Honors Colloquia and Special Topics Courses for Spring 2019


HONS 380: Genetics and the Good Society (Professor Chris Korey)
*Optional Spring Break trip to Edinburgh, Scotland

The continued development of gene sequencing technology has improved the ability of biomedical researchers to analyze whole human genomes for the genetic contributions to human health and disease. While the ability to store large amounts of genetic information in databases for large-scale analysis presents an opportunity for significant discoveries, it should also make us pause to consider the implications of this technology in the context of how the information is used to promote human health, how we use it to make reproductive decisions, how the privacy of this information is maintained, and how this information shapes our views of a healthy society. This course will take an interdisciplinary look at all these issues through the combined disciplinary lenses of Human Genetic Research and Disability Studies. We’ll read primary literature in human genetics and biomedical ethics, personal narratives of disability, and disability theory to help us envision the place of genetic information and technology in a “good” society. At key places in the course, we’ll use Iceland, Scotland, Estonia, Denmark, and China as international case studies to gain a global perspective on these issues. Students enrolled in this course will be eligible to participate in an optional spring break abroad visit to Edinburgh, Scotland to examine first hand their Generation Scotland genetics program. Signing up for the travel component is not required to enroll in this course. Students interested in the optional study abroad portion need to contact Dr. Korey at koreyc@cofc.edu before November 1 to discuss the trip and apply through the Center for International Education.

HONS 380: The Art of Translation (Professor Ghassan Nasr)

This course is an introduction to translation studies and art/practice. The course begins with a brief survey of translation history in the English tradition through a reading of foundational statements on translation. The historical background will serve as a foundation for examining modern developments in translation studies. Core notions such as fidelity (to the source), translatability, literalism, equivalence, naturalization, and reception will be introduced through assigned readings and discussed in a group workshop setting. The course will also explore translation paradigms that engage recent and contemporary criticism, such as modernism, post-structuralism, post-modernism, gender studies, cultural studies, and post-colonialism. In the latter part of the course, participants will engage the historical and theoretical material in a workshop format in which they discuss outside translations or their own translations of source texts (mostly poetry or short prose pieces).

HONS 380: Data Visualization and Storytelling (Professor Lancie Affonso) 

How do we tell compelling stories with our data? For thousands of years, storytelling has been an integral part of our humanity. The human drive for understanding the universe underlies the knowledge-generating, transformational process that is constantly at work in our everyday lives. Even in our “big data” digital age, stories continue to appeal to us just as much as they did to our ancient ancestors. Data visualization and storytelling with data changes the way we interact with data, transforming it from a dry collection of statistics to something that can be entertaining, engaging, thought-provoking, and even inspirational. In this interdisciplinary course, students will be introduced to the theory and practice of designing effective visualizations of data from multiple sources. A broad overview to the data visualization field will be provided, covering principles, methods, and techniques that are foundational to both information and scientific visualization. Students will learn how to detect and articulate the stories behind data sets and communicate data findings in visual, oral, and written contexts for various audiences.

Note: For students entering the Honors College under the new curriculum in Fall 2018, this course may count towards one of two required Exploring Complexity and Diversity Colloquia courses. In order to enroll, you must successfully complete an Honors Foundation course in Fall 2018. 


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

HONS 381: Becoming American  (Professors Shari Rabin and Matthew Cressler)

What is America? What does it mean to be “American”? How does one “become” American? These questions rest at the heart of some of the most popular and provocative debates in the history of the United States debates ultimately about what binds a nation together. ln this course we will explore questions about race, religion, and the boundaries of US citizenship from the vantage point of three particular communities: African Americans, Catholics, and Jews. Each has been characterized as outsiders at various points in American history, and yet, at other moments, have been heralded as the epitome of the American Dream. This course will situate this seeming paradox in historical and cultural context. We will explore our three opening questions through a close engagement of a variety of primary sources, ranging from films to court cases. Students will become familiar with critical theory in American studies and significant scholarly work in the fields of African American Studies, Jewish Studies, and Religious Studies. The course will culminate in a creative project that initiates a critical conversation on these issues in our contemporary moment.

