Spring 2014 First-Year Writing Seminars


Language, Mind, and Culture: Representation in Popular Media and Technology

How does our language affect the way we view the world? How do we use language to categorize ourselves and other cultures and peoples? How are these different identities represented in the public discourse (film, music, literature, popular culture)? How do these representations change over time? We will address these issues using an interdisciplinary approach from anthropology, linguistics, sociology, and semiotics, and discussing historical and contemporary examples from literature, music, and film that deal directly with issues of identity. Writing assignments will include responses to readings, personal narratives, creative point-of-view narratives, and critical essays.

SEM 101 TR 01:25–02:40 p.m. Michael Carpentier 16892 Kurt Jordan



Of Spirit: Religion, Energy, and the Production of Knowledge

In this seminar, we will examine traditions as both embodied practices and systems of belief. Through the tension of the material and the immaterial we will closely consider the narrative and metaphoric grammar of belief systems and the transformative energy of embodied practices; using this method we will scrutinize the parameters of rational thought and the production of esoteric knowledge. We will read Western theorists like Bataille and de Certeau—texts from mystical traditions, from modern science, and from anthropology. Writing assignments will range from short think pieces to critiques and short research projects. The objective of the course is to hone critical thinking, reading, and writing skills and to introduce students to the application of theoretical (immaterial) models to material processes.

SEM 101 TR 08:40–09:55 a.m. Courtney Work 16894 Kurt Jordan



“Progress” and “Collapse” in the Past and the Future

This course uses the holistic and long-term perspectives of anthropology and archaeology to help understand the current human global system and its future prospects. We will critique the concepts of “progress,” “collapse,” and “civilization;” discuss the dynamics of energy systems (both industrial and non-industrial); and review archaeological case studies of alleged instances of societal collapse. Using insights we have gathered, we will conclude by reading and contrasting two major works on the prospects for humanity. One, James Howard Kunstler’s The Long Emergency, is pessimistic; the other, Lester Brown’s Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, advocates urgency but is more optimistic in tone. Writing assignments will build students’ capacity for expressing themselves with clarity and elegance, rigorously evaluating sources, and sorting out opposing viewpoints.

SEM 101 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Kurt Jordan 16896



Writing the Animal: Finding Your Voice in Nature

Animals are an integral part of our lives. Whether as companions or as natural resources, they take on a range of social, political, and philosophical roles. Animals also play a primary role in how we think about communication. Developing a deeper awareness of animal consciousness, language, and sociality enables us not only as eco-minded citizens, but also as better writers. Why writing? Because it, too, is integral. Using animal-themed literature and other writings as models, this course will seek to expand students’ moral compass and help them find their voice in Nature. Through formal essays and reflective exercises, students will learn not to fear writing but rather to embrace it as an extension of their innate desire to share, learn, and live.

SEM 101 MW 02:55–04:10 p.m. Tyran Grillo 16898 Brett de Bary



Pan-African Freedom Fighters in Their Own Words

This seminar will examine autobiographical writings and advocacy statements and speeches by selected freedom fighters from Black America, Africa, and the Caribbean. Through written and oral communication, students will explore the ideas, values, activities, and impact of individuals such as W. E. B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey, Amy Jacques Garvey, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, African American women in the Civil Rights Movement (including Ella Baker, Septima Clark, Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, Angela Davis), Nelson Mandela, African women in the South African Anti-Apartheid Struggle (including Winnie Mandela, Ruth Mompati, Mavivi Manzini, Albertina Sisulu), and Bob Marley. Video and film presentations will augment reading, discussion, and writing assignments.

SEM 101 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. Locksley Edmondson 16899



Are We Alone in the Universe? Planets, Exoplanets, and the Origin of Life

Is there alien life beyond our planet, or is the universe an unfathomably vast, yet sterile, expanse? By a stroke of cosmic coincidence, you happen to be alive as humanity poises itself to settle this question after centuries of (mostly) philosophical debate. In this course, we will explore and follow the fascinating and ever-evolving new field of astrobiology. Among other topics, our journey will lead us through the formation of planets out of swirling astrophysical disks, cataclysmic mass extinctions, exotic biochemistry on the ocean floor, our dramatic explorations of our solar system, and the ingenious detections of the first planets around other stars. We will focus on crafting and supporting sound arguments, as well as on conveying scientific ideas to lay audiences through writing.

SEM 101 MW 02:55–04:10 p.m. Daniel Tamayo 16900 Martha Haynes



Let's Bridge the Gap Between Bird Behavior and Conservation

Why does stream pollution affect sparrow mating behavior? How do chickadee dispersal decisions change in fragmented habitats? Will climate change lead to changes in Grey Jay foraging behavior? The answers to these questions will help us better understand how to manage ecosystems and help in the recovery of endangered species. We are currently facing worldwide biodiversity loss and widespread habitat destruction, and integrating avian behavioral ecology into mainstream conservation efforts will help in designing and understanding consequences of management actions. In this seminar, you will investigate exciting scientific research papers on avian behavior and conservation. Through in-class writing exercises, participating in peer review, and developing a research proposal, you will develop critical thinking skills, and will learn and practice clear and effective science writing.

SEM 101 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Taza Schaming 16889 Irby Lovette



Greek Myth

The course will focus on the stories about the gods and heroes of the Greeks as they appear in the works of ancient Greek literature. We will read a selection from Greek authors, inquiring into the relationship between myths and cultural, religious, and political realia of the society in which they were shaped and perpetuated. Alongside the primary texts, we will read a number of recent scholarly works on the subject. We will start by discussing myths in general terms (theories, basic concepts) and will proceed toward the analysis of individual stories and cycles. This fascinating material will serve as a vehicle for improving students’ written communication skills. Assignments will include preparatory writing and six essays focusing on our readings and discussions in class.

SEM 101 TR 08:40–09:55 a.m. Theodore Harwood 16768 Michael Fontaine SEM 102 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. David Mankin                                      16769



Writing Across Cultures: Captives—Slavery across Time, Space, and Social Contexts

Most people are aware of the Christian European slave trade across the Atlantic, but how many know that perhaps 1.5 million Europeans and Americans were enslaved in Islamic North Africa between 1530 and 1780, or that the people of an entire town in Ireland were carried off by “corsair” raiders in a single night? This course considers how human bondage has been institutionalized across chronological, geo-political, and even religious borders. From accounts of the labor-intensive horrors of the middle passage to the ransom farming and hostage trading activities of the Barbary pirates, students will examine slavery in a comparative context in order to better understand its role in shaping societies and cultural practices while refining their writing and critical thinking abilities. Students will be asked to interrogate and write about slavery using various models through contact with academic journalistic and other models of writing.

SEM 101 MW 07:30–08:45 p.m. Ryan Dreher 16770 Tom McEnaney


Writing Across Cultures: Looking at Language

In the late 1950s, the Noigandres group in São Paulo, Brazil, called for a new kind of poetry that would bring “language closer to things.” This so-called “concrete poetry,” favored the material, visual, and spatial, over the discursive aspects of words, and challenged its audience to find new ways of looking at language. Poets and visual artists from throughout the Americas would take up this challenge, creating works that blur the line between the poetic and the plastic arts. This seminar will explore the role of language in the visual arts and the role of the visual in the poetic arts, with a special focus on 20th-century North and South America. Works by artists and poets— including Haroldo de Campos, Ferreira Gullar, Lygia Pape, Luis Camnitzer, Juan Luis Martinez, Jackson Mac Low, Ronald Johnson, Cy Twombly, and Charles Olson—will be considered alongside broader, inquiries into the materiality of language. Writing assignments will ask students to consider the challenges of writing about visual material and encourage the building of clear, well-supported arguments.

SEM 105 MW 02:55–04:10 p.m. Rebecca Kosick 16771 Tom McEnaney


Studies in Literary Theory: Ghostly Manifestations

In Specters of Marx, Derrida says that the "scholar" should learn to live "by learning not how to make conversations with ghosts but how to talk with him, with her, how to let them speak, how to give them back their speech." Following the injunction, we will attempt to trace the ghosts inhabiting a variety of film and literary texts. Some of the key themes in the class include the relation between ghosts, guilt, and secrets; the voices of ghosts; the visible/invisible; philosophy's relation to learning to live or die and technological hauntedness in photography and cinema. In writing about the texts, students will be encouraged not only to write coherent and cogent essays but also to develop a sense of personal style and tone that will add to the vibrancy and personality of their writing.

SEM 101 MWF 09:05–09:55 a.m. Elizabeth Wijaya 16904 Tom McEnaney


Studies in Literary Theories: The Concept of Love

Whereas talk of desire and sexual identity is ubiquitous in our culture, passionate love is often treated either as an ideologically suspect remnant of less enlightened times or as an anthropological constant, a neurological epiphenomenon, “chemistry.” Challenging the idea that love equals sex and sentimentality, we will conceive it as a language game, shaped by literature. French moralist La Rochefoucauld remarked that “there are people who would never have loved had they never heard about love.” To discern this mimetic aspect and to construe love as a rich concept, we will study texts by authors including Sappho, Plato, Augustine, Shakespeare, Goethe, Stendhal, Barthes, Girard, Nussbaum, and Cavell, as well as musical works by Mozart and Wagner. Students will focus on articulating arguments in their writing.

SEM 102 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. Klas Molde 16905 Tom McEnaney



Storytelling the City: Multidisciplinary Perspectives

This course examines the intersections between urban studies and storytelling, with a focus on sustainable urban planning and development for the 21st century. It is based on the premise that within complex, diverse urban environments, countless experiences of the city exist—and how we represent those experiences matters. Related are questions about power: whose stories are privileged? Whose are ignored? Understanding the politics of urban storytelling is a prerequisite for transforming it into a just and sustainable place for its inhabitants. Themes covered include housing, economic development, transportation, public space, arts, and culture; authors include James Baldwin, Piri Thomas, and Jane Jacobs. Students will critically and collaboratively relate their own urban experiences to others’ through discussion, writing, place-based storytelling exercises, and a final research/creative project.

