Fall 2021 Topics

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

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  • ANGST YEARS: HORMONES, HIGH ANXIETY & HAPPINESS

    18669
    Cassada, Katherine

    Students will explore the complex lives, expectations of, and pressures on middle and high school children, including social, physical, developmental, emotional, and academic challenges that are unique to adolescence. The class will investigate diverse ways of learning, autonomy and independence, and expectations for this age group. Students will determine whether they find legitimacy in the popular concept that boys and girls learn and should be taught differently, and how adolescence might influence learning and academic success. Students will visit public and independent K-12 schools, and single-sex and coeducational classrooms to develop positions for and participate in debates regarding educational issues that affect adolescents. We will also study and create adolescent literature in a visual diary format.

  • BEYOND CIVILIZATION: AN ADVENTURE OF HEART & MIND

    17834
    Mancastroppa, Roger

    This seminar glimpses the foundational religious thinking that created the human global civilization. We will critically inquire into the structures of societies as they transformed from hunter-gather, and the role of religion in this structural shift toward civilization. We will examine how our cultural and religious concepts shape our understanding of nature and ourselves. We will take a critical view toward the conceptual framework of The Enlightenment and its resulting attitudes toward nature and technology, questioning common perceptions and absolutes, and bring openness toward differing world views as we broadly examine the role of religion as it changed structurally over key points across the millennia. This course will be a reexamination of generally accepted patterns of human religious expression from pre-historical times to present day. We will experiment with constructing frameworks for understanding human society and examine recurring religious structures. We will focus on keeping the rational individual in balance with the larger social structure as an equitable member of the community of life. We will experiment with frameworks for studying religion, examine some reoccurring themes and practices, and examine the individual and communal aspects of religion as a cultural expression and how that informs the multiplicity of human engagement with ecological, social and cultural factors that affect human relationships and engage with the larger community of life.

  • CIVIC JOURNALISM AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

    17526
    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 justice issues and uncovering ways to resolve them.

  • COPS, CRIME, & POPULAR CULTURE
  • CRUSADES & HOLY WARS

    17457
    Sulzer-Reichel, Martin

    What perpetuates conflicts and allows catchwords to be reborn and reused over and over again? Is there an inherent force in the way a story is told and retold? Does it create myths or do myths create stories and even locations? All this goes into exploring the relationship between peoples, beliefs, and locations from the Middle East to the United States today. This course will concentrate on how lasting and formative historical narratives are. We will use the crusades as a case study for the relationship between historical events and their reception and re-use in the course of history up until our current political and social lives. We will start with questions about what actually happened during the crusades, how we know what happened, and how reliable our sources as well as academic articles about them are. From there, we will look into what drives the conflicts, especially between the Middle East and the West today. After centuries of warfare between Islam and Christianity, we will look behind and beyond the rationales of the conflicts. In the end, we will see that the mutations of historical narratives are not limited to the crusades, and we will try to determine the extent to which this might be a general human reaction to events that are too complex to cope with. Finally, we will look into the mechanisms and strategies that evolve over time, and how they might not only be the result of making complex realities manageable, but also become the nucleus of future conflict.

  • DRUGS IN AMERICA: A CULTURAL HISTORY

    19090
    Browder, Laura

    This is a course about the sale, use, advertising and media portrayal of mood-altering drugs in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Although alcohol and tobacco are drugs, we will not be discussing them here. And although some of the drugs we study are not always illegal (marijuana, LSD, prescription opioids, for instance), we will focus on the role of these drugs in our culture over time. We will look at who takes these drugs, and how these drugs and their consumers are portrayed in the media and treated by the law.

  • EDUCATION AND SOCIETY

    17910
    Shields, Tom

    The student will learn about the history of K-12 education in the U.S. and the role of segregation in America society and schools. The student will be able to analyze the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusivity in American K-12 education. The student should have an enhanced understanding of the concepts and practices of education in a pluralistic and diverse society. The student will understand the relationship between housing and educational policy. The student will become familiar with the kinds of questions asked by education scholars, policy makers and practitioners.

  • ETHICS IN INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

    17497
    Long, Stephen

    This course examines pressing ethical and moral questions in the arena of international affairs. The main areas of focus will be international conflict, international economics, and intrastate 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 in-class debates, all designed to help develop the skills that will help them succeed in the rest of their time at the University.

