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Past Course Offerings

Fall 2016

Honors 120_FR1:  Big Questions and the Spirit of Inquiry:  On Friendship

TR 6-7.15pm

Peck 1405

Dr. Eric W. Ruckh

Associate Professor of History

Through important texts drawn from the ancient world to the present, this seminar will explore one of the great themes of the Western philosophical and literary tradition: friendship. Aristotle is reputed to have welcomed his students each year with the words: “Oh my friends, there are no friends.” Mindful of the haunting echoes of the early Greek academies, we will proceed to raise friendship as a question. Our inquiry will lead us into the Western tradition, where will use our everyday understanding of friendship to guide us. As we read the Ancients and eventually, our contemporaries, we will discover that we do not fully understand what we mean when we use the word ‘friend.’ Our examination and reflection on friendship will help us see that friendship is stranger than we imagined. By exploring friendship, I hope that we come to appreciate the extent to which the Western philosophic and literary tradition is a living tradition that informs everyday life in the 21st century.

Honors 121_001:  Honors Rhetoric: Ancient Exercise, Contemporary Relevance

TR 7.30-8.45pm

Peck 1405

Dr. Eric W. Ruckh

Associate Professor of History

In this course, we will study and practice the particulars of argumentative, expository writing with the intent of sharpening both the rigor of our thinking and the richness of our prose, using the texts and issues raised in HONS 120-FR1. Through iterative practice, we will become self-aware as writers (aware of our aims, intentions, and audience). We will learn how to develop and refine arguments. We will learn how to avoid fallacies and how to use the richness of figural language to persuade. In exploring figural language, we will learn, through experimentation, to tap the wellsprings of our creativity. Along the way, we will become more critical readers, as we analyze how writers use arguments and figural language to persuade us. Further, we will learn not just to write persuasively; we will learn how to deliver our arguments persuasively to an audience. The skills we will be practicing here are not only applicable through the whole of our college careers (regardless of major), but carry beyond into the remainder of our private and public lives. HONS 120-FR1 must be registered for and taken concurrently with HONS 121-001.

Honors 120_FR2: Big Questions and the Spirit of Inquiry:  On Failure

TR 12.30-1.45pm

Peck 0406

Dr. Jeffrey Skoblow

Professor of English

If success is the goal, then it would seem failure is the enemy, and “know thy enemy” is an important precept.  But maybe this is too narrow a way to think about failure.  Maybe failure is more complicated and interesting than simply ‘the opposite of success’.  Maybe it is even, often, difficult to recognize.  In this Honors seminar we will be exploring the question of failure from multiple perspectives (academic, personal, political, moral, etc.), examining different usages and conceptions of the term, and different case studies, seeking fresh ways of analyzing and understanding the experience of failure and what we can learn from it.  We will base our studies on an eclectic mixture of texts—fiction, poetry, non-fiction—as well as on our own experiences, and we will engage in various exercises designed to help us understand the value and meaning of failure in our own lives and in the world at large.  This section (FR2) of Honors 120, “Big Questions and the Spirit of Inquiry” must be taken with Honors 121_002 (“Honors Rhetoric:  The Question Wheel”).

Honors 121_002:  Honors Rhetoric: The Question Wheel

TR 2-3.15pm

Peck 0406

Dr. Jeffrey Skoblow

Professor of English

This course will focus on writing and speaking as modes of thought. In other words, communication is not just a way to say what we may already think or know, but a way to explore and discover what we may not yet know, and of extending our thoughts in further directions and in greater depth. This section is linked with the Honors 120 seminar on failure and we will use the reading material from that seminar as the primary basis for our explorations in 121. We will study what it means to ask questions (what kinds of questions it is possible to ask, what uses questions might have, what makes some questions sharper than others), what it means to make claims in response to such questions, and how we go about the work of supporting our claims (or contesting our claims), by way of generating further questions and further thought. We will write several essays and participate in a wide range of writing and speaking exercises designed to develop these rhetorical “muscles.” By the end of the term none of us should ever again have a problem knowing where to start or how to keep going in any piece of writing. HONS 120-FR2 must be registered for and taken concurrently with HONS 121-002.

