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Choosing a College Seminar

Winter Quarter 2021 College Seminars

The following seminars will be offered in Winter Quarter 2021.  Click on the ">" in front of a title to read the course description. Please confirm class days and times in Caesar when the fall schedule is published on November 13. Please note that all times are CDT. 

TitleDayTime

Instructor(s): Sara Hirschhorn

Description: War of Independence or Nakba? This course will examine the first Arab-Israeli war of 1948 from the perspective of both history and memory, drawing primarily on a wide variety of primary sources.

1948: History and Memory of the First Arab-Israeli War
MW5-6:20pm

Instructor(s): Farhad Zadeh

Description: A new freshman seminar course is offered for undergraduate students who have no background in astronomy or radio astronomy.

This course discusses the way radio and optical astronomers view the sky with their respective telescopes. In particular, the realm of the invisible which includes the components of a radio telescope, the fascinating history of radio astronomy, and the numerous discoveries over the last 90 years (e.g., pulsars, quasars, cosmic microwave background radiation, organic molecules).

Before 1931, the study of the universe was limited to optical observations of the night sky. Karl Jansky changed everything by building a radio telescope that could observe the sky day or night. We are all familiar with radio frequencies by listening to FM radio stations and using GPS satellites for navigation. Radio astronomy is the study of natural radio emission from celestial objects at frequencies outside FM and GPS frequencies. The human eye can see optical light but is blind to radio signals, including those that provide important clues about the history of our universe. The radio band is very broad, spanning 100,000 Hz between 10$^7$ to 10$^{12}$ Hz, whereas our eyes are only sensitive between red and blue, a factor of  two. This course discusses new tools to unveil the `hidden' sky over a wide range of frequencies in ways that can not be viewed or understood in the optical frequencies.

A Brief Journey Through the Invisible Universe
TTh 2-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Tracy Hodgson

Description: Do animals think? Are they self-aware? How can we humans ever hope to find out? Topics for exploration and discussion include: The evolution of cognition; the history and current state of research on animal thinking; how studies of animal thinking may help us better understand human cognition.

Animal Thinking
MW 3:30-4:50pm

Instructor(s): David Schoenbrun

Description: The image of Africa is changing, now that its residents and members of their diasporas have gained more control over making images of their continent. But, a long-standing stereotype of Africa as a place of violence continues to exist. A definition of violence may seem obvious—violence is bodily harm and its aftermaths wrought by one or more persons against one more others. But that simple definition masks moral struggles over questions of the legitimacy of violence and the unequal burdens of its legacies. In Beyond Slavery and Colonialism in African History, we'll work our way toward asking better questions about the causes and consequences of the violence at the core of slavery and slave trading in West Africa, imperial conquest and colonial power in East Africa.

Beyond Slavery and Colonialism in African History
TTh 3:30-4:50pm

Instructor(s): Katrina Quisumbing King

Description:

Debates over immigration and citizenship are long-standing in the United States. And today’s politicians continue to raise concerns over who (as in what kind of people) should be granted membership. These are fundamental questions over who belongs and who is deserving. Some on the right, including the 45th President, seek to abolish birthright citizenship, claiming it is a “magnet for illegal immigration.”

In this course, students will learn the history behind granting citizenship to anyone born in the United States. Not only will they explore the history of US citizenship law, but students will also learn about the interests and justifications for narrower and more capacious definitions of citizenship. Other than birthright citizenship, what regimes for granting citizenship exist? What are the exceptions to birthright citizenship in the United States? How are decisions about and definitions of rights and membership related to ideas of race? Overall, this course will address how the United States has drawn boundaries of membership in racial terms and explore what this means for envisioning future possibilities.