  • EXPANSION OF EUROPE/ASIA IN AFRICA

    17456
    Kapanga, Kasongo

    This seminar examines the encounter of Europe, China & India and Africa, and the paradigm of occupation. The theoretical background is the idea of society, equality and social strife resolution against historical instances of occupation and co-optation. Today, with the steady rise of China and India on the economic world stage, the same debate of the encounter is renewed of the old paradigm of domination and reproduction of new colonizers. The seminar will look at the rationalizing ideas of occupation as they evolved from the Renaissance (humanism) to their new articulations in the 19th and the 20th centuries resulting in a grand-scale colonization of Africa and Asia, then into the 21st century with the rise of these new Asian economic powers. The course will start with laying down the theoretical foundation with texts by John Locke's, "The Second Treatise of Government?" and Montaigne's essay "On Cannibals." Then, it will focus on the perception or charges of China and India on the world stage as new colonizers of Africa. The subsequent texts constitute arguments between two camps pitting, on the one hand, Europe or Asia as the well-meaning initiators of the encounter, and, on the other hand, the perception of this encounter as the violation of fundamental egalitarian rights of the Developing World. Mandela's South Africa will serve as a practical test case that embodies these two rationalizing tendencies. The seminar will end with questions scrutinizing how South Africa as a whole is grappling with issues of equality on economic, social, legal and environmental fronts in a globalized world where China and India play important roles alongside Europe.

  • FAITH & DIFFERENCE IN AMERICA

    17681
    Kocher, Craig

    Religious faith is central to the daily life and identity of a majority of the population in the United States. As a result of globalization, individuals and communities with diverse worldviews - both religious and secular - interact more closely than ever before, with results ranging from insightful dialogue to violent discord. Furthermore, religious convictions shape debate about a range of policies in domestic affairs, leading at times to unified action for peace and justice, and at other times to rancor and mistrust. This course will investigate these tensions in light of students' own commitments and beliefs, those of others, and the increasingly diverse society in which we live.

  • FAULKNER AND HIS HEIRS

    18802
    Lurie, Peter

    This seminar introduces students to the fiction of the most important American writer of the 20th century and traces his work's influence forward to our own time. Winner of the 1950 Nobel Prize in literature, William Faulkner stands at mid-century as an enormously prolific as well as accomplished figure. His novels are dense, profound meditations on the U.S. South and on American social life generally; they are famous for their innovative use of techniques such as stream of consciousness, non-linear narrative, and multiple points of view. He used his books to mount a sustained indictment of the racial attitudes and practices that defined his native region. Our course will closely examine three of his most important novels: The Sound and the Fury (1929), As I Lay Dying (1931), and Light in August (1932) as well as some of his short stories. Of particular note is the way in which the FYS format will allow the careful, slow, in-class reading of large portions of these works, an approach that is incredibly important for first-time readers. Importantly, we will also read novels that show Faulkner's direct or indirect influence including fiction by Toni Morrison, Cormac McCarthy, and Jesmyn Ward. In addition, we'll screen and discuss movies that show an affinity with Faulkner's work and/or his influence. These include films like Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction or the Coen brothers' Barton Fink and O Brother Where Art Thou? (In the latter case we'll also see the inspiration for the Coen's film, the Preston Sturges 1941 classic, Sullivan's Travels.) Students who take this seminar will gain a strong appreciation for both Faulkner's achievement and the skills of film and cultural studies along with a feel for interdisciplinary study, an increasingly important part of higher education curriculum.

  • FRAMING THEORY & MEDIA LITERACY: MORE THAN JUST SPIN

    17723
    Miller, Christopher

    This course investigates why we react to media narratives the way we do, and how tiny changes in the way information is presented can trigger large shifts in public opinion. Through the work of experts in political science, psychology, and communication, we will examine how audiences make sense of political information by filling in meaning, and how unconscious predispositions shape that meaning. It's true for all of us, in ways that may surprise us. Students will explore their own internal mental "frames," and gain new understanding of how the stories we're told can activate those frames and impact the political world.

