Course for First-Year Students
Green Day's words, "Don't want to be an American Idiot," reflected contemporary America in important ways. Yet how do we avoid this fate, being an American Idiot? In this interdisciplinary seminar, we will think beyond the media, for ourselves, examining and re-examining our beliefs and assumptions in significant ways. We will use our time together to get outside the lines, to question our views of the world in new and challenging ways. What are your views on contemporary slavery? Are we implicated in the death of Sudanese in the Sudan? What do we think about such global issues, and, more importantly, how do we decide what to think about these issues?
So often, we concentrate on what we know, the accumulation of material, rather than the perspectives we bring to this material. No matter how old we are, we tend to see things the same over and over, forgetting to recognize how different people, or just different perspectives, can lead us to enact different realities. This course will challenge us to achieve something better. We can gain new perspectives that enable us to change both the world around us and ourselves. We can examine new ways of thinking and see what these ways can offer us. Finally, we can decide what we want to accomplish in our world and use these ways of seeing to help us develop innovative ways of acting in the world.
Team-Taught Courses for Second-Year Students
What does it mean to be disabled? How has the meaning of disability changed during different time periods in the U.S.? What factors affect a person's experience of disability? Why would it matter for people - either disabled or not - to learn about these matters? In this course, the answers to these and other questions will be explored. Disability is a complex category, and peoples' experiences with disability have varied a great deal. This course aims to explore that complexity while concentrating on certain ideas, including the social construction of disability and how it has changed over time. A variety of perspectives on disability will be introduced and connections between past and present will be made. Students will be critiquing societal actions and portrayals, including those by cultural authorities and the disabled themselves. Students will complete a significant research project that enables them to learn how the field of Disabilities Studies touches upon a discipline of their interest. The instructors hope to engage students' brains and hearts - to deepen their thinking about this particular interdisciplinary topic, to improve their academic skills, and to stimulate their thinking about the art and business of being human.
This course will focus on the Civil Rights Movement, when black and white activists used the tactics of direct, nonviolent action to end the system of segregation in the United States. By immersing ourselves in literary and autobiographical accounts of this fascinating historical development - thereby studying it from an explicitly more personal and human perspective than in more traditional scholarly texts - we hope to gain an appreciation for the complexity and ambiguity of this important development in the history of our nation.
Seminars for First-Year Students
This course will examine children's and young adult literature as a pivot point for cultural, political, and historical identity in the United States. Children and the issues related to them are often the focus of cultural conflicts in the U.S. Members of the class will explore these overt and covert conflicts as they appear in children's literature. We will investigate how books for children and young readers help shape the values that provide us with a cultural identity and a sense of community. Simultaneously, we will examine the complicated or contentious ideas embedded in books for children and young adults. Beginning with authors from the late 19th century and working our way forward, we will explore ideas of intellectual freedom and censorship, nostalgia and innovation, didacticism and entertainment, and the constant tension between conservative and subversive trends in books for young readers. Our study will center on books (both textual and visual elements) but include a consideration of production, distribution, and merchandizing methods as well. Ultimately, we will work to understand the ways ideas about childhood, story, books, and U.S. cultural identity are produced and contested.
From monks in silent meditation to the frenzied protests of the masses, humans pursue myriad paths towards fulfillment and community. This course will cultivate sociological mindfulness of the ways in which time, place and circumstance shape individual agency and movements for social change. From the most public domains of political life to the most private experiences of solitude, sociology examines how thought, feeling, and action remain inextricably linked to historical conditions and the norms and values of the collective.?In this course, students will engage in a sustained and systematic study of the ‘art of living together’ within an environment of perpetual change, social solidarity as well as distance. In contrast to arm-chair theorizing and mass media induced fatalism, this course will introduce students to sociological theories and methods that promote a social scientific understanding of collective action.
Team-Taught Courses for Second-Year Students
Fears of Communism and the nuclear bomb, questions about America's role as the free world's lone superpower, and concerns about changing social mores were shaped and filtered during the Cold War by an increasingly omnipresent mass media. The advent of television brought about unprecedented opportunities to inform an increasingly uneasy public, but also proved to be an effective vehicle for manipulation by savvy politicians and media consultants through news events and campaign advertising. At the same time, new media voices appeared in the alternative press that emboldened citizens to question the status quo. This course will explore the interrelationship among the press, the political system, and public opinion during the Cold War era and seek to understand how each influenced the others.?
Where does adolescence end and adulthood begin? Perhaps we need to think about the time of life between teenage angst and adult responsibility as a time unto itself, a provisional or emerging adulthood. How universal is this developmental stage? How is it influenced by categories such as race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation and gender? This seminar will explore the psychology and literature of emerging adulthood, with emphases on the development of complex adult thought processes and the formation of a mature sense of self. Our investigation will include in-depth reading and discussion of literature, film, and other media produced for and about this demographic (e.g. lad lit by Nick Hornby and the films of Judd Apatow), review of selected social science research, and a class project presenting our collective understanding and experience of this period of the lifespan.