Professor Packert’s seminar students bring their classroom learning to the Middlebury Museum.
Professor Packert’s seminar students bring their classroom learning to the Middlebury College Museum of Art.
 

Interdisciplinary Approach

The first-year seminar is an interdisciplinary program supported by faculty from all across the College. Unlike other courses that are driven by content coverage, the first-year seminar uses intriguing content topics to establish a strong foundation in the most essential skills for college-level work. Take, for example, these wide-ranging seminars offered recently:

Courses offered in the past four years. Courses offered currently are as noted.

Course Description

Fascinating Rhythm: Rhythmic Analysis
Swing, groove, pocket, grid…these and many other terms like them are used to describe the musical element known as rhythm. Though often deemphasized in musical criticism and analysis in relation to pitch/melody, rhythm is inextricable from the musical experience. In this course we will discuss the underrated but undeniable importance of rhythm in the music to which we love to dance, study, or exercise. Through journaling, analysis, performance, and listening, students will develop tools to describe rhythm with greater nuance and depth. Though music from all cultures will be welcomed, the primary focus will be music influenced by the African Diaspora. Open to all musicians and enthusiasts alike.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

ART, CW

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Time Around A Table: A Culinary History of Italy
Food is a window into the culture and values of any society. In this seminar we will explore the history of Italian culture by investigating the ever-changing issues relating to food, through books, articles, films, recipes, and cooking. How did production and consumption change over time? What did the Ancient Romans eat? What was Italian cuisine like before pasta and tomatoes? What triggered the Italian appetite to change? Such questions allow us to examine what culinary choices reveal about today’s Italy. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

CW, EUR, HIS

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Science and Democracy
The scientific method has been heralded as inherently democratic, based as it is on observation rather than authority. Yet the relationship between science and democracy is much more complex, with scientists carrying authority based on their specialized knowledge. In this seminar we will explore the challenges of integrating science and democracy, investigating how science can be used to serve democratic goals and where there are tensions. We will consider such questions as whether or not the commercialization of science makes it difficult to serve the needs of a diverse society well, whether or not it is important to have diverse representation within scientific communities in order to produce objective knowledge, and what the appropriate role of scientific experts might be in developing sound public policy on topics such as climate change, health policy, medical research, and food safety. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CW, PHL

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Playing Dead: Feminist Readings of TV Crime Drama
Our television screens are populated with crime dramas, some focusing on the independent investigator, others on the police, and still others on the technicians who help secure evidence. In this course we will explore the cultural beliefs and biases implicit in these shows. Using a feminist lens, we will explore the grammar of this genre in terms of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Who gets defined as the criminal, who the victim, and why? What makes crime dramas pleasurable, and why do we watch them even when they are formulaic? How have they changed over time? 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

AMR, CW

View in Course Catalog

Whether an FYS is taught by a musician, a biologist, or a historian, the learning outcomes are the same. We expect that new students will find many upcoming seminars appealing, and we will assign new students to one seminar among several that they indicate are intellectually intriguing to them.

Complete Course Listings

Courses offered in the past four years. Courses offered currently are as noted.

Course Description

Baseball, Society, and US History
In this course we will use baseball as our lens to examine a broad range of issues in U.S. history from the Civil War to the 20th Century. Baseball’s past will allow us to understand social and cultural change by delving into topics such as capitalism, class, gender, identity, immigration, labor rights, and race. We will read autobiographies, box scores, newspaper accounts, and scholarly monographs that trace the evolution of America’s pastime from a leisurely activity to a multimillion-dollar industry. Class activities will allow students to develop reading, writing, and presentation skills, receiving feedback on their progress throughout the term. This course is part of the Public Humanities Labs Initiative administered by the Axinn Center for the Humanities.*

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

AMR, CW, HIS, SOC

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Writing Women's Religious Worlds
In this course we will examine how we can understand and recognize what “counts” as religion—perhaps in new ways—by focusing on the religious lives of women. Our primary texts will be ethnographic studies of women in various religious traditions around the world, including Hindu women in North India, Muslim women in Egypt, and a Vodou priestess in New York. We will examine how women construct their religious identities and negotiate religious authority as public leaders, ritual experts, and healers, and consider how what women say about their own lives and practices may challenge our assumptions of what religion “is” or “does.” We will also consider the ethics of ethnographic approaches to studying religion, particularly in terms of the “self” and “other,” as students develop their own ethnographic practices and writing.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, PHL

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Meaningful Writing
What makes writing meaningful (to audience as well as authors)? In this course we will explore meaningful writing through literary analysis, educational research, and personal engagement. We will read personally revelatory texts written by authors like Eula Biss, Alison Bechdel, and Oliver Sacks, we will learn about educational research from the Meaningful Writers Project, and we will define meaningful writing for ourselves through exploring our positionality as writers (not just as readers). To do this, we will both read and write about topics and genres beyond the academy including writing over a lifetime, medical narratives, journalism, and community writing. This course is part of the Public Humanities Labs Initiative administered by the Axinn Center for the Humanities.*

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

AMR, CW, LIT

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Migrations: Politics, Ethics, Literature
In this class we will learn about the political and ethical issues of migration. What are the rights of those who migrate and how can we hear and make space for their voices? How can we study and talk about migration in ways that are respectful to everyone? To answer these and other questions, we will analyze different texts (literary, journalistic, essays), learn how to assess their reliability, and apply them to our understanding of migration. We will consider migration in its local and global aspects with a focus on Italy and Europe compared with what happens in other parts of the world (eg. U.S. and Syria), through group and individual research that we will present in oral and written form.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CMP, CW, LIT

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Marvel Comics & Society
Comic books and graphic novels are a powerful storytelling medium that often connects to both contemporary cultural issues and human emotions. Marvel Comics has long used their pages to tackle issues of race, poverty, gender, identity, science, and justice, either indirectly or head-on. In this course we will analyze both the source material and scholarship related to Marvel comics, as well as learn to communicate our own analysis and stories in both written and oral forms. Note: This course will focus on the comics, not any of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Enrolled students must purchase a subscription to Marvel Unlimited (https://www.marvel.com/unlimited) for the duration of the term.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, LIT

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Abolitionism(s): Then and Now
In this course, we will explore the intersections between historical campaigns to abolish the transatlantic slave trade and chattel slavery throughout the British empire and contemporary American movements to abolish policing and prisons. We’ll pay particular attention to the roles that literary and artistic representations, political speech, and activist organizing play in these processes, and consider how they complement or clash with on-the-ground resistance. We’ll ask: what does the history of abolitionism tell us about the horizons of an abolitionist future? Our guides will range from Olaudah Equiano and Mary Prince to Mariame Kaba, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, and Olúf?mi Táíwò.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, SOC

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Course Description

Arabian Oral Poetry
The Arabian Peninsula enjoys a rich legacy of oral poetry and written poetry with oral roots. In this seminar, we will explore how the oral poetic traditions of the Arabian Peninsula have evolved over time, starting with pre-Islamic odes from the 6th century CE and ending with contemporary poetry circulated on social media. In addition to reading, analyzing, and enjoying individual poetic texts and performances, we will consider how the concept of oral literature emerged with Milman Parry’s Oral Formulaic thesis, giving rise to new ways of reading historical texts, understanding the art of performance, and reckoning with the cultural implications of literacy.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, LIT, MDE

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Seeing and Being
Photography has evolved rapidly and is now pervasive in our daily lives. How do photographs influence our experience of time, space, ourselves, and each other? This course focuses on these four areas central to understanding its incredible impact. Studying fine art and vernacular usage, students will discover how art, science, media, and personal histories are shaped by photography. By learning how to read images of their own and of others, students will develop the critical skills necessary to interpret images and their use. In addition to producing their own visual projects, students will read, research, analyze and write about photographs.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

ART, CW

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Course Description

Environmental Intimacies, Injustice and the Politics of Care
Pleasure activism is a framework for social and environmental change. It is an invitation to better know ourselves and see how embracing what brings us joy is central to dismantling sexist, racist and homophobic structures of oppression. This course explores how self-love, healing and harm reduction are necessary for our liberation and survival on an unjust and warming planet. This course asks what it takes to move from a place of despair to action, and how might new avenues of connection and consent be forged across social and geographic difference? We will read Adrienne Maree Brown’s Pleasure Activism, Sarah Jaquette Ray’s A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety, and a suite of other scholars and activists focused on related work including climate justice, queer ecology, ecosexuality, solidarity work, feminist ethics of care, and re-imagining human-nature relations.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, SOC

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Fascinating Rhythm: Rhythmic Analysis
Swing, groove, pocket, grid…these and many other terms like them are used to describe the musical element known as rhythm. Though often deemphasized in musical criticism and analysis in relation to pitch/melody, rhythm is inextricable from the musical experience. In this course we will discuss the underrated but undeniable importance of rhythm in the music to which we love to dance, study, or exercise. Through journaling, analysis, performance, and listening, students will develop tools to describe rhythm with greater nuance and depth. Though music from all cultures will be welcomed, the primary focus will be music influenced by the African Diaspora. Open to all musicians and enthusiasts alike.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

ART, CW

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Life is Short: Introduction to the Russian Short Story
Russian literature may be best known in the West for producing big lumbering novels, novels thicker than bricks—think War & Peace, Brothers Karamazov, or Gulag Archipelago—but from the beginning of the nineteenth century on, many of its greatest prose masterpieces emerge from a seemingly lesser, though nimbler genre—the short story. In this course we will read classic short works by Pushkin, Gogol, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Nabokov and others, and learn to analyze them in a sophisticated way; we will also learn about Russian culture, and, more broadly, what makes literature what it is. All readings in English.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, EUR, LIT

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Course Description

Teaching ‘The 1619 Project’: Battling Miseducation, Engaging Freedom Dreaming, and Regaining Hope
In August of 2019 The New York Times launched the 1619 Project, created by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Nikole Hannah-Jones, explores the history of slavery in the United States. In this course we will explore various ways to approach teaching The 1619 Project and examine how the project pushes against miseducation within the U.S. education system. We will also delve into various states' bans against teaching the 1619 Project and scrutinize how Critical Race Theory became wrapped in these bans.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, SOC

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Course Description

College Life Through Literature (in Spanish)
In this seminar students will read fiction and nonfiction related to university life, including topics such as attending college in a rural area, studying abroad, equity and inclusion in higher education, and the first-generation experience. Our focus will be on the literary representation of university life. We will examine these narratives through theories and perspectives such as the (post) pandemic scenario, critical race theory, critical pedagogy, the #MeToo movement, etc. Readings may include Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner, On Beauty by Zadie Smith, Todas las Almas by Javier Marias, and Historia de Una Maestra by Josefina Aldecoa. Texts will be in English and Spanish. This seminar will be taught in Spanish (appropriate for native speakers, bilingual speakers, or through placement test equivalent to SPAN 0300).

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, LIT

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Watching the Wire: Urban America and Serial Television
Frequently hailed as one of television’s great masterpieces, The Wire shines a light on urban decay in 21st-century America, creating a dramatic portrait of Baltimore’s police, drug trade, and other institutions over five serialized seasons. In this course we will watch and discuss this remarkable—and remarkably entertaining—series twenty years after its debut, placing it within the dual contexts of urban American society and television storytelling. This is a time-intensive course (60 hours of TV!), focused on close viewing, critical analysis of race and policing, and research into The Wire’s social contexts, aesthetic practices, and politics of representation.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

AMR, CW

View in Course Catalog

Course Description

Introduction to Black Epistemologies
In this class we will explore the rich traditions of black thought and aesthetics in the post-colonial Atlantic world. Using Stuart Hall’s views on diaspora, we will survey various black ontologies from the Haitian Revolution to Black Lives Matter, from jazz and candomblé to junkanoo. We will study different strategies that African descendants such as Claude McKay, Arturo Schomburg, Zora Neal Hurston, Abdias do Nascimento, and Manuel Mendive utilized to document black struggle, solidarity, justice and beauty. Steve McQueen, Francoise Ega, Sidney Poitier, Audre Lorde, Maryse Condé and Solange will provide insights on black emancipation and joy. We will necessarily consider the tensions between creolization and decolonization to gain an appreciation of embodied black knowledge sui generis.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

AMR, CW, HIS, SOC

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Course Description

Politics and Delusion in Francophone Literature
How does politics shape identity? What roles have politics played in shaping the French Caribbean culture and imagination, and how have they impacted people and landscapes? Are these policies challenged? By whom? In this seminar we’ll explore such questions by reading, writing about, and discussing several francophone novels. We will focus on the significance of historical experiences such as colonization, departmentalization, and dictatorship through themes of alienation, assimilation, and emancipation. The analysis of these imagined or experienced accounts by Césaire, Chamoiseau, Chauvet and Juminer will help us further understand notions of power, privilege, and justice. No knowledge of French is required.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, LIT

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Course Description

The Feminine Heroic
In this class we will explore the hero’s journey in literature as it relates to women and the natural world: who gets to go on the adventure, and who arrives home, transformed? How do race and gender complicate the traditional man-versus-nature narrative? We will discuss character agency, narrative authority, and structure — and look at texts where women undertake the journey, including work by Annie Dillard, Camille Dungy, Rachel Carson, Anne LeBastille, Rahawa Haile, and Pam Houston. We will work on reading critically, editing, and practicing the art of giving and receiving feedback. This class will provide students with opportunities to create both critical and creative work.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, LIT

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Course Description

Ancient Women on Stage: Tragic and Comic
As soon as theater was born in Ancient Greece around 500 BCE, it embarked on a radical examination of social institutions and cultural values. By adapting myths and rituals for the stage, tragic and comic playwrights invited their audiences to reflect critically on their own communities. In this seminar we will meet some of the women they put on stage to challenge traditional gender roles and push the boundaries of acceptable thought and behavior. Employing modern theoretical approaches and close reading, we will study tragedies by Sophocles (Antigone) and Euripides (Medea, Hecuba, Helen) and comedies by Aristophanes (Lysistrata, Assemblywomen) to explore what the prominence of female characters means for Athenian society but also for the art of theater.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, EUR, LIT

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Course Description

Town-Gown Lands of Middlebury
In this course we mix methods to investigate lands that connect Middlebury College and Vermont towns. We will study the natural and human histories of land and investigate relationships between Middlebury College and local human and natural communities. We ground these themes at field sites along a transect from the Champlain Valley to the Green Mountains where college and non-college communities overlap in space and time. Students explore questions from multi-disciplinary perspectives, learn to interpret and integrate different kinds of evidence, including texts, images, maps, and direct observations, share their work with peers to help contextualize field excursions, and produce a short research article linked to a web map of Middlebury town-gown lands.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

AMR, CW, SOC

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Course Description

Love and Death in Western Europe, 1300-1900
History is not just names and dates; it also encompasses how ordinary people lived and felt. Emotions have a history because they have changed over time. This seminar deals with aspects of the history of desire and fear in Western Europe from the Middle Ages to the industrial era. Topics will include sex, marriage, child-rearing, disease, suicide, and the belief in immortality. In addition to works of historical analysis, we will read literary and theoretical sources, including Dante, Goethe, and Freud. Our aim is to understand how common emotions have been altered by social and cultural circumstances. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2021

Requirements

CW, EUR, HIS, SOC

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Course Description

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Gods, Goddesses, and Demons in Indian Art
Indian mythology and epic literature abound with stories of conflicts between the forces of good and evil. There are multiple forms of Hindu gods and goddesses who battle an array of evil and colorful demonic foes, and each cosmic battle embodies a profound philosophical lesson about relative values and complex moral choices. We will explore the meanings and myriad creative expressions of this rich terrain through a lively variety of artistic depictions—in mythological literature, painting, sculpture, drama, dance, television, film, graphic novels, and contemporary arts.3 hr sem.