  • FRIENDSHIP, LOVE & DESIRE

    17458
    Radi, Lidia

    What is friendship? Which qualities make a good friend? Why does Aristotle consider friendship more important than justice? This course will examine three principal manifestations of love across a wide spectrum of human experience: Philia (friendship between two people), agape (love for one's neighbor, and for the rest of humanity), and eros (desire). We will explore various perspectives on friendship, love, and desire through the lenses of philosophy, literature, cinema, and the arts. Excerpts from the philosophical works of different cultural traditions will lay the foundations for an inquiry into these notions as investigated in literature and 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 yield a strong friendship between individuals and between groups? What is the relationship between friendship and moral obligation? Can people with differing perspectives be friends with each other? What about nations? 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 and love relationships? Finally, how has erotic desire been seen as intensifying or complicating bonds of friendship or love? How have diverse or shifting ideas about gender and sexuality affected our ideas about friendship, love, and desire?

  • GENERATION OF CYNICS

    17697
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    This course aims to create a discussion-based community that will examine the creation, consumption, and dissemination of information. We will explore themes such as inequity, surveillance, privacy, power, and the societal forces that influence who gets to be seen as an expert. Using a mix of scholarly and popular sources, including works drawn from critical race scholarship, information and society, information technology, and library science, students will seek to understand their own information seeking behaviors, think about biases, and ultimately begin to place themselves as both consumers and creators of information.

  • GLOBAL HEALTH

    17535,17534
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    This course looks at issues related to health around the globe through the lens of medical anthropology. We consider topics such as how to introduce new medical ideas to communities and individuals in such a way they are likely to adopt those ideas. We look at race and discrimination in medicine in various global contexts. We also analyze relationships between traditional medicine and biomedical practitioners that are successful and not so successful. We also examine a range of nations and their failed or successful responses to the Covid-19 and the Ebola pandemics. The goal is to expose you to the range of ways in which healing occurs around the world.

  • HEROES & VILLAINS

    17719
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    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.

  • HUMAN TRAFFICKING: MYTH OR SCOURGE

    17835
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    Human trafficking is a social justice issue that has become prominently addressed in the media and through a variety of academic disciplines. However, human trafficking as a construct is embedded in conflicting and problematic paradigms and discourses that manipulate the concepts in political, economic and social ways that may perpetuate the underlying structures and issues causing human trafficking. From humanitarian and development perspectives, to law enforcement, education, policy and social science orientations, the varying discourses related to human trafficking will be explored and students will grapple with challenging questions through a writing intensive approach to inquiry.

  • KNOWING & CHOSING IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY

    17778,17779
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    There are many lenses through which to analyze the human experience. In this course we will examine knowing on the one hand, and various ways of choosing in the face of adversity on the other as these concepts play out in selected texts. During the second part of the semester, we will examine the ways in which individuals seek to become more informed about the complex and perhaps one of the most consequential problems we face which is climate change.

  • LOST IN TRANSLATION

    17844
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    Translation may seem straightforward, but actually has many applications and meanings. In this course, we will explore how translation affects the ways ideas travel across languages, cultures and time. In the process, we will investigate how translation requires sensitivity to linguistic nuance, social mores, cultural values, historical understanding, political organization and hierarchical power relations. Where are the points of cohesion and collision in cross-cultural and cross-linguistic encounters? What can mistranslation reveal about social values? How are translators/interpreters perceived under conditions of colonization and conflict? What are the methods and goals of translation, and how does it forge connections among language, culture and history?

  • MODERN AMERICAN HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYERS

    17715
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    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. This seminar will challenge students to refine what leadership means to them in theory and may also 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. Class members will be expected to read writings by and about lawyers who have had a significant impact upon American society since the beginning of the twentieth century. The readings will seek to help students appreciate the evolution of American society over that time period, and better understand the context surrounding current controversies involving liberty and equality in America. In addition, class members will be called upon to consider broader questions about what constitutes good leadership.

  • MONKS & NUNS IN MEDIEVAL EUROPE

    19213,18720
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    The Pious and the Profane explores Christian monasticism from its fourth-century origin in Egypt, Palestine, and Syria through the creation of the Jesuit order in the sixteenth. It traces how the ascetic practice embraced by individual hermits outside the established church became, in its communal Benedictine form, an integral element of the medieval church. The course delves into monastic reform (Cluniac, Cistercian), crusading monastic orders (Templars, Hospitallers), mendicant monasticism (Franciscans, Dominicans, Poor Clares), and the depiction of monks and nuns in medieval vernacular literature (e.g., Chaucer, Boccaccio). The course concludes with the portrayal of medieval monasticism in modern popular culture.

