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Fall 2017

HON 1200 Character Creation
CR 12:00-1:15PM
Honors First-Year Seminar
Prof. Erin Dougherty (Theatre Arts)

What is a character? How is one created? This course will discuss character creation in multiple forms, with emphasis on comic books and visual depiction. How is an image shaped and what goes into its iconography to make for a lasting image? We will trace the commonly known characters of Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman through history, discussing social context and current events. What is the “recipe” for a modern super hero? In addition, we will explore other character platforms and modern phenomena, such as Dungeons and Dragons, Fandom, and Cosplay. Students will be asked to create characters of their own through several mediums. This course will travel to DragonCon in Atlanta over Labor Day weekend.


HON 1200 Squaring the Circle:  Connecting Symbolism and Art
TR 12:00-1:15pm
Honors First-Year Seminar
Dr. Sharon Sullivan (Mathematics)

This course focuses on the idea of connections. We will start by talking about forms of symbolism: general, number, religious, mathematical and the connection of symbols to art. For example, the color yellow symbolizes alertness and brightness, a winged lion symbolizes St. Mark, and the number one represents perfection. In the painting Allegory of Geometry by Laurent de la Hyre, many symbols are used to depict one of the seven liberal arts. From here we will study one of the ultimate “connectors”, Leonardo da Vinci. This Renaissance man symbolizes the connection between art, science, and math. In looking at his contributions to these areas, we will consider historical influences on da Vinci and on the individuals who came after him. 


HON 1200 The Sixties:  The Times Were a-Changin’ 
TR 12:00-1:15pm
Honors First-Year Seminar
Dr. Edith Bolick (Sociology)

What was it like to be a college student in the 1960s and how does it compare with the college experience today?  We will examine the demographic, technological and sociocultural forces that shaped this pivotal decade in American history and explore the decade’s impact on American life and values.   The title-track song to Bob Dylan’s 1964 album The Times They Are a-Changin’ is the soundtrack for our multimedia journey through the “decade like no other.”


HON 2501 From Clueless to Class Act?  An Exploration and Critique of Manners and Etiquette
TR 9:30-10:45am
Dr. Phillip Burgess (Music)

Important life skills, manners, etiquette, customs and societal norms continue to evolve to reflect our ever-changing social world.  This course will provide a historical overview and social critique on contemporary practices and expectations associated with various cultures and religions.  Students will examine how manners and etiquette practices have changed over time and how contemporary notions of gender, gender roles, and sexualities have shaped and affected those changes in both Western and Non-Western societies.  Rituals and customs associated with rites of passage, marriage, burial and religious ceremonies will also be studied.  Students will learn basic global manners and etiquette techniques which may give them a distinct advantage in dealing with various social and business situations, as well as a critique for their relevance in today’s society. 


HON 2501 Screening for Meaning
MWF 2:00-2:50pm
Dr. Seth Holtzman (Religion & Philosophy)

Films are an important cultural and artistic expression, and we should always ask critical questions about all aspects of the culture.  It is appropriate for the academy to examine films and our experience of films.  The medium of cinema has produced many films that are worthy of study.  Our course examines a wide range of ideas that arise when we watch films.  One area we will explore is our experience of film and the purpose of film.  Do films have a responsibility to entertain, to edify, or both?  Do films have a responsibility to be realistic?  If so, ought they to be “factual”?  May they take whatever dramatic liberties that help them tell the story of the film?   May they be deliberately unrealistic, fantastic?  If so, why?  Is a film, true, and if so, how?  What if anything, should a film be like?  Are there legitimate expectations that we should have when we watch them?  Another area we will explore is the ideas that are part of the content and/or structure of the film itself.  Topics include the nature of knowledge, personal identity, narrative identity, the nature of selfhood, the relationship between self and culture, morality, and our relationship to the Divine. 


HON 2901 The History of Video Games
MW 2:00-3:15pm
Historical & Social
Dr. William Morris (History)

In 2012, the electronic gaming industry surpassed Hollywood in profitability.  Despite this, digital studies are just getting started as an academic field.  This class introduces students to some critical tools for interpreting and analyzing video games while also covering the history of those games from the late 1960s to the present.  Mostly, we will do three things: play games (sometimes in class, sometimes outside – depending on length), read about the games we have played, and discuss the reading in conjunction with the playing.  We will pay particularly close attention to the cultural meaning of video games and how those meanings have shifted over time while also discussing the role video games have played in wider debates within society as a whole – about violence, for example – since at least the early 1980s.  Evolving findings in neuroscience regarding the effect of video games on brain activity will also be an important point of discussion.  The class will also take a fall break trip to the nation's largest video game archive, at the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, NY.  There students will receive a behind-the-scenes tour of the museum (think the last scene of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, but with arcade games) and be able to conduct a bit of their own primary source research into a video game history topic of their choosing.


HON 2901 Sounds of Silence:  Music as Voice for the Oppressed
TR 1:30-2:45pm
Creative or Historical & Social
Dr. Julie Chamberlain (Music) and Dr. Maria Vandergriff-Avery (Sociology)

From folk songs to riot grrrl punk to rap, many artists have championed the rights of the oppressed through their music, representing the countless voices of silenced populations. For example, music and the Civil Rights Movement of the sixties became virtually synonymous, as African American artists, from Odetta to James Brown, celebrated black consciousness and/or called for social change through their music. Ultimately, music has been used as a powerful conduit to educate people about the issues of race, gender, poverty, and social injustice and to inspire people to work for equality.