Terms Taught

Spring 2023

Requirements

ART, CW, SOA

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Course Description

Shakespeare's Rome
Throughout his career, William Shakespeare wrote several plays set in ancient Rome. Why did he and his contemporaries find the dramatization of events from Roman history so appealing? Why do we continue to do so today? In order to address these questions, we will read Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, and Coriolanus. We will also consider Shakespeare’s ancient sources, such as Senecan drama and Plutarch’s biographies, as well as contemporary stage and film adaptations. In addition to exploring the complex ways in which Rome has served as a mirror for later cultures, we will pay close attention to the relationship between republic and autocracy, public and private life, and drama and history.

Terms Taught

Spring 2023

Requirements

CW, EUR, LIT

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Course Description

Herodotus and the Writing of History
Dubbed ‘the Father of History’ by Cicero, Herodotus saw himself as presenting the results of an investigation in order to preserve human achievements, grant them renown, and above all to explain why the Greeks and Persians came to fight one another. We will read the whole of Herodotus’ Histories, considering the place of story-telling, ethnography, and divine intervention in explaining the past, and exploring how Herodotus’ inquiry spawned historical writing. Ancient and modern discussions about historical writing will supplement the central text. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022

Requirements

CW, EUR, HIS, LIT

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Course Description

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.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

CMP, CW, SOC

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Course Description

Worldbuilding
In this seminar we will critically examine fictional worlds in literature, cinema, and games. Worldbuilding synthesizes and transforms our understanding of reality into fantastic settings such as Middle-Earth, Star Wars, or even colonial exploration narratives. We will critically examine the multidisciplinary use of origin stories, symbols and myths, invented histories, and imagined geographies in constructing new universes. Among the questions we will consider are: How do we conceive of coherent places and times? What real world consequences do fictional worlds have on popular beliefs and practices? Students will design their own well-researched and richly detailed worlds during the semester. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021, Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, LIT

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Course Description

Questions of Evidence: Historical, Legal, and Psychotherapeutic
How do historians marshal evidence and to what ends? How does this intersect with psychotherapeutic and legal approaches? In this seminar we will ask “questions of evidence.” What is evidence? How do we find it? How do we decide to believe it? In the first half of the course we will examine the role of social and institutional power in shaping what we understand to be evidence. In the second half of the course, we will explore a recent historical controversy or a single historical study for its argument and presentation of evidence. Readings include works by historians, philosophers, legal scholars, psychotherapists, journalists, and activists. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

CW, HIS

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Course Description

Models, Contexts, and Afterlives of the Bayeux Tapestry
In this course we will look closely at the late eleventh-century Bayeux Tapestry (also known as the Bayeux Embroidery), examining its historical and literary sources, the details of its creation, and its reverberations throughout the arts of the medieval and modern eras. We will also consider how this embroidered textile entangled its medieval and modern viewers in the stories it tells and those it avoids. We will discover that it can tell us much about attitudes toward gender and masculinity, the taming of the natural world, and the terrors of war. Hands-on assignments will familiarize us with some of the techniques and materials used to create this monument of medieval European Art History. This course is part of the Public Humanities Labs Initiative administered by the Axinn Center for the Humanities.*

Terms Taught

Spring 2023

Requirements

ART, CW, EUR

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Course Description

Collaborating Across the Arts
Collaborating Across the Arts invites students to playfully research and practice cooperative methodologies. This course centers on the idea that interdisciplinary dialog sparks original thinking and generates creative material. During the semester, we will participate in live interdisciplinary performance events through workshops, performance viewings, and reflective writing. The semester will culminate in a student performance. By studying and practicing cooperative tools for artistic creation, we engage a sense of enthusiasm and curiosity for what can be discovered when we collaborate. Both experienced artists and beginners are welcome.

Terms Taught

Spring 2023

Requirements

ART, CW

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Course Description

Agatha Christie
In this course we will explore the work and life of Agatha Christie, one of the world’s best mystery writers. We will read several of her novels published between the 1920s and 1950s, and place them in their social and political contexts. We will learn about prevailing class, race, and gender relations in Britain, imperial archaeology in the Middle East (Christie participated in, and wrote about, digs organized by her second husband), and the impacts of the two world wars. We will also explore the craft of mystery writing by presenting our own outline to a mystery. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Spring 2021

Requirements

CW, EUR, LIT

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Course Description

On Time
Time is at once familiar and confounding. After eighteen years (568 million seconds) of existence, you know it intimately. But what is time, really? The truth is, we don’t know. Time doesn’t even appear in the most fundamental laws of physics. In this course we explore the history of time-keeping from mechanical clocks to atomic clocks, human perceptions of time, Einstein’s theory of relativity, and present-day theories on time. Readings include Longitude (Dava Sobel), Simply Einstein (Richard Wolfson), The Order of Time (Carlo Rovelli) and selected articles from neuroscience. We will also look back in time using the College Observatory. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Spring 2021

Requirements

CW, DED

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Course Description

Mindfulness in Education: Radical, Holistic Models of Learning
What is mindfulness? And how is it useful in reframing approaches to education for engaged, critical learning? In this course we will explore the impact of contemplative practices in education, considering such questions as: what is learning and how does divergent or mindful thinking influence how we learn? For example, is there a connection between mindfulness and creativity, attention, memory? We will engage in contemplative practices to consider mindful learning from a personal perspective and review research in the fields of education and psychology that suggests a positive correlation between contemplative practices and the intellectual, emotional, and psychological growth of students.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, PHL

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Course Description

Symmetry in the Physical World
Beyond the familiar symmetry of human-made objects, there are fundamental symmetries that underlie the laws of nature. In this course we will explore how these symmetries impact the nature of matter and forces. We will investigate the life and ideas of Emmy Noether, the 20th century mathematician who formulated our modern understanding of symmetry in physics. Our discussions will touch on a wide range of physical concepts, including the principle of conservation of energy, the Big Bang, superconductivity, and the recently discovered Higgs particle. Our readings and discussions will be based on historical and scientific texts and popular science books.

Terms Taught

Spring 2023

Requirements

CW, SCI

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Course Description

Questioning Technology
In this course, we will critically approach and think deeply about the ways in which we shape, and are shaped by digital technologies of the 21st century. What does society give up for the benefits of a given technology? Who is harmed and who benefits from the technology? What are the unexpected impacts of the technology? Informed by texts such as Weapons of Math Destruction, Automating Inequality, and Race After Technology, we will explore contexts such as surveillance, privacy, exploitative tech, discriminatory design, and AI. We’ll also explore speculative futures as a framework for imagining a different future with technology.

Terms Taught

Spring 2023

Requirements

CW, SOC

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Course Description

Social Issues and Public Policy
This course examines current social issues and potential public policy remedies. We will use the tools of economics to explore important social issues such as income inequality, poverty, welfare reform, access to food, health care, housing, and education, climate change, and crime. While the text and lectures will focus on social issues at the national level, students will have the opportunity to explore social issues in Vermont through a semester-long research project. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021, Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, SOC

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Course Description

Myth and Cosmology
The course will trace the early development of thought and meaning, introducing some of the fundamental concepts underlying ancient ways of approaching the world. We will approach the subject with a comparative view, studying, for example, the Chinese, Judeo-Christian, Hindu, Navaho and Maori creation traditions, Chinese cosmology, divination systems of East Asian and African nations, and the rich symbolism that emerged out of some of the major centers of ancient civilization. Through our reading of myths, scholarly writings, and literary works, we will explore the ways China and various other cultures understood and dealt with the world around them, from flood myths to astrology, from the Yijing to omens and geomancy. We will learn about the place of story in the formation of worldview, particularly in notions of the place of humans in the world. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

CMP, CW, PHL

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Course Description

Filling in the Blanks-Reading between Words
Not only written words, but also the spaces that connect them, influence and determine literary readings. In this course we will analyze the cultural as well as the personal assumptions that enable us to create specific meanings in texts. Applying theoretical concepts to known works of literature, and reflecting on their own cultural and personal assumptions, students will gain an understanding of how culturally situated their readings are. Literary works by Shakespeare, Lessing, Choderlos de Laclos, Kafka, Walker, Tawada, and others create a canon to which we will apply various theoretical approaches. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

CMP, CW, LIT

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Course Description

The Black Death
In this seminar we will examine the great plague of 1348, the Black Death, as an epidemiological, cultural, and historical event. What was the plague? How did it affect European society in the short term, and what were its repercussions? Was the Black Death truly a turning point in European history, or have its effects been overrated? Finally, we will look at the role the plague has played as a metaphor in society and will discuss modern plagues like the hemorrhagic viruses and AIDS using fiction and film as well as the works of modern scholars. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CW, EUR, HIS

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Course Description

Listening to the 1930s
The 1930s in the U.S. saw both economic crisis and the golden age of Hollywood; both left-wing political movements and deportation of immigrants; both politically-engaged artistic and literary movements and a historic reconception of government’s role. We’ll “listen” to the 1930s through existing oral history sources (Studs Terkel’s Hard Times, PBS’s The Great Depression, Vermont Folklife Center’s Mad River Valley), and the class will create its own oral history podcast using interviews with local residents who remember that decade. Other assignments include short research papers, response essays, an oral presentation, and an in-class performance of a 1930s play. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

AMR, CW, HIS

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Course Description

Creative Power
In this course students will have the opportunity to dig deeply into their own creativity and explore the processes by which ideas emerge and are given shape in the arts. This is an experiential course, integrating cognition and action, mind and body. Students will create projects exploring sound, movement, text, and visual art. Students will engage a range of modes of discovering, knowing, and communicating, which are designed to push them beyond their present state of awareness and level of confidence in their creative power. Practical work will be closely accompanied by readings, weekly writing assignments, journaling, and will culminate in the creation of a short performance project as well as a final research paper. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

ART, CW

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Course Description

Psychological Diagnosis
Psychological disorders do not typically manifest in the body and are not detectable through blood tests or biopsies the way many medical conditions are. Rather, psychological disorders are expressed through patterns of behavior, mood, and interaction. Diagnosing them therefore involves human clinicians making judgements about others’ behavior and well-being, and about what counts as normal or abnormal. Is that as it should be? Why are some behaviors considered just “unusual” while others are labelled “disordered,” and who gets to decide which is which? Who benefits and who suffers from the biases inherent in clinicians’ diagnostic judgments? We will consider these and related questions as we critically examine the process of psychological diagnosis. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

CW, SOC

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Course Description

"The Ancient Quarrel": Greek Philosophy, Tragedy, and Comedy
In Plato's day there was a “quarrel” between philosophy and poetry, a rivalry for the ethical education of citizens. How do the tragedies of Aeschylus and Sophocles communicate ethical dilemmas? Does Aristophanes in The Clouds suggest a serious critique within his comic satire of Socrates? Why does Plato banish the poets from his ideal city in The Republic, but develop his own philosophical poetry? Why does Aristotle in the Poetics emphasize the catharsis of the tragic emotions? Finally, we will consider Nietzsche's interpretation in The Birth of Tragedy: Socratic rationalism deals the fatal blow to tragedy, yet Plato transforms Socrates into a tragic figure. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

CW, EUR, PHL

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Course Description

Democracy in America Reconsidered
This seminar’s ultimate aim is for students to grasp the evolving relationship between the public controversies in American politics and theoretical writings on liberty and equality that have influenced the course of American political development. Special attention will be paid to the gaps between the principles and practices of US democracy. The course has no doctrine to advance. It seeks to provide the materials and framework for lively and inclusive discussion about the challenges of institutionalizing freedom, democracy, and equality, ideals that inspire other governments around the world. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

AMR, CW, SOC

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Course Description

The Poet’s ‘I’: Poetry and Autobiography
In this seminar we will work to discover the sometimes subtle connections between the "objective" events of a poets’ lives and the poems that they produced. Emily Dickinson and Gerard Manley Hopkins are known as reticent, self-concealing poets; nonetheless their poems tell their life stories. John Berryman is a "confessional" poet; yet questions about the relationship between his poems and his life are similar. Lyn Hejinian is a postmodern poet who complicates all of those questions. We will read a great many poems, as well as letters, diaries, drafts, published biographies, and autobiographical prose by each poet. 3 hrs. sem./disc.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2020