Honors 120_FR3, “Big Questions and the Spirit of Inquiry:  Exploring Multiculturalism”

TR 9.30-10.45am

Peck Hall 0413

Dr. Sonia Zamanou-Erickson

Associate Professor of Applied Communications Studies

In this course, we will be exposed to issues of multiculturalism, to gain understanding and empathy for diverse others’ points of view and cultural experiences, and to move toward appreciation and acceptance of differences. We will examine your own identities, appreciate our unique cultures, and will learn about other cultures (through guest speakers, readings, class activities, participation in cultural events on campus and beyond). Finally, we will learn communication skills that will allow us to be more successful in our interactions with others who may be different than us. Diversity will be discussed in a broad sense, including dimensions beyond race and gender, such as ethnicity, religion, disabilities, sexual orientation, education, age, etc. As part of the class, we will create and maintain a blog that documents feedback/critique for every new experience we experience.

Honors 121_003, “Honors Rhetoric:  Effective Communication in a Multicultural Society”

TR 11am-12.15pm

Peck Hall 0413

Dr. Sonia Zamanou-Erickson

Associate Professor of Applied Communications Studies

The purpose of this course is to study and practice argumentation. We will study arguments from a variety of perspectives and disciplines. We will develop the foundation for persuasion in a variety of contexts and topics in a collaborative environment. The skills you will develop in this class will serve you well during your life at the university and beyond in your careers. Speaking well and writing in a way that is clear, persuasive and rigorous will give you an advantage in your professional and personal lives. Specifically, in this class you will learn how to avoid fallacies and how to develop and refine your arguments. Through reading and analyzing others' arguments, you will gain better understanding of persuasion and develop strategies that allow you to become a more eloquent and persuasive writer and speaker. In this course, you will not only learn how to write persuasive arguments, but also how to deliver them effectively to an audience. HONS 120-FR3 must be registered for and taken concurrently with HONS 121-003.

Honors 120_FR4, Big Questions and the Spirit of Inquiry:  Race, Violence, and Identity:  A Global Perspective

MW 3-4.15pm

Peck 2409

Dr. Rowena McClinton

Professor of History

This course will examine the historical relationship between race, violence, and identity. Drawing on examples from around the world, we will approach ways in which various cultural groups, when faced with the loss of cultural identity, have resorted to and legitimated violence by developing systems, ideologies, and practices of racism. We will ask why some groups, at some times, when faced with economic, social, and political change, develop racialized systems of identity that promote and justify violence. The course will examine this broad set of questions as it plays out on the world's stage. We will turn to a wide variety of historical situations when examining this question, including: Native Americans in contact with Europeans , US policy makers and white American settlers; the relationship between Ottomans and Armenians in the Ottoman Empire; the Rwandan genocide of the late-20th century; the interactions of Muslim and Buddhist communities in contemporary Myanmar (formerly, Burma); Russian violence toward Jews in the 19th and 20th  and 20th centuries; and Hitler’s  Third Reich. 

Honors 121_004, “Honors Rhetoric:  Rhetoric, Alterity, and Ethical Interventions”

MW 1.30-2.45pm

Peck Hall 1405

Dr. Brian Henderson

Associate Professor of English Language and Literature

We will draw on the philosophical concept of “alterity” to help us think about how identity is typically constructed through the naming of a negative relation (e.g. black v. white, male v. female, straight v. gay, us v. them). More particularly, we will explore the following two questions: (1) what does it mean to “represent” the self and (2) what are the limits, stakes, and styles of posing questions about rhetoric, alterity, and ethics?  This course will explore these questions by tracing how our beliefs about rhetoric, identity, and ethics are entwined in complex ways. Historically, rhetoric (the capacity to persuade and be persuaded) has implicitly been used as the key factor in deciding who counts as human. In fact, the capacity for language continues to be invoked as the key determinant between the human animal and all other animals. Of course, such definitions are not simply academic. They allow us to determine which beings can be killed, caged, eaten, tortured, and/or bought and sold. The linguistic hierarchies thus framed also tend to bleed into our beliefs about which humans have a right to food and shelter or medical assistance, which humans are allowed to marry, or which humans are allowed access to goods and services (or even bathrooms). In this seminar, we will investigate the crucial role that rhetoric can play in helping us navigate the uncertain waters of politics, ethics, and identity. We will begin with an exploration of early Greek conceptions of rhetoric and conclude with contemporary rhetorical theorists. Along the way, we will consider theoretical texts, news accounts, wartime propaganda, university spaces, and film clips, which you will use to explore your own questions suggested by the course. HONS 120-FR4 must be registered for and taken concurrently with HONS 121-004.