SEM 101 MWF 10:10–11:00 a.m. Courtney Knapp 16846 John Forester



Exploring Ithaca’s Economy

What do you know about Ithaca? Do you know how to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of a local economy? This course offers students an opportunity to explore their community in uncommon ways. Ithaca is currently redeveloping its downtown area, “The Commons.” While the redevelopment of The Commons offers opportunities for creating a lively productive mixed-use downtown, many issues must be considered for the vision to be a success. For instance, despite having a stronger economy than many upstate neighbors, Ithaca struggles with a weak tax-base, given the non-profit status of its biggest employers. Insufficient affordable housing for families is also a pressing problem. Students will develop their problem solving skills on such issues through a sequence of essays that encourage critical and analytical thinking.

SEM 102 TR 01:25–02:40 p.m. Nancy Brooks 16847



I’m So Over High School—Why Would I Want to Look Back?

Musician Frank Zappa once advised, “Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mediocre educational system. Forget about the Senior Prom and go to the library and educate yourself ...” Would he repeat this advice today if he could visit most U.S. high schools? We will explore common features of high schools, such as the distinction between core and elective classes, and we will juxtapose these features with what is known about adolescence and the world outside school. Our tools for exploring will be reading, discussing, and interviewing; writing will help us get more from each tool. Why look back? Because then we can look forward more mindfully to our own education and to the school experiences of future generations.

SEM 101 MW 02:55–04:10 p.m. Bryan Duff 17669



Writing and Sexual Politics: Chick Lit

What are the implications of calling something “chick lit”? What does this label imply about the work’s authorship, readership, subject matter, even its quality? This course will explore the categories of “chick lit” and “women’s fiction” in texts from a variety of periods and genres, looking at how different writers have explained— and challenged—the notion that gender shapes our experiences and perspectives. We will also read critical work about the social conditions facing women writers and theories of writing and the body. Readings may include works by Margery Kempe, Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, Edwidge Danticat, Alice Munro, and Helen Fielding. Writing assignments will build on in-class discussion and analysis and will include informal responses and book reviews, as well as multi-draft argumentative essays.

SEM 101 MW 08:40–09:55 a.m. Emily Rials 16774 Jane Juffer



Writing and Sexual Politics: The Gay ’90s

“History is what hurts,” Fredric Jameson famously wrote. In the case of LGBT individuals facing pasts of homophobic oppression, this seems true enough. But what other, sometimes pleasurable feelings do histories of LGBT people evoke? In this class, we will examine how history shapes our understanding of sexuality, as well as the variety of ways that LGBT individuals have made sense of histories of class, race, and gender. Bringing together queer novels, poems, films, and music from disparate, but generative periods in LGBT history—primarily the 1890s and the 1990s—we will write about, discuss, and explore how queer individuals and social movements have looked both backwards and forwards in order to fashion surprising forms of identity, modes of creativity, and kinds of relationships.

SEM 102 MWF 12:20–01:10 p.m. Kaelin Alexander 16775 Jane Juffer



Writing and Sexual Politics: Female Monsters and Monstrous Females

Marilyn Monroe once suggested, “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” But how should we define “well-behaved”? And for those women who do misbehave, when does impropriety become obscene or unnatural? Grendel’s mother, Eve, Morgan le Fay—these are examples of misbehaving women who disrupt traditional gender divisions, and whose bodies are subsequently marked as grotesque or inhuman. This course will explore the intersection of misbehavior and female monstrosity by investigating the roles that women—bestial or supernatural, subhuman or all too human—play within literature. Our readings may include Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Beowulf, Paradise Lost, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Through blackboard responses, lively discussions, and multi-draft essays, we will develop and refine personal writing styles while simultaneously cultivating critical thinking and close reading skills.

SEM 103 TR 08:40–09:55 a.m. Kaylin Myers 16776 Jane Juffer



Writing and Sexual Politics: Gender and Native America

This course will explore the role that gender has played in the colonization of American Indians. We will compare the classifications of gender and sexual identity in the Western tradition—such as masculinity, femininity, hetero-, homo-, and bisexuality—with traditional and contemporary American Indian texts. Though we often think of those classifications as universal, we will find that they are relatively insignificant within indigenous systems of knowledge. How, then, did European ideas about gender and sexuality factor into the colonization and genocide of Native Americans? And what alternative ways of thinking can we find in indigenous knowledge? We will practice critical thinking skills by analyzing and writing about the portrayal of gender and sexual identities in the media and in Native American texts.

SEM 104 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Lena Krian 16777 Jane Juffer



Writing and Sexual Politics: The Figure of the Witch

Magic, pointy hats, broomsticks, and black cats: simply a few images people think of when they hear the word witch. Literature, film, and culture are all replete with these images. And even in our modern era, witchcraft continues to keep us spellbound. By closely examining the figure of the witch in various contexts, times, and cultures, we will ask what we can learn about our own cultural norms, politics, history, and identities by critically studying witches and witchcraft. We will pay special attention to what witchcraft reveals about the intersections of fiction, religion, politics, and gender. In our readings, class discussions, and your own research, you will work through a cumulative set of writing assignments over the semester, finishing with an extended research project.

SEM 105 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Brant Torres 16778 Jane Juffer



Writing and Sexual Politics: Madwomen

Why do we love the spectacles of profoundly talented and tragic women such as Amy Winehouse, Sylvia Plath, and Virginia Woolf? Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar wrote about the figure of the “madwoman in the attic” in nineteenth-century literature; in this course, we will look forward from there toward more contemporary figures. Course texts will include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, and poems from Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, and Anne Sexton. Students will also have an opportunity to write research papers on “madwomen” of other mediums, such as pop music and visual art. Students will be expected to invest in their growth as writers through intensive revision and thoughtfully participating in peer-review processes.

SEM 106 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. Stevie Edwards 16779 Jane Juffer



Writing and Sexual Politics: Young Female Heroes

This course is primarily interested in first-person narratives from the perspectives of young women. We will explore issues of feminism and the everyday heroism of challenging traditional family structures and daring to tell a story at all. We will ask questions like, what is the overall message of these texts to young women? What unique burdens are placed on female characters? What are our assumptions about what it means to be a girl? Texts may include selections from feminist theorist Judith Butler, Maxine Hong Kingston’s Woman Warrior, Disney’s Mulan, Toni Morrison’s A Mercy, and Kaye Gibbons’ Ellen Foster. Discussion will be based largely on close readings and supplemental articles. Most papers will be revised with the aid of the instructor and peers.

SEM 107 MWF 11:15–12:05 p.m. Shyla Foster 16780 Jane Juffer



Writing Across Cultures: Animated Fantasias

In this class, we will analyze animated films and read a variety of texts including poetry, fiction, and critical writings that focus on imagined worlds, or fantasias, so to speak. We will examine these texts and films in the context of gender, race, history, empire, and ecology. Films will include works by Hayao Miyazaki and Satoshi Kon, two masters of “animated fantasias,” and segments of series such as Samurai Champloo and Samurai X. Books will include Engine Empire by Cathy Park Hong, Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, Monstress by Lysley Tenorio, and works by other Asian authors. Students will draft and revise critical essays devoted to analyzing the films and literature.

SEM 101 MW 02:55–04:10 p.m. Sally Mao 16784 Margo Crawford



Writing Across Cultures: Tools for Time Travel

Time travel can make trouble: characters get caught in paradoxes, and story-lines get impossibly tangled. But time travel plots remain popular, and experiments with time turn up as often in realist stories as in science-fictional ones. In this course, we will investigate the tools that narrators use to move their readers through time. We will treat those tools and the time-scapes that they generate as analogues for the tools and argument structures in our own academic writing. By the end of the course, students will have the vocabulary and training to describe writing with precision and will have written both formal and experimental essays with the purpose of developing control over their prose.

SEM 102 MWF 09:05–09:55 a.m. Ezra Feldman 16785 Margo Crawford



Writing Across Cultures: Afro-Latina Writing and Identity

In this course, we will focus on three strategies of story telling—testimonio, magical realism, and the carnivalesque—central to African-American and Afro-Latina art and writing. What do these three modes tell us about the nature of experience and how have they been used to re-imagine both the female body and the work of art? As we consider this body of contemporary, interdisciplinary texts that exemplify African-American and Afro-Latina identity, we will also pay attention to how tropes such as the supernatural, the body, metaphor, and memory are expressed in each individual work. Students will have the opportunity to advance their own essay writing skills and to document their growth through an array of preparatory writing assignments.

SEM 103 MWF 10:10–11:00 a.m. Nancy Quintanilla 16786 Margo Crawford



Writing Across Cultures: Medieval Saints and Modern Vampires

The cult of saints needs fresh blood to survive, as do vampires from True Blood to Twilight. Beyond the centrality of blood, what other common elements of saints and vampires exist? In this course, we will examine medieval saints’ lives alongside very contemporary vampire fiction, viewing these texts together with respect to race, sexuality, and gender. Investigating the similarities and differences between such apparently different figures such as Saint Mary of Egypt and Sookie Stackhouse, we will read vampires in literature from Dracula to Edward and Bella, alongside saints from Jacobus de Voraigne’s Golden Legend. In writing exercises that range from short in-class responses to longer research papers, we will compare and contrast these legendary figures and improve our writing style, grammar, and mechanics.

SEM 104 MWF 12:20–01:10 p.m. William Youngman 16787 Margo Crawford




Writing Across Cultures: Chicano Literature

What is Chicano Literature and who writes it? In this course, we will explore the writers and activists who, in various ways, worked to transform an ethnic stereotype into a term of empowerment and who also, in turn, challenged assumptions about what is and is not "American." We will consider how Chicano literature might challenge us to redefine American literature, discussing such intellectual and social movements as as Latinidad, the Chicano Movement, Pochos, Aztlan and Civil Rights. Texts that will be read include Jimmy Santiago Baca’s Healing Earthquakes, Helena Maria Viramontes’ The Moths and Other Stories, Dagoberto Gilb’s Woodcuts of Women, and Luis Alberto Urrea’s The Hummingbird’s Daughter. Six essays will be assigned, one of which will be creative in nature.

SEM 106 TR 02:55–04:10 p.m. Daniel Pena 16789 Margo Crawford



Shakespeare from Stage to Screen

Shakespeare has been more popular than any other dramatist—or screenwriter—for more than four hundred years. He is the most quoted poet in the English language, and his dramatic works are the most frequently performed and filmed. What accounts for this enduring appeal? What about the plays has made them at once so permanent and so adaptable? This class will give students the opportunity to work closely with a few of Shakespeare's plays: a total of four or five over the course of the semester. We will look to the playtexts themselves as material and inspiration for the extensive writing we will do. But we will also consult films and performances, even trying out some performance in the classroom.

