Fall 2018 Topics

Seminar topics are subject to change every term. Courses cannot exceed 16 students.

Expand All
  • ACROSS THE CONTINENTS: Stories of the Human Experience

    Abreu, Dixon

    What can a story tell us about the world, about ourselves, about others like us, about others different from us, about our roles in the world, about the role of stories in the world? There is no better way to explore these questions than reading stories and discussing their values within our own cultural and multicultural moment. Engaging meaningfully and analytically with these texts, as diverse in time/epoch and medium as they are in style and geographical origin, will provide students with the perfect opportunity to reflect upon our fluid global community as they pertain to the most important story of all: the story of us.


    Cunningham, Sojourna

    The purpose of this course is to explore the creation, consumption, and dissemination of information. The Internet has globalized and democratized access to information. Critical literacy has not kept up with that access, contributing to a generation that is either too wary or too accepting. Using a mix of scholarly and popular sources, students will explore their own information seeking behaviors, think about biases, and ultimately begin to place themselves as both consumers and creators of information.


    Troncale, Joseph

    In "A Life Worth Living", we will engage major literary texts from a variety of cultures from a contemplative disposition supported by establishing a practice of meditation and yoga. We will explore the processes of self-discovery and self-understanding that each of the major characters undergoes in those texts. Through close readings, discussion, and writing, we will attend critically to the parallels of such processes to those arising necessarily in our own lives as students of the humanities. Our interaction with the literary texts will free the texts from a position as objects and move them into our subjective and personal realms. We will become an intricate part of the equation of their meaning.


    Simpson, Andrea

    Frequently hailed as television masterpiece, "The Wire" created a vivid and detailed portrait of Baltimore that tells the story of the decline of cities through the characters in law enforcement, the drug trade, shipping docks, city hall, public schools, and newspapers. In the series, which ran from 2002-2008, Baltimore stands for the parts of America where drugs, mayhem, and corruption routinely betray the promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that is so ingrained in our political DNA. Students learn to analyze the show by reading an introduction to television criticism that introduces you to the processes of television production, reception, and representation, including the fraught and crucial issues surrounding how black and queer bodies are represented on TV. Engaging these issues hones critical thinking, writing, speaking, and observation skills. Through online posts and writing assignments, students reflect on a world very different from their own. Through class presentations, students explore topics tangential to the ones illuminated in "The Wire".


    Kenzer, Robert

    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.


    Delers, Olivier

    This course will explore the cinema of the acclaimed German director Wim Wenders. We will use his films to explore different topics: the identity of Berlin as a city filled with war memories and post-modern interrogations in Wings of Desire (1987), the American landscape and the kind of stories it produces in Paris, Texas (1984), Cuban music in Buena Vista Social Club (1999), or modern dance as an art-form in Pina (2011), to give only a few examples. Since Wenders has worked with different styles of films, and in different countries, we will also look at what unites his work as a cinematographer, from his involvement in New German Cinema in the 1970s to his recent interest in 3D technology.


    Brown, Mavis

    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 texts and environmental sustainability.


    Mullen, Thomas

    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. This course explores the role and responsibility of journalism in identifying social issues and uncovering ways to resolve them.


    Loo, Tze

    This course uses museums as a way to investigate how societies collect their pasts and the stories they want to tell of themselves. It asks students to think seriously about the act of collecting, and how value (whether historical or cultural) is ascribed to certain objects. This course foregrounds the particular power of material culture to act as physical evidence around which societies construct narratives of their past. In paying attention to the politics of collecting, students are introduced to the processes by which the historical pasts are constructed and represented.


    Brandenberger, David

    "Crime and Punishment in Russian Literature and Film" examines the acts of transgression and retribution, two long-standing preoccupations of the Russian intelligentsia. An interdisciplinary investigation of how writers, artists and cinematographers have depicted the changing boundaries of propriety since the early 19th century, it includes not only short stories and novels, but also poetry, opera and cinema. Indeed, of particular interest in the course is how works of classical literature by authors like Dostoevsky and Tolstoy have been reimagined for performance on the stage and silver screen.


    Shaw, Miranda

    Students will be introduced to a range of cultural constructions of sexuality and the spheres of life associated with sexuality in different cultural worlds. As we examine varying views and roles of sexuality through multiple interpretive lenses, students will gain historical background and analytic resources to develop a critical perspective on the sexual meta-narrative and gender-coded sexual scripts encountered in popular media.


