Common Core Descriptions Spring 2013

All courses are 3 credit hours unless otherwise noted.

Additional courses will be posted as they become available.

Click the course number to access the class meeting times.



VT:   Creative Writing:  After Words

In this class students will try different approaches to creative writing, using a variety of imitation exercises to create poems, prose poems, flash fiction, essays, and graphic narratives.One of the first practices artists learn is imitation, creating pieces “after” an established artist.  Imitations are then labeled according to the work they take after: “After Picasso.” We’ll read work in a variety of forms and styles to guide us in shaping our own content and subject matter. Students will submit a portfolio of writing and keep an ongoing journal of their progress. 

VT: Exploring Stories and Poems Through Imitation

One of the first practices artists learn in imitation, or the creation of an artistic work “after” that of an established artist.  Imitations are then labeled according to the work they take after: “After Picasso”.  In this class students will try different approaches to creative writing, using a variety of imitation exercises to create poems, prose poems, flash fiction, essays, and graphic narratives.  We’ll read work in a variety of forms and styles to guide us in shaping our own content and subject matter. 


VT:  My Daily Life Extraordinaire!

Description: This course explores artistic interventions within the fabric of everyday life. We will first start by rediscovering and reclaiming objects of our daily lives to give them a renewed sense of purpose and meaning. Literary texts, the study of graphic design, and art works will help spark our artistic launch. The second half of the semester is dedicated to the study and production of slide shows. Originally, slide shows – the old-fashioned kind using a carousel – were both a high-tech form of family entertainment and an artistic medium used by experimental artists from the 1960s onward. You may be asked to produce your own slide show using Power Point and to screen it for public viewing at IUSB. 

VT:  Poetry & Autobiography: The Authenticity of Self in the Lyric Poem

Students will examine their own lives through the prism of “autobiographical” poetry texts (as well as other art forms, including movies, the visual arts, music, etc.). We will examine the idea of poetic "persona" in contemporary poetry by reading various authors, as well as exploring film and visual art, and you will learn through various writing projects, and possibly a visual art project or two, how to determine, in your own autobiographical poems, what you need to do to get the most "truth" out of language through means of concision, music in language, exaggeration, and by eliminating cliché. The influence of class, gender, and race will all be germane to a deep understanding of how we authentically express and/or build into a complex language construct a representation of the self. You will write imitation poems as well as poems wholly your own. Additionally you will keep a journal of reader responses to the various readings and films, and write two short analytical response papers.


VT:  Point and Shoot:  An Introduction to Digital Photography

This introductory level course will explore digital technology for capturing, enhancing, and producing still lens-based images. The course will address the visual language of camera-generated images, computer output techniques, the connoisseurship of digital image output as well as basic digital camera operations. The course assumes no prior knowledge or experience with digital imaging technologies or materials. Students must provide a digital camera.

VT:  Visual Culture

Study of our visual culture including photography, advertising, avatars, and video.


VT: Exploring Musical Composition

This course will introduce students to the materials of music – pitch, rhythm, melody, harmony – and to the notational tools used by musicians to represent these materials. Throughout the semester each student will use the tools and skills learned to compose simple musical pieces. No previous music education is required.
      (Some sections offered for music majors only, permission required)
VT: Introduction to Theatre

This introductory course examines the theatre, plays and playwriting, the actor, designers and technicians, the director, traditions of the theatre, the modern theatre, musical theatre, the future of theatre, and the critic. This is a participatory class.     



VT:  I, Me, Mine: Representation of the Self in Poetry and Collage

The lyric “I” is alive and well in contemporary American poetry, with some poets embracing the confessional mode and others engaging in lyric forms that reflect a new selfhood, one that concerns itself less with sincerity and attempts to convey personal story in a more fragmented way, driven by the artifice of language.  Ever since Whitman announced “I celebrate myself,” poets have been negotiating the deeper concerns of autobiographical poetry, of truth-telling and authorial responsibility.  We’ll look at six contemporary poets who represent various degrees of confession, and students will write their own portfolio of “autobiographical” poems.  Visual artists’ work, too, by the turn of the 20th century, began moving away from traditional, representational art to more abstract forms, notably collage. We’ll look at many collage artists and collage techniques and make collages for the purpose of personal expression. Although collage is by definition a fragmented form, like poetry, there are various degrees of accessibility and you will explore the possibilities of putting images together with a sense of adventure while paying attention to various elements of form.


VT:  Artist and the New Media

 (P: One of the following: Tel-T 283, Fina-P 273, Jour-J 210, Info-I 101, Fina-S 291, or Mus-T 120)

This course is primarily intended for students who wish to pursue new media as a means of artistic expression.  The course considers new media from both an historical/cultural/critical base (readings, lectures, viewing), and from an experiential base (production/exhibition projects in selected new media genres).  At the end of the course, the successful student should have acquired a foundational vocabulary in the history and criticism of new media, an understanding of how artists have used and are using new media as a means of artistic expression, and a basic technical fluency with new media production tools.   

