Course Descriptions: Fall 2012
Science of Science Fiction
Many amazing and fantastical events happen in popular science fiction books and movies. How many of these plot devices are imaginative but scientifically realistic, and how many violate fundamental laws of science? In this class we will explore basic scientific principles through the vehicle of science fiction and fantasy, including the themes of evolution, zoology, molecular biology, energy, time and space. In this course we will read books and view movies together, and analyze the science using discussion, algebra and simple classroom experiments. Meets Goal 3 requirements.
Shakespeare: An Introduction
Shakespeare is considered one of the cultural treasures of the English-speaking world. Let us explore some of the riches of Shakespeare's works on our way to appreciating and, I hope, enjoying his powerful, complex, multi-layered plays. We will read, discuss, and watch videotapes of one tragedy, one comedy, and one history: Romeo and Juliet (1594-96), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1594-96), and Richard III (1592-3).
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. Meets Goal 1 requirements.
Am. Culture/Recent Writers
This course will focus on recent fiction writers and poets as a touchstone for writing. Sub-focuses will include studies of American culture—both the 1960s and the 2000s—as well as social consciousness writing (including Black American literature) and women’s literature. Writing focuses include: clearly written essays, short analytical writing, personal journals, and creative works such as poetry and fiction. This course will enable you to find the creativity in yourself and to use it for a lifetime. Meets Goal Areas 1 and 6.
American Masterpieces—Romantic to Modern
This should be a broad based course that provides a survey and overview of the works of several main authors in the American literary tradition. We will begin with authors from the romantic period and finish with representative authors of the modern period. Each work studied would be thematically and stylistically important in the history of American culture and literature. We will look at a wide variety of authors, styles, and genres; we will study the short story, creative prose, poetry, and the novel. Class activities include discussion, critical reading and writing, reports, presentations, and viewing and discussing high quality films on these authors and their literary periods. We will read and write about these literary selections. Writing instruction will be carefully integrated into the study of American literature. Here is a tentative list of significant works that we might study:
- Edgar Allan Poe—selected tales (short stories)
- Henry David Thoreau—Walden (literary nonfiction)
- Emily Dickinson—selected poems
- Willa Cather—My Antonia (realistic, regional novel) or The Professor’s House, fictional rendering of the discovery of Mesa Verde National Park
- Ernest Hemingway—A Farewell to Arms (minimalist novel) or F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby
- Robert Frost—selected poetry
- Zora Neal Hurston—Their Eyes Were Watching God (novel of the Harlem Renaissance)
Meets Goal 1 requirements.
American Political Issues
Study of political issues, their impact on elections and government policies.
Genocide for 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 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? What is the commercial meaning of genocide in North America? What about imperialism, race, religion, oil in present day Africa - Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Darfur? Meets goal areas 9 and 5
Students and the instructor will work together to identify a unique list of events, developments, and people from around the world that have shaped or changed the course of modern history. The identified list of events, developments and people and the past, present and possible future positive and negative social, economic, cultural and other impacts will be explored through discussions, debates, quests, games and activities. Meets Goal 10 requirements.
Parks and People
The course explores connections between local protected natural areas (parks) and people who manage and use these parks. The class promotes an environmental awareness by connecting students to specific natural areas. Students learn about a variety of parks, ranging from local to national and international (Yellowstone, Denali, also examples from Africa, South America, Australia and Russia) through readings and in-class activities. Students directly explore a few local parks (e.g. Quarry Park, Bend in the River, Talahi Woods) on field visits to study plants (mainly trees) and animals. They also learn how parks are created and managed and what issues they face. A few guest speakers and visits to local parks departments are arranged. Finally, students work on a service project with a local school to plan and take school children on a nature walk in a local park and/or work with a local environmental organization on producing materials highlighting local parks. The class outcomes span the range of goals for Goal Area 10.
Ceramics for Non-Art Majors
This introductory ceramics course is designed to introduce the general education students to the introductory fabrication techniques and the history of ceramic arts. Additional focus will be given to the basic glazing techniques and the design principles of simple pottery forms and sculptures. Students will write several research papers on historically significant ceramic arts. Students are expected to work on the studio projects each week independently in addition to the regularly scheduled classroom time.
