Liberal Studies Program > First-Year Program > Course Descriptions > Focal Point Seminar

Focal Point Seminar

Winter 2020

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LSP 112

Mark Pohlad, History of Art & Architecture
LSP 112-201 Lincoln Park TTh 9:40-11:10

This course will examine the production and reception of Hollywood films about Abraham Lincoln including how the films reflect history, how they function as cultural artifacts, their place in the history of film, and their representation of women and African Americans. The class concentrates on four films—D. W. Griffith’s Lincoln (1930), John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), John Cromwell’s Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940), and Steven Spielberg’s recent Lincoln (2012). Films with Lincoln characters will also be considered but with less emphasis, e.g., the Shirley Temple film The Littlest Rebel (1935), and Tim Burton’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012). Through intensive reading, discussion, writing, and group work, students will engage the question: What do Hollywood films about Abraham Lincoln say about American culture—about us?

Kenneth Krimstein, College of Communication
LSP 112-501 LOOP TTh 3:10-4:40

In many ways the history of advertising, especially in America, is the history of the development of modern technological society in the 20th Century. The move, from the earliest forms of “patent medicine” advertising, seen in “Huck Finn,” or “The Wizard of Oz,” for example, through the Yellow Press ads of the Hearst era, to early radio and mass communication, through mass magazines, television, into the digital age, is a reflection of the people, the times, and the struggle to make sense of the modern world. What worked? What didn’t work, and why? These questions reflect on American history, design, governmental regulation, writing, and creativity. Making connections between historical needs and wants introduces psychology, ethics, politics, economics, and business theory and practice. Through primary and secondary research and sources, as well as group oriented design projects, with a strong emphasis on the development of critical writing that embodies a personal tone of voice, the course will forge critical thinking, case-making, and innovative skills that will form the foundation of being not only a strong student, but also a thoughtful member of an ethical society.

Michael Tafel, History
LSP 112-502 LOOP MW 10:10-11:40

The ancient Mediterranean World has had a profound impact on the culture of our modern world. With civilizations like Egypt, Greece and Rome along with the religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam that are so prevalent in today’s world, the ancient Mediterranean world has a lot to tell us. In classic history courses we would read an ancient history textbook but in this Focal Point Seminar we are also letting the ancient Mediterranean world speak for itself. Students will be challenged to understand and bring to life the ancient Mediterranean world by reading, interpreting and discussing a variety of primary and secondary sources relating to the era. This course will approach the ancient Mediterranean World through the disciplines of Art History, History and Philosophy.

Laura Durnell, Writing, Rhetoric & Discourse
LSP 112-202 Lincoln Park MW 1:00-2:30

Our life stories and confessions define who we are and spotlight our aspirations. But most importantly, they can also lead us to discover our real selves and our true vocations. Often when Anne Sexton is mentioned, an individual’s first response to define her is “poet”; however, the study of Sexton offers a deeper understanding into the many concentrations of Liberal Studies and life overall. This Focal Point Seminar does not solely rely on the lens of literature. Instead, it focuses on Sexton’s art and life and questions how one’s life affects vocation and how vocation affects a person’s life as well as the lives of others. Students will be led to contemplate how professions in the arts, business, academics, religions, sciences, and political arenas relate to Sexton’s poetry and life. In addition, students will reflect on and connect their own life experiences and academic studies toward their future vocations. Along with the requirements of the seminar setting, course notebook, and final course essay, students will also have opportunities to present their own stories and confessions through their choice of non-fiction, fiction, visual or performance art, poetry, or music.

Clement Adibe, Political Science
LSP 112-203 LPC TTh 11:20-12:50

As we reflect upon the last century from the vantage point of the 21st century, apartheid stands out as one of the most intriguing and oppressive political ideas and practices of the 20th century. Developed by the Afrikaners of South Africa, apartheid emphasized the “separateness” of races as the organizing principle of social, religious, economic and political life in a multinational state. For nearly half a century, apartheid was enforced through a combination of laws, religious indoctrination, socialization and, above all, the pervasive use of coercion. In 1994, following several decades of sustained domestic and international opposition, the policy and practice of apartheid officially ended in South Africa. This course will focus on two important areas of inquiry. The first is how to explain the emergence of apartheid as the predominant form of political organization in 20th-century South Africa. The second focus of the course will be on the lessons humanity can draw from the apartheid experiment as we continue our prolonged quest for meaningful and harmonious co-existence of peoples and cultures within the framework of one political entity.

Mary Jane Duffy, Art, Media & Design
LSP 112-204 Lincoln Park TTh 1:00-2:30

We have all heard the terms, “Go green!”, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” and probably even “Sustainable” but what do these catchy phrases really mean? Why are they important? Furthermore, what do these terms have to do with visual art? Our relationship with the environment is complex and becoming increasingly urgent. The field of sustainability is interdisciplinary, but this course will focus specifically on the fields of science, philosophy and contemporary art. We will examine what science tells us about the current and future state of the planet and how sustainability can help. We will consider how our philosophical ideas about nature affect what we do to the environment. We will also look at how contemporary visual art can question, explore and propose answers to problems of sustainability. Finally the class will reflect on an individual's role in the problems as well as possible solutions to sustainability.

Salli Berg Seeley, Writing, Rhetoric & Discourse
LSP 112-205 Lincoln Park MW 2:40-4:10

In Nelson Algren’s long, broken-hearted love poem to the city of Chicago he writes that “[i]t isn’t hard to love a town for its greater and its lesser towers, its pleasant parks… Or for its broad and bending boulevards… But you can never truly love it till you can love its alleys too.” Chicago: City on the Make was published as a slim volume in 1951, in the midst of the Post WWII McCarthy era. The country was rife with paranoia, convinced that Communist spies were lurking around every corner, and Soviet bombs were poised to drop on our soil at any moment. Any individual who varied from the prototype of a patriotic, mainstream American was viewed as suspect. In lyrical slang, Algren wrote his take on the history of Chicago, unearthing the city’s more unsavory past and declaring its present state desolate. He was an unabashed lefty nonconformist during a time in which conformity was not just highly valued, but seen as a means to maintain national security. We will be studying Chicago: City on the Make as a work of prose poetry, subjective history, and a political treatise celebrating nonconformity in a period in American history when submission to social and political conventions was the status quo.

Jessica Pamment, Biological Sciences
LSP 112-206 Lincoln Park MW 11:20-12:50

Cloning, Gene Therapy, and DNA Evidence are topics frequently in the news today. The goal of this course is to teach the biological underpinning of this field and how this basic biological knowledge has led to the seemingly magical ramifications we hear about in the headlines. Topics to be covered will include: how cells code, decode, and transmit information through DNA; basic methods of studying and manipulating DNA; methods of modifying the DNA of organisms; and biotechnological applications of these principles and their impact and regulation. Source materials will include first person accounts by principal investigators in the field, as well as critical assessments of the risks associated with this new technology.

Aaron Lefkovitz, History
LSP 112-207 Lincoln Park MW 9:40-11:10

As an industry, Disney has been well placed to meet the needs of contemporary culture as it commands a respectable place in the leisure industry, fulfills consumer demands, provides services people desire, and employs legions of workers. In this course, we will explore Disney as an enterprise, employer, tourist location, progenitor of cultural myths and symbols, and centrality to the transnational cultural politics of race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, class, nation, popular music, and visual culture. A series of key questions will unify our discussion of Disney, including: what does Disney produce, how it can be defined, whether it is fun, and if so, what is the nature of pleasure in contemporary culture, is it good business, and if so, what type of business is it and what makes it good, if Disney is just fantasy, and if so, how does it pertain to the manufacture of reality and fantasy in contemporary culture, if Disney is just for kids, and if so, what is the nature of childhood, what does watching Disney’s visual texts teach us, is watching a form of consumerism, if so, what are we consuming, is consuming a passive act, and if so, why do we spend money on a passive act, and what do we get in return, what kinds of myths Disney sells, do these myths need to be accountable to the broader culture and its histories, and what do these myths say about US and transnational cultures and histories?

Robert Meyer, English
LSP 112-208 Lincoln Park TTh 1:00-2:30

On June 25, 1876, a pivotal event in American history, and specifically in the history of interactions between Native Americans and Americans of European heritage, took place. On this occasion, the U.S. Seventh Cavalry, commanded by Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer, was defeated by Sioux and Cheyenne warriors—led by Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, among others—in what is now southern Montana. Sometimes referred to as the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Custer’s Last Stand, or The Battle of the Greasy Grass (a translation of the Sioux name for the location), this incident has been the subject of numerous debates, several films and countless books and articles. In this course, we will examine what is known about the major players, the cultural context and the historical ramifications of this remarkable confrontation. In so doing, we will strive to increase our understanding of 19th century America, and to develop insight about the cultural, political and other forces that shape our views of the past and the present.

Justin Maresh, Chemistry
LSP 112-210 LPC MW 11:20-12:50

Drug use, either directly or indirectly, affects everyone. Very few topics generate as much debate as the role of drugs in our society. For example, should drug abuse be prevented by increasing enforcement of drug laws or by making young people more aware of the potential dangers of drugs? Is drug abuse caused by heredity, personality, or the environment? Is drug abuse a medical, legal, or social problem? Are the dangers of some drugs over-exaggerated? Are drugs that treat disease over-prescribed and over-marketed? Three million children in the US take stimulant drugs to help them focus; do these drugs actually help? There are no clear answers to any of these questions, yet the positions we take as a society have profound effects on our safety, health, and economy. This course will guide students in deciphering controversies surrounding drugs and society; locate and evaluate sources of information; and formulate written and verbal arguments to support various positions.

