Spring 2020 Honors Courses
Chingshin Wu, Japanese Art
This course introduces the art and architecture of Japan. Lectures will survey Japanese art chronologically and thematically across a variety of media from prehistoric through contemporary times. We will be concerned with issues related to the wider study of visual and material culture. Painting, sculpture, ceramics, architecture, textile, and modern media will be situated in historical, religious, and cultural contexts, with particular emphasis on identity issues deriving from Japan’s periodic participation in continental Chinese culture as well as Western culture. By carefully completing each week’s reading and analyzing real objects and digital projects, students will be expected to develop their knowledge of art in Japan as well as their own ideas about displaying Japanese art digitally.
Holly Blackford, “Children’s Literature, Film, Media, and Animation”
This course interrogates inanimate beings who achieve sentience and explore boundaries between human and machine/object. We will cover von Kleist’s “On the Marionette Theater” and E. T. A. Hoffmann’s response with Nutcracker and Mouse King; Collodi’s famous puppet Pinocchio and his progeny in early cinema and animated film; men in Oz; the animation of Vladislav Starewicz, who animated insects and who created the first film of a toy coming to life (The Mascot), influencing Tim Burton; The Velveteen Rabbit, Little Machinery, and other dolls, machines, and cyborgs in various media (from Muppets to movies); and the most interesting animation of Disney, Pixar, and others who focus on animation as theme and form, and the dilemmas of nonhuman creatures (Jiří Trnka’s The Hand and Henson’s Muppets; Disney’s Pinocchio and Roger Rabbit; Lasseter’s early Brave Little Toaster and later Toy Story; Burton’s Edward Scissorhands; Kidōtai’s Ghost in the Shell, and Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle).
Each of the following is worth 1/3rd of your course grade: participation; response papers; final project. The final project should be akin to the work of a 5 pp paper claiming an literary-cultural argument about primary sources; however, you are welcome to do a non-traditional electronic project or otherwise: storyboard or animation with reflective essay on your choices, social media project; video game design with reflective essay; electronic paper (preferred) with interactive clips and links (all English majors will need wordpress sites anyway by graduation); podcasts or creative adaptations/screenplays. For larger electronic projects, you may work collaboratively.
Kenneth Banner, “Jews, Christians, and Muslims”
This course will consider three religious traditions which began in the Middle East and their relationships with each other. It will provide a basic familiarity with the religions and will place special emphasis on exploring the major developments, and variety within each of these monotheistic faiths.
The class will begin with an introduction to the beginnings of each of the religions in the ancient world. This part of the course will be chronological, and will include discussion of the religious atmosphere of the Ancient Near East, the Greco-Roman world and pre-Islamic Arabia, the settings in which the three religions developed.
After this basic introduction, the focus will be topical. Each of the following eight units will consider Judaism, Christianity, and Islam comparatively, looking at issues such as the role of scripture, monotheism, ritual, authority, ethics, material culture, politics and gender.
Course requirements will include weekly reading assignments, participation in online class discussions, a term paper of 10-12 pages and an in-class presentation.
Anne Vial, Classical Drama, Modern Politics – FULL
Classical Drama, Modern Politics looks at contemporary issues of justice, the rule of law, suppression, and resistance through the lens of Greek drama. We will read Sophocles’ Antigone, the story of a young woman’s choice to obey divine law over the laws of the state, and its powerful 2016 retelling in Antigone in Ferguson. And we will read Aeschylus’ Oresteia, with its themes of hereditary mayhem, revenge, justice, and patriarchy, for the ways in which it speaks to our current social and political moment. The course will be heavily discussion-based. There will be two papers, a project, and occasional response writing both in and out of class.
Paul Lisicky, “Singers and Songwriters” – FULL
Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Björk, James Blake, Frank Ocean, Mitski: What do these iconic figures have in common aside from the fact that they compose and perform their own music? What can the solo artist achieve that a band can’t? Over the course of the term we’ll think about the singer-songwriter as an auteur, an artist developing a singular, vital vision over time, from album to album. We’ll listen to and discuss individual songs, as well as watch the occasional performance. Through rigorous (and joyful) appreciation of these figures, we’ll learn to be more confident interpreters of word and sound—in other words, better readers of the world at large.
50:525:152:02 (Special Topics Art)
Eliz Demaray, “Biodesign”
Special Topics in Art: Biodesign, 50:080:490, addresses the subject of biotechnology as an emergent media in art and industry. This class explores how we might we harness this medium to improve the form and function of our designed world— our garments, buildings, foods, medicines and infrastructure, while considering bio ethics and the speculative possibilities of this new medium. Project work from this class will be juried and included in the 2020 Biodesign Challenge (BDC). This international competition brings together students in art, design and science to address the pressing ecological issues of our time while envisioning the future applications of biotechnology. The final project from Special Topics in Sculpture, will be juried and the winner will be presented in June 2020 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York as part of the BDC. There are no official pre-requisites for this class.
James Boucher, “Cinema of the Francophone World”
France and the French language have impacted the world in innumerable ways, from colonial empire to cultural influencer. This course affords the opportunity to discover the history and culture of the francophone world through a cinematographic exploration of Western and Sub-Saharan Africa, the Maghreb, the Caribbean, the Canadian province of Québec, as well as the former French colonies of Southeast Asia. Offering a panoramic vision of the French-speaking world through the eyes of its filmmakers and auteurs, the pedagogic emphasis of this seminar is centered on cultural competencies and sociocultural and historical knowledge. Plunging into the past, but equally focused on the present, contemporary questions such as immigration and globalization will also be addressed.