Honors 120_FR5: Big Questions and the Spirit of Inquiry:  Happiness and Significance in Life

TR 12.30-1.45pm

Peck Hall 1405

Dr. Matthew Schunke

Associate Professor of Philosophy

This course aims to examine the questions “how can I be happy” and “what is it to live a significant life.” In the process, we will examine what we mean by happiness – is it an emotion, a way of life, a sense of well-being? Is it something that should be a focus of our life and if so, how does it relate to other needs and obligations? Finally, we will ask what place happiness has in a significant or meaningful life. Through the semester we will approach these questions from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, from different historical periods, and using a variety of methods of engagement, including in-depth class discussion, journaling, group projects, and more.

Honors 121_005: Honors Rhetoric:  Expressions of Happiness


TR 3:30-4:45pm


Peck 1405

Lora L. Smallman, MLS


Assistant Professor of Library and Information Science


Humanities Librarian

How do we communicate happiness? In this course, we will explore various interpretations of happiness in life writing (autobiography) and also in film. How do people experience and document happiness? How do they later share these experiences? We will create our own expressions of happiness by: developing meaningful questions, writing argumentative essays, and challenging ideas with thoughtful discussion and presentations. Additionally, we will gain crucial information literacy skills in preparation for the organization and critical thinking required in academic research. HONS 120-FR5 must be registered for and taken concurrently with HONS 121-005.

Honors 120_FR6:  Big Questions and the Sprit of Inquiry:  Health, Disease, and the Pursuit of Well-Being

W 6-8.50pm

Peck Hall 1412

Dr. Faith Liebl

Assistant Professor of Biology

In this course, we will examine health and disease from biological, psychological, and societal perspectives. We will first explore what it means to be healthy and how that may differ based on geographic region, social class, gender, or ethnicity. Next, we will contrast health with disease. Health and disease are not dichotomous but exist on a continuum. Finally, we will discuss behaviors that promote health and disease prevention.

Honors 121_006:  Honors Rhetoric:  Disease, Disorder, and the Pursuit of Well-Being

MW 4.30-5.45pm

Peck Hall 1405

Dr. Matthew Johnson

Associate Professor of English Language and Literature

Our primary course content is rhetoric, which is to say the observing and analyzing the available means of persuasion. You may be familiar with the term “rhetoric,” especially as it is used in common parlance to indicate “just hot air” (with no meaningful results – “mere rhetoric”). Even rhetoric taught in school is often simplified (a set of guidelines used to indicate the best way to argue something). But rhetoric is richer than merely catering to an audience – it is also creation of an audience. It is more complicated than simply ethos-pathos-logos – it is about breaking down boundaries that only seem to separate them.  It is not only about avoiding logical fallacies, but understanding when it can be effective to use them. It is about making an argument, recognizing that in genuine argument the point is not only just to change someone else’s point of view, but being open to the possibility that that yours might be changed, too. This course is also about writing, and specifically, “writing as a process.”  Writing as a process means writing as a way not just to communicate ideas, but create them. We will be exploring ways to invent ideas; engaging texts (not just print and digital media, but people, behaviors, life of the everyday) to discover moments of exigency; and consciously constructing moments out of which creativity can spring. This exploration will proceed through an examination of disease, disorder, and well-being These words seem medical and they are: disease is an illness, like cancer; disorder is a condition like OCD; well-being can be viewed as being a state of healthiness or happiness. But we will not only discuss those easy definitions; we will also conceptualize the words. Disease is also dis-ease as in inconvenient, difficult, or troubled (an idea as a disease of convention). Disorder is also dis-order as in chaotic, confused, or irregular (civil disorder, disorderly conduct, a disordered household). Well-being is physical, psychological, moral, and political (the well-being of the state or its citizens, an individual, her or his mind, body, and life). We shall look at how these word-ideas are used rhetorically and metaphorically; we’ll analyze how they are used represent (re-present) the world to us, by whom, and for what purposes. HONS 120-FR6 must be registered for and taken concurrently with HONS 121-006.

Honors 320A_001:  Perspectives of Health Through Literature and Media

200 University Park, 1127

TR 3.30-4.45pm

Dr. Therese Poirier

Senior Research Professor of Pharmacy

This course will explore interdisciplinary perspectives on health and illness through the exploration of literature and various media. 

