Fall 2016 Topics
Seminar topics are subject to change every term.
This seminar explores a series of short narratives written by authors belonging to vastly contrasting cultures. Spanning the nineteenth to twenty-first century, and four continents, we will focus on analyzing the stories these authors want to share, as well as consider topics relevant to short story writing.
Through careful analysis, observation and writing this class will take its students through the history, psychology and science that conveys lighting as a cultural art form. By analyzing/using, writings, film, photography, architecture and the performing arts this class will explore why lighting has become an art form and advanced due to sociological, cultural and technological changes. In this course students will learn that through the years lighting technology has helped shape how we view the world. It will ask them to consider why there is a need to advance this technology and how our cultural lives can be shaped differently. Example: How the buildings are lit: What are people drawn to? Some are lit to draw attention to advertisement; some are to draw attention to historical architecture. Is one more important than the other? What do we gravitate to and why? At night most corporate business and historic buildings are closed, why light the building at all? What do these colors; textures and angles tell us as an observer? By analyzing/using, writings, film, photography, architecture and the performing arts this class will explore why lighting has become an art form and advanced due to sociological, cultural and technological changes.
This seminar explores how baseball has been portrayed in American film and literature through four mediums: documentary, feature film, fiction, and non-fiction. The course will encourage students to think about the ways these mediums reveal how baseball has embodied critical aspects of American society including race and ethnicity, urbanization and suburbanization, business, labor-management relations, and media. While all levels of baseball will be touched on, the primary focus will be Major League Baseball.
In 2015, close to 27% of all professional baseball players in the United States were born in another country; in total, 17 other countries and territories are represented in the rosters of Major League Baseball's teams. Of the 230 foreign professional players, an impressive 205 come from a Latin American country or territory. Through various readings, this course analyzes the cultural significance and the many repercussions they wield both here and in the players' countries of origin. This course serves as a pre-requisite for FYS 102.
In this course, students will learn that journalists don't just report the news, they often have a responsibility to tell stories that inspire social change. The course explores sociological and historical perspectives of the role of journalism in identifying social problems and uncovering ways to resolve them.
The course examines the politics of individual choice in the context of Soviet-style communism that existed in east central Europe from the end of the Second World War until 1989. Using a combination of political essays, literary works, and film, the students will analyze both the evolving methods of cooptation and coercion used by the communist system, and the individual and collective responses that entailed a combination of idealism, complicity, and resistance. The students will study the political context of the difficult trade-offs people made between ambition, loyalty, friendship, love, fear, being true to their principles, and fulfilling their dreams.
CRN: 16693, 16694
This course will examine the visual art, poetry and music connected to or inspired by three important and influential world contemplative religious traditions. Though there are, at some levels, enormous differences between Zen, Sufism and Mystical Christianity, there are also surprising similarities in the aims, methods, approaches, and most importantly, the language used by great practitioners of these traditions. We will study a selection of primary texts, and since these texts explore religion at an esoteric level, they are very challenging. We will also devote a limited amount of time reading from scriptures, including Buddhist Sutras, The Old and New Testaments, and the Quran.
"Crime and Punishment in Russian Fiction and Film" examines the acts of transgression and retribution, two long-standing preoccupations of the Russian intelligentsia. This course specifically investigates how writers, artists and cinematographers have depicted the changing boundaries of propriety and criminality since the early 19th century. An interdisciplinary course, it includes within its historically-informed framework not only short stories and novels, but also poetry, opera and cinema. Important shifts in expression and representation are identified during the emergence of imperial Russian civil society; the 1917 revolution; the Stalin period; late Soviet stagnation; and after the collapse of Communism in 1991.
This seminar focuses on the fiscal, political, and moral dimensions of the federal budget deficits and the compounding national debt. The challenge ultimately raises questions about accountability, representation, equity, fairness, and leadership. How do democratically-elected policymakers, faced with the obstacles of organized interests, political parties, public opinion, and the news media, deal with such a large and complex problem?
This course focuses on the history of K-12 education in America through the intersection of citizenship, equity and democracy. Student will gain a deeper understanding of the U.S. education system and how it has evolved in our diverse society. Finally, students will examine the importance of K-12 education in a changing global marketplace and whether the U.S. is remaining competitive on international tests.