  • NOT JUST FOOD

    17496
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    This course uses the politics of food in the United States, particularly the organic and food justice movements, to examine issues of inequality, identity, and sustainability. It introduces 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.

  • PHILOSOPHY & THE CRIMINAL LAW

    17731
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    This course will address three philosophical questions raised by the criminal law. First, what justifies legal punishment? The answers we will consider include giving wrongdoers what they deserve, deterring future crime, satisfying society's desire for vengeance, and rehabilitating offenders. Second, what makes someone liable to legal punishment? What must a person do to count as attempting a crime? Should those who successfully commit a murder be punished more than those who attempt to do so, but who fail due to factors outside their control? Finally, what if anything justifies requiring proof beyond a reasonable doubt for a criminal conviction?

  • PILE OF GARBAGE: UNDERSTANDING CONTEMPORARY ART

    18695
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    An unmade bed covered in garbage, a dead tiger shark suspended in a giant tank of formaldehyde, two clocks on a wall showing slightly different times, or a massive sphinx in a factory made out of sugar: contemporary art has been described as both sensational and underwhelming. With an emphasis on ideas over craftsmanship, conceptual art is frequently thought of as an impenetrable form of communication. This course will focus on deconstructing and discussing influential contemporary art pieces from the 1980's to today. Students will engage in discussions and debates on artists and artworks, while learning how to decode its messages through research. This seminar will give students the opportunity to form educated opinions through the style of art criticism as well as function as an artist and engage in more experimental and expressive forms of writing.

  • POETRY AND MUSIC

    17479
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    This course enhances understanding of the craft and evolution of twentieth-century American poetry through its close reading by critical class writing and discussion. A focus of our work is reading aloud and listening to poems read aloud to learn the musical features this body of poetry. The course surveys mostly American verse, from two of its forerunners, Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, to early moderns W.B. Yeats (Irish poet) and Robert Frost. It will highlight innovations by T.S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens. The course covers revolutionary blues poet Langston Hughes, Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts poets, protest poets, beats, concluding with post moderns W.S. Merwin, John Ashbery, Bob Creeley, and Louise Gluck. A secondary idea of the course is to listen to classical, blues, jazz and pop music and view visual art pieces associated with some of the poems.

  • PSYCHOPATHOLOGY OF AMERICAN CAPITALISM

    17461,17460
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    Psychoanalytic/Marxist analysis of how democrats and republicans maintain economic inequality and suppress social democracy, organized labor, and leftist politics.

  • QUESTIONS OF TRUST: READING, WRITING, AND RESEARCH IN AN AGE OF DOUBT

    18727
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    This course will ask students to think about themselves as information consumers and producers. Students will explore questions of trust across different topics and subjects. Through critical reading, writing, and research, students will be asked to examine questions such as how is expertise determined? Who gets to decide who has expertise? What makes a source credible? What happens when trust is broken or information turns out to be wrong? We will ask questions that do not have easy answers, but that are especially relevant in a time of information oversaturation and doubt.

  • RACE AND LAW IN THE U.S.

    19001
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    This seminar introduces laws and judicial decisions that have defined racial status as the basis for political and social order in the United States. We address issues of citizenship, enslavement, segregation, and mass incarceration. We will read landmark judicial decisions to identify core political visions and the constitutional arguments that advance them. These decisions 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 American democracy. Moreover, we will consider how our own values and experiences are shaped by historical contests over race matters in the U.S. We may follow a Koru Mindfulness curriculum during part of the semester.

  • REFUGEES

    17677,17676
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    How does contemporary art, literary and visual, represent refugees? 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 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? How 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. This seminar will be exploratory in nature; it will focus on learning how to pose relevant questions about the materials before us rather than mastering a body of knowledge.

  • REGARDING DISABILITY

    17726
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    A person's physical and mental abilities are highly complex aspects of identity: they change over time, and are formed both by biology and by culture. Beginning with the Americans with Disabilities Act, students will combine theoretical texts and cultural products to learn to think critically about the concept of dis/ability. We will look at the world around us (architecture, law, language, medicine, art, relationships, sports) and ask how it both determines and questions what kinds of bodies are permitted to access education, love, work, and anything else that makes up a human life. Students will learn to use both written and experiential techniques of argumentation to present their answers to that question.

