HON 1200 Honors First Year Seminar – Performing All Our Lives: Gender, Culture, and the Construction of Identity
Dr. Elizabeth Homan, TR 12:00-1:15pm (FYS)
"You're born naked, and the rest is drag," suggests comedian/actor RuPaul. The ability to successfully construct and act out various roles, from "conscientious student" to "devoted son or daughter" to "class president," or "class clown" is part of what shapes how others see us, and ultimately how we see ourselves. Subconsciously we dress, behave, and adapt our standards to suit the various "identities" that we assume throughout our lives.
Perhaps the most prominent and culturally important of these "identity performances" is the performance of gender. From our clothing, to our pastimes, to the types of movies we are supposed to like, contemporary culture bombards us with gendered choices designed to help us to establish who we are. Whether you consider aspects of gender essential or constructed, the negotiation of this territory in the arts and media is constantly setting models for, as well as challenges to, normative gender behavior in both the individual and society.
Through an analysis of examples from various performance media including theatre, film, television, and performance art, this course will consider how we, as a culture, both represent and help to invent gender through performance. Through weekly readings and classroom viewings, participants will examine both the essential and the constructed elements of gender and how the selected media reinforce, reinvent, or refute these elements. As a result of this critical examination, participants should not only gain a basic insight into the scholarship of gender, but also an expanded sensitivity toward gender issues and how they affect the world we live in.
HON 1200 Honors First Year Seminar – Hare of Hyperbole, Tortoise of Truth
Dr. Erin Wood, TR 12:00-1:15pm (FYS)
An astute observer of the human condition, Mark Twain once wrote, "A lie can travel halfwayaround the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." What's up with that? Why do we lie, and what makes us do it? Am I a bad person if I lie, or are there situations in which such behavior is justified? What if I don't even know I'm lying? How is it that everyone seems to be doing it, but no one wants to admit it? How did we get to this point, and what is the truth about lying as a verb? These are a few of the questions we'll be investigating in this course that focuses on lying as a common interpersonal mechanism in humans, and even between non-human species!
Someone somewhere decided it was right to tell the truth, and wrong to lie; yet bluffing, cheating, hoodwinking, and swindling are as alive today as they ever were. A lie may be a "good" thing: an essential component of natural, political, or personal evolution. Lying may also be a terrible, awful thing; immoral at its genesis regardless of intention or application. What if a lie is a completely amoral act, i.e. an event that exists merely as a process used as a means to an end? Do we define the noun "lie" as a function of its intention or its outcome? In this course, we will evaluate a variety of media to supply ourselves the information necessary to determine how lying truly works, even if we don't recognize its central presence and role just yet. It is time to get real about the role of deception in our everyday lives, particularly in the most mysterious interplay, the conversations we hold with ourselves.
HON 2501 The Power of Music to "Soothe a Savage Breast"
Dr. Renee McCachren, TR 8:00-9:15am (Music elective/Fine Arts/Creative)
"Music has charms to soothe a savage breast," from the opening lines of William Congreve's drama The Mourning Bride, captures the notion that music has power to move the emotions or inspire people to action, an idea reflected throughout the ages and in a variety of cultures. The course will explore this concept in a variety of writings from the Greek philosophers Aristotle and Plato, the religious leaders St. Augustine, Martin Luther, and Jean Calvin, mythology, the Bible, and commentators on Islam and the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Finally, the course will relate these topics to music literature, with some exploration of other art forms.
HON 2501 Science Fiction and Math
Dr. David Schroeder and Dr. Jason Hunt, TR 1:30-2:45pm (English elective/Humanities or Math/Interpretive or Quantitative Literacy)
Science Fiction and Math will explore the compelling universe of science fiction from the perspectives of both mathematics and the humanities. Through novels, short stories, and film, we will dissect a number of vital themes that sprout around the intersection of math and narrative fiction: (1) Geometry, Beauty and Gender; (2) Scale, Multi-dimensionality and Cultural Relativism; (3) Mathematical Law and Free Will; (4) Mathematics, Language and Ideology; and (5) Chaos Theory and History. As a further running theme, we will consider the extent to which mathematics can itself be understood as a particularly human and historically-bound system – or "narrative" – that may not always translate across cultures, whether terrestrial or alien. (A final note: this course will not presuppose any particular level of mathematical knowledge [so it has no prerequisites] and is open to all interested students, tentacled or not.)
HON 2901 (Re)Inventing Appalachia
Dr. Maria Vandergriff-Avery, MW 2:00-3:15pm (Sociology elective/Humanities/ Historical and Social)
Although rich with diverse perspective and experience, Southern Appalachia continues to be characterized as a monolithic, backward, hopeless, and often times violent, region of the United States. Using a multidisciplinary perspective, this course will examine these stereotypes and how they have been used to exploit both the people and natural resources of the region. In particular, we will address the tension between "outsiders" who define Appalachia and the region's inhabitants who identify themselves very differently; and we will challenge the prevailing stereotypes by exploring Southern Appalachian history, literature, art, music, and culture. Over fall break we will travel to southwest Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky where we will tour an exhibition coal mine, visit several coal mining towns, hear live performances of and dance to Bluegrass music, and take in the views and hike trails at the "Grand Canyon of the South."
HON 2501 Cash, Money, Billionaires
Dr. Buster Smith, MWF 1:00-1:50pm (Sociology elective/Social and Behavioral Science/Historical and Social)
Money is a very powerful force in modern society. It drives how we perceive others, what we can and cannot do, and the way we see the world. In this class we will examine money from a variety of different perspectives. We will look at money from a cultural sociological perspective while reading Georg Simmel's Philosophy of Money. We will explore the choices we make when faced with financial decisions by studying an economic approach to game theory. We will learn about the ultra-wealthy in modern society, including who they are, what they do, and how they got that way. We will examine the interaction of money and religion through research on the Prosperity Gospel.
HON 2501 Math, Art, and Culture
Dr. Charles McAllister and Dr. Sharon Sullivan, TR 12:00-1:15pm (History elective/Humanities or Math/ Interpretive or Quantitative Literacy)
This course will study art in cultural context from a variety of perspectives, especially mathematical, in three stages. First, Paul Calter's Squaring the Circle: Geometry in Art and Architecture begins our grounding in learning to "read" art with mathematical terms, concepts, and tools. Second, much of the rest of the semester will involve applying Calter's lessons to art in historical context using online art resources. Finally, the students will prepare and present independent projects.
HON 2901 Dylan Thomas's Wales
Dr. Janice Fuller, TR 1:30-2:45pm (English elective/Humanities/Interpretive)
Wales is the British Isles' best-kept secret, tucked as it is on the edge of the island occupied and long-controlled by England. Unlike the other better-known Celtic countries — Scotland and Ireland — Wales has maintained a Brythonic Celtic language spoken as the first language by about one-third of its people, a language of post-colonial resistance that has allowed it to maintain one of Europe's oldest literary traditions. The year 2014 marks the 100th birthday of Wales's most famous son — poet Dylan Thomas, the visionary who cries out to us, "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night." To honor this occasion, this course will examine the history and culture of Wales as a context for reading the work of Dylan Thomas and other 20th- and 21st-century Welsh writers. We will study epic literature and Arthurian legend, Welsh-language poetry, a radio play, fiction, and films. During spring break, we will travel to Wales, where we will hear Welsh (but also English!) spoken in the streets; go high in the mountains of Snowdonia; walk along dramatic seascapes; ride a tram deep into an historic slate mine; sleep in Prime Minister David Lloyd George's last home; explore Thomas's boathouse; meet famous Welsh poets, novelists, and travel writers; and hear live performances of popular music in Welsh.