This Term's Honors Seminars
Honors Seminars: Spring 2013
IISP 21002-01 Slow Read, Portrait of a Lady
Instructor: Bruce Henderson
This is not only a new seminar but a new kind of seminar. A Slow Read is just what the name implies, a focussed and leisurely investigation of a major text that deserves our extended attention. We’re kicking off the Slow Read Movement with one of Henry James’ masterpieces, Portrait of a Lady. Portrait is a fabulous novel, intellectually complex and stylistically brilliant, that rewards close reading. Slow Reads will be a regular part of the Honors Program offerings from now on.
IISP 21002-02 The Ring Cycle
Instructor: Brian Demaris
Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle (Der Ring des Nibelungen) is one of the great monuments of Western European culture. Dauntingly complex and emotionally draining, The Ring has excercised a powerful thrall over audiences ever since its first performance in 1876. The cycle is a work of extraordinary scale – the four operas that comprise it have a total performance time of nearly 15 hours. Professor Brian DeMaris (Music), opera conductor at Ithaca College, will lead this seminar into the world of The Ring. The seminar will focus on experiencing this masterpiece, by listening to recordings, viewing filmed performances, and by attending live performances. The New York Metropolitan Opera is performing the Ring this spring and this seminar will attend a performance of Das Rheingold at Lincoln Center.
IISP 21000-01 CRN 41336
Apocalyptica - New Seminar
IISP 21000-01 CRN 41336
Block II – Wednesday 5:25 Friends 203
This seminar will focus on issues raised in Anthony Aveni’s The End of Time: The Maya Mystery of 2012, in which he demonstrates how apocalyptic thinking has been part of a long Western tradition. After looking at how the end of the Mayan calendar’s Long Count on Dec. 21, 2012 came to be construed as a “prediction” of the end of the world, we will examine what Aveni sees as a peculiarly American predilection for engaging in apocalyptic thinking, evident from its earliest beginnings up to the present, and we will explore what the rise of apocalyptic thinking tells us about America, both in the past and today. Professor Aveni will be the C.P. Snow Speaker at Ithaca College this spring. When he comes to campus he will lead the seminar.
The seminar will also examine a broad array of approaches to apocalyptic speculation. Guest speakers will come from a number of areas, including physics, religion, politics and writing. Who knows, maybe even a zombie or two will show up!
Honors Intermediate Seminars
WRTG 10601-01 Academic Writing: The Sixties
Instructor: Ron Denson
Tu-Th 8:00 – 9:15am
Fulfills both Honors and Academic Writing
This seminar is a special section of Academic Writing for students in the Honors Program. The course will count both as an Honors Intermediate Seminar and for Academic Writing. The focus of the course is that amazing, and widely (wildly?) misunderstood, period of American history, “The Sixties.”
IISP 15000-01 Cultural Encounter with Ithaca College
Instructor: James Pfrehm
Open only to first-year students in the Honors Program, this seminar will immerse its participants in the amazing array of cultural events being offered at Ithaca College during the spring semester. The seminar will meet in a classroom to contextualize and discuss the events that they will attend. The heart of the seminar, however, will take place in attending the events themselves, theatrical productions, musical performances, poetry readings, film viewings, art openings, and anything and everything that happens this spring. Participants should be aware that they will need to attend a number of events during the evening hours.
IISP 20000-01 International Scholarly Conversation
Instructor: Stewart Auyash
The International Scholarly Conversation is a unique, important, and ongoing feature of the intellectual life of the Honors Program. Over the course of the semester a number of international scholars, representing a great variety of disciplines, will visit the seminar. Before they come, they will share with the seminar a set or core readings or media that will allow an informed colloquy. When they come to campus they will lead the seminar. Professor Auyash will act as convener and coordinator of the seminar and lead discussions around the careers and interests of the visiting scholars. A particular focus of the seminar will be to examine the dialectical relationship between cosmopolitanism and parochialism in the lives of international scholars.
BIOL 22040-01 Evolution of Evolution: Society and the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection (2b NS)
Instructor: Leann Kanda
We will address both the theory of evolution by natural selection as an explanation of the natural world and as a concept that has shaped and been shaped by society. Students will learn about what the theory entails, and a brief history of the social reactions to the concept, including the long-standing conflict with western religion. We will explore how our understanding of evolution has, and has not, itself evolved from Darwin's formulations. Finally, the application of evolutionary theory in modern society will be considered, from its relevance to racism to its role in the internet. Requirements and Grading: Essays, midterm and final papers, and participation.
