosophic issues, assists them in acquiring a facility with the language, arguments, and methods of moral discourse, and gives special attention to the subject of war and morality.
  • Moral Awareness:
    Graduates recognize moral issues and apply ethical considerations in decision-making.
  • Creativity:
    Graduates think and act creatively.
  • Communication:
    Graduates listen, read, speak and write effectively.

    Descriptions of these and other Intellectual Domain goals can be found in Educating Future Army Officers for a Changing World (

  • Course Objectives (Cadets who complete PY201 will be able to):
    • Describe relevant philosophical concepts.
      Standard: At a minimum, cadets accurately describe course key terms related to ethical theory, just war theory, and critical thinking.
    • Understand the meaning of "world view."
      Standard: Cadets know what a world view is, and they understand the basic features of their own world view and how it affects their judgment, decisions, and thinking.
    • Identify moral issues and examine the implications of these issues.
      Standard: Cadets are able to distinguish between moral issues and issues related to legal and practical concerns and they understand the implications of particular ethical theories.
    • Identify issues related to the moral dimensions of war and examine their implications.
      Standard: Cadets are able to distinguish between moral issues in war and issues related to legal and practical concerns, and they understand the implications of particular approaches to moral issues in war.
    • Think critically in identifying, analyzing, and evaluating claims and arguments when listening, reading, and speaking.
      Standard: Cadets successfully employ critical thinking concepts when they identify, analyze, and evaluate claims and arguments.
    • Create written arguments that are logically rigorous and conceptually precise through the writing process.
      Standard: Cadets employ an intentional and methodical writing process to produce logically rigorous and conceptually precise arguments. Their written products adhere to critical thinking conventions presented during the course and employ concepts that are clearly and thoroughly presented.
  • Course Leadership:
collapse Program : Literature ‎(11)
LiteratureEP341, EP346British Literature I & II
EP341, EP346 - British Literature I & II

You do not have to take these courses in sequence.  They examine the tradition and innovation that has shaped British literature and culture over the centuries, devoting attention not only to "major authors" but also to authors writing against the established tradition.  EP341 will examine works of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Pope, and others, while EP346 will focus on works by a range of authors including Wordsworth, Austen, Woolf, Joyce, and Yeats.  An enriched understanding of the many strands of British Literature will also help us better to understand our own complicated literary history.

ItemBritish Literature I & II
LiteratureEP342Film and Film Theory
EP342 - Film and Film Theory

Andy Warhol once claimed, "It's the movies that have really been running things in America ever since they were invented.  They show you what to do, how to do it, when to do it, how to feel about it, and how to look how you feel about it." EP342 examines film as the major new art form of the twentieth century and considers its potential as perhaps the most electric and influential medium of the twenty-first.  Through the screening of films and the reading of screenplays, essays, and articles, we will learn about film form and genre, the history of Hollywood and world cinemas, the evolution of film criticism and theory, and the relationship between film and technology.  What is Rosebud anyway?

ItemFilm and Film Theory
LiteratureEP343, EP348American Literature I & II
EP343, EP348 - American Literature I & II

You do not have to take these courses in sequence.  "American literature" shouldered its way onto the world literary scene during the Age of Exploration, where EP343 begins.  Advancing toward the Civil War, we read works from the traditional Puritan canon as well as from authors such as Emerson, Lincoln, Dickinson, and Whitman.  The investigation of cultural and intellectual history will also lead us to literature by Native Americans, French and Spanish colonizers, and African captives.  EP343's examination of a broad range of genres and modes of writing will serve as prologue to EP348's consideration of traditional and nontraditional writings from the Civil War to the present.  Central to both courses is the question of what, exactly, constitutes American literature.

ItemAmerican Literature I & II
LiteratureEP351World Literature
EP351 - World Literature

They say the world is shrinking, and maybe that's so; but its literature is growing day by day.  To be a well-read citizen of the global village you need to take this course.  In EP351 our mission is to explore literary, cultural, and political difference.  Toward that end we might pair Basho's travel writing with Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels or Conrad's Heart of Darkness with Chinua Achebe's critique of Conradian imperialism.  Crossing genres and historical periods, we will acquire knowledge of the development of literary forms, insight into the dynamic relationship between art and political change, and appreciation of the strange echoes that carry across cultural, religious, and geographical expanses.  Take this course before you find yourself a lieutenant in a foreign land.

