Liberal Studies Program > First-Year Program > Course Descriptions > Focal Point Seminar
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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, ChemistryLSP 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 & DesignLSP 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 & DiscourseLSP 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 ScienceLSP 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, CommunicationLSP 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, PhilosophyLSP 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.
Lisa Mahoney, History of Art & ArchitectureLSP 112-251 Lincoln Park MW 2:40-4:10
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.
Christie Klimas, Environmental Science & StudiesLSP 112-252 Lincoln Park TTh 9:40-11:10
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.
William Chin, Mathematical SciencesLSP 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 SciencesLSP 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, AnthropologyLSP 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, PsychologyLSP 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.
Heather Easley, SociologyLSP 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, HistoryLSP 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, HistoryLSP 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 StudiesLSP 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, HistoryLSP 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 StudiesLSP 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 LanguagesLSP 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 CommunicationLSP 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.
Ted Anton, EnglishLSP 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 LanguagesLSP 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 StudiesLSP 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 StudiesLSP 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 BusinessLSP 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, EnglishLSP 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 ScienceLSP 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, PhilosophyLSP 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 CommunicationLSP 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.
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.
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.