CMST 23102-01 Performing Metafiction (3b pending)
Instructor: Bruce Henderson
"Metafiction" refers to texts (usually literary, though the term has sometimes been used for mediated narrative forms) in which the act of narrative is itself foregrounded, sometimes the primary "action" of the story, sometimes a kind of visible architecture that interweaves with a more traditional narrative. In either case, one of the primary functions of metafiction is to engage the reader as an active participant in the making of the story, and to demonstrate the ways in which even texts written primarily for silent readers have a "performative" dimension to them. While we associate this kind of text with fiction-writers' response to post-modern and post-structuralist theory, there is actually a longer literary (and performance) tradition that stems back to the origins of the novel in European literature. In this course, students will study and discuss major texts in metafiction, starting with some very early ones, and then focusing on those written during the period immediately post-World War II to the present. While all texts will be read and studied in English, we will draw texts from European, Latin American, and Asian traditions, as well.
Students will then translate their analysis of these texts into solo and group performances that highlight the ways in which metafiction always shows narrative in performative action. We will also consider such significant issues as: the social, political, and ethical functions of metafiction; whether metafiction is always a narcissistic move on the part of the author or can it delve, as the modern novel has traditionally done, into the minds and lives of its fictive inhabitants in ways similar to those of the "realistic" novel; and what relationship, if any, can usefully be drawn between metafiction and what is often called "neurodiversity" (non-normative ways of apprehending the world, often marked as "madness" or "mental illness"--stemming from the first major metafictional nove, the Quixote, to the more recent work and life of its most famous contemporary representative, the late David Foster Wallace.
CMST 23103-01 Performing Antigones (3b pending)
Instructor: Bruce Henderson
The myth of Antigone, which concludes the Theban tragic narrative, has been the subject for artists, particularly dramatists and, more recently, novelists, from the time of Aeschylus to the present. Each “Antigone” (and her respective antagonist, her “Creon”) takes on the political concerns and moral questions of anxieties of her day, including Joydeep Ray-Bhattacharya’s recent novel, The Watch, resetting the ancient myth in the current war in Afghanistan, weaving issues of familial/tribal loyalties, the suffering of civilian bodies, and the complexities of social order into this archetypal story. In this seminar, we will read closely a number of versions of the Antigone story, using close critical analysis and theatrical performance as methods for such study. The course will include participation in at least one public performance (perhaps more, depending on class size, composition, and interest), as well as in-class performances and analytic writing.
ENGL 20003-01 Science and Poetry (3a)
Instructor: James Swafford MWF 11:00-11:50am
This seminar will take its cue and its challenge from C. P. Snow’s claim that modern society has split into the two cultures of the sciences and the arts/humanities: “There seems to be no place where the cultures meet,” Snow lamented. If there is such a meeting place, we’ll find it. We’ll consider the ongoing “two cultures” debate, glance at the long history of relations—sometimes friendly and collaborative, sometimes downright hostile—between science and poetry, and study closely a generous number of modern poems that are informed by science and mathematics. The latter part of the term will be devoted to team projects in which we search out additional math- and science-connected poetry, analyze and evaluate the poems, and construct our own anthology after determining our target audience and purpose. Among the poets whom we’ll read and whom you might know: Lucretius, Donne, Darwin, Tennyson, Whitman, Dickinson, Frost, Jeffers, Updike, Holub—and, with Ithaca connections, Ammons, Ackerman, and Hoffmann.
ENGL 20006-01 Self and Self Love (
Instructor: Dan Breen TR 10:50-12:05pm
This course aims to use literary and analytical texts from a wide range of genres and historical periods in order to examine the phenomenon of self-love and its influences on our understandings of self, culture, and society. More specifically, we will investigate the development of the cultural category commonly called “the individual” by exploring the relationship between this development and self-love, and we will draw upon the resources provided by literature, literary criticism, philosophy, religion, and the history of the subject. Our hypothesis is that the contemporary elevation of “the individual” is generated by a reverence for psychological autonomy, and the work we do in the course will attempt to evaluate the full scope of this reverence. We will begin with a selection of Classical, medieval and Renaissance texts, move on to the Romantics, and conclude with a discussion of twentieth and twenty-first-century literature.
