|As of June 25, 2008
FIQWS: Freshman Writing Inquiry Seminar: Descriptions for Fall 2008
Human Origins (2 sections)
The studies of Human Origins is an extremely vibrant and controversial one today. One part of this debate concerns the controversy between creationists and scientists. The other part, and the focus of this course, is in the field of human evolution itself. It will examines the process of evolution and the living primates, (our closest living relatives), and explore what we know about our ancestors other close relatives, including how we know what we know. The course also will look into current controversies.
Midwives, Healers and Physicians: Medicine and Culture in Anthropology (2 sections)
How do different cultures, including our own, view healing? What is the place of the healer in their scientific, spiritual and cultural worlds? This course explores human cultures and ethnomedical thought and practices in our present day, comparing such aspects as marriage and the family, pregnancy and childbirth, health and healing, and economics and politics across time and through an examination of beliefs and behaviors in a variety of cultures.
Art and Architecture:
This course will examine sculpture in African Art, its tradition, practice and place within the communities that made them. We will examine a selection of both traditional and modern objects – their form, style, and material, and also look at what influence they have had on Western art.
The Depiction of Landscape in World Art
Images of Landscapes will be considered in terms of different conceptions of the relationship between man and nature. Particular attention will be given to original works on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and to the special exhibitions: "J.W.W. Turner" and "Landscapes Clear and Radiant: The Art of Wang Hui (1632-1717)."
Truth, Fiction and Photography
Photography is uniquely present in our everyday lives, and we often accord it unusual authority. It’s customarily assumed to be an absolutely truthful medium of visual documentation of reality. Yet is sometimes also accused of mis-representation, idiosyncrasy or falsehood. How can the camera tell a lie? This course exams our notions of truth and falsehood, reality and imagination, objectivity and subjectivity, documentary and artistic expression through the lens of photography.
Exploring the Architecture of New York City
We will look at and investigate aspects of the built environment of New York City – the meanings created by buildings and neighborhoods; the “reading” of our physical environment as influenced by our gender, sexual preference, age, ethnicity, religion, social class, etc.
The American Arts and Crafts Movement (Clancy)
In this class, we will examine the visual and literary record of the Arts and Crafts Movement in the United States, from its inception following the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876, to its demise in the period following World War One. Students will explore the social and cultural meanings of the movement while gaining exposure to the major furniture makers, potters and craftspeople of the period. In addition to primary and secondary source readings about objects, we will explore the connections between Transcendentalism and this movement. Students will be assigned written assignments, and be required to attend museum exhibits and other outings.
Explorations in Black Studies: Science and Society
Course participants will explore the role and use of Science and Technology in selected topics in Africana/Black Studies. Students will be introduced to the language of chemistry and the scientific process, develop critical thinking skills and working collaboratively. Students will explore areas of considerable interest/impact to/on the African Diaspora in 1) Health and Disease Disparities, 2) Urban and Environmental Issues, 3) Genetics and Race. Students will master basic knowledge of, and role of mathematics, measurements, scientific units and statistics involved in chemistry/physical sciences as it relates to the areas of Health and Disease Disparities, Urban and Environmental Issues, Genetics and
Consumerism in America
The course will delve into the causes and effects of America’s obsession with
consuming. Why do we spend so much? Do we need all this stuff? Does what we buy
really make us happy? And how does consuming affect our lives in terms of our need to
work harder, our tendency to run up debt, and so forth?
Arts and Imagination
This course explores the visual, literary, multimedia, and performing arts and their role in developing imagination. Readings from artists, creative thinkers, and scholars will inspire discussions, responses to aesthetic experiences, and generate imaginative creations as well as a final inquiry project.
Teaching as an Art and Practice
In this course we look, so to speak, behind the scenes into what teachers actually think and do. The course will focus on conceptions of teachers and teaching from ancient until post-modern times.