Steve Harp, Art, Media & Design
LSP 112-211 Lincoln Park MW 11:20-12:50

W.G. Sebald’s novel The Emigrants, investigates the lives of a painter, a doctor, a teacher and his own uncle, each exiled because of catastrophic events in their homelands. In four extended, seemingly separate biographical narratives, Sebald follows his protagonists’ wanderings across the globe as they futilely try to escape the trauma of the 20th century. This class will focus on Sebald’s methods of storytelling — incorporating memories, documents, diaries and his idiosyncratic use of photographs as the intertwined but ultimately single narrative seeks to explore the effects of displacement, trauma and loss inflicted on populaces in the 20th century.

Sara Pevar, Writing, Rhetoric & Discourse
LSP 112-212 Lincoln Park MW 4:20-5:50

It feels like we are living in Apocalyptic times—but really, doesn’t it always? In this course, students will explore the ways that human beings have considered, understood, and, especially, written about the end of the world from early recorded history all the way until the present day. This exploration will be organized around a series of texts: books, poems, films, religious documents, and works of art that people throughout history have created to grapple with the means and meaning of our ultimate end. As we discuss each text, we will also draw from the disciplines of history and philosophy to place each one in its proper context—to understand it not only as a work, but as both an artifact of its time and a vehicle for philosophical exploration of broader questions.

Philip Meyers, Political Science
LSP 112-213 Lincoln Park TTh 2:40-4:10

When it comes to quadrennial sports celebrations, the modern Summer Olympics paved the way, with nations and competitors uniting to demonstrate great athletic ability for the world to see—and with medals awarded to the best. That wildly innovative idea was quickly and globally embraced, soon thereafter triggering a new “team-sport” entity known as the World Cup. Hosted initially by Uruguay in 1930, soccer’s World Cup was spawned. Its concept followed the Olympics, contested once every four years, and evolved into the planet’s most glorious event. The World Cup is about countries who battle, over one month’s time, to achieve immortal greatness, with an entire nation welcoming 32 qualifying teams within its borders and allowing millions to savor soccer’s different cultures. Students will study the World Cup’s origin, history and future—from a sole soccer festival to a showcase that facilitates players’ careers, endorsements and branding as well. After grasping the tournament’s history, students will delve into both the economics and politics of the World Cup—why host nations are selected, and what are the defining reasons of those decisions. Is it to “expand” the game, or might there be deeper factors? Politics, corruption, racism, sexuality, anti-Semitism and economics are only several factors why a country is granted custodianship of sports’ crown jewel competition. Concluding our study, the class will effectuate a simulated bidding to become a future tournament host, absorbing all the factors learned over the quarter. That exercise will culminate with student submitting a writing that focuses on the effects in that country’s perspective, and soccer as a whole.

Paul Booth, Communication
LSP 112-503 LOOP TTh 3:10-5:00

The British television program Doctor Who is more than just a TV show—it is a fifty-year snapshot of changing cultures, new technologies, different audiences, and multiple media. Telling the story of an ancient alien time traveler, Doctor Who has been able to reinvent itself over and over again. This course will introduce students to the immense history of the classic and popular series of Doctor Who with an eye towards understanding the relevant historical, cultural, aesthetic, and critical lenses by which we can analyze the show. Students will investigate new ways to criticize television as well as garner an appreciation for multiple types of media in the course. Students will engage with their own writing through reviews of both specific shows as well as their own favorites. Students will come away with a better understanding of the role of Doctor Who in cultural history, become more thoughtful and engaged media critics, and view television with a more critical eye.

Sean Kirkland, Philosophy
LSP 112-250 Lincoln Park TTh 2:40-4:10

STUDY ABROAD: PERMISSION REQUIRED. This is an FY@broad section, taken with a required 2-credit Study Abroad component (ANT 397) during spring break. For full information, visit the Study Abroad website here. APPLICATION DEADLINE: November 1, 2019.

When some past event is no longer of any concern to us and can be in good conscience forgotten, dismissed, we often say, “That’s ancient history.” By contrast, the participants in this program will come to see “ancient history” as a still vital, determining, and perhaps even inspiring force in our historical present. Indeed, many of the most fundamental concepts we employ to understand our world and ourselves emerged among the ancient Greeks between the 7th and the 4th centuries B.C.E. And yet, it was not extreme cultural confidence or optimism that made them so influential and productive. Rather, the Greeks saw the human condition as one of profound and irremediable finitude; They believed in the crucial and always potentially disastrous limitation of human understanding and of the human being’s power to secure his or her own happiness. We will find this tragic worldview in the poetry of Homer, Hesiod, Aeschylus, and Sophocles, in the history of Herodotus and Thucydides, and in the philosophy of the Pre-Socratics and the early Socratic dialogues of Plato.

After studying these topics in Chicago, the class will then travel to Athens—one of the world’s most beautiful, vibrant, and historically rich cities. We will walk the route of the Panathenaic procession from the Kerameikos Cemetery all the way to the Acropolis and Parthenon, observing the art and architecture that typifies this ancient place. We will sit in the Theatre of Dionysus, where the world’s greatest tragedies were first performed, and visit the Pnyx, where one of the world’s first democratic assemblies met regularly. We’ll also take day trips to Mycenae and to the absolutely stunning site of the Oracle at Delphi, where the Greeks sought divine guidance in the form of mysterious oracular pronouncements. Again and again, we will be confronted by the material remains of this radically different worldview, even as we will come to see the abiding influence it has had on the development of our own culture.

  • Honors Program students will receive credit for HON 105: Philosophical Inquiry.

Lisa Mahoney, History of Art & Architecture
LSP 112-251 Lincoln Park MW 2:40-4:10

STUDY ABROAD: PERMISSION REQUIRED. This is an FY@broad section, taken with a required 2-credit Study Abroad component (ANT 397) during spring break. For full information, visit the Study Abroad website here. APPLICATION DEADLINE: November 1, 2019.

Jerusalem has always been one of the most coveted cities in the world, although it famously lies on no major road, contains few natural resources, and has but a single perennial spring. In this course we will come to appreciate why. Such an endeavor begins in the classroom, where we will dissect human creations—artifacts, art, architecture, histories, biographies, and graphic novels—and thereby discover a rich tapestry of cultures and the beliefs, rebellions, contributions, and innovations that belong to this place.

The reward of our studies stateside will be an unusually full picture of a city once ruled by the likes of Herod the Great, Abd al-Malik, and Godfrey of Bouillon, once conquered by the likes of Nebuchadnezzar, Titus, and Salah al-Din, and once beautified by the likes of Solomon, Constantine the Great, and Suleiman the Magnificent. But one cannot really know Jerusalem without traveling to it. Thus, our investigation ends in Jerusalem itself, where we will learn what it is to be on the Haram al-Sharif and under the glint of its Dome of the Rock, to stand before the Western Wall and mark its impossibly heavy stones, and to be in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and trace its 900 years of pilgrimage practices. Experiencing very material things such as these in their original albeit constantly-changing context brings to life the Bronze and Iron Ages and the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Fatimid, Crusader, Ayyubid, Mamluk, Ottoman, and Modern periods. The result of this particular course, then, will be a nuanced appreciation of a complicated city, one simultaneously exceptional in its situation, historical layers, and sanctity and paradigmatic in its multi-cultural and multi-faith collaborations and conflicts.

  • Honors Program students will receive credit for HON 102: History in Global Contexts.

Christie Klimas, Environmental Science & Studies
LSP 112-252 Lincoln Park TTh 9:40-11:10

STUDY ABROAD: PERMISSION REQUIRED. This is an FY@broad section, taken with a required 2-credit Study Abroad component (ANT 397) during spring break. For full information, visit the Study Abroad website here. APPLICATION DEADLINE: November 1, 2019.

Fair trade and ethical trade are both responses to a desire for more ethical principles in commodity sourcing as well as a growing concern about the social conditions under which commodities are produced and distributed. While fair trade and ethical trade share a common commitment to social development, their methods and goals differ, though both can be included under the umbrella term of ethical sourcing. The recent growth in ethical sourcing has captured the attention of both public and businesses: the fair trade market accounts for $400 million in retail sales each year in Europe and the U.S. (US Fair Trade Federation). Can consumers be confident that this increase in ethically sourced commodities is leading to core labor rights and human rights standards to those who produce food bearing some type of ethically sourced label? What do the different labels mean? How are guidelines different for ethical trade and fair trade? How does ethical sourcing use my money to improve the lives of those who produce what we purchase?

There are also efforts like the Workers Rights Consortium, Corporate Social Responsibility, supplier codes of conduct, sustainability coordinators, and many more. As part of this course, students will compare and contrast the sourcing of common items and identify alternatives to the current system of production that improve upon the current social and environmental externalities. They will look at what economic, social, and political systems facilitate improvement upon the current system as well as the trade-offs. For example, how do free market forces compare with protectionist regulations? Who wins and loses in each of these systems?

As a FY@broad course, we will have the opportunity to go to the source of our commodities to talk with individuals on the ground who are affected by these activities, as well as those who are the part of alternative systems of trade (ex: Manos Amigos—fair trade cooperative of artisan groups in and around Lima, coffee co-operatives). We will hear the stories and see the work of those who work in agriculture and create handicrafts for the global market.

During the time in Peru, we will visit Machu Picchu, one of the 7 wonders of the world. We will experience traditional Peruvian food and drink and you may have an opportunity to enjoy guinea pig—a traditional Peruvian delicacy. We will travel from Lima to locations that may include Aguas Calientes (the launching point for Machu Picchu), Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Chichubamba (to meet some local farmers). We will explore Peru's diverse history throughout the trip, and students will enjoy a free day in Lima where they can try parasailing, swimming with sea lions, bike rides, or just relaxing by the ocean.

  • Honors Program students will receive credit for HON 102: History in Global Contexts.

