Summer Humanities and Social Sciences Program - 2012
Courses and Activities
As an SHSS student, you take four courses, just as in a regular Williams semester. While the emphasis is on the humanities and social sciences, we include a quantitative economics class to help prepare students for meeting their divisional requirements and to introduce them to skills they may need in a variety of classes. Your work in SHSS courses is assigned grades, so that you may get a sense of where you stand, but these grades do not count toward your GPA, nor is any college credit granted for SHSS courses. This year, the courses will be:
World Politics - Professor Sam Crane
When we are confronted with events like the Jasmine Revolution in North Africa, how can we begin to analyze and understand what is going on? This course will consider the recent unrest in Egypt and Libya in an effort to explain both the causes and consequences of political change. The structure of state power, the contours of civil society and the dynamics of international intervention will be scrutinized.
Freedom and Slavery in Antebellum America - Professor Gretchen Long
This course will examine the experiences and culture of African Americans during the antebellum period. We will read personal narratives and fiction by African American authors alongside modern histories of the period. In addition to the experiences of slaves, we will examine the lives of free blacks in the North, comparing their labor, political challenges and culture to slaves in the South. As a group, we will discuss the meaning of freedom and slavery, asking how and why those meanings have changed over time.
The Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences
This course will explore the origins and consequences of the recent global financial crisis. We will begin by studying how recent innovations in the financial sector, such as the growth of asset-backed securities, led to a rapid expansion in lending to traditionally risky households. We will then discuss how these same innovations caused a change in the risk-taking important financial institutions, which eventually brought the global financial system to the brink of failure. Finally, we will explore the aftermath of the financial crisis, including the “Great Recession,” the policy responses of the Fed and the US government, and the contribution of the US crisis to the ongoing debt crisis in Europe.
Introduction to Comparative Literature – Professor Gail Newman
In this course, we will focus on how narrative texts work, and how we gain insight into them and through them. The starting point for discussion and writing will be the gaps we experience in the texts and in our own understanding, and we will work together to achieve clear, cogent analysis that embraces ambiguity and multivalence without losing rigor. This is a writing- and discussion-intensive course in which you will develop your ideas through several stages, both on your own and via interaction with peers, TAs and the instructor. Texts will include work by Danticat (Haiti/USA), Hoffmann (Germany), Cortázar (Argentina), Kanafani (Palestine), Tanizaki (Japan), Kafka (Austria/Hungary), Dinesen (Denmark) and Satrapi (Iran).
Other academic activities:
Writing Workshop sessions, led by Stephanie Dunson, Director of Writing Programs, will provide an opportunity to focus on developing skills and practices that are key to success in college-level writing. The content of the sessions will address specific demands of writing assignments required in the SHSS courses.
Librarians and Information Technology Specialists will help you learn how to navigate the various network and computer tools available at Williams, as well as all the other resources in the library and around campus.
Faculty from various fields will give guest lectures designed to introduce you to some of the subjects you can study at Williams.
Once a week we will convene to discuss topics related to success at Williams. Various members of the staff as well as upper class students will be invited to help introduce you to college life.
Resident Mentors often initiate discussions of the cultural events and workshops or brainstorming sessions on various aspects of college life.
Recreational and cultural activities:
The group, together with faculty, staff, and Resident Mentors, attends performances and exhibitions at the various cultural venues in the Berkshires, which may include the Williams College Museum of Art, the Clark Art Institute, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MassMoCA), the Williamstown Theater Festival, Shakespeare and Company, and Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Finally, there will be plenty of time for purely fun stuff: swimming, sports, excursions into the lovely natural environment surrounding the college, pizza parties, hanging out!
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