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Hillsdale will offer two new courses next semester: Introduction to Midrash and Classical Logic and Rhetoric. Both Greek History and Case Studies in the Origins of War will be resurrected in the spring.
The class of 2019 will have to take Classical Logic and Rhetoric as part of next year’s new core curriculum. Professor of Speech Kirstin Kiledal will be an instructor of the class.
“The focus of the course is to provide students with an overarching understanding of the worth and interactiveness of classical logic and rhetoric in the expression of ideas and their place in public deliberation,” Kiledal said.
Kiledal added her aim is for students to look at individual pieces of arguments in primary sources, comparing their validity to the truth.
“It’s one thing to learn rhetorical devices, just cold things you can point to that’s aesthetically pleasing,” Kiledal said. “We hope to ground the students on the theoretical and philosophical underpinnings to really build an applied skill set.”
Classical Logic and Rhetoric is listed under interdisciplinary study, but is not managed under any particular department yet. The college intends to not limit it to instruction by one department’s professors.
“The faculty for it will come from the faculty at large,” Kiledal said. “I think it could be energizing seeing ourselves as a liberal arts faculty. Can you imagine being a science person and having a science faculty member as your instructor and suddenly seeing your world of chemistry as an expansion of your worldview?”
While not required for classes prior to next year’s incoming class, the class is being offered next semester in order to test it in a classroom setting before implementing it as a required course.
Although the class is currently labeled as a 393 class because it is experimental, Kiledal emphasized that it is geared toward freshmen, sophomores, and anyone interested in improving persuasive skills.
Carl Kinbar, director of the Messianic Jewish Theological Institute Rabbinic Program, will teach the one-credit religion seminar Introduction to Midrash.
The class is part of the Gershom Program, a program created in the religion department last year after a donation in the summer of 2013. The program, which the donor named after Moses’ son, was established to provide greater focus on Jewish culture and Judeo-Christian relations. Since last fall, the program has sponsored lectures each semester, and is now sponsoring Kinbar’s two-week course.
In Introduction to Midrash, students will look at Old Testament scriptures and subjects such as creation, ethics, and the purpose of mankind from a comparative standpoint.
“Our religion curriculum is woefully lacking in Jewish studies, and this program is a way of supplementing the study of Judaism and its history,” Professor of Religion and Humanities Thomas Burke said.
“Judeo is in our mission statement,” Assistant Professor of Religion Don Westblade added.
At first, Kinbar had difficulty studying the Midrash because of its symbolism and hyperboles. Diving deeper into it and returning to college, he was able to gain a better understanding of Midrash, and he said it enlightened him on his perspective of Scripture as a whole.
“First it was a puzzle, then it became life-giving,” Kinbar said. “It’s like opening a fourth dimension in a 3-D world. You see more connections. It’s a new way of looking at things.”
Kinbar encouraged those interested in religion, Judaism, the Old Testament, and cultural comparisons to take the course.
He said he is excited to have the opportunity to share his passion with Hillsdale students, but said he is also eager to learn for himself, since the class will be discussion-based.
“It’s a great model for how it could be done elsewhere,” Kinbar said about the program. “I’m excited to be a part of it. It’s a larger part of an initiative that’s important.”
Both Greek History and Case Studies in the Origins of War will be three- credit courses taught by Professor of History Paul Rahe.
Last taught two years ago, the 200-level Greek History class will introduce students to ancient Greek history, archaeology, political culture, and philosophy from the Mycenaean period to the time of Alexander the Great. In his instruction of this class, Rahe plans to place greater emphasis on Greek literature, including philosophical writings, Homer’s works, and comedies and tragedies.
“It’s an old bottle with new wine,” Rahe said. “They’ll be reading the greatest books ever written. They can get an understanding of the challenges of our way of life posed by the way of life of the ancient Greeks and of the disputed questions within Greek culture reflected in their literature.”
The 400-level Origins of War, last taught three years ago, will be focused on five case studies — four that resulted in war, and one that didn’t. The course will focus on the origins of the Peloponnesian War, World War I, the Second Punic War in comparison to World War II, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and an examination of the Cold War.
“If you’re a citizen, you have to be concerned with war,” Rahe said. “They’ll be able to follow international diplomacy and have a better sense of their significance. The question of how polities get themselves into wars is a question of prudence of statesmen. If there’s any school in the United States that’s interested in prudence and stateship it ought to be Hillsdale.”

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Breana Noble
Breana Noble is The Collegian's Editor-in-Chief. She is a born and raised Michigander and studies politics and journalism. This summer, Breana interned in New York City at TheStreet, a business and finance news website. She has previously worked for The Detroit News, The American Spectator, and Newsmax Media. She eventually hopes to pursue a career in investigative journalism. email: bnoble1@hillsdale.edu | twitter: @RightandNoble