Requirements

CW, LIT

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Course Description

Shaping the Future
The release of genetically engineered organisms into the environment has great potential for agriculture and industry; however, the consequences posed by the transfer of genetic material from one organism to another on the inter-relationships within an ecosystem remain largely uncertain.  Gene therapy represents a major molecular-genetic advancement for medical science, yet there is much controversy regarding its safety and whether its use for the purpose of “enhancement” constitutes an ethical application for this technology.  New reproductive technologies use genetic engineering to conceive life in a petri dish and select against embryos with inherited disease, which has had considerable social, political, and ethical impacts.  This course will use writing, in-class discussion, and hands-on experiences in the laboratory as tools to explore these and other biotechnological advances and their social implications.  Writing exercises will emphasize the ethical considerations brought about by the Human Genome Project, DNA fingerprinting, and the introduction of edible vaccines to grocery store shelves to name a few. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CW, SCI

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Course Description

The U.S. American Left: Past, Present, and Future
This course is an introduction to the politics, ideas, and institutions of the U.S. American Left. We will cover the labor movement, the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, the New Left of the sixties, and the academic Left that has paid increasing attention to race and gender. Later we turn to the protest movements against climate change, free trade, and growing inequality. The course also focuses on contemporary resistance to Trump, and the resurgent popularity of Marxism and socialism in the United States. Students will leave the course with an understanding of the complex history and possible futures of Left politics today. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

AMR, CW, SOC

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Course Description

Earth Resources: Origin, Use, and Environmental Impacts
The global economy world politics, and many aspects of our daily lives are dependent on the extraction and use of materials taken from the Earth. Unfortunately, within our lifetimes, we will be faced with significant shortages of many of these resources. In this course we will focus on how resources such as oil, coal, aluminum, and even gem minerals are generated by geological processes, how they are extracted and processed, and how these activities impact the environment. Several field trips will allow us to view first-hand the impacts of resource extraction and use in the local area. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, SCI

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Course Description

Representations of Urban Italy: Rome, Florence, Venice
Rome, Florence, and Venice are central to the Western image of the city. With ancient Rome as a model, we will enrich our historical knowledge of the cities and their famous sites. We will explore how literature, urban planning, and the arts represent them. Genres to be explored (in English) include poetry and travel memoirs, literature and film of ancient Rome, including toga epics,and contemporary novels and films (e.g., Michael Dibdin, Donna Leon, and the Oscar-winning The Great Beauty). Research projects will focus on the cities’ distinctive cuisines and will include culinary practice. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

CW, EUR, HIS

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Course Description

Faith and Reason
In this seminar we will explore perennial and contemporary questions in the philosophy of religion: Is there a God? Are objective proofs of God possible, or is religious belief founded on subjective feelings? What is faith? The modern period has been a time of unprecedented crisis for religion, and we will focus in particular on these challenges and responses to them. Is religion, as Freud thought, just wish-fulfillment? Is religious belief compatible with science? Can any religion claim to be the true religion given the plurality of religious faiths? Readings will include works by St. Augustine, St. Anselm, Kant, Kierkegaard, William James, Freud, and contemporary philosophers. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

CW, PHL

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Course Description

Euripides and Athens
Was the tragic genius of Euripides (480?-406 BC) corrupted by the atheistic rationalism of the sophists and the philosophy of Socrates (470-399 BC), as their Athenian contemporary, the comic poet Aristophanes, alleged? Nietzsche makes that view the basis of his attack on Socrates in The Birth of Tragedy (1872). Or, was Euripides in fact "the most tragic of the poets," as Aristotle argued in his Poetics, written during the half century after Euripides' death in 406 BC? In this course we discuss twelve of Euripides' extant plays in the context of 5th c. BC Greek political and intellectual history, with the help of Thucydides, Aristophanes, Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche, and some modern critics. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020, Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, EUR, LIT

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Course Description

Shakespeare's Characters
Shakespeare’s reputation owes much to his characters; yet well-known as they are, they remain mysterious. What did they mean in Shakespeare’s time? How do they still succeed as characters? What explains idiotic Bottom’s charisma? What does Henry V’s flirtation with Princess Katherine or Othello’s jealousy about Desdemona reveal about Elizabethan—and our own—understandings of gender and race? Such questions will help us develop skills in speaking, writing, and critical inquiry. Texts will include at most three plays from among the following: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, Merchant of Venice, Henry V, Measure for Measure, Hamlet, Othello, Lear, as well as contextual readings. We will also study a film of one of the plays. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, EUR, LIT

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Course Description

The Game of Go
Go is an ancient board game which originated in East Asia and is now played and studied by over 40 million people worldwide. The game is both intellectually demanding and rigorous as well as artistic and highly creative. We will study the fundamentals of play, record and critique our games, and learn the history of Go and some of its outstanding practitioners. Additionally, we will gain a deeper appreciation of Asian arts and cultures through our readings, learning journals, writing projects, and presentations. There will be plenty of game practice, analysis, some film and anime discussion, and a class tournament. 3 hrs. Sem

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

AAL, CW, DED, NOA

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Course Description

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

AMR, CW, HIS

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Course Description

The Journey Within: The Spiritual Pursuit in Literary and Mystical Traditions
A fundamental teaching of the world’s religious and mystical traditions is that the source of love, the fulfillment of life, and the treasure of heaven are found within. With mystical and literary texts from antiquity to the present day as our guides, we shall explore themes such as the concept of the soul, the discovery of a deeper self, the spiritual awakening, and the nature of the mystical experience. Using both intellectual and experiential tools of inquiry, we shall consider questions related to religious and psychological experience such as: Where does the self reside? Why is it important to “know thyself”? What is the state of consciousness described as enlightenment? How does one rise above the sorrows and struggles of the world? Finally, we shall try to understand how ‘turning within’ may not mean fleeing away from the world; rather we shall explore the possibility that this direction might even mean engaging in the world around us in a more profound and meaningful way. Readings will include Plato, Marcus Aurelius, excerpts from the New Testament, Tolstoy, Emily Dickinson, Herman Hesse, J.D. Salinger, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mary Oliver. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2023

Requirements

CMP, CW, PHL

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Course Description

Printmaking in the Time of Rembrandt
In this course we will study a selection of seventeenth-century Dutch prints from the collection of the Middlebury College Museum of Art, which includes etchings and engravings by artists such as Hendrick Golztius, Rembrandt van Rijn, Adriaen van Ostade, Nicolaes Berchem, and Cornelis Dusart, among others. Students will learn and write about the history of printmaking in the Dutch Republic by working virtually with the objects in the collection, as well as other primary and secondary sources. Students in this course will also write short essays to be included in an online catalogue of the Museum’s collection of seventeenth-century Dutch prints. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

ART, CW, EUR

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Course Description

J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth
In this course we will explore the philology, philosophy, ecology, and theology of J.R.R.Tolkien as expressed in his Middle-earth Legendarium. We will begin with close readings of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion, looking at the literary aspects of the storytelling and exploring important sources and influences including Beowulf and Norse mythology. We will then turn to the specific tasks of exploring the four subjects mentioned above, making use of secondary scholarship such as: Shippey’s J.R.R.Tolkien Author of the Century and Kreeft’s The Philosophy of J.R.R.Tolkien. Some emphasis will be given to Tolkien’s environmental vision. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019, Spring 2021

Requirements

CW, LIT

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Course Description

The Beast in the Jungle
In this course we will explore some literary texts in which the practice of exploration itself yields a complex confrontation with, and often breakdown of, identity and will. Westerners’ longing to separate themselves from home and make contact with a foreign “other” arises from the high purposes that set imperial adventures in motion in the first place. Readings will include Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Forster’s Passage to India, Waugh’s Handful of Dust, Bowles’ Sheltering Sky, Stone’s/ Dog Soldiers/, Duras’ The Lover, Greene’s A Burnt-Out Case. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

CW, LIT

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Course Description

Your Brain at College
You are embarking on a four-year journey in which the actions you take, material you study, and people you interact with will collectively produce lasting changes to your brain (and by extension, fundamentally alter who you are). Utilizing research from psychology and neuroscience, our course will explore a diverse set of mechanisms (e.g. sleep, learning/memory, emotion/stress) that contribute to persistent changes in brain structure and function. In doing so, you will develop 1) an appreciation for the complexity of the brain and 2) strategies to help your own brain successfully navigate the college experience. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

CW, SCI

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Course Description

Cities in Crisis
“I imagine the American city to be a growing tree,” the historian Sam Bass Warner has written. “As it bursts forth each spring, it is set upon by clouds of parasites.” In this seminar we will expand upon Warner’s insight and explore how American cities have coped in the past with natural disaster, the flight of capital, racial and class tensions, injurious planning, and the COVID-19 pandemic. We will turn to case studies of individual cities in crisis, including New York City, New Orleans, and Detroit, in the quest for an understanding of patterns of vulnerabilities and resilience in urban American history. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Spring 2020, Fall 2020

Requirements

AMR, CW, HIS

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Course Description

Mathematics for All
What kinds of mathematical knowledge are necessary for full participation in contemporary democratic society? How well, and how fairly, do our schools educate students in quantitative skills and reasoning? By what measures might we judge success? We will learn about different approaches to mathematics education in light of these questions. Readings will include selections from Mathematics for Democracy: The Case for Quantitative Literacy (L.A. Steen, Editor), as well as recent articles by education researchers. To connect theory and actual practice, students in this class will conduct a service-learning project in a local school.  All are welcome, regardless of mathematical background. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CW

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Course Description

Space, Time, and Measurement
The ability to precisely measure distance and time is essential to modern science and technology. Improvements in the technology of measurement made possible scientific discoveries that then redefined our fundamental understanding of space, time and measurement themselves. We’ll follow this process, from Galileo’s pendulum through Einstein’s theory of relativity to modern applications in quantum mechanics and cosmology, using historical and scientific texts, analytic writing, and a few hands-on activities to understand these ideas and their impact on science and society. 3 hr. sem.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022

Requirements

CW, DED, SCI

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Course Description

Mathematics of Board Games
People have been playing games since as early as 2000 B.C. Since then, avid players have devised strategies to maximize their chances of winning. In this course we will dissect a variety of modern board games and analyze various strategies for each game using mathematics, computers, and intuition. We will further discuss whether an optimal strategy exists for each game and propose modifications to existing rules and scoring schemes. The course will culminate with a project to construct a board game. All are welcome regardless of mathematical background. 3 hrs. sem

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

CW, DED

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Course Description

Political Consumerism and the Consumerization of Politics
In the United States, we fashion our identities through the purchases we make. We form communities based on shared loyalty to particular brands and consumer lifestyles. Political campaigns are commercialized and voters choose among prepackaged candidates. For many, the way to participate in social activism is to buy something. But can we solve problems such as globalization, environmental degradation, and excessive consumption through more or different consumption? Our study of current issues in U.S. consumer culture will include culture jamming, boycotts, and the anti-sweatshop and Fair Trade movements, as well as greenwashing, cause branding, and other corporate practices.
3 hrs. sem/disc

Terms Taught

Spring 2021

Requirements

AMR, CW, SOC

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Course Description

American Kitsch
Kitsch is trash. Kitsch is the opposite of art. Kitsch is the mass-produced, cheap substitute for objects made in good taste. To study kitsch is to study the unspoken social boundaries created by a modern world transformed by industrial production. In this seminar we will explore the formation of taste through focused studies of kitschy things paired with readings from social theorists. Our studies will range from popular culture to politics and religion across several national contexts. Drawing on major comparisons between popular culture and religion in Brazil and the United States, we will develop tools to critically assess how judgements of taste are embedded in the intersecting systems of race, class, and gender. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

CMP, CW, SOC

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Course Description

Communication: From Analog to Digital and Back Again
In this seminar we will undertake an interdisciplinary study of the nearly ubiquitous process of communication—that is, the transmission and receipt of information. This will run the gamut from oral to written to digital language; from humans to cells to subatomic particles; from hearing to sight to touch; and from its first origins into the modern day. Throughout, we will observe the interplay between the analog world in which we physically live and the increasingly digital world that humanity has created through modern technology, and we will attempt to gain a larger perspective on the transformation that has taken place, along with its effects. 3 hrs sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

CW

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Course Description

The Malleable Human
The human body is a remarkable product of evolution, but too often it fails to function as we might like. The genome is essential in determining the body’s characteristics, known as its phenotype, but its influence is not unalterable. In this course we will examine physical, chemical, and genetic modifications to the human body and genome and how they might influence our current perceptions of concepts such as therapy, enhancement, and even humanness itself. We will use non-fiction books, film, scientific literature, and essays to explore how the human genome intersects with external modification. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

CW

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Course Description

The Trojan War
The myth of the Trojan War exerted a defining influence on Greek and Roman culture, and has played a central role in the Western tradition ever since. In this seminar we will examine the historicity of the Trojan War and how ancient writers used it to explore themes such as the nature of heroism, the workings of the gods, and the relationship between the individual and society. We will also consider how our modern ideals about heroic action compare with those of ancient times. Readings will include selections from Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Vergil, and Ovid. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

CW, EUR, LIT

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Course Description

Cinema and Memory
Depicting the experience of memory is a challenge filmmakers have returned to repeatedly throughout cinema’s history. In this seminar we will screen films from around the world to explore the ways in which individual and cultural memory have found expression in cinema. We will screen narrative features, documentaries, and experimental films as we compare the various aesthetic strategies filmmakers from different periods and cultures have used to portray the complex relationships between past and present, real and imagined. Films screened will include After Life; The Bad and the Beautiful; The Long Day Closes; Hiroshima, mon amour; La Jetée; Shoah. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

ART, CMP, CW

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Course Description

Everyday Life in South Africa, 1948-Present
In this seminar we will explore some of the social worlds of South Africans amid the country's recent decades of turbulent and dramatic change. We will look at how different groups within the nation's diverse population have understood and experienced the rise of the apartheid system, its demise, and its legacies in their "everyday" lives and interactions. We will draw from various sources - non-fiction, fiction, film, music, and other forms of popular culture - to interpret these social dynamics and their ongoing significance in a post-apartheid society. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

CW, HIS, SAF

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Course Description

First Language Acquisition
All human children have the potential to acquire any human language in the right environment, yet it is much more difficult for adults to achieve native proficiency in a second language. Why? In this course we will explore questions such as: How does first language acquisition happen? Is it effortless? Are humans “hardwired” with language? Is it true that after the “Critical Period,” i.e., the onset of puberty, humans have lost this capacity? We will also explore social and cultural constraints on language acquisition, and learn basic techniques for collecting and analyzing data in language acquisition research. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, SOC

