Seminars

  • You may sign up for only ONE honors seminar per semester.
  • You will not be charged additional tuition or HON 101 if it causes you to have more than 16 hours.

Spring 2020 - HON 101

41 — World Film since 2010

  TH 7-10 pm (Full semester)
  Dr. John Williams, History Department

Many of the world’s greatest filmmakers are using their art to grapple with present-day uncertainties and the ways in which people are trying to find security and hope. Participants in this seminar will read about, watch, and discuss some of the most challenging and innovative films of the past decade. We will watch movies from Iran, Great Britain, France, Japan, Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, and the United States, including Mad Max: Fury Road, A Separation, Selma, The Great Beauty, Weekend, Moonlight, Phantom Thread, Girlhood, Get Out, Mommy, Shoplifters, and Black Panther. Please note: Most of these films are by progressive artists on the left wing of the ideological spectrum. Because they tend to focus on the struggles of underprivileged groups (women, people of color, LGBT people, poor people, young people, and refugees), these films contain provocative political, emotional, sexual, and sometimes violent content.

42 — Exploring the Fourth Dimension

  TH 4-5:15 (10 weeks)
  Dr. Anthony Bedenikovic, Mathematics Department

The idea of a fourth dimension--of reality beyond what can be seen--has attracted thinkers from various fields throughout history. In this seminar, we will study references to the fourth dimension in the work of artists, mathematicians, philosophers, scientists, and others. In general, a different aspect of the fourth dimension will be explored at each meeting. While most studies will include a mathematical perspective, the goal of this seminar is to investigate diverse perspectives. All majors are welcome. To help further convey the nature of this seminar, a list of sample questions follows: Can we learn to visualize the fourth dimension? How is a 4-dimensional universe different from a 3-dimensional universe? Is the fourth dimension just time? How has the idea of higher dimensions influenced the work of visual artists and writers? How has it influenced current scientific theories?

43 – The Seminar at Pooh Corner

  TH 3-3:50
  Dr. Seth Katz, English Department

Though we are told explicitly that his head is “stuffed with fluff,” Edward Bear, Christopher Robin, and their cohort of friends have proven to be a flexible and durable ensemble-cast of characters and archetypes, whom various authors have found fit for various purposes. In this seminar, we will take a quick tour through many of the incarnations of Pooh, ranging from their establishment as cultural and commercial icons, stars of animated and live-action film, memes, exemplars of Western and Eastern philosophy, and objects of serious and satiric academic study. Starting with a brisk reading of the original texts (Winnie the Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner, When We Were Very Young, and Now We Are Six), this seminar will move on to the Disney-fication of Pooh (including the recent live-action Christopher Robin), The Tao of Pooh, Williams’s Pooh and the Philosophers / the Psychologists / the Millenium, and Crews’s The Pooh Perplex and Postmodern Pooh. Through it all, Pooh and friends have somehow managed to stay winning and adorable images of the simplicity and complexity of childhood for both children and adults. But how? And why?

44 – Disney and Multiculturalism

  W 4:30-5:45 (10 weeks)
  Dr. Dunja Antunovic, Communications Department

In 2016, Disney released Moana, an animated movie about a Polynesian girl who is an adventurer with magical powers. Because of its focus on indigenous culture with a protagonist who is “not a princess” (as her character proclaims), Moana (2016) sparked debates about Disney’s attempts toward cultural diversity and cultural authenticity. Disney’s approach to diversity is important because its films construct narratives about love, friendship, good, evil, and power that reach global audiences. This seminar examines Disney’s vision of multiculturalism through its feature films, including but not limited to Dumbo (1941), Sleeping Beauty (1959), The Lion King (1994), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), Mulan (1998), and Frozen (2013). Students will analyze issues of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and disability in Disney’s casting choices, plotlines, and visual representations. Drawing upon media studies and cultural studies, this course examines larger questions about multiculturalism in the global communication environment.

45 – Freud, Fiction, Film

  F 12:00-12:50
  Dr. Timothy Conley, English Department

We’ll begin by reading Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents to identify Freud’s understanding of cultural forces which shape the individual. We’ll then consider how Freud has been represented in two modern films (including David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method) and in one modern novel (D. M. Thomas’ Eating Pavlova). Written assignments will include short responses to the films and novel, an essay on Freud’s psychoanalytic analysis of culture, and a final short response to the problem of representation in fiction and film.

46 – Pandemic Virus Infections

  W 12:00-12:50
  Dr. Ted Fleming, Biology Department

Virus infections that spread worldwide (pandemics) are of major significance to humanity. This course will present the biology of two important, well-studied viruses, the influenza virus and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and will consider their impact with regard to human health, economic prosperity, and politics. The seminar will consist of a lecture-discussion format. Each student will be required to present two oral reports and write a topic paper on an aspect of the topic.