SEM 101   MW 07:30–08:45 p.m.     Kenneth Yuen                                                    16790 Barbara Correll SEM 102 MWF 01:25–02:15 p.m. Matthew Ritger 16791 Barbara Correll



True Stories

When students write personal essays for college applications, they not infrequently discover just how challenging writing about and presenting themselves to the public can be. In this course, we’ll examine how well-known authors such as Maxine Hong Kingston, Alison Bechdel, Tim O’Brien, and others construct their public, written selves. We’ll consider how an author’s self-presentation affects how readers interpret the experiences, insights, and knowledge presented in each text; we’ll also consider how the style of writing affects how readers understand an author’s personality and motives. Readings will include short essays, possibly some poems, and a few longer works. Together, and writing frequent essays, we’ll explore why and how people write about themselves—for self-exploration, political or social change, purely to practice a form of art, or for other reasons—and we’ll investigate how writing shapes lived experience.

SEM 101   MW 07:30–08:45 p.m.     Aricka Foreman                       16907 John Lennon SEM 102 MWF 09:05–09:55 a.m. Esmerelda Arrizon-Palomera 16908 John Lennon



True Stories: Youth—Autobiographies of Childhood

The German-born writer W. G. Sebald once remarked “no one can explain exactly what happens within us when the doors behind which our childhood terrors lurk are flung open.” In this course, the autobiographies of childhood we will read will bring us back into the other-worldliness and strange beauty of childhood memories of some of the world’s most gifted writers. Students will write critical responses to the books and frequent short creative pieces. Books include: Jose Saramago’sSmall Memories, Maxim Gorky’s My Childhood, Wole Soyinka’s Ake, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, Patrick Chamoiseau’s Childhood and J. M. Coetzee’s Boyhood.

SEM 103 MWF 10:10–11:00 a.m. Ishion Hutchinson 16909



True Stories

When students write personal essays for college applications, they not infrequently discover just how challenging writing about and presenting themselves to the public can be. In this course, we’ll examine how well-known authors such as Maxine Hong Kingston, Alison Bechdel, Tim O’Brien, and others construct their public, written selves. We’ll consider how an author’s self-presentation affects how readers interpret the experiences, insights, and knowledge presented in each text; we’ll also consider how the style of writing affects how readers understand an author’s personality and motives. Readings will include short essays, possibly some poems, and a few longer works. Together, and writing frequent essays, we’ll explore why and how people write about themselves—for self-exploration, political or social change, purely to practice a form of art, or for other reasons—and we’ll investigate how writing shapes lived experience.

SEM 104   TR 11:40–12:55 p.m.  Daniel Pena               16910 John Lennon



Mystery in the Story: The Detective Novel and Film

Beyond the smoking gun and the femme fatale, do detective novels have more to say? Can entertainment legitimately address social issues? And can popular fiction be as complex as “high brow” literature? In this class, we shall explore the ways in which detective novels and films are often a Trojan horse for intricate literary forms and contents. Specifically we shall look at the ways in which they make commentary on questions of gender, race, class, law and justice, the delicate balance between order and freedom, and age-old questions of familial versus civic duties.

SEM 101 MW 08:40–09:55 a.m. Mukoma Wa Ngugi 16848



The Mystery in the Story

What makes a story, and what makes it a mystery story? In this course, we'll study and write about the nature of narratives, taking the classic mystery tale written by such writers as Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, and Raymond Chandler as typical of intricately plotted stories of suspense and disclosure that have been written and filmed in many genres: Greek tragedy, horror tales by Poe and Shirley Jackson, psychological thrillers by Ruth Rendell and Patricia Highsmith, neo-noir films such as Memento and Fight Club, and postmodern mystery parodies such as those of Paul Auster and Jorge Luis Borges. We'll look at the way they hold together, the desire and fear that drive them, and the secrets they tell—or try to keep hidden.



American Voices: A Place Called Home

How does place shape our identity? What do our ideas of “homeland” tell us about our relationships with one another and with our environment? This course will consider the concept of home largely as it relates to the natural world. We will examine how home is portrayed in literature, particularly when our homelands have been lost or rediscovered, through essay, memoir, fiction, and perhaps poetry. Writers may include, but are not limited to, Willa Cather, Scott Russell Sanders, Janisse Ray, John Steinbeck, Wendell Berry, and Anne LaBastille. We will refine our writing skills through critical writing that analyzes the texts, and gain an understanding of our own connections to home through personal essays about our native places and our home at Cornell.

SEM 101 MWF 11:15–12:05 p.m. Caroline Zeilenga 16819 Shelley Wong



American Voices: Southern Literature

This course surveys Southern American literature from its popular roots in the nineteenth century to present- day examples of the genre. Determining just what constitutes southern literature as a genre—besides obvious geographic demarcations—will be a central topic of the class. Likewise, we will ask how southern literature differs from other regional genres, and to what extent the south’s unique, and uniquely troubled, history and culture has affected and shaped its literature. Writers to be studied will include Mark Twain, William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Barry Hannah, and Cormac McCarthy. Classroom analysis of these authors’ texts, and discussion of related topics and themes, will provide the basis for writing several academic essays of increasing complexity.

SEM 102 MWF 12:20–01:10 p.m. Adam Price 16820 Shelley Wong



American Voices: Culture and Survival in the American City

Plagued by poverty and social disruption, America’s great cities continue to be sources of cultural vitality.

This course focuses on the experiences of young people growing up in the inner city, drawing on a range of media, from graffiti art to early hip-hop to film, drama, and memoir. Students will engage closely with the texts through a variety of writing, including argument, analysis, and memoir. Specific topics will include the evolution of new cultural forms, gender and racial identity, imprisonment, and access to education. Texts may include Ernesto Quinonez’ novel Bodega Dreams, Anna Deavere Smith’s play Twilight: Los Angeles, Jonathan Kozol’s Amazing Grace, Keith Gilyard’s Voices of the Self, and Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing.

SEM 103 MWF 01:25–02:15 p.m. Paul Sawyer 16821



American Voices: Love and Crime

Love and death, sex and violence—these seemingly contradictory impulses have been the subject of artistic creation for hundreds of years. But contemporary writers have combined the two directly, and while the result is often entertaining, it may also be illuminating. In this class, we’ll ask what these texts say about the intersection of competing human desires, and learn to use literary analysis to craft persuasive written arguments. Texts range from classic noir (Cain’sThe Postman Always Rings Twice) to modern pulp (Denis Johnson’s Nobody Move). Films move from vintage thriller (Bonnie and Clyde) to contemporary caper (Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight). Writing assignments will include critical essays, reviews, and some creative work.

SEM 104 MWF 02:30–03:20 p.m. Christopher Drangle 16822 Shelley Wong



American Voices: Apocalypse since 1945

From Christian visions of the rapture to worries about climate change, from race riots to the AIDS epidemic to the bomb, Americans are compelled by fantasies of the end of the world. This course pauses to ask: why are Americans eager to project their anxieties into apocalyptic scenarios? How are national questions about race, class, gender, and sexuality (among others) addressed in apocalyptic fantasies? To explore these questions, we will read a broad spectrum of late-twentieth-century apocalyptic texts by such writers as James Baldwin, Malcolm X, Tony Kushner, Hal Lindsey, Cormac McCarthy, and watch the film Dr. Strangelove. Writing assignments will encourage intellectual engagement with the texts through close reading, essayistic analysis, and, perhaps, parody.

SEM 105 TR 08:40–09:55 a.m. Daniel Sinykin 16823 Shelley Wong



American Voices: Protest Literature

In this course, we will address the rich tradition of written protest in American history, beginning with the American Revolution and concluding with the dissent texts of the modern civil rights movements of the twenty-first century. We will examine each text in its particular historical context. But we will also be comparing the rhetorical, artistic, and social aspects of these works. Class discussions and writing assignments will be based on textual analysis, close reading, and supplemental scholarly articles. Authors may include Thomas Paine, Frederick Douglass, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Allen Ginsberg, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gloria Steinem, Harvey Milk, and Michael Moore.

SEM 106 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Danielle Morgan 16824 Shelley Wong



American Voices: Listening to Indigenous Voices/Solving Global Problems

Evidence tells us that the world today is threatened by massive social and environmental imbalances: poverty, climate change, and continuing population explosion. After considering the causes of these imbalances under a regime of global capitalism, this course will look at a range of alternative ideas, specifically from Indigenous thinkers, about how the world should work if we want to keep it socially and ecologically in balance. The alternatives we will query come from a range of Indigenous writers of fiction, poetry, and theory, who locate themselves in Native American (north and south), Aboriginal, and Maori communities. Writing assignments will be based on critical encounters with these texts.

SEM 107 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Eric Cheyfitz 16825



American Voices: Terror and Shadows in Black Memoir

In this class, we will identify and track the “hauntings” of race and slavery throughout Black American memoirs. First, we will begin reading literature from slavery such as Harriet Ann Jacobs’ autobiography. Thereafter, we will venture into the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Arts Movement, and the writings of James Baldwin in the 1970s. Finally, we will end in the twenty-first century, exploring other definitions of memoir through film, music, and even the animated series The Boondocks. We will study the roots and travels of colorism, micro-aggressions, and other racially-linked concepts. Through essays, journals, and presentations, we will examine how the seventeenth-century Black experience casts its shadows on the twenty-first-century Black American.

SEM 108 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. Kimberly Williams 16826 Shelley Wong



American Voices: Paranoid Fictions

This course will explore the psychology of paranoia, as well as its history in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, through novels, short stories, film, television, and other media. Potential works include Freud’s The Schreber Case, Roman Polanski’s The Tenant, selections from Kafka and Borges, Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, Paul Auster’s City of Glass, The Manchurian Candidate (1962), episodes of The Twilight Zone, and various pieces of wartime propaganda. Using these texts, we will investigate and write critically on patterns of suspicion, the problem of “knowing,” and anxieties about the disintegration of the self as they appear as phenomena in recent literary history.

