Archived list of past seminars
Fall 2017
Spring 2017
Fall 2016

Spring 2016
Fall 2015
Spring 2015
Fall 2014

Honors Courses Spring 2018

50:070:308:H1 (GCM, Anthropology)

Clark, Childhood and Culture

WF 9:35-10:55, CS203

General Education: Global Communities; or Social Sciences

Child rearing is culturally variable, and so is the experience of being a child.  Puritans in the American colonies assumed that babies were born in sin, and that the devilish traits had to be socialized out of the child.  In Bali, on the other hand, children are traditionally born revered as gods and treated as divine creatures.  Child rearing varies, even along with social class within American society.  From birth, through infant feeding, through practices of who-sleeps-where, through the specific role of mothers, fathers and kin, childhood is not so much a universal template as a culturally shaped experience. 

In this class, we will consider ethnographic research on childhood that explores the cultural distinctiveness of child experience.  We will, as strangers in a strange land, explore the variability of child development in a range of cultures from America (where the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus are taken-for-granted features) to Haiti (where children often fend for themselves on the streets to relieve the burden they’d place on impoverished families).  We will consider, too, topics of western developmental psychology, such as attachment theory, to discern how universally applicable these constructs and concepts might be in non-western, non-middle class settings.

In short, this class invites you to cross a generational threshold to childhood, while also traversing class and cultural boundaries that make childhoods distinct.  A combination of take-home essays and on-line quizzes on readings will gauge your progress along the way.

 

50:082:200:H1 (GCM, DIV)

Wu, Gender Matters in Art

Th 2:00-4:50, CS 203

General Education: Art and Aesthetic Interpretation and Diversity; or Literature and Fine Arts and Diversity

This course introduces how notions of gender shape the ways we view and appreciate art, and conversely, how the arts and visual culture shape our views of gender. Topics of discussion will include how visual arts shape ideas of masculinity and femininity and vise versa, how gender affects what art is made and how art is funded and patronized, female artists who have been written into art history or widely recognized and the reasons for their success, and issues of gendered gazes in visual culture. In addition, we will investigate contemporary art approaches that utilize art as a tool to critique gender roles and gender hierarchy, as well as the roles played by gender in art curation and exhibition. Course expectations include two exhibition reviews, a presentation, and a final paper. The purpose of these assignments is to apply new perspectives we have learned in class to view current exhibitions with a more critical eye, through the lens of gender analysis.

 

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

Ziyad, Justice, Forgiveness, and Reparations

TTh 6:00-7:20

General Education: Ethics and Values and Diversity; or History, Philosophy, Religion requirement

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.

 

50:525:109:01 (English); 50:525:152:01 (AAI)

Hostetter, Consumption

MW3:45-5:05, CS 203

General Education: Art and Aesthetic Interpretation; or Literature and Fine Arts

We do it every day and depend upon it in order to survive: consumption. We eat food and use commodities. It is our main task as part of the American middle class, our raison d’être in this society. Obesity and its related health effects are an American epidemic, trapping us in bodies that only want more.

However, the idea of consumption tends to be under-theorized in most economic models. Even if we are conceived of as consuming agents, how and why we consume what we do is only superficially studied, as if too much attention would expose as inadequate the cherished mythology of the liberated, democratic consumer, a romantic hero or heroine who confronts and conquers the wilderness of the free market. But taste and desire are not forces beyond discourse—if they were there would be no purpose in advertising. Rather, these fundamental aspects of social identity are thoroughly constructed, products of conscious choice and unconscious manipulation, pervaded by discourse, subject to power.

The business of this seminar will be to attempt to collect, engage, and understand various ideas about consumption, using both literary and theoretical texts to draw it out as a legitimate area of study. To do so, we will have to venture beyond standard social presumptions and explanations, past what the Powers that Be want us to know. Be prepared to have your default ideas of life and society challenged. Assignments will be designed to maximize your engagement with our course readings and conversations. Students will be expected to write four assignments: a short personal essay, two argumentative papers, and then design a final project of some sort, possibly something that can be displayed at CURCA at the end of the spring.

 

50:525:109:02 (English); 50:525:152:02 (AAI)

Hoffman, How to Read (and Write) a Poem

M 12:30-3:20, CS 202

General Education: Art and Aesthetic Interpretation; or Literature and Fine Arts

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.