We'll ponder several critical thinking-rich questions in our innovation journey. How do entrepreneurs and innovators with unceasing drive and incentive to innovate create breakthrough ideas that meet the test of the marketplace? How do they commercialize revolutionary inventions and innovations? Why is the nation of Israel itself a role model of a start-up company? Why is economic power dramatically shifting from the producer-in-control to the customer-in-control, and how might that drive innovation and disrupt virtually every industry? Why does it appear that "rustbelt" cities are the emerging hotspots of global innovation?
CRN: 16182, 16184
Smallpox, malaria, yellow fever, lungsickness and other maladies both spread and have been managed through imperial conquests, colonialism, and new systems of biomedicine and modern public health. And changing diseases remain part of newer global debates over the politics and cultural challenges of cholera, polio, HIV/AIDS and the Ebola and Zika viruses. Using varied case studies, this seminar asks how have illnesses mattered during the years of imperial conquest and globalization? Why did they happen then and what do they mean now? How have people re-make themselves and their societies to cope with the changing disease environments? What are the challenges of today's global public health interventions, and how can new policy benefit from historical insights?
CRN: 16358, 16359
This course examines pressing ethical and moral questions in the arena of international relations. The main areas of focus will be international conflict, international economics, and civil conflict. Course content will include a variety of primary texts, scholarly articles, podcasts, and films revolving around important ethical debates. Students will write analytical papers, co-lead discussions, and participate in formal, in-class debates, all designed to help develop the skills that will help them succeed in the rest of their time at the University. This course serves as a pre-requisite for FYS 102.
The course will be a critical examination of the main ideas that underlay the expansion, first of Europe into the New World (notably Africa), and later, of China and India into Africa. It will examine the nature of subsequent relationships that resulted from these encounters. The course will look at these ideas as they evolved from the ideals of the Renaissance (humanism) to the conceptual alterations or pushback they led to in the 19th, the 20th and the 21st centuries, especially today with the rise of new economic/military power centers in Asia. The course will start with Montaigne's "Of cannibals," a discourse that ran counter to the main episteme upon which Western society functioned and acted in the era of global explorations. Subsequent texts will be read as arguments between two camps pitting, on the one hand, Europe or Asia as the initiator of the direction of the encounter, on the other hand, a more cautious approach advocated on the ground of ideals of equality, freedom and inclusiveness piloted as observed on the ground. Mandela's South Africa will serve as a practical test illustration. In this seminar, students will learn the main ideas and theories upon which our modern cultures are based and how the notion of individual freedoms gradually took precedence over society's dictates. Relations between peoples are often launched on the base of such ideals, but re-directed or altered on the base of performance. This course is part of the First Year Seminar in the Humanities Initiative.
The decade begins with the first live televised debates between U.S. Presidential candidates. But this election would unleash a decade of turbulence in all facets of American life that made some in this country long for the not too distant past when enemies were clearly delineated and children were, indeed, seen but not heard. Woodstock, Vietnam, assassinations, the Beatles and assorted acronyms like ARPANET, NET, NOW, SNCC, and SDS would become part of the cultural lexicon. And through it all Americans flocked to the movies. But was movie popularity only fueled by the need to escape the unsettled world, as it was presented on television, or were the films of the 1960?s a means by which people could somehow deal with the upheavals in their lives?
This course will explore changing perspectives on the nature of friendship, love and desire from the Early Modern period to our own times. Excerpts from the works of Plato, Aristotle and Cicero will lay the foundation for an inquiry into these notions in literature, as well as in the visual and performing arts. Some of the questions we will ask in this class are: How has friendship been imagined or conceived? What qualities make a good friendship? What is the relationship between friendship and moral obligation? What are the foundational principles of a love relationship, and how have they been seen to differ from friendships? In which ways do different social and/or cultural factors affect friendships or love relationships?
The course focuses on the principles of games and gaming; the relevance of game theories to society, history, and geopolitics; and on the importance of these principles to issues of leadership and leadership studies. We will use a variety of games (board games, videogames, and game theory) to examine significant concerns and issues relevant to discussions of leadership theories and practices. Over the trajectory of the course, the students will create and develop their own alternate reality games (ARGs) using ARIS software and set on the University of Richmond campus. Students will be asked to consider their role in the creation and development of these games in teams, and will have to implement leadership skills practically in their teams, in addition to studying the principles of both leadership and game theory with relation to game-situations and "real life."
