Seminar Archives                                                                             Spring 2018
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Fall 2018 Honors Courses

First-Year Courses

50:525:121:01 (USW); 50:525:160:H2 (DIV, credit BA)

Minitte, The Right to Vote – Currently Full

TTh 9:35-10:55, CS 202

Course note: General Education: United States in the World; and Diversity   

In the history of human development and the struggle for freedom and equality, the right to vote is a gripping and powerful idea. It means that by controlling the state, ordinary people can exert some control over their lives, that they have a say in the way they are governed and in the policies that regulate the economy.

But just because democracy challenges the unequal distribution of economic power, the right to vote has been continuously contested, as it is today. We are in a new era of globalization and capitalist expansion that has created unprecedented wealth and concentrated that wealth and its economic and political power in the hands of the few. This presents an enormous challenge to democracy, and in the United States, the right to vote is under an assault unseen in more than fifty years.

Our seminar explores the contested history of the right to vote and the dream of ordinary people to live lives of dignity, fullness and respect. We will focus on the struggles of the historically marginalized, such as African Americans, the working class, and women, and their movements for civil rights, paying special attention to moments of democratic reversal when the right to vote was restricted. People have died for the right to vote, and yet, nearly half of all eligible voters in the United States do not vote – why? We will compare the struggle for the right to vote in the United States to the experiences of other democratic countries, and examine how the rules that institutionalize this right differ, and why they matter. What do electoral rules tell us about what and how a society thinks about the nature of a political community, about who belongs and who is excluded, about how power will be shared? The readings will include a broad range of materials, from classic statements of democratic theory, to historical accounts and primary documents, to court opinions and graphic novels. We will hear from voting rights advocates, and visit the home of the radical reformer and early twentieth century suffragist, Alice Paul, a native of Mount Laurel, New Jersey. Students will also have an opportunity to participate in an Election Day polling project in Camden.

50:525:152:01 (AAI)

Hoffman, How to Read (and Write) a Poem

M 12:30-3:20, CS 202

Course note: General Education: Art, Aesthetics, and Theories of Interpretation

Poetry is the oldest kind of writing we have, and yet it’s not well understood, in part because sometimes poetry—and sometimes on purpose—can be difficult to figure out. In this course we’ll read a wide variety of poetry—especially from the modern period—and work to figure it out together, considering how the poet says what she wants to say. What techniques are involved? How is poetic language put together? What traditional and nontraditional forms can help shape a poetic message? In short, we will think carefully about, and analyze, the ‘craft’ of poetry. In addition to learning how to unpack a poem and to more fully enjoy poetry, you’ll be given opportunities to write your own poetry, both according to rules and without. You don’t need to have any prior knowledge of poetry, or any previous practice reading or writing it. Just bring your curiosity! Assignments will include short papers analyzing poems for use in class discussions; a mid-length (5-page) paper at mid-term; a longer paper (10-page) at the end of the term; and a take-home final exam.


50:525:152:02 (AAI); 50:525:160:H1 (DIV, credit BA)

Sayre, American Horror- Currently Full

MW 3:45-5:05, CS 202

Course note: General Education: Art, Aesthetics, and Theories of Interpretation; and Diversity

What are we scared of? What makes a monster? What does it mean to scream?  In this course, we will think about horror–its creatures and conventions–in order to understand how negative emotions like fear and disgust organize our world (even as they undermine our confidence in it). Course materials will include literature, film, comics, and video games, and students will be taught how to analyze and compare works in different media.