 

50:525:109:03 (Film); 50:525:152:02 (AAI)

Sorrento, History of the Horror Film

F 12:30-3:20

General Education: Art and Aesthetic Interpretation; or Literature and Fine Arts

This course will cover the history of horror, a dynamic though misunderstood tradition in cinema. After beginning with the horror film’s first appearances in American and German silent film, this survey will trace the genre’s development in the early Hollywood studio system up through contemporary treatments. We will analyze how cinematic/cultural movements and historical eras have informed horror movies, and how landmark films – including Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Hitchcock’s Psycho, Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, among others – have revised the genre. This survey will also consider the artistry of trademark directors, screenwriters, and performers through viewing and close analysis.

 

50:525:112 (History); 50:525:160 (DIV)

Marsh, Marriage in Historical Perspective

Tu 2:00-4:50, CS 203

General Education: Diversity; or History, Philosophy, Religion requirement

The seminar explores the history of marriage in the United States through multiple perspectives, beginning in the colonial period and ending in the present. We explore the history of marriage through various lenses including those of race, gender, law, economics, culture and society.

Marriage is a private relationship, of course. It is also a public institution governed by laws and influenced by cultural values and societal norms. We will examine the history of marriage in both dimensions as we consider courtship, the spousal relationship, childrearing, and family life over the course of American history. In what ways, if any, has marriage remained unchanged during the past two hundred and fifty or so years, and how is it different?  Using both original documents and contemporary materials, we’ll answer those questions and more.

In recent years, two issues–the achievement of marriage equality for same-sex and transgendered couples and the decline in the proportion of Americans who ever marry–have received considerable public attention. These are just two of the most recent in a long line of landmark changes to the institution. Just half a century ago, for example, in many states it was illegal for people of different races to marry. In an earlier period a husband had the absolute right to his wife’s wages. And at one time in our history, when a couple divorced, the husband nearly always received custody of the children. How and why did such laws or practices exist, and what caused them to change?  And how has marriage been viewed and experienced by men and women of different backgrounds and identities? These and other questions will be addressed in both their historical and contemporary contexts through readings, discussions, and a variety of writing assignments.

 

50:525:117:01 (Philosophy); 50:525:155:01 (EAV)

Yates, Digital Democracy

Th 11:10-12:30 (Hybrid format), CS 203

General Education: Ethics and Values; or History, Philosophy, Religion requirement

Section note: This course meets in a Hybrid format

Technology has always significantly impacted both the structure and aspirations of democratic societies, from widespread use of printing presses, to the development of voting machines. In our own time, that we live largely digitally mediated lives raises questions about the feasibility and validity of basic democratic principles. Rising concerns over fake news raise questions about whether democratic citizens have adequate knowledge to participate in self-governance. Increasing online personalization through social media and search engine strategies threaten to undermine the feasibility of conceptions of public deliberation across divergent world views. On the other hand, increased access to information, and rising digital literacy enables many more people to participate in democratic processes. Easier translation across languages enables more extensive cross-cultural dialog.

In this course we’ll study four core concepts from democratic theories and apply them to aspects of our digitally mediated public and private lives. We’ll study theories of democratic legitimacy of laws, public knowledge, equality among the governed, and transnational human rights against the backdrop of case studies drawn from across digital humanities. The class will follow a hybrid (or blended) format, working together half online and half in person. In addition to working together through online discussions, students will be asked to research and comment on different ways we engage with one another politically using various online or digitally mediated devices. For a final project students will choose between a traditional final paper format or a pre-recorded class presentation. 

 

50:525:119:01 (Political Science); 50:525:153:01 (GCM)

Donaghy, The Politics of Inequality

TTh 11:10-12:30, CS 202

General Education: Global Communities; or Social Sciences

Did growing inequality in America lead to Trump’s 2016 presidential victory? Will growing inequality in China eventually lead to political revolution? Questions about the impact of inequality on politics become increasingly important as the distance between the haves and have-nots multiplies. But, what do we mean by inequality, how do we measure it, and what are the actual empirical trends in income inequality across the globe? In this course we tackle these questions, carefully examining the causes of inequality in the modern world and the political consequences of current trends. Though we will cover the United States in some depth, we will also seek to understand the global and local implications of inequality for politics around the world. We will explore race, gender, globalization, and educational opportunities as chief variables in the persistence of inequality, but we will also ask about who stands to win and lose from the status quo. Perhaps most importantly, if we can agree that the consequences of inequality are critical to the future of democracy and human development, we will think about how we as a global society can move forward to promote greater equality and more just political outcomes. Though we may not be able to answer all of these big questions, the course presents a survey of literature on the politics of inequality to induce critical thought and reflection on the path forward.

