395H Seminars, Spring 2018

Spring 2018

The following 395H seminars are 3 credit hour classes. ACE credit is noted by each course. Some courses also meet College of Arts & Sciences College Distribution Requirements (ASC CDR); specifics are noted with each course. Enrollment in these courses will follow regular University enrollment procedures and occur on a first-come, first-served basis in accordance with your assigned priority registration times. If this is your final semester and you have an unmet ACE need AND you have difficulties getting into a course section with that ACE, contact Dr. Burnett ASAP.

Historical Literary Retellings

UHON 395H (History)

No.: **** Section: 001 1:00-3:20p, T
1105 NRC Dr. Carole Levin ACE 5; ASC CDR C or F

Course description

This course examines certain historical people and works of literature and discusses their significance within a particular historical/cultural context. We will then re-examine the presentation of the person or story written in a different time period to analyze different cultural meanings. The changes in tellings often allow us to focus on specific cultural anxieties. There will be a variety of written assignments and oral presentations. We will be having Sunday afternoons at the movies about once a month to view films related to the class units. I will provide refreshments. If a student cannot come for a Sunday film he or she is responsible for making arrangements to see the film separately.

Evolutionary Psychology’s Approach to Beauty and Physical Attractiveness


No.: **** Section: 002 1:30-2:20p, MWF
Burnett 79 Dr. Mark Holden ACE 6; ASC CDR D or F

Course description

Attractiveness is assessed automatically in humans, and so men and women will often go to great lengths to enhance theirs. Beauty and attractiveness captivate attention, and are inherently memorable. Physical characteristics permeate our interactions in the world, even at a subconscious level. All of these statements are true, and yet defining what is “beautiful” often seems beyond our linguistic capacity.

Although many groups of people, from philosophers and sociologists to artists and cosmetic surgeons, have tried to understand physical attractiveness, the hypotheses created by these individuals often only address beauty from their respective point of view. The data from multiple different perspectives are rarely considered under a true overarching theoretical framework. One major exception is the recent work in the field of Evolutionary Psychology. Evolutionary psychology is a relatively new field that uses Darwinian evolutionary theory to explain and, more importantly, predict behavior patterns in individuals and groups of individuals.

The goal of this course is to use a topic of wide interest (beauty and attractiveness) as a vehicle for explaining the principles of Evolutionary Psychology. We will use the general interest in beauty and attractiveness as a launch pad to stimulate discussion that critically evaluates the merit of the evolutionary psychology interpretation of the data on beauty and attractiveness. Along the way, we will learn about several aspects of human cognition, both conscious and subconscious, which affect our behavior towards others. In addition, we will discuss both universal and culturally-specified aspects of physical attractiveness, and critically examine whether these preferences can be explained satisfactorily under the evolutionary approach. Students will choose a relevant topic to research during the later portion of the semester, and will be required to complete a review paper and presentation – both of which will demonstrate analysis and synthesis of existing literature, as well as appropriate communication skills.

Coming-of-Age Stories in American Life

UHON 395H (English)

No.: **** Section: 004 2:00-3:15p, T,Th
Andrews 26 Dr. Maureen Honey ACE 5; ASC CDR C or F

Course description

This literature course covers several diverse American writers who range from the early part of this century to the present day. These coming-of-age stories feature young people discovering who they are, characters who struggle to define themselves on their own terms and live according to values they believe in. How successful they are is at the heart of their narratives. Why they succeed or fail is a mystery embedded in the facts of their existence, sometimes discovered by them, sometimes not. This is a discussion class that is centered on student responses to the texts and the issues they raise so daily attendance and completion of the assigned reading are central to the course. Readings will include: Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower (1999); Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925); Fauset, Plum Bun (1928); Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five (1969); Swick, Paper Wings (1996); Bechdel, Fun Home (2006); Capo Crucet, Make Your Home Among Strangers (2016); and Moore, A Gate at the Stairs (2008). Assignments will include three papers, one slide show presentation, in-class writing, and daily attendance.

Note: Students who have previously enrolled in ENGL 101H with Dr. Honey are not eligible to take this course as many of the texts overlap.

Concepts of Modern Physics

UHON 395H (Physics)

No.: **** Section: 005 8:30-9:20a, MWF
Jorgensen 247 Dr. Peter Dowben NO ACE
Prereq: PHYS 142 or 212 with a grade of C+ or better

Course description

Some of the concepts and ideas underlying modern areas of physics through readings from non-technical works by noted physicists and science writers. Includes quantum mechanics, relativity, cosmology, vacuum fluctuations, dark matter, dark energy, the cosmic microwave background, and examples of modern technology. The emphasis is on the implications of quantum mechanics and relativity.

