“Aeneas was our prince: a juster lord,
Or nobler warrior, never drew a sword;
Observant of the right, religious of his word.
– from The Aeneid, by Virgil, Book I.
“Wish you would’ve dropped by earlier, Jackie Boy, then you could’ve met
my boyfriend, could’ve seen what a real man looks like.”
– Sin City
“A man is attracted to a woman because he sees beyond her physical
beauty to those qualities of character that he longs to possess in himself.”
– Walter Newell: The Code of Man: Love, Courage, Pride, Family,
Asking what it means to be a “good man” is to engage a series of deeply
ethical, social, cultural, and emotional questions. The question becomes
even more challenging and interesting to think about when we bring
different academic disciplines to bear on it — art, narrative, music, film, and
history, for example. And that’s what we will do in this section of
Perspectives on Inquiry: we ask what it means to be a good man in this life
by considering the question from a range of disciplinary, historical, and
contemporary sources and methods.
We also explore how questions such as ours affect both women and men,
and we hope that both enroll in the course.
Our explorations will include the values of classical and non-western
civilizations, how Jesus is represented in the Gospels, competing visions of
public figures such as Tupac Shakur, the performance and representation of
men in recent scandals, and the ideas and materials that you bring to our
As I gather materials for the course, I’m struck by some intruiging
questions: what’s the equivalent “he’s-a-good-man” marker for women?
She’s a _____ woman? Are there different meanings for what a “good man”
might imply in different economic, social, and regional contexts? Is there
something temptingly delicious about watching a previously “good man” go
down in flames and scandal on national TV and in front of a judge & jury?
Do artists, photographers, and people who seek meaning in art and pictures
have a different language than what we find in books and movies?
As part of our study, we compare the assumptions, methodologies, and
goals of contrasting intellectual disciplines that you will encounter in college
and in life. This is a reading- and writing-intensive course, so you should plan to
stay abreast of the course calendar and your regular weekly assignments.
You will write and present, both individually and in groups, approximately
40 pages during the course, and we read — closely and carefully — articles
and book chapters every week. I’ll pick some and you’ll pick some.
It’s no secret around here that students who take early and regular
advantage of Michigan Tech’s Writing Center not only do better in
their classes, but also benefit from the interactions with the coaches
and staff in the Center.