 

Birthright Citizenship: Race, Law, and Belonging in the United States
TTh3:30-4:50pm

Instructor(s): Marquis Bey

Description: This course will introduce students to the parameters and textures of black life, trans life, and black trans life. Popular discourse has either depicted black trans people as glamorous superstars or always and already predisposed to death. This course, then, seeks to usefully complicate these narratives and focus on black and trans life. To that end, the course will task students with gaining an understanding of the nuances of black life via its entanglement with the afterlife of slavery and contemporary radicalism; with trans life via its troubling of the gender binary; and black trans life via the ways that blackness and transness interact and converge.

Black Life. Trans Life.
MW9:30-10:50am

Instructor(s): Marcia Grabowecky

Description: In this seminar we will examine the nature of the mind from both Buddhist and traditional Western psychological perspectives. We will employ Buddhist techniques for investigating mental activity by incorporating a brief meditation period into class and homework activities. We will also examine written materials from both traditions, and these will form the primary basis for class discussion and written assignments.

Buddhist Psychology
TTh3:30-4:50pm

Instructor(s): Sarah Carson

Description: From the changing seasons, to frigid ice ages, to violent cyclones, to global warming, the phenomena of weather and climate have been crucial sites of interaction between humans and our environments. In this first-year seminar, we will ask: how have climatic changes across space and time shaped human societies, politics, and histories? And how have our ways of explaining and predicting the weather reflected changing approaches to nature’s uncertainties? Moving from antiquity to the present, we will study the evolution of meteorological science from the study of ‘meteors’ to variable ‘weather,’ alongside the conceptual shift from a globe of many ‘climates’ to a singular, global ‘climate.’ Using a range of case studies from the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia, and sources including almanacs and weather proverbs, we will explore how in different ways across geographies and cultures, climate functioned both as a force of history and as an object of scientific fascination. By the end of the course, students will be able to situate the current climate crisis—in an age many scholars call the Anthropocene—within a centuries-long history of adaptations and negotiations with our planet’s atmosphere, and with one another.

Climate and Weather in History
TTh3:30-4:50pm

Instructor(s): Jules Law

Description:

A monster, a ghost, a zoo, a storm. What memorable scenes haunt a child's mental andscape? "Coming of age" is a process of wrestling with scenes of the past, and coming-of-age novels present us with identities that are paradoxically both formed and in the process of being formed. Such novels probe our sense of origins and identity, and moreover they reveal a complex relationship between language and the body. The four amazing novels we'll read span 200 years and two continents, and explore the striving for a sense of belonging that is complicated by issues of ethnic, racial and sexual identity.

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (Broadview 3rd Edition, 2012), ISBN 9781554811038.
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (Penguin, 2006), ISBN 9780141441146.
Justin Torres, We the Animals (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), ISBN 9780547844190.
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones (Bloomsbury 2012), ISBN 9781608196265.

Coming of Age
MW 3:30-4:50pm

Instructor(s): Katie Blankenau

Description: “A servant must not be chosen by the author as the culprit.” So declares a list of rules for writers of detective fiction in 1928. This course delves into the role of social class in the scandalous murders and intricate whodunits that have long been a staple of popular literature, TV procedurals, and star-studded films. How does a genre typically associated with “middlebrow” audiences and “popular” tastes reproduce, interrogate, or reimagine issues of social class? How do questions of individual and institutional responsibility play out within the tropes and twists of fictional murder investigations? Broadening the scope of the murder mystery beyond the so-called “golden age” of the 1920s and 30s, readings for the class will draw from a variety of narrative forms, including British theater classics, contemporary mystery novels and films, as well as additional short stories and television episodes.

Crime Scenes: Social class and the murder mystery in popular fiction
MW 8-9:20pm

Instructor(s): Diego Arispe-Bazán

Description: Decolonization Theory seeks to understand how historical geopolitical conditions are reinforced by ongoing colonial legacies. A substantial amount of writing has been produced around what exactly maintains the coloniality of power (as identified by Peruvian sociologist Aníbal Quijano), which impacts literature and philosophy as much as governance and infrastructure. We will identify the key features of decolonial thought in Latin America, pairing it with materials to learn about Latin American history. The class will focus of decolonization as both a methodology and a practice for understanding the present and, perhaps, trying to change it.