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Course Description

Transitional Justice: Reckoning with the Past
In this seminar we will examine how emerging democracies reckon with former authoritarian regimes and their legacies. In contrast to stable democracies, societies in transition that seek to overcome a legacy of large scale human rights violations—and minimize the risks of their recurrence—must search for a delicate political compromise that will bring some justice without undermining the new order. Several case studies from Asia, Latin America, South Africa, and postcommunist Europe will help us understand the forces and factors that shape the dilemma: to prosecute and punish versus to forgive and forget. Course readings will be supplemented by documentaries and fiction films. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Spring 2020

Requirements

CMP, CW, SOC

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Course Description

Cultural Formations of the 1980s
In this course we will investigate cultural formations of the United States during the 1980s through a critical examination of fiction, music, television, art, advertising, and film. We will connect texts produced during and about the period with social, political, and economic transformations that began with the so-called “Reagan Revolution.” Social issues concerning race, class, gender, and sexuality will be analyzed through topics including the Culture Wars, globalization and outsourcing, the ascendance of Wall Street, the rise of AIDS, attacks on the welfare state, the emergence of hiphop, and the War on Drugs 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2022

Requirements

AMR, CW, SOC

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Course Description

America's Constitutional Democracy
America’s constitutional democracy rests on a foundation of political theory, constitutional law, and historical experience. By examining the writings of John Locke, James Madison, Alexis de Tocqueville, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, and many others, and by reading a series of key Supreme Court rulings, we will explore how Americans have grappled with key questions involving liberty, equality, representation, and commerce. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

AMR, CW, SOC

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Course Description

Mountains of the Northeast
The mountains of the northeastern U.S. are an integral part of the cultural and natural history of this region. In this seminar we will consider topics germane to northeastern mountains including the geologic origin of the northern Appalachians, characteristics of mountain environments, changing perceptions of northeastern mountains over time, mountains as resources for modern society, and challenges facing these environments today and in the future. Readings and discussion will be combined with field excursions to enhance our understanding of mountains from a variety of perspectives. 3 hrs sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019, Spring 2022

Requirements

CW, SCI

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Course Description

Political Theory of the Black Diaspora
In the 1900s, horrified by the expansion of European colonialism into Africa, a global network of Black intellectuals emerged to explain major developments in world politics. As they argued, the racial project of colonialism, which included replacing indigenous systems with European-style states, shaped the international political economy. We will read works by scholars including DuBois, Amilcar Cabral, and Walter Rodney, to address the following: How did racism shape capitalism? Can Black people find emancipation in imperial states? We will see how pan-African philosophy adapted to international events, such as the end of WWI, the establishment of the UN, and eventual independence from colonialism.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CMP, CW, PHL

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Course Description

The True Believer
When he published The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, social thinker Eric Hoffer sought to explain exactly what inspires people to commit themselves passionately to causes defined by their unyielding belief. Like Hoffer, we will examine not only what has motivated individuals over time to join extremist social, political, and religious movements, but also the psychologies of those who have led them throughout history. We will try to determine precisely who the true believer is, and whether true belief is generally of greater benefit or harm to the believer and to broader society.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2022

Requirements

CMP, CW, PHL

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Course Description

Bocaccio's Decameron
The Decameron by the Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio is a collection of stories ranging from the tragic to the comic, from the holy to the profane. In this seminar we will read Boccaccio’s short stories (novelle), discuss critical studies, analyze in depth the relationship of each novella to the whole work, and study the
Decameron using a variety of theoretical approaches. We will also compare the
Decameron with other famous collections such as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and the Thousand and One Nights.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CW, EUR, LIT

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Course Description

The Philosophy of Human Rights
What are human rights? What duties, if any, flow from them, and who is morally obligated to bear those duties? In this course, we will investigate the philosophical origins and development of the concept of human rights. We will critically analyze both historical and contemporary moral perspectives on the existence and nature of human rights. What does it mean to say that one possesses a human right? In addition to examining the existence and nature of human rights, we will take a closer look at the issue of human rights related to world poverty and humanitarian intervention. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, PHL

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Course Description

The Moral of the Story: Exploring Ethics through Literature and Music
Ethics is the study of how we ought to live, as individuals and in society. For millennia theologians and philosophers have constructed ethical arguments, but for much longer people have shared songs and stories to convey and contest moral values. In this course we will study selected English-language novels, poems, and music as moral expressions. We will explore the ethical issues they raise, including considerations of what it means to be human, what justice demands, and how we should balance individual freedom and social duty. Works we will examine include Shelley’s Frankenstein, Asimov’s I, Robot, and the African-American spiritual tradition. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

CW, PHL

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Course Description

Anthropology and Climate Change
Climate change has become one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century, and much of the discussion about its causes and consequences is based on the biophysical sciences and is strongly influenced by political and economic interests. Anthropology offers a wider set of perspectives on climate change. In this seminar we will examine cross-cultural case studies of past and present responses to climate change. We will look at how technological, economic, social, political, and spiritual dynamics shape the way people understand and react to climate change. Key themes will include gender and vulnerability, social-ecological resilience, climate ideologies, development policy, social scale, and ethnometeorology.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CMP, CW, SOC

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Course Description

Economic Development
Each year $100 billion is spent worldwide in aid to developing countries to help raise the world's "bottom billion.” In this course we examine problems of economic development and their potential solutions, starting from the individual experience of poverty. Employing a microeconomic framework, but also drawing on other social sciences, we will assess how some of that $100 billion is used, examining current development programs and policies (such as health, education, microfinance, labor migration, and community-based development). Students will write policy memos and short research papers and participate in classroom debates. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CW, SOC

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Course Description

Reading Africa
What do we know about Africa? In this seminar we will explore this vast continent through novels written about it. African and non-African writers will help us discover the continent’s geographies, histories, cultures, and politics. We will study particular phenomena affecting Africans over the centuries including colonialism, dictatorial rule, humanitarianism, the women’s rights movement, and racism. With the help of films and student presentations, we will focus on Algeria, Nigeria, Ghana, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

CW, SAF, SOC

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Course Description

Time Around A Table: A Culinary History of Italy
Food is a window into the culture and values of any society. In this seminar we will explore the history of Italian culture by investigating the ever-changing issues relating to food, through books, articles, films, recipes, and cooking. How did production and consumption change over time? What did the Ancient Romans eat? What was Italian cuisine like before pasta and tomatoes? What triggered the Italian appetite to change? Such questions allow us to examine what culinary choices reveal about today’s Italy. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

CW, EUR, HIS

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Course Description

Singing Communities
Humans have used their voices in expressive communication for thousands of years, singing for work, comfort, love, praise, and many other purposes. In this course we will explore the role of singing in human communities to address questions about human need. Why do people sing together? Can singing enhance quality of life,and build community? We will sing, research singing traditions, and lead singing engagement activities in the Middlebury community. We will discuss our work with each other, and write about our experience. Interest in group vocal music is encouraged. No prior vocal experience required. 3 hrs. sem

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2020

Requirements

ART, CW

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Course Description

Disability, Difference, and Society
In this course we explore the varied and evolving meanings of disability—as category, lived experience, and way of interpreting the world, as well as the contexts that shape these meanings. As a First Year Seminar, primary attention centers on critical reading, thinking, writing, and collaborative skills. Course materials and assignments offer different disciplinary approaches and writing styles, fostering both individual and collective work. Films, on-line exhibits, music, advertising, popular media, and the material world reflect the wide range of sources on which this course draws. Dominant issues, including representation, education, employment, bioethics, institutions, community, policies, access, and justice serve as touchstones for research, analysis, and learning. Sustained attention to interlocking identities, including disability, race, ethnicity, Indigeneity, socioeconomic class, gender, sexual orientation and identification, and age define the field of disability studies and this course. While the United States is highlighted in this class, transnational and global components figure into our work as well. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022

Requirements

AMR, CW, SOC

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Course Description

Sophocles and Athens
What can we learn from Sophocles, the tragic playwright whose life spans the Athenian 5th century BCE? Why do his tragedies—composed against the background of Athens’ incredible achievements, its radical democracy, but also its ever more aggressive foreign policy—reflect so poignantly on the human condition? In this seminar we will trace Sophocles’ effort to probe the mysteries of the soul, both of the individual and of the community, and to confront the riddle of human existence. In addition to studying his seven surviving plays in their historical context, we will also consider their profound impact on later thought and art, including opera and film. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

CW, EUR, LIT

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Course Description

Immigrants and the U.S. Economy
The demise of national origin quotas for U.S. immigration in 1965, and its replacement with an emphasis on family reunification, opened the gates to a large and increasing flow of immigrants from the developing countries. Accordingly, this seminar will focus, within an interdisciplinary framework, on such currently pressing immigration issues as: are native-born low-skill workers displaced by recent immigrants? Is English language proficiency crucial for immigrant assimilation in the labor market? What is the role of close-knit communities in facilitating immigrant entrepreneurial activities? The mixture of perspectives should help shed light on diverse immigration policy options. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Spring 2021

Requirements

CW, NOR, SOC

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Course Description

Virginia Woolf in Context
In this seminar we will focus on the novels, essays, and short stories of Virginia Woolf, considering them in the light of her social, political, and artistic contexts and commitments. We will explore in particular the tension in her work between Victorian values and aesthetics and the progressive goals of the modernist movement. Our readings will take us from the early novels (Voyage Out, Night and Day) to the later experimental works (To the Lighthouse, Orlando, The Waves). Some of the topics central to the seminar will be Woolf’s engagement with modernism and its key figures (such as James Joyce); her treatment of gender and sexuality in her essays and elsewhere; and her struggles with mental illness. We will intersperse our reading of Woolf’s prose with consideration of some film versions of her work, and we will conclude the seminar with a reading of Michael Cunningham’s 1998 creative homage to Mrs. Dalloway: The Hours.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

CW, EUR, LIT

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Course Description

Postwar Japanese History in Film and Literature
In this seminar we will study the history of postwar Japan (1945 to the present), focusing on how literature and film have engaged the defining historical and political questions of this period. The seminar is organized around
specific themes, including: trauma and war memory, the Allied occupation, the cold war in East Asia, high economic growth in the 1960s, political protest, post-coloniality, and a resurgent nationalism. Students will learn postwar Japanese history while also considering the possibilities of persuing historical analysis through translated literature and narrative film. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Spring 2020, Fall 2020

Requirements

AAL, CW, HIS, NOA

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Course Description

American Environmentalisms After 1960
Environmentalism emerged as a political and cultural force in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. In this seminar we will study the historical development and transformation of contested “environmentalisms” after 1960 through primary documents including books, magazines, photographs, advertisements, and films. We will analyze portrayals of the environment in crisis, as well as criticisms of different strands of environmentalism for their challenges to ideas of economic growth and their struggles to address social inequalities, particularly those of class and race. Student work will include essays, oral presentations, and independent and group research projects. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

CW, HIS, NOR

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Course Description

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.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

AMR, ART, CW

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Course Description

Five Novellas
An in-between genre, the novella wanders like a novel but narrows in like a short story. In this class we will explore the form and meaning of five novellas by exceptional writers of modern and contemporary fiction. Texts include Toni Morrison’s Sula, Marguerite Duras’ The Lover, Tao Lin’s Shoplifting from American Apparel, Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy. Students will respond to the literature through informal writing, formal literary analysis, and the art of narrative criticism. We will discuss constructions of race, gender, dis/ability, class, and sexuality as well as investigate notions of home, family, and faith. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CW, LIT

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Course Description

The Vermont Landscape
The Vermont landscape has changed dramatically over the last 10,000 years. In this course we will systemically examine how geological, biological, and human forces have affected Vermont. In particular, we will explore the role of Native cultures on the landscape; ecological revolutions set off by the arrival of Europeans and the industrial revolution; the growing population of Vermont; and the effects of farming, logging, international trade, transportation systems, and energy development on the landscape. We will conclude by focusing on current themes, such as the rise of the local food movement and climate change. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019

Requirements

AMR, CW, HIS

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Course Description

Language and Social Justice
In this seminar we will explore questions such as the following: What is the relationship between language and power? How does linguistic prejudice contribute to social inequality? Is language a human right, and if so, what are the implications? We will engage with scholarly, journalistic, and literary works, including writing by Julia Alvarez, James Baldwin, John Baugh, Lisa Delpit, Rosina Lippi-Green, Jamila Lyiscott, Richard Rodriguez, Debora Tannen, and others. Students will develop a range of reading, writing, and oral presentation skills, and will receive feedback on their work throughout the semester. 3 hrs. sem. This course is part of the Public Humanities Labs Initiative administered by the Axinn Center for the Humanities.*

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2021

Requirements

AMR, CW, SOC

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Course Description

Gender and the Making of Space
In this seminar we will investigate the complex relationship between gender and architecture, examining how the design of the built environment (buildings, urban spaces, etc.) can reinforce or undermine ideas about the respective roles of women and men in society, from the creation of masculine and feminine spaces to the gendered nature of the architectural profession. By looking at both visual evidence and textual sources, we will also uncover how the social construction of gender roles and gendered spaces are—and continue to be—inflected by race, class, and sexuality.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

CW, HIS, NOR

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Course Description

Civil War & Civil Rights
In a time of national emergency, the rules governing everyday life often get suspended to meet a more pressing need. What rights of citizens remain protected in these circumstances, and what liberties are vulnerable to erosion? Where are the boundaries of reasonable sacrifice? While these questions are applicable to every era, we will focus on the years of the American Civil War (the 1860s) to explore them most fully. We will use the thoughts of 19th-century Americans and Confederates and the arguments of historians as our guide towards deep thinking and discussion about rights, liberties, individual responsibility, and community cohesion. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Spring 2021, Fall 2022

Requirements

AMR, CW, HIS

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Course Description

Science and Democracy
The scientific method has been heralded as inherently democratic, based as it is on observation rather than authority. Yet the relationship between science and democracy is much more complex, with scientists carrying authority based on their specialized knowledge. In this seminar we will explore the challenges of integrating science and democracy, investigating how science can be used to serve democratic goals and where there are tensions. We will consider such questions as whether or not the commercialization of science makes it difficult to serve the needs of a diverse society well, whether or not it is important to have diverse representation within scientific communities in order to produce objective knowledge, and what the appropriate role of scientific experts might be in developing sound public policy on topics such as climate change, health policy, medical research, and food safety. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CW, PHL

