Current & Upcoming Honors Courses
HNR 140 – Inquiry in Italy. Mike Carignan and Tom Mould. Civilization 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 confluence 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.
HNR 173 Level – Vision & Difference: Art, History, & Identity. Dr. Kirstin Ringelberg. Civilization
This course will explore the intersections of art objects and makers, their historical contexts, and categories of personal and group identity, particularly gender and race. Artists both work within and challenge, through subtle subversions or direct attacks, the normative identity constructs of their historical contexts. We will look at several case studies across a variety of contexts and analyze the strategies taken by both these artists and the historians who wrote about them. How can we think differently about our own contexts and identities by studying the ways that identity has been constructed, performed, and deconstructed in visual objects? Or in texts that attempt to frame and define those objects, their makers, and their periods? What relationships do seeing and being seen have to our identities, our histories, and the way we understand and learn? Much is being made of our own current context as one of heightened individual visibility in a landscape itself increasingly visually oriented; what is at stake in this supposed change, and how can art history’s focus on these very issues be deployed to understand it?
HNR 136 – Cosmopolitanism. Dr. 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 137 – Intellectual History. Dr. Michael Carignan. Civilization
This course is designed to provide students opportunities to critically understand the historical nature of our own important ideas by examining the ways in which ideas have evolved through the last 300 years of European history. In order to understand the major, modern intellectual movements—Enlightenment, Romanticism, Developmentalism, Fin de Siecle, Modernism, Existentialism, and Deconstruction—we will read classic works ranging from philosophy to history and literature from the major figures who have asked and/or responded to the very deepest questions that have captivated modern, Western civilization. Threading many of the movements will be the enduring themes of freedom, critique, historical consciousness, the “death” of God, and the inescapable disappearance of certainties. Writers include: Kant, Rousseau, Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley, Darwin, Nietzsche, Kafka, Freud, Sartre, Camus, Derrida, and Borges.
HNR 244 – Sexual Ethics. Dr. 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 231 – Authenticity: Is there a “True” Self? Dr. Alexis Franzese. Society
For centuries, philosophers have debated the existence of a ‘true’ self- a self that transcends context and circumstances. The main question that will be addressed in this course is: Is there a true self? The question of a true self has been considered in varying ways over time and place. In the last century, Western society has been marked by a more conscious self-awareness. However, the concept of the self has changed over time and self-awareness may be considered as a distinctly modern topic. Sub-questions that will be explored in conjunction with this larger question include (1) How has thinking about the self changed over time? (2) How does religious thought shape and intersect with thinking about the self? (3) How has technology (over time from the printing press to transportation to the computer) shaped self-presentation and notions of a true self?, and (4) Is there an ethical imperative to present a true self, and what is at stake in presenting a fraudulent self to the world or in presenting a genuine self to the world?
HNR 251 – Burning at the Stake: Superstition in the Western World. Dr. Mina Garcia. Civilization
This course asks how belief in supernatural causes shapes societies, relates to religion and idolatry and changes depending on the context. Studying what constitutes superstition from Apuleius to the Virgin of Guadalupe, from Inquisitorial Spain to the Salem Witch Trials, can expose the complexities of a particular society and how racial, gender, class and territorial conflicts can be disguised as manifestation of a spell. Students will develop a critical understanding of the malleability of the concept, focusing in its role in Early Modern Spain the newly discovered Americas and the contemporary world. Course assignments, focused reaction papers, a poster session and a semester-long project are designed to prepare students to meet the complex questions of the term in the most engaging way.
COR 110: 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.
Sophomore Seminar – Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Parenthood. Dr. Cindy Fair. Society
This course examines the topic of childbirth from biomedical, psychosocial, cultural, and historical perspectives. We will explore assumptions about pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood by critically analyzing factors that influence the social construction of birth and, in turn, how these dynamics affect maternal and infant health. In particular, students will evaluate the factors that contribute to the high rates of maternal and infant mortality in the US compared to other high-resource countries and propose evidence-based strategies to ameliorate a childbirth-related problem.
Sophomore Seminar – Profiling Political Leaders. Dr. Baris Kesgin. Society
This course builds upon leadership studies in political science and psychology, exploring the psychological dimensions of political leaders’ decision-making in milestone events in the Middle East. First, it surveys historical and contemporary approaches to studying political leaders, and places an emphasis on the relationship between leaders’ personalities, leadership styles, beliefs, psychological disorders on the one hand and decision making (in particular, in foreign policy) on the other. Students will analyze case studies of political leaders from around the region, including Egyptian and Iranian presidents, Israeli and Turkish prime ministers.
Sophomore Seminar – Growing Up Outside: Risky Play and Rewarding Lessons. Drs. Caroline Ketcham and Maureen Vandermaas-Peeler. Science (non-lab) or Society
This course will explore how the psychosocial, cognitive, and motor development of children is influenced by varying interactions with the natural world. Student will critically analyze ecological and sociocultural theoretical frameworks to facilitate their understanding of how children’s interactions in complex environmental ecologies can influence development and learning. We will use evidence from recent theory and research to evaluate claims about why spending time in nature matters for child development across multiple domains and holistic well-being. In addition, we will consider how barriers to access (e.g., disability or economic resources) can impact childhood experiences. Specific topics include: forest schools; gender and play in outdoor environments; risky play; children’s environmental stewardship; children’s acceptance and inclusion of differences.