Trinity College Courses
Courses for First-Year Students
Trinity offers several courses intended to enhance the academic role the College plays in the lives of its undergraduates, especially its first-year students. These are credit courses approved by the Faculty of Arts and Science and do not have prerequisites.
Why Take a Trinity College Course?
- participate actively in small-group discussions;
- learn to think critically and to communicate clearly;
- study with Trinity faculty - outstanding scholars with a strong interest in teaching first-year students;
- get to know other Trinity students and build a "home" base within the College and the University.
Seminar Courses for 2012-13
CCR 199Y1Y Raiders, Traders, and Invaders: the Vikings and their Descendants
Views on the Vikings are as mixed today as they were throughout the medieval period, and it can be hard to find an unbiased perspective: the Vikings themselves left few contemporary written records, and the reliability of oral accounts allegedly transmitted across many centuries is open to question. By contrast, the Vikings’ victims were often literate and often Christian, and sought to depict their attackers as instruments of diabolical wrath. What is clear is that the Vikings used their swift and efficient ships to penetrate almost every corner of the then-known world, and indeed to push the boundaries further, heading East deep into Russia, South into the Mediterranean and to Byzantium and beyond, and West as successive settlers of Iceland, Greenland, and (for a time) North America. Moreover the descendants of the Vikings had a deep impact in many lands, not least in England (where they seized the crown), in Normandy (where they seized power and branched out again to conquer England), and in the expanded Scandinavian homelands of Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden where they still remain, and from where their bloodlines have emigrated further all over the world, not least into Canada. This course will cover aspects of the histories, cultures, languages, and literatures of these remarkable peoples across more than a millennium.
CCR 199Y1Y More than Just a Dinner Party: High Style and Serious Attitude in the Literary Salon of 1830s Paris
Money, Love, Heroism, the Occult, War, Revolution, Royalism and Opium; such were the variety of subjects explored in a literary salon in Paris around the year 1830. In an age of uncertainty (the Napoleonic Age over, the restored Monarchy faltering under a mad king), a generation of writers, artists and musicians was searching for meaning. Several met regularly in the elegant drawing room of the Arsenal library in Paris, creating what is called a salon. Along with exquisite food, music and dance, they took a steady diet of wit, debate, humour and passion. We will explore their works as well as the literature, music and art of those who inspired them. Victor Hugo, Balzac, Stendhal, a young Franz Liszt, the artists Delacroix and David d’Angers all had attended. Finding inspiration in Byron’s poetry, Hoffmann’s tales, Goethe’s and Scott’s legendary works and the music of Berlioz and Chopin, their ideas about artistic style and conviction have influenced Western culture to this day. Readings are in English or English translation.
TBB 199Y1Y Great Ideas in Social and Political Thought
There is a tradition in social and political thought that has come to be called “classical” because the ideas constituting that tradition have stood the test of time. Among those ideas, some have acquired a timeless status and may be regarded as valid, trans-historical insights. Other ideas in the tradition have not necessarily proved themselves to be valid, but they too have stood the test of time, proving fruitful as perspectives and conceptual tools with which to approach significant questions, problems, and issues. With this in mind, we will read and discuss selected excerpts from the works of Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche.
PMU 199Y1Y Modern Physics in Perspective
Have you wondered about the origin and workings of the natural world around us? Have you found science interesting but felt shut out because it was too full of math and jargon? Have you felt a pull to become more science-literate? If so, this course is for you. It's intended for anyone interested in understanding more about the universe, including our planet, seen through the lens of modern physics. Ideas on the menu will include: space and time, relativity, black holes, quantum physics, particle physics, unification, big bang cosmology, extra dimensions, "branes", and string theory. The intriguing story of these integrated phenomena unfolds over a wide distance and a long time. By the end of the course, students should have a firm grasp of the main ideas of modern physics and a well-honed scientific baloney detection kit with lifelong utility. No prior experience with physical science will be required, but familiarity with Grade 10 mathematics will be assumed. Students from diverse academic backgrounds are all warmly welcome.
XBC199Y1Y Science and Social Choice
Scientific discoveries shape how we see ourselves and decisions we make about how we live our lives and run our societies. We hear statements describing the latest fruits of life sciences research such as "Scientists have found a gene for X," "Y causes cancer," and "This discovery may lead to a cure for Z." We will explore the meaning of such statements and current experimental approaches that lie behind them. We will also discuss the broader implications of research findings for making social decisions. Topics will include: genes and genetic determinism (are you your genes?); evolutionary explanations of behaviour and disease; scientific uncertainty and its communication to the public; peer review and scientific authority; uncertainty and the precautionary principle in environmental and health policy; factors that shape the biomedical research agenda; basic versus applied research and the path from discovery to application. Students from all backgrounds are welcome.
XBC 199Y1Y The Past Within the Present
"History is bunk!"This famous put-down of history by Henry Ford - creator of the automobile assembly line - has an ironic twist, because Ford also designed a "living-history" museum close to his factories. Far from hating history, he produced an historical interpretive experience to influence future generations. Whatever our perspectives may be, we, like Ford, seem to need the past immediately around us. What about Toronto? This cosmopolitan city has its own long history that provides us with a sense of place, but which now usually represents the actual history of a small number of the city's current residents. Why should Toronto's monuments and public buildings, its streetscapes and neighbourhoods be valued? What is being preserved? What does the specific heritage of a unique district such as this university campus, or the larger region, contribute to Toronto as a cosmopolitan city? These issues are evident in other aspects of Canadian debates as well. What is history when written records and oral traditions differ, and First Nations' land claims or treaty rights are adjudicated by our courts? How do we develop interpretive historical exhibits that include our recent citizens?Are public apologies for the wrongs imposed by previous generations appropriate? Are they necessary? What if differing "histories" clash? This course explores such aspects of history's public face: how we use it, and why we need physical reminders of the past in our daily lives.
TRN 190Y1Y Critical Reading and Critical Writing
This seminar is for students who wish to sharpen their skills in written communication through critical analysis of literary texts and high-quality essays. The readings in each year’s seminar may range from a classic nineteenth-century novel to works that have appeared in the last decade. We connect and compare the diverse texts by relating them to specific recurring themes; in 2012-13, a unifying theme will be questions of how literature and science speak to each other, shaping how we understand ourselves and our relationships. Written assignments for TRN 190Y emphasize stages of the writing process, from concept to finished paper, offering practical strategies for producing effective academic essays. The small class size also allows each student to receive extensive individual coaching from the professor. In addition, the seminar structure provides ample opportunity for students to articulate and debate their views in class discussion and oral presentations.
A lecture-plus-seminar course open to first-year and upper-year students
TRN 200Y: Modes of Reasoning
The first term of this course is concerned with reasoning expressed in the form of arguments as understood in logic. Emphasis is placed on learning how to recognize, analyze, and evaluate arguments in ordinary English and on learning techniques for constructing and defending an argument in support of a claim.
The skills learned in the first term are basic skills required for success in many areas of university work, including the study of law. Students who have taken the course have found these skills helpful in their other courses and in writing scholastic aptitude tests, such as the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).
In the second term, the class puts to work a number of the skills learned in the first term, by studying ethical reasoning and legal reasoning. We examine a variety of methods of ethical reasoning and criteria for evaluating such reasoning, and we do so partly by studying the reasoning used in discussions of a selection of contemporary social issues. When we turn to legal reasoning, we consider some of the same issues, only this time from a legal perspective. Our main focus in this part of the course is on the nature of judicial reasoning (i.e., the reasoning of judges). In exploring this topic, we examine the reasoning used in a selection of legal decisions, including decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada in cases involving the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.