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Courses



Spring 2015

HON 2501 Joining the Choir Invisible: On Death and Dying
Dr. Janice Fuller (English) and Dr. Erin Wood (Psychology)
TR 12:00-1:15pm
Humanities/Interpretive/Historical & Social
This course examines how humans define death and try to comprehend it.  It will explore the controversies surrounding choosing death, and cultural variations in the rituals, practices, and artistic responses to death and dying.  Students will be asked to engage with a variety of texts and media that sample the ways people engage with these processes, before, during, and post-death, for themselves and for those around them.  Experiential components of the course will invite students to investigate how their own and other communities respond in a practical sense to this common human experience.  Ultimately students will present a review of their own perspective on dying and death, sharing the new ways they’ve learned to respond to this inevitable life event. 


HON 2501 Our Big Fat Greek Heritage
Dr. Norris Feeney (Politics) and Dr. Seth Holtzman (Philosophy)
MWF 1:00-1:50pm
Humanities/Interpretive
Have you ever wondered why the history and ideas of ancient Greece are still considered relevant?  Are they still relevant?  In this course, you will learn why the same questions asked and answered 2500 years ago are still asked and answered today.  Not only are these questions still asked, the diverse answers given by the ancient Greeks are reflected in our modern political life.   We will examine ideas of political philosophy in their historical context of ancient Greece, and it applies these ideas to modern political systems.  

Consider, for example, how important the idea of democracy is for the shape of our political institutions, our political behavior, and the objectives of our foreign policy.  Our understanding of democracy has been shaped significantly by works from ancient Greece, which were an important part of our Founding Fathers’ intellectual background.  We still find the enduring influence of the diversity in ancient Greek thought on policy debates, perspectives on the purpose of government, our duties as citizens, and even our own experiences of politics.   

How did ancient Greeks think about human nature, political authority, and different systems of government?  We should understand how the environment of ancient Greek produced and shaped their ideas.  Similarly, our modern environment produces and shapes our ideas, including our interpretation of ancient Greek thought.  Students will explore course content more in-depth during a spring break to Greece.

 
HON 3501 Frankenfoods!
Dr. Sue Calcagni (Environmental Science) and Dr. Eric Hake (Economics)
TR 9:30-10:35am
Natural Science/Scientific/Social and Behavioral Science/Historical & Social
Fish genes in strawberries and tomatoes?  Bacterial genes in corn and potatoes?  Goats that produce spider silk in their milk?   Rice that makes its own pharmaceuticals?   No doubt about it – much has changed about how we put food on the table since the advent of agriculture more than 10,000 years ago.  The very idea of a farm and farming has been transformed. Now we have companies that span the globe, controlling every aspect of their industry - all the way from the technologies used to create new crop varieties to the processing, packaging, distribution, and marketing of fully prepared meals.  These “Factory farms” and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) feature prominently in US agriculture, but we rarely know the source of our food, much less understand the technology and resource use behind producing it.  Yet, each of us literally consumes some of this technology every day!  What does all of this change mean for our access to food, the cost of food, the quality of the food, our health, and sustainability?  What drives these changes – economics or ecology?  Profit or practicality?  Should we have the right to choose through labeling?  Is there validity to concerns about modern agriculture and the increasing call to return to locally-produced and organic foods?  Using multiple media types, we will critically explore the intersection of science and society in this course on modern agriculture and reexamine our connection to food.  


 

Fall 2015

HON 1200 Take 2– What We Wanted to Do (First Year Seminar)
Dr. Forrest Anderson (English)
TR 12:00-1:15pm

Our course will consider the adaptation of literature into film. We’ll ask the standard questions: How does literature translate into film? Does a film enrich or diminish the source material? Is adaptation a genre of literature? Then, we’ll delve deeper. What makes an adaptation successful? Is it fidelity to the original? What is original? Is authorship originality? What is authorship? What is creativity? What role does theft play in creativity? Is it possible to recycle or sample material in order to create new art? Best of all, we’ll struggle over these issues ourselves as we attempt to adapt work into music or film.