The Age of Human Rights
This seminar explores the origins and development of human-rights thinking and politics by analyzing the intellectual, legal, and political background of the concept of human rights. The course seeks to understand a series of questions related to the rise of a human rights regime: How and why did the dignity of the human being come to be valued? How did the slowly developing worldview of humanitarianism—the underpinning of modern human-rights ideals—conceive of human beings and their proper treatment? What were the moral assumptions behind human rights? How did religious and secular humanitarianism both combine and clash in the development of human rights from the early modern period to the present?
The Problem of Justice and the Good Society
This course will examine the problem of justice and the search for a felicitous social order in western
thought. In particular, it will address the tension between the ideals of social justice, the pursuit of
happiness, and the ideal of humanism.
Literature: English and Foreign Language.
(No knowledge of a foreign language is needed to take these courses)
Introduces students to Don Quixote, Cervantes’ major work as well as Spain’s greatest literary masterpiece. One of the funniest and most tragic books ever written, Don Quixote chronicles the adventures of the self-created knight-errant Don Quixote of La Mancha and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, as they travel through sixteenth-century Spain. The course will examine literary, sociological, philosophical, and historical matters, as well as themes such as madness, truth and lying, appearance and reality, fiction and history. The course will also examine several artistic (plastic and filmic) representations of Don Quixote from its time until today.
Brazilian Cinema and Literature
This course will offer a comprehensive overview of Brazilian society, its culture and its history through a combination of cinema and literature. Chosen are six main contemporary Brazilian films with English subtitles. They are divided into three series, where each two films pertain to a particular topic: the political history of Brazil and its dictatorial regimes; music combined with folklore and territory; and urban violence, human rights and police brutality. Each pair of films will be accompanied by a book on which one of them was based, or by a reading pertaining to the subject matter.
Comic Books And Conflict: Studying Society Through Graphic Novels
In recent years, cartoons have become a medium used to discuss pressing social and cultural issues. In this class, we will explore the ways in which graphic novels express and convey meaning. We will read them together with written memoirs that grapple with some of the same themes, to understand the expressive power of different kinds of writing. ,And we will see how comic strips and animation tackle WWII, the conflict in the Middle East, gay rights, race issues, and much more.
A Literary Portrait of New York City: Diversity, Identity, and Community
The course will focus on an array of voices, both of native writers and those that have taken the city as their subject, to create a kaleidoscopic literary portrait of New York. Drawing from poetry, fiction, memoir, and journalism, our readings will utilize a multitude of perspectives to help illustrate both the deep sense of community and the striving for individual identity that is found within the world’s most diverse city.
Paris, Capital of the Nineteenth Century
An inquiry into the literature, society art and culture of Paris in the 19th century, including how a society of artists, writers and brilliant innovators transformed the city.
This course will look at the ways that native Americans have been imagined through literature and film. We will read works by Silko, Erdrich, Hajro, Momady and others. Among the films we will consult are Smoke Signals by Sherman Alexi, Fast Runner/Atanarjuat by Zach Kunik and Imagining Indians by Victor Masyesva.
Literature and Psychoanalysis.
This course aims to introduce students to basic concepts in psychoanalysis and to explore their power and limits as tools of literary and cultural analysis. We will begin by studying Sigmund Freud’s Five Introductory Lectures. In this short book, Freud tells the story of how he came to develop psychoanalysis as a theory and a method of treatment for mental illness, and he introduces and explains the concepts of repression, the dreamwork, infantile sexuality, the Oedipus complex, transference and sublimation. We will then look at a variety of stories and poems to see how they are illuminated by Freud’s ideas and illuminate those ideas in their turn.