Dostoevsky: Fiction and Philosophy
One reason we read and write literature is to help us see ourselves more clearly and deeply, to know those things that are very much a part of us but that we may otherwise live our lives never knowing. Dostoevsky is one of the greatest or the revealers of the human self and soul. And like much of our most valuable art, he is both old and very new. Camus said that Dostoevsky rather than Marx was the great prophet of the 20th century, and Malcolm Jones says Dostoevsky both “echoes and develops some of the most ancient paradoxes and preoccupations of humanity and foresees intellectual, social and political developments of our own time.”
We will work with what this all means and why is it so very valuable by reading two of his most successful novels, Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov. Assignments will include a daily reader’s journal and two critical papers. Meets Goal Areas 1, 2 and 6.
World War II Perspectives and Culture
In this course we will look into the history of World War II from various cultural perspectives of the nations that were involved in the war comparing them to the American perspective and challenging the stereotypes. Critical thinking skills will be a must to overcome preconceived notions and to address global issues as well as ethical and civic responsibility paradigms. The course will be based in history and arts, relying on images, films, literature, and music as a way to understand the issues related to the topic. The writing component will require developing critical thinking and writing skills. Addresses Goal Areas 6, 8 and 10
The Greek Ideal
Concepts of perfection - human and divine - are examined by delving into the culture of Greece. This course will examine the manifestation of those ideals in language, art, literature, philosophy, and religion. The period covered will be from Classical Greece through Byzantine Greece. An introduction to the Greek language is included, followed by perusal of foundational texts (including Iliad, Republic, and the Christian New Testament), examination of Greek philosophy, mythology, and monotheism, and a comparison of Byzantine iconography to the classical and neo-classical art of the culture. The enduring value and impact of these tenets (the appropriation and misappropriation) in Roman, Western European, and American culture and society will be discussed.
Philosophy Through Film
This course will be an introduction to philosophy through film. Philosophical problems concerning morality, knowledge, and the nature of reality are often vividly portrayed in movies. In this course we will examine several central philosophical problems by carefully analyzing how these problems are portrayed in select movies. For each movie we view, we will discuss the relevant philosophical background concerning some of the issues the movie raises and we will evaluate the movie's treatment of these issues. By doing this you will develop the ability to identify and evaluate philosophical assumptions and problems as they are portrayed in the fictional situations depicted in the movie and, by extension, as they arise in real life. Problems discussed in this class may include: skepticism and the reality of the external world, whether a robot can be a person, personal identity, time travel, fatalism and free will, cultural relativism, and/or whether cheating and deception are morally permissible. Student learning will be assessed through movie analyses, philosophical papers, and a presentation.
Philosophy: Nietzche in Perspective
The course is divided into three parts:
We will start by a general survey of Nietzsche's life and philosophy, with emphasis on Nietzsche's idea of will-to-power and his criticism of slave morality. This would prepare the ground for the second and the third parts of the course.
Next we will try to follow and apply Nietzsche's idea of will-to-power in unveiling the hidden self-images of three religions, Christianity, Buddhism, and Taoism/Daoism. Although will-to-power is exercised in all organisms, different self-images will lead to different manifestations of will-to-power. Through the apparent religious teachings and upheld values, we will trace the different manifestations of will-to-power, which will lead to the ultimate discoveries of their respective self-images. And from therea Nietzscheanevaluation may begin.
Finally we will engage Nietzsche with ideas from Feminism. We will read selections from de Beauvoir's newly translated thewhole version of The Second Sex. We will brainstorm the possible criticisms from de Beauvoir's perspective and Nietzsche's possible defence.
Organization and Evaluation:
The course is a combination of lectures, discussions, presentations, and movies. We will watch two recent movies: "A Dangerous Method" (2011) and "When Nietzsche Wept" (2007). Grades are determined on the basis of class participation, group project, quiz and paper.
Gender & 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. This is, we will examine how we learn particular relations 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 the bodies.
Women and Poverty in America
The course provides a social science approach to understanding the intersection of gender, poverty and inequality primarily in the United States. The course will be a seminar that explores various (but especially feminist) approaches to theorizing, measuring, experiencing and researching poverty. The course will also examine models, policies and strategies to reduce poverty and inequality. The course will weave discussion throughout about how these approaches relate to students' training in various educational programs. Additionally, the class will explore particular research approaches and common dilemmas when inquiring into low-income America.