Decolonization in Latin America
TTh 2-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Robert Gordon

Description: World War II was clearly the most important single event of the twentieth century. However, the seeds for World War II were laid in World War I, making it necessary to study both wars. We will study both why these wars occurred and why they turned out the way they did. In asking why wars turned out the way they did, we will emphasize the size and performance of the economies involved, and such issues as why the U.S. and Soviet Union produced so much while Germany produced so little. In the last part of the course, students will have a chance to do independent research on any aspect of World War II which interests them, economic, political or military. This seminar will be synchronous, as it is a discussion class.

Did Economics Win the Two World Wars?
MW3:30-4:50 pm

Instructor(s): Kinga Kosmala

Description: Rock and punk music played a substantial yet still underappreciated role in subverting the power of the communist system among the youth cultures of the Eastern bloc countries. Even though rock was repeatedly attacked, banned, and relegated to illegal culture status it became an integral part of the Polish urban landscape under the communist rule. The rock and punk bands provided a (loud) voice and a space of freedom for the younger generations who were searching for their identity within the controlling and ominous communist state. In this class we will look at the phenomenon of massive popularity of Western rock and punk music along with the exceptional fame of music created by Polish artists as well as its significance in the Polish urban culture under communism.

Free to Rock - Communism Brought Down by Rock 'n' Roll
MW 3:30-4:50pm

Instructor(s): Jillana Enteen

Description: Much recent fiction, film and theory are concerned with representing the internet and the World Wide Web. Sometimes cyberspace is depicted as a continuation of previous media such as television, cinema or telephone, but often it is envisioned as a new frontier. This course will examine the ways in which virtual media appears in cultural discourses. We consider how technological objects and tools participate in shaping elements of our culture that may appear natural, logical, or timeless. Our guiding questions will include the following: In what ways are these narratives shaping collective perceptions of the internet? How have virtual technologies challenged experiences of language, gender, community and identity? We will focus on social networking, gaming, artificial intelligence, and literary and film representations of these. Following a Cultural Studies model for inquiry, this course will be project-based and experiential. Your attendance and participation are mandatory. No experience needed, only a willingness to take risks and share work.

Imagining the Internet: Fiction, Film & Theory
TTh9:30-10:50am

Instructor(s): Ashish Koul

Description: ‘Islam’ is often believed to be a religion which justifies oppression of women and regulation of their public lives in theological terms. In this seminar, we will learn about various intellectual movements that have shaped the interaction of religion and gender in Muslim societies from the nineteenth century to the present. To contextualize our understanding of these intellectual currents, we will focus on South Asia—home to one of the world’s largest Muslim populations today—as a site for examining the historical evolution of Islamic perspectives on gender issues. This seminar is an opportunity to reflect on the historical intersections among Islam, modernity, and colonialism, using South Asia as a regional site and gender as an analytical category.

The course is divided into two unequal parts. Part One focuses on ideological responses to historical transformations in various parts of the Muslim world. Part Two shifts to South Asia and examines how these ideas of change manifested in this region. Based on texts composed by Muslim women and Muslim male theologians, we will consider the following issues: reformist education, marriage and divorce, gender segregation, property ownership, and Muslim women’s political participation. In analyzing these questions, we will elucidate the complexity of Islamic intellectual traditions and emphasize their historical dynamism, especially in colonial and post-colonial contexts. Simultaneously, we will discover the ways in which Muslim women have become agents of their own change while compromising with and negotiating multiple forms of social authority in Muslim societies.

