Liberal Studies Program > First-Year Program > Course Descriptions > Honors Explore Chicago
Open only to students in the University Honors Program
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Douglas Long, Communication
For more than a century, Chicago has had a close relationship with the movies. In this course we will visit sites where films were made and where others were set, and we’ll see some of Chicago’s unique movie theatres. We will screen and study several Chicago-connected films and meet some people who have been involved. The city’s film production history goes back to the silents, when Charlie Chaplin made a slapstick comedy here, and continues through the present with dramas such as Public Enemies. Chicago’s history has been reflected in many films including some that chronicle, and sometimes glorify, its gangster past (1932’s Scarface, The Untouchables). And during the 1980s, many classic film comedies came out of Chicago, including The Blues Brothers and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. (Note: This class has an additional Friday afternoon “lab” session for movie screenings.)
David Welch, English
Storytelling plays a vibrant role in Chicago’s cultural history. From 20th-century luminaries such as Gwendolyn Brooks and Nelson Algren to contemporary institutions including 826CHI, Louder Than a Bomb, and StoryCorps, how Chicagoans detail and share their experiences has been intricately tied to how they live. “Chicago Stories” allows students to embrace this rich tradition as they explore various forms of storytelling and its local venues in order to reveal how the art form enriches and reflects their experiences as students in and students of Chicago.
Meg Heffernan, English
In this course, we will use the considerable resources of Chicago—its museums, architecture, churches, and theaters—to deepen our understanding of the early modern period. The course will be divided into four units: Renaissance art, drama, spirituality, and architecture. In our unit on Renaissance painting, we will use the Art Institute’s considerable resources; when we study Renaissance theater, we will learn about the events at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. We will explore Renaissance spirituality by working at a Vincentian mission, and we will complement our study of Renaissance architecture by exploring the use of Roman Renaissance architecture by Chicago eastern European immigrants when building Chicago churches. Throughout, we will ask such questions as the following: How is the early modern period central to Chicago’s identity as a world-class city? Why did the “founders” of Chicago’s arts and cultural community actively seek out the resources and culture of the early modern period? What are the “uses” of the European Renaissance to Chicago?
Colleen Doody, History Chicago has a rich tradition of radicalism. In this class, we will explore a few of the city’s radical movements and people from the last one hundred and thirty years—German-American anarchists, African-American communists, Puerto Rican activists, and socialist feminists. As a system of belief, it is notoriously hard to pin down and assign a consistent meaning to the term radicalism. We will explore the varied ideas and actions of our chosen subjects so that we can ultimately explain what we mean when we label all of these groups as radical. This course will focus on four topics—the Haymarket riot, Richard Wright and African-American communism, the Young Lords in Lincoln Park, and the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union of the late 1960s and early 1970s. We will use a variety of different sources—web pages, primary source documents, novels, cemetery monuments, and videos—to explore these topics. In addition, students will do a variety of different types of writing exercises—informal individual journal writing, small group projects, and more formal individual papers.