William Chin, Mathematical Sciences
LSP 112-801 Lincoln Park T 6:00-9:15 PM

Two of the popular played games of chance are blackjack (twenty-one) and poker. These games form the most interesting examples of games of chance where risky decisions can profitably be made based on probability theory and game theory. Of particular interest is the theory and practice of card-counting in blackjack, and the mathematics and psychology of poker strategy. We shall deal with the basics of such analyses and indicate how they have been developed. Some requisite rudimentary probability theory statistics and their foundations will be introduced. The theory shall be reified with examples, concrete problems and live play, all tied in with mathematical and psychological theory. We will examine these and other games of chance, focusing on how they are played with positive expectation (or not). Fallacies regarding gambling and their psychological bases will be discussed in the context of games, and generalized to other decision-making processes. Moral, cultural and legal issues surrounding gambling will also be addressed.

Rick Hudson, Biological Sciences
LSP 112-214 Lincoln Park TTh 1:00-2:30

The focus of this course will be on the promise and controversy surrounding genetically modified (bioengineered) crops. Proponents of the technology claim that the way to feed a burgeoning work population is to produce genetically engineered crop plant for higher nutritional and energetic content and disease resistance. Also, genetically modified crops can be used to reclaim polluted lands and water supplies. Opponents insist that scientists are “playing God” with the food source and force these crops on the human population without completely understanding the health or environmental consequences; they believe that agricultural biotechnology companies are not only interested in the profits but are also seeking to control the food supply of developing nations, the citizens of which would benefit the most from the technology. As with many debates of this nature, both sides likely have viable points.

Larry Mayo, Anthropology
LSP 112-802 Lincoln Park W 6:00-9:15PM

Is cultural diversity diminishing as a consequence of globalization? This question will be addressed by attempting to understand cultural similarity and difference between America and Japan; but instead of focusing on traditional cultural themes such as politics, religion or economics, the focus of this course will be on idioms of popular culture. Disciplines through with analysis will be conducted include anthropology, Japanese studies, history, and film studies. The methods of comparing aspects of popular culture from American and Japanese culture will focus on films, monster movies/science fiction in particular.

Christine Reyna, Psychology
LSP 112-215 Lincoln Park MW 9:40-11:10

This course will explore what many consider the most timeless and universal myth of the “hero’s journey” through the stories of Harry Potter. The Hero’s Journey (Campbell, 1949) is at the heart of most major mythologies and religions the world over. Its universal themes present a roadmap for personal and spiritual transformation from innocence, to call to action, challenge, abyss, revelation, transformation and ultimately rebirth. Through examining and discussing the stories and characters of Harry Potter we will deeply dissect the stages of the hero’s journey and compare these themes with other myths and stories from ancient civilizations, classic literature and popular culture to examine how these themes reflect the human experience in modern times and how they have remained timeless. In this process, students will have the opportunity to explore their own lives and reflect on how literature can serve as a guide to their own personal journey of transformation and initiation.

  • Students are expected to have already read all 7 books in the Harry Potter series and/or have already seen all of the movies.

Heather Easley, Sociology
LSP 112-216 Lincoln Park TTh 9:40-11:10

One of the most successful book series of all time is more than just a book series, as we will examine in this course. J.K. Rowling’s masterpiece, “Harry Potter” provides readers with the opportunity to examine a fictional world through the lens of modern disciplines. We will examine our own interpretations of the world of Harry Potter through the disciplines of Sociology, Philosophy, Religion, and Business. As Harry Potter has taken on a life of its own within our Muggle world, we’re able to see the impact such a work has on today’s economic and religious climate. We will also discuss the content of the literature with a focus on gender, family, stratification, poverty, the idea of destiny, love, identity, choice, and the classic and ultimately important, good vs. evil.

Eugene Beiriger, History
LSP 112-217 Lincoln Park TTh 11:20-12:50

From Homer to Herodotus, religious texts to comic books, heroes and their deeds have fired human imaginations and inspired cults and hero worship. They inspire us with their words, deeds, and courage. They are worthy of emulation and provide us with the means to measure our own successes and failures. They rise and they fall. They are challenged by both superheroes and antiheroes. They are extraordinary and they are ordinary. They include the marble heroes of myth and the flesh-and-bones heroes of 9/11. This course will examine some attempts to define the heroic, then look at seminal figures of the past few hundred years. The central idea is to explore the notion of the hero as metaphor and assess the function and construction of the heroic. We will examine some of the critical approaches to these topics as well as case studies on figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Jane Addams, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, Nelson Mandela, and John Lennon, as well as fictional heroes like Paul Baumer (All Quiet on the Western Front), Charlie Chaplin’s Tramp (City Lights), and everyday heroes from newspapers.

Ana Schaposchnik, History
LSP 112-218 Lincoln Park MW 11:20-12:50

This class will address the academic study of the Inquisition in Spain, Portugal and their American colonies, as well as representations of this institution in literature and film. When was the Inquisition created? For how long were the tribunals active? In what aspect was the Inquisition trial different from a secular trial at the same place and time? What are the differences between Medieval and Modern? Are literary depictions of the Inquisition accurate? What about movies? These questions will be answered in this course, through a combination of readings (primary/secondary sources), discussions, analysis of visual materials, and written assignments.

Daniel Kamin, International Studies
LSP 112-219 Lincoln Park TTh 11:20-12:50

In this course, we will study the conflict between modern Jewish nationalism and Palestinian nationalism in its many aspects by examining issues of roots and causes as well as the prospects for peace. Wider issues involving the Arab and Islamic world and the Jewish community will be explored for their impact on this conflict. Efforts at conflict resolution will be examined through exposure to diverse points of view. The course seeks to synthesize an examination of religion, nationalism, and ethnic identity in order to gain some insight into the possibilities for a peaceful resolution.

Brian Boeck, History
LSP 112-220 Lincoln Park MW 1:00-2:30

This course is devoted to Ivan the Terrible, the Russian ruler whose reputation for cruelty became legendary. Class discussions will explore both the historical tsar and the mythical figure who casts a long shadow over Russian and European discourse about kingship. Readings will draw upon insights from multiple disciplines (history, folkloristics, psychology, political science and film studies). Students will read Russian primary sources in translation (chronicle excerpts, the history attributed to the renegade prince Kurbsky, and church documents) and primary sources in English (reports of English merchants and travelers in Russia). Secondary sources will be employed to pursue connections to broader themes such as tyranny, reli¬gious authority, autocracy, politics, and violence. The problems of evaluating and interpreting oral, folk traditions about Ivan will also be considered. Finally, Sergei Eisenstein’s classic film about Ivan will be analyzed in the context of a significant reappraisal of Ivan’s legacy in the age of another all-powerful ruler, Joseph Stalin.

Liza Ginzburg, Modern Languages
LSP 112-803 LPC W 6:00-9:15PM

Russian Literature of the 19th century is a panorama of portraits of simple men in the Romantic, realistic, and even existential works of the greatest Russian writers: Alexander Pushkin, Mikhail Lermontov, Alexander Karamzin, Nikolai Gogol, Fedor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Ivan Turgenev, and Anton Chekhov, among some others. A simple hero lives in the capital and in provinces; he vainly attempts to become a real hero – and fails, ending as a lonely, insignificant, superfluous man. Instead, a heroine takes the leading place in the Russian artistic works of the 19th century. Reading material of the course includes not only original works of poetry and prose, but also film and theatre versions of the studied texts. Inter-generic, synaesthetic approach, as well as gender study and psychology, enhance traditional interpretation of a literary text.

Scott Moringiello, Catholic Studies
LSP 112-221 Lincoln Park MW 1:00-2:30

If we were to point to what is most important in our lives, we would point to the things we love. Yet we would also be hard pressed to define love. In this course, we will explore love in representative texts from literature, philosophy, and Christian theology. We will also explore how these texts continue to influence contemporary authors.

Caterina Mongiat Farina, Modern Languages
LSP 112-222 Lincoln Park TTh 2:40-4:10

Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) is arguably one of the most controversial writers of the Western canon. For example his Discourses, a commentary on Livy’s Histories that praise the Roman Republic in opposition to the later Empire, have been hailed as the forerunners of modern democracy, while his political pamphlet The Prince has been condemned as the ideological root of twentieth century totalitarianisms. According to Albert Russell Ascoli, such polarized readings result from the common mistake of isolating Machiavelli’s writings from their historical context and changing “his always qualified, always historically grounded precepts into abstract, universal rules of conduct.” Through the close reading of a number of Machiavelli’s writings, from his infamous The Prince to his comedy The Mandrake Root, from his Florentine Histories to his Letters, and with the aid of leading Renaissance scholars, this course aims at giving students the opportunity to understand and interpret Machiavelli’s thought in its historical context. Although the course and its texts are all in English, students will have the chance to familiarize themselves with a few famous terms and passages in the original Italian texts.

Keith Mikos, English
LSP 112-223 LPC MW 9:40-11:10

Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick is one of the greatest novels ever written. It is also one of the strangest! Never fully appreciated in its day—and harshly criticized for its provocative portrayals of sexuality, religion, and authority—readers now admire the novel’s bold originality, mind-bending meditations, and blasphemous humor. Nearly everyone has heard of Captain Ahab’s quest to kill the white whale, but far fewer know of Ishmael’s quest to understand it. That is our goal in this seminar. We will unify methods of history, literary analysis, comparative religion, philosophy, political science, and ecology to explore the novel from many different and unique angles and to identify its glaring relevance for readers today. We will illuminate Melville’s world by addressing topics such as imperialism, slavery, and orientalism, the rise of industry and scientific thinking, social alienation, and shifts in the visual arts. Readings will draw from Melville’s contemporaries and their sources, including Greek mythology, the Old Testament, and Classical philosophy. We will also discover the novel’s sustained influence by viewing adaptations and contemporary works it has inspired, along with critical commentary addressing race, politics, the environment, and popular culture.

