Spring 2018 Honors Special Topics Courses

Course Title Instructor(s) Description
HONS281 ST: Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies Avendano, Nadia This is the honors version to the introduction to women’s and gender studies. This is an interdisciplinary course designed to explore the rich body of knowledge developed by and about women and gender. We study gendered structures and their consequences in contemporary cultures and societies. In addition, we examine feminist theories and relevant social movements.
HONS380 ST: Mathematics in Fiction Kasman, Alex We will be applying the techniques of literary analysis to works of fiction just like in an ordinary English class, but the fiction we read will all involve either mathematics or mathematicians. From plays, short stories, novels, TV shows, and films, we will learn things about mathematics that students do not generally encounter in math courses.  The course grade will be based primarily on two papers that you will write on works of fiction that you select according to your own tastes and interests. This course is for anyone interested in mathematics, regardless of mathematical ability or training.
HONS381 ST: Engaging the Dance Thinker Scott Copses, Meg Initially the art of dance and the practice of academic writing may appear at odds–the dancer thinks kinesthetically while the writer thinks verbally, often from a reflective distance. Yet this course privileges an “embodied” view of learning through a writing practice that joins body and mind in the physical and mental act of knowledge construction. We will work with and through the body to choreograph and compose written and physical texts.  This course requires neither specialized knowledge in composition theory nor dance practice and  methodologies, but will draw from both to encourage the active role of sensory experience in knowledge construction.
HONS381 ST: Lynching in the American Imagination Crabtree, Mari and Covert, Lisa This course explores the various ways in which Americans have imagined, remembered, and forgotten lynching. When conflicts arise over how to “correctly” imagine the past, the stakes are high since collective memories wield the power to shape identity, public policy, the distribution of resources, and national character.  Despite a reluctance among some in the United States to remember the lynching of African Americans in the South, efforts to memorialize African American victims have been gaining visibility in the past few decades. This course explores the broader stakes of reframing how Americans remember the spatial and temporal boundaries of lynching to recognize how the ritual of lynching conferred legitimacy to not only Jim Crow but also to US imperialism, nativism, and colonialist genocide. Students analyze a variety of memory projects from memorials and memoirs to films, art, music, photographs, and literature to reveal continuities and discontinuities in the deployment of racialized violence across time and space.
HONS381 ST: Jews in the Medieval Christian Imagination Permenter, Brooke This course examines the ways in which Christians perceived and created “Jews” throughout the Middle Ages.  Taking an interdisciplinary approach, we will examine representations of Jews in medieval texts and images, not simply to outline what Christians thought about Jews, but also to consider what Christian definitions of Judaism tell us about medieval Christians themselves.  The course begins with ideas of Jews in the Bible, early Church doctrine and medieval law codes and correspondence.  Then, we will explore the main currents of visual representation of Jews and their position in medieval society.  Finally, we will consider how the Jewish-Christian dynamic and its tendency to mold real Jews into a fantastic “other” contributed to the harsh treatments and expulsions of Jews from England, France, Italy, Germany, Northern Europe, and Spain in the High and Late Middle Ages.
HONS381 ST: Cults and Conversation in Modern America Gallagher, Eugene This course examines the history of new religious movements in the U. S. and the various social responses to them.  It focuses on the processes of conversion, and de-conversion, asking what leads people to found, join, leave, and oppose new religions.  Specific case studies will include groups such as the Church of Scientology, contemporary Paganism, and the Nation of Islam, among others.
HONS382 ST: Hope and Humility Finnan, Christine and Wright, Jen This course provides an interdisciplinary exploration of two human capacities: hope and humility. Relying on primary sources in philosophy, anthropology, psychology, sociology, history, and theology we examine the powerful role that both of these human capacities play in the well-being of individuals and communities. Hope and humility are generally thought of as positive human capacities, but looking historically and cross-culturally, we learn that they both have a dark side as well, which we will explore. We consider the degree to which hope and humility are necessary for humanity to face the challenges that are yet ahead. In exploring these capacities, we will determine their universality, look historically at how they have been addressed in the past, and examine how they are manifest cross-culturally and in different social, organizational, and institutional contexts.
HONS382 ST: We the People Culhane, John The first three words of the U.S. Constitution — remind us that we, and we alone, the people of these United States, are the determiners of how we are to govern ourselves. Yet a bare majority of eligible voters bothered to vote in our last presidential election. Our nation deserves better. Our democracy is under siege — not only from outside aggressors but rather failures from within. Professor Culhane, a retired senior executive and chief legal counsel of a large multi-national corporation will endeavor to help his students better understand the difficult circumstances our country faces today by taking students through our 240 years of history, politics and the rule of law. He will provide an analysis of how we came to the issues we face in 2018 and will challenge his students to consider how we might return to those ideals we aspired to when we approved the U.S. Constitution and elected our first President and Congress.
HONS382 ST: Guantanamo Bay Prison: Counterterrorism, US Domestic Laws, and International Law Desjeans, Mary Concentrating on the role that Guantanamo (GITMO) Prison has played in US counterterrorism policies and methods since September 2001, this course will examine how the US Government has utilized the facilities and legal status of GITMO to further its counterterrorism policies.  Students will review practices, such as extraordinary renditions and enhanced interrogation methods, as well as looking at those detained at GITMO and why.  Students will research US Government legal and national security rationales for these practices and evaluate them in the context of US domestic laws, treaty obligations, and international human rights laws. Students will examine the backlash to perceived illegalities taking place at GITMO, investigate the differences between civilian and military trials, and examine the issue of recidivism. Finally, students will look at the changing policies toward the GITMO prison in both past and current presidential administrations.