FYS Course Descriptions

Course descriptions for current First-Year Seminars are available for viewing in BannerWeb. Below are sample descriptions from previous terms.
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  • ADVENTURES IN TIME

    27336
    Korsnack, Kylie

    What is it about the concept of time travel that continues to capture the attention of contemporary audiences? What narrative experiences and storytelling practices does a time traveler make possible? How might we use the tools of literary criticism to understand and unpack the continued presence of time travel within popular culture? In this course, we will explore these questions by analyzing time travel fiction from a variety of historical and cultural contexts. Focusing primarily on short stories and novels, we will consider time travel as both a mode of storytelling and a subgenre of science fiction. Through this focus on form and genre, we will work to critically analyze the creative, disruptive, and subversive potential of those imaginative frameworks--like time travel--that detach their characters (and thus their readers) from linear and progressive experiences of time. Along the way, we will engage in literary research, critically analyze a wide variety of written forms, and practice writing academic arguments of our own.

  • A GENERATION OF CYNICS? BIAS, NEUTRALITY, AND THE INTERNET

    27226
    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.

  • CIVIC JOURNALISM AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

    27412
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    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
  • CRIME & PUNISHMENT IN RUSSIAN FICTION & FILM

    27429
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    "Crime and Punishment in Russian Fiction and Film" examines acts of transgression and retribution, two long-standing preoccupations in Russian culture. It offers an interdisciplinary investigation of how writers, artists and directors have depicted the changing boundaries of propriety and criminality since the early 19th century. This course surveys not only short stories and novels, but also poetry, theater, opera and cinema. 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.

  • DEMOCRACY IN CRISIS

    27430
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    Is democracy in crisis? The past few years have seen a sharp decline in democratic practice around the globe and an increase in illiberalism and autocratic back sliding to authoritarianism. Moreover, we have seen an increasing wave of popular mobilizations expressing dissatisfaction with the manner in which democracies handle major issues of race and social justice. What accounts for these trends and how can we understand them? Is it now impossible to make a reasonable case in defense of (or a criticism of) democracy both in objective and normative (i.e., moral) terms? In this course we will try to understand the rise of illiberal trends and autocracies around the world. We will learn about the philosophical and moral underpinnings of democracy as well as how to objectively study its connection to a multiplicity of political, social and economic outcomes. You will learn the difference between writing an impassioned argument in favor of/against a particular institutional arrangement and exploring the consequences of the same institutional arrangement using an objective systematic scientific approach.

  • DEVIL IN THE DETAILS

    27880
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    Witches and heretics, religious prophets and confidence men, Indian captives and murdering mothers, cat massacres and slave conspiracies: these are the subjects of "microhistory," a distinctive approach to the study of the past that seeks to reveal broader forces of historical change through detailed stories of obscure individuals and unusual events. In this First-Year Seminar, students learn how scholars research and write these gripping historical narratives. We probe beneath the grand narratives of conventional history textbooks and develop theoretical and methodological competencies in the subfield of cultural history. The seminar provides opportunities to read and analyze a challenging array of primary texts ranging from diaries and letters to court records and tax lists. Toward the end of the semester, students research and write their own microhistories based on rare archival manuscripts from early America.

  • DREAMS & ISLAM

    27137,27144
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    This is a first year seminar that focuses on dreams and visions in Islamic societies. This course is designed to explore several key topics in the study of dreams and visions in Islamic societies, and the topical content the course includes: the religious milieu of the Late Antique Near East; the prophet Muhammad; the emergence of Islam; fundamental concepts in Islam; the relationship between revelation, prophecy, and dreams; Sunnis and Shias; sayyids and sharifs in dreams; mystical Islam and Sufi brotherhoods; popular piety and saint veneration; modern developments in Islam; dreams in contemporary Egyptian society; and dreams and visions in the contemporary world.

  • DRUGS IN AMERICA

    27206
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    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

    27210
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    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.