Political Discourse in the Age of Trump


No.: **** Section: 006 1:30-2:50p, M,W
NRC 2109 Dr. Ron Lee ACE 5; ASC CDR D or F

Course description

The purpose of this course is to help participants think critically about American political discourse.  In pursuing this goal, the course is organized into four themes:  1. An exploration of the political myths (reoccurring cultural stories) that guide the invention of American political discourse. 2. An exploration of the rhetoric of populism in contemporary American politics. 3. An exploration of the different ways liberals and conservatives talk about politics in America. 4. An exploration of “playing the race card” in American politics.  Using these themes, we will examine human symbolic activity as it shapes and is shaped by relationships, institutions, technology, and culture.

Playwrights, Poets and Politics: The Theatre of Modern Ireland


No.: **** Section: 007 2:00-4:30pm, Th
NRC 2109 Imes-Borden ACE 7 or 9

Course description

Since the late 19th century, the tiny island nation of Ireland has produced a vastly disproportionate number of bold, passionate playwrights and theatre practitioners. The list of dramatic luminaries reads like a “Who’s Who” of Modern Drama: Goldsmith, Sheridan, Synge, Yeats, Lady Augusta Gregory, Beckett, Shaw and Oscar Wilde are just the start. These playwrights established a proud tradition that continues today in the works of Frank McGuinness, Brendan Behan, Martin McDonagh and others. This class will spend the spring semester looking at the history, politics and zeitgeist that gave rise to this theatrical tradition. We’ll read plays, watch films, and engage in that most delightful of Irish pastimes: good-natured conversation. The reading list will include selections from the above playwrights, as well as pieces about Ireland’s history, politics, and culture.

American Film Music in a Suburban Age (1950-present)

UHON 395H (Music)

No.: **** Section: 008 11:00-12:15p, T/Th
WMB 109 Bushard ACE 7

Course description

The most familiar entertainment icons and storylines from the 1950s and 60s remain potent signs that continue to resonate within contemporary American society and culture. In recent decades, the entertainment industry has capitalized on this trend with films and television shows that take a look back on the 1950s and 1960s with a mixture of nostalgia and criticism. In this class, we will explore how the central concerns of the Fifties and Sixties—and resulting treatment in the motion picture media—can be examined and understood through the music of the time period. Through a focus on the films' soundtrack and scoring (both then and now) as well as engagement with appropriate primary and secondary texts, we will discover that specific television shows and films offer a more nuanced vision of community and conformity than is usually recognized, revealing much about our own current social anxieties.

Quality TV: From Buffy to Breaking Bad


No.: **** Section: 009 12:30-1:45p, TR
NRC 2109 Burnett ACE 5 or 7; ASC CDR C or F

Course description

In this course, we will learn about and apply theories of the critical category of “quality television” in order to reach an understanding about how various production and narrative elements can contribute to the artistic quality of a scripted television show. Using the television show with the largest body of critical scholarship, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as a point of comparison, we will examine exemplar episodes from several television series that scholars agree qualify as “quality TV” in order to develop an understanding of this visual media art form and critical approaches to it. We will explore a variety of shows from disparate genres including, The X-Files, The Sopranos, The West Wing, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and Sherlock. Required course materials include subscriptions to Netflix and HBO Go Now.

Regulation of the Global Human Population


No.: **** Section: 010 2:30-5:20p, M
MANT 409 DeLong ACE 6 or 9

Course description

This seminar is designed to foster an understanding of the processes driving changes in the size and age distribution of the global human population. We will strive to understand how predictions about the future size of the global human population are made and how biological, social, geographic, and economic factors combine to influence fertility, mortality, and migration of humans. We will look at historical patterns and processes of migration and population dynamics, cover the demographic transition and questions about its permanence, the role of economic development and energy in fertility and mortality patterns, and how the number of people on the planet might influence the way socio-economic system works.

As we go through these topics, we will learn about fundamental concepts from demography (e.g., life tables), biology (e.g., life history and population dynamics), sociology (e.g., cultural norms), and economics (e.g., development and tragedy of the commons). We will consider the globe as a complex system that must be fueled by energy use and ask how that energy use influences the processes that regulate the human population. Assignments will include weekly readings from the primary literature. Exercises will include making life tables for humans, calculating growth rates, and projecting/forecasting future population size.