Spring 2022 - HUM 320 D100

Cross-Cultural Philosophy in the Humanities (4)

Class Number: 7212

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 4:30 PM – 8:20 PM
    HCC 2245, Vancouver

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



An exploration of the characteristic ways in which the humanities, with its emphasis on expression, belief and tradition, presents important philosophical concepts. Based upon an interdisciplinary selection of texts drawn from history, philosophy, literature and the arts. Breadth-Humanities.


Have you ever stared out into the vast expanse of space and considered the crushing insignificance and meaninglessness of your existence, as does the character Bazarov in Ivan Turgenev’s 1862 novel Fathers and Sons? If you have, then you have confronted the problem of “nihilism.” 

Often accompanied by a feeling of dread, nihilism is the sense that, in a world increasingly shaped and dominated by science and technology, God is dead. If we can no longer rely on God to give our seemingly insignificant lives purpose or meaning, what are we to do? How are we to live? This means not just simply to exist but to live well; to live valuable lives.  Do we fall into a sense of hopeless despair over the loss of ultimate truths and values? Or do we joyously embrace God’s death and set about actively creating new, humanistic values?

This course takes up the distinctively modern challenge of nihilism in a context of the contemporary threat of the climate emergency and the Covid-19 pandemic by way of an examination of select works of literature, drama, film, visual art, and philosophy drawn from Western, Eastern, and Indigenous cultural traditions.

This course will count towards a concentration in “Public Engagement and Intellectual Culture.”


  • Term paper (15 pages) 40%
  • Presentation 15%
  • Participation 15%
  • Portfolio (seminar reading notes and reflection) 30%



Texts provided by instructor. 

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the spring 2022 term.