CRN: 16178, 16582
Consumers will play an important role in any career you might pursue; you may refer to them as clients, stakeholders, stockholders, patients, patrons. This course offers an introduction to consumer-related theory and practice in international marketing while presenting a socio-culturally inspired analysis of consumption. The course explores consumer culture concepts that confront today's business at all levels of market involvement. Both cases and a term-long project are used to explore the different dimensions of the problems and opportunities facing the firm as it deals with a changing consumer culture. In this course, you will analyze and create business cases, and persuasively write about consumption and culture. The course also addresses the impact of globalization on consumers from low and medium income countries, and their consumption as a consequence of and in tandem with consumption patterns and rituals in high-income countries. The course engages in a critical analysis of global consumerism based on readings from industry and from popular culture sources.
This course surveys the science of groups and teams. People have wondered at the nature of groups and their dynamics for centuries, but only recently has the scientific analysis of groups by researchers from psychology, sociology, and related disciplines provided answers to such questions as: Why do humans affiliate in groups? How do groups sway their members? Why do so many groups make such poor decisions? What gives rise to a sense of esprit-de-corps versus intragroup conflict? Students will examine these questions by working in learning teams.
The planet-altering discoveries of our geological era, now called the Anthropocene, are startlingly recent. It wasn't until the beginning of the 20th century that the widespread use of radio, electricity, airplanes, radiation technology and so forth began to shrink time and space, expand lifespans and personal horizons. In Russia, the dawn of a new scientific age corresponded with a radical revolution that claimed to usher in a new form of spiritually, socially, and scientifically progressive society. Our course explores the surprising masterpieces of 20th century Russian writers, who articulated the revolutionary dreams and terrible miscalculations of this moment in history.
This course explores the phenomena of heroism and villainy from a multi-disciplinary perspective. Emphasis is on the critical examination of scholarly contributions from distinguished social scientists on heroism-related topics such as leadership, morality, resilience, courage, empathy, meaning, purpose, altruism, hope, human growth, cooperation, spirituality, health, transformation, and character strengths. The causes and consequences of evil will also receive coverage.
Anti-Judaism has been a reality for Jews since prior to the emergence of Christianity, but with Christianity a new form of anti-Judaism emerged, i.e., theological anti-Judaism. Through readings and discussions we will seek to understand this phenomenon historically. The period of the holocaust served as a pivotal change of focus. Prior to the holocaust rampant anti-Judaism existed but with little attention given to its curtailment ecclesiastically. The holocaust and its aftermath convinced many Christians of an ecclesiastical complicity with what happened to the Jews during this horrendous period, and thus during the post-holocaust period many Christian bodies have sought to express in formal papers the relationship of the churches to Judaism. Is there light at the end of the proverbial tunnel? To seek answers, we will analyze Biblical and non-Biblical materials, written and artistic, and their impact upon Jewish-Christian Dialogue.
There are many lenses through which to analyze the human experience. In this seminar, we will examine knowing on the one hand, and various ways of choosing in the face of adversity and uncertainty on the other, as these concepts play out in selected literary and environmental texts.
Through a systematic, analytical study of paintings as visual "texts" in conjunction with other primary written texts, scholarly and artistic, students will have the opportunity to see the grand interplay of cultural forces in the first quarter of the 20th century within a broad historical, political and social context. The goal of the course is to move students beyond a largely logo-centric way of learning about culture, that is, to move them beyond a study of culture that reads and interprets mainly written texts. Focusing on paintings as visual primary "texts" in themselves that can be "read", interpreted and analyzed, the students will discover that paintings possess a power equal to that of cinema, film, literature and history to capture the imagination and to reveal the process of the development of a nation?s cultural and intellectual life in any given period. This course offers students the rare opportunity to access Russian culture beyond that provided by typical courses of cultural studies whose focus is chiefly on filmic and musical texts or solely on written texts of history and literature. The course employs an interdisciplinary approach to capture the vast panorama of distinctively different creative geniuses working at this time, who, through their painting, invented new visual surfaces to reveal the deeper intricacies of Russian culture.
CRN: 16121, 16185
This course examines the role of women in bringing change to modern Islamic societies. Students read books about several Muslim countries, and focus in depth on the role of women in modern day Turkey. The books written by Muslim women will provide students with firsthand knowledge about women who adhere to their faith while living in a progressive society. Students also read books written about Islam and women, watch movies about the lives of women in Islamic countries, and carry out "long-distance" research by interviewing women living in Turkey.