50:525:155:01 (EAV)

Allen, Critical Issues in Criminal Justice – Currently Full

MW 9:35-10:55, CS 202 

Course note: General Education: Ethics and Values

This course will focus on ethical issues in criminal justice that have arisen over time and exist in society today. Topics will include punishment and sentencing, the “blue wall of silence” among law enforcement, the death penalty, the rights of those who have been traditionally oppressed, and the privatization of criminal justice system components. Additionally, students are expected to think critically about ethical reasoning as it pertains to individual, social, and cultural judgments, and justice and injustice



Nussbaumer, Democratic Backsliding – Currently Full

MW 3:45-5:05, CS 203

Course note: General Education: Global Communities

In this course, students develop their social-science skills by studying the the erosion and collapse of democracies (drawing from the fields of political science, law, and history).  Students are then prepared to critically assess the “democracy indices” that are relied upon by nonprofit organizations to rank countries around the world.  We will also engage with material from the humanities (for example, the classical Greek understanding of democracy as always mortal and in danger of collapse into a characteristic ‘perversion’). 

Humanities perspectives (perhaps in the form of a novel and films) will encourage students to supplement the social-science questions (whether, why, and how a democracy ‘backslides’ into another form of government) with related questions about the subjective experience of citizenship and different notions of ‘political time’.  For example, do citizens tend to engage in different kinds of political behavior if they believe their form of government is the ‘end of history’ or they believe it is endangered? 

While the course treats both historical and contemporary democracies (e.g., Weimar Germany and present-day Venezuela), the course does not teach any particular view as to whether today’s democracies are under unusual stress.  Rather, students are encouraged to come to their own well-reasoned judgments.


50:840:267:H1 (Philosophy; EAV, DIV)

Ziyad, Justice, Forgiveness, and Reparations

F 12:30-3:20

General Education: Ethics and Values

The course focuses understanding on the relation between the concepts of justice, and its sub-elements of forgiveness and reparations in the context of recent domestic and international approaches to the righting of historicalsocial wrongs. Specifically, we will grapple with reparative ideas from the fields of ethics, political and social philosophy, religion, law, international relations and history. A review of varying kinds of ethical considerations of the justice ideal (i.e., intergenerational, restorative, commutative and transitional) is intended to explore and make sense of the claims of harmed/oppressed groups — cultural, ethnic, religious, ideological and racial minorities — and the varied responses of harming/oppressor groups to those claims.

We will also touch on some of the psychosocial dynamics involved in the processes of historical memory — evaluating and clarifying the past — as a non-consensus exercise in historiography: the acknowledgement of responsibility for grossly harmful behaviors and policies towards internal groups that are stigmatized, weak, powerless, and marginalized; demonstrating regret and apologizing for historical wrongs; dealing with compensatory measures to at least symbolically restore victims or their living descendants to a position of communal dignity; to repair damaged relations or amend harms done to victims; to repay that which was stolen or immorally gained; and to eventually foster an atmosphere of reconciliation between former enemies who have come to value social diversity via shared communal goals that vision a reordering of societal values, priorities and relationships.



Wood, Introduction to Psychology (PLS)– For Nursing Students Only

TTh 11:10-12:30, CS 202 – Currently Full

MW 2:05-3:25, BSB 334

This course is an introduction to the methods, theories, and basic principles in the major fields of psychology, including biological basis of behavior, sensation and perception, learning, cognitive processes, lifespan development, personality, social psychology, psychological testing, and clinical diagnosis and treatment. This course will emphasize using psychology in everyday life. We will be using an free online textbook as our main text and required activities on an online psychology lab to enhance student learning. Class time will be spent extending the concepts from the reading through activities, practice worksheets, and critical thinking. Students are required to participate in university sponsored research or complete an approved, appropriate alternative activity.


50:965:202: H1 (AAI)

Ellis, Play Reading and Analysis: Theater on Stage and on the Page

MW 9:35-10:55, FA 109

Course note: General Education: Art and Aesthetic Interpretation

Through reading, discussion, and viewing film and live performance, this course will offer students increased knowledge and experience of drama as both a literary and theatrical pursuit.  We will read a variety of plays from different eras, cultures and styles.  We will analyze how a play works, considering what questions a director, an actor, and a designer need to ask for a strong and imaginative production. In addition, we will look at representative articles of dramatic theory and criticism. Students will leave the class with a keener and better-informed ability to read, view or produce a play, and perform a role.