Islam and Gender in Modern World
TTh 11:00am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Kathleen Carmichael

Description: Ever since Pentheus’ fatal decision to spy on the revels of Dionysus, audiences have had a guilty fascination with the spectacle of addiction—a fascination which crosses not only centuries but disciplines, captivating scientists, policymakers, philosophers, artists, and laypeople alike. This class will trace the evolution of literary representations of addiction across several centuries, from classical depictions of god-induced madness, through the Gothic narratives of Poe and Stevenson, temperance classics such as Ten Nights in a Barroom (whose impact has often been compared to that of Uncle Tom’s Cabin), to the twentieth- and twenty-first century comedies and confessionals that make the bestseller lists today. Through these readings and related critical texts, we will examine the ways that such literature provides a staging ground for public controversy and emerging theories about the artistic, cultural, ethical, and scientific significance and ramifications of addiction.

Course readings/viewing will include works of fiction, journalism, and writings from the natural and social sciences as well as popular films. We will also consider practical topics such as how University library resources and experts can help students locate and evaluate key sources and develop authoritative arguments.

Literatures of Addiction
MW2-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Katharine Breen

Description: In the 1990s television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the medieval is the monstrous, erupting into a small-town high school in the form of vampires, werewolves, and succubi – as well as in an accompanying apparatus of Latin incantations, ancient manuscripts, and quasi-religious rituals. In this and other works of contemporary popular culture, the deep past is at once disturbingly alien and uniquely powerful, offering access to truths no longer available in the present day. In this course, we will investigate the Middle Ages and the modern world – and the relationship between them – through a series of case studies of dragons, grendels, werewolves, giants, hags, hybrids, and other monstrosities. What did these monsters mean in their own time, and what do they mean today? How do they threaten, and how do they help to produce, the civilized categories of nation, family, and self? Is monstrosity ever positively valued – and if so, under what circumstances? In this class, we will study modern theories of monstrosity through case studies that include Buffy, the medieval werewolf romances Bisclavret and William of Palerne, and the alliterative poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. We will also look at different versions of the mythical encounter between King Arthur and the Giant of St. Michael’s Mount, and at the link between monstrosity and sin in Piers Plowman. In analyzing all of these works, we will pay special attention to the ways monsters figure religious and racial outsiders, and to the ways they engage with gender expression and sexuality.

Medieval Monsters
TTh 9:30-10:50am

Instructor(s): Sara Černe

Description: From responses to Hurricane Katrina in Jesmyn Ward’s novel Salvage the Bones (2011) and in the music of Mos Def and Beyoncé, to the Flood of 1927 in the blues music of Charley Patton and the poetry of Sterling Brown, this class examines class, race, and environmental issues in literature and culture about the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. We will analyze the representation of the river in 20th- and 21st-century film, poems, literary fiction, cookbooks, music, and environmental photography, exploring texts like the 1951 Oscar-nominated film adaptation of Edna Ferber’s novel Show Boat, Richard Wright’s short story “Down by the Riverside” (1938), Joy Harjo’s poem “New Orleans” (1983), and Richard Misrach’s photographs in Petrochemical America (2012). Apart from introducing you to both literary and cultural analysis, the class will focus on college-level composition skills and provide you with constructive feedback on your writing.

Muddy Waters: The Mississippi River in Literature and Culture
MW12:30-1:50pm

Instructor(s): Daniel Majchrowicz

Description: India is home to the second largest population of Muslims on earth. It’s also host to the world’s largest film industry, best known as Bollywood. Bollywood films regularly feature Muslim characters, social spaces, and cultural references that are readily marked or coded as “Islamic.” But in spite of a large coterie of Muslims working within the industry – as actors, song writers, or producers – the representation of Muslims in Indian films has consistently raised complex issues around ideas of identity and belonging in a nation where they constitute a clear and conspicuous minority. This course will read influential Muslims, Bollywood and Modern Indiafilms against the historical backdrop of the search for national identity in post-colonial India, as well as in the context of the so-called “war on terror.” Students will be given the opportunity not only to learn about Indian (particularly Bombay) cinema, but also to explore how cinematic representations intersect with issues of identity and belonging in the modern nation-state.