Douglas Long, College of Communication
LSP 112-224 Lincoln Park MW 1:00-2:30 plus LAB: F 12:30-3:00

Musicals have been part of the cinema since sound entered in the late 1920s. While they were most prominent during the “golden era” of the studio system of the 1930s through the 1950s, musicals continue to figure into the film climate, as recently as Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star Is Born, and Mary Poppins Returns. In this class, we will study musicals not only from cinematic and musical perspectives, but also historical, gender studies, race representation, literary adaptation, and others. For Cabaret, for example, we will analyze the how the editing of the musical numbers comments on the rise of Nazism within the story. For that same film, we will read and analyze its journey from short story to play to musical play to the screen. From a historical perspective, we will analyze how Busby Berkeley’s elaborate 1930s musical numbers reflect the Depression. And we will consider West Side Story both in terms of race representation and urban dance. Top Hat, Singin’ in the Rain, Beauty and the Beast, and Chicago are among the other films we’ll study. We will watch the films in a separate film lab.

  • This section has a Friday “lab” period for film screenings.

Ted Anton, English
LSP 112-225 Lincoln Park MW 1:00-2:30

Where does evil come from? Why does it exist? What is its nature precisely? Why are villains so interesting? The question “does God exist?” precedes only by philosophical seconds the inquiries above. The relationship between these questions invites us to take an analytical scalpel to the social, artistic, philosophical, historical, psychological, and theological significance of evil. In this course, students will analyze and explains texts such as the Bible, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Breaking Bad and Gone Girl, in a quest to understand why good people go bad.

Tricia Hermes, Writing, Rhetoric & Discourse
LSP 112-504 LPC TTh 11:50-1:20

We’ve all witnessed the changes caused by recent social protest movements around the globe. The ideas that are shaped, voiced, followed or refuted echo those from the past. These social movements were and are definitively rhetorical. This course looks at the relationship between rhetoric and social movements from a historical and contemporary perspective. We look at the rhetoric that surrounds these protests—both from the protestors and the resisters, from the text to the technology—and define social movement, watch its progress, and explain the specific rhetorical strategies that movements generally take on. By the end of the course, you should be familiar with several specific social movements and have a better understanding of the rhetorical construction of social protest. We will read and analyze the writings of several authors on different social activist movements throughout history from the Declaration of Independence to the taking down of the Confederate Flag. Students will write and revise several essays, including their own personal protest essay and a medium-length research-based argument on an issue of their choice that draws on both popular and scholarly sources.

Guillemette Johnston, Modern Languages
LSP 112-226 Lincoln Park TTh 1:00-2:30

With a strong emphasis on a literary approach, this course proposes to analyze fairy tales of diverse cultures in light of their psychological significance. Using theoretical perspectives developed from Jungian and Freudian psychology, we will bring out, on one hand, the basic role of fairy tales in portraying the development of individual maturity, and, on the other hand, the typical though universal themes found repeatedly in tales from different cultures.

Jesse Mumm, Latin American & Latino Studies
LSP 112-227 Lincoln Park MW 9:40-11:10

The Puerto Rican Experience examines the island of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican diaspora through the lens of the unequal colonial relationship, “belonging to, but not a part of, the United States.” We will examine US intervention since 1898, how migration began in the early twentieth century, and what shapes Puerto Rican communities in the US. The smallest and furthest east of the Greater Antilles, Puerto Rico boasts a legacy of African, indigenous and Spanish inheritances—well known, for example, in the global presence of salsa music. We will look at El Barrio in New York City, recent growth in Florida, and showcase how Chicago is a national center for Puerto Rican pride, politics, arts and culture, where gentrification threatens the pedacito de patria [little bit of homeland] on Division Street in Humboldt Park. We examine legacies of political repression and resistance, the current debate on its status and sovereignty, migration history, early settlement, ongoing transnational life, and consider what the Puerto Rican experience means to those who live it.

James Halstead, Religious Studies
LSP 112-506 LOOP TTh 1:30-3:00

On May 4, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order "... promoting free speech and religious liberty." (The order does not define "religious liberty.") In this Focal Point Seminar, students will study 1) the history of what is now in the United states popularly called the "separation of church and state" and 2) the emergence and development of the concept of "religious liberty." Beginning with the Code of Hammurabi, we will examine several understandings of religious and civil authority, appropriate political structures, the relationship between religio-moral and civil laws and various notions of "religious freedom/liberty." After an historical survey, concentration will be on the Constitution of the United States and several Supreme Court Cases that apply the Constitution to particular religio-moral issues (e.g. polygamy, religious faith and fraud, interracial and same-sex marriage, various sexual activities, just and unjust discrimination based on religious belief, etc.). The course will conclude with 1) a consideration of laws regarding physician-assisted-death (PAD), 2) the religio-ethical beliefs that under-gird those laws and 3) the creation of a proposed Illinois statue regarding PAD.

Ellen Van, Driehaus College of Business
LSP 112-804 Lincoln Park M 6:00-9:15 PM

This course uses an interdisciplinary approach to examine the issues of school choice in American education. We will explore questions/debates regarding school choice from the perspectives of economics, history, and sociology. We will examine the following topics: benefits of education; brief history of U.S. education; current education system; rationale for school choice; types of school choice; and implementation of school choice. For each topic, we will explore relevant theories, methodologies, findings, prospective research topics, and policy implications through readings, students’ writings, and through small and large group discussions and presentations. This class will improve students’ abilities to read about current events in the press and to understand the issues the major debates regarding school choice in education.

Sarah Fay, English
LSP 112-228 LPC TTh 9:40-11:10

In this seminar, you’ll explore the art of conversation. Conversation has served as the basis for human interaction and connection since the ancient Greeks (if not before). If language makes us human, then “talk” defines us. In this class, you’ll examine how conversation dictates the norms, successes, and failures of our society. It serves as the basis for TV talk shows, printed interviews, many novels, some poetry, most music, interpersonal relationships, and social conflict. As in all Focal Point Seminars, you’ll read primary works and secondary sources. You’ll engage in seminar behavior and investigate the art of conversation via a multidisciplinary approach, i.e., through literature, media, visual art, history, journalism, linguistics, music, and pop culture.

John French, Political Science
LSP 112-229 Lincoln Park MW 2:40-4:10

This course will explore the ways in which recent and emerging technologies, such as social media, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and the increasing prominence of “big data” have altered, or will alter, the political processes and institutions of democratic systems. Beginning with the fundamentals of democratic theory, we will ask whether the assumptions made by theoretical models still make sense for a society in which these technologies are prominent. We will look at a number of specific issues or problems, (for example, “fake news,” predictive policing, and the “right to be forgotten”) and explore how vital aspects of democracy, like freedom of information, freedom of speech, transparency, and accountability are affected by those technologies. We will also examine how existing political practices, policies, and institutions have been affected by these technological changes, and how they might continue to change in the future (for example, how "big data" and statistical analysis have altered the practices of political campaigns, or the ways in which policing strategies in major cities have changed in response to predictive policing algorithms). This course will use the lenses of political science, philosophy, and science and technology studies to examine these issues. We will look at the abstract theoretical ideal of democracy, the actual institutional mechanisms in existing political systems, and the way in which various technologies actually work (or don’t) in the context of those systems.

Michael Naas, Philosophy
LSP 112-230 Lincoln Park MW 2:40-4:10

This course will focus on one of the most important trials, and, indeed, one of the most important events, in Western history and culture – the trial and death of Socrates. As a multi-disciplinary course combining philosophical, literary, and historical materials, we will look at the trial of Socrates from a variety of different perspectives - that is, as an historical event, as a drama at the center of some of the most beautiful and significant works of art in Western culture, and as the origin and inspiration for philosophy itself.

David Brenders, College of Communication
LSP 112-505 LOOP MW 11:50-1:20

In this course we will investigate a number of fringe or alternative beliefs & how well they hold up under rational or scientific scrutiny. Whether it be alien abduction, satanic cults, fortune-telling, ESP, psychic healing, spontaneous human combustion, or the like, your favorite fringe belief will be discussed. An added benefit of the course will be to show the student how to be a more informed judge of the claims of others.

​Spring 2019 (previous academic year)

LSP 112

Jaime Waters, Catholic Studies
LSP 112-301 LPC TTh 2:40-4:10

What do Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have in common? Among other things, these religions share Abraham as a foundational figure within their traditions. This course will examine Abraham: the man, the myth, the legend. Often called prophet and patriarch, Abraham is recognized for his special status and divine selection in each faith. In this course, students will read texts from the Hebrew Bible, New Testament, and Quran to explore how Abraham is remembered and characterized in religious literature. Students will also read secondary theological and philosophical texts and examine artistic representations to explore how later interpreters reflect on Abraham's significance. The course will consider Abraham's lasting legacy and significance to the Abrahamic faiths.
Michael Tafel, History
LSP 112-601 Loop TTh 10:10-11:40

The ancient Mediterranean World has had a profound impact on the culture of our modern world. With civilizations like Egypt, Greece and Rome along with the religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam that are so prevalent in today’s world, the ancient Mediterranean world has a lot to tell us. In classic history courses we would read an ancient history textbook but in this Focal Point Seminar we are also letting the ancient Mediterranean world speak for itself. Students will be challenged to understand and bring to life the ancient Mediterranean world by reading, interpreting and discussing a variety of primary and secondary sources relating to the era. This course will approach the ancient Mediterranean World through the disciplines of Art History, History and Philosophy.
Geoffrey Farina, School of Music
LSP 112-302 LPC TTh 2:40-4:10

