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Course Descriptions

Fall Semester 2014

HONR 300A:  Humanities Seminar
Professor Catherine Fruhan
This interdisciplinary course explores the nature, meanings, functions and experiences of time and its intersection with space and memory across a variety of disciplines and media—science, philosophy, literature, film and the visual arts.  We examine such questions as, how is time related to memory in the context of families, communities and nations? How do we commemorate the past and what are the ethics of this value-laden process of reconstructing history? What do we choose to remember and what do we choose to forget as multiple stories about the past contend for recognition?  What is the role of time and memory in collective and private identity formation and how does photography contribute to this process?  We also consider time travel, the multiverse, reverse time, and simultaneity.  We discuss the ways that time is differently lived, perceived and represented as we also examine how time is an active agent that can powerfully affect the structure of our lives; our sense of ourselves; our process of meaning making; and our reading and viewing practices.

Enlightenments and Critics
HONR 300Ab:  Humanities Seminar
Professor Keith Nightenhelser
In this seminar we will examine some distinct historical periods that have been viewed as periods of "Enlightenment:" the so-called "Age of Reason" of Eighteenth Century Western Europe, the Sophistic Movement of Fifth Century B.C.E. Greece, the "Chinese Enlightenment" that rejected Confucian traditions as a model for developing China in the 1920's, and Twentieth-Century European intellectual movements such as existentialism and the Frankfurt School of left-wing Marxism. All these alleged Enlightenments attracted critics, and we'll examine their claims, as well as the philosophers, poets, historians, and other thinkers advocating a particular brand of "Enlightenment."  Alongside our examination of these historical periods, we will read and reflect critically upon statements about the study and value of the Humanities.  Readings: selections from Homer, Herodotus, Sophocles, Thucydides, Plato, Voltaire, Pope, Lessing, Rousseau, Kant, Wollstonecraft, Horkheimer, Adorno, Nietzsche, W. E. B. du Bois, Sartre, Peter Gay, and Bernard Williams.  Students will prepare a reading prior to the start of the course.

Evolution and Human Nature
HONR 300B: Science Seminar
Professor Kevin Moore
The Philosopher Daniel Dennett once called evolution “the single best idea anyone ever had.” If this claim has any merit, then surely evolutionary perspectives can shed light on important questions about human nature in general, and issues like cooperation, aggression, sex and gender, aesthetics, emotion, cognition, moral judgments, and environmental concerns in particular. We will look at current and historical attempts to develop scientific accounts of human nature, and examine their strengths, weaknesses, and motivations.  The course offers an opportunity to explore how the “single best idea anyone ever had” can be applied human nature and important contemporary concerns.

Northern Ireland's Struggle for Peace
HONR 300C: Social Science Seminar
Professor Melanie Finney
This course is an examination of the historical, political, and social issues concerning Northern Ireland’s struggle for peace. We will consider events that led to the escalation of violence before and during the Troubles, and why lasting peace has been difficult to achieve. Other questions to be examined may include: what are the implications of living in contested spaces, how do individuals and communities attempt to move forward after tragedy, and how/why are new identities negotiated?