VT:  The Modern City      (P:  Eng W131)

Drawing from texts and visual material related to several humanities disciplines, this course focuses on the forces that shaped modern cities. After a brief survey of each city’s history, we will examine the geographical, political, economic and social factors which molded major European, American and two Asian cities from the 18th century to the First World War. We will discover how historical changes affected the general configuration of cities. We’ll connect the city, its monuments and vernacular fabric with the intellectual life of its inhabitants. We’ll relate the role of communications such as roads, canals, railways, and underground, as well as major infrastructure components such as sewers and water supply, to the development of a modern city. We will study the ideologies which mediated between utopian visions of the city and the actual physical plant of urban configurations as they grew, evolved and became the cities we know today. 




VT:  Introduction to Business Administration

Business organizations play an important role in our lives. We interact with businesses in a variety of ways, including as employees, consumers, and investors. One form of business organization—corporations—wield enormous power. Given the pervasiveness of business in our lives, one intention of this class is to help you make greater sense of the world in which you live and enable you to make better informed decisions.  In particular, W100 introduces you to a wide range of management issues. This will help to prepare you for other business classes that you may take and for your career. Or, for nonbusiness students, it will give you a useful overview of key business issues and the context within which businesses operate. Also this class may help you choose your career by making you aware of key features of: business trends, business ownership, business management, management of human resources, marketing, and managing financial resources.


VT:  How the Mind Works

What exactly is the human mind?  How does it relate to the human brain?  How does it make possible human behaviors, such as perception, learning, remembering, physical movement, social cooperation, and even loving?  In this course, we will investigate such questions through the lens of cognitive science.  We will also consider implications of mind-related inquiry.  For example:  Can the right program running on a sufficiently powerful computer be considered a mind?  Should ‘smart drugs’ and brain implants be used by those with ‘healthy minds’ in order to augment mental performance?  What happens when an intelligent lethal weapon is deployed for warfare, while humans are completely ‘removed from the loop’ which determines its actions?


VT:  (Ab)use of Numbers in Politics

Mark Twain is often credited with having claimed "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." This course will examine how social scientists, politicians, advocacy groups and political commentators use statistics to support arguments; the course does not presume that all statistics are lies, but will work to develop the critical tools to evaluate when statistics are well researched and fairly presented--and when not.  This is not a course in statistics and does not require special math skills, but will examine how numbers are used in the social sciences and politics.


VT:  Cross-Cultural Development (formerly Multcultural Lifespan Development)

This course provides an introduction to the complex nature of human development from a multicultural perspective.  This course will focus on three domains of development: physical, cognitive, and social as an ongoing set of interrelated processes across the lifespan.  By critically examining developmental similarities and differences between cultures, you will develop the capacity to evaluate and appreciate the relative contributions of both nature (as indicated by similarities) and nurture (as indicated by differences).  This will lead to an increased awareness of the impact of individuals' real-world settings as well as biological constraints on human development.  From this understanding, you will gain the capacity to think more critically about your own development as well as the development of those relying on you as nurtures.  In addition, you will be better able to relate and apply concepts to what you observe and experience in an expanding multicultural society.

VT:  Death and Life Lessons

This course focuses on death and end-of-life issues within a variety of perspectives, including historical, biomedical, multicultural, and religious theories. Existential issues related to the human significance of death for individuals and community will be addressed. Students will be introduced to a basic overview of laws and ethics regarding end-of-life issues, and participate in group discussions using critical thinking skills acquired in class. Guest speakers will include professionals working in funeral preparation, hospice, and grief and bereavement programs.

VT:  Poker: Behavioral, Clinical, Cognitive and Social Concepts

This course will utilize poker as a means of illustrating numerous concepts related to various fields of psychology (clinical, social), general sciences (behavioral and cognitive), as well as law and statistics.  At the conclusion of the course, the student will understand the relative value of how various disciplines can be used to understand how poker playing affects the individual and how social institutions affect poker players and social groups.


VT:  Youth in Today's Society

This is a course about youth in the contemporary United States. We will spend time examining the lives of older youth (middle schoolers, teenagers, and young adults) rather than younger children, although the questions we raise throughout the semester can apply to children of all ages.  Our approach to studying youth focuses on historical and cultural interpretations of youth cultures in the United States, as well as the social institutions that inform individual and group experiences of youth.



VT:  Business and Society

This course examines business in terms of its stakeholders throughout society. By the end of this course, you should know the major stakeholders of a business and key concepts of business ethics. You should be able to think critically about issues of business and society, appreciate and be able to synthesize opposing points of view, and work successfully in a team.