SEM 109   TR 11:40–12:55 p.m.   Nicholas Friedman   16827    Wong



American Voices: Writing, Memory, and Survival—The Novels of Toni Morrison

How does literature help us retrieve the stories that are not fully remembered in our personal and collective pasts? In what ways does the novel bear witness to, and participate in, the stories of survival that mark our histories? In this course, we will examine and write about these questions in the context of American history and African-American experience as they are intertwined in the novels of Toni Morrison. We will consider individual and collective identity, friendship and love, war and community, and the haunting of intergenerational history. We will also examine the narrative forms Morrison created to tell these stories. Texts includeThe Bluest Eye, Sula, Beloved, A Mercy, and Home, and some of Morrison’s critical writing.

SEM 110 TR 01:25–02:40 p.m. Cathy Caruth 16828



American Voices: Tales from the Hood

We all think we know what the “hood” or the “ghetto” is. We even use these words in our daily vernacular: “That’s so ghetto,” or “She’s so hood.” But what is the contemporary American ghetto really? And how did it become what it is today? By examining a variety of political texts, we’ll compare theories on the origins of today’s American ghettos and the material conditions that created them. We’ll also analyze literature—novels, poems, memoirs, as well as film—that re-creates the “hood” through language. We’ll read the memoir of a former Los Angeles gangster and poems by a former rapper and corner boy. Students will develop their own analyses of the portrayal of the contemporary American ghetto through the writing of persuasive essays.

SEM 111 TR 01:25–02:40 p.m. Aisha Gawad 16829 Shelley Wong



American Voices: Tomboys

In almost all of the stories about tomboys in our culture, the tomboy gives over in the end to wearing makeup and finding a boyfriend. What makes boyish girls so threatening that their stories almost invariably end with their transformation? In this course, we will focus on what it means to be a tomboy in the first place. When is the refusal to be feminine considered a personal failing, as these stories often suggest, and when is it a political statement? Taking popular film ( Bad News Bears, Little Darlings, Juno) as evidence of cultural attitudes, students will compose formal and narrative film analyses, write essays engaging with critics, incorporate historical contexts, and participate in daily conversations about pertinent questions of gender, sexuality, race, and class.

SEM 112 TR 02:55–04:10 p.m. Lynne Stahl 16830 Shelley Wong



American Voices: Melting Pots

In 1792 Hector St John de Crevecoeur asked, “What then is the American, this new man?” And the question is still relevant today. Looking at texts from the eighteenth century to the present, we will focus on the idea of the American melting pot and examine how authors deal with the mixing of classes, races, sexual expressions, and languages. The first part of the course explores first-contact through the late nineteenth century, and the later part starts with the nineteenth century and moves through contemporary texts. We will use theNorton Anthology of American Literature along with a few other texts. The semester will culminate in an original research paper, with guidance from myself, as well as sessions in the library.

SEM 113 TR 02:55–04:10 p.m. Brant Torres 16831 Shelley Wong



American Voices: Beyond The Hunger Games

This seminar explores the trials of characters from the margins of society: orphans, unexpected heroes, and con artists. We will read selected works of fiction, from the notorious early nineteenth-century The Female Marine to the recent bestseller The Hunger Games, that have captivated the imaginations of readers from different generations in the US and abroad. Some of the key issues we will discuss in the seminar include wealth and poverty, race, gender, and sexuality. With the help of secondary literature and a selection of films that we'll study alongside the readings, we'll be learning how to become more attentive readers and better writers. Discussions and writing assignments will supplement each other, giving you the opportunity to learn about style, argumentation, and research.

SEM 114 MWF 11:15–12:05 p.m. Kamila Janiszewska 16832 Shelley Wong



American Voices: Crime Stories

This seminar will serve as a tour through the history of crime fiction, from Poe's archetypal Dupin stories, through Conan Doyle's Holmes tales, Chandler's LA noir, and Highsmith's subversive narratives, to the great Scandanavian novels of the late twentieth century and the present-day meta-mystery of China Mieville. Through reading, discussion, and a variety of writing assignments, we'll investigate the nature of the literary puzzle, the psychological model of the detective, and the uses of genre fiction in Western culture.

SEM 115 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. John Lennon 16833



Great New Books

Great literature in English goes back several centuries, but some of it is being written right now. What are the great new books, and how do we know? What issues arise, and why? What role do reviews, prizes, book clubs, and movie adaptations play in establishing the appeal and prestige of new literature? These are some of the questions we'll explore as we read, discuss, and write critical essays about several of the most acclaimed books published in the last twenty years. Our readings will include works in a range of genres, from novels and memoirs to poetry and graphic novels.



Cultural Studies: The Western

This course will explore the myth of the American west—in literature, public discourse, dime novels, art, film, TV, and even video games—in order to understand the pervasive influence of the Western as a genre in American popular and political culture. We will compare representations of the West with historical and other narratives of the settling of the west. And we will also consider contemporary examples of the Western genre. Students will be introduced to the techniques of close reading and analytical writing through the examination of formal, narrative, and thematic elements of the genre, including the cowboy/hero, representations of American Indians, landscape and the frontier, and the doctrine of manifest destiny.

SEM 101 MW 02:55–04:10 p.m. Lauren Harmon 16811 Cathy Caruth



Cultural Studies: Fanfiction

Warning: it may raise some eyebrows when you tell acquaintances what you are reading for this course. Our subject is fanfiction: notoriously difficult to define, frequently maligned for its lack of literary merit, and often overtly, shockingly sexual in its content. This course takes the following as its starting premise: despite being something of a conversational taboo, fanfiction is worth talking about. In particular, we will explore what fanfiction reveals about what we hope to achieve when we read and write, both creatively and critically. We will be reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Pride and Prejudice, and Hamlet, as well as published and unpublished works that borrow characters and plots from these texts.

SEM 102 MWF 10:10–11:00 a.m. Molly Katz 16812 Cathy Caruth



Cultural Studies: Writing about the Arts at Cornell

We will sample a variety of cultural events at Cornell—a play, an art exhibition, a classic film, a poetry reading, a fiction reading, an opera, a concert—after reading relevant materials. Students will write reviews or responses aimed at an audience of other Cornell students. No previous knowledge of particular artistic or cultural activities is required.

SEM 103 MWF 10:10–11:00 a.m. Jonathan Culler 16813



Cultural Studies: Imagining the Law

How does the citizen imagine the law, and how might fiction help us think about what the law is, what it could be, or what it should be? These questions will be in the foreground of our seminar, as we explore legal decisions, essays, and works of fiction that offer a deeper understanding of the complex, imaginative relationship between the law, the individual, and the state. Writing instruction will incorporate legal thinking and literary strategies for analyzing texts, creating interesting claims, constructing coherent arguments, and building a strong body of research. Authors and texts may include Thomas More, Michel de Montaigne, Franz Kafka, James Baldwin, Margaret Atwood, Kazuo Ishiguro, the U.S. Constitution, selected court cases, Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, Dexter, Newsroom, and Deadwood.

SEM 104 MWF 11:15–12:05 p.m. Michaela Brangan 16814 Cathy Caruth



Cultural Studies: The Not So Innocent Tale

Fairy tales began as a peasant oral tradition, which means that these stories, like gossip, transformed in the retelling. That tradition of metamorphosis is very much alive as fairy tales continue to inspire artists to create new adaptations. In this course, we will analyze and explore literary works that are in conversation with fairy tales, including poems and novels by Anne Sexton, Toni Morrison, and Jeanette Winterson. How can newer adaptations help us think about critical social issues such as questions of race, gender, and sexual orientation? To write critically is to think critically; this course will focus on precision of language and persuasive argument.

SEM 105 MWF 12:20–01:10 p.m. Mandy Gutmann 16815 Cathy Caruth



Cultural Studies: When Word Meets Image

Think that graphic novels are not serious literature? Think again. Some of the most compelling books being written today are graphic novels and memoirs. In this class, we’ll examine the interplay of text and image. We’ll observe how the visual arts—painting, photography, film—and the language arts—poetry, fiction, memoir—can inform and generate each other. The artistic fusion of image and word, in a society saturated with the inartistic use of them, enlarges our understanding of how thought and feeling can be expressed on the page. We’ll read, discuss, and write critical essays about some of the most acclaimed contemporary books. Our readings will feature graphic literature along with non-graphic novels and poetry collections.

SEM 106 MWF 12:20–01:10 p.m. Alexander Chertok 16816 Cathy Caruth



Cultural Studies: Genders of Sound

In her essay, “The Gender of Sound,” Anne Carson writes that patriarchy has historically silenced women by “[p]utting a door on the female mouth.” Through a broad range of literary texts from medieval mystical prose to contemporary poetry by Adrienne Rich, we will investigate the power dynamics behind cultural perceptions of vocalization, including pitch, tone, cadence, and language use. We will ask how the idea of “noise” as “sound out of place” contributes to the notion that women—and “feminine” men—are “noise-makers,” and how the boisterous characters and authors of these texts rehabilitate “feminine” noise at both thematic and stylistic levels. Writing assignments will stress composition as a process as we render rough “noisy” drafts into assertive and polished prose, grounded in textual evidence.

SEM 108 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. Adin Lears 16818 Cathy Caruth



Short Stories

What is the difference between an anecdote and a short story or a memoir and a short story? How does the short story separate itself from the prose poem, the myth, or the parable? What can a short story do that no other art form can do, including cinematic narrative? This course will focus on the reading and analysis of short stories derived from a range of cultures and time periods, with some emphasis on English-language stories, particularly those from the North American continent. Writers may include but not be limited to: Tobias Wolff, Alice Munroe, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Willa Cather, Edgar Alan Poe, Nikolai Gogol, Eudora Welty, Louise Erdrich, Haruki Murakami, Denis Johnson, Margaret Atwood, Donald Barthelme, Flannery O'Connor, Edith Wharton, Raymond Carver, Joyce Carol Oates, and Anton Chekhov. There will be a research component and some workshop discussion of student work.



British Literature: Oscar Wilde

“My existence is a scandal,” Oscar Wilde once wrote. With his legendary wit, his exuberant style of perversity and paradox, and his audacious sexual transgressions, his scandals continue to fascinate and delight. Through different approaches to interpretive writing, we will explore his work in a variety of genres, including his brilliant comedy The Importance of Being Earnest, his banned drama Salomé, and his Decadent novel The Picture of Dorian Gray.

