Current Classes

Center for Humanist inquiries supports provocative education for our local and global communitiesOur fall classes are offered FREE OF CHARGE as we smooth things out and develop online content. Take advantage now and tell your friends! Starting winter of 2016, we will offer classes and memberships for a fee (scholarships will always be available).

All classes are open to the public and we encourage any and all interested people to attend. We look forward to building a community of thoughtful folks. If transportation, childcare, access to internet or other barriers make attendance difficult, please let us know so we can improve CHI to meet your needs.

Fall 2015 Schedule
August 25 through October 15

Masters of Suspicion (Kafka): Examining our Relationship to Society
Tuesday, 12-1 pm at Iowa City Senior Center, 28 S. Linn Street, Room 209


The Fall 2015 session of Masters of Suspicion offers students an opportunity to wrestle with one of the 20th century’s most difficult and interesting thinkers: Franz Kafka. As a way to guide a reading through Kafka’s best known short stories and novels, this class will focus on Kafka’s depiction of the individual in a frustrating, impersonal, dehumanizing social context. In addition to attending to Kafka’s narrative strategies and how they responded to changes in the social structure, the lectures will also point out how the stories defamiliarize the social landscape in ways that invite skepticism. Readings for this class will be strongly recommended, and copies of the books will be available at Prairie Lights.

25 August: In the Penal Colony, The Great Wall of China
01 September: The Trial (1-73, Chapters 1-3)
08 September: The Trial (74-165, Chapters 4-7)
15 September: The Trial (166-229, Chapters 8-10)
22 September: The Metamorphosis
29 September: The Castle (1-127, Chapters 1-7)
06 October: The Castle (128-273, Chapters 8 – “petitions”)
13 October: The Castle (274-412, Chapters “petitions” – end)

Texts: Franz Kafka, The Trial,  ISBN 978-0805209990, Published by Schocken
Franz Kafka, The Castle, ISBN 978-0805211061, Published by Schocken



Existential Detective Fictions: Fate, Freedom and Human Finitude
Wednesday, 6:30-7:30 pm at the Iowa City Senior Center, 28 S. Linn Street, Room 202


The Fall 2015 session of Existential Detective Fictions investigates fate and freedom as explanations for events in our lives. Each lecture references Oedipus Rex, and other readings deepen engagement with this text. This class offers terms and concepts that will unfold during future iterations of this course—these will focus primarily on fictional texts that play with the understanding of the human situation introduced by the figure of Oedipus. This course will be of interest to students of philosophy and literature, as well as those who unconsciously shift from describing existence as determined by a series of cause and effect (which a detective explores) to existence that lacks all determinism. The hope of the class is to expose the flaws of both these explanatory mechanisms to reveal a more uncertain, and far more interesting, domain of experience. No prior experience with philosophy is necessary, and texts will be available at Prairie Lights.

Texts:  Johann Gottlieb Fichte, The Vocation of Man, ISBN 978-0872200371, Published by Hackett
Raymond Chandler, The Simple Art of Murder, ISBN 978-0394757650, Published by Vintage

26 August: The Text of Oedipus
02 September: Fichte, The Vocation of Man part I
09 September: Fichte, The Vocation of Man part II
16 September: Fichte, The Vocation of Man part III
23 September: Raymond Chandler, “The Simple Art of Murder” Introduction (RR)
30 September: Sartre, Being and Nothingness
07 October: Freud, Interpretation of Dreams
14 October: Oedipus Rex: The First Existential Detective

Enrolled: 1/35


Unlearning Our Loneliness: The Difficulty of Narrative Love
Thursday, 7-8 pm at Iowa City Senior Center, 28 S. Linn Street, Room 202


The Fall 2015 session of Unlearning Our Loneliness will work through a series of short stories that call attention to how naïve conceptions of love erupt in problems for lovers. The syllabus includes writings from a diverse set of historical and cultural situations, and the lectures will show how each story represents a major knot that twists relationships into threads. Pulling apart these knots will reveal how it is possible to remain lonely in the context of a relationship, and will question ways to overcome the difficulties that seem situated, firmly, within the context of love itself. Although lectures will draw upon a wide range of philosophical and theological resources as ways to understand the stories, no prior knowledge is necessary.  Readings will be distributed to registered students through .pdfs.

Texts: Will be distributed to students

27 August: No Class—Lecture on “Creative Matters”
03 September: Consider the Lobster (David Foster Wallace)
10 September: The Sister (July)
17 September: The Dentist (Gaitskill)
24 September: The Hitchhiking Game (Kundera)
01 October: The Lady with the Dog (Chekov)
08 October:  The Hands (Brockmeyer)
15 October: Decomposition (Quatro)

Enrolled: 0/35