VT:   Urban Society and Policy       (P: Any 100 or 200-level Pols course)

This course considers the politics of cities, suburbs, and regions in the United States from numerous perspectives. Cities are at the heart of American democracy; they are the units of government closest to the people, making citizens more likely to interact with their local governments than the national or a state government on a daily basis. However, cities also serve as hubs of commerce, and many argue their governments cater decisions to the interests of the private sector. Finding ways to serve residents while crafting development plans to suit businesses is one of the central challenges of governing cities. Because of cities’ dynamic and ever-changing nature, we will take a historical approach to urban politics while considering a wide range of theories of city development. Discussions of political power will be at the center of units considering the initial development of U.S. cities, political institutions, federalism, race, metropolitan expansion, globalization, and residential displacement. Though this is a course on politics, understanding the structure of power in cities requires inquiries going beyond the basic institutions of local government. Readings and discussions also borrow from sociology, urban planning, economics, geography, and a range of other disciplines.


VT:  Spirituality and Social Justice (formerly "Spirit Meets Social Justice")

This class will explore how spirituality intersects with social justice issues, asking what role psychological theory, research, and practice have played. Primarily the course will examine the social institutions related to religion and politics. In particular, we will examine the infrastructures of six widely known belief traditions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism). Because these traditions exist within a canvas of beliefs less widely known, we will also examine Indigenous traditions (selecting a small subset from each continent), Wicca, and Atheism/Agnosticism. We will ask how each of these traditions’ principles inform a person or group’s involvement in social justice activities. Specifically, definitions of “social justice,” requirements of personal spiritual development, rewards of social justice work,  authenticity and identity, interaction between humanity and the divine, and consequences of inaction.

VT:  Marriage and Family Relations

This class will help students to better understand the family systems approach.  The focus will be on relationships within families in order to understand how individuals form a network.  Students will be required to master four general skills:  Memory, Application, Comparison, and Defense of one’s own opinion.


VT:  Animals and Society

This course will explore peoples’ relationships with animals and the various roles that animals play in human societies. We will consider people’s interactions with a wide range of species, but our primary focus will be on the role of domestic animals in human lives and societies. A significant portion of the course addresses people’s relationships with pets, and treatment and interactions with animals used for food. Additional topics will include differences and similarities between human and nonhuman animals, historical and cultural variations in human-animal relations, debates over animal rights and treatment, and the impact of human-animal relations on the welfare of animals, humans, and society. This is an interdisciplinary course that will include perspectives from a range of fields, including sociology, psychology, history, anthropology, and zoology. The course is taught as a seminar, so students will be expected to take an active role, reading, discussing, and writing about course topics.

VT:  Costa Rica:  Building Sustainable Communities in Central America

Course goals:

1. To use the vivid contrasts of another culture and society to deepen students' understanding of key social science concepts, including the evolution and intermingling of cultural patterns and forms;  social divisions along lines of class, gender and ethnicity; the development, interaction and importance of major social institutions such as family, political economy and religion;  and the dynamics of social change involved in urbanization, globalization and incorporation into the world economy.

2. To provide students with an overview of the culture and history of Costa Rican society from its indigenous origins, through its colonial period and its democratic transformation to the present, as well as to examine future possibilities.

3. To explore the human ecology of development, the interaction between people and their environment, and to explore and assess Costa Rican efforts toward sustainable development in urban and rural economies, agriculture and agribusiness, and tourism and ecotravel.



VT:  Race and Reproductive Rights

This course examines how race and class have shaped women’s access to birth control, their ability to make reproductive choices and to have control over their own bodies. We will discuss a number of themes – both current and historical. This course will start with a look at childbearing and –raising in slave communities and on Native American reservations. We will then continue with a discussion of a variety of case studies that exemplify how the U.S. government has limited the reproductive rights and choices of certain communities over the last century. Topics include forced sterilization, the eugenics movements, the mistreatment of single mothers in the early 20th century, and medical experiments on communities of color.  In the second half of the semester, we will turn our attention to current controversies, incl. teenagers’ access to sex education and birth control, the debate about emergency contraception and abortion, gay and lesbian parents, as well as new reproductive technologies and their ethical implications. We will also discuss how women have acted, individually and collectively, to fight oppression and create community.


THE NATURAL WORLD (N190 Offerings)


VT: Becoming Human

An introduction to the evolutionary development of humans, viewed in both a biological and cultural context. Major topics include the concept of evolution, biological relationships between humans and other primates, the fossil record of hominid evolution, and the basic methods employed by archaeologists in the study of human biological and social development.