    Taylor, Porcher

    We'll ponder several critical thinking-rich questions in our innovation journey. How do entrepreneurs and innovators with unceasing drive and incentive innovate and create breakthrough ideas that meet the test of the marketplace? Why is the nation of Israel itself a role model of a start-up company? How did Thomas Edison lay the foundation for America's global leadership in innovation? How can non-conformist thinking gain innovators a competitive advantage? Lastly, we'll explore why unbridled creativity is a dynamic and quintessential part of Google's corporate culture.


    Kapanga, Kasongo

    The seminar will be a critical examination of the main ideas that underlay the expansion, first of Europe into the New World (notably Africa), and then these days of China and India into Africa. It will examine the nature of subsequent relationships that resulted from these encounters. The seminar will look at the rationalizing ideas as they evolved from the Renaissance (humanism) to their alterations of the 19th and the 20th centuries, then into the 21st century with the rise of new power centers in Asia. The course will start with Montaigne's famous essay "Of Cannibals," a discourse that ran counter to the then common beliefs upon which Western society functioned and acted in major global explorations during the Renaissance. The subsequent texts will be read as arguments between two camps pitting, on the one hand, Europe or Asia as the initiator of the encounter, on the other hand, a more egalitarian approach on behalf of Africa on the ground of ideals of equality and individual rights. Mandela's South Africa will serve as a practical test case of our days. The seminar will therefore end with questions scrutinizing how today South Africa is grappling with issues of equality on economic, social, legal and environmental fronts in a more and more challenging globalized world where China and India play important roles.

  • FILMS 1960S

    Schoen, Walter

    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?


    Radi, Lidia

    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? As part of this class, we will visit the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and we will attend local plays, international movies and an opera.


    Bezio, Kristin

    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.


    Lascu, Dana-Nicoleta

    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 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.


    Allison, Scott

    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.


    Holland, Dorothy

    In Belonging: A Culture of Place, Bell Hooks writes, "Spaces can be real and imagined. Spaces can tell stories and unfold histories. Spaces can be interrupted, appropriated, and transformed through artistic and literary practice." This course explores the significance and meanings of material space in our individual and our collective lives. Students will learn various ways to analyze spaces and the stories they tell. Excerpts of writings by key thinkers on space and place (including, Yi-fu Tuan, de Certeau, Foucault, Doreen Massey, Kathrine McKittrick) will provide concepts for analysis; and exercises in embodied performance techniques will enhance spatial awareness, creative engagement, and imagination. Some of the questions we will ask are: What are the different ways that we experience, imagine and represent physical space in literature, in the performing arts, and in our daily lives? How does the configuration of space influence our thinking, our behaviors and our feelings? In what ways does the arrangement of space curtail our movements and control our behaviors? In what ways does it convey a clear sense of welcome or exclusion? In what ways might it invite discovery, reflection and both individual and collective transformation?


    McCormick, Miriam

    Have you ever wondered what makes a person's life go well? Or have you ever wondered how you might make your own life go well? This course is a quest to identify the features of a good human life. In our quest to unravel the components of such a life, we will also gain some insight into how we can improve our own lives by, for instance, instilling our lives with greater meaning and finding ways to become happier. Some more specific questions we will consider are the following: What things are worth pursuing? What is the relationship between a good life and a life of pleasure, happiness and virtue? What are some barriers to living a good life? Is there any meaning or purpose in human existence and can such meaning be found without a faith in God or religion?


    Eakin, Frank

    Is Jewish-Christian Dialogue Possible? 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.


    Stubbs, Jonathan

    Many lawyers become leaders and serve in roles ranging from heads of local civic and religious institutions, to President of the United States. This course explores the relationship between the law and leadership. It will challenge students to refine what leadership means to them in theory as well as provide practical experiences for reflection. The specific focal point for such thought and writing will be roles that lawyers have played in addressing social justice issues in America. The course proceeds on the explicit premise that leadership involves service to others for the common good.


    MacAllister, Joyce

    This course explores accounts from history, literature, and science about ways animals have improved our lives by protecting us, working for us, and serving 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 with each other?

  • NOT JUST FOOD: U.S. Food Politics and Policy

    Erkulwater, Jennifer

    This course uses the politics and policy of food in the United States, particularly the rise of the organic and food justice movements, to introduce students to college-level research, analysis, and writing. Students will learn about how our practices concerning food production and consumption affect the world around us and our relationships with one another. Students will read the works of food activists, journalists, and scholars. They will chose a food to research and formulate a scholarly argument about that food. Past student projects include research into breakfast cereal, bagels, corn dogs, potato chips, diet soda, and many more.


    Becker, Richard

    This course primarily strives to enhance understanding of the techniques, topics, and evolution of modern poetry through discussing and writing about reading it. The course 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 selected poetry.