This course will explore ritual practice in ancient Greece and its reflection in Greek myth. It will be of particular interest to students interested in classical studies, archaeology, history, art history, anthropology, religion, and literary studies. Some main goals will be for students to learn the meanings and functions of ritual practice in Greek culture and to see how myth may elucidate those meanings and functions. Primary sources will be both textual and archaeological/art historical. Primary textual sources will include Hesiod's Theogony, Homeric and Orphic Hymns, tragic plays, and ancient mythographers. Archaeological evidence from the sites of religious worship, and the depictions of ritual on vase paintings and other works of art will be the major non-textual sources. Readings from secondary sources will include selections from Walter Burkert, Structure and History in Greek Mythology and Ritual, and several articles on narrowly focused topics. Topics will include: sacrifice (animal, human, other), pilgrimmage, boundary-crossing (oracles and divination, visiting the underworld, transvestism), hero and heroine cult, rites of passage (birth, the decision to keep or expose an infant, coming-of-age, marriage, death), mystery religions, and foundation myths.
CRN: 16174, 16175
This course explores accounts from history, literature, and science about ways animals have improved our lives by protecting us, working for us, and serving us as sources of comfort, recreation, and entertainment. It also examines the problems and conflicts that can arise with reference to our responsibilities to animals (e.g. in terms of their rights, their welfare, and their health). Our study will be guided by questions such as the following: What do we know about animal nature and intelligence and how do we know what we know? What do we get from our relationships with animals? What are the relative influences of training, instinct, and intelligence upon animal behavior? What are the implications of this knowledge for our relationships--both with animals and each other?
Is freedom valuable? Why should we care about it? In this course we will examine the nature and value of freedom. We will consider the value of different freedoms, such as freedom of expression and economic freedom, and explore the relationship between freedom and various public policy issues, such as hate speech, drug use, organ markets, and human enhancement. The readings will be philosophical papers on these topics.
This course primarily strives to enhance understanding of the techniques, topics, and evolution of modern poetry. It surveys mostly American poets, from forerunners such as Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, to early moderns W.B. Yeats and Robert Frost. It will highlight innovations by Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, and Wallace Stevens. The course concludes with poets such as Langston Hughes, the blues poet, and with post moderns W.S. Merwin, John Ashbery, Jorie Graham and Billy Collins. A secondary idea of the course is to listen to music associated with several of the poets. This music will be presented for comparison both when composed as accompaniment to a particular poem and also when the music is of associative interest in conjunction with a given poem's style, historic context or cultural identity.
This course will tackle important and controversial questions surrounding criminal procedure and the role of the Supreme Court in the development of the rights of the criminally accused. Topics include (1) The Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, (2) The Fifth Amendment's privilege against self incrimination, double jeopardy issues, and grand jury requirement, (3) The Sixth Amendment's right to an attorney, impartial trial, and speedy trial, (4) The Eight Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. We will focus on understanding the limitations the Constitution puts on the government when it comes to police practices, grand jury practices, evidence, investigations, interrogations, juries, trials, and punishment to name a few. We will question the policy implications of how the Supreme Court has interpreted the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eight Amendments. What does cruel and unusual punishment mean? What are the consequences of secret grand jury proceedings, what reforms should we consider and why?
How does, and how should the law shape sexual culture? Beyond its potential to prevent certain behaviors (like rape), what is law's creative potential? This seminar uses legal theory, mindfulness meditation and communication practices, and creative writing to explore the legal regulation of sex, with a special focus on law's power to influence sexual norms and practices.
This course will concern the reappraisal of one of ancient Greece's best known figures, Socrates. The ancient sources are not unified on the question of the historical Socrates.In particular, countering Plato was Isocrates, a devoted follower of Socrates, a teacher of rhetoric, and a founder of the 'liberal arts.' The tension between Isocrates and Plato in the fourth century B.C.E. amounts to a conflict between interpretations of the meaning of Socrates' life and death. It is no less a conflict between world views and theories of educational philosophy. After studying the nature of this conflict, we will observe its reemergence in later times, in ancient Rome and early Christianity. We will also be able to analyze the roots of the distinctively American brand of education, also called 'the liberal arts.'
Opera is more than entertainment. Like works of literature, operas address the concerns of individuals, families, societies, and nations. They reflect the times in which they were created and the times in which they are performed. This course approaches opera from a thematic perspective, examining works that address class conflict, political unrest, racial stereotyping, and gender roles. Through reading, viewing, and discussion, we will explore these themes in their historical contexts and relate them to contemporary experience. Students will learn to decode the language of opera by watching videos and attending performances. No musical knowledge or experience is required. This course is part of the FYS Humanities Initiative.
