Skip to main content

Spring 2020 Honors Seminars

HONS 1810W-56
“Virtue Ethics”
TR 1:10 – 2:25 pm
Professor Lenn Goodman
Department of Philosophy
AXLE: Humanities & the Creative Arts (HCA)

A virtue is a trait that makes something good at what it does. Sharpness is a virtue in a knife, if the knife is meant for cutting – but it might not be so helpful in a stage knife. Here glint and a slip-proof handle might be more useful. Human virtues are the dispositions that help us live well. So, if we know what it is to live well, we can identify the traits of character that help us achieve that. But if it’s questioned or contested just what a good life amounts to, we might move the other way around: look for the habits of mind and action that make people effective at what they do, and hope that these, once known, will tell us more about what should count as success in human living. That was the strategy Aristotle used in seeking to get a handle on what should count as the good life. He explores that question in The Nicomachean Ethics, named in honor of his son, who he hoped would profit from its analysis of character and the anatomy of virtue. Once we’ve studied that classic text, we’ll review recent papers on the relations between moral and intellectual virtue in The Bright and the Good, a volume edited by Audrey Anton, and the now classic After Virtue by Alasdair MacIntyre. After writing some brief descriptive, analytical, interpretive, and critical papers, students will be encouraged to write an original philosophical paper on the relations among the virtues.


HONS 1810W-57
“Artists’ Books”
MW 1:10 – 4:00 pm
Professor Jana Harper
Department of Art
AXLE: Humanities & the Creative Arts (HCA)

This course will examine the role of the book as an artifact of material culture. Through both reading and making, we will investigate definitions of the artist’s book and current uses of the book form as metaphor in contemporary art. We will look at the work of artists such as Anselm Kiefer, Ann Hamilton, Rachel Whiteread, Kiki Smith, William Kentridge, Sophe Calle, Dieter Rot, and many others. Additionally, we will survey the role artist’s books and publications played in many 20th century artistic movements. The course will combine the reading and lecture format of a seminar with the practicum of a studio. For most of the semester, students will complete weekly readings and weekly book projects. The last four weeks will be dedicated to the production of a final project which will include historical research, a book project, and a paper. *Note: enrollment limited to 12.


HONS 1830W-59
“Emotions in Context”
TR 2:35 – 3:50 pm
Professor Jo-Anne Bachorowski
Department of Psychology
AXLE: Social & Behavioral Sciences (SBS)

Contemporary theories and experimental approaches to emotions are upending long-held assumptions about how emotions work. We will study these new perspectives with respect to both behavior and brain. We will then fine tune our approach to emotions by emphasizing social and cultural contexts. The seminar will be reading and discussion intensive. Scholarly products include discussion leadership and one presentation. The final term paper will be in the form of a research proposal.


HONS 1840W-34
“Latinx Caribbean Literature in the United States”
TR 9:35 – 10:50 am
Professor Gretchen Selcke
Department of Latin American Studies
AXLE: US History & Culture (US)

What do Dominican American, Nuyorican, and Cuban American literatures have in common? How does place inform writing? Explore the idea of belonging in literary texts including Island of Bones, A Cup of Water Under My Bed, and The Prince of Los Cocuyos. Works like these negotiate cultural, linguistic, gender, and class differences in dialogue with Tato Laviera’s groundbreaking concept of nideaquínideallá. Performance will be evaluated by three essays, two cultural event responses, one presentation, and participation in class discussions. Students will develop critical writing skills while reading and analyzing fiction by cutting-edge Latinx authors.


HONS 1850W-29
“Brain and Consciousness”
WF 2:10 – 3:25 pm
Professor Alex Maier
Department of Psychology
AXLE: Math and Natural Sciences (MNS)

The focus of this class will be the scientific search for brain activity that gives rise to subjective experience (i.e., “awareness” or “consciousness”). Students will be guided to prepare and present talks that cover various aspects of the budding attempt to find scientific answers regarding the border between the conscious and the unconscious. We will look at research that spans a wide array of phenomena and techniques. By the end of the course, we will have established a broad overview of the quest for linking body and mind with all its implications. No background knowledge is required to take this class.


HONS 1860W-22
“1519-21: The Arrival of Strangers/The Conquest of Mexico”
T 2:10 – 4:40 pm
Professor Bill Fowler
Department of Anthropology
AXLE: International Cultures (INT)

The arrival of Hernán Cortés and his army on the eastern shore of Yucatan in 1519 was treated by the Aztecs as the arrival of strangers from an unknown land. The events that unfolded during the next two years are known to history as “the conquest of Mexico,” a major watershed in the history of the world, not only because it meant the defeat of the Aztecs and the toppling of one of the great New World empires by the Spaniards and their allies, but also because it set in motion a series of profound changes that would profoundly and permanently alter both cultures and, ultimately, would have repercussions for the entire world. We approach the material on the Conquest as one of the most fully documented episodes of massive culture change in human history. Spanish conquistadors in the early sixteenth century encountered a remarkably sophisticated civilization with very dense urban populations. This course examines the organization and structure of the Aztec empire on the eve of the Conquest; Aztec social, political, and economic organization; warfare and religion; the origins and expansion of the Spanish empire in the New World; the events and processes of the Conquest and the early Colonial period. Data and evidence are derived from a wide array of archaeological, historical, geographic, art historical, and ethnographic sources.


A&S College Scholars_horz_wht3