    Skerrett, Kathleen

    This seminar introduces laws and judicial decisions that have defined the racial status of individuals as the basis for political and social order in the United States. We address issues of citizenship, justice, and freedom, by exploring how racial status can empower and entitle some individuals while exposing others to coercion and subjugation. We will read key judicial decisions to identify core values and the arguments that advance them. Yet we will also learn how these decisions and their consequences were contested at every point, generating persistent, conflicting visions of American democracy. Class members will be required to speak and write about values and policies that matter to social justice. Moreover, we will consider how our own values are reflected in historical contests over race matters in the U.S.


    Lurie, Peter

    What does it mean for writers, artists, and filmmakers, both white and of color, to represent race? The moment we ask this question we acknowledge the crucial space produced in the creative act between the material, social, and emotional aspects of racial experience or identity and the ways literature and other arts depict them. "Re-presenting" means making race present again, making it present in new ways, or -- as is often the case -- depicting it for the first time. These efforts require imagination vis-a-vis an artist's characters and their racial makeup as well as in the ways a writer, painter, or director treats the textual surface (or skin) of their respective media. This course examines several canonical as well as marginal works that manifest this very textual anomaly. Traceable in such texts are a range of challenges to both conventional ways of describing or envisioning race as well as an attendant impact on their manner of articulation. Whether this is true for literature in terms of style, voice, genre, narrative structure, allusion, characterization; or for painting in terms of color, texture, or graphic design; or for cinema by way of lighting, camera movement, composition, or other elements of mise-en-scene, the materials in this seminar show how attention to the way a writer or artist depicts race has everything to do with the project of doing so. Representing race, if pursued as a response to racial circumstances and history, means pushing texts toward formal distensions and ruptures, breaks and challenges that are also manifest at key junctures of racial history in its both social and extra-textual dimensions. The qualities I refer to above are evident in works from the earliest efforts to relay racial experience through contemporary practices. Accordingly, the materials in the seminar are wide-ranging in terms of their periods and media. In addition to reading genres like the slave narrative, poetry, and the novel, we will examine racially-themed films, paintings, and digital culture and consider contemporary social media?in its tragic as well as potentially salutary dimensions. (What, for example, does the fact of live streaming on Facebook play in contemporary debates about race conflict or contribute to how African Americans represent themselves?) In our work we will encounter critical and secondary materials that engage with the questions about race and representation we will be pursuing. Literary texts and writers may include but will not be limited to: Frederick Douglass, _Narrative of the Life of an American Slave_; Herman Melville, "Benito Cereno"; the stories and poems of Edgar Allen Poe; Faulkner's short fiction; the poets and poems of the Harlem Renaissance; Richard Wright's _Native Son_, and Toni Morrison's _Beloved_. Painters include George Bellows, Jacob Lawrence, and Charly Palmer. Photographers include Gordon Parks and Greg Ligon. Films and directors include Steve McQueen, _12 Years a Slave_ (2015); Oscar Micheaux, _Within Our Gates_ (1920); Charles Burnett, _Killer of Sheep_ (1977); King Vidor, _Hallelujah!_ (1929); Stanley Kramer, _The Defiant Ones_ (1958); Joseph Mankiewicz, _No Way Out_ (1950); George Romero, _Night of the Living Dead_ (1968); Barry Jenkins, _Moonlight_ (2016); Jordan Peele, _Get Out_ (2017)


    Siebert, Monika

    How does contemporary art, literary and visual, represent refugees? Who is a refugee? How is a refugee different from an immigrant/emigrant? What is at stake in defining oneself, and others, as refugees rather than immigrants? How does the experience of having to flee from/to/for something shape people as individuals, as mothers, fathers, children, brothers and sisters, as communities/nations, as citizens/electorates, as private and public selves, as humans? How are people and communities rooted in place shaped by the forced dislocation of others, whether they witness, welcome, or resist such dislocation and its effects? What local and global forces as well as long historical developments shape forced population movements and in what specific ways? In what specific and unique ways does art, as opposed to other forms of public discourse, allow us to approach these questions in novel and insightful ways? This course explores the various dimensions--private/public, individual/collective, psychological/political--of the refugee experience through a study of contemporary literature and film. We will consider recent and historical examples of forced movement of individuals and populations in novels and short stories, such as Mohsin Hamid's EXIT WEST, Viet Thanh Nguyen's REFUGEES, Colson Whitehead's THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, Diane Glancy's PUSHING THE BEAR, and films, such as SIN NOMBRE, I'M NOT YOUR NEGRO, and THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE.


