Spring 2019 Honors Courses


Chinghsin Wu, Global Modern Art

50:082:214:H1 (GCM)

Th 2:00-4:50 pm

This course considers art in the modern era in global context. It investigates arts beyond Europe and America, including Asia and other cultural centers around the world. It introduces several crucial transformations and developments in art and visual cultures that emerged globally, including Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Expressionism, Abstract Art, Dada, and Surrealism. We will analyze the arts within the context of several social and political trends from the 19th century through the 20th century, including world’s fairs and global trade, the rise and fall of the imperialism and colonization, images of race, and wartime propaganda. We will also investigate the impact of westernization and globalization on the arts, regional innovation of traditional arts, and related curatorial, economic, and gender issues. This course satisfies the requirements of the general education theme Global Communities (GCM). 

Course expectations include class discussion, a film review (2-3 pages), a presentation, an exhibition review (2-3 pages), and a final paper (5-7 pages).


Georgia Arbuckle-Keil, Art & Chemistry:  Beautiful Together


TTh 2:00-3:20 pm

Course Note: General Education: Physical and Life Sciences

In this introductory course for non-science majors, the relationship between chemistry and art will be discussed from historical and scientific perspectives.  The nature of color, creating color, and the art and science of fastening/fixing color will be explained. The chemical techniques used to follow these processes will be discussed. Basic chemistry concepts will be presented in the context of organic and inorganic pigments.  Topics covered will include the properties of light, metals and their compounds, ceramics, polymers, photography, and art conservation science.

A trip to the analytical chemistry laboratory at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is planned.  The intent is to utilize both the free period immediately before class along with the class time.

The course grade will be based primarily on two midterm exams; a final paper or oral presentation of a topic of interest to the student; and the final exam. Attendance is required.


Greg Pardlo, “Is It OK to Laugh?”: Black Writers, Satire, and Race


TTh 3:35-4:55 pm

Course note: General Education: Art and Aesthetic Interpretation

From Phillis Wheatley’s cheeky rebukes to Colonial American racism to Paul Beatty’s outrageously irreverent 2015 Man-Booker Prize-winning novel The Sellout, satire has played a central role in African  American writers’ efforts to illustrate the absurdities of race. Yet how is it that black writers have been able to lampoon a culture based on (however diminishing) beliefs about white superiority while writing their way into the very heart of American literature? What makes satire more than merely funny or discomforting, but an effective tool for social change? In-class writing assignments throughout the semester will support weekly homework assignments. Homework assignments will serve as drafts contributing to a midterm essay and a final essay of 4-5 pages each.


William FitzGerald, Sound Rhetoric


MW 9:35-10:55 am

Course note: General Education: Art and Aesthetic Interpretation; Experiential Learning

We will consider the power and logic of sound in the natural and human environment, including our need and desire to make sound as an expression of our creative capacities. We will explore how sound functions in a range of sonic forms: ambient noise, speech, silence and of course music. We will read about theories of sound and sound production, but beyond that we will listen and record and experiment with sound in various “ears open”—analogous to “hands on”—activities. In addition to several re?ective, exploratory and response papers, students will undertake, individually or in pairs, a modest research project (e.g., ?eldwork, experimenting with sound technology) as an original contribution to the ?eld of sound studies.


50:525:153:01 (GCM)

Matthew Sorrento, European New Wave Cinema

F  12:30-3:20, CS 202

The 20th century witnessed significant revolution in politics and culture. This course examines how the cinema of Europe contributed to, and critiqued, these changes. By studying films from France, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Romania, from the mid-century to the present (in various styles and genres), students will understand how the cinema worked as social action to address post-fascism, totalitarianism, the War in Vietnam, and other issues. Weekly journals, two papers, and two unit tests. 


Sandra Simkins, Juvenile Law and Policy


Tu 2:00-4:50 pm

Course note: General Education: Ethics and Values

How are juvenile offenders treated differently from adult offenders? To what extent should they be? These questions provide the focus for examining how the state treats the “aberrant” behavior of children. Students will be introduced to the legal, social, and historical underpinnings of the juvenile justice system in the United States beginning with founding of the juvenile court in 1899 and then-held assumptions about the nature of childhood. We will then examine how in the late twentieth century the juvenile court has undergone both ideological and institutional change from its original form. These shifts in theory and practice will be outlined with specific attention to court decisions (specifically U.S. Supreme Court decisions) that have significantly affected juvenile court, as well as psychological and social science data that have a continuing impact on juvenile court practice and jurisdiction. In addition, the course will examine juvenile law and policy through the recent story of Kalief Browder (which is now a six-part documentary series on Netflix). The Kalief Browder story will allow students to consider ethics and values regarding the transfer or youth to adult prison, solitary confinement, race and the criminal justice system and access to counsel.  Students will be evaluated during the semester based on two short response papers (30%, first one due in week 3, second one due at week 10) a midterm  and final exam (50%) a presentation (either in a group or alone, 10% weeks 12-13) in addition to participation in class (10%).


Nathan Walker, Religion and Law – 


TTh 3:35-4:55 pm

Course note: General Education: Ethics and Values

Religion & Law examines the origins and developments of religious liberty in the United States from the colonial and founding periods to present day. Attention is given to the historical and legal foundations that currently govern the relationship of religion and the state; that define “free exercise” protections for people of all religions and none; that set limitations on the state from “establishing” or privileging a religion; and provides a civic framework for people to self-govern one of the most religiously diverse societies in the world.

