Honors Program

Fall 2016

COR110: The Global Experience. Steve Braye. Core

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.

HNR 245 - Writing a Life / Making a Self.  Pam Kiser, Deandra Little Expression (lit) and Society

In this interdisciplinary, team-taught course, students will study contemporary examples of memoir that illustrate and explore core themes of the human experience, such as developing personal identity, navigating complex interpersonal relationships, coping with suffering, and finding one’s place in a community and in the world-at-large. We will couple the study of memoir from a literary perspective with the study of trauma, resilience, and identity formation from human service studies and social science perspectives to open up new possibilities for deepening and broadening the analyses of these texts. Fundamental to this study will be questions about how we, as humans, remember and make sense of life events and how we construct meaning and purpose in our lives through the stories that we tell ourselves and others about our experiences and about ourselves. Students will begin to explore the potential power of memoir as a tool for personal growth and self-discovery. Counts towards Society or Expression (Literature).

HNR 278 A -  Press and Politics During the Cold War. Harlen Makemson, Laura Roselle. Civilization or Society

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.

Winter 2017

HNR 140 – Inquiry in Italy. Mike Carignan, Lynn Huber. Civilzation or Expression

For millennia the country we now call “Italy” has functioned as a sort of crossroads. This is the result of a number of factors, including its geographic location, the power wielded by the cities scattered across its land, and the grasp it has on historical imagination. Because Italy is a site of conflucence and crossing, it serves as an ideal classroom for exploring how cultural categories and identities, political, cultural, and religious, are constructed and how they change over time. Among other questions, we will explore how the categories of “east” and “west” are drawn and employed, how communities use “others” to shape their own identities, and how the past and present are related. We will think together about how “Italian” identities (i.e. Sicilian, Roman, Venetian, etc.) are formed in relation to identities from around the Mediterranean. Drawing on our expertise in history and religious studies, the faculty will think with students about how these phenomena are made visible in cities, monuments, cuisines, and traditions. The course is deliberately pitched in the middle of a first-year Honors curriculum in which students have completed Global Studies equipped with conceptual tools for thinking about the world, and before they enter a discipline-based Spring-semester course.  The faculty will model professional curiosity and academic inquiry as we explore the rich historical and religious landscapes of Italy and the ways in which historical and contemporary residents express identities in a complex and often conflicted environment.First Year Honors Fellows Only.

Spring 2017

HNR 134 A - Forging Culture: Books, politics and children. Megan Issac. Expression (can count towards the literature requirement)

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.

HNR 136 A - Cosmopolitanism. Ketevan Kupatadze. Civilization

At Elon we capitalize on our desire to educate what we call “global citizens,” yet we have not considered using the phrase “cosmopolitans.” Why? Taking this question as a point of departure, this course invites students to explore the intellectual history of cosmopolitanism and the similarities and differences between being ‘global’ as opposed to ‘cosmopolitan.’ The term comes from Diogenes, the Greek philosopher, who when asked where he came from, replied: “I am a citizen of the world” [kosmopolitês]. The response was intended to mean that he was not bound to the laws of the metropolis to which he had arrived. The course, therefore, will focus on one of the most basic questions with which cosmopolitan discourse has always challenged us: why do we attach ourselves to local and/or national identities? And, based on this attachment, claim or strip away one’s rights, privileges and authority? In this context, the history and the tradition of cosmopolitanism in Latin America will prove to be illuminating, as it is a compilation of cultures highly influenced by Western socio-political, philosophical and literary discourses, but at the same time one that has always had to negotiate its peripheral place vis-à-vis the European center while searching for its own coherent identity.

HNR 244 A- Sexual Ethics. Ann Cahill. Expression

This course will explore several of the most persistent controversies in the field of sexual ethics. As we analyze social phenomena such as sex work, reproductive autonomy, and polyamory, we will pay particular attention to the theoretical frameworks that underlie ethical analyses of sexual practices. To that end, we will ask the following kinds of questions: how does Western mind/body  dualism frame dominant approaches to sexual ethics? How do different ethical frameworks (such as deontology and virtue ethics) analyze problems regarding sexual ethics differently? How do theoretical approaches (such as feminist or queer theory) that focus on intersecting axes of oppression illuminate new challenges in sexual ethics? Class discussions will be informed by a wide scope of disciplines, including sociology, anthropology, biology, psychology, and economics.

HNR 274 - Building Better Communities with Civic Technologies. Derek Lackaff. Society

From top-down government initiatives to grassroots community projects in Alamance County and elsewhere, the Triangle area has become a hub for empowering citizens and enhancing civic engagement. Technologies are being leveraged to increase public participation, improve access to government, promote effective local journalism and information sharing, and improve the accountability and responsiveness of public institutions. This course will introduce key concepts of open governance and e-government, e-participation, and democratic deliberation. Our exploration will be historical (looking at how these functions were performed in other times and places), theoretical (focusing on how different writers have conceived of civic engagement, public participation, and social capital), technological (understanding how the affordances and uses of different kinds of technology enabled them to achieve one or another of these goals), and applied (seeking future models for how citizens and policy makers might collaborate to better meet the political needs of our times). We will also consider how emerging social media practices may be altering our conception of democracy, government, citizenship, and community.

HNR 243 - (Hi)stories of 20th Century Dictatorships in Latin America. Ketevan Kupatadze, Michael Matthews. Civilization or Society

This course will explore the connection between history, politics, art, and literature to see how each depend on, inform and enrich each other.  Students will inquire into the reasons and the consequences of the 20th century dictatorships in Latin America, including Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, etc., through a selection of texts (very broadly speaking) that create, describe and analyze the historical, socio-political, and cultural scene of this period. We will explore these events through the narratives of the diverse genres in order for students to construct a more complete picture of the effect that this traumatic experience has had on Latin American society.