ItemWorld Literature
EP367 - Drama

Why is the play the thing?  Why and how does it capture our imagination and entertain us even as it stirs our emotions, provokes us to thought, and maybe even teaches us a thing or two?  As the literary genre that lives on both page and stage, drama demands not merely the reading of the text but also the imagining of the play's stagecraft, the delivery of the lines, the appearance and attitude of the actors, and many other theatrical details.  EP367 ranges from the classical to the contemporary with several stops in between.  Drama's susceptibility to a staggering variety of responses and interpretations is guaranteed to nurture the creative spirit.

LiteratureEP374The Arts of War
EP374 - The Arts of War

As one who aspires to a career in the profession of arms, you can't go wrong by exploring the various ways in which writers, artists, and filmmakers have come to terms with the subject of war.  One recent version of the course has asked questions like these:  Was the Great War all that great?  Was the Good War entirely good?  How has the First World War affected and shaped modern memory?  Why is Hollywood still revisiting the experience of World War II?  Whatever a given version's approach, it is worthwhile to traverse the territory of human conflict with creative figures who have attempted to capture at least part, if not all, of the truth of war.  Cross the line of departure to a heightened awareness and appreciation of the aesthetic and moral dimensions of the military experience.

ItemThe Arts of War
LiteratureEP385The Novel
EP385 - The Novel

In this course the word novel designates any extended fictional narrative, almost always in prose.  In addition to becoming better readers, we will work toward understanding the culturally complex world within and around the novel.  We might travel from the alleyways of Defoe's London to the mean streets of Dreiser's Chicago, from the chill of Hawthorne's New England to the heat of Faulkner's Yoknapatawhpha County.

ItemThe Novel
LiteratureEP390 - Version 2013-1Reading the Frontier
EP390 - Version 2013-1 - Reading the Frontier

Students in Reading the Frontier will explore the actual and imaginary North American frontier.  How has the frontier contributed to the formation, disintegration, and continuance of communal and individual identities - identities regional, tribal, generational, national, spiritual, etc.?  We will entertain numerous short readings in the Norton Anthology of American Literature, but will also tackle several longer works from among the following:  The Journals of Lewis and Clark (Bernard DeVoto ed.), Edgar Huntley (Charles Brockden Brown), The Last of the Mohicans (James Fenimore Cooper), A Tour on the Prairies (Washington Irving), My Antonia (Willa Cather), Moby-Dick (Herman Melville), Absalom, Absalom! (William Faulkner), and Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy).  We will augment our reading with the study of visual culture, perhaps examining the film Unforgiven or looking into landscape painting from the Western Luminist tradition.  Early in the term we will take a research trip to the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but as important will be ongoing student access to Special Collections in our own Jefferson Hall, where we will examine documents from the American frontier.  For the research paper students may closely study handwritten battle-field journals brought back by graduates after the American Indian Wars, or work groups to put together a display of rare photographs.  Lastly, scholars specializing in the study of frontier will visit with us in the classroom.

ItemReading the Frontier
EP391 - Poetry

Poetry...Patton wrote it, Plato feared it, and Alexander the Great kept it under his pillow.  There is no literary genre - indeed, no form expression - at once more revered and reviled.  Enter into an examination of this essential and controversial art.  You will read the poetries of several periods and traditions, explore historical and political contexts, and evaluate competing theories of poetics.  And everyone has a theory:  "Poetry's unnat'ral," Tony Weller tells his Valentine-writing son in Charles Dickens's Pickwick Papers, "no man ever talked poetry 'cept a beadle on boxin' day...or some o' them low fellows, never you let yourself down to talk poetry, my boy."

LiteratureEP392Minority Literatures
EP392 - Minority Literatures

Designed to expand a cadet's view beyond the cultural boundaries of canonical literature, this course examines a diverse collection of texts, ranging from works like Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, Momaday's The Ancient Child, and Allende's The House of Spirits.  The most recent iteration of the course has focused on African-American literature.  Whatever the focus, you will have the chance to choose a writer or an artist as the subject of an independent project.