Many of the literary and philosophical figures we will examine over the course of the semester demonstrate a tendency toward self-destruction that seems to be generated in large part by their intense self-reliance. As we explore this connection, we will want to think further about some of the broader themes that shape and contain treatments of “the individual,” such as for example the oppositional relationship between self-love and community and the eerily strong connection between narcissism, an extreme form of self-love, and death. Ultimately our goal is to arrive at a fuller understanding of representations of the self in popular and “intellectual” discourse, and of the social and cultural phenomena that influence these representations.
ENGL 20012-01 Wilderness in the Western Mind (3a, h)
Instructor: Michael Twomey
When Europeans first encountered the North American wilderness, they encountered old-growth forests, which they cut; wild game, which they hunted; and indigenous peoples, whom they feared as devil-worshiping savages. Notions about wilderness as a dangerous, alien space to be subdued and exploited, notions that the first colonists brought with them, are the rich, provocative, and exciting subject-matter of this course. The readings will include classic works of environmental and postcolonial criticism, literature that reflected and shaped Western thinking about the meaning and value of wilderness, and historical studies of the European and American landscapes before the Age of Discovery. Because we will be looking at North America, the focus will be primarily on the culture of medieval and early modern England, including also the Biblical and classical ideologies that it inherited from the ancient world. Besides students interested in literature and history, the course seeks to attract two other constituencies. Because the issue of recapturing wilderness drives debate about the US National Parks, the course welcomes students in the "Partners in the Parks" program; and because the course involves historical study of the environment, it welcomes students in the sciences and in Environmental Studies.
From a reading of literature, literary criticism, and histories of landscape, students will develop an understanding of the cultural influences that shaped the reaction of North American settlers to the wilderness they found here when they arrived (Historical Perspective); and from reading and analyzing a variety of literary texts from ancient through early modern, students will practice and improve their skills in original research, essay-writing, and oral presentation
ENGL 20013-01 The Novel and the Terrorist Imaginary (3a, h)
Instructor: Chris Holmes
If our current historical moment can be said to be a global one, then the figure of the terrorist is its most problematic manifestation. National conflicts over religion, territory, colonialism, and language are increasingly characterized by a struggle for the right to define what and who is a terrorist. Those definitions too often accompany the rationalization of violence and disenfranchisement. How we come to understand this powerful term has radical implications for international and domestic relations. We begin with the understanding that the novel, as the dominant literary form of the 20th-21st centuries, has a role to play in characterizing this historical phenomenon, particularly as a form directly concerned with the imagination of the lives of others. This course will historicize literary responses to the sociological, political, and philosophical figure of the terrorist, beginning with Conrad's The Secret Agent, and expanding out from the Western tradition to novels from South Africa, Pakistan, Trinidad, Hong Kong, and the Middle East. Students will read secondary historical and political documents as a way of problematizing and complicating contemporary conceptions of the terrorist. Writers may include: Conrad, Delillo, Breytenbach, Wicomb, Aslam, Hamid, Hanif, Mo, Mitchell, and Naipaul.
HIST 26901-01 Microhistories: Individuals in Modern Europe (1, h, g HU)
Instructor: Karin Breuer
This is a class about individuals in modern Europe. All of our seminar readings are about individuals – and almost entirely of ones who are disenfranchised from historical narratives (i.e., women and people of the lower and middling classes).Textbooks say almost nothing of such individuals, because they are supposedly not the ones who cause historical change. By studying little-known individuals, we can discover a great deal about the values, beliefs, and practices of previous generations. Course Requirements and Grading: Readings, active participation, a short response paper, a 15 page research paper based on primary and secondary source material, and a reflective journal.
JOUR 24100-01 News of the Century
Instructor: Mead Lopp
We explore the historical context, the economic present and the technological future of news media. Students critique how journalists cover such issues as the environment, health care and entertainment. Other topics include diversity, sustainability, new media and international journalism. This course uses a series of readings, DVDs and group discussions to explore 21st century media and news. Primary sources will include interviews with professional journalists and other agenda setters in media.
RLST 22200-01 The Spiritual Journey (1, g, HU)
Instructor: Rachel Wagner
This Honors Seminar will invite students to consider how different religions relate to one another in the contemporary world. The backbone of the course is Diana Eck’s Encountering God: Spiritual Journey from Bozeman to Banares. In this book, Eck discusses the problem of religious dialogue and outlines three approaches to religious positions different from one’s own: exclusivism (they are wrong; I am right); inclusivism (I am right, and they are right too insofar as they are like me); and pluralism (everyone is right if we see things properly). We will put Eck’s paradigm into action as we explore the travel narratives of real people who attempt to understand other cultures and religions through actual pilgrimage to other places and as they engage in dialogue with other people. Along the way, we will explore what is at stake in thinking about the overlap in different religious positions, and consider both why some people avoid such dialogue and why others seek it out.