Muslims, Bollywood, and Modern India
TTh 2-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Joseph Whitson

Description: From the building of dams and pipelines to the creation of National Parks and wilderness areas, the environmental history of the United States is deeply tied to its history of colonialism. This seminar explores how the relationship between the United States and Indigenous people has shaped the environments, ecosystems, and physical landscapes we live in today. We will learn how the environment of what is now the United States was managed by Indigenous people before and throughout colonization, how Indigenous people have been impacted by the environmental policies of the United States, and how Indigenous resistance and activism have shaped both the environmental movement in the U.S. as well as contemporary Indigenous political thought. In discussion, we will break down the politics, economics, and ethics of this history, challenging ourselves to think critically about the land we live on and its future.

Parks and Pipelines: An Indigenous Environmental History
TTh 11:00am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Patricia Marechal

Description: In this seminar we will read in detail Plato's Republic. We will identify the main challenge Socrates wants to answer in this text, and his arguments in defense of the importance of living a just life and contributing to a just state. We will explore Plato's ethical, political, psychological, epistemological and metaphysical views, and we will reflect on how these different ideas relate to each other in the philosophical system of this author.

Plato's Republic
MW8:00-9:20am

Instructor(s): Megan Hyska

Description: Democracy works when people are able to make conscientious, informed decisions about the kind of society they want to live in. Thinkers from antiquity to the present have been concerned with the various ways that this ability can be undermined by propaganda, both in purported democracies and in explicitly authoritarian regimes. On the other hand, many radical thinkers have suggested that propaganda isn't always bad, and is perhaps a necessary component of liberatory social and political movements. In this course we will be asking three central questions: What is propaganda? How does propaganda function in the world today? And finally, how can a just society deal with propaganda's negative effects?

Propaganda
TTh 9:30-10:50am

Instructor(s): Sara Broaders

Description: Lots of people have beliefs that other people think are just plain weird. Why do people have these beliefs? We will look at "weird" beliefs within our culture and maybe some cross-cultural examples to understand what leads to development and maintenance of beliefs. We’ll also consider how to evaluate rationality of beliefs. Among the specific topics we may cover are: science denial, superstition, parapsychology, conspiracy theories, ghosts, near-death and out-of-body experiences, witchcraft, alien abduction, repressed memories of abuse, and creationism/intelligent design. Students will use a wide variety of academic and popular media resources (including empirical research articles, ethnographic descriptions, philosophical arguments, popular press books, and documentary films) to explore the bases for these beliefs and practices.

Psychology and "Weird" Beliefs
MW 11am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Laurie Shannon

Description: What is it we seek in queer materials from the past? What do we want from literary history, and what have others before us wanted from it? Does queerness speak only to contemporary or synchronic matters, or does it have a retrospective force across times and places? This freshman seminar will build strengths in critical reading and writing and pay close attention to the marshalling of evidence by focusing on a series of literary-historical instances of “queer reading.” Our five, roughly equal case studies will center on interpretations of Sappho’s lyric poetry; the circulation of Shakespeare’s sonnets; Anne Lister’s vast “secret” and encoded diaries; Virginia Woolf’s Elizabethan and modernist fantasia, Orlando; and Derek Jarman’s film based on Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II alongside Jarman’s journals of 1991. In each case, we’ll read these primary materials and also consider their resonance or reception over wider arcs of time. How might it make sense to speak of queer genealogies -- and why?

The adjective “queer” covers a broad range of complex affiliations: sometimes a writer will be queer, sometimes something about the past will be queer, sometimes the reading itself will be queer, and sometimes all of the above! From its oldest meanings (suggesting oddities, mysteries, surprises, and swerves) to its most contemporary sense as non-normativity, “queer” opens the scope for interpretation. In considering the practice of queer reading, then, we will analyze writers’ relation to texts of the past in which they sensed or sought a precedent, justification, or affiliation. If it makes sense to speak of queer brothers, sisters, and elders, what about ancestors? Lineal concepts of tradition often seem to suggest cultural reproduction, passivity, or a resistance to change; what happens if we consider the seeming paradox of a queer tradition? Given the rapid evolution of modern nomenclatures for non-normative habits of gender or desire (and the sense of queer life as somehow modern or “against” tradition), close-reading acts of translation between the past and present will highlight the ethical stakes of literary interpretation.

