Next Term's Honors Seminars
Honors Ithaca Seminars (First year students only – 4 credits)
ICSM 11000-02 Lethal Ladies and Lady Knights (LA)
Instructor: Katharine Kittredge
TR 1:10PM-2:25PM, W 12:00PM-12:50PM
Power and Justice
Objectives: This course looks at the history of the depiction of strong women in science fiction and fantasy literature. The course will place fictional texts, comics, films and television shows alongside contemporary feminist criticism, reading, for instance, Buffy the Vampire Slayer through the lens ofJudith Butler’s Gender Trouble. Students will read and view a wide range of materials, such as Hunger Games, Wonder Woman comics, and more serious literature by Marge Piercy, Margaret Atwood, and Ursula LeGuin as well as criticism by Mary Wollstonecraft, Andrea Dworkin, Simone de Beauvoir, Helene Cixous and Judith Butler. This seminar will be linked with Professor Henderson’s Teenage Wasteland seminar.
ICSM 11000-01 Teenage Wasteland: Dystopic Narratives and Alienated Youth (LA)
Instructor: Bruce Henderson
TR 1:10-2:25PM, W 12:00PM-12:50PM
Inquiry, Imagination and Innovation
Objectives: Utopias are literary visions of a happy future. Dystopias imagine harder and problematic futures, and in doing so speak powerfully about our culture’s fears and anxieties. This seminar will encounter a great variety of literature that features youth in a dystopian future. Some of the readings will be classics (Clockwork Oranges, Lord of the Flies) others will be more popular and contemporary. We’ll also look at a variety of critical tools that can cast light on these works. The ultimate goal will be to see literature as a means of struggling with our unknown futures. This seminar will be linked with Professor Kittridge’s Lethal Girls and Lady Knights seminar
ICSM 11800-01 Language and Power in Classical Athens (LA)
Instructor: David Flanagan
MWF 3:00-3:50 F12:00-12:50
Themes: World of Systems
Power and Justice
Objectives: This honors seminar will combine the study of history, political philosophy, and rhetorical theory and practice. It will explore canonical texts, such as Sophocles’ Antigone and Plato’s Apology, that have generated Western traditions of literature and political philosophy and secondary sources such as Irving F. Stone’s The Trial of Socrates. This course will be writing-intensive and will satisfy requirements for a 100-level writing course equivalent to WRTG 10600 or WRTG 10800 (Academic Writing I).
ICSM 11800-02 Facing Nature
Instructor: Marlene Kobre
TR 2:35-3:50 W 12:00-12:50
Themes: Mind, Body & Spirit
Quest for a Sustainable Future
Objectives: In this seminar we consider our human relationship with the natural world. Discussion focuses on the complex, often contradictory, ways Americans have addressed questions about nature from the days of exploration and colonization to the present. Students read works by American writers who have struggled to articulate the meaning of nature and its relation to the human experience. This course will be writing-intensive and will satisfy departmental and school requirements for a 100-level writing course equivalent to WRTG 10600 or WRTG 10800 (Academic Writing I).
ICSM 11000-03, 04 Why Are We Here?: Youth Culture and the Problem of College (LA)
Instructor: Elizabeth Bleicher
TR 8:00-9:15 W 12:00-12-50
Instructor: Thomas Pfaff
MWF 3:00-3:50 W 12:00-12:50
Themes: World of Systems
Power and Justice
Objectives: What does it mean to be educated? Are you here to get a job or to get a life? To answer these questions, we will explore competing rationales behind collegiate study and engage in advanced literary and cultural analyses. We will study historical precedents, scholarly and journalistic articles, social critiques, and fictional collegians. We will conduct primary research into youth culture and attitudes toward education, develop rhetorical skills by sharing our findings, and write extensively across a variety of genres. Individually, you will articulate your personal philosophy of education and develop your own personal goals. Collaboratively, we will analyze the extent to which our readings and writings fit with our evolving understanding of the goals for collegiate study.
Honors 1-Credit Seminars
HNRS 23003-01 Tracking and the Art of Seeing
Instructor: Jason Hamilton
Objectives: This seminar will be a face-to-face encounter with the Ithaca College Natural Lands. Students will learn how to read a forest, examining it for signs of life and health, through the skill of tracking. You’ll never see the woods in the same way after taking this seminar. Please note that significant portions of this seminar will take place outdoors in the Ithaca College Natural Lands and will require moderatly paced walking in a woodland.