Honors 320A_002: Abraham Lincoln and American Memory

Peck Hall 0413

W 5-7.50pm

Dr. Erik Alexander

Assistant Professor of History

 This course will take an interdisciplinary approach to studying the life of Abraham Lincoln through an in-depth exploration of the concept of historical memory.  Beginning with a conventional historical overview of Lincoln’s life, the course will move beyond biography to consider how Americans have remembered and interpreted the life of Lincoln after his death in a variety of times and places.  Students will examine how interpretations of Lincoln life changed over time through such mediums as historical scholarship, fiction, and film.  In doing so, we may find that our understanding of Lincoln at any given moment in the past reveals less about Lincoln himself, and more about ourselves.

Honors 320B_001: A Theory of Everything as Nothing

Peck Hall 2411

TR 2-3.15pm

Dr. Robert Bruce Ware

Professor of Philosophy

“Philosophy is dead.” With these words, the physicist Stephen Hawking begins his book The Grand Design.  Hawking’s thesis is that philosophers have failed to keep pace with the developments that revolutionized science and mathematics in the last two centuries.  Philosophers have failed to provide us with a way to conceive of the world that science now describes.  Yet, like most contemporary scientists, Hawking presupposes the outlook of scientific materialism.  In other words, Hawking assumes that the world can be reduced to elementary “matter.”  This assumption has encountered three basic problems: First, physics has found that the world is composed not of matter, but of energy.  Yet while scientists know how to measure energy, they have difficulty understanding what it is, and why it is the fundamental substance of existence.  Second, when physicists examine matter at the smallest possible levels, they find that it is made of structures that inevitably include the scientist herself.  Third, since matter is dead, the world described by scientific materialism is fundamentally dead.  And if the world is truly made of dead matter, then it would seem that our lives must be accidental and meaningless.  From this problem follow many of our contemporary struggles between science and religion.  In the spirit of Stephen Hawking, this course accepts that philosophy has been no better than comatose for the past two hundred years. And, in the manner of Hawking, it strives to provide a complete explanation of existence in terms that are rational, clear, and precise.  Yet it abandons Hawking in its attempt to derive logic, mathematics, and physics without axioms, assumptions, or presuppositions of any kind.  Hence, no prior knowledge of logic, mathematics, or physics is required.  All tools, toys, and weapons of world construction are cheerfully provided.

Fall 2015

HONS 120-FR1:  "Performance and Performance Art"
MW: 3-4:15pm
Dr. Johanna Schmitz
Associate Professor of Theater and Dance

Theater is about us; it is about human potential.  It is about what can happen.  In many ways you are already an expert on the material of this class:  You spend a lot of time recognizing effective performances and criticizing lazy ones.  You see professional actors at work almost everyday on television and on film (and you are probably very good at being able to recognize when you or your friends are "acting").  You know what you like to watch and probably appreciate that other people like things that you do not.  I hope that you will approach this course with an open mind to see if you might find new kinds of theater and performance that intrigues you.  While this course focuses on live theater in performance you will be able to use the skills developed during the semester to effectively define, describe, and develop critical scholarship about a wide rage of artistic and/or creative endeavor. The way we tell stories is changing.  This class will establish a broad understanding of conventional theatrical forms (ritual, sports, t.v., film, stage, video games, etc.) and then explore how new artists are challenging the mainstream through innovation.  Some performance art is almost hidden; some is shoved in our faces.   Theater sometimes looks like “real life” and “real life” is sometimes very theatrical. How do we analyze and define what we experience? We will read, discuss, and write about various works in performance and performance art that are attempting to create new kinds of theatrical events.  We will also invent new performances of our own in flash mobs, happenings and noncompetitive gaming.  Students will gain critical and theoretical grounding in performance studies and use university resources that will help make the transition from students to scholars.  As new Honors students, you have the unique authority to define your experience about your first months as freshmen at SIUE. To help tell your story, we will produce visible, and invisible, flash mobs, audio-guided walking tours, noncompetitive gaming, treasure hunts and other unconventional ways of telling stories. Students will gain critical and theoretical grounding in performance studies (critical theory) and use university resources at SIUE to develop their own scholarly authority.