SEM 101 TR 02:55–04:10 p.m. Ellis Hanson 16856



British Literature: Young Loves

Young love is a veritable set of contradictions; it is liberating yet suffocating, narcissistic yet self-denying, intensely personal yet unavoidably political. In this course, we will consider literary and cinematic representations of first loves, sexual awakening, and homoerotic friendships and ask what it is that makes them so fascinating. By looking at works by John Keats, Emily Bronte, and Vladimir Nabokov among others, we will examine the myths, conventions, and feelings that shape our obsession with young people falling in love. Formal assignments will include analytical essays, creative responses, and an in-class presentation.

SEM 102 MW 08:40–09:55 a.m. Ruoji Tang 16857 Ellis Hanson



British Literature: Literature and the Scientific Revolution

Before the seventeenth century, literature and science were not separated as strictly as they are today. In this course, we will explore the origins of this separation. We will investigate how a new science, with its own definitions of what counts as knowledge, distinguished itself not only from literature but also from science as it had been previously understood. The new science's emphasis on “experimentation,” “discovery,” and “demonstration” changed the way truth and fact were understood, and how writings about them claimed authority. We will consider how literary texts responded to these changes by reading figures such as Shakespeare, Donne, and Montaigne. Students will examine the formal features of these different modes of writing, and will develop strategies for persuasion through a variety of assignments.

SEM 103 MWF 09:05–09:55 a.m. Noor Desai 16858 Ellis Hanson



British Literature: Chaucer Tweets! #medieval

Would Chaucer use Facebook or tweet? Did medieval writers face comparable revolutions in textual production to those we face today with e-readers, Wikipedia, and the rise of social media? In this course, we will try to imagine modern textual production together with medieval authors (and vice versa) reading Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Shakespeare’s Sonnets together with a selection of blogs and Twitter accounts; constructing ongoing blogs in the personae of Canterbury pilgrims; and creating medieval Twitter exchanges. Through in-class discussions and writing, along with longer essays, we will imagine how late medieval and early modern writing technologies can illuminate various modern textual methods.

SEM 104 MWF 01:25–02:15 p.m. William Youngman 16859 Ellis Hanson



British Literature: Love and Lust in the Eighteenth Century

In this course, we’ll read a selection of eighteenth-century English novels about the desire women and men feel for each other and the plots they devise to get what they want. We’ll think about why these novels seem to reward some schemers while punishing others. How do the novels use the difference between love and lust to make sense of “happy endings”? Is there a clear difference between love and lust? Do the names “love” and “lust” refer to the way a person feels? Or do they refer to the way a person acts—perhaps in response to a feeling? Students will respond to the authors Aphra Behn, Eliza Haywood, and Delarivier Manley in formal writing assignments and lively class discussion.

SEM 105 TR 08:40–09:55 a.m. David Aichenbaum 16860 Ellis Hanson



British Literature: Fools, Fops, and Idiots

Is there wisdom in apparent folly? Can the fool be the truly wise man? While marginalized and scorned, “fools” sometimes deliberately play a part, enjoy the privilege of acting outside of social norms, and very often present an impossibly pure and candid perspective that can be startling, insightful, and misunderstood. In this course, we will consider the representations and functions of the figure of the fool in various texts. Through in-class discussions and multi-draft expository essays, we will develop skills in close reading and critical thinking. Texts may include William Shakespeare’s King Lear or Twelfth Night, Percy Shelley’s “Julian and Maddalo,” Baroness Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel, and Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Idiot.

SEM 107 TR 01:25–02:40 p.m. Jane Kim 16862 Ellis Hanson



From Gargantua to WALL-E: Excess and Limits of Waste

In this seminar, we will study waste as a paradoxical literary object (Why would literature be anything other than a thing of beauty?). We will think about waste and excess in our own writing (Is everything we write necessary or is it garbage?). Is there any way of thinking about waste that is not a source of anxiety? As our landfills become full, and people consume more, waste makes us anxious about the future of our environment, but in the French Renaissance, for example, Rabelais created a world of gluttonous and excreting giants partaking in joyful consumption. We will view several films about waste and read Rabelais and select French writers.

SEM 101 MWF 12:20–01:10 p.m. Pauline Goul 16903 Marilyn Migiel




Can you ever really know that the person who says “I love you” does? From Greek mythology to popular culture, anxieties concerning the impossibility of accessing others’ feelings surface again and again. In this course, we will interrogate these anxieties in light of the concept of seduction. Readings will focus on the thematic stakes of seduction in French literature, particularly in periods when seduction is at once eroticized and prohibited. In addition to investigating figures of seduction in narratives, we will confront the seduction of narrative, both in what we read and in how we write. Assignments will help students develop their skills as advanced writers, in particular by building their mastery over tone, insinuation, and reader engagement. No knowledge of French is necessary. Students should be prepared to work with literature, films, and music that deal explicitly with sex and sexual violence.

SEM 101 MWF 11:15–12:05 p.m. Megan Kruer 16890 Marilyn Migiel



Fables of Capitalism

Why is it easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism? What keeps us from imagining any viable alternative(s) to capitalism—especially in the wake of crises such as the most recent global financial crisis? How imaginative is capitalism? This course will address such questions by examining the sorts of stories that maintain and sustain capitalism as a political-economic system. By studying a variety of fictitious and theoretical works, articles, and films, including texts by Smith, Mandeville, Marx, Nietzsche, Kafka, and others, we will explore fictional, narrative, literary, and metaphorical ways of conceptualizing, naturalizing, critiquing, and representing capitalism. A critical focus on the stories used to conceive of capitalism will help us hone our analytical reading and writing skills.

SEM 101 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Nathan Taylor 16901 Douglas Brent McBride



Robots, Cyborgs, and Automata in Literature and Film

We know robots and androids from contemporary science fiction, but the idea of bringing artificial beings to life can be traced back to classical mythology. By confronting us with something fundamentally different and yet strikingly similar, the figure of the android forces us to ask what makes us human and what being human means. In this class, we will explore representations of artificial beings in literature, cinema, and television, from Ovid's Pygmalion to Blade Runner and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, with a particular focus on issues of technology, art, gender, race, and class. We will combine close textual analysis with critical reading of theoretical texts and practice writing in a variety of academic genres.

SEM 101 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Hannah Mueller 16863 Douglas Brent McBride



From Fairy Tales to the Uncanny: Exploring the Romantic Consciousness

How did bawdy tales of peasants using magic to climb the social ladder get transformed into moral lessons for children? The answer lies in Romanticism and its appropriation of the imagination as a force for social transformation. As Romantics edited older tales for juvenile consumption they wrote new ones for adults. This new fiction created the matrix for modern pop genres like fantasy, science-fiction, murder mysteries, and gothic horror. To understand this paradigm shift in modern culture, we will read, discuss, and write about a variety of texts the Romantics collected, composed, or inspired, including poetry and film, in addition to classic fairy tales and academic scholarship on the topic.

SEM 101 TR 08:40–09:55 a.m. Ekaterina Pirozhenko 16864

SEM 102   TR 11:40–12:55 p.m.  Carl Gelderloos            16865 Douglas Brent McBride



Marx, Nietzsche, Freud

A basic understanding of Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud is a prerequisite for participating in critical debates in the humanities and social sciences. Our seminar will explore key terms in the revolutionary models of critical analysis these thinkers pioneered: historical materialism, post-metaphysical philosophy, and psychoanalysis. This will mean articulating points of contrast as well as convergence. Discussions and writing exercises will focus on texts that created the discursive framework for critiquing society and culture today. Our method will proceed from the premise that critical reading, thinking, and writing are inseparable moments in the same operation of critique. The question that guides that method will be: Do alternative ways of thinking exist in opposition to the ones we view as natural, inevitable, or universal?

SEM 101   TR 10:10–11:25 a.m.        Johannes Wankhammer 16866 Douglas Brent McBride SEM 102 MWF 12:20–01:10 p.m. Douglas McBride                       16867



Seeing Texts/Reading Images

What about a picture tells us a thousand words? Why do we caption photographs and adorn comic figures with speech balloons? How does film narrate itself? This course examines the ways images and texts have interacted since the rise of visual culture in the early twentieth century. We will read theories of the text-image (Benjamin, Sontag, Warhol), illustrated novelistic prose, experimental poetry, and graphic novels (Batman). By investigating the inner mechanism of each medium, we will analyze how image and text mutually condition the interpretation of the other. We will employ our insights to sharpen the visual impact of our own writing.

SEM 101 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. Anna Horakova 17369 Douglas Brent McBride



The Politics of Poverty in the United States

Poverty is a phenomenon of enduring importance with significant implications for democratic governance.

This course explores contemporary poverty in America, with a particular emphasis on its political causes and consequences. What is the proper role of government in addressing poverty? Under what conditions are the poor able to gain power despite their relative lack of privilege? What is the relationship between race and poverty? How do notions of “culture” shape conceptualizations of the poor? We will tackle these questions by drawing on insights from seminal texts in political science and sociology, supplemented with popular journalistic and fictional accounts of poverty. Along the way, students will formulate and reformulate their perspectives on these very pressing matters by writing opinion pieces, policy briefs, and personal reflections.

SEM 101 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Jamila Michener 16868



Theory and Practice of Human Rights

This course focuses on the struggle for the protection of human rights. We begin the course with a theoretical and legal introduction to human rights, covering the major human rights treaties starting from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and working our way to the establishing of the International Criminal Court. In the second part of the course, we will look at specific human rights cases and abuses, and consider how effective international actors, states, communities, and individuals have been at punishing and preventing human rights abuses. The central questions guiding this course are: what are human rights? Who uses the language of human rights to further their goals, why do they use them, and how effective have they been? Class discussion will draw on students’ written analyses of the reading.

SEM 102 TR 01:25–02:40 p.m. Janice Gallagher 16869 Matthew Evangelista



Mathematical Models of Human Behavior

Mathematics has become central to how we theorize about human behavior. This seminar will examine some of the best and simplest applications of math to the social sciences, including Economics, Political Science, Sociology, and Psychology, by authors such as Paul Krugman, Mancur Olson, and Amartya Sen. The readings will address questions both large and small, such as why people vote, why wars occur, and why it is hard to purchase a used car. Writing assignments will ask students to critically examine whether the readings provide important insights into the social world and how they could be modified to better achieve that goal. A strong interest and background in math will be useful but far from necessary.

