Course Descriptions: Spring 2010

Honors course curriculum remains the same from year to year but the topics change each semester. We invite you to browse through past course offerings to get an idea of what the various course topics have been. Check out the current offerings below or click on past semesters to the right.

HONS 106

Honors Seminar
Continuation of HONS 100. Community building, leadership development, service learning, and life skills for academically talented students. Required in a student’s first year in Honors.

HONS 160

Suspense Novel
We will read three novels of suspense: Martin Cruz Smith’s Gorky Park (1981), Robert Stone’s Dog Soldiers (1974), and James Dickey’s Deliverance (1969). Students will keep an informal journal of their thoughts on the works we read and will write three or four formal papers. We will practice techniques for achieving clarity and grace in writing:  parallelism, conciseness, precise word choice, appropriate punctuation, and variation in sentence length.

Exploration of the rich works of Shakespeare to appreciate and enjoy his powerful, complex and multi-layered plays. Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Richard III. Informal journal, three or four papers, writing skills.

HONS 170

Intro to Communication Studies
Focuses on theory and practice related to comm. studies in general, and to inter-personal, small group and public comm. in particular. Communication influences on individuals and society. Improve critical thinking, organization and effective speaking.

HONS 210

Historic American Political Issues                    
Study of political issues, their impact on elections and government policies.

Citizenship, Democracy & Community

Concepts of government, democracy and civil responsibility (taking Plato's Republic and Machiavelli's major works as points of discussion). Recent trends in American civi engagement. Individual's role in society globally and locally.  

HONS 213

Genocide to Democracy
How often and with what horror do nations, governments, and the people they represent abhor and condemn the genocidal actions of others while denying, justifying, and exorcising the genocidal actions of our nation, our government, and our own complicity? Let us consider the founding of “our” democracy and “our” conquests on the dismembered bodies, blighted hopes, and convenient disappear­ance of those who were in our way. How has the concept of “genocide” been contained to limit culpability? The commercial meaning of genocide in North America. Imperialism, race, religion and oil in present day Africa—Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Darfur.

HONS 221

Multicultural Perspectives on Science
Some of the ideas in the course would include:  Scientific traditions in non-Western cultures—Asia, Africa, Native and South America, historical and current impact of western science research and practices (such as the Tuskegee experiment, Depo Provera use in the Third World, AIDS prevention and cure, etc.) on marginalized populations in the United States and around the world, the status of women and minorities in the community of science. The course would be highly interactive, hands-on, and D2L enhanced.

Planet in Peril: Strategies for global sustainability
Humans’ overarching role in our planet’s environmental problems and successes. This course will offer a fresh, forward-looking approach to sustainable solutions.

HONS 223

Women in Cinema
Through the work of relevant female and male filmmakers we will explore the many implications of female representation in cinema from a sociopolitical, philosophical, and symbolical point of view.  A diversity of cinematic genres will also be scrutinized.  Our class lectures and discussions will study the aesthetics and ethics of each film while trying to confront our analysis with the politics of feminist and humanist discourse.  Through a selection of key films, students will be introduced to the works of landmark artist of cinema such as:  Douglas Sirk, Maya Deren, Pedro Almodovar, Agnes Varda, Abbas Kiarostami, Jane Campion, Francois Ozon, Isabel Coixet, among others.

Cinema of African American Women
This course is designed to introduce students to the cinematic images African American women create. 
Specifically, the course will investigate how black women filmmakers:

  1. articulate their vision of the relationship between black women and society
  2. translate social, political, and cultural issues into a cinematic statement
  3. construct a didactic, cinematic narrative in which a female voice is undergirded by an empowering, emancipatory aesthetic.

HONS 241

Visual Treatment of the Holocaust
This course deals with film against the backdrop of the topic of the Holocaust. We will look at documentary films, reenactment films, and commercial films with Holocaust topics.