47 – Science and Faith

  T 3-4:15 (10 weeks)
  Dr. Wayne Bosma, Chemistry and Biochemistry Department

This seminar will explore the interrelationship between the rational methods of science and the beliefs of Judeo-Christian religious faith. When a scientist has religious beliefs, are these a help or a hindrance to his/her profession? What attitudes should a theistic nonscientist have toward science? These questions and others will be critically analyzed.

48 – Art and Iconoclasm

  T 12:00-12:50
  Dr. Sarah Glover, Art Department

Why do people destroy art? In this seminar we will look at art that has come under physical assault. These are artworks that have been spontaneously vandalized by angry viewers, systematically destroyed by governments, or smashed as part of public protest. We will consider what motivates these kinds of attacks, while exploring how they continue to play an important role in contemporary conversations about art and the culture(s) we live in. The class will rely heavily on facilitated discussions focused on specific artwork and iconoclastic events, with an emphasis on contemporary controversies.

49 – The Surveillance State and Dystopian Science Fiction

  T 1:30-2:20 (all semester)
  Dr. Craig Curtis, Political Science Department

The growth of the surveillance capacity, and the ability of governments to use that capacity to exert control over their citizens, is a real phenomenon. This course will explore that phenomenon via three sets of activities. First, students will examine case studies from current events, reading news stories, and other online documents, concerning the ability of modern nations to exert control over those it finds potentially dangerous. These case studies will include the United States and other nations. Second, students will read two recently published novels in which a near future planet earth is governed in ways that are different because of the use of pervasive surveillance technology. Third, students will engage in a creative activity. Students may choose to write a short story (or short graphic novella) or a scholarly essay concerning the issues surrounding the growth of surveillance technology.

50 – The Great Romantics

  T 3-4:15 (10 weeks)
  Dr. Kyle Dzapo, Music Department

This course will introduce students to the most engaging and brilliant music of the Romantic era, music of Brahms, Wagner, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Strauss, Paganini, and Rachmaninoff. In each class session, we will delve into masterpieces by one or two composers, relate the musicians’ compositions to the time and place in which they were written, and create aural guides to help us appreciate and enjoy the content and genius of the compositions. Students will be asked to read chapters from Harold Schonberg’s The Lives of the Great Composers, to write two short papers about Romantic works they have gotten to know, and to complete two related assignments. All students are welcome; no prior musical training is necessary.

Fall 2019 - HON 100

40 – Voyage to the East: Chinese heritage and culture

  T 12-12:50

  Dr. Grace Wang, Communications Department

Over the past century, China has undergone tremendous changes, including wars and revolutions, the founding of a modern republic, reforms, and most recently, rapidly rising levels of economic growth. While China is increasingly playing an important role in global economy and international affairs, many are largely unfamiliar with Chinese culture and society. This seminar introduces Chinese culture and encourages students to think critically about many of the major developments and challenges in China. Throughout the course, we will “travel” to a number of major cities and explore their historic sites, natural landscapes, unique culture heritages, etc. By the end of this seminar, students will achieve an informed understanding of Chinese culture and society.  

41 – The Psychology of Dreaming

  M 3-4:15 (10 weeks)

  Dr. Robert Fuller, Philosophy and Religious Studies Department

This seminar will explore several theories of dream interpretation (Freud, Jung, ego psychology, recent psychological studies). 

42Antibiotics and the Advent of Antibiotic-Resistant Organisms

  T 9:30-10:20
  Dr. Ted Fleming, Biology Department

Antibiotic-resistant micro-organisms are occurring worldwide, endangering the usefulness of antibiotics that have transformed medicine and saved millions of lives. During this course, students will discuss the use of antibiotics, the origin and history of antibiotic resistance, efforts to address the problem, and possible alternatives to current antibiotic therapy. This course will include time in the microbiology lab during which students will work with bacteria, and potentially isolate antibiotic-resistant organisms. Students’ general knowledge and understanding of the topic will be demonstrated and evaluated by active participation and oral and written presentations.

43 Kafka

  F 12-12:50
  Dr. Michael Greene, Philosophy Department

This class will explore several short works by Franz Kafka, including the first story he wrote, “The Judgment,” which can serve as an introduction to his entire body of work. We will also read some of his extremely short stories (only about one page long) for example, “The Imperial Messenger,” “Before the Law,” and “The Top.” We will also read his best-known work, including “First Sorrow,” “The Metamorphosis,” and “The Hunger Artist.” Throughout the class, students will be exposed to some of the major secondary sources on Kafka, in particular Blanchot’s and Deleuze’s readings of Kafka. If possible, we will also watch Orson Wells’ cinematic version of The Trial.