HNRS 23000-01 Education Reform and Film
Instructor: Elizabeth Bleicher
M 5:25PM-7:25PM, W 5:25PM-6:40PM
Objectives: This is not only a new seminar but a new kind of seminar. This will be a student-conducted seminar, created and facilitated by alumni of Professor Bleicher’s legendary Why Are We Here? Honors Ithaca Seminar. The seminar will continue the discussions begun Why Are We Here? Through the medium of film. The student facilitators will arrange for the viewing of a number of feature and documentary films – everything from The Social Network and The Breakfast Clubto Race to Nowhere - all of which address issues in American education. These will be followed by discussions of the films . It is intended that student-facilitated seminars will become a common feature of Honors in the future.
HNRS 23001-01 Slow Read: Lucretius
Instructor: Matthew Klemm
Objectives: This will be a slow read dedicated to one of the most exciting poems ever written, De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things), by the Roman author Lucretius. This poem covers a vast subject matter, addressing fundamental questions of science, the divine, philosophy, sex, Epicurianism, life and death, human nature, and the foundations of society. This slow read is also meant to coincide with the visit of the Distinguished Speaker in the Humanities, Stephen Greenblatt, the author of The Swerve, a prize winning book on the rediscovery of De Rerum Natura during the Renaissance.
HNRS 23002-01 Slow Read: Hamlet
Instructor: Christopher Matusiak
Objectives: Everyone knows that Hamlet is a play about violent murder, incest, aggressive retaliation, psychological breakdown, and a state descending into bloody ruin. But as importantly, the play dramatizes acts of deliberation, thinking slowly rather than quickly, particularlythrough the posing of questions – indeed the most famous question in English literature. For this reason, it befits us to avoid “most wicked speed” when reading this most well known of Shakespeare's tragedies. Intensively focusing on one or two scenes a week, we will explore the play's critical and theatrical history, its philosophical and political underpinnings, its linguistic and generic innovations, and, why it remains a cultural touchstone four hundred years after it was composed. This slow read is also meant to coincide with the visit of the Distinguished Speaker in the Humanities, Stephen Greenblatt, one of the greatest Shakespeare scholars of our era. Professor Greenblatt will lead the seminar when he comes to campus.
Honors Intermediate Seminars
HNRS 20001 Digital Cultures (LA)
Instructor: Patricia Zimmerman
Objectives: This course explores international contemporary cybercultures and digital theories across technologies, forms, platforms, genres, industries, theories, debates, policies and constituencies. It will traverse a wide range of interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives, including political economy, aesthetics, social theory, music theory, and new media theory, and will investigate international digital visual cultures. In this exploration, the course will take up the history, economics, theory, and criticism of digitality across commercial, non-profit and artistic modalities.
HNRS 20009-01 Media and Change (LA, 3a)
Instructor: Wenmouth Williams
Objectives: The social media have transformed the process of social change and what can be changed not only in the United States, but also around the world. Key to this transformation is the tremendous growth of cell phones and other mobile media. The growth of the social media (broadly defined as any content that can be obtained or sent via a “smart phone”) in the United States over the past five years has been astronomic. Accordingly, this seminar will investigate “new media” as agents of social and cultural change in everything from the Internest to the ‘Arab Spring.’
HNRS 20006-01 Graphic Non-Fiction (LA, 3a)
Instructor: Todd Schack
Objectives: Over the past two decades, a new form of journalism has arisen: the use of the graphic novel medium as a viable genre for non-fiction reportage and narrative. First seen in Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor and Art Spiegelman’s Maus, this genre has grown beyond a focus on memoir and historical narrative to include works of a high journalistic standard, best represented by the work of Joe Sacco. Writing in the introduction to Sacco’s Palestine, Edward Said describes the power of the genre: “In ways that I still find fascinating to decode, comics in their relentless foregrounding…seemed to say what couldn’t otherwise be said, perhaps what wasn’t permitted to be said or imagined, defying the ordinary processes of thought, which are policed, shaped and re-shaped by all sorts of pedagogical as well as ideological pressures” (ii). This is certainly the promise of this new form of ‘comics journalism,’ and when executed properly, this genre is able to, in the words of another social theorist: “…expand and enrich the literature of journalism…comics journalists achieve layers of meaning inaccessible to prose journalism alone because of comics’ graphic language that blends words and images” (Versaci p. 111). It is precisely these questions that we will be dealing with: how does the blending of words and images achieve these ‘layers of meaning inaccessible to prose journalism,’ and how are they able to ‘defy the ordinary processes of thought’ that conventional journalism so often fails to do?