This course centers on the history and impact of the twentieth century's most influential collection of American music, The Anthology of American Folk Music, originally compiled by the artist Harry Smith in 1952, and rereleased to great acclaim in 1997. Smith's idiosyncratic collection of mountain, gospel, ragtime, hillbilly, blues, and other sacred and secular songs recorded between 1927-32 originally confounded folklorists like Alan Lomax and Sam Charters, who noted its lack of historical context, its sequential discontinuity, its cryptic documentation, and that much of its content was originally commercial music considered to be nostalgic when it was originally recorded. That the Anthology is more art than scholarship belies its immeasurable influence on the two generations of scholars and folklorists who followed its cues down rural backroads in search of the last remnants of an authentically American music. More visibly, the Anthology provided the songbook for Bob Dylan, Dave Van Ronk, and their generation, and the 1997 rerelease inspired a vast and diverse American roots music revolution that is still growing today. This course traces the steady transformation of "folk music" from a practice of preserving the past into one of defining and legitimizing the present. It begins in the 1920s when the Anthology's music was originally recorded, and continues through the 40s folk revival, Smith's own midcentury collage and anthologizing practices, the Anthology-inspired folk groups of the 1950s, Dylan's polarizing 1965 electrified Newport Folk Festival performance and the concomitant Basement Tapes, the "American Primitive" movement of John Fahey and his contemporaries, and finally the "New Weird America" inspired by the Anthology's 1997 re-release. Through each of these periods, we will address what Robert Cantwell calls "the tireless and futile search for an original and authentic text" at the center of American roots music.
Clement Adibe, Political Science
LSP 112-303 LPC MW 11:20-12:50

As we reflect upon the last century from the vantage point of the 21st century, apartheid stands out as one of the most intriguing and oppressive political ideas and practices of the 20th century. Developed by the Afrikaners of South Africa, apartheid emphasized the “separateness” of races as the organizing principle of social, religious, economic and political life in a multinational state. For nearly half a century, apartheid was enforced through a combination of laws, religious indoctrination, socialization and, above all, the pervasive use of coercion. In 1994, following several decades of sustained domestic and international opposition, the policy and practice of apartheid officially ended in South Africa. This course will focus on two important areas of inquiry. The first is how to explain the emergence of apartheid as the predominant form of political organization in 20th-century South Africa. The second focus of the course will be on the lessons humanity can draw from the apartheid experiment as we continue our prolonged quest for meaningful and harmonious co-existence of peoples and cultures within the framework of one political entity.
Anthony Ippolito, Biological Sciences
LSP 112-901 LPC T 6:00-9:15PM

Human behaviors and activities have repercussions and resonate with other living things, including humanity, and affect their existence. A leading driver of environmental degradation, land transformation, and species extinctions is producing food to feed the over 7.6 billion humans on the planet. All food production methods require energy, chemical input, and land use. Few people, if any, realize that when they are slicing a banana onto their breakfast cereal, the banana was grown on a plantation where lush, species rich, rainforest used to thrive and flourish. Or the corn in your corn chips was grown where a temperate hardwood forest used to stand. In other words, regardless of we eat, we are eating (at the expense of) other species but also, other humans. Humans need to eat, but the ecological impacts differ depending on what we choose to eat. We will explore the impacts of food choice and production methods and their impact on ecosystems and the other species in which we share the planet. Does the human appetite have to come at the expense of biodiversity or are alternatives to a more sustainable, environmentally friendly, agriculture possible?
Jason Winslade, Writing, Rhetoric & Discourse
LSP 112-304 LPC F 12:00-3:15

The Transformational Festival scene is a thriving and growing subculture in America. At its head is the Burning Man Festival, held yearly in the Black Rock Desert of northern Nevada, boasting an attendance of over 65,000 people. Representing a hybrid of spiritual, cultural, and political philosophies, Burning Man features an entire week of art, performance, ritual, community, and extravagant display, centered on a gargantuan wooden effigy that is burned at the festival’s climax. The festival and its participants promote an ethos that emphasizes radical self-expression, decommodification, and conscious awareness of cultural and environmental impact, embodied in the principle of “leave no trace.” These principles have permeated contemporary festival culture and spread to urban communities in cities like Chicago. In this class, we will investigate the transformational festival scene in America, including Neo-Pagan, New Age and other spiritually-based festivals, and the ubiquitous music festival, placing them in a cultural and historical context, and discussing the socio-political movements and communities these festivals have spawned outside festival space. In this course, we will attempt to address how festival culture either subverts or reinforces mainstream cultural values and how participants at these festivals and in these communities strive to create unique socio-political, spiritual, and artistic identities.

Li Jin, Modern Languages
LSP 112-305 LPC MW 2:40-4:10

This course is designed to develop students’ intercultural knowledge and critical thinking skills to understand how and why China is portrayed distinctly in Chinese and American media. Students will read select materials about China from books, American media, and the translated version of Chinese media, with a view to understanding what is happening in contemporary Chinese society, how and why salient social issues in China are reported divergently in state-run as compared to unofficial media (e.g., social media) in China and in media based in China as compared to those based in the U.S. Drawing on the reading materials, students will participate in active class discussions to deepen their cultural understanding and share critical views. The focus of the course is Chinese philosophy, sociology, and journalism in China as imperative forces shaping how Chinese media report on social issues in China.

Li Jin, Modern Languages
LSP 112-305 LPC MW 2:40-4:10

This course is designed to develop students’ intercultural knowledge and critical thinking skills to understand how and why China is portrayed distinctly in Chinese and American media. Students will read select materials about China from books, American media, and the translated version of Chinese media, with a view to understanding what is happening in contemporary Chinese society, how and why salient social issues in China are reported divergently in state-run as compared to unofficial media (e.g., social media) in China and in media based in China as compared to those based in the U.S. Drawing on the reading materials, students will participate in active class discussions to deepen their cultural understanding and share critical views. The focus of the course is Chinese philosophy, sociology, and journalism in China as imperative forces shaping how Chinese media report on social issues in China.

Justin Staley, Writing, Rhetoric & Discourse
LSP 112-306 LPC TTh 1:00-2:30

More than any other sport, baseball has inspired writers to try to capture the essence of the game, as well as those who play and watch it. Beyond the staples of baseball journalists and essayists such as Roger Kahn, Roger Angell, and Bill James, writers as diverse as novelists Nelson Algren, Sherman Alexie, Annie Dillard, John Updike, and Philip Roth, and poets William Carlos Williams, Amiri Baraka, May Swenson, Carl Sandburg, and Robert Frost, have explored the nuances and intricacies of the game, as well as how emotionally loaded racial, social, political, and economic issues are historically and indelibly woven into it. In this course, students will read and analyze writing about baseball through poems, fiction, personal essays, and arguments, exploring such themes as baseball as myth, as both game and business, and as a cultural institution in America and abroad. In doing so, we will discover how larger social issues impinge on the sport, and what they reveal about our changing society.

Lin Kahn, Psychology
LSP 112-307 LPC MW 9:40-11:10

This class will strengthen creative resources in response to life’s universally shared experience of adversity. Through the lens of psychology, religious thought, and the fine/performing arts, we will look at the stories of well-known artists such as Picasso, Van Gogh, Beethoven, Mozart, Baryshnikov, and Copeland who sublimated adversity into creative greatness. Students will examine personal adversity in relationship to unrealized creativity through an in-depth look at the nature of creative thinking, blocks to this natural resource, creativity related to a thought provoking psychological model and religious view, and Freud’s positive healthy defense mechanisms. The interdisciplinary course culminates in a self-designed transcending work of art through any medium.
Margaret Workman, Environmental Science & Studies
LSP 112-308 LPC MW 4:20-5:50

This course is set at a time when science and technology were undergoing rapid expansion in their influence on all sectors of modern life in the western world. Great Britain was experiencing the aftereffects of social turmoil caused by the rising importance of newly rich industrialists and men of commerce and the growth of a class often referred to as the laboring poor. Both groups threatened to change what had been a relatively stable social structure. In addition, British authorities were rapidly expanding the second empire, extending their cultural, economic and political influence around the globe. People everywhere were affected by these forces either through parallel developments within their own cultures or through colonial intrusions by Europeans. Understanding the nature of science became an important question for consideration as was the relationship between “pure” science and its technological application. Additionally, just as science became more specialized and its theories less accessible to ordinary persons, its results became more a part of their daily lives. The impact of science and technology on society remains a major issue in sociology, history, ethics and other fields. The tensions between science and religion, not nearly so evident in the previous century, surfaced with increasing force in the wake of Darwin’s book. This tension continues to spur creative conflict and has implications for psychology, philosophy, political science and other disciplines. Systematic exploration of the original debate over natural selection and random variation will enrich student understanding of science both as a cultural artifact and as a catalyst for social change. For example, literary movements such as realism and naturalism should be viewed in the context of the new science.
Carolina Sternberg, Latin American & Latino Studies
LSP 112-309 LPC TTh 11:20-12:50

Domestic workers, the army of housekeepers, caregivers, and nurses, enable millions of Americans to go to their jobs every day. Yet, despite constituting this needed and growing workforce, they suffer from few labor protections and abusive working conditions. Drawing on theoretical debates as well as recent case studies from the US and around the world, this course will examine: a) the contemporary processes of globalization and economic restructuring that enable this type of work, b) the nature of this type of employment, and c) the issues and challenges faced by domestic workers as well as nascent organizing efforts and legal solutions to problems this pool of workers face daily.
Justin Maresh, Chemistry
LSP 112-310 LPC MW 1:00-2:30