Sophomore-Level Courses

50:082:203:H1 (HAC)

Pilliod, Medieval Art and Culture

Tu 2:00-4:50, Classroom TBA

Visual Culture of the Middle Ages from the 4th to the 14th centuries is a broad, global view that overturns that standard notions of the “Dark Ages” as an era of decline and Eurocentrism. Topics include Early Christian, Byzantine, Islamic, Romanesque and Gothic art and architecture.  This course will start with the collapse of the Roman Empire and the new Christian art that grew out of the traditions of Greek, Roman, and Ancient Near Eastern culture.  Then we will examine the Byzantine Empire that carried on, preserving and re-configuring art for a new world order.  The later rise of European centers from Ireland to Germany, and the evolution of metal arts, manuscript illumination, stained-glass, and enamels will be traced.  The impact of the Crusades on the transmission of ideas and objects through cultural exchange, and a look at the major monuments of Islamic Art will provide a counterpoint to the Western European cultural discussion. The stunning Gothic cathedrals will conclude the course.  In addition to an exercise to seek out the “Medieval Camden,” a Saturday trip to the Met Cloisters in New York (the premier museum for medieval objects in this country) will substitute for one of our weekly class meetings. Students will be responsible for writing a number of short exercises, summaries, or essays that will designed to show you how to write about art. No midterm or final.


50:350:302:H1 (HAC)

Fitter, War and the Warrior

TTh 3:35-4:55, Classroom TBA

What does it mean to kill a man, in Homer?  Was Julius Caesar a psychopath or a virtuoso Roman? What is the Judeo-Christian take on war?

Covering nearly three millennia of Western history, from Homer on the siege of Troy to the Vietnam war, this course aims to introduce students to some of the leading conceptions of the nature of war and the warrior which have emerged in successive eras in the West. It will place these varying conceptions in their individual cultural conditions, surveying both material transformations in the making of war, and changing cultural assessments of war and the warrior as examined in detail in literary representations. Three exams, and a term paper of six pages.


50:965:380:H1 (HAC)

Elliott, History of Theatre I

TTh 11:10-12:30, Classroom TBA

This course will cover the fundamentals of the history of world theater and drama by examining performance traditions and theater practices from their earliest ritual beginnings to the eighteenth century. The student will read major dramatic texts representative of these periods, which are key to the development of world drama. Although there is an emphasis placed on the western canon, some class time will be devoted to non-western theatre as well. Class activities will include lectures, discussions, audio-visual presentations, reading, and writing assignments.  Major playwrights covered include Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Shakespeare and Moliere. In addition to quizzes and papers, there will be a midterm and final.


 50:525:153:01 (GCM)

Westman, Monuments and Memorials

MW 12:30-1:50, Classroom TBA

Memorials to the dead exist throughout the world. They commemorate soldiers, terrorist victims, political leaders, celebrities, local heroes, tragic victims, and ordinary and sometimes anonymous people. Sometimes they are built by governments and become landmarks, but other times they are spontaneous outpourings of grief as we saw in Parkland, Florida in March. Memorials such as the 9/11 Memorial in New York City and the Vietnam Veterans memorial in Washington, D.C. were hotly contested, and generated tremendous debate about who and what is memorialized. Some memorials are memorials of “shame,” commemorating victims but also pointing out a historical problem, such as the gun violence mural in Philadelphia, the lynching and slave memorials in the American south, or the AIDS quilt which one scholar describes as a both public mourning and consciousness raising. Some memorials were not even intended to be memorials but became official spaces of mourning, such as the concentration camp of Birkenau-Auschwitz in Poland. This course will examine both historical and contemporary memorials in Asia, Europe, and the United States. We will pursue questions such as what do monuments and memorials look like? Who and what are memorialized? Does the meaning of a memorial change over time? What is the purpose of spontaneous memorials, such as roadside memorials or the memorials that appear after a school shooting? Finally, we will examine how social media is changing the monuments we leave for the dead. It is anticipated that we will visit at least some of the memorials that we are studying in Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington, D.C.