Through this course, students will examine structured inequality and oppression and how music communicates feelings, events and issues often ignored or spoken about in quiet whispers. More specifically, we will explore how popular music has given voice to those who have been historically silenced and has served as an engine of social change and as a reflection of various social movements.  Musical examples will be inclusive of various styles and genres, including artists such as Billie Holiday, Woody Guthrie, U2, Bikini Kill, Bruce Springsteen, A Tribe Called Quest, and Janelle Monae.  Students will enhance their understanding of course content through a fall break trip to Chicago, a city rich in the historical, social, cultural and musical subjects and issues studied in the class.


Spring 2018

HON 2501 Science Fiction and Math
Humanities or Math; Interpretive or Quantitative
TR 1:30-2:45pm
Dr. Jason Hunt (Math) and Dr. David Schroeder (English)

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 2501 The Hero’s Journey: Star Wars, Joseph Campbell, and Mythic Storytelling
TR 9:30-10:45am
Creative or Interpretive
Dr. Bradley Stephenson (Theatre Arts)

Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces is one of the most influential books written in the twentieth century.  Combining insights of psychology and comparative mythology, Hero outlines the universal motif of adventure and transformation that runs through virtually all of the world’s mythic traditions. Exploring fields ranging from religion and anthropology to literature and film, Campbell has transformed the way contemporary culture understands our inherent human need to tell stories. Using this model of the Hero’s quest as our primary lens, this course explores the symbolic nature and mythic structure of storytelling from native cultures up through contemporary films such as George Lucas’s space opera Star Wars. Through reading, writing, reflection, viewings, and discussion, students will unpack the model of the Hero’s quest and its variants and apply this theoretical approach to creating their own narrative work.


HON 2901 Outbreak
TR 12:00-1:15pm
Natural Science; Scientific
Dr. Steve Coggin (Biology)

Infectious diseases have had a dramatic effect on human history.  The organisms that cause these diseases have a long relationship with people and have coevolved with us.  The twentieth century saw tremendous advances in the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases to the point where a Surgeon General of the United States declared the war on these diseases had been won.  The twentieth century closed with a rash of new emerging diseases and the resurgence of other diseases we thought were gone.  Students in this Honors course will study agents that cause infectious disease; viruses, bacteria and parasites.  They will examine how the disease agent causes damage and death to the host.  Students will learn how infectious diseases are spread, how they can be treated and prevented.  The course will also explore the ethical ramifications of epidemic and pandemic diseases such as how to allocate scarce medical resources, the use of vaccines, antibiotics and quarantine.  Students in this course will travel to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia.


HON 2901 Cuban STEAM
TR 8:00-9:15am and T 3:00-5:50pm
Interpretive or Scientific
Dr. ChaMarra Saner (Chemistry) and Prof. Meredith Fox (Theatre Arts)

There have been no relations between the US and Cuba since 1960. As portions of the embargo are opening, the anxious desire and curiosity of American’s and Cuban’s alike is running high. Lech Walsea a polish politician, former Polish President (1990-1995) and Nobel Peace Prize winner (1983) has stated “Communism in Cuba will collapse sooner or later because you can't control the free flow of information.” But has the embargo stopped the free flow of information? Does Cuba have the answer to ozone therapy as an example and did the embargo affect their overall sense of collaboration? Is there a common ground that breaks language barriers, social stratifications and cultural differences giving Cubans a reflective place? Studying these intense questions, will give students an opportunity to look at the historical heritage and explore this, and many other aspects of Cuba and the Cuban culture.

A dynamic mixture of science, literature and innate musicality that STEAMS Cuba, Cuban authors and scholars alike will guide students through a retreat that views several perspectives of the Cuban culture in the classroom. Movies such as “Dirty Dancing Havana Nights,” literature including “Cuban Revelations: Behind the Scenes in Havana,” Marc Frank, in addition to various scientific articles along with learning variations of dance styles of the area, will present these concepts with a cultural twist. A fundamental portion of this course will be viewing these perspectives on a first-hand basis where students will have the opportunity to travel to Cuba over spring break to explore how the embargo, and other aspects of Cuban history have shaped the country as a whole.


HON 2901 Greatness
MWF 11:00-11:50am
Dr. Kimberly Creamer (Teacher Education)

President James Buchanan once stated that “the test of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.” Is there greatness in humanity? If so, what defines such greatness in our society? To us as individuals? Throughout history? Why are some individuals, such as Albert Einstein, remembered as great; yet, others, such as Robert Oppenheimer, who applied Einstein’s science to create the atom bomb, perhaps not remembered so?

This course provides an opportunity to explore social, political, intellectual, and historical perspectives about greatness and to interpret these perspectives, as well as our own perceptions, of greatness. We will explore literary works, biographical texts, movies, and documentaries as starting points for discussions about the idea of greatness. Throughout the course, we will investigate the lives of both fictional characters and historical figures to consider traits and characteristics of greatness. We will consider multiple viewpoints, interpret these viewpoints, and consider how perspective influences our ideas and values. We will also evaluate how a liberal arts education might influence our interpretation of concepts, such as “greatness.” 

To further explore the idea of greatness, we will take a trip to Washington, DC, during the first few days of Spring Break (March 3-6, 2018), to visit the Smithsonian Museums.  The goal of the trip will be to find our ideas of greatness represented within the walls of the museums – a piece of art, the space shuttle, the Hall of Presidents, etc. – or beyond, as we may find our inspiration of greatness in some of the historical sights.  Upon return from the trip, you will persuade others of your idea of greatness, as represented by your inspiration from the trip.