Drug use, either directly or indirectly, affects everyone. Very few topics generate as much debate as the role of drugs in our society. For example, should drug abuse be prevented by increasing enforcement of drug laws or by making young people more aware of the potential dangers of drugs? Is drug abuse caused by heredity, personality, or the environment? Is drug abuse a medical, legal, or social problem? Are the dangers of some drugs over-exaggerated? Are drugs that treat disease over-prescribed and over-marketed? Three million children in the US take stimulant drugs to help them focus; do these drugs actually help? There are no clear answers to any of these questions, yet the positions we take as a society have profound effects on our safety, health, and economy. This course will guide students in deciphering controversies surrounding drugs and society; locate and evaluate sources of information; and formulate written and verbal arguments to support various positions.
Ryan Peters, English
LSP 112-606 Loop MW 11:50-1:20

This course will study how selected novels, short stories, graphic novels, and films depict dystopian worlds and apocalyptic events. The dystopian genre has exploded into mass popularity and critical recognition in the past two decades, so much so that it may be the most popular genre of story-telling--from video games to Pulitzer Prize-winning novels--across our culture today. We will explore the ways in which texts use this genre to explore widespread twentieth and twenty-first century anxieties about terrorism, epidemics, globalization, and bioethics. Course texts may include works by Octavia Butler, Paolo Bacigalupi, Suzanne Collins, Alfonso Cuarón, Alan Moore, Max Brooks, and many others.
Philip Meyers, Political Science
LSP 112-311 LPC MW 1:00-2:30

When it comes to quadrennial sports celebrations, the modern Summer Olympics paved the way, with nations and competitors uniting to demonstrate great athletic ability for the world to see—and with medals awarded to the best. That wildly innovative idea was quickly and globally embraced, soon thereafter triggering a new “team-sport” entity known as the World Cup. Hosted initially by Uruguay in 1930, soccer’s World Cup was spawned. Its concept followed the Olympics, contested once every four years, and evolved into the planet’s most glorious event. The World Cup is about countries who battle, over one month’s time, to achieve immortal greatness, with an entire nation welcoming 32 qualifying teams within its borders and allowing millions to savor soccer’s different cultures. Students will study the World Cup’s origin, history and future—from a sole soccer festival to a showcase that facilitates players’ careers, endorsements and branding as well. After grasping the tournament’s history, students will delve into both the economics and politics of the World Cup—why host nations are selected, and what are the defining reasons of those decisions. Is it to “expand” the game, or might there be deeper factors? Politics, corruption, racism, sexuality, anti-Semitism and economics are only several factors why a country is granted custodianship of sports’ crown jewel competition. Concluding our study, the class will effectuate a simulated bidding to become a future tournament host, absorbing all the factors learned over the quarter. That exercise will culminate with student submitting a writing that focuses on the effects in that country’s perspective, and soccer as a whole.
Chi Jang Yin, Art, Media & Design
LSP 112-312 LPC MW 11:20-12:50

How do nuclear images affect our daily life and global culture? How does nuclear technology affect the human race? This class uses film and photography to explore the context of the deve-lopment of the Atomic Bomb and the infrastructure of the Manhattan Project, and to examine the response by the public during the Cold War period. Class content includes how photography and film served as documentary and artistic expression during and after the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In all cases, we will focus on how the bomb and its representation were approached from a variety of social, national, political, and aesthetic points of view.
Douglas Long, Communication
LSP 112-313 LPC MW 2:40-4:10 + F 12:30-3:00

The films of Alfred Hitchcock have probably been analyzed, and in more ways, than those of any other director in history. The reason is likely that Hitchcock’s visual and thematic palettes often delved into the deep ravines of the human psyche, causing the audience to self-explore in a way that is, paradoxically, both uncomfortable and exciting. In this course we will approach some of his great works from the perspectives of several disciplines, including psychology, gender roles, and music. We will focus especially on the films The Lady Vanishes (1938), Notorious (1946), Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958) and Psycho (1960).

  • This section has a Friday "lab" period for film screenings.
Sarah Richardson, Biological Sciences
LSP 112-314 LPC TTh 11:20-12:50

Climate change is one of the most important environmental problems facing the world today. In this course, we will investigate the strength of scientific evidence that climate change is occurring. We will study evidence for various ways that it is affecting humans and ecosystems, such as how species that live in hot places have been shifting north. We will also be evaluating proposed solutions to the problem of climate change. We will address issues beyond that of scientific evidence. Communication about the issue is important to creating change—how do the news media cover the issue of climate change, and are people becoming informed? Also, how is a person’s motivation to change affected by risk perception and sense of place, phenomena studied by psychologists? Besides the news media, art and literature are important means of communication. What have artists and writers done to communicate their concerns? Can art and literature motivate people to change in a way that merely learning the science can’t?
Melinda Wright, School of Public Service
LSP 112-602 Loop M 9:00-12:15

Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the most famous—and infamous—thought leaders of his time. He broke the box and broke the rules of architecture, and society. This course explores the life, philosophy and work of one of the most creative and distinctive architects of the 19th and 20th centuries. Frank Lloyd Wright had many interesting views of the world that still influence us. The course examines Wright’s formal and informal education and training and how his thoughts on art and architecture influence our present-day homes. We examine how his views on ideal communities are still seen as cutting-edge and how his designs are focused on a deep respect for the environment. We explore how his religious and ethical philosophy shaped the way he lived his life and how this perspective was also shaped by the major historical events of his day. We see several of Wright’s architectural achievements firsthand.
Paul Booth, Communication
LSP 112-650 Loop TTh 3:10-5:00

In 1963, Doctor Who premiered on British television. Over the past half century, the show has changed its focus, style, narrative, genre, and audience multiple times over. For this reason, Doctor Who provides a useful lens through which to view changing patterns of cultural criticism. It is also a program with a huge fan base. But Doctor Who is more than just a television program with multiple books, comics, web series, fan work, games, and physical locations, it is a multi-media experience. In fact, todays Doctor Who brand is one of the most popular and viable across the world. Doctor Who is historical; Doctor Who is contemporary. Doctor Who teaches us about the way the world has changed over the past half century. The study abroad portion of this course takes students to London and Cardiff where Doctor Who is made today to understand better the cultural of production and fandom for the show today. Doctor Who is a British national institution, so we will visit sites both specific to the show and also sites with historical and cultural relevance to aspects within the production of the show. Students will hear from guest speakers and scholars, and learn through the physical location of the show. Given the popularity of Doctor Who both in the US and in the UK, there is no shortage of things to do and see of cultural and historical value that are associated with the show as well. Touring such sites as Shakespeare's Globe Theater, the British Museum, Canary Wharf, Ianto's Shrine, and The Doctor Who Store, students will see the connection between history and culture each of these locations have historical value and have also been heavily featured in Doctor Who. Students will find value in learning about the historical significance of these locations in their own experiences. In turn, this will aid their development as global citizens and informed media viewers. Visiting Cardiff will allow students to get a different perspective on the program and the British community. We will visit the History Museum and the National Museum, which have been used as filming locations for Doctor Who and all of which resonate with cultural history.

  • For full information, click here.
  • Honors Program students will receive credit for an Honors Fine Arts Elective.
  • This section has an extended class period to accommodate screenings.
Ken Butigan, Peace, Justice & Conflict Studies
LSP 112-950 LPC W 6:00-9:15PM

Saint Francis of Assisi changed his world—and invites us to do the same! In this Focal Point Seminar, students will discover the young man from Assisi, Italy who became a powerful peacemaker and spread a new way of life throughout the society of his time. We will get to know and learn from this spiritual pioneer whose compassion for others, love for the earth, and work for peace and reconciliation has inspired people everywhere for the last eight centuries. Together, we will embark on an exciting pilgrimage—first, by studying the moving life and work of Saint Francis during spring quarter at DePaul, and then by retracing the saint's steps in Italy in June, by visiting places where he built his movement of peace and spiritual transformation, including in Rome and Assisi. Together, students and faculty will visit sites that ring with the spirit of Saint Francis in Assisi and Rome. Students will visit the Vatican, where Saint Francis received approval to establish the Franciscan order. Students will also take the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful Italian countryside, just as Saint Francis did. The program will explore the life and world of Saint Francis, study the power of pilgrimage, sharpen our own knowledge and skills as peacemakers, and experience the beauty and excitement of Italy!

  • For full information, click here.
  • Honors Program students will receive credit for HON 102: History in Global Contexts.
Heather Easley, Sociology
LSP 112-350 LPC TTh 9:40-11:10

The Jacobite Uprising of 1745 forever changed the people of Scotland—and the course of history. In this Focal Point Seminar, students will study Scotland from its inception through modern day. Students will discover historical lore, fact, and sites, and learn how this rich history impacts politics and culture in Scotland. We will discover this country together, first during our Spring Focal Point, followed by a trip to Scotland in June. We will visit sites central to the Jacobite Uprising, as well as sites that will help us to understand politics in Scotland and the rest of the UK. The Uprising and the Scottish vote for independence will be common themes that run through all of the cities we will visit. Together, we will explore the Scottish Lowlands and Highlands, including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness, the Isle of Skye, Invergarry, Fort William, Mallaig, and Stirling. Students will visit Scottish Labour and Scottish National Party headquarters to discuss the Yes and No sides of the independence debate. We will witness a session of Scottish Parliament, followed by a visit to the Palace of Holyrood House. We will explore Glasgow Cathedral and Edinburgh Castle. Together, we will embark on a sunset cruise on Loch Ness. Following the theme of the Jacobite Uprising, we will spend a day at Culloden Moor, the site of the last land battle on UK soil and where the English ultimately defeated the Jacobites. We will visit Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye, and take a day trip on the Jacobite Express train to visit the Scottish countryside and coastal fishing villages. We will expand our knowledge surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of Scotland!