  • EXPLOITATION: CAUSES, EFFECTS, & RESPONSES

    27487
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    This course explores the phenomenon of exploitation, why we exploit, the effects of exploitation, and potentially responsive or preventative measures to exploitation. Throughout human history individuals and societies have used power, force, and coercion to extract value from natural resources, animals, and other human beings for their own benefit. These practices have enabled human and social development, but also caused extreme suffering on a massive scale, and they may imperil life as we know it on this planet in the foreseeable future. This course will investigate the psychology, economics, and religion of exploitation, how it functions, and how it is justified or rationalized. It will also look at responses and possible solutions.

  • FRIENDSHIP, COLLABORATION, AND CONVIVALITY

    27333
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    This course examines the theme and role of friendship in Early Modern European culture, especially in Renaissance Italy, and the way in which friendship informed and inspired intellectual and artistic collaboration and conviviality. Texts from both Greek and Roman antiquity and the European Renaissance on the value of friendship as a source of love, solace, inspiration and delight form the core of the readings, as will works of art that represent collaborations between artists, poets and humanists. Based in conversation, this course in turn considers how conversation between friends, both serious and comical, inspired artistic and scholarly activities.

  • GENDER, VIOLENCE, AND ROME

    27196
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    What role can literature from and influenced by the Roman world play in universities in the 21st Century? Ovid's works will launch a careful examination of gender, race and ethnicity, and violence in the Roman world and in contemporary U.S. universities. Gender, Violence, & Rome will study the ways that ancient literatures, especially epic and tragedy, have offered solace and resistance against gendered and racialized violence, and have been read as supporting power hierarchies that enable violence against women, men, and non-binary people. In this course, students will meet Roman literature, and films, novels, and drama inspired by Roman culture in writers such as Luis Alfaro, Cherr'e Moraga, Shakespeare, Toni Morrison, and in films. This FYS will look to different forms of performance texts to explore questions of human identities, power and justice now and in the ancient Roman empire.

  • GLOBAL STUDIES AND PUBLIC POLICY

    27194
    Guss, Samantha Cunningham, Sojourna

    Tracing the voyage of Semester-at-Sea around the world, this course examines how public problems are defined, how different policy solutions are crafted, and the ways in which we judge their effectiveness. As the art of political decision-making, public policy reflects the reality that: (1) penalties and incentives (sticks and carrots) are what primarily drive much of modern life; (2) information is key to structuring effective penalties and incentives; and that (3) thinking analytically and empirically, knowing what to measure and how to measure it, is as important as thinking normatively (what should be). This course uses the countries we visit in class to illustrate the different ways that people craft public policies, why they do so, and what the tradeoffs and consequences are. Morality, in so many words, represents the ideal way that people want (usually others) to behave. Public policy, influenced by economics, psychology, philosophy, politics, culture, tradition, and religion, reflects essentially the same aspiration, but is based on the way people actually behave. Also, personal opinions are helpful, but operate better as starting points for creating testable theories and arguments about what the best policies are for, say: improving education, strengthening national security, lowering unemployment, increasing health, expanding employment, decreasing poverty, protecting the environment, preventing crime, and consuming limited resources. In its purest form, the goal of any public policy is to make life better for as many people as possible. What makes public policy so challenging and interesting, though, is that people disagree over what constitutes things such as equality, fairness, effectiveness, and causation.

  • GREAT FILM MAKERS OF THE WORLD

    27195
    Delers, Olivier Sulzer-Reichel, Martin

    In "Great Filmmakers of the World," students will watch films from different countries and different time periods with which they are likely not familiar. The course will focus on films from all over the world. One of the central goals of the course is to expose students to different cultures and to explore complex social, economic, and political issues. Students will learn about specific countries and historical moments through the stories told and characters portrayed in each film. For instance, we might discuss filmmaking and censorship in Iran, the issue of migration from a West African perspective, or the human cost of the war against terror. At the same time, we will think about cinema as an aesthetic endeavor in which producing images is an intentional act that exists in parallel to but also independently from specific stories. Students will learn how to read images closely and will be encouraged to think of filmmaking as an art form. Students will develop close-reading skills by analyzing films in groups during class time, and individually in academic essays. Each film screening will be accompanied by reading assignments that will give students the chance to observe how scholars and film critics have analyzed the film and to critique their ideas. Finally, this course will be writing intensive. Students will write often and will have the opportunity to practice academic writing as well as other forms of writing (responses, creative writing, project-based writing assignments).