Queer (Reading) Traditions
TTh2-3:20pm

Instructor(s): Julia Stern

Description: This course will involve the close reading of Faulkner's four great tragic novels of race and identity: The Sound and The Fury (1929), As I Lay Dying (1930), Light In August (1932), and Absalom, Absalom! (1936). Until very recently, these works have been considered central to the canon of modernist fiction and read as meditations on the tortured consciousness of the artist (TSATF, AILD, AA!) or the dilemma of the outsider adrift in an alienating world (LIA). Saturating Faulkner's novels are images of the anguished history of race relations in the American South from the 19th century to the Great Migration and Great Depression. Yet the tragic legacy of slavery, Faulkner's abiding subject, has been understood by critics as a figure for more abstract and universal moral predicaments. Our investigation seeks to localize Faulkner's representation of history, particularly his vision of slavery and the effects of the color line, as a specifically American crisis, embodied in the remarkable chorus of narrative voices and visions that constitute his fictive world.

Race and Politics in the Major Novels of Faulkner
MW 3:30-4:50pm

Instructor(s): Megan Geigner

Description: You have come to Northwestern to study, or be a scholar (the word ‘scholar' means "a person studying at an advanced level;" that is now you!) But what is ‘scholarship,' and what does it mean study race in the United States? At the root of scholarship is inquiry, or the questioning and investigation into a topic. We will investigate how different facets of US society have defined and codified race. This seminar builds students' informational literacy by looking at how to decipher news sources, do college-level research, analyze artifacts of popular culture (song lyrics, short stories, editorials, personal essays, TV and film), and develop expertise. In studying how we define race, we will also consider the intersections of citizenship and immigration, gender and sexuality, and more. This seminar helps students transition into college-level inquiry and into being a conscientious and ethical member of a diverse learning community.

Studying Race in the US: Legacies of Academia, and the Media, and Pop
TTh9:30-10:50am

Instructor(s): Sara Monoson

Description:

This seminar looks at the ancient sources for the indictment, trial, conviction and execution of Socrates, an episode in ancient Greek history that has captured imaginations for centuries across cultures. But we will not stay in antiquity. We also look at the ways in which a variety of mostly American artists and activists have mobilized memory of  this figure to communicate their own concerns to broad audiences during times of political controversy. American sources include a 1950s TV gem "You Are There,"  Walter Mosley's fictional character Socrates Fortlow, the enduring idea of the Socratic method in education and the representation of this character in sculpture and comics as well as invocations in political speeches, journalism and popular film (yes, Bill and Ted make an appearance).We travel through  WWII propaganda, Cold War rhetorical battles, McCarthyism, civil rights and more, by way of exploring a digitized archive of examples assembled by the professor. Along the way we will ask ourselves, "In what context might we wish to  to summon Socrates today?"

Summoning Socrates
TTh11am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Shelby Hatch

Description: Over the past several months, environmental (justice) events have peppered the headlines: fires across the western United States, devastating hurricanes, entire native villages being relocated in Alaska. These occurrences and others - including local ones - will be foregrounded in class readings, discussions, field trips, and assignments. What sustainable solutions are available to mitigate such disasters? What actions can we take to prevent future ones? How can the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry and Engineering be utilized to create a more sustainable future for all? Students will examine behaviors of individuals and institutions, analyzing how those actions contribute to the success or failure of a sustainable and environmentally just future. Students will use various forms of media to communicate their findings to the Northwestern community and beyond, culminating in student-directed projects and presentations.

