Social media applications like Facebook and Twitter raise thought-provoking questions about our understanding of friendship in the Twenty-First Century: Are online and real-life friendships the same? Can we calculate the value of a friendship mathematically? How have artists traditionally expressed ideas about friendship in poems, essays, paintings, and films? How do contemporary friendships compare to those of the past? We will work through such questions by understanding the technology behind social networking, the psychology behind social connections, and the philosophy and history of friendship. For example, Facebook uses every like, poke, and tag to calculate the value of our relationships. These calculations represent the best efforts of scientists to estimate the closeness of our friendships and the best attempts of businesses to profit from these data. We will compare this mathematical approach to friendship to artistic and literary accounts of intimate relationships. By the end of the course, we will combine humanistic and scientific approaches to the subject to evaluate the role of friendship in a liberal education.
Suggested integrated semester course paring with GER-200; PHL-255; ENG-255 (Hess)