HONS 120-FR2:  "'The World Is Too Much with Us:' Self, World, History"
TR: 2-3:15pm
Dr. Eric W. Ruckh
Associate Professor of History
Honors Program Director

Look around. What do you see? How far can you see? How deeply can you see? How aware are you of the world? Of others? Of yourself? Of history? Do you want to see farther? Deeper? More keenly? Do you want to be more attuned? More aware? Then join us on a journey into the everyday and the taken-for-granted. In this honors seminar, we will examine these questions and train our awareness by examining some everyday objects and some prominent objects on campus. What objects? Well, things like sugar, bicycles, iPhones, and a sculpture like Rodin’sL’Homme qui marche. Maybe a dog, maybe a box, maybe a soy sauce jar. You’ll see. By these examinations, we hope to come to see how we are embedded in structures and networks that link us to the most distant parts of the world and the deep architecture of time. We will also wonder at the cause/s of our distraction. Together, we will read widely: some poetry and philosophy; some science and some art criticism. And we will write and learn to attend to our writing. Most importantly, having begun to wonder at the richness of the immediate environment, you will conduct, in teams, your own examinations of an object that will lead us to ‘have glimpses [of wonder] that [will] make [us] less forlorn; have sight of Proteus rising from the sea’ (Wordsworth).


HONS 120-FR3:  "Health Policy, Health Reform, and the U.S. Health System"
TR: 3:30-4:45pm
Dr. Linda Omondi
Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing

This course examines the U.S. health care system. Health care in the United States constitutes approximately 18% of the US economy. In this course, we will discuss: healthcare in America; health professionals and organizations in the U.S.; healthcare finance and reimbursement in the U.S.; access, quality and availability of healthcare in the U.S.; the future of healthcare in America. Course activities will include: interviewing legislators; writing letters to legislators; attending the School of Nursing’s Legislative Night; writing letters to editors of newspapers on health policy issues; attending local legislative sessions.


HONS 120-FR5:  "How Can I Be Happy?"
TR: 12:30-1:45pm
Dr. Matthew Schunke
Associate Professor of Philosophy

This course aims to answer the question, “How can I be happy?” To answer these questions requires us to examine questions such as: what do we mean by happiness—is it an emotion, a way of life, a sense of well-being? Also is it something that should be the focus of our lives, and, if so, how does it relate to other needs and obligations? Throughout the semester we will approach these questions from a variety of perspectives, historical and contemporary.


HONS 120-FR6:  "Faulkner and Southern History"
TR: 3:30-4:45pm
Dr. Rowena McClinton
Professor of History

The aim of this Freshman Honors Course is to examine the American South from before the Civil War to the early twentieth century through the literature of William Faulkner. William Faulkner conveyed this tumultuous era using careful observations of Mississippi and incorporating eye-witness accounts in his numerous novels and short stories. As a result of losing the Civil War, Faulkner thought that Southern society lost a sense of identity; therefore, ruling elites sanctioned extreme violence against African Americans. Turmoil led to racial and family disputes. Blindness to progress exacerbated living in the present. Faulkner succinctly explained: the "past has not passed." An intense observer of peoples who had undergone defeat, Faulkner elucidates the effects loss (of the Civil War) had on his fictional characters in Sound and Fury, Light in August, Intruder in the Dust, and short stories edited by Malcolm Cowley in The Portable Faulkner. Southern history intertwines with conflict, intensity, and irony and this course will address these themes, in particular, against the backdrop of historical facts. Texts to be read and discussed include the following: Malcolm Cowley, The Portable Faulkner (New York: Viking Press, 1945); Thadious M. Davis, Games of Property: Law, Race, Gender, and Faulkner's Go Down Moses (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2003); and Joel Williamson, William Faulkner and Southern History (New York and London: Oxford University Press, 1993).


HONS 120-FR7:  "Living and Succeeding in a Multicultural Society"
TR: 11am-12:15pm
Dr. Sonia Zamanou-Erickson
Associate Professor of Applied Communication Studies

The purpose of this course is to expose students to issues of diversity, to give them an understanding and empathy for others’ points of view and cultural experiences, and to move them to acceptance and appreciation of differences. Students will examine their own identities, appreciate their unique cultures, and will learn about other cultures (through guest speakers, readings, class activities, field trips, movies, participation in cultural events on campus and beyond). Finally, students will learn communication skills that will allow them to be more successful in their interactions with others, who may be different than themselves. Diversity will be discussed in a broad sense of the term, including dimensions beyond race and gender, such as ethnicity, religion, disabilities, sexual orientation, education, and age, etc. Finally, there will be a big writing component in this class since students will blog frequently documenting their thoughts/feedback/critique for every new experience to which they are exposed.