    Browder, Laura

    As the former capital of the Confederacy, Richmond is a city particularly invested in memorializing civil rights (and their suppression). In this course, we will engage the current debates over Confederate statue removal (or contextualization) and visit museums and other sites of memory in order to address why and how civil rights are represented here and to consider what a just representation might look like. As part of the class, we will be working in the Book Arts Studio to create images of Richmond civil rights leaders and important moments, which we will then use to create an exhibition at UR Downtown.

  • RUSSIAN PAINTING: 1850-1917

    Troncale, Joseph

    Through a systematic, analytical study of paintings as visual "texts" together with other scholarly and artistic written texts, students will have the opportunity to see the grand interplay of cultural forces in Russia from 1860 to 1917 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.


    Kuti, Laura

    There are many aspects involved in learning a second language. How do humans learn a second language? What instructional approach and strategies should be employed and what teaching strategies support second language acquisition? How does one unpack the fine granularity of phonetics, syntax, and discourse within the context of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)? How is American English distinct? What role does socio-linguistics play in second language acquisition? Given the interconnectedness of language and culture, how does one teach the socio-cultural context along with TEFL and what should be taught? Students will study how languages are learned, and how second languages are taught. The class will investigate important aspects of English language acquisition including general linguistic concepts, applied socio-linguistics, and the socio-cultural context of language teaching.


    Fishe, Raymond Patrick

    Methods to summarize information in visual displays are introduced. These tools are used to develop effective visual displays and to increase your knowledge of the information and claims provided in such displays. Visual images are studied to dissect the relevant information and create better images of this information. Both simple (graphs and charts) and complex (photographs, movies, or multipart graphs) images are studied.

  • SENSING PLACE: Art, Literature, and the Environment

    Outka, Elizabeth

    This course explores representations of natural spaces in the visuals arts and in literature. Team-taught by an art professor and an English professor, the class focuses on perspective, on the ways we read the natural world (aesthetically, scientifically, as powerful or fragile, as reflecting the human, as apart from the human, and more); on the forces that shape how we read the natural world (time, place, race, gender, class, personal experience, historical associations, and more); and on how we might reimagine the natural world and our place within it. We will analyze poems, novels, essays, paintings, and photographs by a diverse set of artists; study current environmental problems and solutions; and engage with natural spaces on UR's campus and in the Richmond region.


    Simpson, Dean

    Socrates is one of ancient Greece's most famous figures. The dialogues of Plato, in particular, bring us into contact with an extraordinary character whose wit, wisdom and life story make him an archetype for Philosophy as we are likely to think of it. From Plato there followed schools of philosophy that constitute, for some, Socrates' legacy. Apart from Plato, Greek historians allow us to trace the history of Athens, supplying the context for Socrates' life work, while other literary sources tell a different story of who Socrates was, what he did, and why he did it. In particular, countering Plato is Isocrates, a devoted follower of Socrates, a teacher of rhetoric, and a founder of the 'liberal arts.' Based on our reading and discussion of historical and literary sources, we will undertake a reassessment of Socrates, from which we may find that his legacies are broader and possibly more important than is generally appreciated.


    Drell, Joann

    What do fantastical stories of heroes and lovers, travelers and monsters tell us about Antiquity and the Middle Ages? This seminar challenges students to consider the meanings of "history", "fact", "fiction", "literature", "memory" when examining such texts as Virgil's Aeneid, Beowulf, The Song of Roland, the lays of Marie de France, Arthurian Romances, Dante's Inferno, and others. A central question will be how historians can use narratives to understand the cultures we study.


    Pappas, Sara

    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 cliched 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.


    von Rueden, Christopher

    Much of human behavior is motivated by religion. But what is religion and why does it exist? To answer these questions, students will investigate the diversity of religion across human societies, through the lens of evolutionary theory. Students will evaluate arguments that religion and its subcomponents (morality, ritual, and supernatural agents) evolved, through both biological and cultural evolution, to help solve the problems of cooperation and conflict recurrent in social groups. Readings will be drawn from anthropology, psychology, and biology. Students will complete two formal writing assignments: a midterm paper and a final paper. The former will have students consider the meaning of gods, and the latter will have students apply lessons from the course to a current issue in which people of different religious traditions are engaged in moral debate, e.g. abortion rights, non-heterosexual unions, transgenic research, religious dress, etc. As a FYS, this course will involve instruction in writing technique in addition to its thematic focus on religion.