SEM 103 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. Andrew Little 16870



Identities in Contemporary India

This seminar proposes an overview of political identiy(ies) in contemporary India. The course will use various materials such as non-fiction, fiction, documentaries, and movies, to investigate the weight of colonial legacies and the impact of economic reforms since 1991 as well as cross-cutting issues such as gender and migrations. Are there different perceptions of India and Indian society depending on where people live (urban vs. rural areas)? Does a book like Adiga'sThe White Tiger provide a good summary of contemporary India and its challenges? Regular writing assignments on such questions will also include a movie and/or book review. The course is open to students from all majors and fields; no prior knowledge of Indian culture, history, and/or language is assumed.

SEM 104 MWF 10:10–11:00 a.m. Thibaud Marcesse 16871 Richard Bensel



The Politics of Political Participation in the United States

Millions of Americans participate in politics every day. Many Americans vote, but they also contact representatives, contribute funds to those elected or seeking office, sign petitions, and engage in a host of other activities scholars classify as political participation. Drawing on the political participation literature including Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam, Voice and Equality by Verba et al., and Mobilization, Participation, and Democracy in America by Rosenstone and Hansen, this course will clearly define political participation, reveal who votes in the United States, and assess the factors determining the likelihood of an individual casting a vote. Writing assignments will ask students to write short critical summaries of assigned material as well as to conduct original research on a topic related to political participation.

SEM 105 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Casey Radostitz 16872 Michael Jones-Correa



I’m (not) Just a Bill: Policymaking in the U.S.

What does it take to successfully create public policy in the U.S.? What role do citizens, lobbyists, legislators, bureaucrats, and media play in the policymaking game? This course will teach you the nuts and bolts of the policymaking process. You will learn how policies get on the agenda, who gets input into the content of policies, what hurdles must be overcome to pass a policy, and what happens once the policy becomes a law. Drawing on readings from political scientists, legislators, lobbyists, and journalists, you will discover the inside world of policymaking in Washington D.C., while improving your research and writing by producing real-world documents like op-eds, policy briefs, and strategy memos—all on an issue of your choice.

SEM 106 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. Mallory SoRelle 16873 Suzanne Mettler



[Failed] Revolutions

We know what becomes of successful revolutions: they become the foundational moments of states and governments. But what about failed revolutions—and what does it mean for them to fail? In this course, we will consider the category of “revolution” in European intellectual, cultural, and historical traditions. Of particular interest are questions of legitimacy, the use of media, the role of political violence, the rule of law, and terror. Case studies will include, among others, the French and English Revolutions, the German revolutions of 1848 and 1918, the Nazi/Fascist movements, 1968, and the Arab Spring. Students will hone their writing skills through engagement with primary and secondary historical sources, political theory and philosophy, literature, and film.

SEM 101 MWF 09:05–09:55 a.m. Mary Kathryn Horning 16902 Isabel Hull



A Short History of Religion and Politics in the USA

Ever wonder why the Founders separated Church and State? Curious about how divisive social issues have taken over so much of the political landscape? This course begins by asking what religion and politics are about, and then looks at sources ranging from the Founders’ letters to Obama’s speeches in order to map out a history of the tensions between secular politics and political religion in America today. While thinking about the political and philosophical issues behind the polarizing headlines, students will move between historical and analytical frames and write essays on the following: the Founders’ concerns, the rise of evangelical politics, three of today’s hot-button social issues, and how secular or religious freedoms can support and/or undermine each other.

SEM 101 MWF 12:20–01:10 p.m. Chris Kai-Jones 16895 Naoki Sakai



Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: The Museum in American History

From seventeenth-century curiosity cabinets to Night at the Museum, artifacts and specimens have offered their collectors, curators, and viewers access to multiple ways of understanding the past and the present. In this writing seminar, we’ll explore the practices of collection and display in a range of times and places, including our own. Through materials in history, anthropology, and museum studies, we’ll grapple with key questions about American culture: What do we collect and why? What are museums for? What do our displays reveal about who we are? We’ll consider dinosaur bones and taxidermy, stolen treasure and world’s fairs, even artifacts from Cornell’s myriad collections as we examine the ways exhibits tell stories and offer arguments—and craft our own in the essays we write.

SEM 101 MWF 10:10–11:00 a.m. Amy Kohout 16875 Aaron Sachs



Hiroshima and Nagasaki

The atomic bombings that devastated the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 marked the end of World War II in the Pacific and the beginning of the “nuclear age.” Why were the bombs dropped? Were they justified? How many did they kill and what were their physical, biological, and medical effects? How have victims and concerned others responded to these tragedies in literature, art, and politics? Why are the bombings still controversial, and what is at stake as we discuss and write about them in the twenty-first century? Readings will include a wide variety of very different kinds of books and articles, from diplomatic history to scientific prose and short stories, and writing assignments will focus on a diverse set of issues.

SEM 101 MW 02:55–04:10 p.m. Victor Koschmann 16877



Language, Thought, and Reality: Biological Foundations of Language

What is so special about the human brain that only it, and no other animal brain, can create language? To consider this question, we will examine the current state of knowledge about the biological substrate for all aspects of language, including the most up-to-date research on phonetics, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. We will look at the heated debates in the research on child language development, aphasia, and brain imaging technology. Students will learn how to read scientific texts about language critically, as they write about these in essays, including reviews, critiques, and research proposals.

SEM 101 MWF 11:15–12:05 p.m. Chelsea Sanker 16878 Michael Weiss



Language, Thought, and Reality: From Cuneiform to Cryptography

When ancient writings are discovered we are faced with a challenge: how can we decipher an unknown script or an unknown language? Such puzzles have bedeviled scholars for centuries, and are not unlike the challenges a cryptanalyst faces when trying to break a code. In exploring the techniques behind the decipherment of such scripts as Egyptian Hieroglyphics and Linear B, this class will also address the nature of writing systems from Cuneiform, Chinese, and Meso-American to the modern day. Writing assignments will vary from formal descriptions of writing systems to analyses of decipherment techniques. No previous exposure to other writing systems is necessary.

SEM 102 MWF 10:10–11:00 a.m. Emily Barth 16879 Michael Wiess



Language, Thought, and Reality: How to Build a Language

Hundreds of languages have been created for practical or artistic purposes, from existing material or from whole cloth. But to be legitimate they must be speakable, or at least believable. We will explore the linguistic tools necessary to compose a language, from sounds to words to sentences and full texts. We will also examine the history of constructed languages—which have succeeded, which have failed, and why? The ultimate goal will be for each student to begin constructing a new language of their own and to justify its linguistic validity and its practical or artistic merit.

SEM 103 MWF 12:20–01:10 p.m. Robin Karlin 16880 Michael Weiss



Language, Thought, and Reality: Myth and Reality

Language is all around us and plays a role in almost all of our activities. For this reason, we tend to form many opinions about language which are either false or inaccurate on closer inspection. For example, many people think that the English language is deteriorating. They point out that young people have trouble applying the most elementary grammar rules. Similarly, many people are under the impression that certain languages are more logical than others, or that certain languages are more primitive than others. In this course, we will examine some common language myths, and look for others that are portrayed in the popular media. In particular, we will discuss popular ideas about the dialects of American English, including African American Vernacular English (AAVE). Writing assignments will involve thinking about language in a critical and systematic way, as well as constructing arguments both for and against a range of language-related claims.

SEM 104 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Todd Snider 16881 Michael Weiss



Language, Thought, and Reality: Words and Pictures

This class explores the collaboration of language and image to create meanings at multiple levels. We will discuss and write about popular culture—caricatures, comics, advertising, and puzzles—along with high culture artifacts like paintings, illuminated manuscripts, and ideographic scripts, examining the interplay and analogies between understanding language and interpreting images. We will discuss phenomena that cut across words and pictures: both may represent reality. A sentence may be true or false—can the same be said of a picture? Both language and visual representation are governed by conventions, and would be impossible without them. Information may be foregrounded and backgrounded in both channels, and can be ambiguous, contradictory, nonsensical, or self-referential.

SEM 105 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. Dorit Abusch 16882



Language, Thought, and Reality: English Outside the Box

Do grammar books know all the answers about English? Some do acknowledge regional dialects and other identity-based varieties, but most ignore the many context-specific "grammars" we all recognize. What features mark sports announcer talk, flight attendant style, in-group talk, and news headlines? What happens when we choose words for their age, shape, or origin? Can and should a sentence have multiple meanings? Students will read extracts from famous figures in history and from linguists and others who think about language, and will make their own linguistic observations. Writing assignments will include language data you have collected, explanations of your findings about your own data, persuasive opinion pieces, and pieces using language under extra constraints.

SEM 106 MWF 01:25–02:15 p.m. E. Wayles Browne 16883



Aspects of Medieval Culture: The Real Old School Gamers—Medieval Gaming and Gambling

The German “Spiel des Jahres” prize for outstanding new board games has only existed since 1979, but it reflects a centuries-long European love of tabletop play. In medieval societies, many aspects of culture were limited to certain classes or professions, but nearly anyone could play games. In this course, students will write analytically about various popular medieval board and dice games, people who played them, and attitudes towards games and players, using texts ranging from courtly poetry to raunchy tavern songs. What themes are common to medieval games themselves and literature about games? Why were some games looked down upon, and others considered wholesome pastimes? Assignments will include short responses, close readings, and critical analyses which seek to expand upon these questions and others.

SEM 101 MWF 01:25–02:15 p.m. Amanda Lowell 16885 Cary Howie



Aspects of Medieval Culture: Literature of Empire—Medieval to Modern

What does imperial Rome have in common with modern America? The word “empire” has become contentious in contemporary speech as its meaning has stretched to include cultural hegemony often associated with the United States and other states. In this course, we will consider “empire” in ancient, medieval, and modern contexts, and we will question how the meaning of the word has developed over time. Readings will include texts traditionally associated with empire—Caesar’sGallic Wars and Rudyard Kipling’s short stories—as well as texts more recently associated with imperialism, such as medieval romances. The course will also focus on the mechanics of university-level writing, and students will be asked to write essays in analytical, creative, and personal styles.