 

HON 1200 People of the Corn (First Year Seminar)
Dr. Jay Bolin (Biology)
TR 12:00-1:15pm

Ethnobotany is the study of how humans currently or historically have used plants for food, drink, medicine, drugs, shelter, and so many other cultural aspects. The coevolution of humanity and plants is ancient and evident in the domestication of thousands of plant species and cultivars that began more than 12,000 years ago. We will ask questions about how humans have directed the evolution of plants and how plants have shaped our food, health, ceremonies, and diverse cultures from prehistory to contemporary times. Some themes we will discuss and explore are the mechanisms of crop domestication from wild relatives and what the genes of the wild relatives of major crops (e.g. corn, rice, wheat, and cassava) still offer us as we struggle to feed a burgeoning human population. We will trace the origins of our lunch from fork to farm and consider the locavore or local foods movement. In addition to getting dirty intellectually we will get soil under our fingernails at Catawba’s on campus Sustainable Garden where we will grow and study domesticated and semi-domesticated crop cultivars. For the wild side of the crop domestication coin we will spend time in Catawba’s Fred Stanback Jr. Ecological Preserve judiciously harvesting, studying, and eating wild plants that were once depended on and managed by Native Americans.


HON 2501 Real vs. Reel Biology
Dr. Connie Rogers Lowery (Biology)
M 3:00-6:00pm

Natural Science/Scientific

Have you ever watched a Sci-Fi movie and wondered if that could happen in real life? Now you can find out! In Real Vs. Reel (as in movie reel, get it!) Biology, we will watch several popular sci-fi movies and television shows and discuss what is correct, or more likely inaccurate, about it. Movies and TV shows will include: Jurassic Park, Evolution, Contagion, Daywalkers, I am Legend, Planet of the Apes, The Walking Dead, and GATTACA.

Additionally, students in the course will make a short sci-fi movie that will make its world premiere at the end of the semester!


HON 2501 Re-Reading Harry Potter: A Critical Analysis
Dr. Gordon Grant (English) and Dr. Maria Vandergriff-Avery (Sociology)
TR 1:30-2:45pm

Interpretive/Humanities/Historical & Social

With the publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in 1997, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series has created a worldwide cultural phenomenon. These award-winning novels have not only resulted in record book sales, a consistent spot on the New York Times bestseller list after the publication of each novel, and the release of 8 blockbuster films, but also has resulted in book bannings across the United States and a religious outcry against witchcraft. Why have the famed boy wizard and his friends created such a varied and intense social reaction? What do scholars say about these reactions and about the social and literary content of the novels? In this course we will thoroughly (re)examine the Harry Potter novels and explore the academic response to the series by considering and critiquing current sociological, cultural, political, philosophical, and literary analyses of the Harry Potter series, focusing specifically on themes of power, corruption, inequality, gender, faith, truth, and form.


HON 2901 The Faith We Sing
Dr. Phillip Burgess (Music)
MWF 1:00-1:50pm

Fine Arts/Interpretive

Remembering... How do we remember? What things do we choose to remember? What things do we choose to forget? In The Faith We Sing we will study the history of the Judeo-Christian traditions from early church practices through the present day. Many of the historical events and teachings can be found preserved in the texts of Psalms, Hymns, Spirituals, Praise and Worship Songs, Children's Songs, etc. currently found in present-day hymnals and song books. The course will also focus on the music and events that accompany "life events" such as weddings, baptisms, funerals. National celebrations and commemorative events and the music associated with these will also be a focus of this course.

A trip to Washington, DC over fall break will help bring the relationship of "text to event" into clearer focus. By travelling to our nation's capital, we will focus our attention on the very close relationships that exist between religion and national events and our daily lives.

Ultimately, this course will challenge the students to think about the words of the hymns and praise songs that are sung in church and their historical relevance. "Jesus Loves Me, This I Know" will never be the same after this class!


 

Spring 2016

HON 2501 Breaking All the Rules:  Deviance in Societies
Dr. Buster Smith (Sociology)
MWF 10:00-10:50am

Social & Behavioral Sciences/Historical & Social/Non-Western

What is “normal”, who gets to decide, and why does it matter?  In this class we will examine the issues of deviance, conventionality, and rule breaking from a variety of perspectives.  This includes deviance in sociology, political science, medicine, religion, education, sports, and art.  In addition, we will examine the ways in which academic disciplines and cultural production itself can be engaged in through unconventional means and methods.  Finally, we will attempt to answer the questions of why certain behaviors and values are considered deviant while others are not and who gets to make these decisions.