  • For full information, click here.
  • Honors Program students will receive credit for HON 102: History in Global Contexts.
Sanjukta Mukherjee, Women's & Gender Studies
LSP 112-315 LPC TTh 11:20-12:50

What do London, Mumbai, L.A., São Paulo, New York, Algiers and Paris have in common? What are the similarities and differences between how a middle-class professional woman in Mumbai, a Latino migrant worker in California, a queer woman in Toronto and an Arab man in Paris experience the city? Some scholars are arguing that cities across the world are becoming increasingly similar due to the cross-border flows of peoples, cultures, media images, money and ideas. At the same time some cities continue to symbolize all that is “modern” and “developed” while others remain associated with “chaos, poverty, inefficiency and corruption.” Based on case studies from across the globe this course will take an interdisciplinary approach to introduce students to the changing role of cities in a globalizing world, new contours of inequalities that have emerged in them and how different people and communities are mobilizing in response to these changes. One of the main questions we will examine is how and why different people based on their social location and identities (in relation to race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality, religion, etc.) experience the city differently. We will use weekly class lectures, readings, group exercises and films to critically understand how cities are both shaped by and shape processes of global change, and the specific implications of these changes for particular places, peoples and communities.
Molly Andolina, Political Science
LSP 112-316 LPC TTh 1:00-2:30

This course will explore the much-maligned Generation X (the post-Baby Boomer generation). We will discuss how and why Xers differ from older Americans – and the political, social and economic consequences of these differences. We will review popular conceptions of Xers, which includes reading the book that spawned the name, and take some time to learn about how social science scholars study generations. We will examine the socializing experiences of Xers as youth as well as the impact of such experiences on the attitudes and actions of their adulthood. We’ll end with a comparison of Xers to their successors – the Millennials and Gen Z. Throughout you’ll get a chance to think about how we group people in society and the advantages and disadvantages of these practices.
Max Samson, Geography
LSP 112-603 Loop MW 1:30-3:00

This course provides an introduction to the some of the ideas behind the practices we understand as globalization. We will consider the ways in which technological advancements and industrial developments have contributed to the creation of a global society, and some of the consequences of this process for societies and people around the world. In particular, the unevenness of the phenomenon of globalization will be examined in terms of factors such as trade, employment, and the environment, with geography playing a central role in understanding relations of power, knowledge, and space. Indeed, if we are to reflect critically on our own world and to intervene responsibly in its future, we need to understand how certain ideas became “globalized,” and the impact of these ideas in the physical transformation of space and society.
Lori Pierce, African & Black Diaspora Studies
LSP 112-317 LPC F 12:00-3:15

This course will explore the political, economic and social development of Hawai’i. Although the tourist gaze has long defined Hawai’i as a vacation destination, Hawai’i is a unique example of some of the ramifications of colonialism. The course will examine several moments in the history of Hawai’i by examining a series of Hawaiian concepts: ho’ohuli mana’o (conversion); malama ‘aina (loving and caring for the land); ku’e (political resistance and sovereignty).
Liza Ginzburg, Modern Languages
LSP 112-902 LPC W 6:00-9:15PM

Russian Literature of the 19th century is a panorama of portraits of simple men in the Romantic, realistic, and even existential works of the greatest Russian writers: Alexander Pushkin, Mikhail Lermontov, Alexander Karamzin, Nikolai Gogol, Fedor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Ivan Turgenev, and Anton Chekhov, among some others. A simple hero lives in the capital and in provinces; he vainly attempts to become a real hero – and fails, ending as a lonely, insignificant, superfluous man. Instead, a heroine takes the leading place in the Russian artistic works of the 19th century. Reading material of the course includes not only original works of poetry and prose, but also film and theatre versions of the studied texts. Inter-generic, synaesthetic approach, as well as gender study and psychology, enhance traditional interpretation of a literary text.
Susan Solway, History of Art & Architecture
LSP 112-318 LPC TTh 2:40-4:10

This course focuses on the extraordinary life, times, and creations of Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564), one of the most significant figures in the history of Western art. Sculptor, painter, architect and poet, Michelangelo lived during the so-called Italian Renaissance, an age that witnessed the flourishing of an expanded artistic, scientific, and humanistic culture. His lasting masterpieces include some of the most famous artworks of all times: the Pietà, David, Moses, the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican church of St. Peter’s. Who was this irascible and solitary genius, this devout Catholic and fierce Republican Florentine, who cavorted and lived with popes and princes, and created works that profoundly influenced and transformed Western culture? What cultural forces shaped his thoughts and molded his values? Why has this incomparable individual come to personify his age to the extent that his name has become synonymous with it? Our class seeks to answer these and other questions and to understand Michelangelo as a creator whose brilliant achievements define, reflect, and illuminate the time, place and culture in which he lived. It focuses on a man whose immense and diverse talent, intelligence, and reverence for classical art left a lasting mark on the art of future ages up to the modern period.
Chernoh Sesay, Religious Studies
LSP 112-319 LPC TTh 1:00-2:30

This course examines the life and meaning of Malcolm X in his own lifetime and considers discussions about the significance and impact of his legacy. It will interrogate the idea that Malcolm X/El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz represented a militant black racist who supported racial segregation and sought violent retribution against racist white people. The course will explore Malcolm’s life and legacy by using the tools from three different academic disciplines: literary studies, history, and cultural studies. Students will use biography and literary analysis to investigate Malcolm’s life from his own perspective and they will think about how Malcolm’s religious and political perspectives change in important ways over the course of his rich but short life. Students will consider how historians have explained Malcolm’s importance relative to the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power Movement and African American Islam. This historical discussion that contextualizes Malcolm’s life will allow the class to loop back to biographical and autobiographical questions of Malcolm’s life raised by a literary studies approach. Students will then utilize their biographical and contextual understanding of Malcolm’s life to discuss how films shape the memory of Malcolm and inform discussions about the importance of his legacy for thinking about race, gender, and social activism.

Keith Mikos, English
LSP 112-320 LPC MW 9:40-11:10

Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick is one of the greatest novels ever written. It is also one of the strangest! Never fully appreciated in its day—and harshly criticized for its provocative portrayals of sexuality, religion, and authority—readers now admire the novel’s bold originality, mind-bending meditations, and blasphemous humor. Nearly everyone has heard of Captain Ahab’s quest to kill the white whale, but far fewer know of Ishmael’s quest to understand it. That is our goal in this seminar. We will unify methods of history, literary analysis, comparative religion, philosophy, political science, and ecology to explore the novel from many different and unique angles and to identify its glaring relevance for readers today. We will illuminate Melville’s world by addressing topics such as imperialism, slavery, and orientalism, the rise of industry and scientific thinking, social alienation, and shifts in the visual arts. Readings will draw from Melville’s contemporaries and their sources, including Greek mythology, the Old Testament, and Classical philosophy. We will also discover the novel’s sustained influence by viewing adaptations and contemporary works it has inspired, along with critical commentary addressing race, politics, the environment, and popular culture.

David Maruzzella, Philosophy
LSP 112-321 LPC TTh 1:00-2:30

Could it be easier to imagine the end of the world than fundamental and widespread changes to global capitalism or liberal democracy? This focal point seminar will investigate the revolutionary projects of the 20th century in a variety of spheres: global, revolutionary political movements, as well as similarly revolutionary transformations in music, visual art, physics, mathematics and other domains. In order to understand these groundbreaking events we will also need to think more generally about the notion of revolution, its meaning and its implications—when did the idea first emerge? is the very idea of revolution itself in some sense revolutionary? how are we to think revolutionary change as distinct from mere modification, transformation, or reform? is a revolution always a step forward? or is there something inherently backward-looking or repetitive about revolutions, an aspect of “revolving” or coming back around to a previous state of affairs? what can past revolutionary projects teach us about future possibilities and strategies for revolutionary transformation? We will dedicate 10 weeks to studying the works (philosophical, artistic, political, scientific) of a wide range of figures in order both to understand important revolutions of the past and to produce a theory of these revolutions.
Lucia Marchi, Modern Languages
LSP 112-322 LPC MW 11:20-12:50

Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro – one of the greatest masterworks of opera – was created in 1785, in the stormy years between the American and the French Revolutions. How much did the ideas of liberty and equality play a role in the opera? And how was the work received by audiences around Europe? This class explores Mozart’s opera and its libretto (by Lorenzo Da Ponte) in the context of the cultural and historical climate of the time. Through the analysis of the aesthetics of Italian opera we will try to under¬stand how a “revolutionary” message could be projected on an operatic stage, and what was the function of opera in promoting political and social change.
John Burton, History
LSP 112-324 LPC TTh 9:40-11:10

This course examines the belief in witchcraft in early American culture with particular emphasis on the Salem Witchcraft Trials of the late 17th century. Students will examine how various interpretations of the Salem Witchcraft outbreak can be developed using psychological, sociological, biological, political/legal, and feminist interpretations. Students will investigate the trials through primary sources in order to build their own interpretations of the events and seek to discover the role of historical events in the development of American culture, through various literary sources from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Yuki Miyamoto, Religious Studies
LSP 112-325 LPC MW 2:40-4:10

The March 2018 issue of Vogue stirred up controversy by featuring a Caucasian model, Karlie Kloss, donning a kimono-like costume and posing in front of a Shinto shrine and sake barrels. An article in the Huffington Post, “Vogue Celebrates Diversity with Karlie Kloss in Yellowface,” criticized Vogue’s employment of a Caucasian model and the way in which it contradicts the magazine’s cover title, “celebrating diversity.” While the concept of “cultural appropriation” has been much criticized, few critics have discussed the stereotypical and orientalistic depictions of the (supposedly Japanese) culture—mystic, erotic, totally other—represented by Kloss. In other words, would there have been a controversy if an Asian (or a Japanese/Japanese-American) model had been chosen for the photo shoot? This question leads to some larger questions that are worthy of academic inquiry: What does it mean to learn about an unfamiliar culture? How can one appropriately represent a culture that is not one’s own? And, what do we mean by “culture,” considering that the term already reduces rich phenomena to some sort of “representation?” Responding to the critical issues of race, diversity, and multiculturalism, the course will delve into Japanese culture and its representations through the human body—both by themselves and by outsiders. By focusing on the physicality that we all share, regardless of race, culture, and nationality, we will shed light on the significance as well as the ethics of understanding a culture, which in turn will help us understand our own culture.
Marco Aiello, Anthropology
LSP 112-326 LPC MW 1:00-2:30

