Honors Colloquia and Special Topics Courses Fall 2019

Note: For more details on section numbers and times, please visit MyCharleston

HONS 226 Foundations of Western Civilization Pre-Modern History (Professor Bryan Ganaway)
This course counts towards the general education pre-modern era history requirement.
Section 1: BERRY 104, MWF 8:00-8:50
Section 2: BERRY 104, MWF 9:00-9:50
Section 3: BERRY 104, MWF 1:00-1:50

What are the ideas that shaped Western identity in the pre-modern world? This course asks how lived historical experience shaped Western identities in the ancient, medieval and early modern world by employing the history theories/methods and methodology from at least one other discipline. It seeks to help students understand who they are today by looking closely at the ideas, experiences, and environments that shaped the past.

HONS 230: Banned Books that Shape(d) the World (Professor Marjory Wentworth)
MYBK 320, TR 3:05-4:20

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: UNREAL: Reading & Writing Speculative Narratives (Professor Malinda McCollum)
10GW, R 4:00-6:45

In this course, we’ll read and write fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction that breaches the parameters of strict realism by incorporating the supernatural, the shocking, and the absurd. Our central questions: Why do writers invent alternate realities? How do they imagine and construct their new worlds? What does speculative writing reveal to us about present-day tensions in society and within the self?
To aid our investigation, we’ll examine contemporary stories, poems, and essays influenced by sci-fi, fantasy, and horror and contemplate the long reach of the traditional fable, myth, and fairy tale. We’ll also read interviews with speculative writers and have in-class conversations with established poets, fiction-writers, and essayists about their work. IN addition, we’ll look to disciplines such as sociology and indigenous studies to help us consider how speculative writing may illuminate universal human experiences and highlight injustices faced by marginalized communities.
Throughout the semester, you’ll produce your own speculative writing, inspired by the published work we read. Ultimately, you’ll craft a creative project – a complete short story, creative nonfiction essay, or collection of poems – that will be workshopped by your peers. You’ll design and build your own world on the page, determining its particulars and politics, demographics and divisions, conflicts and concerns. How will creating this new reality deepen your (and your readers’) understanding of the reality we live in now?

HONS 380: Values and Science of Sustainable Agriculture (Professors Todd LeVasseur and Seth Pritchard)
NOTE: There is a $400 fee associated with this course to cover travel costs to Earthaven ecovillage during fall break.
RITA 210, 1:40-2:55

This course is focused on a central and enduring question: can human communities via the technology of agriculture create, if at all, enduring communities of place that are able to enter the trophic pyramid in ways that are regenerative and that foster biodiversity and social equality, and do this in an era of rapid climate changes? The course will explore concepts of traditional ecological knowledge; foundational epistemologies of the Agricultural Revolution and the Scientific Revolution and Green Revolution; ecological agrarian literature and concepts of place and the value of farming; and intersectional perspectives on food security, biocolonialism/land grabs, food justice, and migrant/labor rights. Woven through these discussions will be an analysis of animal agriculture, monoculture farming of hybrid seeds, the impact of climate change on farming, deforestation due to farming, fisheries collapse, and how these all impact conceptions of and relationship to place and the bodies of organisms in those places. Examples of regenerative, ethical, sustainable farming (permaculture, biodynamics, religious agrarianism, peasant farming regimes, indigenous farming, Land Institute, Via Campesina) will be provided throughout the course as alternatives which suggest more sustainable human/human and human/non-human interactions at the interface of agriculture. The values of such alternatives will be adumbrated and articulated.


All HONS 381 classes will count towards the general education humanities requirement.

HONS 381: Biomedical Ethics across Cultures (Professor Laura Sullivan)
MYBK 320, TR 12:15-1:30

This course engages the question of whether morality is dependent on culture through a study of ethical issues in medicine that have arisen in different cultures and at different times. We begin by reviewing foundational issues in medicine and medical research, including human experimentation, medical professionalism, patients’ rights, and physician paternalism as they arose following WWII and in the context of the Nuremberg Code and the Declaration of Helsinki. We then consider perspectives from Japan, India, the Netherlands, China, and the U.S. on some of the most significant topics in medical ethics in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, including abortion, assisted reproductive technology (ART), euthanasia, definitions of death, and organ transplantation. Finally, having spent the majority of the semester focused on ethical issues as they arise across geographic, ethnic, and linguistic lines, we turn to ethical issues that arise across cultural boundaries within societies, including neurotypicality, disability, and deaf culture.