  • HISTORY OF CRIME & PUNISHMENT

    27205,27204
    Delers, Olivier Sulzer-Reichel, Martin

    This course will explore the history of crime and punishment in modern British cities. We will pay particular attention to the way that conceptions of criminality and what constituted an "appropriate" punishment were intertwined with ideas about social class, gender, and race. Though this course will draw on examples from throughout the British world, it will focus largely on London. Cities occupied an ambivalent space in the British imagination. They produced both new jobs and profoundly unsettling new forms of squalor. They offered the critical mass of population necessary to support institutions like libraries, museums, theatres, and public baths - but also brothels, opium dens, and crime syndicates. Gay men and women found the first public spaces to which they could lay claim, but the police deemed queerness to violate laws on public decency and harassed them. In the empire, fears about criminality led to the wholesale demolition of millennia-old parts of cities if they were deemed to be too difficult to police. Cities were sites of liberation and repression, squalor and prosperity. They gave rise to feelings of greater safety than ever before and perpetual anxiety about criminals lurking around every corner. We will confront and seek to understand these tensions over the course of the semester.

  • HUMAN TRAFFICKING: MYTH OR SCOURGE

    27287
    Delers, Olivier Sulzer-Reichel, Martin

    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.

  • JAZZ AND THE BEAT GENERATION

    27209
    Delers, Olivier Sulzer-Reichel, Martin

    Jazz music was born in the United States around the beginning of the 20th century as a creative mixture of African rhythms and European harmonies. But the jazz aesthetic has spread far beyond mere music: American creative writers of the 20th century---particularly those of the Beat Generation---were deeply influenced by jazz in several ways: jazz as subject matter, jazz as formal influence, and jazz as cultural commentary. The chief tension in American jazz has to do with some Americans seeing jazz as a chaotic primitivist release, some Americans using jazz to open cultural space in order to escape middle class values and/or middle America, vs. jazz as a discipline, as a musical art form, and as a valid cultural medium for blues transcendence. This course will address ways that the Beat Generation, among others, responded to jazz and African-Americans, and will also explore ways that the jazz community and American cultural critics responded to the Beats. Ultimately, we will use the relationship between jazz and the Beat Generation to explore the way jazz, musically and culturally, "spoke" to 20th-century America.

  • KNOWING & CHOOSING IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY

    27212,27211
    Delers, Olivier Sulzer-Reichel, Martin

    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.

  • LATIN AMERICAN POLITICS & FILM

    27286
    Delers, Olivier Sulzer-Reichel, Martin

    Prior to the 1980s, democracy had a difficult time taking root in Latin America. Most countries in the region oscillated between authoritarianism and restricted versions of democracy. In this class we will explore development, democracy, authoritarianism, and regime transitions in the case of Chile. The course will push you to ask big and important questions about the political world, including: what is democracy?; why do democratic regimes sometimes break down?; what brings about democratic transitions?; how do democratic regimes address the human rights violations carried out during dictatorships?; and how can states in the global periphery build stable and representative democracies?

  • MODERN AMERICAN HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYERS

    27340
    Delers, Olivier Sulzer-Reichel, Martin

    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

    27360,29088
    Delers, Olivier Sulzer-Reichel, Martin

    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.

  • MORALITY & THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS OF 2008

    27200
    Delers, Olivier Sulzer-Reichel, Martin

    The 2008 global economic crisis was--before the coronavirus recession--the worst macroeconomic event in 80 years. We will try to understand its multiple causes, specifically whether it was the result of random events, systematic market or regulatory failings, moral failures, or some other cause or causes. Addressing this question is important if we are to learn from the calamity. Students from all backgrounds are welcome in the course, even those brand new to economics. We will use primary texts and Socratic dialogue to address related and controversial questions such as, "Does the market always self-correct?" "Is unemployment voluntary?" "Is greed good?" "Would having more women in finance have reduced the problem?" "Does studying this event help us understand the coronavirus recession?" Early readings emphasize the work of Adam Smith, the founder of modern economics, and J.M. Keynes, who studied aspects of human irrationality in financial markets.