SEM 102 MW 08:40–09:55 a.m. Zachary Yuzwa 16886 Andrew Hicks



Aspects of Medieval Culture: Rioters, Rebels, and Outlaws—Popular Politics in the Middle Ages

In 1320, Scotland’s Declaration of Arbroath let Europe know that “It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom—for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.” When can we hear the voices of rioters and rebels? What rhetorical strategies define the outlaw against the freedom fighter? In the Middle Ages, as today, rebels and outlaws both challenged and defined their times. We will see that some, like William Wallace, died for their cause; others, like Hrafnkell Freysgotha, rose to power. Still others, like Robin Hood, lived their lives on the fringes of society. Through the chronicles, sagas, and ballads which preserve their struggles, we will seek to understand their place in history and imagination down to the present day. Writing assignments, ranging from reading responses and critical analyses to news reports and creative projects, will focus on questions of audience, argument, and bias.

SEM 103 MWF 10:10–11:00 a.m. Marybeth Matlack 16887 Andrew Galloway



Literature of Chivalry: Cartoons and Culture in the Middle Ages

Bugs Bunny’s classic question, “What’s up, doc?” and Spongebob Squarepants’ piercing laughter are among the animated cartoons’ many contributions to pop culture. An often underestimated art form, cartoons are a shrewd form of subversive commentary designed for immediate and memorable impact. In this class, we will compare the animated cartoon—especially its use of satire, slapstick, and the grotesque—with medieval texts and iconography similarly created to shock, entertain, and instruct. From propaganda to protest, we will consider how image and text express and combat social beliefs and frustrations. Texts include the Robin Hood ballads, Marie de France’s lais, Chaucer’s Miller’s Tale, and lyrical showdowns between Vikings. Through class discussion, writing exercises, and formal papers, students will strengthen their writing and critical reasoning.

SEM 101 TR 08:40–09:55 a.m. Danielle Wu 16891 Samantha Zacher



Legends, Fantasy and Vision: Vikings and Dragons—Early Heroic Literature in the North

In the film The 13th Warrior, Ahmad ibn Fadlan, a traveler from Baghdad, expresses surprise at his companion's calmness on the eve of battle, but the Norseman responds: “The All-Father wove the skein of your life a long time ago. Go and hide in a hole if you wish, but you won't live one instant longer.” This course will examine medieval texts that inspire such modern representations of heroism. Readings will include Beowulf, The Battle of Maldon, The Saga of the Volsungs, and selections from the Elder Edda. We will strive to appreciate the complexity of the heroic ethos in various forms, in texts from related cultures. Class discussions and a series of papers will encourage clear writing, close reading, and analysis of the texts.

SEM 101 MWF 11:15–12:05 p.m. Edward Currie 16893 Thoma Hill


MUSIC 1701

Sound, Sense, and Ideas: “Highbrow Meets Lowbrow”—Musical Fusion in Twentieth-Century America

How can music serve to break down barriers between popular and elitist cultures? This course will examine the concepts of “high” and “low” culture in twentieth- and twenty-first-century America through the lens of “fusion,” or the blending of musical genres. Specifically, we will explore how concert venues, instruments, technology, and media help form and reform musical genres and communities. We will focus on Fusion Jazz (from which the term “fusion” emerged in the 1970s) in addition to a variety of musical hybrids created during the 1950s and onwards, covering musicians such as Elvis Presley, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, and Steve Reich. Students will learn to think and write critically about music by reading a variety of music reviews, in addition to writing reviews of their own.

SEM 101 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Erica Levenson 16931 Andrew Hicks


MUSIC 1701

Sound, Sense, and Ideas: Imagining Medieval Music

Fantastic visions of the medieval Gothic world have inspired generations of musicians and audiences alike, from the nineteenth-century “Gothic revival” to Cybergoth music of the twenty-first century. This course charts the modern fascination with an imagined ”medieval” aesthetic across a variety of media, including early and modern film, art music, and popular musics such as New Age, Ambient, and Gothic Rock. Through critical listening, watching, and reading, we will think and write about how “medieval” sounds can express modern anxieties and create modern communities of listeners. The films, composers, and artists we will explore include Nosferatu, The Seventh Seal, Lord of the Rings trilogy, Arvo Pärt, John Tavener, Enya, Mediaeval Baebes, Saltatio Mortis, and Corvus Corax, among others. Black lipstick not required.

SEM 102 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Andrew Hicks 16932



Pagans, Jews, Christians, and Muslims: Being Religious in Late Antiquity

This class will explore the ways that people in the late ancient world of the Near East were “religious,” focusing especially upon the ways in which monotheistic religious communities and identities were created and maintained through a variety of religious rhetorics and practices. We will explore the category of “religion,” what was involved in this category in the ancient world, and what it meant to be a pagan, Jew, Christian, and/or Muslim in the late ancient Near Eastern context(s). Our sources will include primary sources from the ancient world, including (amongst many others) the Hebrew Bible, the Greek New Testament, and the Arabic Qur’?n; modern academic research, and theory; as well as archaeological evidence. These tools will allow us to see that “religions” in the late ancient world were complicated, dynamic, interconnected systems: thus providing us a fascinating set of case studies for the exploration of the ever-changing nature of religious definitions and practices. Writing assignments will primarily be essays, and class time will include discussion of the standards for writing about religion in an academic context.

SEM 101 MW 08:40–09:55 a.m. Adam Bursi 16897 Ross Brann



Law, Society, and Culture in the Middle East

An exploration of the nature of the classical Islamic judicial system and notions of justice. Class discussions will be based upon the close reading of historical materials, including legal documents, judicial opinions, and court cases (all in English translation!), which will form the basis of writing assignments. Themes to be treated will include the marital regime, relations between parents and children, gender, slavery, the intergenerational transmission of property, the status of non-Muslims, crime and its punishment, law, and the public sphere.

SEM 101 TR 08:40–09:55 a.m. David Powers 16101



Philosophy in Practice: Stewards or Sovereigns? Issues in Environmental Ethics

When we think about morality, we usually think about obligations we have to other human beings. But we have relationships to all kinds of other things, including non-human animals and the planet we share with them. These relationships raise ethical questions of their own: Do non-human animals have rights? Is the environment valuable in itself or only in virtue of its benefits to humans? How should the burdens of dealing with climate change be distributed? How should we deal with conflicts between our duties to human beings and those we may have to the environment which sustains them? In this course, we will examine these issues with an eye to mastering the skill of critical, argumentative writing.

SEM 101 MW 07:30–08:45 p.m. Jordan Thomson 16933 Theodore Sider



Philosophy in Practice: Global Ethics

Is war ever justified? What is to be done about global poverty, the environment? This course will examine some pressing ethical questions we face today from a global perspective. Firstly, we will examine the ethics of international aid: To whom do we owe aid? And what is the basis for this duty? Secondly, we will examine the ethics of war: Is armed intervention ever justified? Is drone-warfare permissible? Finally, we will examine environmental ethics: What are our duties toward the environment? We will learn to critically examine the arguments made by a number of influential authors and we will examine the moral theories behind those arguments. Through writing a series of papers, you will learn to assess complex arguments and write clearly about difficult issues.

SEM 102 MWF 08:00–08:50 a.m. Nathan Birch 16934 Theodore Sider



Philosophy in Practice: Writing in the Republic

Plato’s "Republic" is a classic of Western thought, a founding document in the development of philosophy, and a really irritating rant from a creepy guy who won't shut up. It is all these things, and more. In particular, it is a storehouse of writing styles, and writing techniques: Plato deploys a startling array of methods of presentation to get his ideas across. He uses straight deductive arguments, question-and-answer exchanges, forensic speeches, numbered outlines, elaborate allegories, explicit instructions for decoding allegories, travelogues, bold metaphors, unreliable narrators, dreams, myths, and math. We will explore Plato’s use of rhetorical variety, and the underlying psychological theory that guides his approach to writing: if you want to change people’s minds, you have to know how minds work.

SEM 103 MWF 11:15–12:05 p.m. Tad Brennan 17347



Philosophical Problems: Ethics, Human Nature, and Biology

Do fetuses have rights? If so, are they more important than mothers’? Equally? Are fetuses and coma patients really human? Is it okay to test using placebos on people who need real help? Could we steal five organs from someone who might die to save five people who will? Should we pay a little more in taxes to make sure that everyone has health care? The ethics of medical practice, research, and policy is a tricky business. We’ll read arguments from philosophers and scientists discussing these and many other issues. Through writing and editing short papers you’ll learn to assess complex arguments, to produce clear arguments of your own, and to carefully edit your work—skills useful in every discipline.

SEM 101 TR 02:55–04:10 p.m. Ian McKay 16935 Theodore Sider



Philosophical Problems: Questions about Ethics

Some think that we are obligated to help the less fortunate; others claim that killing is (in all cases) impermissible; and still others believe that we all must observe the Sabbath. But what does it mean to say that an act is obligatory, impermissible, or mandatory? Are there objective facts about this, or is it just a matter of personal preference or convention? And why should we care what morality requires? In this course, we'll survey a number of different answers to these questions. The aim is to teach students to critically evaluate (often very complex and abstract) arguments, as well as how to write about those arguments in a clear, well-organized, and persuasive manner. Students will be required to write a number of short essays, as well as a longer final paper in several drafts.

SEM 102 MW 08:40–09:55 a.m. Eric Rowe 16936 Theodore Sider



Philosophical Problems: Of God, Humans, and Morality

This course deals with philosophical attempts at answering various questions about morality (and related issues) that are widely discussed by philosophers and non-philosophers alike. Examples include: Does morality depend on the existence of God? And do we have good reasons for believing that God exists in the first place? Or is morality a matter of varying social conventions? What is the relationship between morality and self-interest? Is the morally good life the best life for one to live? Writing assignments will ask students to explain and critically respond to the arguments presented in the readings, which will be drawn from both classic and contemporary texts. The assignments will help students improve their ability to write in a clear, organized, and persuasive way.

