FYS-110 The Literature of Vocation

Instructor: Associate Professor Joanne Elizabeth Myers
Department: English

Course Description:
Gettysburg College exhorts its students to “Do great work.” But why should we? For hundreds of years, the idea of a vocation has helped people make sense of and find meaning in their work. In this course, we will read fictional tales of people who seek out, stumble into, and try to flee their vocations in life. By exploring “the literature of vocation,” we will seek to answer questions that people have long posed about their work. What does it mean to have a vocation? Does everyone have one? What if we are called to do work that we don’t want to do? Will the world respect our vocation, and what are the consequences if it doesn’t? We will supplement our literary readings by excerpts from religious and philosophical works that show how the concept of vocation has shifted throughout history. Because this class is about making meaning of our work, students will also be asked to do some work: each student enrolled in the course will also be required to undertake a twenty-hour service learning project. Service learning will both give students a hands-on way to experience and reflect on different reasons for working and bring them into contact with people from the local community who have a wide range of experiences with the world of work.