Nathan Walker, “Religion and Human Rights”
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 was born in response to the genocide of over six million Jews in Nazi Germany. And yet, its values were conceived hundreds of years prior by religious communities that, in their own geographic and cultural contexts, advocated for protections for human’s inalienable rights.
In this Global Communities course, students will use both legal studies and religious studies to examine the origins, developments, effects, and critiques of four legal frameworks: freedom of religion, freedom for religion, freedom from religion, and freedom within religion. By studying international case studies, students will cultivate their cross-cultural, inter-religious, and intra-religious understanding about how the rule of law can be used to promote and protect the human right to “freedom of religion or belief” for people of all religions and none. Special attention will be given to the critical examination of the limitations of human-rights frameworks and the limitations of rule-of-law responses to human rights abuses.
Why is this such an urgent subject? Over three quarters of the world’s population lives in countries with high levels of government restrictions on religious people; these restrictions corelate with increased levels of social hostilities and violence. The legal framework of human rights has been a proven, albeit limited, remedy in deescalating such conflicts, demonstrating that the promotion of peaceful coexistence can be an effective security strategy.
Lori Minnitte, “Democracy and the Right to Vote” – FULL
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 own lives, that they have a say in the way they are governed and in the policies that regulate the economy. The foundation of modern representative democracy is grounded in equal access to the right to vote.
Our seminar explores the modern 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 historical moments of reversal when the right to vote was suppressed. We will also pay attention to the contradictions of history. For example, people have died for the right to vote, and yet, nearly half of all eligible voters in the United States routinely do not vote in presidential elections – why? We will compare the struggle for the right to vote in the United States to the experiences of other advanced 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 allocated and shared?
Gary Francione (Law School), “Animal Rights”
Have you ever wondered why we love some animals and think of them as members of our families, and we stick forks into other animals? If there is one thing that is clear, it is that we think very unclearly about the other animals with whom we share the planet. In this course, we are going to try to think more critically about animals. We will cover various ethical theories that concern the use and treatment of nonhuman animals by humans. These theories include: (1) the position that animals do not matter morally; (2) the animal welfare position, which maintains that animals have moral value but that humans can use animals as resources as long as they treat animals “humanely”; and (3) the animal rights or abolitionist position, which maintains that we cannot justify animal use. The course will also cover legal efforts to regulate animal use and efforts to achieve “humane” treatment. We will see how the ethical issues influence legal doctrines that concern animals and how the legal status of animals as property influences our moral thinking about animals. There will be no exam. Students will be expected to do a final paper on a topic that interests them and to do at least one class presentation, which, depending on student choice, may or may not be on the subject chosen for the final paper.
Kurt Fowler, “Philosophy of Crime and Justice” – FULL
Philosophy of Crime and Deviance will examine the development of the scientific, historical, and theoretical approaches to explaining crime and the philosophy that underlies the ethics of the law. Throughout the semester, the class will examine the different ethical reasonings and philosophical perspectives through a selection of classic and modern readings; which will aid in developing skills to debate and substantively defend personal standpoints and policies.
Wayne Glasker, “History, Biography, and Diversity”
History and Biography “examines the relationship of history and biography. It explores how the lives of individual Americans can be used to illuminate critical themes in American history, and demonstrates how individual lives are shaped by historical forces.” One way to approach this would be to use elite examples, such as Lincoln, the Roosevelts, Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon, etc. Instead, this semester, I have selected more “ordinary” people. Ordinary people who do extraordinary things can make a difference and have an impact on “history.” And these ordinary people symbolize broader social issues in the struggle for power.
This semester we will use five books. There will at least one paper assigned for each book. The biographies and autobiographies symbolize and illustrate issues of race, gender, class, sexual orientation, immigration, and power. They engage issues such as segregation and the civil rights movement; patriarchy and the women’s movement; the LGBTQ movement and gays in the military; the illusion of a post racial America in the age of mass incarceration, racial profiling, and rampant police brutality; and the immigrant experience in contemporary America.
Margaret Marsh, “Marriage in Historical Perspective”
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 original documents, historical analysis, and contemporary materials, we’ll answer those questions and more.
In recent years, two issues – the achievement of marriage equality for same-sex 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.
Honors College Independent Study
Hours By Arrangement; 1-3 credit hours
The Honors College independent study is an opportunity for motivated and engaged students to pursue a semester-long project that aligns with their academic and/or professional interests. Students will be supervised by the Director of the Honors College and/or one of the Assistant Deans, and will likely meet with other independent study students at the beginning of the semester to think critically about their goals and about leadership. Interested students are invited to propose a focused project that engages the Honors College, its students, and its mission. Students may propose independent study topics such as social media/newsletter project, community service, organizing an Honors College research symposium, or film/video projects featuring the Honors College.
We are now accepting proposals for Independent Study projects; submit your proposal to Dr. Westman (firstname.lastname@example.org) by December 20 for consideration for Spring 2020.
Please be aware that Independent Study does not fulfill the Honors Seminar requirement.