  • REWRITING THE BIBLE

    17716,17717
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    Biblical stories are more than just religious texts; they are literary and artistic creations that have rich cultural afterlives in a wide array of retellings. This course explores ancient and modern rewritings of biblical stories that expand them, change points of view, and fill in narrative gaps, all in an attempt to tell a new story that is filled with new meaning. By exploring a wide variety of retellings (for example, in novels, film, poetry, legends, music and plays) we will analyze how rewritten biblical stories draw on, depart from, and compete with the originals as they reflect and construct new political, social, and theological worlds.

  • SAY WHAT? EXPLORING 2ND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION

    17682
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    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 sociology and linguistics play in second language acquisition? Given the connections between language and culture, how does one teach the sociological-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 sociology and linguistics, and the sociological/cultural context of language teaching.

  • SEEING, BELIEVING, & UNDERSTANDING

    17679,18675
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    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 factual information and claims provided in such displays. Visual images are studied to dissect what is relevant and to learn artistic methods that create better presentations of this information. Both simple (graphs and charts) and complex (photographs, movies, or multipart graphs) images are studied.

  • SHAPES OF DESIRE: THE LOVE POEM

    17645
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    This course will introduce students to the Modern Lyric Love Poem as it has developed over the past 500 years, focusing on a sequence of poems closely related to one another by a web of allusions and thematic concerns (some explicit and some more subtle or implicit). Students will learn how to read, analyze, contexualize and write about lyric poems, examining how the genre has changed over time as new generations of poets have picked up on a set of basic motifs, topoi, themes, and structures, appling them to new purposes in new cultural and historical contexts.

  • SLAVERY IN THE CONTEMPORARY IMAGINATION

    17480
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    This course explores the history of U.S. slavery and its manifestations in popular culture today. We will not only learn about the historical context of slavery, but we will also explore contemporary films, music, art, literature, and public history sites that grapple with slavery and its meanings in our society today. Examples range from Oscar-winning films like 12 Years a Slave and Black Panther to Childish Gambino's Grammy-winning song "This is America" and Beyonce's "Lemonade." Prominent historian Ira Berlin asserts that American history cannot be understood without slavery yet it has only been in the 21st century that prominent dialogues about the continuing meaning of slavery have taken place. Berlin ultimately argues that slavery has become "a language, a way to talk about race in a society in which race is difficult to discuss." This course, then, will focus on analyzing popular material to better understand this "language."

  • SOCIAL UTOPIAS

    19144
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    The problem of social utopias is in realizing them. Born of rational thought and subject to romantic design, utopian communities continue to inspire grand plans. This semester, we will read, discuss, and write about how some of the greatest utopian thinkers, Plato, Rousseau, More, and other revolutionaries, have confronted the knotty problems of social utopia with creativity, sound judgment, and passion. How philosophers, political theorists, leaders of social movements, and community activists imagine utopia reveals a great deal about the actual societies in which they lived.

  • STORYTELLING AND IDENTITY

    17699
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    This course explores the role that stories play in forming our own identity, forming relationships with others, and forming the structures through which we understand our world. Students will grapple with these ideas by participating in community-based learning, story-sharing with local incarcerated youth at Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center. All participants in the project collaborate to produce a final creative piece which represents their experience telling stories together. UR students will also read, discuss, research, and write analytically as a way of making sense of their experiences.

  • STORYTELLING IN SCIENCE

    18714
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    This course examines and gives students opportunities to practice the craft of science storytelling. We study works that include Farley Mowat's "Never Cry Wolf," which pushed the idea that wolves are healthy for the environment. It was made into a popular movie and is today considered one of the founding works of environmentalism. Even though key details were made up, it remains revered as a masterpiece of non-fiction writing. Students also examine famous works that include profiles of Isaac Newton, Galileo and Marie Curie, and micro-histories of black holes, overfishing and racist biological research. The main lesson is that science-based storytelling often falls short on accuracy and specificity while establishing long-lasting public perceptions. As students ask themselves, "Is this OK?," they try their hand at crafting science-based narratives including a children's book.

  • THE DOUBLE LIFE OF PARIS

    17463,17462
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    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 a space of violence, social and political conflict, and demographic change. Through literary texts, film, newspaper articles, historical documentation, and essays, we will explore the long history of the double life of Paris.