 

50:525:120:01 (Psychology); 50:525:157:01 (PLS)

Whitlow, Rational and Irrational Minds

WF 9:35-10:55, CS 202

General Education: Physical and Life Sciences; or Social Sciences

This course examines ideas about human rationality and irrationality, especially as they have been expressed in the literature and science of Western thinkers from the time of Descartes. Western culture has often exalted rationality as the essential mark of superior mental, moral and social development. But what does it mean to be rational? And, conversely, what does it mean to be irrational?  To explore answers to these questions, the course will use modern cognitive psychology as an organizing framework for discussion. However, it will draw on a wide variety of perspectives, incorporating literary, philosophical, historical, and clinical sources to amplify the breadth of the discussion. The course requirements will consist of short reaction papers to various readings, completion of some simple out-of-class projects, completion of a 10-12 page paper.

 

50:525:128:01 (Urban Studies); 50:525:155:02 (EAV)

Wood, Philanthropy: Charity or Social Change?

MW 2:05-3:25, CS 203

General Education: Ethics and Values; or Social Sciences

Philanthropy, by direct translation from Greek, means “the love of humanity”. In the modern sense, philanthropy has come to represent the private means of responding to public problems. Philanthropy is the process of using private dollars and private initiatives to do charitable work not sufficiently provided by the government or business sectors. This practice is held in great esteem within American society, but is it the most effective or equitable way of solving public problems?

In this seminar, we will review the history of philanthropy and the “third sector” in the United States and abroad, with particular focus on the ethics and value systems upon which modern philanthropy was designed. We will explore the development of this practice over time and the understanding of charity it has created. We will dissect the inherent power disparities that exist in this model to determine if this is the indeed an efficient and equitable way to solve complex social problems, and how this system aligns with the ethical values of American society. Lastly, we will imagine the ways that society can move forward toward a more effective expression of a “love of humanity”.

Students will explore these concepts through a variety of means. This is a discussion-based class and will require students to help lead and enhance those discussions. Students will be expected to submit short reflective responses to reading assignments, critically analyze several case study scenarios, and further develop their ideas through a written take-home midterm. Students will complete the course through a final paper, making a case for the societal values we cherish and how we best move forward.

 

50:525:129 (Sociology); 50:525:161 (ECL)

Saltzman, Adolescence and Society

Th 2:00-4:50, CS 202

General Education: Engaged Civic Learning; or Social Sciences

This class looks at the variability of the adolescent experience in the United States and other societies, and it examines the complex biological, cognitive, and cultural transitions that mark this stage of life when many individuals become increasingly independent and relationships acquire new meaning.  When did the idea of the “teenager” and youth culture begin? How does the adolescent experience affect families, friendships, and romantic relationships? We will explore how this is a time of broadening horizons and self-discovery for many, but how it can also can be a time of new dangers including the threat of youth gangs and harmful peer pressure.

You will also have an opportunity to do a Civic Engagement Project and visit one of the local Camden schools where you will help prepare sixth grade students for their transition to middle school.  Through a series of interactive exercises, you will help students define their goals and understand the sociological context of their school, neighborhood, and their age cohort and hopefully leave them with a message of hope about the future despite obstacles that they may have to overcome to succeed. You will then write about your experience, your observations, and what you have learned.

 

Civilization and Heritages

50:510:101:H1 (HAC)

Walker, Western Civilization I: Questioning the Traditional Narrative

MW 12:30-1:50

General Education: Heritages and Civilizations

In this course, we will be exploring the concept of “Western Civilization” from its ancient foundations to the Middle Ages. Throughout, we will be questioning the traditional narrative of the history of the “West” as we work both to construct an understanding for ourselves of what the West and Western Civilization are and to develop an awareness of what the West has meant over time. In recent years, the concept of Western Civilization has become a political flashpoint. Since Western Civilization was introduced as a college course after WWII, it has presented students with a version of the history of the “West” that concentrates particularly on “high” culture and “great” men. Critics of the Western Civ course have also pointed out that it presumes and perpetuates the belief that Western Civilization is the model the rest of the world should and will follow in the future. But what is the “West”? Where is it? When is it? What ideas and ideals does it present and are these ideas and ideals always exemplified in societies identified as the West? Is the West or Western Civilization itself only an idea that has taken different forms at various times? Students will approach these questions by learning to read and analyze primary sources, as well as engaging with the arguments of current scholarship. Among the topics we will explore are the formation of political systems, the role religion and religious institutions play in the development of civilization, major intellectual trends, the concept of “others” and “difference,” and the motives for including certain civilizations in the history of the West.