  • OPEN WATER

    28072
    Delers, Olivier Sulzer-Reichel, Martin

    Open Water will expose you to new ways of thinking about the world's oceans. Oceans have served as a source of fear and awe, and have inspired artists, theologians, explorers, and scientists. For millennia, humans have used these massive bodies of water for travel, protection, trade, and food. A central goal of the course is to learn how oceans influenced, and continue to influence, human societies, and how humans are now influencing oceans. Through analysis of maritime history, science, literature and art, you will gain a better understanding of how the diverse world we live in today has been shaped by the use of marine resources.

  • QUESTIONS OF TRUST

    27335
    Wittig, Carol Ludovico, Carrie

    This course asks 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 & LAW IN THE UNITED STATES

    27353,29087
    Wittig, Carol Ludovico, Carrie

    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.

  • RACE AND REPRESENTATION

    27382
    Wittig, Carol Ludovico, Carrie

    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.

  • READING THE PAST: EPICS, LEGENDS, & HISTORY

    27207
    Wittig, Carol Ludovico, Carrie

    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," and "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.

  • REPRESENTING CIVIL RIGHTS

    27192
    Wittig, Carol Ludovico, Carrie

    Taking Richmond as its point of departure, this community-based course focuses on places, people and events from before the city's founding to the present day to understand current social and racial inequities, specifically as it relates to the history of public transportation. Buses, in particular, have acted as major battlegrounds regarding racial segregation, ableism, sexism, and transportation accessibility to the impoverished. During last summer’s protests a GRTC (Greater Richmond Transit Company) bus was torched, and a GRTC driver recently died of COVID. Moreover, GRTC passengers were among the Richmonders most heavily impacted by the pandemic. As a class, we will create a community-based public history project that addresses why accessible public transportation is so important to a democratic society. What are GRTC drivers’ and passengers’ experiences with transportation? Who has access to transportation? What are the civil rights issues connected to public transit? We will work closely with GRTC drivers, mechanics, and sometimes their families and friends to support the development of a community-based project that tells their stories. Our goal is to stress the resiliency and front-line community service of the GRTC by highlighting not just the stories of bus drivers, but also depicting the complex web of relationships between the drivers and their passengers--who in Richmond are predominantly African American.

  • REWRITING THE BIBLE

    27146,27145
    Wittig, Carol Ludovico, Carrie

    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.

  • RHETORIC AND GENDER VIOLENCE

    27215
    Wittig, Carol Ludovico, Carrie

    Students will learn to conduct a media audit of rhetorics of gender violence in contemporary culture. As we audit media for these rhetorics, we learn to analyze them through various rhetorical theories to see how symbolic action orchestrates, enables, and perpetuates this violence. We will focus as well on learning to create new rhetorics that work to resist and abolish gender violence. Theories from Aristotle to Sara Ahmed will be leveraged for our critical, creative, and collaborative work in this seminar.

  • RHETORIC AND TERRORISM

    27912
    Wittig, Carol Ludovico, Carrie

    Today almost every domain of American culture--whether it is music, gaming, fashion, television, or sports--overlaps in some way with military culture. Real and perceived threats of terrorism alter not just our politics, foreign policy, economics, but even the "fun" spaces of our social relations, eroding the boundaries between military life and civilian life. Americans, by and large, have "supported the troops" with their votes and embrace of the military, even as American-led wars resulted in ambiguity or failure. Why do we support the troops, or war generally? In this course, we will examine how the encroachment of military culture into everyday life shapes our attitudes toward terrorism and war.