ItemMinority Literatures
EP394 - Shakespeare love or out, in war and peace, in verse and prose.  The man Ben Jonson loved to hate and Dr. Johnson hated to love - the glove-maker's son who was so extraordinary yet anonymous that some eccentric scholars persist in believing he was himself a fiction, that someone else wrote his plays:  Christopher Marlowe, perhaps, or Francis Bacon, or maybe the Earl of Oxford.  This course investigates William Shakespeare's unique genius.  You will read tragedies, histories, comedies, and the so-called "problem plays," as well as representative sonnets.  Topics of inquiry may include language, the theatrical and political contests of the English Renaissance, contemporary criticism, and the enduring influence of Shakespeare's work on popular culture.

collapse Program : Philosophy ‎(12)
PhilosophyEP363Political Philosophy
EP363 - Political Philosophy

Combine contentious recent election campaigns, a controversial war, and a labyrinthine debate about what globalization means.  What do you get?  A great setting for philosophical investigation into the nature of justice, rights, liberty, equality, and other central political ideas.  In EP363 we will haul classical and contemporary political theories before the tribunal of logic and experience.  The effort will help us better to understand our political choices and ourselves.

ItemPolitical Philosophy
PhilosophyEP365Ethics of the Military Profession
EP365 - Ethics of the Military Profession

Since duty plays a central role in the professional military ethic, and since duties in large measure concern what we owe to others, we do well to start our investigation with a rather formal approach to ethical theory.  Eventually we will leave that tidy world and enter the more problematic realm of human experience as captured in literature and film.  Ultimately, we will exit that arena and reenter the theoretical realm to study the just war tradition, a topic of interest to any aspiring military professional.

ItemEthics of the Military Profession
PhilosophyEP366Philosophy of the Mind
EP366 - Philosophy of the Mind

A mind is a terrible thing to waste.  It's also a very difficult thing to understand.  How can there be room for conscious beings in a world apparently composed of physical stuff and governed by physical laws?  Are minds supernatural entities, souls that lie beyond the reach of science?  Or are minds just very complicated physical structures?  What is the relationship between psychology and physics, or psychology and computer science?  Could a properly designed computer think?  Could it experience emotion?  This course - properly designed and loaded with emotion - will help you and your mind attempt to find plausible answers to fundamental questions.

ItemPhilosophy of the Mind
PhilosophyEP373Topics in Ethics
EP373 - Topics in Ethics

This course provides cadets an opportunity for reading and analysis in depth of some of the seminal philosophical works in ethics.  Taught in seminar format, the course challenges first-class and second-class cadets to take responsibility for discussion and analysis and for drawing connections between ideas as they occur throughout history and across cultures.  The cadets will gain a deeper understanding of the human condition and of the complex world of values.

ItemTopics in Ethics
PhilosophyEP375 - Version 2013-117th and 18th Century Philosophy
EP375 - Version 2013-1 - 17th and 18th Century Philosophy

Taught in seminar format, this course examines a selection of texts written by central figures in the formative centuries of modern European philosophy.  Their ideas have had continuing influence on philosophers down to our present day, as well as profound influence on the development of political thought and on the scientific understanding of human beings.  Two schools of thought will be covered:  Rationalism and Empiricism.  Associated with the first school are the continental philosophers Descartes (widely accepted as the founder of Modern Philosophy), Spinoza and Leibniz.  The school of Empiricism includes the British philosophers Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley and Hume.

Lessons:  40 @ 55 min (2.5 Att/wk)
Special requirements:  None

Item17th and 18th Century Philosophy
PhilosophyEP376 - Version 2013-1Kant and 19th Century Philosophy
EP376 - Version 2013-1 - Kant and 19th Century Philosophy

Taught in seminar format, this course gives primary attention to the systematic philosophy of the German thinker, Immanuel Kant, whose influence on Nineteenth Century thinking was widespread and who is commonly recognized as one of the pillars of Modern Philosophy.  The course will also devote attention to other important areas of philosophical thinking in the Nineteenth Century, whether within the Kantian tradition or lying outside it in other movements, such as Utilitarianism or Pragmatism, which had a continuing and significant influence on later philosophical thinking.

Lesson:  40 @ 55 min (2.5 Att/wk)
Special requirements:  None

ItemKant and 19th Century Philosophy
PhilosophyEP377 - Version 2013-120th Century Philosophy
EP377 - Version 2013-1 - 20th Century Philosophy

Taught in seminar format, this course will introduce cadets to a representative sample of major figures and topics which have set the stage for understanding contemporary Philosophy in the so-called Analytic Tradition.  Major figures include Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Moore, the philosophers of the Vienna Circle, and American philosophers such as Quine, Putnam, Davidson and Kripke.  Topics include the ideal of a logically perfect language, meaning and reference, the nature of truth, the distinction between analytic and synthetic statements, the common sense analysis of metaphysical concepts, and the rule-centered social nature of language.  As appropriate, leading figures and ideas drawn from Continental Philosophy will be introduced.