HONS 120-FR8:  "The Autobiographical Self"
TR: 9:30-10:45am
Dr. Catherine Seltzer
Associate Professor of English

In this Honors seminar, we will consider the autobiographical impulse, focusing on its role in contemporary American culture. What drives us to explain our lives to others? How does an autobiographer reconcile her or his own subjectivity with the ideal of “Truth”? And, more broadly, how has the project of autobiography become inherently suspicious? (The cultural critic Daniel Mendelsohn observed in the New Yorker that, “memoir, for much of its modern history, has been the black sheep of the literary family. Like a drunken guest at a wedding, it is constantly mortifying its soberer relatives (philosophy, history, literary fiction)—spilling family secrets, embarrassing old friends—motivated, it would seem, by an overpowering need to be the center of attention.”) In addition to these questions, we’ll think about the ways in which autobiographical texts continually challenge traditional expectations of multiple genres, creating porous boundaries between personal and collective histories, between fiction and factual account, and between conventional narratives and often subversive cultural critiques. We’ll consider a number of autobiographical works, including full-length memoirs, works of creative nonfiction, poetry, self-portraits, blogs and tweets, and each student will engage in an autobiographical project of their own.


HONS 320-001:  "Perspectives of Health through Literature and the Media"
TR: 3:30-4:45pm
Dr. Therese Poirie
Senior Research Professor of Pharmacy

This honors seminar explores interdisciplinary perspectives on health and illness through an exploration of literature and various media. It provides students the opportunity to reflect on the portrayal of health care professionals as seen in selected literature and films/TV. Further, it analyzes the human connection to providing health care. Students will apply critical thinking to ethical decision making for patient care. They will develop interdisciplinary perspectives on health and illness from literature, and media such as films, TV, social media. They will develop awareness of medical issues as represented in literature, and media. Overall, they will develop their presentation, reading, writing, critical thinking, and discussion skills.


HONS 320-002:  “A Theory of Everything as Nothing”
TR: 2:00-3:15pm, PH 2412
Dr. Robert Bruce Ware
Professor of Philosophy

“Philosophy is dead.” With these words, the physicist Stephen Hawking begins his book The Grand Design. Hawking’s thesis is that philosophers have failed to keep pace with the developments that revolutionized science and mathematics in the last two centuries. Philosophers have failed to provide us with a way to conceive of the world that science now describes. Yet, like most contemporary scientists, Hawking presupposes the outlook of scientific materialism. In other words, Hawking assumes that the world can be reduced to elementary “matter.” This assumption has encountered three basic problems: First, physics has found that the world is composed not of matter, but of energy. Yet while scientists know how to measure energy, they have difficulty understanding what it is, and why it is the fundamental substance of existence. Second, when physicists examine matter at the smallest possible levels, they find that it is made of structures that inevitably include the scientist herself. Third, since matter is dead, the world described by scientific materialism is fundamentally dead. And if the world is truly made of dead matter, then it would seem that our lives must be accidental and meaningless. From this problem follow many of our contemporary struggles between science and religion. In the spirit of Stephen Hawking, this course accepts that philosophy has been no better than comatose for the past two hundred years. And, in the manner of Hawking, it strives to provide a complete explanation of existence in terms that are rational, clear, and precise. Yet it abandons Hawking in its attempt to derive logic, mathematics, and physics without axioms, assumptions, or presuppositions of any kind. Hence, no prior knowledge of logic, mathematics, or physics is required. All tools, toys, and weapons of world construction are cheerfully provided.


Spring 2015

HONS 120-FR1 (CRN 18084)

Instructor: Jeffrey D. Skowblow

On Failure

If success is the goal, then it would seem failure is the enemy, and know thy enemy is an important precept. But maybe this is too narrow a way to think about failure. Maybe failure is more complicated and interesting than simply the opposite of success. Maybe it is even, often, difficult to recognize. In this Honors seminar we will be exploring the question of failure from multiple perspectives (academic, personal, political, moral, etc.), examining different usages and conceptions of the term, and different case studies, seeking fresh ways of analyzing and understanding the experience of failure. We will base our studies on an eclectic mixture of texts—fiction, poetry, non-fiction, film, song, painting—as well as on our own experiences, and we will engage in various exercises designed to help us understand the value and meaning failure in our own lives and in the world at large.