44 – How to Thrive in an increasingly Global World

  MandW 12-12:50 (8 weeks)
  Prof. William Toel, Business Administration

The competition among college graduates for the most desirable and interesting jobs is now international, and evermore intense. To survive in an increasingly complex and global world is difficult—to thrive in this world is the end goal of this seminar: toward this end, knowledge is power. This seminar looks at the eight most critical areas of daily interest and discussion outside the US domestic sphere: A whirlwind journey of carefully developed facts and exciting stories that come alive, directly relevant to any graduate’s security in this world. Your professor has lectured on each of the eight subjects at some of the best universities worldwide, and fully engages students in a fast-paced and interactive classroom environment. This seminar is applicable to all Honors students with an insatiable curiosity about how the world works: No prerequisites.

45 – College Student Alcohol Use: Parties and Public Health Problems

  TH 1:30-2:45 (10 weeks)
  Dr. Amy Bacon, Psychology Department

Alcohol use is highest during late adolescence and early adulthood, with students enrolled in college drinking more than their same-aged peers. What is it about the college experience that seems to promote alcohol use? Is excessive drinking in college a problem or a rite of passage? And what is “excessive” anyway? In this class, we’ll discuss how cultural, social, develop-mental, psychological, and biological influences come together to fuel these high-risk behaviors. 

46 – Language, Truth, and Logic

  T 3-3:50
  Dr. Mathew Timm, Mathematics Department

Using David R. Montgomery’s The Rocks Don't Lie and A.J. Ayers’ Language, Truth and Logic, we will explore belief, truth and the language and the logical structures we use to talk about the connections between them.  

47 – Roll over, Beethoven (so we can examine your rebellious life, times, and music)

  T 3-4:15 (10 weeks)

  Dr. Kyle Dzapo, Music Department

Ludwig van Beethoven, one of western civilization’s iconic figures, tore himself away from a miserable childhood, rebelled against the aristocratic ordering of the society in which he had to operate, coped with one of the greatest tragedies that can befall a musician, and charted his own inspiring course in the early nineteenth century. Russell Martin’s intriguing book Beethoven’s Hair, which traces the 175-year journey of a lock of hair cut from Beethoven’s head at the time of his death, will serve as the backdrop for discussion of musical compositions and significant events in the life of this genius. Students of all majors are encouraged to participate; no prior musical training is necessary.  

48 – To End All Wars

  TH 3-3:50

  Dr. Kevin Swafford, English Department

At the time of its unfolding, World War I, the so-called “Great War” (1914-1918), was described as the war “to end all wars.” Unfortunately, that was not the case. Horrific, tragic, and irrational, World War I resulted in more than 16 million deaths (of combatants and civilians), 8 million deaths of service horses and dogs (and countless other animals), and 37 million casualties. The trauma and destructiveness of the war created, what Gertrude Stein famously called, a “lost generation.” In this seminar, we will read closely two books that explore the tragedy and consequences of the war: Erich Maria Remarque’s brilliant novel All Quiet on the Western Front (1929) and Adam Hochshild’s To End All Wars (an historical account and ethical exploration of the British involvement and resistances to the “Great War”). Both books are powerfully moving and brilliantly written.

For the course, you will be expected to read the entirety of All Quiet on the Western Front and To End All Wars, keep a reader response journal (minimum 300 words a week), and write an essay (5-8 pages in length) that analyzes and discusses a central issue of the two primary works. Welcome! 

49 – #fakenews

  TH 3-4:15 (10 weeks)

  Dr. Sara Netzley, Communications Department

What is it? What isn’t it? Where does it come from? How can you guard against it? This seminar will explore concepts such as misinformation, propaganda, bias, and gaslighting using recent and historical examples, with an emphasis on the origin, spread, and implications of fake news for citizens, society, and democracy.

50 – 51 Why are we here?

  M 3-3:50
  Dr. Seth Katz and Dr. Robert Prescott, English Department

These two sections are offered to incoming freshmen only.

Through reading, writing, and conversation, we will approach different answers to this question, and a number of others, including but not limited to

  • “Why have you come to college?”
  • “What should be the relationship of college to career?”
  • “What does it mean to learn?”
  • “What happens when we die?"
  • “How do we know what’s true?"
  • “What do non-scientists need to understand about science?”
  • “Why do the arts matter?” 
  • “What is happiness?”

Assigned readings will include classic and contemporary texts, all available online.