Students will compose five one-page, single-spaced memos––worth ten points each; the purpose of these memos is to demonstrate mastery of the subject matter in those units. Students will also participate in five Socratic seminars––worth ten points each; in a small circle, students will engage the instructor in a 30-minute discussion based on what they wrote in their memos.


Margaret Marsh, Perspectives in the History of Medicine and Health


M 12:30-3:20 pm

Course note: General Education: Diversity 

In 1900, a newborn in the United States had a life expectancy of about 49 years. Babies born a century later, in 2000, had a life expectancy of 77 years – almost three decades longer. Advances in public health and medicine, from clean water to better hygiene, from antibiotics to vaccines, and from chemotherapy to immunotherapy dramatically increased Americans’ lifespan and their quality of life over the course of the 20th century. History teaches us why continued advancement in the cure of disease and the promotion of health should matter to all Americans. It also helps us make sense of controversial or troubling issues in health and medicine today. Why, for example, is the United States virtually alone among developed nations in failing to provide health insurance as a matter of right? Why does the tobacco industry continue to flourish even though there is no question that smoking causes lung cancer and other diseases? And why is this country’s maternal mortality rate higher than that of nearly every European country?   

This seminar takes a topical approach to the history of medicine and health in the United States, exploring such issues as the nature of medical training and practice, the role of public health and health policy, and the attitudes and behavior of patients. It analyzes the historical roots of a range of important and sometime controversial issues that affect health and wellbeing today, examines the critical variables of race and gender both in the development of the profession of medicine and in the relationship between practitioners and patients, and considers issues in bioethics, medical research, and disparities in access to care. Employing historical frameworks to develop a richer understand of timely and significant contemporary questions in health, medicine, and health policy, students in this course will develop a deeper understanding of medicine and health in the United States today.   


Joan Maya Mazelis, Homelessness and Deep Poverty in the United States 


TTh 11:10-12:30 pm

General Education: Engaged Civic Learning

Shelter is one of the most fundamental human needs, but for those who confront severe economic deprivation in the United States, housing is often unaffordable, leaving many without predictable, consistent, and safe places to live. In this course we will use a sociological perspective to learn about poverty in the United States, particularly about the lives of people experiencing homelessness and of those living in deep poverty—defined as below half the official poverty line. We will read books and articles about poverty, eviction, and homelessness, watch relevant films, and welcome guest speakers with personal experience and professional expertise. Course requirements will include active participation in class discussion, short quizzes on the assigned books, exams, and a final paper. The course will have an Engaged Civic Learning component (ECL) and meet the general education requirements for ECL courses; the final paper will be based on the ECL course experiences. Students may engage in a variety of ways, from participating in the Point-in-Time (PIT) count of homeless persons, to preparing and sharing meals at a homeless shelter, to providing assistance at local nonprofit agencies that offer services to individuals experiencing homelessness.


Carla Giaudrone, Introduction to Latin American Studies


MW 9:35-10:55 am

General Education: Heritages and Civilizations

This is a survey class that will introduce students to the most important aspects of Latin American culture and civilization. The class enables students to acquire an in-depth, interdisciplinary understanding of the cultural history of the region, which may include topics such as society, politics, literature, music, dance, and sports. This course will be taught in English mainly through lectures, in-class and on-line discussions, readings, and audio-visual media.  Assessments for this course include assignments (25%), a midterm and final exam (35%), and a final group project (10%).  This course partially fulfills the requirements for the Spanish Minor and Latin American and Latino/a Studies Minor.


Julianne Baird, Opera: The Art of Revenge, Adultery, and Murder


W 6:00-8:40 pm

Course note: General Education: Art and Aesthetic Interpretation

In this Honors seminar we will examine such issues as gender bending, racism, betrayal, murder, and suicide.  Among the fantastical opera plots we will encounter:

  • A hunchback with a secret, and an assassin
  • A dark-eyed Spanish flirt, a bullfight, and a murder-suicide
  • Escort service by night, respectable society lady by day
  • An abandoned baby adopted by an entire Army troop
  • An 18-year-old forced by her father to marry a 70-year-old
  • A cold-hearted princess who beheads every suitor

Students will see three broadcast performances of operas in off-campus venues (Carmen on 2/6, Daughter of the Regiment on 3/6, and The Valkyrie 4/2). Sometimes the show will end at 10:30.  We will adjust class times to compensate.


Jojo Streater, Rock and Roll – THIS CLASS IS FULL


MW 2:05-3:25 pm

Course note: General Education: United States in the World

This course will examine the history of rock and roll and the artists that greatly influenced American culture. Focus will be on the impact rock and roll has had on popular music as it shifted from R & B, folk, and blues and away from Broadway and the Tin Pan Alley spheres.


Paul Bernstein, Theater and Film in Europe

Wed 12:30-3:20 pm

Course note: General Education: Art and Aesthetic Interpretation

This course will help students to gain an in-depth understanding of contemporary film studies. Our research will center around six well known European films, and the altered identity of humanity and self-expression in the aftermath of World War II. 

Multiple European cultures are witnessed through the lens of film directors from Former Yugoslavia, Germany, Italy, and England. Each of the screenplays covered in this course were originally well-known plays before becoming part of the popular European film culture. The research will cover technical aspects of informed film viewing including narrative analysis, and the history of traditional and non-traditional story lines. From a non-production perspective, we will learn to notice film-making choices and to “read film”, including cinematography, production design, screenwriting and film editing. Through in-class viewings, lectures, and discussions supported by readings and writing assignments, students will learn to identify the complex tapestry of details that comprise a work of filmic art.