Fall 2022 Honors Colloquia Courses

Honors colloquia courses are designed to explore an over-arching and thought-provoking focal question that is enduring and significant, the kind that has perplexed and engaged scholars through the ages, or has modern leaders grappling for solutions. These courses are truly interdisciplinary, which means they feature a wide-ranging integration of ideas, sources, methodologies, and insights from multiple disciplinary traditions. Honors colloquia take place in small group settings that encourage students to develop a rigorous approach to processing information and deepening understanding. Note that…

  • All Honors College students are required to complete at least two Honors Colloquia courses
  • Colloquia courses count towards the 22 HONS credit requirement
  • Students may take additional Colloquia courses as an Honors elective
  • Unless noted, colloquia courses do not count towards the College’s General Education requirements

The prerequisite(s) for all Honors Colloquia Courses are as follows: Honors College Student, HONS 100, HONS 110, and at least one Honors Foundation course.

HONS 225-01 What is a Nation?
Professor Joshua Shanes

MW: 3:25 – 4:40 p.m.

Nations today seem to be a self-evident reality. Yet nations are in fact modern constructions, perhaps two centuries old (often much younger), that compete with other forms of community and identities for legitimacy and loyalty. Even the basic question, “what is a nation,” brings no uniform answer. Nation-states and nationalism can bond communities and stabilize states and regions, but they are also sources of violent conflict and have facilitated some of the most barbaric acts in human history. This course will explore the origins and development of nations and nationalism and consider what all it means for us today, as Americans at the start of the 21st century. We will raise basic questions about identity, community (membership and boundaries), ethnicity, and the human condition.

HONS 225-02 Designing Women: Perceptions, Reflections, and Self-Representation of the Western Female
Professor Brooke Permenter
MWF 10:00 – 10:50 a.m.

What are the role of religion, the state, and the family in shaping ideas about femininity? What accounts for changes and continuities in female gender roles and the regulation of female bodies? How have categories of womanhood and the imagery associated with them shaped experience and self-perception? This course explores political, religious, intellectual, cultural, and medical influences on the organization and regulation of women and gendered experience from the Classical to the Early Modern periods in Western Europe. It closely examines historic representations of women and of those persons represented as social or culturally different, and identifies and analyzes intersections of gender with other identity categories like race, social status, class, ethnicity, and religion. Topics include theories of gender; premodern medical theories; women’s legal, economic, and social statuses; religious experience and spiritual authority; women’s access to education and intellectual life; artistic, literary, and philosophical representations of women; and authorship, self-representation, and female agency during the pre-modern era.

HONS 226-01/02 Inventing the West: Foundations of Western Civilization in Pre-Modern History
Professor Elisabeth van Meer

MWF: 8:00 – 8:50 a.m. (Section 01)
MWF: 9:00 – 9:50 a.m. (Section 02)

This interdisciplinary colloquium examines the development of Western civilization from its origins in the ancient Near East through the Renaissance and Reformation. It relates the arts, literature, and philosophy of the Western world to their political, social and economic contexts. In investigating the “Inventing of the West,” we will especially employ the toolkits of Historians and Technology and Science Studies (with insights drawn from archaeology, anthropology, art history, classics, philosophy, literary studies, and women’s and gender studies).

This course counts towards the College’s General Education History requirement

HONS 230-01/02 Banned Books that Shape(d) the World
Professor Marjory Wentworth
TR 1:40 – 2:55 p.m. (Section 01)
TR 3:05 – 4:20 p.m. (Section 02)

Why is a text considered incendiary, offensive or dangerous? How does it reflect the culture in which it was produced? What is the political, religious, social context in which these writers/artists worked? This course examines a variety of texts that have been banned across several centuries and continents. Books have been seized or outlawed, classified as taboo, their author’s fined, jailed, tortured, exiled and killed throughout history under many different political, religious or moral regimes. The focus is literature from the past two centuries, spanning diverse cultural and political contexts, as well as some films. In America, many writers of our most beloved books have experienced the sting of censorship and distorted judgement aimed at their work. Recent contempt for the news media will be examined within its unique role in our democracy. We will also incorporate contemporary First Amendment issues – especially in terms of the internet (social media) and hate speech. The course will be organized around literature suppressed on political, religious, social and sexual grounds. We will begin the course by examining the origins of book banning in western culture, and we will end the course discussing contemporary issues around internet regulations.

HONS 230-03 The Body in Italian Renaissance Art
Professor Rebekah Compton
TR 9:55 – 11:10 a.m.

How does the representation of bodies in art produced between 1300-1600 relate to human desires? This course will examine such representation, covering topics that include 1) the gendered body with regard to age, health, reproduction, beauty, class, clothing, and death; 2) the sacred body with regard to worship, succor, miracles, and the heavenly realm; 3) the body of the other with regard to how individuals and groups from other cultures and geographies were represented and discussed during this period. Theories of gender and sexuality along with diversity studies and viewer reception will play a major role. Students will also engage with the materials and techniques employed by Renaissance artists and how these affected and changed representations of the body over time. The goal of the course is to introduce students to various avenues and approaches to the Renaissance body through art and textual sources.

HONS 230-04 Dangerous Drama (and Comedy): Theatre as a Political Art
Professor Cristy Landis
TR 9:25 – 10:40 a.m.

From the earliest extant works of Aristophanes’ ancient comedies, the political propaganda inherent in Elizabethan tragedies, the absurdist voice of Vaclav Havel, to recent Broadway shows, the art of theatre has endeavored to reflect and correct the society out of which it is produced. In this course, students will investigate the historical contexts of key plays across multiple cultures and why they have been deemed threatening to the established “status quo.” As a powerful rhetorical tool, theatre audiences are immediately emotionally and viscerally impacted by vicariously engaging in the experience of the characters. Playwrights, companies, and theatre artists have sought to challenge their audiences to engage in socio-political action while often facing harassment, censorship, incarceration and sometimes death. Can theatre change the world? Let’s see…

HONS 235-01 The Ethics of Holocaust Representation
Professor Ezra Cappell
W 5:30 – 8:15 p.m.