SEM 103 TR 08:40–09:55 a.m. Andrea Viggiano 16937 Theodore Sider



Philosophical Conversations: Minds and Ideas

Is human nature fixed and innate or is it learned and malleable? Why do we act in ways we know are wrong? Is free will compatible with a deterministic universe? How are our minds related to our bodies? Can we construct mechanical minds? This writing intensive course will approach some of the biggest questions about the nature of our minds through the writings of great philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, and Hume. We will use their writing as a springboard for developing our own critical thinking abilities and analytic writing skills. The writing assignments for the course include critical essays where students analyze famous works, argumentative essays where students present novel arguments for a position, and a final research paper.

SEM 101 MW 02:55–04:10 p.m. Zachary Abrahams 16941 Theodore Sider



Philosophical Conversations: The Paradoxes of Socrates

No one can harm a good person. No one does evil except out of ignorance. The unexamined life is not worth living. These are some of the famous “doctrines” of the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates. To ancient eyes these doctrines seemed strange, paradoxical, and even perverse; they seem to contemporary eyes no less so. How did Socrates interpret these doctrines? Are these interpretations plausible? How did he argue for them? Are these arguments persuasive? This course will develop and discuss answers to these and related questions. The focus will be on Socrates as he is portrayed in dialogues written by his greatest student, Plato. Writing assignments will develop the skills of precision and clarity of expression as well as those of analysis and argument.

SEM 102 MWF 09:05–09:55 a.m. Clifford Roberts 17346 Theodore Sider



Fans, Cult Audiences, and Camp

From over-excited Trekkies to reclusive stalkers, "fans" in our society have often been portrayed in a negative light. Recent scholarship, however, has looked deeper into the many ways one can be considered a "fan," and at the complicated relationships between artists and their audiences. This course will use a variety of case studies—from Eighteenth-Century theatre celebrities to cult films to Harry Potter-themed "Wizard Rock"—to generate a workable concept of modern fandom. With an emphasis on in-class discussion and peer editing, this course helps students develop the particular skills required to write about performance while fostering the ability to produce coherent, concise, persuasive prose in the form of critical arguments.

SEM 101 MWF 09:05–09:55 a.m. Seth Soulstein 16906 David Feldshuh



Theater in a War Zone

Does theater matter when war itself is the ultimate spectacle? What are the functions of theater in an environment plagued by war? How can we relate these two disruptive forces to each other—conceptually, aesthetically, and politically? This course is a basic introduction to the major periods and genres in the evolution of the Israeli and Palestinian theaters. We will consider contrasting theatrical representations of violence, bodies in pain, trauma, and memory, as well as pride, dreams, and poetic and political reflections on ethical justice. With an emphasis on in-class discussion and peer editing, this course will help develop students writing skills while fostering the ability to produce coherent, concise, and persuasive prose in the form of critical arguments.

SEM 101 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. Maayan Wayn 16942 David Feldshuh



Hitchcock 101: Obsessive Psychos and Guilt-Ridden Perverts

Alfred Hitchcock’s thrillers have long enthralled audiences while prompting them to consider questions of guilt and innocence, desire and memory, order and chaos, reason and madness, world and self. Through structured writing activities, we will analyze a number of Hitchcock’s films and explore intellectual conversation on his work, focusing on issues of desire, obsession, and guilt. We ask simple questions that do not have simple answers: In The Birds, why do the birds attack? In Vertigo, what drives Scottie’s obsessions with memory and the dead? What is the strange relation between Charlie and her Uncle Charlie in Shadow of a Doubt? Why are guilt and obsession so often transmitted to others in these films? What does their famously knowing irony help us to actually know?

SEM 101 TR 01:25–02:40 p.m. Brian Hanrahan 16943



Let Me Entertain You: Musicals and the People Who Love Them

“The hills are alive with”... Most of us can, whether we like it or not, sing the remainder of that lyric. From The Sound of Music to Chicago, the Musical has had an undeniable presence in pop culture. Yet only recently have scholars begun to consider that musicals can offer insight into contemporary culture precisely because of their mass appeal. This course examines the texts and recordings of Broadway shows such as Wicked and Gypsy, alongside recent scholarship such as A Place for Us and How to be Gay to consider: Why does the musical have such a strong appeal to particular communities? What formal qualities appeal to these communities? What does this strong attachment to musicals tell us about these communities? With an emphasis on in-class discussion and peer editing, this course helps students develop the particular skills required to write about performance while fostering the ability to produce coherent, concise, persuasive prose in the form of critical arguments.

SEM 101 TR 08:40–09:55 a.m. Stephen Low 16914 David Feldshuh



Performance and Science

What could be more “truthful” than science? This seminar questions common beliefs about scientific truth by viewing research as a kind of performance, the laboratory as a theatrical set (for example, the display of human bodies in the anatomical theaters in Europe in the early 17th century), and scientists as actors performing a predetermined script. Students will learn about contemporary issues in performance studies that question fundamental assumptions about how knowledge is constructed. The seminar is divided into three parts: performance and medicine, performance and ecology, and performance and mathematics. The goal of the course is to introduce the student to an understanding of knowledge seen through the lens of performance and to use this understanding to strengthen critical and creative writing and thinking skills.

SEM 101 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Ozum Hatipoglu 16684 David Feldshuh



Social and Personality: The Science of Well-Being—Can Psychology Make us Happier?

Does money make people happier? Are religious people happier than atheists? Why does happiness seem to come easy to some people but not to others? The self-help industry grosses over two billion dollars a year, yet surveys repeatedly show that Americans are not getting happier. One reason for this is that most self-help books are not based on research. This course will introduce students to the empirical study of well-being and its surprising findings. Reading research articles in psychology, sociology, and economics, as well as popular press articles, will provide students with tools to critically evaluate research related to happiness. Writing assignments will allow students to come up with their own theoretical ideas, hone their communication skills, and develop a unique narrative in academic writing.

SEM 101 TR 10:10–11:25 a.m. Shai Davidai 16915 Tom Gilovich



Perception, Cognition, and Development: How the Mind Works

We begin with the philosophical foundations of cognitive science regarding questions about the duality of mind and body, materialism, idealism, and the case of brain in a vat. We will then continue with a survey of computational frameworks (e.g., Turing machine and artificial neural networks) and discuss their place in our quest to find out how the mind works. Along the way we will draw examples from case studies such as split brain patients and hemineglect. Prior knowledge of cognitive science is not assumed. Students will be given writing assignments about the various topics of the course. These assignments will be assessed based on their clarity in writing and the development of the arguments. I will keep this process as interactive and in person as time permits. One set of assignments will aim to consolidate the material students have read into a coherent summary. Another set will focus on original writing and gives them a chance to practice putting their own arguments into words.

SEM 101 MWF 12:20–01:10 p.m. Reza Shahbazi 16944 Shimon Edelman



The Craft of Storytelling: Latin American Short Fiction

Short fiction from Latin America has been read in the last century as the craft of the marvelous. Even though this is an insightful reading at the plot level, it often overlooks the different literary tactics that are needed to produce these brief but dense texts. In this course, we will examine and discuss the significance of “fiction” in these works as well as how deceit, urgency, and other techniques are crucial for the writing-act. We will read, in English translation, works by authors such as Borges, Cortázar, and Quiroga, in conjunction with corresponding theoretical approaches. Students will write reading responses and peer-reviewed exercises which will prepare them for more complex analytic and creative essays.

SEM 101 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. Geraldine Monterroso 16916 Marilyn Migiel



Reporting from Hell

When you’re being bombed, hunted down, or otherwise persecuted, can you objectively report on what’s happening? Is your on-the-spot report on hell superior to testimony you give years later? Is an eyewitness report superior to that of an historian? Is a filmed report superior to a written one? We will address these and related questions through analytic discussion and writing about the legendary Edward R. Murrow's radio broadcasts during the Blitz of London in World War II, written accounts by Jewish children trapped in the Holocaust, and a report smuggled out of a Soviet labor camp for women political prisoners. We will also examine documentary films, oral testimony of Holocaust and Soviet camp survivors, and (if time permits) Internet reports on some recent hells.

SEM 101 TR 11:40–12:55 p.m. Sidney Orlov 16917



Technology and Society Topics: Nature, the Unknown, and Danger in Japan

Bullet trains, avatars, and nuclear disaster; unpainted wood, sacred trees, and Zen rock gardens. Images of Japan rest upon a tension between technology and nature, which both embraces technology and rejects it as a foreign invader bringing with it modernity and environmental disaster. In this course, we will problematize the dichotomy between nature and technology in relation to Japanese national identity, which insists upon a uniquely “Japanese” harmony with nature. We will ask how certain events are made to be “natural” and, conversely, examine what is made not natural. We will also consider the stakes behind this fetishization of nature, questioning the relationship between technology, waste, and pollution, and most troublingly, how this can institutionalize racism as a form of managing social pollution. In addition to writing formal analytical papers, students will develop close reading skills and explore the intricacies of language through writing exercises that draw attention to tone, diction, and audience.

SEM 101 MW 08:40–09:55 a.m. Shoan Yin Cheung 16945 Suman Seth



Technology and Society Topics: Introduction to Sound Studies

This course will introduce students to the field of sound studies, an interdisciplinary line of inquiry that focuses on sound as a means to better understand historical and cultural developments as well as to access particular aspects of human experience. How is sound understood, developed, and managed by different social groups? How is sound transmitted and stored? What type of vocabulary has been developed to describe sound? Drawing on literature from academic and popular backgrounds, we will explore and write about the following threads: the emergence of particular types of listening practices in everyday contexts; the historical, cultural, and political coproduction of sound innovations such as the phonograph and the radio; and finally the implications of sound usage as it emerges in medical practices, pedagogy, warfare, and entertainment.

SEM 102 TR 02:55–04:10 p.m. Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo 16946 Trevor Pinch


An Introduction to Writing in the University

This writing seminar is designed for students who need more focused attention in order to master the expectations of academic writing. The course emphasizes the analytic and argumentative writing and critical reading essential for university-level work. With small classes and with weekly student/teacher conferences, each section is shaped to respond to the needs of students in that particular class. By permission only. This course is appropriate for students who struggled in their fall FWS. If you think you will benefit from intensive work on academic writing, contact Joe Martin (joe.martin@cornell.edu) or come to 174 Rockefeller Hall to to discuss your writing.