HONS 381: Forgery, Destruction, Theft, and Repatriation – The Instability of Meaning and the Unsustainability of the Market in the Art World (Professor Brooke Permenter)

This course examines the negotiation of cultural heritage and wealth resulting from art forgery, destruction, theft, and repatriation.  Taking an interdisciplinary approach, we will examine some of the most famous cases of art crime as a means of understanding the intersection of identity and economics in the art world.  Regardless of the circumstances, changing a work of art’s cultural context changes its meaning. Given the associated risks, why do humans steal and destroy works of art?  What are the advantages and disadvantages of cultural appropriation?  How do we determine the necessity and processes for the restoration of artistic and cultural heritage?

HONS 381: The Self as Story: Autobiography at the Intersection of Science, Culture, Philosophy, and Art (Professor Anton Vander Zee) 

What is the self, and how has it been defined historically? And how do we conceive of the self in the today, and as we look to the digital future? This course will address these enduring questions, using the narrative practice of contemporary autobiography as our focus. We will proceed from “investigations” where participants examine ideas of selfhood across time and from different disciplinary perspectives, to “methods” where we look at methodologies unique to the interdisciplinary field of autobiography and life-writing studies, to “models” where we read a set of autobiographies with these investigations and methods in mind, and finally to a final section on “making” where students engage in a major research project in relation to autobiography.

Note: For students entering the Honors College under the new curriculum in Fall 2018, this course may count towards one of two required Exploring Complexity and Diversity Colloquia courses. In order to enroll, you must successfully complete an Honors Foundation course in Fall 2018. 

HONS 381: What is Mental Health? (Professor Garson Leder) 

This course is an introduction to contemporary issues in the philosophy of psychiatry. The course is concerned with what it means for a mind to be ill. Most people agree that mental illness is a real problem. However, there is far less agreement about what, exactly, the problem is. Primary sections of the course include the concepts of health and disease, nosology and diagnosis, and psychotherapy. Through classroom lectures and discussions and the examination of primary source materials, students will gain an understanding of foundational issues concerning the concepts of mental health and illness and the ethics of psychiatric and psychotherapeutic treatments. As this course takes an interdisciplinary approach to develop an understanding of mental health, students will gain an appreciation of both historical and current psychiatric, psychological, and philosophical texts.

Note: For students entering the Honors College under the new curriculum in Fall 2018, this course may count towards one of two required Exploring Complexity and Diversity Colloquia courses. In order to enroll, you must successfully complete an Honors Foundation course in Fall 2018. 

HONS 381: Engaging the Dance Thinker (Professor Scott-Copses)

Initially the art of dance and the practice of academic writing may appear at odds–the dancer thinks kinesthetically while the writer thinks verbally, often from a reflective distance. Yet this course privileges an “embodied” view of learning through a writing practice that joins body and mind in the physical and mental act of knowledge construction. We will work with and through the body to choreograph and compose written and physical texts. This course requires neither specialized knowledge in composition theory nor dance practice and methodologies, but will draw from both to encourage the active role of sensory experience in knowledge construction.

Social Sciences

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

HONS 382: We the People (Professor John Culhane)   

The first three words of the U.S. Constitution remind us that we, and we alone, the people of these United States, decide who we send to Washington and how our nation is to be governed. Despite a divided political tribalism tearing our nation apart, a bare majority of eligible voters bothered to vote in our last presidential election. More than ninety million eligible voters failed to vote. Our nation deserves better. Our democracy and our constitutional system of checks and balances are under siege – not only from outside aggressors but from partisan politics within. Professor Culhane, a retired senior executive and chief legal counsel of a large multi-national corporation will endeavor to help his students better understand the difficult circumstances our country faces today by taking students through our 240 years of history, politics and the rule of law. He will provide an analysis of how we came to the issues we face in 2019 and will challenge his students to consider how we might return to those ideals we aspired to when we approved the U.S. Constitution and elected our first President and Congress. His objective is to better prepare his students for the future, whether it be as a graduate student, pursuing a professional career or simply to be a more informed and contributing citizen.