HONS 381: From Plato to Game Theory: Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) (Professor Jennifer Baker)
MYBK 119, TR 9:25-10:40

What are the elements of social well-being? This course begins with the ancient Greek formulations of this question and ends with concerns from contemporary political theorists over workplace authoritarianism. In between, we will track the development of economics and consider the role its various methodologies have to play in how we understand each other.

HONS 381: Perceptions of the Other in the Pre-Modern West (Professors Brooke Permenter and Jennifer Cavalli) (This course is exclusively for rising sophomores or students who exempted out of Western Civilization)
10GW, MW 2:00-3:15

The traditional canon of western civilization suggests that to be good was/is to be a white, Christian male. What, then, of everyone else? Authors, artists, readers, and viewers of the pre-modern west understood and participated in constructing and perpetuating ideas about marginalized groups. How did images of the “Other”, such as heretics, Jews, Muslims, and witches, help Christians to define themselves? How did religion and government foster myth and legend about the alleged dangers of people of different faith, doctrine, or gender? This course explores political, religious, intellectual, social, and cultural influences on the literary, artistic, and physical treatments of people deemed inferior to the Christian male throughout the Middle Ages and into the early modern period. It closely examines representations of people believed to violate the doctrinal Christian belief and practice as a result of inherent personal flaws, including weak faith, ignorance, racial/ethnic origin, gender identity, and predilections for the cardinal sins.

HONS 381: Designing Women: Perceptions, Reflections, and Self-Representation of the Western Female (Professors Brooke Permenter and Jennifer Cavalli) (This course is exclusively for rising sophomores or students who exempted out of Western Civilization)
BERRY 104, MWF 10:00-10:50

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 381: Art Humanities: The Western Tradition (Professor Rebekah Compton)
MYBK 320, TR 10:50-12:05

Art Humanities teaches students how to look at, think about, and engage in critical discussion of the visual arts. It is not a traditional survey of Western art history, but an analytical study of a limited number of monuments and artists. The course focuses on the formal qualities of architecture, sculpture, painting and other media as well as the historical contexts in which these works were made and understood. It considers the relationship of art to broader social, economic, cultural, political, and religious issues. Ideas related to patronage, art theory, technological innovation, and gender will also be considered. Art Humanities is not a lecture but a discussion-based class. The course includes two field trips to see architecture and art in person. After completing the course, students will be able to visit and converse in art museum settings.

HONS 381: Composing the Past: Greek and Roman Historiography (Professor Jennifer Gerrish)
MYBK 320, TR 8:00-9:15

Greek and Roman Historiography was not simply the practice of compiling names and dates. Objective “truth” was far less important than telling a compelling or persuasive story; rather than merely recording the past, the Greek and Roman historians composed it. These authors uses the past as a lens to explore current events, national origins and identity, and human nature itself. This course will ask how the Greek and Roman historians shaped their versions of the past to suit their own literary, political, or philosophical agendas, and how those narratives in turn have influenced our own understanding of the classical world.

Social Sciences

All HONS 382 courses will also count towards the general education social sciences requirement.

HONS 382: Future of Humanity in a Technological Tomorrow (Professor Brian Bossak)
TR 1:40-2:55

Humanity, in the 21st century, faces novel and complex existential questions that will require critical thinking from a well-educated populace. The entwinement of technological advances such as AI and biotechnology into the life experience of current and future generations promises change – but will that change lead to positive or negative outcomes? For the first time in history, the coming decades will lead to nothing short of divine power in the hands of human beings. For centuries, people have spent their time and energy focusing on control of the ambient environment and other people. Soon, humans will be able to control and manipulate the world inside of us as well as gain additional control over the world outside. The power to extend life or selectively engineer humans (through biotechnology), create non-biological life (through AI), and perhaps even the ability to banish the traditional concept of death entirely (through the fusion of AI and biotechnology) will emerge, whether the human race is ready for it or not. This class explores the biological, economic, social, and technological questions which humanity must prepare to face in the fast-approaching future.