Writing Towards Redemption – The Storyteller’s Art and the Means of Atonement An exploration of how writers seek redemption and personal salvation through storytelling. All the books on the reading list will be by authors who have been haunted by regret and have used fiction and memoir to help make amends for a wayward life. (Frederick Exley, “A Fan’s Notes”; “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”; Denis Johnson, “Jesus’ Son”; Michael Finkel, “Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa”; Nick Flynn, “Another Bullshit Night in Suck City”; Stanley Tookie Williams, “Blue Rage, Black Redemption”; Tim O’Brien, “The Things They Carried”)
From Text to Screen
What is adaptation? We often judge film adaptations, or movies based on books or stories, by how “faithful” the filmmakers are to the text; the closer the work is to the original, many would say, the better. In this class, we will examine adaptations that are in some way “radical,” or marked by considerable departures from the source text, using three key questions: Why were these changes made? How do they affect our experience? What might they say about the culture(s) in which they appear? We will move beyond simple judgments like, “the book was way better than the movie,” and learn to close-read texts and images in this introductory course.
The Rise and Fall and Rise of Mass Media
Technological advances and social changes over the last two decades have revolutionized how we understand and access the flow of information, dramatically redefining the very concept of “media” in our daily lives. This core course will examine the technological, historic, economic and social evolution of communications in contemporary film, journalism, and advertising and public relations campaigns. Readings, viewings and discussions will focus on understanding the challenges and opportunities of the rapidly changing 21st century media environment.
Freaks, Oddballs, and Weirdos
This course aims to show students, through a variety of material such as short stories, poetry and visual media, how literary history is rife with strange people--sadists, misogynists, masochists and degenerates of all descriptions. By looking at a short but diverse cross-section of these sociopaths, this course examines the nature of their perversions and the causes of it. Is "freakishness" a biological fact, is it decided by destiny? What makes someone into a freak? What sustains the lonely angry men hiding in their basements? What effect do labels like "freak," "oddball," or "weirdo" have on the individual? Can, finally, beauty emerge from the filth these texts are filled with? These are some of the questions we will be looking at throughout the term
How does the Internet allow us to engage with and shape our world? This course introduces students to the challenges and opportunities of Web discourse. Students will explore the world of blogging, particularly as it pertains to entering a larger social or political conversation. We will all participate in a class blog for a portion of the semester and students will be asked to follow a blog on their own. We will also focus on the role of Instant Messaging as a specific discourse. Along the way, we will consider the role of these technologies in relation to questions of free speech and academic integrity. No advanced Internet knowledge is required for this course!
Behind the Curtain: Reading as Writers
Joyce Carol Oates writes, in her anthology Telling Stories, An Anthology for Writers: “To write, one must read. To write well, one must read well. Which means: to read widely, to read with enthusiasm, to read for pleasure, to read with an eye for another’s craft.” That “eye for craft” can be termed looking behind the curtain, to see what literary devices or modes of craft the author has employed in bringing about the desired effects. You will learn the discipline of “close” reading, of examining the craft of prose, and you will learn to write critically about narrative and the narrative craft.
The Coming-of-Age Novel
An examination of modern novels (and maybe some short stories and poems) that address the transition from adolescence into adulthood, and the various losses and developments one experiences in said transition. Conrad: Youth; Fitzgerald: This Side of Paradise; Joyce: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Plath, the Bell Jar; maybe Catcher in the Rye, Araby (from Dubliners) and some poetry.
Literature and Film: Hero, Anti-hero and the American Dream
The course will introduce students to literature and film by focusing on heroism and its relation to the theme of The American Dream. Some topics covered will include the psychological, social, historical, and mythic aspects of both literature and film. In addition students will be familiarized with the literary aspects of film art, focusing on its narrative, dramatic, poetic, and persuasive structure. Some attention will be drawn to period study.
Perspectives on Women in French Literature
“Perspectives on Women in French Literature” will emphasize key issues such as: education, fashion, love, marriage, and the social roles women held in the 18th and 19th centuries. This course will also address the changes that occurred during the 20th century.
Israel-Palestine: Narratives, Identities, and War in Literature, Ethnography, and
Film. This class will examine how war shapes identity. We will read narratives written by and about both Israelis and Palestinians, and view films, both dramas and documentaries. In addition to the texts and films, we will also listen to both traditional and contemporary music. The class will include discussion of Jerusalem; the Green Line; the Holocaust; colonialism; 1948; refugees, diaspora and return; nationalism; and violence and militarism.