Sustainability Meets Environmental Justice
TTh11:00am - 12:20pm

Instructor(s): Elizabeth Hurd

Description: This course is a study of the American border, past and present. We will pay particular attention to the history of the U.S. border with Mexico, indigenous communities, law and the border, sovereignty, and the cultural, environmental, and religious politics of the borderlands. We will discuss various ways of thinking about border issues from multiple perspectives, including but also going beyond issues of surveillance and enforcement. As a first-year seminar this course also emphasizes critical research and writing skills to prepare you for college-level research and writing. You are strongly encouraged to consult a peer tutor at the Writing Place (writingplace@northwestern.edu). We will discuss academic integrity and get tips from a librarian on how to make the most of the library's resources during your time at Northwestern.

The American Border: Politics, Policy, Theology
TTh12:30-1:50pm

Instructor(s): Jay Grossman

Description: How do we gauge, and thereby engage with, a narrative of disproportionate scale and encyclopedic ambition? How do we lose—or find—our place in a colossal fictional world?

One can find only a few examples in world literature of bigger, more capacious, more ambitious books than Moby-Dick. In the first place, of course, the book is long, and part of our work will be to consider the specific pleasures and challenges of reading a Big Book. But Moby-Dick is also big in another sense: it has proven to be a hugely influential and profoundly consequential novel. Indeed, one cannot really understand U.S. literary, cultural, and political history if one has not come to terms with its story and the issues it engages. Our work will be, like Captain Ahab, to take on Melville’s Leviathan better to understand the worlds the novel shapes and has helped to shape—including, by no means incidentally, our own.

TEACHING METHOD Discussion will focus primarily on the novel itself, though we may also discuss readings or films about the novel.

The Big Book: Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick"
TTh 3:30-4:50pm

Instructor(s): Wen-fai Fong

Description: While the universe appears to be static and unchanging, it is actually teeming with energetic explosions. From the catastrophic collisions of dense, compact objects, to the collapse of the most massive stars, largely unbeknownst to us, these time-varying phenomena occur every day. In this discussion-based course, we will use readings and multimedia content to cover a wide range of time-varying astrophysical phenomena rooted in the latest research in these areas. Specific topics include gravitational wave events, supernova explosions, fast radio bursts, and gamma-ray bursts. As these phenomena happen on human timescales, we will also examine and discuss the human element of major discoveries in this field.

The Energetic and Explosive Universe
TTh 9:30-10:50am

Instructor(s): Jennifer Brace

Description: What exactly are stem cells? How are these cells advancing the medical field today? And why is there so much controversy surrounding this microscopic unit of life? Stem cells have the amazing potential to develop into a variety of cell types in both the early embryo and later in adult life. At the end of the course, students will gain a basic understanding of the molecular and cellular basis of stem cells, an appreciation for the pros and cons of stem cell use in medicine, and become introduced to the process of evaluating primary scientific literature.

The Immortal Cell: The Biology, Medical Implications, and Bioethics Surrounding Stem Cell Research
TTh 12:30-1:50pm

Instructor(s): Robert Wallace

Description: Description forthcoming. 

The Plays of Sophocles
TTh11am-12:20pm

Instructor(s): Justin Mann

Description:

In this first-year seminar, we will engage the period scholars call Mass Incarceration, by examining how authors and critics use writing to describe, explain, critique, and ultimately reimagine justice in the United States and beyond. Drawing on traditions of critical race theory, black feminist theory, and models of abolitionist and restorative justice, we will examine black memoir and fiction that centers the issue of mass incarceration to understand its history, development, and future. Centering the practice of writing, we will develop our own writing style and prose as we consider why and how writing about mass incarceration has been central to movements seeking to end what scholars term the prison-industrial complex. Importantly, while we will think about and with the genre of prison writing, we will also consider mass incarceration as a movement that transcends the institutional walls of the prison by critically interrogating the school-to-prison-to-deportation pipeline and other such formations that emanate from the system of mass incarceration. We will also examine mass incarceration as a technique of colonial and anti-immigrant policing in the age of the War on Drugs and the War on Terror.

Writing Mass Incarcerations
TTh 11am-12:20pm
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