HONS 120-FR2 (CRN 18114)

Instructor: Bryan Lee Lueck

Forgiveness

All of us, during the course of our lives, will inevitably both do and suffer wrongs. Because of this, we cannot avoid having to wrestle with questions about whether or not to forgive and about how to seek forgiveness. For a couple of different reasons, these questions turn out to be surprisingly difficult to answer. First, it is hard to say precisely what it means to forgive. Is it simply to put the wrong out of mind? Is it to treat the wrongdoer as if he or she had never done the wrong? Or is it merely to set aside our anger at having been wronged? Second, it is hard to formulate a criterion that could help us distinguish between cases in which forgiveness is appropriate and cases in which it is not. Must the wrongdoer acknowledge the wrong? Must he or she explicitly ask for forgiveness? Must the wrongdoer give evidence that his or her character has been reformed for the better? And if the wrongdoer has done these things, are we obligated to forgive? Or does forgiveness remain optional? Our course will be devoted to investigating questions like these from both a historical and a philosophical perspective. We will begin with an examination of the ways in which the meaning of forgiveness has developed from the ancient world to our own time. After that, we will focus on different theoretical articulations of forgiveness advanced by such prominent scholars as Charles Griswold, Vladimir Jankelevitch, and Jacques Derrida.


HONS 320-002 (CRN 18083)

Instructor: Carl P. Springer

Pain (and Suffering)

What is pain? Is it entirely different from pleasure? How best to describe it? Treat it? In this junior-level seminar Honors students will be given the chance to study this complex and important problem from an interdisciplinary perspective. We will read the Greek tragedy, “Oedipus the King,” the biblical book of Job, and Susan Sontag’s “Illness as Metaphor,” as we consider the problems (e.g., theodicy) posed by the issue of human pain and, alternatively, its “redemptive” possibilities (suffering). At the same time, students will be asked to consider the palliative promise (and limitations) of ancient and modern pharmaceutical remedies. The rich intersection between these two disciplinary perspectives, complementary in many ways, not simply contradictory, should help students better to appreciate in its fullness the complex problem of pain and the variety of ways in which it can be addressed today. Research paper required.


HONS 320-003 (CRN 18132)

Instructor: Kiana Marie Cox

Understanding Contemporary Racism: Social Scientific Approaches

This course explores the roots of racism as a structural phenomenon. How is race part and parcel of U.S. social structure? Is it possible that racism is as much the product of "bad" systems as "bad" people? We will explore these questions from a variety of perspectives including sociology, social psychology, history, popular culture, and genetics. The course will feature significant amounts of group work and in-class discussion as well as introductory training in qualitative and quantitative research methods.


HONS 320-004 (CRN 18083)

Instructor: Melodie Ann Rowbotham

Cultural and Complementary Healthcare Practices

This course provides an overview of current complementary therapies and the influence cultures have on healthcare. Complementary therapies, also commonly referred to as alternative therapies, recognize the person as a physical, mental and spiritual being and that disease affects each of these areas of life. Students will also explore how culture impacts healthcare.

Fall 2014

Honors 120_001 “Honors Scholars Freshmen Seminar:  Faulkner and Southern History” (Rowena McClinton, History)

The aim of this Freshman Honors Course is to examine the American South from before the Civil War to the early twentieth century through the literature of William Faulkner.   William Faulkner conveyed this tumultuous era using careful observations of Mississippi and incorporating eye-witness accounts in his numerous novels and short stories.   As a result of losing the Civil War, Faulkner thought that Southern society lost a sense of identity; therefore, ruling elites sanctioned extreme violence against African Americans.  Turmoil led to racial and family disputes. Blindness to progress exacerbated living in the present.  Faulkner succinctly explained: the "past has not passed."  An intense observer of peoples who had undergone defeat, Faulkner elucidates the effects loss (of the Civil War) had on his fictional characters in Sound and Fury, Light in August, Intruder in the Dust, and short stories edited by Malcolm Cowley in The Portable Faulkner.   Southern history intertwines with conflict, intensity, and irony and this course will address these themes, in particular, against the backdrop of historical facts.   Texts to be read and discussed include the following: Malcolm Cowley, The Portable Faulkner (New York: Viking Press, 1945); Thadious M. Davis, Games of Property: Law, Race, Gender, and Faulkner's Go Down Moses (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2003); and Joel Williamson, William Faulkner and Southern History (New York and London:  Oxford University Press, 1993). 