  • SILK ROADS AND ATLANTIC TRIANGLES: CONNECTING THE PREMODERN WORLD

    27222,27332
    Wittig, Carol Ludovico, Carrie

    How old is globalization? How did global connections begin? How were ideas and commodities shared, traded, and exchanged before the internet and airlines, before steam power and postal services? The experience of global pandemic has cast in relief the modern world’s reliance on global connectivity and the ease with which travel, trade, and other exchanges can occur. This connectivity may appear a hallmark of modernity, but it has a long history. From the Silk Roads to the Atlantic Triangle, we will examine travelers, commerce, and other exchanges in the premodern world (ca. 1200-1800).

  • THE EFFECTS OF MARITIME STRATEGY

    27330
    Wittig, Carol Ludovico, Carrie

    This course examines the 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 FAMILIES

    27198
    Wittig, Carol Ludovico, Carrie

    This course is a survey of various fictional representations, in literature and movies, of Italian organized crime. In particular, it intends to call students' attention to the differences between the representations of mobsters in Italy and the United States. We will focus on the historical and socio-anthropological peculiarities of mafia representations in order to explain these differences as we compare fiction and non-fiction sources.

  • THE NEUROSCIENCE OF PHOTOGRAPHY

    27208
    Wittig, Carol Ludovico, Carrie

    As photography becomes more ubiquitous in society, the ability to deconstruct how our brain processes images becomes 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.

  • THE PSYCHOLOGY OF DRUGS

    27197
    Wittig, Carol Ludovico, Carrie

    Psychological scientists study human behavior and mental processes across levels of analysis from neurons to culture. The dramatic effect of some psychoactive drug molecules on behavior challenges common sense views of human agency while culture plays an enormous role in patterns of drug use and whether users are glorified or vilified. In this course, students will examine drugs and drug use from these diverse perspectives and will apply their developing understanding of the psychology of drugs to key drug-related debates in medicine and public policy. They will be challenged to think critically about the use and abuse of drugs, their benefits and harms.

  • THE SEARCH FOR THE SELF

    27288
    Wittig, Carol Ludovico, Carrie

    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

    27203
    Wittig, Carol Ludovico, Carrie

    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.

  • TRUE DETECTIVES: FICTION, FILM, & TELEVISION

    27216
    Wittig, Carol Ludovico, Carrie

    The hard-boiled detective novel produced some of the twentieth century's most famous movies, spawning a new visual style (film noir) and establishing the detective film among Hollywood's most celebrated genres. This seminar considers the genre's beginning in novels such as Hammett's The Maltese Falcon and Chandler's The Big Sleep, and then explores its evolution through later fiction, film, and television adaptations and homages. Students will read, watch, analyze, and research 1) the generic properties that define detective novels and films 2) the historical circumstances and cultural contexts from which these genres emerged, and 3) the central questions about individuals and states, power and legality, and gender and identity such texts engage.

  • VISIONS OF AMERICA ON THE CONTEMPORARY STAGE

    27199,27201
    Wittig, Carol Ludovico, Carrie

    In this seminar, we'll look at how several contemporary playwrights and performance artists from the United States and beyond have imagined, represented, and theorized the image and notion of "America." How has America been conceived on the stage as a place of conflict, struggle, or resistance? To what extent has the figure of America been depicted on stage as a space of idealism, as well as a realm of desire or decadence? These are some of the questions that we'll explore with the goal of understanding how theatre can be used to express both individual and collective consciousness.

  • WAS THAT $1200 WELL SPENT?

    29159,27538
    Wittig, Carol Ludovico, Carrie

    How do we decide whether the $1,200 that the U.S. government distributed to every taxpayer was an good use of government funds? In this course we will examine how government policies are applied to markets through programs such as government stimulus, carbon taxes, price gouging laws, food stamps, and unemployment insurance. Our examination will focus on the tension between equity and efficiency as ways of evaluating outcomes and will include an exploration of the definitions and interpretations of these two ideas. You will gain insight into current policy disagreements and into the interactions between markets and government policies. Familiarity with the principles of microeconomics is recommended but not required.

  • WESTERN THEORIES MEET CHINESE EXPERIENCE

    27177
    Wittig, Carol Ludovico, Carrie

    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?

    27228,27227
    Wittig, Carol Ludovico, Carrie

    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?