BIOL 20401-01 3 credits Biology of Oceanic Islands To add this course you must contact one of the instructors.
Instructors:Susan Swensen, Peter Melcher
Objectives: This course will include a combination of biological and cultural components pertaining to islands in general, and using the Caribbean as a special case study. The course prepares students for a 10-day trip in January 2014 aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer, a 134 foot steel brigantine owned and operated by our affiliates at SEA Semester. During the Fall academic semester, students will learn about various aquatic systems (e.g. estuaries, mangroves, coral reefs, lagoons, beaches, intertidal zones, and open water), the flora and fauna of coral reefs, and the impacts of climate change and other anthropogenic effects on these systems. We will also examine the interplay between human and the environment through history; for example, understanding the impacts of human movement through the introduction of diseases and non-native organisms to islands. Students will learn basic aquatic sampling and measurement techniques in upstate New York on Seneca Lake in preparation for similar such measurements aboard the SEA vessel in the Caribbean. Through independent projects within the course, students will generate knowledge on a specific subtopic and will be responsible for learning and presenting information on that topic.
BIOL 20402; 1 credit Biology of Oceanic Islands Winter Session Practicum
Instructors: Susan Swensen, Peter Melcher
Objectives:This course consists of a 10-day trip aboard the Corwith Cramer a 134 foot steel brigantine tall ship that is owned and operated by our affiliates at SEA Semester. The ship will depart from San Juan, Peurto Rico. While on board, we will study subtropical ecology of the Caribbean and consider the current and historical anthropogenic influences on various ecosystems. During this trip, we will gather a variety of oceanic measurements (temperature, salinity, phosphate, oxygen, chlorophyll, planktonic mass and diversity, sediment size) and compare these measurements between shelf, slope, deepwater, and loop current locations. We will stop at Culerba, which is a National Wildlife Refuge which is located west of the British Virgin Islands and spend a day examining an estuary and mangrove communities. Classes onboard will demonstrate oceanographic collecting and measuring techniques, seamanship (e.g. dead reckoning, marlinspike), and will discuss historical voyages and challenges. 1 credit.
This winter course costs $2225. Students are responsible for round trip costs of travel to San Juan, Puerto Rico by the morning of Jan 8th.
HNRS 20003-01 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (gen ed pending)
Instructor: Thomas Shevory
Objectives: This seminar will focus on the international cultural phenomenon of Steig Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo. Along with The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo is part of a trilogy, the Milennium series. These books have also been made into highly successful films and entered into an international conversation about violence, revenge, and justice.
HNRS 20008 Sex, Gender, and Desire (LA, 1)
Instructor: Carla Golden
Objectives: The question posed by this seminar is one that many people never bother to ask because they assume they know. But answering the question “what is gender?” and considering the implications of living in the world as gendered beings, is not as straightforward as it might seem. In this seminar, we will explore gender and its relation to biological sex and to sexual desire. We will consider whether there are only two genders, and look at the functions and consequences of adherence to binary conceptualizations of sex and gender. We will look at how other cultures conceptualize gender, as well as how gender has been constructed across historical time. Are there only two sexes? Is sex itself a social construction? How is sexual desire produced and constrained by culture? What does sexual desire have to do with biological sex and with gender? What does resistance to sex and gender categorization look like? What is the contemporary transgender movement about? What are the implications of thinking about genders and sexualities as fluid rather than fixed? In sum, this seminar will examine gender and its multiple expressions, and consider the implications for individuals, relationships, and culture.