Does everyone have a story? Do we tell ourselves stories? Are they true? This course explores the role that stories play in forming our own identity, forming relationships with others, forming community, and forming the structures through which we understand our world. Along with our own personal stories, we will learn about folktales and fairy tales through research, critical reading, critical writing, and telling aloud. We'll consider the resurgence of oral storytelling in projects like StoryCorps. Students will also grapple with these concepts by participating in community-based learning through story-sharing with local incarcerated youth.
Paris is one of the most idealized and romanticized cities in the world. Even for those who have never visited, Paris easily conjures recognizable images and reliable stereotypes, from the Eiffel Tower to the Arch of Triumph, and from famous fashion houses to the typical Parisian cafe. In this course, we will challenge this first clichéd version of Paris by contrasting it with another version: Paris as the space of political unrest, social conflict, and protest. Through literary texts, film, newspaper articles, historical documentation, and essays, we will explore the long history of the double life of Paris.
The Effects of Maritime Strategy on International Relations examines development of strategic sea power, and how it has been used throughout history. Students develop foundational knowledge through discussion and directed readings. They are challenged to intuit key factors affecting outcomes of 10 scenarios where sea power has proved decisive, using a standard case analysis methodology template. The current status of international sea power, and its anticipated role in future international interactions are examined. Students perform library research and analysis, and are assessed in diverse modes including digital storytelling, case analysis and term paper development
The Search for the Self explores what we mean by a "self." How do we recognize or create one; maintain or develop it through changing time space, and circumstance; and communicate it to others through our interactions with them and our environment? We will explore these questions and others from many disciplinary perspectives, including philosophy, sociology, psychology, literature, and neuroscience.
Through the lenses of fiction, journalism, documentary, and dramatic film, this course will consider the events, personalities, and mythology of the Space Race from Sputnik to the Apollo Moon landings.
Tolkien as medievalist and its impact on his creative work
History appears on television, in books, in music, in movies, online, at historic sites, in family lore, and in personal memory. This course explores that presence of the past, focusing on American history. Students will examine the manifestations of the past around us and then help imagine how that past might be better communicated to the many audiences who either choose or are compelled to study the American past.
"Modern American Human Rights Lawyers: Leadership and Community Service" is intended to be challenging and fun. You will be learning about the lives of some well-known as well as lesser known American human rights lawyers. In addition, you will be invited to reflect upon the relationship between lawyers, leadership and public service. The class is intended to stretch you intellectually and to provide you with an opportunity to more systematically develop your own self-identity.
War requires the expenditure of many resources. Whether human and physical, financial, political, or moral, war's costs call for any state that would wage one to define it, to explain its benefits, and to justify it to citizens. In this class, you will learn to be scholarly critics of war rhetoric in the many forms it takes, including the symbolic work of government actors, media personalities, writers, TV producers, photojournalists, news networks, or protestors. We seek to draw informed conclusions about how American-led wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and elsewhere have been constituted, defended, and maintained.
CRN: 16177, 16179
This First Year Seminar is designed to build a learning community that will examine global, national, and local issues associated with water. Is water a human right, and how does the answer to this question consider private property rights? What is the role of naval power, historically and in the present day? What can we learn from the specific case of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, in terms of environmental justice, aging infrastructure, and government responsibility? What is the water/energy nexus in general, and is hydraulic fracturing safe? Who decides when and where to build dams, and who benefits from the associated operating policies?
This course will ask students to think about and investigate scholars and scholarship. We will explore scholarship in the digital age, as well as look back at early scholars and scholarship. What does it means to be a scholar? Where does new knowledge come from? What is an academic conversation? By examining differences and similarities across disciplines, we will take a broad look at the education, research and commitment required for sustained scholarship and read examples of scholars? work, as well as memoirs and autobiographies by scholars that provide narratives of their research lives. This course serves as a pre-requisite to FYS 102.
In the United States, there have been over 300 exonerations achieved through advances in DNA testing capabilities. Seventeen of those DNA exonerations arose in cases where individuals were sentenced to death. There is an additional universe of wrongful convictions that involves cases where proof of innocence is not biological in nature. Such cases pivot around other sources of exculpatory evidence, including recanted testimony, mistaken identification or official misconduct. The production of wrongful convictions is a lens through which society can examine a plethora of important realities. Race, poverty, faith in science and reason, notions around punishment and redemption and the allocation of scarce resources are all fluidly and dynamically tied to the study of wrongful convictions.