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Course Description

The American Political Tradition
In this seminar we will study the theoretical ideas that informed the creation and development of America’s political system and consider some of the major contemporary challenges to American democracy. Topics to be treated include the political thought of the American Founders, the place of religion in public life, the nature of written constitutions, American political culture, race in American politics, and the role of America in the world. Readings will include selections from the Federalist Papers, Alexis de Tocqueville, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, John Dewey, Theodore Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jr., George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and many other primary source documents. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

AMR, CW, HIS

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Course Description

Food, Identity, and Power Cross-Culturally
Food sustains not only bodies, but national, ethnic, and social identities as well.  Notions of order and transgression, nature and culture, have long affected what people eat and how they do it.  Using interdisciplinary approaches, we will examine the practices and politics of food and eating in a range of regions.  How does eating, this most basic and universal of human practices, both reflect difference and create it?  How are food systems, symbolic and “real," linked to national and international politics?  Finally, how are contemporary food practices influenced by “modernization” and “globalization”? Students will examine these questions through analytical papers and individual projects. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CMP, CW, SOC

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Course Description

Sexuality and Power on Stage: Female Trouble, Closet Homos, and Shameless Queers
What do Sophie Treadwell's Machinal, Martin Sherman's Bent, and Tony Kushner’s Angels in America teach us about the history of sexual marginalization? In this seminar we will study a selection of US American plays in which gender, desire, and sexuality constitute a problem for society and the state. Students will learn how to analyze dramatic texts from the director’s and the actor’s perspectives with a focus on action, structure, characterization, and space in addition to genre and larger themes. Cinematic renderings of the plays and in-class staging exercises will help us engage the embodied dimension of performance 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022

Requirements

AMR, ART, CW

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Course Description

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, shapes the mating decisions and courtship displays in all animal species, and we will consider how the same process shapes 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 Evolution of Beauty and The Chemistry Between Us will be our primary texts, supplemented by journal articles. 3 hrs sem

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

CW, SCI

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Course Description

Awe, Happiness, and Positive Psychology
When have you felt awe? What makes people happy? Are there clear, predictable explanations for why some people are more resilient in life than others? How might experiencing awe or holding a positive worldview relate to performance at work or in school? Over this seminar, we will explore not only what makes us happy, but what makes us thrive. In doing so we will consider why this matters to us as individuals and, more broadly, to society. Emphasis will be placed on Self Determination Theory and understanding the link between intrinsic motivation and engagement with work and life. Additionally, we will contemplate the potential for using psychological theories in institutions such as schools, businesses, and non-profits to facilitate stakeholders’ commitment, performance, and health. We will read empirical research articles, popular books, and blogs to learn how researchers measure awe, happiness, and wellbeing. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

CW, SOC

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Course Description

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 Shamanic and New Age practices in the Americas. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CMP, CW, PHL

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Course Description

Language and Ethnic Identity
Language is a central feature of human identity. In this seminar we will explore the multiple ways in which language is used in society to express, create, and perform these identities. We will analyze—from a sociolinguistic perspective—how variation in speakers’ linguistic resources (e.g., pronunciation, syntax, word choice, language choice) can serve as tools to shape, stereotype, or subvert national, regional, and other types of ethnic identities. We will draw examples from linguistic research, literature, film, television, political discourse, popular songs, the internet, and other media in the United States as well as in other societies. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

CW, SOC

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Course Description

The “good” Body
In this seminar we will examine the roles bodies play in defining our public and private identities. What indications of beliefs, access, and cultural values do our bodies provide? What counts as a “good” body? Who has one (or doesn’t), and why? The many different answers to these and related questions impact every body in our Middlebury community and beyond. Topics will include aesthetic and ideological issues relating to the body; course work includes physically based workshops, oral presentations, written analyses and creative responses. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

ART, CW, PE

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Course Description

Fifty Shades of Italy: an Exploration of Contemporary Italian History, Culture and Society
Italy is the land of a seductive culture that for centuries has inspired undeniable romanticism and continues to capture the imagination of many. But there is more to Italy than beautiful landscapes and world famous cuisine. From the darkness of fascism and terrorism, to the sophisticated colors of Italian fashion and design, to the dramatic tones of illegal immigration, we will explore, discover, or critically revisit the many shades that together compose the complexity of the Italian mosaic. Our interdisciplinary approach will include short stories, essays, newspaper articles, films, music, and images. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

CW, EUR, HIS

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Course Description

Plagues, Past and Present
In this seminar we will consider how infectious diseases emerge, why they persist, how they can be eradicated, and why some diseases believed to be “under control” have returned. We will study pathogens and human biology with particular attention to how biological, behavioral, and social factors converge to support endemic and epidemic disease in people. Readings will include books, articles written for the layperson, and primary scientific literature that examine epidemic disease from the Middle Ages to the present, with predictions for the future. We will pay particular attention to the evolution of pathogens and new diseases within populations. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

CW, SCI

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Course Description

Mastodons, Mermaids, and Dioramas: Capturing Nature in the Americas
Why did 18th-century museums stuff and mount exotic and domestic animals? Why does the American Museum of Natural History still house dioramas of so-called "native peoples" hunting? How has the study and staging of nature transferred into various kinds of artistic expression? In this seminar we will examine the intertwining of art, science, and ecology in the United States from the 1700s to the present day. Objects of study will include museum dioramas, scientific models, artifacts, and artworks collected during scientific expeditions, as well as the work of Walton Ford and Christy Rupp, contemporary artists whose works engage ecological issues. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

ART, CW, NOR

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Course Description

Karma
Why do things happen to us as they do? For many throughout Asia, the answer has been or is karma, the ancient Indian notion that over multiple lifetimes individuals reap the effects of past actions. We will examine this powerful idea of moral causality in depth, considering striking variations in classical Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism, and compare it to other theories of causation, both religious and scientific. We will also study the wealth of practices believed to improve future lives (and ultimately lead to liberation) and investigate diverse, surprising consequences of karma in some Asian societies, including justification of social hierarchy, mistreatment of some groups, and vegetarianism. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020, Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, PHL, SOA

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Course Description

Teachers and Students, Ancient to Modern
Hillel used to say, “The shy one cannot learn, and the impatient one cannot teach.” Confucius said: “If I lift up one corner and the student can't come back with the other three, I won't do it again." Cultures ancient and modern have reflected on the responsibilities of teachers and students, grappling with what constitutes an effective teacher or a successful student. What are the virtues—and perils—of discipleship? Of charisma? Should a teacher be gentle or forceful? Strict or lenient? Are teachers creators or conduits of tradition? In this seminar we will explore these questions in a range of historical periods and places, using film, literature, religious, and philosophical texts. Texts will include the Bible, Analects, and writings by Plato, Rousseau, and Helen Keller; films will include Dead Poet’s Society. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CW, PHL

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Course Description

Pyramid Schemes, Bubbles, and Crashes
In this seminar we will study the anthropology of exchange, then use it to analyze ethnographies of financial speculators, labor migrants, microcredit borrowers, and other agents and victims of global capitalism. We will focus on conflicting obligations to kin and to creditors, on how people in different cultures and social classes juggle these obligations, and how the growth of financial debt can turn social relationships into commodities. Studying debt and how it is leveraged in different societies and historical eras will show why capitalism is so vulnerable to speculative booms, swindles, and collapses. 3 hrs. sem. )

Terms Taught

Fall 2020, Fall 2021

Requirements

CMP, CW, SOC

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Course Description

Money, Morals, and Madmen in Global Politics
Non-state actors bring resources (money), new norms (morals), and revisionist aims (madmen) to global governance. In this seminar we will look at how private actors, including corporations, non-governmental organizations, and terrorist groups, have shaped development and conflict around the world. Throughout, we will reflect on how these groups represent societal interests and work to improve or undermine state sovereignty and global governance. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

CW, SOC

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Course Description

Film Form, Film Meaning: Fellini and the Art of Cinema
In this seminar we will discover the hidden art of cinematic form. How do movies construct meaning? Why are they often so emotionally engaging? How is cinema related to the other arts (literature, painting, photography, music)? In the first half of the seminar we will analyze six films by Federico Fellini—one of Europe’s most famous auteur directors (La strada, La dolce vita, 8 1/2, among others). In the second half of the seminar, students will analyze films of their choosing (any film by any European director). Armed with the critical skills gained through analyzing Fellini, groups of students will then screen their films to the entire class, complete a major classroom presentation, and engage in original research. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019, Fall 2022

Requirements

ART, CW, EUR

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Course Description

The Empire Writes Back: Politics and Literature from Postcolonial Africa, the Caribbean, and South Asia
A hundred years ago, Britain ruled about a quarter of the world’s population, and the British Empire covered approximately a quarter of the earth’s land surface. Though most of the colonies have won formal independence, the effects of global imperialism continue to be felt, and arguably Empire has taken on other forms. In this seminar we will discuss fiction, poetry, and drama by postcolonial writers such as J. M. Coetzee, Derek Walcott, Daljit Nagra, Wole Soyinka, Mahashweta Devi, Jean Rhys, Arundhati Roy, Edward Said, and Frantz Fanon, addressing questions about the nature and effects of colonization, anti-colonial resistance, representation, agency, and power. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

Requirements

CMP, CW, LIT

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Course Description

Fate, Filial Piety, and Passion in Chinese Civilization
In this seminar we will study the history of the ideas of ming (fate), xiao (filial piety), and qing (passion) in Chinese civilization. The meanings of these terms have evolved over two thousand years, but the notions of ming (one’s allotment in life), xiao (one’s duty to one’s parents), and qing (one’s sentiments or passions) have retained their central importance in China. We will discuss works of history, philosophy, literature, and film, as we consider ways in which people in the Chinese-speaking world have used these terms to express their ideas about the meaning of life and what it means to be human. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

CW, LIT, NOA

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Course Description

Anti-Heroes
How do works of literature persuade us to undertake the difficult work of opening our closed minds, softening our hard hearts, and questioning our deepest unexamined assumptions? Sometimes by presenting us with protagonists whose flaws seem to far outnumber their virtues, and who resemble people we have been taught to avoid and disdain in our actual lives. Keeping our eyes open as we begin to empathize with various monsters, failures, and lunatics, we will engage fundamental questions concerning literature’s persuasive techniques, psychological effects, and social responsibilities. Our syllabus will include novels, poems, and plays from the Elizabethan era to the present day. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

CW, LIT

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Course Description

Poetry and Poetics
This seminar is an introduction to the formal and generic aspects of lyric poetry in English. We will work to develop sensitivity to the various strategies of meaning available to poets—meter, rhyme, sound, diction, imagery—in order to read poems more closely, thoughtfully, and with pleasure. We will also attend to the historical, cultural, and biographical contexts of poems and poets, but our emphasis will be on lyric poems by a variety of poets from a range of periods and traditions. This is a literature, rather than a creative writing, course; but student poets are welcome to join. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, LIT

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Course Description

Marx and Marxism
Is Marxism still relevant in a world that has witnessed the collapse of most self-declared Marxist states? To address this question, we will explore the development of central Marxist concepts (including class struggle, alienation, revolution) both in Marx’s own words and in the writings and actions of those he inspired. Central to our inquiry will be consideration of the historical relationship between Marxist theory and practice (in a range of geographic and cultural contexts) and the adaptation of Marxist ideas for cultural and political critiques in the West. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

CMP, CW, HIS

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Course Description

The Magic of Numbers
Number theory—the study of patterns, symmetries, properties, and the power of numbers—has caught the popular imagination. Youngsters and adults have toyed with numbers, looked for patterns, and played games with numbers throughout millennia. A characteristic of number theory is that many of its problems are very easy to state. In fact, many of these problems can be understood by high school mathematics students. The beauty of these problems is that modern mathematics flows from their study. Students will experiment with numbers to discover patterns, make conjectures and prove (or disprove) these conjectures. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CW, DED

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Course Description

Shakespeare's 'Nasty' Sonnets
Of the love triangle that structures William Shakespeare’s enigmatic series of sonnets, Stephen Booth has quipped: “Shakespeare was almost certainly homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual.” Of the 154 poems, most people know only one or two of the most innocent (“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”), but the series as a whole has scandalized prudish readers for centuries with its confessions of heterosexual lust, homoerotic love, envy, jealousy, misogyny, racism, abjection, pride, and some moping—all in some of the most exquisite verse ever composed in English. In this course we will examine, discuss, and write about the language of Shakespeare's sonnets and their literary historical context as well as the range of critical theories (and sometimes utterly wacky notions) about their mysterious contents, including those from the likes of Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, and William Wordsworth. This is a feminist, queer-friendly, sex-positive course. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019, Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, LIT

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Course Description

Reason, Morality, and Cultural Difference
Different cultures have different standards of what counts as true, rational, and moral. Are all of these standards equally good? Which considerations could possibly support this position? Furthermore, should we accept the consequences that follow from the claim that all of these standards are equally good—for example, that the structure of the universe changes in accordance with a culture’s commitments to modern science, or that it is morally acceptable for some cultures to engage in genocide? By reading, discussing, and writing about contemporary philosophical readings on these topics, we will address these questions.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

CW, PHL

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Course Description

The Women of /Game of Thrones/
In this seminar we will examine the representation of women in George Martin’s Game of Thrones book series and its popular television adaptation. Introductory theoretical readings on gender, sexuality, race, and class, as well as on audience reception and fan culture will inform our discussion of the major characters in the show. In what ways does the role of women in the show’s fictional socio-political structure shed light on real-world issues of patriarchy, oppression, and violence? What aspects of the HBO series’ representation of women are defined by genre conventions and audience expectations? 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2019

Requirements

CW

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Course Description

Playing Dead: Feminist Readings of TV Crime Drama
Our television screens are populated with crime dramas, some focusing on the independent investigator, others on the police, and still others on the technicians who help secure evidence. In this course we will explore the cultural beliefs and biases implicit in these shows. Using a feminist lens, we will explore the grammar of this genre in terms of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Who gets defined as the criminal, who the victim, and why? What makes crime dramas pleasurable, and why do we watch them even when they are formulaic? How have they changed over time? 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