Lessons:  40 @ 55 min (2.5 Att/week)
Special requirements:  None

Item20th Century Philosophy
PhilosophyEP380Eastern Thought
EP380 - Eastern Thought

The names tell you this course is something different.  In seeking understanding of the Eastern way, you will explore primary sources such as the I Ching, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, The Analects, the Bhagavadgita, the Tao Te Ching, and the Code of the Samurai.  We will study the philosophical significance of the ideas, images, symbolism, and methods of understanding in Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism as a means to self-knowledge.  Attention to C.G. Jung's conception of archetypes of the collective unconscious and to his commentaries on some of these classics may move us from the unconscious to the conscious.  We will practice the basic method of divination used in the I Ching (what does the future hold?) as well as analyze its philosophical importance.

ItemEastern Thought
PhilosophyEP381Philosophy of Religion
EP381 - Philosophy of Religion

What are the arguments for and against the existence of God?  How can a good God allow the presence of evil?  Are miracles possible?  Is there life after death?  Is it rational to believe in God, or does faith demand the suspension of reason?  Is there a necessary relationship between ethics and religion?  Is there a single true religion?  If these questions have ever intrigued you, you already know that you need this course, in which you will confront the words of the Oxford philosopher Anthony Kenny:  "If there...

ItemPhilosophy of Religion
PhilosophyEP383Reality and Knowledge
EP383 - Reality and Knowledge

At some point we all want to know what is - and how we know it.  Addressing those very questions, EP383 tackles the problems of ultimate reality (metaphysics) and human knowledge (epistemology).  Are we really free, or are all of our actions determined?  Do we have souls or spirits that survive after our death, or are we just material bodies with complex brains that in the end disintegrate?  Is there life after death?  If those metaphysical questions seem tough, what will you do with these epistemological puzzlers?  Can you know anything for certain?  What does it mean to say you know something?  How can you justify your beliefs?  By the end of the course, you will be able to articulate your own view of what is and how you know what is.  Your roommate will be impressed.

ItemReality and Knowledge
PhilosophyEP386Philosophy of Science
EP386 - Philosophy of Science

It has long been acknowledged that mathematics and the natural sciences provide knowledge of the world - if any disciplines do.  But "the" scientific worldview has proved suspiciously unstable, thanks to Darwin, Einstein, and quantum theory.  In EP386 you will roam the halls of science and learn how the structure was built.  Knowing the equation is critically important, of course, but understanding the processes that led to our search for the equation provides insight into the whole scientific enterprise.  Take this course to understand science better.

ItemPhilosophy of Science
PhilosophyEP388Ancient Philosophy
EP388 - Ancient Philosophy

The ancient Greek philosophers gave Western culture its central ideas about humanity, science, ethics, and politics.  You will examine the exciting theories about human nature and the nature of reality that set philosophy on its thoughtful way, including the works of such luminaries as Heraclitus, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, Epicurus, and the Early Christian philosophers who sought to develop a rational framework for their faith.  You will also examine some current scholarship on these philosophers, with an eye toward learning how and to what extent philosophy has changed, and how it is done today.

ItemAncient Philosophy
collapse Program : Track ‎(2)
EP344 - Criticism

Required for the Literature track, this course investigates a variety of critical schools and traditions through the study of literary critics ranging from the ancient to the postmodern.  Readings may focus on aesthetic, cultural, and ethical dimensions of literature, on the role of the critic, and on the proliferation of competing theories during the latter half of the twentieth century.  You will cultivate your own philosophies of interpretation and apply them to primary texts.  Providing a thorough grounding in both theory and practice, EP344 will give you the tools and show you how to use them.

TrackEP359Logical Reasoning
EP359 - Logical Reasoning

Required for the Philosophy track, this course blends two areas of study that are often kept separate in university courses on logic:  informal logic and formal (or symbolic) logic.  Informal logic emphasizes natural language arguments, rules of valid inference (called traditional logic), and the identification of mistakes in reasoning that make arguments logically weak though possibly persuasive (fallacies).  By contrast, formal logic builds a symbolic representation of sentences and arguments, describes rigorous tests for determining whether symbolized arguments are valid, and provides the means to assess arguments of far greater complexity than the rules of traditional logic can manage.  Although symbolic logic may look like mathematics, it is really a useful means for examining sentences and arguments solely in terms of their logical meaning, much as x-ray machines enable a skillful eye to examine skeletons.  The course will make some attempt to connect these two approaches to logic instead of leaving them in a state of tension or contrast or emphasizing one at the expense of the other.

ItemLogical Reasoning