Course Descriptions: Spring 2012
Honors Seminar II An introduction to the Honors Program and university. Study skills for accomplished students. Avoiding common pitfalls. Honors community building, leadership development, service learning, campus resources, and campus life.
Myth & Legend
We will read and discuss Homer’s Iliad (about the war between Greece and Troy) and Odyssey (about the Greeks’ journey home after the war with the Trojans), and plays by Euripides (Iphigenia at Aulis, The Bacchants, The Trojan Women, and Medea). By reading works that are not from our own contemporary culture, our imaginative sympathy is enlarged and, of course, our understanding of our own culture is increased. Learning about even one other culture helps us to imagine other cultures of the world, helps us to experience vicariously the lives of other people across time and space, and helps us to see ourselves more clearly. We will also view videotapes about ancient Greece. These stories about gods, monsters, heroes, and heroines are exciting works that have been pleasing listeners and readers for 27 centuries. 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.
Hamlet & Philosophy
The purpose of this course is to be sure all of your writing skills are up to any demands you will face in the university or your careers afterwards. But we need something to write about, and Shakespeare’s Hamlet works beautifully. It’s only one play, but it’s a terribly rich and complex play that directs us towards a series of fundamental questions about being human and then opens us to multiple possibilities as we answer our questions. That’s what we’ll spend the semester doing. The class assignments will include two exams, a daily reader’s journal, and several papers of varying length (the largest will be ten pages) written in and out of class.
Intro to Communication
This course in an inquiry into the human communication and its power to shape the quality of our lives, both in our careers and our personal relationships. The specific format includes both impromptu and extemporaneous presentations (AKA public speaking), the completion of a small group project, and the exploration and analysis of the ways communication functions in the development of relationships. The context of this inquiry is practical, profound and playful. The practical assignments- designed to develop strong presentation and argumentation skills, increased facility with small group collaboration, and sensitivity to the role of communication in interpersonal relationships- are appropriately rigorous for the intelligence of Honors students. The profound discussions of the nature of language and its role in the creation of human identity will challenge many of the students’ assumptions and provoke the kind of deep thinking that most Honors students crave. And, because in my experience the greatest skill one can develop is the ability to approach life as a magnificent game, the overall atmosphere throughout will be playful, as rigorous in its commitment to open classroom interaction as it is in its demand for effective performance. Everything in life happens in communication.
Politics of Reproduction
This course provides an introduction to reproductive issues in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We will explore various issues connected to reproduction from discursive, geographic, political and historical perspectives. Considerable attention will be paid to the ways that gender intersects with other identity markers, social positions, and dominant discourses both in the United States and around the globe. We will assess the ways that different women experience reproduction differently, consistently centralizing activism, resistance, and struggle in our analyses. We will critically examine the structures and institutions that work to construct gender, race, class, ability, sexuality, and nation to investigate their linkages to reproduction.
Changing the World by Air
Over the course of history many events and developments have changed the world. Through discussions, debates, guests, games and activities this course will explore how air travel has changed the world. In our journey through the course we will examine past, present, and possible future positive and negative social, economic, and cultural impacts air travel has had on the peoples and societies of the world. We will also explore how the air transportation industry has both used and changed gender and racial perceptions and stereotypes.
Planet in Peril
Humans’ overarching role in our planet’s environmental problems and successes. This course will offer a fresh, forward-looking approach to sustainable solutions.
Environmental Justice provides students with academic tools for exploring the interrelationships between human diversity and biodiversity – between multicultural communities and a changing natural environment. How are communities of color (American Indians, African Americans, Mexican Americans) working to build sustainable and just communities in rural, suburban, urban settings and reservations in Minnesota and other regions ? The course is taught in a seminar format, with active student participation. Grades based on student research and presentations rather than exams.
Seminar in Rock Music
An advanced study of the philosophy, practice, and aesthetics of Rock Music, 1950-present. Readings drawn from the theoretic literature emphasize major thematic trends in Rock's history, including Civil Rights, Technology, Gender Issues, the Generation Gap, among others.
No prerequisite necessary.
“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious – the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.” ~Einstein
Creativity is a way of knowing. One of the fundamental keys to creativity is awareness. We are primarily trained by our culture and education system in only left-brain skills. This course will focus on the not so simple and obvious right-brain skills of perception; including the skills of art, relationships and receptivity (awareness). We will also consider, through the lens of aesthetic inquiry, the ways in which gender, diversity and globalization fashion and influence our lives, in an interdisciplinary learning environment.
Medieval European Literature
This course will involve reading and writing about Medieval European literature. Class activities include presentations, discussion, critical reading and writing, and viewing films about the historical and cultural contexts of the literature. Through the literature we will examine aspects of the culture, history, values, political systems, and artistic ideas of this period in England, France, Italy, Iceland, and the Celtic areas. This course is interdisciplinary and will involve methodology and subject material from literary studies, history, anthropology, rhetoric, and composition studies, linguistics, and art history.
The Hollywood Musical
D'ya wanna dance? Make romance? Take a chance? This course examines the history, legacy, and cultural significance of the Hollywood Musical. We will screen films ranging from the 1930s to the present, and read genre theory with an eye toward testing its assumptions and limitations. We will trace 21st century trends in movie musicals back to their antecedents in vaudeville, legit theatre, modern dance, and popular music. Discussion will be a major component of the class and students will be encouraged to recommend clips and relevant sub-topics along the way.
Latin American Thought & Culture
This course will explore the most fundamental questions in the history of Latin American thought and culture, including how Latinos have reflected upon issues of race, values, and their own ethnic and cultural identity. The course main goal will be to engage the students in thematic discussions where the views of Latin American thinkers on such questions will be examined and evaluated according to their own philosophical merits. Students will learn that reflecting upon the seminal ideas and arguments of Latin American thinkers is a worthwhile project with its own value in theoretical terms as a contribution to human understanding. For although some of the questions that have puzzled these thinkers do appear familiar within the Western philosophical tradition, Latin Americans have sought to answer them in new ways by introducing novel perspectives that are of interest to any person curious about great ideas.
Liberty & Justice for All
Develop reasoning skills and critical thinking ability through philosophical examination of the concepts of liberty and justice as they have been used in landmark Supreme Court cases regarding freedom of expression, freedom of religion and reproductive freedom. Discussion oriented class centered on reflective reading of philosophical texts and careful analysis of Supreme Court reasoning. Practical exercises to support skill development. Varied assessment activities, including short written assignments and structured discussion/dialogue opportunities. Students will write one extended argumentative essay on a topic of choice.
Social Justice Pioneers: Women in Social Movements Past, Present & Future
"We ask justice, we ask equality, we ask that all the civil and political rights that belong to citizens of the United States, be guaranteed to us and our daughters forever." —Susan B. Anthony, Declaration of Rights for Women, July 1876
The purpose of this course is to critically analyze the role of gender in American politics from a historical and political framework. The differences between men and women’s leadership in politics will be examined. The course will look through a lens of gender hierarchy how the socialization of women influences political participation and political attitudes including the challenges and solutions for women running for political office. The course will also address the history of women’s rights and issues including but not limited to body image, gender roles, violence against women, and reproductive rights. This course will challenge students to examine their own beliefs about women in politics.