HNRS 20005-01 Explosion in the Shingle Factory: Experiments in French Modernism (LA, HU, 3b, h)
Instructor: Mark Hall
Objectives: Writing in a review of the 1913 International Exhibition of Modern Art, New York Times critic Julian Street describes Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase as resembling nothing so much as “an explosion in a shingle factory.” Street’s derisive quip captures the uneasy bemusement that so many felt in response to Duchamp’s splintered canvas, but perhaps more importantly, it also alludes to the real risk involved in “modern art.” As a self-consciously modern expression, Duchamp’s painting challenges conventional ways of seeing. For some, the result is a moving study of color and form. For others, it is an experiment gone comically awry. The work of art, in this view, blows up in the artist’s face. Wherever one’s sympathies may lie, the Modern is too significant an aesthetic moment not to be taken seriously. In this course, we will adopt a perspective similar to that of those New Yorkers who almost a century ago ventured to the Armory Show, as the exhibition has come to be known, hoping to discover what was so modern about the art being produced in France. Our perspective, widened to consider the verbal as well as the visual, will be further enriched with selected readings in philosophy, psychoanalysis, and literary theory and will be guided by three broad but bold questions: What does it mean to remember? What does it mean to dream? and What does it mean to be alive? In the end, however, we will be seeking answers to the question that haunts the reader or viewer of any work of art of any moment or medium: Who am I?
In addition to attending to a great variety of artistic materials we will read Nadja by André Breton, Moderato Cantabile by Marguerite Duras, Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust and selections from Henri Bergson’s Matter and Memory, Sigmund Freud’s case studies, essays, and lectures on psychoanalysis, and Alain Robbe-Grillet’s collection of essays “For a New Novel.” All materials will be read in English translations.
HNRS 20004-01 Witchcraft in a Cross-Cultural Perspective (LA, 1, h)
Instructor: Vivian Conger
Objectives: This course will focus on the "Burning Times" in early modern Europe (Germany, France, Italy, and England in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries); seventeenth-century New England and the Salem witch trials; the depiction of the witch in fairy tales from the Grimms to Disney; the depiction of witches and their persecution in literature that purports to rely on historical sources (such as Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, and Cary Churchill’s “Vinegar Tom”); and the explanations that scholars espouse for witch persecutions. It will examine why the outbreaks occurred when they did, who was accused of witchcraft and why, how the outbreaks reflected social and cultural values, and how the crises were resolved. Issues of religion, class, social structure, and especially gender will form the backdrop against which these broader questions will be explored.
The variety of the readings, from religious tracts to historical and fictional representations to pop culture to scholarship, will expose students to historical sources as well as scholarly criticism and, more importantly, a variety of argumentation styles with regard to the representation of witches. Students will be encouraged to critique historical as well as fictional sources, investigate the truth-claims of these sources, and explore the basis for these claims (what are the underlying assumptions of historical accounts; which historical accounts are more credible, which less, and why; to what extent can fiction claim to represent any empirical "truth"; what purposes does each kind of narrative serve?).
HNRS 20002-01 American Breakdown (LA, 3a, h)
Instructor: Hugh Egan
Objectives: In this honors seminar we will investigate some of America’s literature of madness and psychological instability, beginning with a Puritan sermon and proceeding more or less chronologically through the 20th century. American literature is often viewed in terms of its self-reliant and “sane” male narrators and characters (including Benjamin Franklin and the founding fathers, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and others), but there is another, equally powerful and counterbalancing literary strain that records narratives of breakdown, psychosis, and suicidal descent. These two literary traditions are not mutually exclusive, and indeed might best be seen as weirdly co-dependent. A number of discrete themes will emerge in the course of our reading, including: the importance of the Puritan tradition to America’s volatile self-image; how “madness” in America is inflected in terms of race and gender; how the process of going mad is recorded in language; and how psychological interpretations of literature unearth buried assumptions about self and nation. Authors will include Jonathan Edwards, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, Kate Chopin, William Faulkner, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Ken Kesey, Louise Erdrich, Toni Morrison, and Susanna Kaysen. There will be three required essays and a final project.