    Bell, Lloyd

    It is estimated that more than 3 trillion photos will be shared over the Internet in 2018. As photography becomes more ubiquitous in society, the ability to deconstruct how our brain processes images become more relevant. By knowing more about the workings of the brain in general and of the visual brain in particular, one can attempt to develop the outlines of a theory of aesthetics that is biologically based. This course uses the core concepts of neuroscience to give students the tools to critically think about the photographic stories they see and share.


    Whitehead, Marcia

    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 social environment? We will explore these questions and others from many disciplinary perspectives, including philosophy, sociology, psychology, literature, and neuroscience. Our readings will include essays, memoir, fiction (both long and short), and articles from both academic and non-academic sources.


    Kachurek, Lynda

    In this course, students will engage with books in multiple ways and explore the past, present, and future role of books as a significant part of the world's cultural heritage. As a transmitter of literacy, culture, and knowledge, a book's impact can be profound, but as an object of worth, desire, or artistic beauty, its value extends beyond the text and even the printed page. By exploring the multifaceted history of the book, students will engage in their own exploration of how they interact with books as well as develop an understanding of the complexity, artistry, cultural and technological underpinnings of its effects on the world.


    Hobgood, Linda

    This course is a semester-long study of the presidency as conveyed by chief executives in their own words, by official utterances from those appointed to speak on the president's behalf, by official public appearances and remarks of first ladies, speechwriters' recollections, mediated interpretations by members of the White House press corps and scholarly analyses of presidential discourse. We will explore foundational rhetorical precepts and introduce the nature and practice of rhetorical criticism via the genre of contemporary presidential speeches and commentary. Course objectives include: providing a rhetorical perspective of language, leadership, politics and media, introducing terms and practices fundamental to rhetoric; to encourage confidence in using them, and demonstrating the epistemological value of rhetorical inquiry.


    Manganaro, Thomas

    Do animals think and feel like we do? How can literature help us think about and feel for animals? In this course, we will read literature and watch films to help us think about human-animal relationships. We will focus in particular on three different paradigms for understanding these relationships: 1) man as opposed to animal, 2) man as an animal, and 3) man as living alongside animals. By situating authors alongside philosophers/scientists (e.g., Jonathan Swift and Mary Shelley alongside John Locke, H.G. Wells alongside Charles Darwin, and Elizabeth Bishop and Octavia Butler alongside Peter Singer), we will interrogate the distinct privileges of narratives and poetry when it comes to thinking about the lives of animals.


    Davis, G.

    An introduction to Tolkien through his work in medieval English language and literature


    Davison, Mike

    Where is Cuba – musically, geographically, politically, historically, economically and culturally? We will experience the culture of Cuba by studying the culture, history and music of our island neighbor. Besides the US and Brazil, Cuba is one of the superpowers of popular music. We will learn why, and how this came about. We will eat, watch, critically listen to, write, dance and sing! All students can hear a great deal in a musical recording. Our goal is to direct your listening, and learn musical jargon along the way.

  • WHO DO YOU TRUST: Researching, Reading, and Writing in an Age of Doubt

    Wittig, Carol

    This course will ask students to think about themselves as information consumers and producers. Students will explore issues of trust and expertise in a media-saturated world. Through critical reading, writing, and research, students will explore questions such as how is expertise determined? Who gets to decide who has expertise? Who do you trust?


    Simon, Stephen

    No question about the universe is more fundamental than why there is one in the first place. Virtually all of the time that we're navigating the world, we naturally take its existence for granted. That's precisely what we won't do in this course. Instead, we'll examine major competing approaches to thinking about what constitutes reality's ultimate foundation, including: natural laws of science; necessary truths of mathematics; the inherent goodness of existence; and an all-powerful deity. We'll also examine responses that reject the question as meaningless, deny the world has an explanation, or embrace the puzzle of existence without proffering a solution, as through appreciation of the mystery and awe that it inspires. By engaging strengths and weaknesses of various frameworks, and exploring implications of limitations on our knowledge, we'll learn more about our own deepest commitments while improving the ability to think through and defend positions on challenging inquiries.


    Keefer, Jeannine

    This course will explore the various roles architecture, building, and design play in shaping how we live, work, play and interact with one another. We will read texts covering a variety or periods and points of view. As students learn to read buildings, plans and even cities as primary texts they will appreciate the impact design can have on our experience of place. This semester our class will participate in the East End Collaboratory with projects exploring not only the cemetery, but also the places where individuals lived in the city of Richmond. Questions we will address include: Can we fix a broken society through design? What is the role of the architect or planner in shaping society? What are the roles of old and new structures in our understanding of place and ourselves?