Literature, Art and the Blues Aesthetic
It has been said that “Blues is arguably the most influential art form of the 20th century…it has played a decisive role since World War I in American music, literature and other art forms.” How can that be? How has the feeling of the blues, the attitude of the blues, the philosophy of the blues, that is, the “blues aesthetic”affected so many forms of expression? Exactly what is that attitude or point of view? In this interdisciplinary course, we will explore literature of writers Jean Toomer, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, and others whose work is informed and influenced by the blues. We will examine paintings and photographs of Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, Roy DeCarava and others to look to “see” blues and jazz. And, we will listen to the music of blues musicians, including Ma Rainey, Leadbelly, and Lightnin’ Hopkins. We will study the ideas of important literary and cultural theorists who have explored the influence of the blues and jazz on American experience.
Modern American Short Story
This course is intended to introduce students to the modern American short story. We will cover basic literary terminology as well as the elements of the short story and implement them when analyzing assigned texts. During the semester, the students will be required to present on an author and to report on a story of their choice that is not included in the course packet. The students will also have to opportunity to create a piece of fiction to share with the class.
Shakespeare and Music
Students learn to understand the expressive language of music by understanding the relationship between Shakespeare’s play’s and musical interpretations of them. In the past, this course has focused on Romeo and Juliet and MacBeth.
Duke Ellington and American Jazz. Composer and bandleader Duke Ellington (1899–1974) shunned the word “jazz” as a description of his music. Yet Ellington reveled in his position as one of the giants of the African-American jazz tradition, and much of his music continues to define the “jazz canon” and the “American songbook.” This course explores historical texts reflecting various reactions and responses to Ellington’s music from the 1920s to the present, including issues of race in America, musical style, and the politics of popular music. A broad survey of Ellington’s films, interviews, and—most of all—music encourages students to develop their own ideas about the place of Ellington and jazz in American society.
Oral History and American Music
This course examines American concert music from the perspective of oral history. It will include explorations of American composers such as: Gershwin, Ives, Eubie Blake, Copland, Ellington and others, and discussions about what inspires these composers, and how their music fits into the broad spectrum of 20th century American music.
From Kerouac to Tupac: A Musical Approach to Understanding Modern Poetry
This course examines the cross fertilization that occurred between the 1950’s beat – poetry generation and modern jazz and the 1990’s hip hop movement and African American urban poetry. In each period, students will analyze the shared characteristics of the musical and poetic idioms. Throughout this course, students will create original music to express the poetry of the period or create original poetry that reflects the musical emotion from each time frame.
Contemporary Popular Music
An examination of the multicultural roots of popular music, both historical and current, in the USA including Native-American, African-American, and Latin-American styles (Blues, Jazz Reggae, Salsa, Folk, Rock, and Hip Hop among others.
Gender and Politics in the US
This course will focus on the role of women in US politics, analyzing progress made
and obstacles to full equality. Why has the representation of women in the US lagged
behind many other democratic nations ? Does 2008 mark a turning point – why or why
not. Do women in politics make a difference?
Supreme Court Cases that Made History
This course will examine several Supreme Court cases that have dramatically changed US public policy
and shaped the relationship between US citizens and their government. The cases we will consider
address issues such as racial inequality, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, presidential power
during wartime and the rights of workers. Our goal will be to understand the social and political context
within which the justices made their decision and how their decision changed the Nation.
Politics and Leadership
This course will focus on readings, both political and literary, in the form of essay
and plays, from ancient through modern times, that analyze the perplexities and problematics of power.
Memory and Identity: The Psychology of Remembering
An introduction to psychological inquiry through an examination of the ways in which people recall
meaningful events in their lives. Students will make use of reminiscences they acquire, together with
selected readings, as the basis of an exploration into the role that memory plays in our understanding of
who we are. The course will also serve to expose students to various theoretical perspectives on the
relation between mind, brain and conscious experience.