In this course students will consider the ethical question of how filmmakers, writers, and artists ought to represent the horrors of the Holocaust. Drawing upon the work of survivors, historians, and artists, we will explore the difficult issue of aesthetically representing the Holocaust. In this course, students will analyze historic and aesthetic representations of the Holocaust through a variety of genres, including: documentary evidence, historical texts, philosophical texts, religious texts, survivor testimony, novels, short stories, poems, photographs, films, paintings, and musical compositions. By the conclusion of this course students will be able to make ethically informed evaluations of Holocaust art and they will determine for themselves whether and how artists ought to create art from the ashes of Auschwitz.

HONS 245-01/02 The Theory of Knowledge
Professor Bryan Ganaway
MWF 9:00 – 9:50 a.m. (Section 01)
MWF 1:00 – 1:50 p.m. (Section 02)

How do people “know” something to be true? This class explores some of the ways that people have constructed intellectual systems to help them differentiate between true and false, good and bad, known and unknown. Scholars refer to this process as creating systems of knowledge.  We will explore a number of these systems historically including (1) the invention of writing, (2) organized religion, (3) philosophy, (4) the scientific method, (4) social science, and (5) social media. While we will certainly interrogate how these systems divide knowledge into “useful” and “useless” categories, our main goal is to try and understand how homo sapiens develop strategies to make a complex world understandable and manageable.

HONS 250: Politics and Nature
Professor Shishav Parajuli
TR 12:15 – 1:30 p.m.

Dominant political concepts and the political institutions we have built on those foundations have rendered our political relationship with Nature invisible. In political theory and philosophy, the boundaries of the political largely overlap with that between human beings and the non-human world, with the non-humans outside the purview of politics. Yet non-human beings and things are everywhere subject to the coercive force of states and other political bodies, and to the political will of humans. Our relationship to non-humans is thoroughly infused with political power; it reflects our political values and is constitutive of our political communities. In fact, no politics would be possible without the contributions of the non-human beings and things with which we are in continuous relationship. In light of the immense global change and ecological rupture that has exposed the untenability of these foundations, how are we to respond to environmental crises that take place on a geological scale without papering over complex issues of social inequality, racial difference, and gender norms? How might we promote the flourishing of sustainable communities that include both human and non- human, present and future beings? This seminar will address deep philosophical questions like these by exploring a range of work in political ecology and environmental humanities. The readings reflect a diversity of disciplinary commitments and methodological approaches ranging from History, Anthropology, and Philosophy to Postcolonial Theory, Ecofeminism, Indigenous Studies and Science Studies.

HONS 255-01 Disunion: How America has Stayed Together…Most of the Time
Professor Michael Lee
TR 10:50 a.m. – 12:05 p.m.

E pluribus unum was first suggested for inclusion on the national seal by Pierre Eugene du Simitiere in 1776. National unity has been haunted by its twin, E pluribus pluria, ever since. Secession and related ghosts of disunion, nullification and interposition, appear in places some contemporary observers might not expect, in all geographic sections of the country and by very dissimilar political groups who for very different reasons have decided to opt out of the American project. To show that they never felt what James Madison called “the chords of affection,” Americans have warred to leave the nation; they have also just left, they have moved off the grid; they have adopted new flags, named new nations, and written new constitutions. This course, in short, examines American disunion. Although we will be specifically interested in acts of disunion in America, we will encounter bigger questions about peoples and nations along the way: What makes a nation a nation? Why do nations disintegrate? What are the limits of national power? What are the limits of local power? We will pay particular attention to the period 1776, the inauguration of the American project, to 1861, when rival sections went to war over the meaning of that project. To immerse ourselves in the language of disunion, we will read the essential primary texts of American disunion (from anti-federalists, Southern fire eaters, Northern abolitionists, and others) in this period as well as engage the quintessential works of American union by Alexander Hamilton, Daniel Webster, Angelina Grimke, Frederick Douglass, and Abraham Lincoln. Finally, as a matter of focus, we will pay particular attention to Charleston’s outsized role in the history of American disunion.

HONS 260 Applied Women’s Health Research and Advocacy
Professor Beth Sundstrom

W 2:00 – 4:45 p.m.

How do the complex intersections of social, cultural, political, legal, environmental, and economic contexts impact women’s lived experience of reproductive decision making? How can illuminating the interaction between intersectional identities and systems of social inequality offer an opportunity to empower women and address health disparities? The purpose of this course is to investigate health issues specific to women and girls through interdisciplinary research collaborations, and communicate research findings and health-related information to empower women and girls in our community, South Carolina, and beyond. This course will incorporate multiple methodologies to better understand women’s health, including reproductive health. Students will conduct praxis-oriented research that bridges the gap between theory and practice, informing the development of community-based public health interventions. This course draws on the robust research and advocacy of the Women’s Health Research Team (WHRT) and its mission to Collaborate. Innovate. Advocate.

HONS 260-02 How Cognitive Measures of Attention, Memory and Emotional Wellbeing Impact Academic Achievement
Professor Mindy Hong

T: 4:05 – 6:50 p.m.

Why do some students succeed and others struggle when the conditions for learning seem equitable? What role does environment, temperament, and leadership play in the complex learning system? In this course, students will study how cognitive science can help us to understand and to maximize our learning potential. We will explore how factors of emotional well-being influence the way we learn.



*Please note that Fall 2022 course offerings may be subject to change