HNRS 20010-01 (LA, 3a)
Instructor: Mary Beth O’Connor
Objectives: In this seminar, we’ll investigate the contemporary spoken word phenomenon and place it within the longstanding tradition of oral presentation, which extends back to well before the era of Classical Antiquity. Along the way, we’ll consider the Beat movement, the emergence and continuing vitality of the Nuyorican Café, spoken word at the Dodge Festival, and more. We will write and perform our own poems in slam and literary deathmatch fashion, as well as study the poems and performances of slam masters and mistresses like Sekou Sundiata, Saul Williams, Rives and Def Jam, Andrea Gibson, Rachel McKibbens, Alix Olson, Taylor Mali, Beau Sia. and Ithaca College’s own alumna Lenelle Moise. We’ll invite IC’s performance troupe Spit That to our class to perform and discuss spoken word. In addition to writing and performing poems, each student will choose an aspect of the movement/genre to research and present. Other requirements include analysis and response essays, as well as a research essay based on the presentation.
HNRS 20000-01 Math, Music & Biology (LA, 2a)
Instructor: Ian Woods
Objectives: What is it about music that can elicit powerful emotion, visceral pleasure, and a deep sense of concord? Music is rooted in our biology, and stems from mathematical principles and the laws of physics. This seminar will explore the interface between music and the physical and biological sciences.
HNRS 20007-01 Rule of Rules (LA, HU, 1)
Objectives: Rules are pervasive in both our internal and external lives. Internally, rules of grammar and word usage govern the “inner voice” of our thought, while rules of logic govern (one hopes!) our reasoning and formation of beliefs. Externally, numerous sets of rules lay claim to our allegiance – for example, the rules of morality and the rules encoded in the law. We even voluntarily submit to rules, by getting married, say, or taking a job, or playing a sport or game. Given the ubiquitous presence of rules in life, it is natural that they should be an object of study, by philosophers, historians, social scientists, and others. In this course we will examine the presence of rules in our lives using an interdisciplinary approach. The goal of the course is to lead students to understand better the nature of rules and rule-based reasoning and to appreciate the benefits that rules bring as well as the costs that they impose. We will begin by learning the Asian boardgame of Go – the oldest game still played today – and study how a simple set of rules make possible “emergent complexity.” We will then use the mathematical discipline of game theory to illuminate the origin of social rules. Finally, we will study some dilemmas of rule-following as these exist in morality and the law.
Honors Senior Seminars
IISP 40000-02 What Does It Mean To Be Human?
Instructor: Bruce Henderson
Objectives: The seminar will be an interdisciplinary approach to a question that has challenged scholars, artists, scientists, philosophers, and other thinkers through recorded history—what does it mean to be a human being? We will begin our consideration of this topic with the English Renaissance and move forward topically and chronologically to present-day arguments and imaginings of the future of “human” as a concept and experience. Readings will be drawn from literature, philosophy, religion, history, biology, psychology, sociology; students will be encouraged both to integrate the interdisciplinary approaches to learning that have marked their experience in the Honors Program as well as to bring the specialized knowledge of their advanced work in their own majors and minors.
IISP 40000-01 The Pleasure of Finding Things Out
Instructor: Nick Kowalczyk
Objectives: What is a fact? What is true? In a corrupted and confusing world, how can a writer discover what is true? And if a writer does discover what is true, how might that writer tell a true story? These are a few of the deceptively simple questions we’ll focus on this semester as we discuss matters of truth, subjectivity, representation, form, genre, and ethics. Titled The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, this is a seminar in which we’ll study examples of both prose and poetry (fictional and non-fictional) that allege to tell “true” stories. The course will begin with an overview of American feature writing, which has a history dating back to at least the 1800s and includes stories both factual and truthfully fictitious. We’ll respond to innovative works by American writers such as James Agee, Joseph Mitchell, a few of the so-called “New Journalists,” and fiction writer Tim O’Brien. We’ll also take an international approach with literary writers such as Patrik Ourednik, Michael Ondaatje, W.G. Sebald, and Joe Sacco, none of whom were born in the United States and all of whom tend to blur genre lines. Along the way, students will write critical responses to assigned readings; produce roughly 15-20 pages of original, creative work as creative responses to the readings; write two formal analytic papers putting the assigned readings (and related theory) in conversation with their own developing artistic values; and at the semester's end review of a book of their choosing.