Spring 2024 Honors Colloquia Courses

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 – Nationalism, Cosmopolitanism, and Their Discontents
Instructors: Rich Bodek and Joe Kelly
TR 1:40 – 2:55 p.m.

Nationalism and its presumed opposite, cosmopolitanism, have been staples of Western political and cultural discourse at least since the French Revolution. They became among the most salient points of contention, though, in the interwar era. This course will analyze cultural artifacts of each in the American, Irish, British, and German cases in the 1920s and 1930s, seeing how they both reflected and shaped both self-understanding and politics. As we will see, American nationalism in this era tended to reflect constitutional ideals and in many parts of the country avoided overt discussions of race. Irish nationalism emerged from a subaltern position, at least in part as a direct rejection of English norms. British nationalism tended to be woven into the question of empire and world power. German nationalism veered ever more toward racism and Antisemitism. Cosmopolitanism, though, as will emerge, although apparently uniform across the west, had its own national ticks, ticks that will be in conversation with local nationalisms. Students will practice a range of analytical skills—literary and historical interpretation especially, but also others such as new historicism and a more interdisciplinary cultural criticism. Students will also produce approximately 4000 words of informal and 4000 words of formal writing.

HONS 227-01/02 – Foundations of Western Civilization Modern History: Russia in the World
Instructor: Irina Gigova
Section 01: MWF 8:00 – 8:50 a.m.
Section 02: MWF 9:00 – 9:50 a.m.

This course investigates how Russia, since the 1500s, has engaged with, rivaled, influenced and threatened peoples and countries in Asia, Europe, the Americas, and Africa. We use Russia in its stages of existence (Tsardom, Empire, a Soviet Republic, and a post-Soviet state) as a gateway to broader historical developments. Using scholarly literature and primary sources, we will talk about geography and environment, early-modern statehood and modern imperial expansion, westernization and modernization, nationalism and political ideologies, arts and culture, war and revolution, the global Cold War, and our contemporary times. As we study geo-politics over time, we will also consider the existence of a “national character” (historical patterns of state and national conduct).

This course counts towards the College's history general education requirement

HONS 230-01 – Imagining NYC
Instructor: Ezra Cappell
T 4:00 – 6:45 p.m.

In Imagining New York students will study the most photographed, filmed, and mythologized city in the world as they consider New York as both a cultural construct and as an actual place where over eight million people live and work every day.  Students will study films, photographs, paintings. stories, and musical compositions inspired by the centuries-long experiment in urban living that is the lifeblood of New York City. Throughout our course students will consider the concept of cosmopolitanism both as a philosophical idea as well as a way of life as they gain an overall sense of the historical and social importance of New York City as the cultural capital of the world. In studying our course texts, created by America’s leading artists, filmmakers, and writers, students will articulate the responsibilities of being a global citizen in an international city of immigrants. Much like the history of invention in the city, this course will consider New York from an interdisciplinary perspective that crosses numerous areas of study, including: film, music, literature, art, architectural studies, and urban history. We will consider the many ways that cultural and artistic representations of New York comment upon the wider political, economic, and social issues affecting the larger American culture.  New York City has always been a place of experimentation and throughout the semester we will analyze questions of race, sex, gender, class, ethnicity, criminal justice, cosmopolitanism, and modernism.

HONS 230-02 – Bomb, Bolsheviks, and Birth Control: Jews and the Radical Left
Instructor: Ashley Walters
MWF 12:00 – 12:50 p.m.

From the publication of the Communist Manifesto in 1848 and the 1917 Russian Revolution, to twentieth-century American labor organizing and the emergence of feminist politics around the globe, Jews have played an outsized role in leftist political movements. This class is organized around a central question of why Jews tend to be disproportionately drawn to the radical Left and what role—if any—religion, culture, class, gender, and race, in addition to a long history of civil and social discrimination against Jews have played in Jewish politics. This course will also explore modern anti-Semitic tropes by considering popular perceptions of Jews as communists and conspirators in the rhetoric of Nazi Germany, McCarthyism, and the contemporary alt-right.

HONS 230-03 – Philosophical and Scientific Explorations of the Conscious Will: Are We Free?
Instructor: Chad Galuska
MWF 9:00 – 9:50 a.m.

Traditional notions of free will underlie personal moral responsibility, legal and ethical practices, and some religious beliefs. The Scientific Revolution, however, popularized the metaphysical belief of the universe as a determined system that seemingly does not allow for truly free choice. This course provides historical and contemporary philosophical and psychological context into the issue of free will, introduces students to the psychological science of the conscious will, and discusses how beliefs about free will influence our understanding of mental illness, psychotherapy, and overall psychological health.

