Middlebury

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FYSE1028A-S15

CRN: 22564

Identity/Difference
Identity and Difference
How do we use categories of identity and difference? How does culture determine how we perceive and perform gender and ethnic identity: male/female, gay/straight, East/West, black/white? We will look at constructions of gender and sexual identity in various cultures and consider how they intersect with national and ethnic identity. Literature and film will be our primary focus. We will read Euripides’ Bacchae, Forster’s Passage to India, and Hwang’s Madame Butterfly and view films like Kiss of the Spiderwoman and Europa Europa that problematize sexual and gender identity. 3 hrs. sem.

FYSE1379A-S15

CRN: 22565

Art and the Environment
Art and the Environment
“The land is not the setting for the work but a part of the work.” So did the artist Walter de Maria describe The Lightning Field (1980), a site-specific, environmental work of art built in an isolated part of western New Mexico. In this seminar we will discuss the different ways that recent artists have used, commented upon, and at times altered their surrounding environment. We will take an expansive view of the term "environmental" in our seminar as we explore natural, urban, media-based, and conceptual artistic environments. 3 hrs. sem.

FYSE1393A-S15

CRN: 22566

Introduction to Mindfulness
Introduction to Mindfulness
Basic sitting and walking meditation will be taught and practiced. We will use the breath to foster relaxed attention and to gain perspective on our restless minds. We will emphasize these techniques and learn how to use them in daily life and academic endeavors. We will read texts from the contemporary Tibetan and Zen Buddhist traditions, but the meditation will be employed in nonsectarian fashion applicable to any belief system. Truth should be verified by one’s experience. Students will write papers, give presentations, and keep journals. 3 hrs. sem.

FYSE1433A-S15

CRN: 22567

Biology of Attraction
Biology of Attraction
Why is one person attracted to another? We will explore both the evolutionary origins of mate choice and the physiological mechanisms that underlie attraction. The process of sexual selection, first proposed by Charles Darwin, shaped the mating decisions and courtship displays in all animal species, and we will consider how the same process shaped human preferences and potentially human intelligence more broadly. Based on recent research with rodents, we will also consider how neural connections and hormone levels influence feelings of love and lust. The Mating Mind and The Chemistry Between Us will be our primary texts, supplemented by journal articles. 3 hrs sem.

FYSE1434A-S15

CRN: 22568

Humans Geological Environment
Humans and Their Geological Environment: Ancient to Modern
The health and welfare of human populations is intimately connected to the natural environment, ranging from catastrophic phenomena such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and floods to less-catastrophic yet equally important factors such as soil, water, and climate. In some cases, events that occurred thousands of years ago are recorded in written accounts of oral histories such as volcanism in ancestral Klamath Indian lands and Noah’s Flood. In other cases, geological and archeological studies are required to understand past human-geological connections, and current research into modern problems (e.g., arsenic in groundwater and climate change) may inform public policy. Readings include popular and scientific literature and oral histories. 3 hrs. sem.

FYSE1435A-S15

CRN: 22569

Awe, Happiness, Positive Psych
Awe, Happiness, and Positive Psychology
When have you felt awe? What makes people happy? Are there clear, predictable explanations for why some people are happy and resilient in life while others are not? How might experiencing awe or being particularly happy relate performance at work or in school or more broadly to general subjective well-being and physical health? In this seminar we will explore what makes us happy and why it matters—not only to us as individuals but also to society. We will read empirical research articles, popular books, and blogs to learn how researchers measure awe, happiness, and wellbeing. 3 hrs. sem.

FYSE1436A-S15

CRN: 22570

Mystics, Saints, and Shamans
Mystics, Saints, and Shamans
What is the nature of a mystical experience? Are “mysticism” or “sainthood” phenomena with a universal core found equally across cultures? What is the role of cultural and social contexts in the formation of such experiences and phenomena? How exactly do we define who is a saint or a shaman? This course will be a comparative study of extraordinary experiences and manipulations of reality claimed by charismatic religious figures across time and space. We will discuss a wide variety of examples from traditionally renowned saints of the medieval Islamic world to contemporary New Age leaders in America. 3 hrs. sem.