  • THE RHETORICAL LIVES OF MAPS

    17724
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    This course is a historical and critical interpretation of how maps aided and complicated America's rise to international power. The processes, production, display, and circulation of maps gave way to a "geographic imagination" that constrained both policy and popular culture - in turn, Americans saw their place in the world in very spatialized ways. From a rhetorical perspective, maps gave us specific and partial perceptions of the globe and cartographers from a host of different institutions and with various national and international interests (government institutions like the State Dept., the CIA, the Department of Defense; academic institutions like the American Geographic Society; popular magazines like National Geographic and Time; and corporations as diverse as Rand McNally and Google) sketched the contours of American identity in both longitude and latitude. This course teaches students how to critique maps as systems of visual codes and also contextualizes for them how maps are used as rhetorical strategies by American elites and publics; by both the powerful and those challenging the powerful. Not only then is this a course on cartography, it's a course on the wild world-making processes of U.S. geopolitics and international space.

  • THE SEARCH FOR THE SELF

    17836
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    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 brain science. Our readings will include essays, memoir, fiction (both long and short), and articles from both academic and non-academic sources.

  • THE SECRET LIFE OF BOOKS

    17701
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    This course explores the past, present, and future role of books as a significant part of the world's cultural heritage. As a transmitter of literacy, knowledge, and culture, 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 effects on society and culture.

  • THE WHITE HOUSE SAID TODAY

    17454
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    A study of the presidency as conveyed by chief executives in their own words, in the words of staff, cabinet, and family members, and media reporting from the White House.

  • TIME AND THE CITY OF SEVILLE

    17453
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    Today's Seville bears clear traces of its historical and cultural importance through the centuries, from the Roman Empire to the Muslim Almohad Empire to the Spanish Empire. In the sixteenth century, it became the capital of the New World. This fascinating history will serve as the springboard to grasp the transcendence of Seville in early Modern fiction, particularly in the development of the new genre of the novel. Readings for this course will be in English, including translations from the original language (Castilian, Mozarabic, Arabic, Hebrew, Latin...)

  • TOLKIEN & THE MEDIEVAL IMAGINATION

    17450
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

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

  • TRANSATLANTIC LITERATURE CROSSINGS

    17452
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    A comparative literature course with a focus on nineteenth- and early-twentieth century literary tendencies in Spain and the United States. Readings --drawn from romantic, realist, naturalist, and modernist traditions -- will include the work of Emilia Pardo Bazan, Edith Wharton, G. A. Becquer, H. Melville, B. Perez Galdos, E. A. Poe, and M. de Unamuno, among others.

  • WESTERN THEORIES MEET CHINESE EXPERIENCE

    18936
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    This course will be centered on one crucial question: whether the theories derived from western experience are also applicable to the Chinese context? Students will explore this abstract question in several concrete fields of Chinese studies. Students' intellectual journey will start by examining the prerequisite for any understanding and interpretation, namely, language. The course will discuss whether western languages are adequate to describe and evaluate Chinese history. Then this course will ask students to explore how this overarching question plays out in specific spheres: Chinese history, philosophy, politics, law, literature, music, pop culture and ethnic minorities. The questions students will study include: whether western liberal democracy could produce political efficiency in China? Whether western law is the most suitable solution to conflicts in rural China? Whether Chinese pop music lacks originality and variety as pointed out by western musicologists? Whether the communist literature is nothing but trash as critics of western New Criticism argue? Students will watch documentaries, listen to music, interview Chinese people on campus, read histories, biographies, literary works and scholarly works to develop their own answers to the above-mentioned questions.

  • WHY DO WE BUILD?

    17720,18674
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    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. In reading critical and primary texts students will appreciate the impact design can have on our experience of place. This semester our class will participate in the East End Cemetery Collaboratory with projects exploring not only the cemetery, but also social infrastructure in the city of Richmond. Questions we will address include: What effect does the built environment have on the way we live and how we understand ourselves? 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?

  • WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS IN MODERN AMERICA

    19094
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    This course is a topical, multi-layered examination of wrongful convictions produced in modern America. We examine how racism and class inequities have driven this structural injustice. Mass incarceration is analyzed along with the historical dynamics that created it. We critically interrogate what constitutes a "wrongful" conviction to go beyond cases of factual innocence. The readings are meant to invite a deep and exacting exploration of the role racism plays in how we police, arrest, convict, and punish people in the United States.