AMR, CW

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Course Description

Introduction to Computer Programming Through Music Applications
This course is designed to introduce students to computer programming, starting at the very beginning with basic concepts, and leading to the creation of web-based music applications, and virtual reality soundscapes. Computer programming can seem intimidating, but there are ways to get started that are fun and exciting, and not too scary! The class will also have a chance to research, and write about the use of computers in music past, present and future. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

ART, CW

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Course Description

Once Upon a Time – Folk Fairy Tales of the World
Tell me a story! We will examine the complex, inter-connected folk fairy tale traditions found in every society. Comparing fairy tale variants from around the world, we will explore their convoluted and fertile relationships as observed in the rise of fairytale collections in 15th Century Europe, reaching a culmination in the Brothers Grimm collection, often synonymous with the fairy tale itself. To attain a more dispassionate critical stance we will explore theoretical approaches to the fairy tales by such authers as Jack Zipes, Ruth Bottigheimer, Maria Tatar, and Kay Stone, and conclude by examining modern variants in prose, poetry, and film. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

Requirements

CMP, CW, LIT

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Course Description

Reading and Writing Contemporary Art
How do we understand art produced in the present day? How does this art help us understand the world? In this course we will consider multiple objects designated by the term “contemporary art:” a global industry, an art-historical discourse, a set of cultural practices evolving in dialogue with technology, a symbolic arena for the consideration of political values. We will familiarize ourselves with notable works in contemporary art’s unfinished canon, and pursue the challenge of writing about the visual. Goals include: writing and revising college-level essays, learning effective research techniques, and analyzing the culture of the contemporary art world. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2020

Requirements

ART, CW

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Course Description

Refugee Stories
“Stories are just things we fabricate,” says a character in Viet Nguyen’s The Refugees. “We search for them in a world besides our own, then leave them here to be found, garments shed by ghosts.” In this course students will find stories by and about a paradigmatic modern figure: the displaced refugee seeking asylum in unfamiliar lands. Highlighting literary and visual representations, we will also draw from history, sociology, anthropology, environmental studies, and feminist critique. Beginning with the Syrian refugee crisis, we will circle back to the Vietnam War and the lingering questions it poses to today’s social justice movement. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

Requirements

CW, LIT

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Course Description

Literature and Moral Choice
Literature’s subject is almost always morality; that is, how human beings treat one another. We will read and discuss difficult moral and ethical decisions made by characters in fiction and poetry, including works by Toni Morrison, Jane Austen, Mark Twain, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky among others. We will also acquaint ourselves with major theories of moral development and moral reasoning, and through reading, writing, discussion, and preparing oral presentations, we will explore how human beings, including those portrayed by writers who are great students of the human spirit, try to do the right thing in a complex modern and postmodern world.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022

Requirements

CW, LIT

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Course Description

The 1970s Around the World
This course will introduce students to some of the events, people, books, and trends that helped define the 1970s. We will begin in the US, with a discussion of the circumstances that led to President Nixon’s resignation. We will then move swiftly to examine developments elsewhere in the world: for example, the Iranian revolution; Indira Gandhi and the Indian Emergency; the feminist movement; life in the Soviet Union; left-wing terrorism; right-wing dictatorship; the Khmer Rouge, and the rise and (sad) fall of disco. Students will be assessed on their class participation, essays, and oral presentations. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

CW, HIS

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Course Description

Happiness
Once the philosophers’ domain, research on happiness is now burgeoning across disciplines. This interdisciplinary push re-awakens longstanding philosophical questions (What is happiness? What is the connection between happiness and virtue?) and breathes new life into our philosophical analyses of happiness. In this seminar we will explore new research on happiness. We begin with tough philosophical questions about the nature of happiness and how best to characterize happiness. We will then explore leading theories and interdisciplinary research on what makes us happy and the implications these theories have for the study of happiness. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

CW, PHL

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Course Description

How Should We Clean Up Our Rivers and Lakes?
Vermont’s Champlain Valley is a major agricultural center, whose lakes and rivers are experiencing nutrient pollution due to runoff off manure and fertilizer from farm fields. Difficulty identifying the sources of nutrient pollution confounds management decisions. In this research-driven experiential course students will work in teams to collect water quality data and analyze land use and water flow characteristics in polluted watersheds. The goal is to understand when and where pollutants enter regional water bodies, and use these insights to inform management plans. One important aim of this course is to foster collaborative skills and improve student resourcefulness and problem-solving acumen. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

CW, SCI

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Course Description

Venomous Cures
In this course we will explore surprising discoveries about how highly toxic animal venoms can be used in biomedical research and treat disease. The exploration of venomous animals will serve as an entry to learning basic principles of human and animal physiology. Students will explore this topic while learning how to communicate scientific findings effectively. We will read works from science journalists and learn to read primary research articles written by scientists. Students will learn how to incorporate scientific findings into an evidence-based argument targeted for the general public. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

CW, SCI

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Course Description

Music and the Black Church
The sound of music, often associated with the voices of deities, was a medium for personal and communal religious expression in traditional African societies. During this time, the drum, also known as an “acoustical seducer of the spirits,” assembled the community and summoned the spirits. Today, Black religious music is still known for assembling a community, both inside and outside the church, with songs such as “We Shall Overcome,” a staple of the Civil Rights Movement. In this course we will immerse ourselves in the music of the Black church, from melodies predating the transatlantic slave trade and Negro spirituals to contemporary gospel sounds and their use in social activism. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

AMR, CW, PHL

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Course Description

The State and Nature: The Middle East
In this course we will study the environmental history and current environmental issues of Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, asking such questions as: How do states gain power through environmental governance? How is conservation practice political? How is water governed and how is it a political tool? What is the intersection between policy, politics, and the environment? The objectives of this course include providing students with an understanding of human-environment relations theory by addressing the regional specifics of modern environmental and social histories of these countries. We will study animals, water, and forests in the literature of Non-Governmental Organizations, UN Environment reports, media, policy papers, and academic literature. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

CW, MDE, SOC

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Course Description

Dirt Across Disciplines-Finding our Place
What can birds tell us about borders? Deer about politics? Earthworms about epistemology? In this class, we will use elements from the non-human world to explore a set of human conversations across academic traditions. We will take natural history seriously as science and metaphor, learning tree identification while discussing trees as tools in climate science and poetry, for example. We will also practice web-building, exploring conventions for communicating from a variety of disciplinary perspectives—from natural science to humanities, from scholarly questions to personal quests for meaning. Be ready to venture outside. May include 2-3 fieldtrips Friday afternoons or weekends. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

CW, PHL, SCI

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Course Description

Writer's Decathlon
One of the best skills a writer can hope to cultivate is flexibility—the ability to write for different audiences, different situations, different media, and with different goals in mind. In this course we will develop our skills as flexible writers by tackling ten different writing exercises, including the op-ed, several sub-genres of the traditional academic paper, personal essays, creative fiction, the persuasive essay, business communications, modern tech-based genres, and more—we may even try our hand at writing an old-fashioned love letter with a quill pen. We will workshop our writings in class regularly, and examples of these various genres will be our course readings. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2021

Requirements

CW

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Course Description

Sex and Society: An Introduction
This seminar is an introduction to sociological literature on the pleasures, power, and problems of sex. It is impossible to understand sexuality as separate from other dimensions of the human condition—economics, politics, work, family, race, and gender. Therefore, we will place sexuality in dynamic interaction with larger social issues. In particular, we will examine questions related to morality, sex work, desire and fantasy, the science of sex, and sexual politics. Class materials include sociological, scientific, and philosophical texts and films. Students should leave the course with an appreciation for sexuality as a social, not just personal, phenomenon. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

CW, SOC

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Course Description

"The Woman Question": Pondering Women's Place in a Changing Society
When the 19th Amendment became part of the US Constitution in 1920, it stipulated that American citizens’ right to vote could not be denied “on account of sex.” For more than seventy years leading up to that moment, Americans debated who should shape public life and what it meant to be a woman. Both before and after ratification of the amendment, “the woman question” grew in importance, even while some women’s ability to exercise the right of suffrage remained contested. Anticipating the suffrage centenary, we will dig into historical documents to explore how race, class, and gender dynamics shaped this struggle. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

AMR, CW, HIS

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Course Description

Invention of Nature: Global and Local
In this class we take a deep dive into the nineteenth century archive where students will discover how Middlebury’s first professor, Frederick T. Hall, institutionalized the scientific study of nature here at a time when most colleges emphasized seminary studies. We will compare the careers of two of his students: Henry Rowe Schoolcraft and Edwin James, both of whom became explorers of the western territories and experts in Native American languages. We will look at their expeditionary writings and examine how these were taken up and used by a diverse audience that included scientists, industrialists, legislators, poets, clergy, and adventure-seekers. We will explore how these writings and their subsequent use help to invent a natural history for the new nation. We will also examine the ambivalent implication of James and Schoolcraft’s writings for the status of the Native Americans with whom they worked. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Spring 2020

Requirements

AMR, CW, HIS, SOC

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Course Description

The Wondrous Worlds of Islamic Art
In Fall 2018, the Middlebury College Art Museum will host “Wondrous Worlds,” an exhibition of Islamic arts featuring an unusually broad range of arts and crafts from all parts of the Islamic world, from the distant past to the contemporary present. Our seminar will work closely with the exhibition to learn about the basics of Islamic faith and practice. We will also engage the exhibition themes of Internationalisms, Quran, Calligraphy and Book Arts, Hospitality, Architecture, and the Body Beautiful. Further, we will learn about contemporary arts, graphic novels, music, and film, and practice calligraphy and geometric design. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

ART, CMP, CW

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Course Description

Global Chaplin
“Charles Chaplin,” according to the British Film Institute, “is film history—a genius of the defining art of the 20th century and a towering figure in world culture.” In this course, we will study films like The Kid, Modern Times, and The Great Dictator and their reception from Dar es Salaam to Lima to Shanghai. We will also examine diverse ways in which Chaplin—especially his signature character, The Tramp—was later appropriated worldwide by Chaplinesque figures like Cantinflas, Raj Kapoor, and Giulietta Masina. In so doing, we will question the meanings of mass media industries and global popular culture. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

ART, CMP, CW

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Course Description

Art, Music, and the Creative Brain
In this course we will use advances in neuroscience, as well as recent discussions between artists and neuroscientists, to explore the involvement of the brain in in artistic creativity. Focusing primarily upon the visual arts and music, we will learn how human beings sense and perceive images and sounds, how artists exploit the brain mechanisms responsible for such experiences, and how creativity might be understood in neurological terms. We will read from authors investigating the intersection between the arts and neuroscience, and students will present on a visual or musical work of their choice, or their own composition. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

ART, CW, SCI

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Course Description

Listening & Speaking: A Rhetoric Lab
Rhetoric is the tool humans use to seek justice, build consensus, and make change. It’s also how we argue, advertise, and mislead, which makes the capacity to analyze and act rhetorically essential to engaged citizenship. In our rhetoric lab, we will explore the twin arts of listening and speaking: how can we listen deeply, across differences, and how can a heightened awareness of the audience and its values help us communicate more persuasively? Our teachers will include rhetoricians from Aristotle to Obama, Shakespeare to Sarah Silverman; ultimately, in your final orations, you and your classmates will become teachers of each other. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

ART, CW

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Course Description

Through a Glass Darkly: Technology and Society in /Black Mirror/
In this course we will explore the depictions of technology and society in Charlie Booker’s sci-fi anthology series, Black Mirror (2011-present). Discussions of episodes will be supplemented by popular, critical and academic articles, as well as introductory theoretical texts. Among the questions we will address are the following: How have mass surveillance, instant information, and techno-mediated communication reshaped human relationships, from the personal to the political? Is the increasing presence of technology in our everyday lives experienced equally across gender, class, and race? What does this new pervasiveness of technology mean for our collective future? 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018

Requirements

CW, SOC

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Course Description

Who Owns Culture? History, Culture and Decolonization
Modern European imperial states devoted considerable time and effort to creating the norms and forms of European life in their colonies. This involved establishing European schools, languages, literature, music, dress, and art as superior to the indigenous cultures of the colonies. During the era of decolonization many thinkers from the colonies began to argue that political emancipation would also require a cultural emancipation. To decolonize the state one had to decolonize one’s state of mind. How could this be achieved? Who “owns” culture? These and other questions will be pursued through the writings of Gandhi, Césaire, Fanon, Memmi, Thiong’o, and others. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2021, Spring 2023

Requirements

CMP, CW, HIS

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Course Description

Literary Borders
In this course examines imaginative possibilities of the border in literary and visual texts. We will consider how writers portray cultural, national, temporal, and linguistic frontiers; how literature embodies the experience of crossing or dwelling within borderlands; how texts reinforce or transgress the boundaries at which we are positioned as readers; and how writing itself can construct and bridge differences. Reading poems and stories of liminal figures—em/immigrants, expatriates, exiles, animals, misfits, racial others, queers, and adventurers—we will analyze how borders challenge our ideas about place, body, identity, language, and text. In encounters with hybrid genres and multimedia texts that disrupt the way we read, we will explore the edges of language. For a broader picture of the border in the human imagination, we will also turn to films and other arts. Texts may include Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Justin Torres’ We the Animals, James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, among others. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

Requirements

AMR, CW, LIT

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Course Description

The Milky Way Galaxy - Our Island Universe
In this course we will learn how we came to know that we live in a galaxy that is distinct from the other hundreds of billion galaxies in the observable Universe – a fact that only became accepted in the mid 1920’s. We will discuss the history and philosophy of humanity’s effort to find our place in the Universe, focusing on how progress is made in science and how we settle scientific debates.??We will examine the anatomy of the Milky Way, including the disk of rotating stars in which our Sun resides, the globular clusters that are scattered throughout, the dark matter that holds the Galaxy together, and the black hole quietly sitting at its center. Throughout, we will explore how historical events, as well as human creativity and ingenuity, drove the major discoveries that give us an understanding of our place in the Universe. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019