SLPA 25000-01 History of Medicine
Instructor: Richard Schissel
This seminar will examine the evolution of ideas and concepts of health, disease, and medicine through history. Beginning in Mesopotamia, we will explore how beliefs and ideas about health and the causes and treatment of disease changed through time, and how the actions of individuals and societies changed, with changes in religious beliefs and the development of science. We will begin to see how the evolution of medicine was influenced by wars, culture, geography, religion, and even art. The course will explore how current ideas and practices in Western biomedicine have been built on past beliefs and practices and how different cultural beliefs shaped different medical practices.
WRTG 27000-01 Creativity and Madness (3a)
Instructor: Mary Beth O’Connor
Much has been written on the apparent relationship between creativity and madness at least as far back as the Socratic Dialogue Ion, in which Plato describes the inspired artist as inhabiting a state of “divine madness.” Taking up C.G. Jung’s warnings against reductionism, specifically his admonition that we remember that “a work of art is not a disease,” we will problematize such terms as “madness,” “mental illness,” and “creativity,” and then proceed to investigate psychoanalytic theories including the following: that the artist creates in order to heal her or himself, that the mood disturbances present in a high percentage of artists and writers may be related to cognitive processes associated with certain emotional states, and even that there is no real link between creativity and madness. We’ll also view and read the works of visual artists and writers identified as having suffered from “madness,” as well as accounts by these artists and writers themselves regarding their motivations for creating art, their use of suffering in their work, and their self-destructive tendencies. The course is designed as an exploration into an issue fraught with a long history of philosophical assumptions, scientific theories, and personal narratives, as well as a rich body of artistic work. It is a necessarily interdisciplinary investigation, with important implications especially for those who wish to pursue art themselves, as well as for those interested in aesthetics, psychology, literature, and visual art.
WRTG 27003-01 Highway 61 Revisited (3b, h, HU)
Instructor: David Flanagan
In this seminar, we will study the historical development of the quintessential American musical genre, the blues, and critically investigate scholarly reception and interpretation of that music. We will also examine how mainstream majority culture has reacted to the culture of African-Americans in the Deep South during the early 20th century. The overarching theme for the seminar will be the intersection of music, commerce, and technology. The music is an expression of individuals and their communities. Like all popular music, it is also a commercial product offered for sale to consumers. And like all popular music, the blues and its commercial dissemination are in turn influenced by technological innovation. Since this music continues to be a active area of musicological research, the seminar will critically interrogate still-controversial research issues for this music.
WRTG 27004-01 The Science and Philosophy of Sex and Love (3a)
Instructor: Cory Brown
A critical assessment of conventional perspectives of love and sex. We will consider more progressive perspectives from the fields of history, anthropology, evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology, and literature.
Honors Senior Seminars
IISP 40000-01 Human Nature & Culture
Instructor: Carla Golden
Can human nature be defined, and what does culture have to do with who we are? This course is designed to offer an extended look at the relationship between human nature and human culture.
IISP 40000-02 Ethics in the Age of Propaganda
Instructor: Robert Sullivan
This senior seminar investigates what has become a universal dilemma. Contemporary life is marked by enormous pressure being placed on individuals to conform in their beliefs and actions by governmental, commercial, cultural and educational institutions. Within such an all-enveloping propaganda environment, how can the individual construct, or even recognize, an authentic ethical life? This seminar will work on both sides of this problem, first coming to grips with propaganda as a force in the world, and secondly trying to identify for each seminarian the status of their ethical principals.
THEA 27700-01 London Lights (gen ed pending)
** NEW SEMINAR**
Instructor: Steven TenEyck
This course uses London to explore and contextualize the various forms of natural and artificial light and its influence on culture and society. Topics include the vocabulary of light, the history of illumination; light in nature, art, architecture, photography, performance and film as well as an exploration of how the industrialization of light afftect the culture and society. Various site visits include The Science Museum, The Victoria and Albert Museum, The National Gallery, The Tate Modern Museum, Hyde Park, Brompton Park Cemetery, Sir John Soane’s Museum, The British Museum, Piccadilly Circus, a performance (at a venue such as The Roundhouse), as well as a night walk through various areas of London from gas lit streets to modern lit buildings and monuments. Students additionally participate in several experiential observations of light at various locations on their own. Students will capture, document and reflect on the various experiences through a photographic and self-reflective journal.