Unconscious Ways of Knowing
Readings and discussion will explore the meanings of the terms subconscious, subliminal and unconscious, the relationship of human conscious awareness to language, and how mental activity of which we are not aware impacts our everyday behavior.
Freshmen Seminar on Immigration-Enculturation, Immigration, Acculturation: Identity Formation Across Cultural Frontiers
This course will review developmental psychology theory and discuss psychological disruptions experienced by immigrants in relation to their individual developmental stages. The course will also discuss the psychological vulnerabilities as well as resiliencies that result from the process of immigrant acculturation. Throughout the course we will seek to discern preventive measures that could lessen negative outcomes and promote positive outcomes through effective decision-making in response to the disruptions of migration.
Evironmental Impacts: A Sustainable Future
A broad range of environmental impacts must be considered to secure a sustainable future. These include the issues of global warming, tsunamis, rising ocean levels, hurricanes of increasing intensity, landslides, drought, volcanic eruption, contamination of drinking water supplies. This course presents a survey of several of these issues, outlining the scientific basis for these concerns, the likelihood or historical timing of these events, and the possible impacts on society.
Seven Stories of Science: : This course will explore important events in science through thematic stories of science. The seven stories are Atomic theory, The periodic table, The chemical bond, DNA, The ozone layer (Molina), Global warming and Molecules and health (Genome Projects).
Science and Society- In the Future
Course participants will explore the role Science and Technology will play in the Future through a series of readings and discussions. Students will explore areas of 1) Biomedical Science and Engineering, 2) Nanotechnology, 3) Sustainability and Environmental Issues, and 4) ‘the Web’.
Thoughtful Choices: The Quality of Life in the Future is in Our Hands Right Now.
In this course we will discuss some or all of the following contemporary issues: 1. What is life and how did it arise? 2. Is there a future for life on earth? 3. Where have we come in changing the biosphere in the last 300 years? 4. If we do not change our behavior, what will the earth be like in the next 300 years? 5. What do we mean by biotechnology? What is bioterrorism? The aim of this course is to provide enough scientific background to understand each topic and to evaluate the implications for our own lives and the lives of those who will follow us.
History of Astronomy and Physics: Topics will include: renaissance and the trial of Galileo; concept of energy; development of the atom bomb; Oppenheimer; galaxies, Hubble Telescope; space program, cold war, moon landing; A. Einstein; Life elsewhere in the universe; quantum theory, interpretational controversies; black holes; meaning of `space' and `time'; rôle of geometry.
Latin American and Caribbean Civilizations
The socio-economic and political evolution of Latin America and the Spanish speaking Caribbean from 1492
to the present.
Societies of Modern Africa
This course tries to answer the following questions: what is the nature of society in today’s Africa, what are
the causal factors in the cycles of violence and instability that have proved so persistent, and also what are the lines of promise and what social categories are at the forefront?
Work and family
This course covers sociological approaches to understanding issues of the workplace and family. Topics include: how family and workplace have changed over time, as well as how these institutions can affect life chances, reinforce gender roles and cultural stereotypes, and widen social inequality. Students will also be introduced to research methods such as interviews, observations, and surveys.
August Wilson in Context: Drama, History, Politics and Performance
August Wilson was one of the most influential American playwrights of the twentieth century, and it is easy to make the argument that he was the most important African American playwright of that period. As a reading and discussion class, and since Wilson’s work raises questions concerning race, power, dominance, identity, artistic control, slavery, oppression, and a myriad of other issues; we will therefore employ theories from such fields as cultural criticism, critical race theory, performance theory, psychology and sociology. We will examine Wilson’s work not only from the perspective of dramatic literature, but most important, we will consider these texts in terms of the productions and performance, and black performance in particular as constructed in Wilson’s plays to gain a better understanding of black performance from a historical perspective.