Requirements

CW, SCI

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Course Description

Collecting China
In this course we will delve into the world of Chinese art collecting, from its beginnings a thousand years ago in China's imperial palaces to the present-day?art market in Europe and North America. By studying objects, correspondence, catalogues, and recent scholarship, we will untangle the web of art dealers, collectors, and curators who formed the major U.S. collections of Chinese art in the twentieth century. We will also problematize early collectors’ perceptions of “the Orient” and the illicit export of antiquities. Each student will investigate a group of objects dispersed throughout Western museums, and as a class we will compile our findings into a digital exhibition project. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019

Requirements

ART, CW, NOA

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Course Description

Literary Places
In this seminar we will explore representations of place in essays, short stories, and novels. Among the questions we will consider are how does one define a "place"? Is there such a thing, as a "non-place"? How and why does one develop and demonstrate loyalty to a particular place or region? How does place help to define self? We will address such questions in the context of The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy Boston, essays by Wendell Berry, and novels by Oscar Wilde and Alain Robbe-Grillet. The seminar will conclude with a section on walking (place in motion), with a look at Cheryl Strayed's Wild and Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild. Students will discuss writing and develop skills of oral and written literary analysis.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019

Requirements

CW, LIT

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Course Description

Religion and Food
In this course we will examine religion and the construction of religious identity, morality, and community through food and cooking practices. We will consider how “rules” about what, when, and with whom one can or cannot eat shape religious traditions, values, and communities, and how these rules inform our very sense of what “counts” as religious. We will engage with practices from Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and students will conduct independent research about specific practices of their own choosing, which may fall outside of these traditions. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019

Requirements

CMP, CW, PHL

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Course Description

Reward for Being: Emily Dickinson and her Influence
In this seminar we will focus on Emily Dickinson, the 19th century American poet whose work, as scholar Susan Howe writes, “penetrates to the indefinite limits of written communication.” We will immerse ourselves in the letters and poems of Dickinson, with a particular focus on her relationship to her own literary vocation. We will also investigate the influence Dickinson has had on American poets in the 20th and 21st centuries. Texts will include primary sources as well as a biography of and critical work on Dickinson. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020

Requirements

CW, LIT

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Course Description

Theatre Now: 21st Century Playwrights and their Plays
In this course we will study the works of a diverse group of contemporary American playwrights. These works will give us the opportunity to explore themes, characters, and plots unseen prior to this century, as well as the changing forms, subjects, and voices of the American stage. There will be multiple performance opportunities, including a final creative/oral presentation. Writing assignments will include short critical responses and longer research-based papers. Readings will include works by playwrights such as Paula Vogel, Lynn Nottage, Charles Mee, and others at the forefront of American theatre.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

AMR, ART, CW

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Course Description

It's not you, it's me. Autobiographical Explorations in Film
In this seminar we will study a range of autobiographical practices in audiovisual media to examine how filmmakers have used the self as a starting point to explore universal issues like the essence of family bonds, finding love, or understanding their identity. Experimental practices (like Jonas Mekas’ Diaries), fictionalized accounts (Mike Mills’ Beginners), and documentary strategies (Daniel Khan’s My Architect and Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell) will inform our own creative processes and explorations. Through close readings, critical papers, and our own pieces, we will attempt to better understand the world and who we are in it. Note to students: this course involves substantial streaming of films for assigned viewing. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

ART, CW

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Course Description

Leonardo da Vinci: The Original Renaissance Man?
Famed for paintings such as The Last Supper and Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci was a dedicated observer and a prolific journal writer. His notebooks reflect an insatiable appetite for learning, and a mind equally engaged by engineering and sculpture, hydraulics and oil paint, religious faith and human nature. By reading Leonardo’s writing and by examining his commissions—both complete and unfinished—we will explore how this single artist came to define our understanding of a “Renaissance man.” More recent scholarship will spark robust discussions of how best to understand the “afterlife” of an artist and his work and whether the moniker of Renaissance man is, in fact, apt. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

ART, CW

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Course Description

How Democracies Die
Is democracy in a global crisis? Why do people from the Americas to Asia support autocratic leaders? Is there a trade-off between rights and popular will? In this course we will discuss these questions and explore how and why democracies die. We will study and compare global trends as well as individual cases to unpack the economic, social, and political sources of democratic decline. Our sources will include global democracy and freedom indices, cross-country surveys, Y. Mounk’s The People vs Democracy, S. Levitsky and D. Zibblatt’s How Democracies Die, and a selection of recently published articles on the topic. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CMP, CW, SOC

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Course Description

African Musical Lifestyles
Musical practice in Africa varies from culture to culture, but Africans generally conceptualize music in ways that differ greatly from those in the West. In this seminar we will explore these variances through a wide range of activities, including music and dance performances, lecture demonstrations, group discussions, film screenings, reading and writing, as well as research and oral presentations. Stressing a sense of “music” as a verb rather than a noun, we will develop a fresh appreciation for and understanding of African musical practice as a way of life. No prior musical background is required. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

ART, CMP, CW, SAF

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Course Description

The Language of Conspiracy Theories
In this course we will explore the language of conspiracy theories by examining some longstanding theories—such as that of the moon landing hoax—as well as more recent theories spread by the likes of Alex Jones and other talking heads. Our work will pinpoint the rhetorical nature of conspiracy theories (what makes them viable, how they spread, and how to spot them), while also finding ways to argue against people making bad-faith arguments. Overall, this course will emphasize the various dimensions of conspiracies and challenge students to find approaches to counteract them.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CW, SOC

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Course Description

Water as a Human Right and Fugitive Resource
Safe and clean drinking water and sanitation are now recognized by the United Nations as human rights. However, water is a "fugitive" resource with dangerous variability in its quantity and quality over space and time. How does society manage the spatial-temporal variability of the water cycle, and how does the cycle in turn shape society? We will answer these questions through comparative geographic analysis of case studies in the northeast U.S. and east Africa, drawing on evidence from maps and geographic information systems, field trip observations, survey data, published research, and water law and policy. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CW, SAF, SOC

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Course Description

Imaging People
“Look! See what I have discovered!” gasped Antony van Leeuwenhoek, a seventeenth-century pioneer in microscopy, upon seeing cells and other biological structures for the first time. Experience the joy (and frustration) of discovery as we explore the historical development of various biomedical imaging techniques. Students will learn how images are formed through hands-on activities and field trips, with an emphasis on understanding essential physics concepts and communicating the science to a broad audience. Readings will focus on the lives of researchers, including Nobel Prize winners as well as those unrecognized for their work. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CW

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Course Description

From Godzilla to Totoro: Monsters in Japanese Culture
In this course we will examine a series of Japanese monsters (foxes, badgers, demons, vengeful spirits, and others), which populate Japanese myths, tales, folklore, art, and popular culture, in order to understand how the fear of the Other leads to marginalization and demonization and how monsters are created to contain undesirable figures. We will also explore the literary expressions of cultural anxieties generated by lack of understanding or misunderstanding of phenomena, such as the powers of nature and the afterlife, as well as the existential terrors resulting from trauma and war. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CW, LIT, NOA

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Course Description

Chinatown, SF, USA
This seminar explores the history of San Francisco’s Chinatown from the Gold Rush through the Cold War. As the oldest diasporic enclave of Chinese in the United States, Chinatown has been both a physical site where immigrants of color have built a community and a continually contested symbolic space. Through primary and secondary texts, our examination will engage specifically with Chinatown as a place forged by domestic and international trends, one that illuminates the development of a globalized America. In their final research projects, students will apply these thematic analyses to ethnic communities across the country. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

AMR, CW, HIS

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Course Description

From Reggae to Remix: Dub Soundscapes and Black Diasporic Aesthetics
Beginning in the dancehalls of Jamaica, dub music became a key cultural form within black communities in postcolonial Britain. Improvising lyrics over manipulated reggae instrumental tracks, dub deejays operated at the intersection of the musical, the literary, and the technological while anticipating the “remix” culture of established postmodern forms. Dub sound systems broadcast news about the pressing circumstances confronting black Britons (“sus” laws, unemployment, and anti-black violence). The music also spawned a vernacular literary culture encompassing poets such as Linton Kwesi Johnson, Jean Binta Breeze, and Mutabaruka. Students will consider dub as art but also as a register of social tensions in British culture and elsewhere. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

ART, CMP, CW

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Course Description

Greek Tragedy and Athenian Democracy
In this survey of selected dramas by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, we explore tragedy’s relation to political freedom and empire in fifth century B.C. Athens. The Athenian tragic poets used traditional Greek myths, especially Homer’s depiction of the Trojan War, paradoxically: to question the morality and wisdom of contemporary Athenian imperialism; to expose the conflict between the individual’s civic and familial obligations; to highlight the tension between men’s presumptive self-government and their belief in the active power of gods. We ask how the tragedians managed to raise publicly, in the solemn religious setting of Athens’ dramatic festivals, the kind of questions for which the people of Athens later put the philosopher Socrates to death on charges of corruption and impiety. The course culminates in a reading of Aristotle's study of tragedy, the Poetics. 3 hrs. sem

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CW, EUR, LIT

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Course Description

Science is a Verb
Science plays a vital role in the modern world but can seem abstract or distant. How do we best study? What kind of exercise is best for our health? What effect does social media have on our happiness? How do we find existing evidence we can trust, and how do we test hypotheses in our own lives? In this course we will (a) develop the science literacy skills necessary to find and apply scientific findings to learn about ourselves, others, and the world, and (b) set up and run our own micro-experiments to address how these questions apply to us. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CW, SCI

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Course Description

Literary and Filmic Protest of Environmental Racism
Can Literature and Film Save the Planet? This course focuses on literary and filmic responses to environmental racism. Bearing witness to those whose lives are most endangered, we will learn about environmental justice, economics, migration, globalization, and the anthropology of climate change through comparative study of works authored by Iraqi, Chinese, and African Americans, as well as by indigenous Latin Americans (Andean, Xavante, and Wayuu), Native Americans (Navajo and Sioux), Africans (Ogoni), Indians (Dalit and Adivasi), and Armenians. We will write literature and film reviews, and work incrementally toward the realization of activist essays.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019, Fall 2022

Requirements

CMP, CW, LIT

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Course Description

Francophone Comics and Culture
When the cartoon The Adventures of Tintin appeared in 1929 in Belgium, French-language comics were uncommon. Today, Herge’s Tintin is famous throughout the world, and comic books and graphic novels are bestsellers. In this course we will examine the Francophone comic (la bande dessinée) as a unique narrative medium and cultural product. We will explore the position of the bande dessinée in francophone history and culture, with a particular focus on France, Belgium, Québec, and West Africa. We will examine how the bande dessinée provides a unique space for identity construction and cultural critique, involving national identity and mythology, gender and sexuality, and colonial and postcolonial discourse. No knowledge of French is required. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CW, EUR, LIT

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Course Description

The Liberal Arts and Living "the Good Life"
You are here—now what? In this seminar we will reflect on this pivotal moment in your intellectual journey. We will consider key questions that help us understand why a liberal arts education offers more than ‘useless knowledge’ and is instead an investment in the good of the soul and the community: What does it mean—and has it meant--to live ‘the good life’? We will read critical writings about American liberal arts education; selected philosophical and sacred texts as they pertain to living ‘the good life’; and creative works such as Orwell’s /1984/ and Martel’s /Life of Pi/. We’ll slow down and deepen your learning process--and get another step closer to identifying a sense of meaning and purpose for your four years at Middlebury. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CW, LIT

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Course Description

Latinex Stories of Resistance
How do marginalized peoples in Latin America resist oppression? Indigenous women in Cherán, Mexico expel the triple mafia of drug gangs, government, and police from their town; in colonial times, a nun takes on the Catholic church hierarchy to protect the right of girls to their education. In this seminar students will read stories of resistance to oppression and learn how communities and individuals can take on and overcome misogyny, environmental injustice, slavery, and structural violence. They will convey their findings in a variety of forms, including personal essays, historical fiction, and public presentations.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

AMR, CW, SOC

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Course Description

Fighting for Justice
How do people overcome injustice? In this course, we will study historic justice movements, including abolition and the fight against Jim Crow. We will then analyze two contemporary movements: the fights against mass incarceration and against climate change. After comparing and contrasting these fights with past movements and with each other, we will study ideas for accelerating the pursuit of justice in our time. Our reading will include the work of Frederick Douglass, Ella Baker, Bryan Stevenson, Michelle Alexander, Van Jones, and Mary Robinson. During our final two weeks, students will present their ideas for overcoming current forms of injustice. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019, Fall 2021

Requirements

CW, SOC

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Course Description

A Guide to College
Starting college is a major life transition. It coincides with the emergence from adolescence into young adulthood, and is when students build new identities within the context of increased academic, social, and cultural pressures. At this dynamic moment, we will begin to explore possibilities, identify goals, and create individualized action plans in an effort to experience college with intention. The course readings will primarily be drawn from the fields of Psychology and Education. Together, we will learn best practices identified in the social sciences and tap into our creative energies to share our real-time experiences as we synthesize guides to getting the most out of college.

Terms Taught

Fall 2019

Requirements

CW, SOC

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Course Description

Gut Check: Exploring Microbiomes
Imagine there were an organ in your body with a mass similar to that of your heart, which trained your immune system, affecting your weight and perhaps even your behavior. Wouldn’t you want to know? There is such an organ — your microbiome, the collection of microbes in and on your body.
You are not alone; corals, squid, beetles, and many other organisms harbor microbiomes that generate nutrients, produce light, and defend their host organisms in the environment. Increasingly, we also understand microbiomes to be intrinsically and deeply embedded within social and environmental (in)justice. We will read I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong, as well as other popular science and research papers to investigate these fascinating microbes.