HONS 250 

Mind and Knowledge
Both historically and conceptually philosophers have been concerned with two importantly related issues: (1) the question of human constitution and (2) the questions of skepticism and the nature of knowledge.  In this course we will discuss these problems from both the historical and conceptual perspectives.  The main topics will concern the debate about dualism (the thesis that we are a non-material mind that is conjoined to a material body) and materialism (the claim that we are merely material entities), the debate about skepticism (the view that we cannot have knowledge) and epistemism (the view that we can have knowledge), and the debate about empiricism (the view that all knowledge is based on experience) and rationalism (the view that at least some knowledge is not based on experience).  Readings will include the works of Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Hobbes, La Mettrie and Kant.

Death, Dying, and the Quality of Life
Death is the one event we will all encounter. It is, thus, a universal component of human experience.  Beyond this certainty, few people give much thought to death, especially their own. All of us have been touched by death during our lives, even if only at a distance. It may be as close to us as the death of a loved one, a friend, an acquaintance or a pet, or as removed from us as the death of a famous individual (Heath Ledger or Michael Jackson) or the recent acts of war on the Gaza Peninsula and in Iraq and Afghanistan. The study of death is not just a personal journey; death and dying take place in the larger contexts of medical practice, society at large, and our legal and moral communities. My hope is that this course will enrich students’ abilities to speak sensitively and intelligently about this topic by honing their critical thinking about the nature of the human condition and the societal and ethical issues which arise in the life-death cycle.  In this course we will cover existential philosophy, social and cultural philosophy, and ethics, so this will be a good introductory course to a variety of philosophical approaches.  No prior familiarity with philosophy is required for the course.

Truth and Illusion in the Info Age
This course discusses themes of truth, illusion, and propaganda raised by important philosophical and literary texts. We then ask how these texts can guide us through related issues arising in today's information and technology age.

HONS 260

The Emerging College Student

This course will explore the psychological ethical and social development of college students in 21st century colleges and universities. Particular emphasis will be placed on self-exploration and development. This will be achieved by studying theorists such as Chickering, Erickson, Kohlberg and Jung. A service learning project will allow students to explore the importance of ethical thinking and civic engagement of contemporary college students.


Creative Thinking
The purpose of this course is to expand the student's ability to think and solve problems creatively. Students will study the best in creativity theory. This theory will be applied to personal projects designed to stretch each student's capacity to think creatively. Assignments include journals, a major personal project, and a final exam on the texts.

HONS 263

Gender and the Body
This course will examine key issues around the gendered body. We will start from the grounding feminist tenet that gender is a social construction, and then explore various feminist theories and commentaries about how that shapes our understandings of various bodies. We will consider how different bodies are positioned in power dynamics of race, class, gender, sexual identity, and national location. That is, we will examine how we learn particular relations between bodies and how those relations are experienced. This course will foreground the relationship between gender and power, the body and identity. We will therefore look at how women in particular are denied or are able to claim authority over their bodies. We will read both creative and critical Women's Studies work to address issues such as:

  • The Body and Our Sense of Identity
  • The process of Gendered Socialization
  • Beauty and Body Image
  • Constructions of Masculinity and Femininity
  • The Body and Sexual Identity
  • LGBT Issues, Bodies, and Gender Performance
  • How Bodies are Racialized
  • Representation of the Body in Popular Culture
  • The Medicalization of the Body
  • Eating Disorders
  • Feminist Disability Theory
  • Reshaping and Altering the Body
  • Body Modification Rituals
  • Embodied Experiences
  • Reclaiming the Power over our Bodies

The course will disrupt the mind/body split to instead explore how our understandings of our bodies and those of others affect us physically, psychologically, and emotionally. Students will develop their abilities to critically analyze theories about the body and strengthen their sense of their own relationship to their own body. To that end, we will combine intellectual discussions of the issues listed above with creative activities designed to enhance our sense of embodiment, including journal exercises on the five senses and reflections on their experiences doing everyday activities, such as exercising or eating. As students become mindful of their own senses of embodiment, they will also learn how to connect them to the feminist course content. They will thus learn how to apply the issues to their everyday life. The class will conclude with a collaborative activity in which students work collectively to contribute something to the campus community about the issues we have discussed, thus working toward social change. We will also leave students with some feminist strategies for sustaining and empowering and healthy relationship with one's body in the future.

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