Fall 2023 Honors Colloquia Courses

*Fall 2023 courses, instructors, and meeting times are subject to change. Check back, as we will be updating course information regularly.

Honors colloquia courses are designed to explore an over-arching and thought-provoking focal question that is enduring and significant. They 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. Remember 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 Designing Women: Perceptions, Reflections, and Self-Representation of the Western Female
Instructor: 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
Instructor: Elisabeth van Meer

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

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 Literary Interpretations of Charleston
Instructor: Julia Eichelberger
TR 1:40 – 2:55 p.m.

This class is a study of 20th and 21st century narratives interpreting Charleston, where African American culture and the legacies of white supremacy influence the lives of all residents. Through class discussion, site visits, and other experiential learning, students will explore the real-life places, people, and events that inspired these texts, then create their own interpretations of the city. 

HONS 230-04 Sex and Scandal in Dance 
Instructor: Gretchen McLaine
MWF 12:00-12:50 p.m.

This course explores the seedy underbelly of an art form that often associates itself with the sacred and virtuous. Topics will include the rampant prostitution in 1800s European ballet, illicit relationships on and off the stage, engendered power imbalances inherent in organizational structures, empowerment vs. exploitation, copyright infringement, controversial dances, arts censorship, and subterfuge. 

Dance expresses life in society: how and what people feel and believe, and how they live is seen through dance. Students will encounter concepts relevant to various time periods and will develop an increased awareness of other people’s values and forms of expression.


HONS 235-01 Adapt, Move, or Die: Nature in the Anthropocene
Instructor: Chris Freeman
MWF 11:00-11:50 a.m.

Humans exert strong and novel selective pressures on organisms as we create “anthromes” across the globe. Organisms in these modified ecosystems are responding by moving, adapting through evolution by natural selection, or going extinct. This colloquium class will use primary scientific literature to highlight the ecological and evolutionary responses of organisms to human overexploitation, climate change, habitat destruction and fragmentation, urban development, disease, and invasive species. 

HONS 245-01 The Theory of Knowledge
Instructor: Bryan Ganaway
MWF 1:00 – 1:50 p.m. 

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 245-02 Perspectives on Human Nature
Todd Grantham
MW 2:00 – 3:15 p.m.

 Philosophers and social scientists have struggled with the idea of human nature. Is there some distinct “essence” to human kind? Or does the diversity of our species undermine the notion of human nature? Historically, some philosophers conceptualized humans as rational/thinking beings (Homo sapiens), emphasizing that our intellect and morality sets us apart from non-human animals. In contrast, some anthropologists argue that culture is our basic adaptation. And since culture varies so much, perhaps there is no fixed “human nature” beyond our capacity for culture. This course examines how different disciplines have approached the issue of human nature, focusing specifically on philosophy, evolutionary biology, and anthropology. As we explore these competing perspectives, we will ask: Are there any “human universals”? Are any traits truly innate? Are humans unique in our intellect or sense of morality? If we answer these questions in the negative, does that mean we should we abandon the concept of human nature. 

HONS 250: Politics and Nature
Instructor: Shishav Parajuli
TR 1:40-2:55 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: From the Holy to the Mundane: Myth, Ritual and Symbol
Instructor: Leonard Lowe

MW: 2:00 – 3:15 p.m.

Drawing from literature in religious studies, anthropology, and sociology, this course addresses a number of questions across a range of religious, social, and political situations. Do (or must) myths or symbols have universal meaning? What is the relationship between myth and ritual? Must one precede the other? Do myths, rituals, and symbols reflect reality, or create it? What is the place of myth, ritual, and symbol in human social and political life? What about secular rituals or rituals that are performed incorrectly or fail? How would one determine (or who would determine) that a ritual had failed? Following a reading of some influential figures and selected responses to their work, we will focus on a number of theoretical issues relating especially to ritual, as well as the ways in which myth, ritual, and symbol are created, used (or abused), revised, or reinvented to reinforce existing religious and socio-political institutions.

HONS 260-01: Pan-American Dreams: Art and Culture in Latin America/US Relations 
Instructor: José Chávarry

TR 1:40 – 2:55 p.m.

Contemporary representation of Latin America in US public opinion can go many ways: a tourist paradise, a dangerous hotbed or a potential site for economic investment. Where do these imaginaries come from? We will look to answer this question by exploring the history of Pan Americanism, the ideal of political, economic and cultural collaboration between the two sides of the hemisphere for their mutual benefit, and the simultaneous progress, inequality and repression it brought to Latin America. Our focus will be on the role played by the arts in the construction of this relationship of cooperation and contestation, by analyzing diverse cultural productions from Latin America and the US, including Disney films and Modernist literature, United Fruit Company propaganda and the writings of the Beat poets, among many other topics. In particular, we will examine concepts such as imperialism or underdevelopment, and the racial and gender dimensions of Pan Americanism. In doing so, we will understand how since the 19th century Latin America has embodied the desires and fears of the US, and the impact this continues to have today.


HONS 260-02: How Cognitive Measures of Attention, Memory and Emotional Wellbeing Impact Academic Achievement
Instructor: Mindy Hong
W 4:00-6:45 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.


HONS 265-01: Storytelling with Data
Instructor: Lancie Affonso 
TR 10:40 a.m. – 12:05 p.m.

**Applications to enroll in HONS 265: Storytelling with Data have reached anticipated capacity. Students interested in the course can request to be placed on a waitlist using this link: Storytelling with Data Fall '23 application form.

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” driven 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.

*Please note that Fall 2023 course offerings are tentative, and are subject to change