Terms Taught

Spring 2020, Fall 2022

Requirements

CW

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Course Description

How do I Improvise?*

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

ART

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Course Description

Landscapes of Central America: Past, Present, and Future
Central America has been at the crossroads of the Americas since closure of the isthmus of Panama around three million years ago. In this course we will study Central America through an interdisciplinary lens of natural history and human history (prehistoric through modern), including fiction and non-fiction by Central American authors, journal articles, popular science writing, and poetry. We will explore the geological origins of Central America as well as human-landscape interactions, notably volcanism, early agriculture, and trade routes. Our readings will also require us to think about current and future socio-political systems and their relationships to landscape. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

AMR, CW

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Course Description

Terms Taught

Spring 2021

Requirements

CW

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Course Description

Growing up in Italy: 1950 to Present
What is the role of a liberal arts education in the lives we lead? This question is central to several international blockbusters dramatizing their Italian protagonists’ growth from adolescence into adulthood: Marco Tullio Giordana’s mini-series, The Best of Youth (film, 2003), Elena Ferrante’s novels My Brilliant Friend (2011-12) and The Story of a New Name (2012-13), and Saverio Costanzo’s HBO film series (2019-20). We will consider these works’ stories of personal evolution against Italian and Western historical developments from 1950 to the present: post-war reconstruction; economic expansion; educational reform; reform in the care of the mentally ill; student and worker movements; feminism; left- and right-wing terrorism; the Mafia. No previous knowledge of Italy or Italian is required. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

CW, EUR, HIS

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Course Description

American Revolutions: Reacting to the Past
In this course we will be examining four moments of intellectual and cultural conflict in the United States, including: 1)The Revolution in NYC, 1775-76, 2)The Fate of John Brown, 1859, 3)Greenwich Village, 1913 (Suffrage, Labor and the New Woman) and, 4)Chicago, 1968. We will dive deep into these moments of revolution via Reacting to the Past games, in which you’ll present the perspectives of historical characters—sometimes with values quite different than your own--in lively debate. These games do not have a fixed script: you’ll find yourself researching classic documents, collaborating, making public speeches, plotting—and in the end, perhaps even rewriting history.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

AMR, CW, HIS

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Course Description

Education in the Anthropocene
Traditionally, a liberal arts education has placed humans at the center of study. But, what if we decentered humans in order to explore how to live not as overseer, but as an embodied expression of a much larger, shared Earthscape? What is the balance of liberty and social justice in such a paradigm? What if this new, required spacing between us is not a barrier to our engagement, but the opening possibility of a larger, shared consciousness? Using a conceptual framework of land-body-spirit-mind, we will engage learning at the crossroads of these questions. Is six feet really the distance between when your breath ends and mine begins? 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

CW, PHL

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Course Description

Play and the Politics of Childhood
In this seminar we will examine the culture of the United States through the lens of childhood play and how it reflects and challenges mainstream conceptions of social control, freedom, and political power. This includes investigating the history of children’s rights and the social boundaries we build around young people. Drawing from the rich field of “playwork” we will interrogate the social messages conveyed by play environments and play objects (aka “toys”) and what those messages may indicate about the society from which they emerge. Through essays and texts, documentary films and podcasts, lectures, guest speakers and personal reflection we will interrogate the purpose of play in our culture. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020

Requirements

CW, SOC

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Course Description

Globalization Interrupted
Globalization is not inevitable, and in recent years, a wide variety of counterforces—from resurgent nationalisms to global pandemics—have worked to undermine the increased connectivity that has come with rapid technological change. In this seminar we will look at both broad concepts—such as identity formation, nationalism, and trade—and case studies—such as COVID-19, Brexit, and right-wing populism in Brazil—to understand the broad cultural, economic, and political forces at work in the current global context. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2020, Spring 2021

Requirements

CW, SOC

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Course Description

Native Presence and Performance: Reclaiming the Indigenous Narrative
In this sminar we will respectfully engage with contemporary Native American and First Nations theatre makers representing the nations of the Kiowa/Delaware, Onieda/Ojibwe, Cherokee, and Kana/Rappahannock. Additionally, we will meet with Abenaki culture bearers to learn how cultural expression has contributed to their nation’s reclamation and decolonization in Vermont and the Northeast. Despite centuries of attempted erasure, the Indigenous of the Americas have survived and thrived in powerful ways. Conversations with Native leaders and artists, will deepen understanding while strengthening communication skills (including listening); writing assignments will strengthen critical, sensitive, and reflexive analysis. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Spring 2021

Requirements

AMR, ART, CW

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Course Description

Race, Body, and Spectacle
Through an array of visual, aural, and literary materials, we will explore the many connections between racial discourses and corporeal imagery and their role in the reproduction of interwoven systems of racism, capitalism, patriarchy, cisgenderism, heterosexism, and ableism. To this end, we will pay particular attention to cultures of spectacle and performance in which the body is staged and codified in terms of race, gender, sexuality, and (dis)ability for particular audiences. Examples will include fitness culture and contests, beauty pageants, sporting events, music videos, minstrelsy, and other cultures of spectacle from around the globe. Furthermore, we will interrogate how the racial spectacle is embedded into visual arts and literature spanning different stages of empire and capitalism. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

CMP, CW, SOC

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Course Description

Rites of Passage: Buddhism
In this course we will explore the topics of symbolic death and rebirth as expressed in rites of passage and initiation, especially in Buddhism and the Blues. We will draw upon sources from religions and cultures around the world, examining them from multiple perspectives: mythology, psychology, anthropology, religion, literature, and popular music. Since the transition from childhood to adulthood is one of the most celebrated and challenging rites of passage, students will make connections with their own lives. We will also consider larger, macro-level processes, such as the transition from traditional worldviews to modernism and postmodern worldviews. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

CMP, CW, PHL

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Course Description

Race and Representation
In this seminar we explore cultural representations of race in popular and mass media. How are racial identity and racial difference represented in the media around us? What political, historical, and social contexts shape racial representations? Conversely, how might cultural representations of race shed light on its politics and histories? The foundational premise of this course is that popular culture has much to tell us about “serious” topics, such as capitalism, state violence, and structural inequities. We will commit to the idea that the pieces of culture we consume for fun or entertainment are worthy of critical study and rigorous critique. In this vein, we will critically analyze popular cultural texts that span a wide range of media, such as literature, television, film, and music. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

CW, SOC

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Course Description

The International Drug Trade
This seminar examines the political economy of drug trafficking in the Western Hemisphere. How have transnational drug markets evolved, and why? How has narco-trafficking differentially affected the political, economic, legal, financial, and social systems of producer, consumer, and trans-shipment countries? What policy responses are available to combat it? How should we weigh alternative policy options? Our focus is the cocaine source countries in Latin America's Andean region, the chief trans-shipment country (Mexico), and the principal consumer country (the U.S.). We also will examine the drug trade's effects on America’s society and criminal justice system. 3 hrs. sem

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

AMR, CMP, CW, SOC

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Course Description

Growth and its Limits
What is economic growth? Is it limited in a world of finite resources? In this seminar we will explore these questions from a multidisciplinary perspective, drawing on readings from 18th century philosophers to 21st century research on climate change and artificial intelligence. Particular attention will be paid to the role of demography, agricultural productivity, and fossil fuels. We will develop simple mathematical models of growth and seek out relevant data to help inform our discussions and writing. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, SOC

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Course Description

Great Ideas in Economics
The current 4th industrial revolution is changing lives in mundane and profound ways. The set of cooperative and competing interactions among humans, machines, and nature will shape lives in ways that we have just begun to comprehend. There has been “production, buying, selling, and trading” of goods and services since time immemorial –- why then does the formal study of “economics” as a discipline start only from around the 17th century with the onset of the 1st Industrial Revolution? This course introduces students to our most influential economists, their ideas, and their impact upon economics, policy, and intellectual history. We will engage in serious thinking, writing, and discussion about the great economics questions of our age. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

CW, SOC

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Course Description

Schools and Inequality
In this course we will explore fundamental questions about the relationship between schools and society. What should be the normative goals of education? How do we explain educational disparities? We will look at theories on race, class, disability, gender, and sexuality to examine the role that schools play in reproducing or circumventing inequality in society. Drawing upon both domestic and international contexts, we will incorporate theories and methods from across the social sciences. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

CW, SOC

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Course Description

Activism and the U.S. AIDS Crisis *
The history of HIV/AIDS has much to teach us about the politics of late twentieth-century and early twenty-first century American life. Building on foundations laid by earlier generations, people with AIDS in the 1980s organized against government neglect, homophobia, and a profit-driven pharmaceutical industry to demand treatment and care. Using historical scholarship, oral history, digitized archival collections, and film, we will explore a rich yet hidden history of grassroots activism, and consider how race, sexuality, gender, and class shaped responses to HIV/AIDS. In addition to readings-based discussion, students will conduct multi-staged research projects to explore AIDS activism in historical perspective.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

AMR, CW, HIS

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Course Description

The Body in Question
What does literature have to say about the fact that we are “embodied” beings?—that our consciousness interacts with the world through an envelope of flesh that both weighs us down with its mundane requirements and propels us forward with its remarkable abilities and insistent desires? We know that the world at large cares deeply about our bodies, for it continually categorizes us along the lines of race, gender, age, and “normality,” but who gets (or should get) the last word about what our skin and bones declare about us? In this class we will investigate what novelists, playwrights, and poets have to say about our ability to either make peace with our flesh or to transcend it, and whether such outcomes can best be accomplished through religion, imagination, drugs, sexuality, or political action. The works we address will include Shelley’s Frankenstein, Morrison’s Sula, Beckett’s Happy Days, Silko’s Ceremony, Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians, and others. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

CW, EUR, LIT

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Course Description

Imagining a Better Tomorrow
In this class we will study some of the ways in which filmmakers, artists, activists, thinkers, and ordinary people have envisioned and/or strived to create a better future for humanity. We will watch and read fictional narratives in parallel with real-world examples of equitable societies, life-altering technology, sustainable living, and others. We will cover various aesthetic, political, and ideological frameworks and movements, such as Afrofuturism, ecofeminism, environmental activism, pacifism, etc. Texts include films (Metropolis, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind), television series (Star Trek), architecture (ecovillages and intentional communities), writers such as Marge Piercy, Samuel R. Delany, Octavia Butler, and others.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021, Fall 2022

Requirements

ART, CW

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Course Description

Architectures of Intimacy: Family in Contemporary Japan
The Japanese terms for family, kazoku, and house, ie, both contain the same Chinese character, a pictogram that registers the connection between a family and the physical dwelling it inhabits. In this course, that connection will be a central framework through which we consider the changing conditions of intimacy and family in Japan since the mid-twentieth century. We will use fiction, film, legal documents, and ethnographic studies to examine the relationship between intimacy and home, architecture and family in a rapidly transforming sphere of Japanese society.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

CW, NOA, SOC

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Course Description

Growing Up Other in the Americas
Who am I and how do others see me? How do I see myself? This seminar will focus on the growing up and educational experiences of individuals from a number of marginalized groups throughout the Americas. Through novels, memoirs, essays and films from the U.S. and Latin America we will look at such questions as: What does it mean to be "othered"? What does "American" mean? Where and how does one find one's voice? What is the importance of place in one's identity? We will touch on issues of race, gender, ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation, and more. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

AMR, CW, SOC

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Course Description

Writing Women's Truths
In this course we will examine how women’s lived experiences—their personal truths—have led to greater societal change. We will consider history, literature, psychology, and feminist theory as we analyze the lives and writings of creative women who have examined themselves as subject since the eighteenth century, including Mary Wollstonecraft, Kate Chopin, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Adrienne Rich, bell hooks, Maya Angelou, Isabel Allende, Amy Tan, and others. We will see how their life experiences, choice of genre, and intended audience shaped their rhetorical message, and we will examine the impact those messages had on the societies in which these women lived. 3 hrs sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021, Spring 2023

Requirements

CW, LIT

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Course Description

How Money Makes the World Go Round
Our society is structured around money – how to get it, how to spend it, how to amass it. Power comes easily to those with more than their fair share of it, and powerlessness plagues those without it. In this seminar we will study key aspects of the financial system, while examining the inherent biases, inequity, and unfairness within the institutions we rely on. We will explore ideas about how to address those impediments through readings devoted to current events, personal memoirs, and essays. Our discussions will illuminate the problematic way that money makes the world go round, while we also learn to navigate our own personal financial journey. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022

Requirements

CW, SOC

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Course Description

Adirondack Park: Conversations about Conservation
The Adirondack Park in northern New York is considered one of the world’s greatest experiments in conservation. Throughout its ~130 year history, this experiment has attempted to balance rigorous environmental protections for millions of wilderness acres with the economic realities of residents who live in the park. We will undertake an interdisciplinary approach to explore how park conservation is affected by climate change, rural economies, recreation, tourism, slow food, and political action. Building upon course readings and discussions, and direct engagement with the Adirondack landscape, stakeholders, and local industries, students will develop practical policy recommendations to address pressing conservation issues in the park. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

CW, SOC

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Course Description

Skull Wars: Sordid True Tales of Rapacity, Revenge, and Racism in the Search for Human Origins
Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey. Richard Leakey and Don Johanson. Lee Berger and Tim White. In this course we will examine how jealousy, competition, and racism drive knowledge production and sabotage in the hunt for human ancestors. We’ll do so by exploring how these personalities, and others, have leveraged the media, from the New York Times to National Geographic, to push forward their vision and status in science. Through scientific articles, popular books, and film, we will also explore how settler colonialism and racism have plagued, and continue to plague, the science of paleoanthropology. 3 hrs. Sem

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

CW, SOC

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Course Description

You're the Expert: Being a Public Scientist
A scientist’s work is not complete until their findings are shared. But who tells the story of science and who gets to be called a scientist? In this course we will learn the theory and practice of communicating science to public audiences. We will explore the roles of social media, comics, citizen science and science cafés in getting the public engaged with STEM learning. Through learning about audience, visual design, and storytelling, we will craft our own stories about science. Students will develop the science literacy skills necessary to research the world around us and to communicate Science to others. 3 hrs. sem.

Terms Taught

Fall 2021

Requirements

CW

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Course Description

The Poetics of Lullaby
In his lecture on the art of Spanish lullaby, poet Federico García Lorca observed that, “In melody…history’s emotion finds refuge.” The situation of lullaby, as a transitional gesture between waking life and sleep, has made it a natural depository for human wishes, terrors, and fantasies across centuries and cultures. We will investigate the seemingly universal language of lullaby in its folk and literary traditions around the world. Learning will be both research-based and experiential. Readings and papers will include scholarship on individual songs and poems within their contexts, and field work will explore lullaby as a living folk tradition.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022

Requirements

CMP, CW, LIT

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