 

HON 2501 Science Fiction and Math
Dr. Jason Hunt (Mathematics) and Dr. David Schroeder (English)
TR 1:30-2:45pm

Quantitative/Mathematics/Interpretive/Humanities

Science Fiction and Math will explore the compelling universe of science fiction from the perspectives of both mathematics and the humanities.  Through novels, short stories, and film, we will dissect a number of vital themes that sprout around the intersection of math and fiction: (1) Geometry and the Imagination; (2) Time, History and Entropy; (3) Probability, Mathematical Law and Free Will; (4) Value, Economics and Ideology; (5) Relativity and Relativism; and (6) Math, Reason and Epistemology.  As a further running theme, we will consider the extent to which mathematics can itself be understood as a particularly human and historically-bound system – or “narrative” – that may not always translate across cultures, whether terrestrial or alien.  (A final note: this course will not presuppose any particular level of mathematical knowledge and is open to all interested students, tentacled or not.)


HON 2901 Aesthetic Alchemy
Dr. Carol Ann Miderski (Chemistry) and Prof. Ashley Pierce (Theatre Arts)
WF 12:00-3:00pm

Fine Arts/Creative/ Natural Science/Scientific

Throughout history, human beings have sought ways to add value to simple materials.  Though we will not be turning lead into gold as the early alchemists sought to do, in the lab we will be using chemistry and aesthetics to increase the intrinsic value of materials as we create objects in four art media: metals, glass, ceramics, and textiles.  Successful student projects will be eligible for inclusion in the Aesthetic Alchemy art exhibition to be held toward the close of the semester.  In the classroom portion of the course, we will explore how artists use these four major media to create art and investigate the historical and modern methods used to transform the materials through chemical and physical processes.  We will also learn to evaluate the aesthetic qualities of art and the pieces we create.

An integral portion of the course will include an exploration of cultural and environmental effects on art through a trip to the desert Southwest over Spring Break.  This region provides a particularly rich range of historic and contemporary examples of metal, glass, ceramic, and textile arts.  In Phoenix, AZ, we will visit art festivals featuring working demonstrations by a wide variety of artists and world-class museums showcasing regional and international artwork.  Students will especially enjoy the chance to experience professional examples of these works after experiencing first-hand the joys and challenges of working with these specific media in the lab section of the course.  We will also explore the natural environment during a visit to the Grand Canyon and experience the beauty of a truly dark, night sky during a star party at the Lowell Observatory.


HON 2901 States of Killing:  Genocide in the 20th Century
Dr. Michael Bitzer (Politics)
MWF 9:00-9:50am

Humanities/Social & Behavioral Sciences/Historical & Social/Non-Western

Some have described the 20th century as “the century of genocide:” some scholars argue that it began with the German treatment of Herero in Africa, developed onto a massive scale in the genocides by the Turks during World War I, reached its peak during the Holocaust of World War II, went unnoticed in the Soviet Union, China, and Cambodia, and ended with the horrors of Bosnia and Rwanda.  The question remains though, how does genocide come to take place? How is it patterned? Is there a difference between genocide, the actions of individuals, and democide, the actions of a government, when it comes to these kinds of atrocities? What motivates people to participate in such violence? How is genocide represented, coped with, and remembered? What has been the world’s response to such events, and how might it be prevented?

In exploring the idea of states of killing, this course will examine the historical, political, legal, psychological, and sociological concepts of genocide to try and understand how human behavior, governments, and groups engage in this type of behavior.

In addition to the regular class meetings using lectures and course discussions, the course will utilize two additional resources: documentaries and films regarding the issue of genocide throughout the 20th Century, along with a trip to Germany over Spring Break to visit areas such as Berlin, Auschwitz, Krakow, and Prague.

This travel component is a critical aspect of the course that will allow students to visit and see first-hand the conditions and environment in which one of the most notorious events of genocide occurred.  The travel is a requirement of the course, and will supplement and expand on the learning goals and outcomes as listed below. In visit the major points of the Holocaust tour—Berlin, Auschwitz, Krakow, and Prague—students will visit and experience key points and locations that culminated in the perpetration of the “final solution” by the Nazi regime.