This course will focus on a specific question regarding human evolution: Who were the so-called “cavemen,” and what is their relationship to modern humans? There are several important reasons for focusing on this particular topic in human evolution. One is to separate myth from reality with regard to these early beings who came to be popularly known as “cavemen.” A second issue is whether these beings are direct ancestors to modern humans, or a side branch that became extinct. A third concerns the issue of human diversity, which, during the last 200 years or so, many scientists have characterized as racial.
Rachel Scott, Anthropology
LSP 112-327 LPC MW 11:20-12:50

This course explores the portrayal of crime scene investigation in popular media and introduces students to the fields of the history of science, forensic science, and media studies. It employs a historical framework, beginning with the depiction of forensic science in 19th-century detective fiction (particularly the Sherlock Holmes stories). For the early 20th century, we focus on the Leopold and Loeb case, a murder that occurred in Chicago in 1924, and consider the ways in which crime and its investigation are represented in the news. Finally, we examine the current popularity of forensic-based television programs and their impact (the so-called “CSI effect”) on the use of forensic evidence in the courtroom and on student expectations in the classroom. Throughout the course, a series of in-class lab activities introduces students to modern forensic methods so that they can compare the depiction of forensic science to its reality. Key questions that we address include: How has the field of forensic science developed over time? What is the relative value of the real and the representational? And what does the portrayal of forensic science in popular media tell us about larger social concerns?
James Halstead, Religious Studies
LSP 112-328 LPC MW 1:00-2:30

On May 4, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order "... promoting free speech and religious liberty." (The order does not define "religious liberty.") In this Focal Point Seminar, students will study 1) the history of what is now in the United states popularly called the "separation of church and state" and 2) the emergence and development of the concept of "religious liberty." Beginning with the Code of Hammurabi, we will examine several understandings of religious and civil authority, appropriate political structures, the relationship between religio-moral and civil laws and various notions of "religious freedom/liberty." After an historical survey, concentration will be on the Constitution of the United States and several Supreme Court Cases that apply the Constitution to particular religio-moral issues (e.g. polygamy, religious faith and fraud, interracial and same-sex marriage, various sexual activities, just and unjust discrimination based on religious belief, etc.). The course will conclude with 1) a consideration of laws regarding physician-assisted-death (PAD), 2) the religio-ethical beliefs that under-gird those laws and 3) the creation of a proposed Illinois statue regarding PAD.
David Lysik, Religious Studies
LSP 112-604 Loop TTh 11:50-1:20

This seminar is a selective introduction to the legal treatment of sexual orientation in the United States. The class will investigate the interaction between the law and broader attitudes about sexual orientation by exploring how social, cultural and political forces shape, and are shaped by, legal doctrine. Students will examine the subject from several legal perspectives, including constitutional, criminal, family, and nondiscrimination law.
Tricia Hermes, Writing, Rhetoric & Discourse
LSP 112-323 LPC TTh 2:40-4:10

We’ve all witnessed the changes caused by recent social protest movements around the globe. The ideas that are shaped, voiced, followed or refuted echo those from the past. These social movements were and are definitively rhetorical. This course looks at the relationship between rhetoric and social movements from a historical and contemporary perspective. We look at the rhetoric that surrounds these protests—both from the protestors and the resisters, from the text to the technology—and define social movement, watch its progress, and explain the specific rhetorical strategies that movements generally take on. By the end of the course, you should be familiar with several specific social movements and have a better understanding of the rhetorical construction of social protest. We will read and analyze the writings of several authors on different social activist movements throughout history from the Declaration of Independence to the taking down of the Confederate Flag. Students will write and revise several essays, including their own personal protest essay and a medium-length research-based argument on an issue of their choice that draws on both popular and scholarly sources.
Jonathan Gross, English
LSP 112-331 LPC TTh 9:40-11:10

This course on Thomas Jefferson’s Scrapbooks will consider Jefferson’s literary tastes as they reflect his attitude towards nation, family, and romantic love. Jefferson greeted visitors to the White House in corduroys and slippers. How did this ostentatiously democratic style reflect views expressed in his writings? In what ways did Jefferson’s “Declaration of Independence” inaugurate a new political style connected to the Republican party he helped found? What was Jefferson’s attitude towards the Supreme Court, Federalism, and his predecessor John Adams? To answer these questions, we will read the scrapbooks he put together for his grand-daughters, focusing on themes of nation, family, and romantic love. Jefferson’s poems about dating, marriage, death, -- his “Ode on Potatoes”, on July 4th, on libertinism, sentimentality, toothaches and even elegies to George Washington and Alexander Hamilton -- give us insight into his sense of humor and the broad range of his interests. We will read poems by Thomas Moore, Peter Pindar, Robert Burns, Anna Barbauld, and Helen Maria Williams to get some purchase on Jefferson’s views on orientalism, race, architecture, democracy and other themes that reflect the transition from the Enlightenment to the Age of Romanticism. One leitmotif of this course is that Jefferson was America’s first Romantic, and the course will investigate the meaning of Romanticism as a critical term that might be applied across the disciplines of literature, architecture, and political writing.
Sarah Fay, English
LSP 112-329 LPC MW 9:40-11:10

In this seminar, you’ll explore the art of conversation. Conversation has served as the basis for human interaction and connection since the ancient Greeks (if not before). If language makes us human, then “talk” defines us. In this class, you’ll examine how conversation dictates the norms, successes, and failures of our society. It serves as the basis for TV talk shows, printed interviews, many novels, some poetry, most music, interpersonal relationships, and social conflict. As in all Focal Point Seminars, you’ll read primary works and secondary sources. You’ll engage in seminar behavior and investigate the art of conversation via a multidisciplinary approach, i.e., through literature, media, visual art, history, journalism, linguistics, music, and pop culture.
John French, Political Science
LSP 112-330 LPC MW 9:40-11:10

This course will explore the ways in which recent and emerging technologies, such as social media, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and the increasing prominence of “big data” have altered, or will alter, the political processes and institutions of democratic systems. Beginning with the fundamentals of democratic theory, we will ask whether the assumptions made by theoretical models still make sense for a society in which these technologies are prominent. We will look at a number of specific issues or problems, (for example, “fake news,” predictive policing, and the “right to be forgotten”) and explore how vital aspects of democracy, like freedom of information, freedom of speech, transparency, and accountability are affected by those technologies. We will also examine how existing political practices, policies, and institutions have been affected by these technological changes, and how they might continue to change in the future (for example, how "big data" and statistical analysis have altered the practices of political campaigns, or the ways in which policing strategies in major cities have changed in response to predictive policing algorithms). This course will use the lenses of political science, philosophy, and science and technology studies to examine these issues. We will look at the abstract theoretical ideal of democracy, the actual institutional mechanisms in existing political systems, and the way in which various technologies actually work (or don’t) in the context of those systems.
David Welch, English
LSP 112-332 LPC MW 2:40-4:10

“True” Detectives juxtaposes fictional (True Detective, season 1) and nonfiction (S Town) mystery narratives in order to explore questions of religion and ethics. Students will be asked to consider the following questions: What is the intellectual appeal of crime narratives? Why does society gravitate toward crime narratives—both fictional and real, especially those involving conspiracy and scandal? Why are these topics worth studying in a scholarly manner? What does it mean to lead an ethical life? How might one live, as the protagonists in both True Detective and S Town suggest, an ethical life without religion? How do the protagonists, and how might we as citizens, engage with this thinking? How do we support and engage with belief systems separate from our own while living ethically in society? What is the relationship between fiction and reality? What are the limitations and potentials of art for exploring these questions?
Heather McShane, Writing, Rhetoric & Discourse
LSP 112-605 Loop TTh 1:30-3:00

What happens when we go for a walk? What or whom do we encounter? What if we do more than just passively put one foot before the other? What if we consider walking as inspiring or even purposeful? In this course, we will investigate these questions and others as we look at the impacts of walking in literature, contemporary art, and sociopolitics. We will consider the works and actions of such people as writers Guy Debord, Frank O’Hara, Li Po, Robert Walser, and William Wordsworth; artists Marina Abramovic, Janet Cardiff, Tehching Hsieh, Richard Long, Bruce Nauman, Yoko Ono, and Adrian Piper; activists Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.; and oral historian Studs Terkel. We will read from Rebecca Solnit’s seminal book on the history of walking, Wanderlust. As a group and separately, we will walk. Additionally, walking will serve as the basis for a creative project and a research paper.
Laura Durnell, Writing, Rhetoric & Discourse
LSP 112-333 LPC TTh 11:20-12:50

Many artists and writers have incorporated autobiographical narratives into their work but women often face criticism for it with the common term being “narcissistic.” However, scholars Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson prefer the term “life narrative” instead of “autobiographical.” In their anthology Interfaces: Women, Autobiography, Image, Performance, fellow scholar Domna C. Stanton points out that the autobiographical “constituted a positive term when applied to [male writers and artists], but… had negative connotations when imposed on women’s [work]… and has effectively served to devalue their [work].” Why is that, and is that so? In this class we will explore and discuss your answers to these questions through the art and writing of Frida Kahlo, Maya Angelou, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Erica Jong, Francesca Woodman, and Kathryn Harrison. We will also read critical essays about the subjects and confession as an artistic method by both genders while diving into how history, sociology, psychology, religion, and gender archetypes play their part in both validating and invalidating women’s perspectives.