Honors 120_002 “Honors Scholars Freshmen Seminar:  What am I and How can I be Happy?” (Matthew Schunke, Philosophy)

This course aims to address two questions. The first is:  ‘What am I?,’ that is, what is it to be a human, a person, a self? The second is:  ‘How can I be happy?’ This includes questions such as: what is pleasure; what is the good life; what is well-being, and; what is it to flourish?  As we will see, these two questions are intimately related. Thus, we will not explore them as distinct questions, but together. You should leave the course with a variety of answers to the two guiding questions and a clearer sense of how you would answer the question yourself. We will examine texts from Plato and Aristotle through to the contemporary period.

Honors 120_003 “Honors Scholars Freshmen Seminar:  Health Policy, Health Reform, US Health System” (Linda Alford, Nursing)

In this course, we will discuss:

1) Healthcare in America

2) Health professionals and organizations in the U.S.

3) Healthcare finance and reimbursement in the U.S.

4) Access, quality and availability of healthcare in the U.S.

5) The future of healthcare in America

Course activities will include:

1) Interviews with legislators

2) Writing letters to legislators

3) Attendance at the School of Nursing Legislative Night

4) Writing letters to editors of newspapers on health policy issues

5) Attend local legislative sessions

Honors 120_004 “Honors Scholars Freshmen Seminar:  Living and Succeeding in a Multicultural Society” (Sonia Zamanou-Erickson, Speech Communications)

The purpose of this course will be to expose students to issues of
 diversity, to give them an understanding and empathy for others’ points of view
 and cultural experiences and to move them to acceptance and appreciation of
 differences. Students will examine their own identities, appreciate their 
unique cultures, will learn about other cultures (through guest speakers,
 readings, class activities, participation in cultural events on campus and 
beyond). Finally, students will learn communication skills that will allow them 
to be more successful in their interactions with others, who may be different 
than themselves. Diversity will be discussed in a broad sense of the term
, including dimensions beyond race and gender, such as ethnicity, religion,
 disabilities, sexual orientation, education, age, etc. Finally, there will be a
 big writing component in this class since students will have to keep a journal
 and write feedback/critique for every new experience to which they are exposed.


 

Honors 320_001 “Honors Scholars Interdisciplinary Seminar: Literary and Philosophical Reflections on Illness” (Eric Ruckh, History)

In this seminar, we will examine illness from a humanistic perspective. We will be less interested in illness as a product of certain biological processes or vectors and more as a historical and cultural phenomenon.  We will not be asking:  what causes these symptoms, or, what biological or physical processes do these symptoms reveal and how can we fix or cure them?  Rather we will be asking, what does illness mean? What does the experience of illness reveal to humans who suffer it or suffer from it? We explore these questions about the meaning of illness by weaving together historical, literary, and philosophical examinations of illness broadly conceived. Three broad responses will be examined:  that illness reveals the truth of human existence; that illness reveals specific dynamics of a historical situation; that illness reveals nothing but itself. Each of these responses will be critically examined and we will try to see how each contains paradoxes within it that limit its persuasiveness. In the end, we will be left with a richer, and I dare say, healthier horizon within which to formulate for ourselves what illness means to us. We will read reflections on illness from Michel de Montaigne through Dostoyevsky and Mann to Susan Sontag.

Honors 320_002 “Honors Scholars Interdisciplinary Seminar: Truth or Dare: Being and seeming to be in Shakespeare’s Hamlet

(Joanna Schmitz, Theatre and Dance)

“There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so” (2.2.245-246).

Where is the line between fact and fiction? Things are either true or seem to be true so how can we determine when our perceptions are trustworthy or deceptive? In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Hamlet’s life depends on his ability to figure out who is on his side and who is “using” him to “damn” him. For Hamlet to fight his murdering and devious uncle he must first figure out how to use the same weapons, theatrical weapons of artifice and “seeming to be” something he is not. To save his life he must “act” to find out if the ghost is a ghost or a demon sent to destroy him; if his mother is loyal, complicit or just another pawn; if his friends want to help him or hurt him; and even if his love is true love or just another game. The most famous line in Hamlet, “To be or not to be, that is the question,” not only queries the challenges and hardships of being alive in contrast to the peace we might find in death’s “undiscovered country,” it is also, and perhaps more importantly, an attempt to throw his enemies off his trail by lying to them.

This course will explore how being and seeming to be are inherent in the action of the play, both dramatically and meta-theatrically. Novels are complete and ready for a reader but plays only have all their necessary parts when they are performed for an audience. We will examine how performance choices including directing and acting as well as theater architecture and reconstruction contribute to completing the play in production.

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