HONS 240-01 – Travel between the West and the Middle East

Instructors: Rana Mikati and Garrett Davidson
TR 12:15 – 1:30 p.m.

This course examines how Americans, Europeans, and Middle Easterners encountered each other’s cultures and religions through travel between empires. We will engage in close readings of famous Muslim, European, and American travelogues with a focus on shifting perceptions of the Other.  The readings include the famous accounts of Ibn Battuta, Ibn Fadlan, Marco Polo, Mark Twain, and others. We will examine their perceptions as they moved from the center of their empires to its peripheries and beyond. Our chronological scope is broad, covering the medieval, early modern, and modern periods. In terms of geography, we will read the accounts of a Moroccan in India, an American in Cairo, and an Egyptian in Paris.

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 – Democracy in the Ancient and Modern World
Instructor: Andrew Alwine
MWF 9:00 – 9:50 a.m.

This course provides a survey of the history of democratic development within a coherent tradition of politics that begins in the city-state cultures of ancient Greece, runs through early modern Europe and the American Revolution, and continues to the present day in American constitutional culture. The goal of the first part of the course is to give students a fresh perspective on the foundational documents of the United States by introducing them to the intellectual background on which early American culture was based. Debates about modes of representation, the merits of indirect election, democracy versus aristocracy, etc. had been going on for thousands of years when the American framers came up with their own distinctive solution to age-old problems, ‘republican remed[ies] for the diseases most incident to republican government.’ The second part of the course will focus on the political history of the United States, with special focus on the colonial and revolutionary periods.

HONS 250-02 – Social Network and Analysis
Instructor: Tracy Burkett
TR 1:40 – 2:55 p.m.

While most individuals are familiar with social media and how it connects us, they may not know that social network analysis is about far more than Instagram, TikTok, or Snapchat. We will explore the evolution of social network analysis from its origins in math in the 1930s to its present application across diverse fields such as sociology, anthropology, medicine, psychology, business, political science, and education. We will strive to develop a social network understanding of social processes rather than an individual one and we will learn the fundamentals of network analysis and visualization techniques through hands-on exercises, data collection, and a small project that prepares students to use network analysis in their respective areas of interest.  

HONS 255-01 – Constructive Selves and Building Relationships
Instructor: Jenna Abetz
R 5:30 – 8:15 p.m.

How do we make sense of who we are? What do we want from the close relationships in our lives? This course explores the intersection of culture and interpersonal relationships to understand how this interplay constructs our individual and relational identities. We will examine taken for granted assumptions about the study of relationships and relationship forms (e.g., gender, structural issues such as socio-economic status, the cult of romance) as well as important theories and trends through the use of arts-based research and creative case studies. Because the study of relationships is multidisciplinary, we will study perspectives from various fields, including communication, sociology, and psychology.

HONS 260-01 – Astronomy & Literature
Instructor: Sharonah Fredrick
MW 3:25 – 4:40 p.m.

Given their respective views on the interconnected nature of apparently differing disciplines, Copernicus, Mayan astronomers, the Andean architects of Peru's Chankillo (the most ancient astronomic observatory in the Americas), Carl Sagan, and the 5th century Hypatia (the first female astronomer recorded in Egypt) would hardly have been surprised to discover how their findings have shaped the written and oral literature, as well as the art of the world's peoples. How does contemplating the stars and planets find expression in prose, music and painting across cultures? This course aims to answer that question—and others.

HONS 260-02 – Data Visualization and Storytelling
Instructor: Lancie Affonso
TR 10:50 – 12:05 p.m.

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.

HONS 265-01 – What is Home?
Instructor: Mari Crabtree
TR 10:50 – 12:05 p.m.

This course takes an intersectional and interdisciplinary approach to analyzing an enduring, if not universal, question: what is home? Is it a place, the company of particular people, a state of being, a set of rituals and traditions, a spiritual connection to the land? The novels, short fiction, essays, and memoirs discussed in the course take up this question through topics ranging from the trans-Atlantic slave trade and immigration to the search for cultural roots and spiritual homegoings. Assigned texts, all of which are written by Black women, include Toni Morrison’s Home, Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day, Edwidge Danticat’s Brother, I’m Dying and Create Dangerously, Saidiya Hartman’s Lose Your Mother, and Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing. Discussions and essay assignments provide students with opportunities to closely analyze these texts while honing their own understandings of home and exploring the sociohistorical processes that have shaped the idea of home for African-descended peoples.

*Please note that Spring 2024 course offerings are tentative, and are subject to change