AST N190      THE NATURAL WORLD     (P: Math placement Level 3)

VT:  Life in the Universe    

The purpose of this class is to expose you to a relatively new area of science, Astrobiology.  This discipline encompasses a variety of areas, all of which we will touch upon during the course.  These include chemistry, physics, biology, geology and of course astronomy.  You do not need to be an expert in these, you will learn the essentials in order to appreciate how all of these disciplines come together and work together in our search to understand what life is and how we may go about trying to find it outside the earth, the only example we have of Life in the Universe.

VT:  Stars and Galaxies

Our universe is a vast place that contains a variety of objects that almost defy the imagination. This course is a journey that starts from our extended local neighborhood of nearby stars, continues to explore our galaxy and its inhabitants, and ends at the far reaches of known space. Along the way we will discover strange objects such as pulsars, black holes, and exploding galaxies, and we will face some of the remaining deep mysteries about the structure of the universe that occupy today's cosmologists.

VT:  Worlds Beyond Our Own

In this course we will look at planetary bodies, including Earth. Although we will note systematic similarities, we will focus on the unusual features that make them "worlds" in their own right. Major topics will include the following: historical background and observing the night sky; a quantitative description of planetary motion; light and radiation; and planetary bodies (planets, their moons, asteroids and comets). We will also discuss social and political issues, such as the priority we should place on exploring the Solar System considering competing demands for our limited resources.


VT:  Plants and People

Human societies are completely dependent upon plants, which supply us with food, clothing, shelter, fuel, and even the oxygen we breathe. This course will introduce students to the world of plants through the lens of human uses and needs. The course will begin with some basic information about plant structure, physiology, reproduction, ecology, and evolution. It will then turn to topics that show how plants have played an important role in the development of human culture and society. The course will include some lab work and possibly some field trips. Some course topics and readings will be linked to the campus theme of sustainability.


VT:  Chemistry and Our Environment

The course focuses on topical, interdisciplinary issues such as the environment, energy, and nutrition.  The science is introduced on a need-to-know basis as issues are discussed and developed.  There are no pre-requisites for this course. Instruction will focus on only those aspects of the fundamentals of chemistry that have a direct bearing on the applications of chemistry to society.

GEOL N190    THE NATURAL WORLD     (P: Math Placement Level 3)

VT:  Geology of the National Parks

Our national and state parks contain some of the most beautiful scenery found on the planet, and accordingly draw visitors from around the world. Their spectacular landscapes are the result of a wide range of geologic processes that we will discuss in this course. After introducing the basic framework of plate tectonics we will use individual parks as geologic case studies and introduce geological principles as necessary to scientifically understand what gives the parks their unique character. We will also discuss the political and historical framework in which the park system exists: the establishment and management of national and state parks is a massive undertaking including extensive political, philosophical and economic considerations.

VT:  Rocks, Gems, and Fossils

Rocks, gems, and fossils have intrigued people from the beginning.  Through basic identification of rocks and minerals, students will learn how the history of our planet has been interpreted.  Emphasis on the uses of these materials will show students how many natural resources we extract from our planet and how this process has affected the development of countries and civilizations around the world. By learning about the identification, classification, and formation of fossils, students will learn about our past here in Indiana, North America, and planet Earth.

 VT:  Earth and Space               (P:  Math 014 or Math Placement Level 3)

This course will teach the basic concepts of Physical Geology, with an emphasis on rocks, minerals, earthquakes, volcanoes, and Plate Tectonics. The Historical Geology portion looks at interpreting Earth's history with Relative Dating, and the identification of many fossils and how they form.  Also, an introduction into the basics of Astronomy and Meteorology.

PHYS N190     THE NATURAL WORLD       (P:  Math Placement Level 3)

VT:  Discovered Physics   (5 cr.)

The universe is full of wondrous and diverse phenomena such as exploding stars and gently falling snowflakes. Persons of great conceit think that this can all be understood in terms of a small set of rules and elementary objects. This course is designed to help the student learn how (we think) the universe works and how these ideas are generated, tested, and communicated. Models of nature and the methods of elementary quantitative problem solving are studied in the lecture and recitation portions of the course. The laboratory component of the course helps the student learn the practice of experiment and guides the student in developing, executing and reporting on experiments of their own design.

THE NATURAL WORLD  (N390 Offerings)

BIOL  N390        THE NATURAL WORLD      (P:  one semester of college level biology)

VT: Environmental Science  (crosslisted as Honors H300)

Some of the most perennial challenges humans face are environmental issues - how should we use resources, how do our actions affect other species, and how do our actions affect the long-term availability of resources.   Not surprisingly, environmental issues cross many disciplines including all fields of science, humanities, arts, business, and politics.  In this course we will study environmental issues from primarily a biological perspective with an emphasis on ecology, but we will use readings from a variety of sources including book chapters, science journals, government reports, and newspaper articles to consider connections between biology and other disciplines. 


ENG T190      LITERARY AND INTELLECTUAL TRADITIONS         (Reading placement, 90 or above)

VT:  Literary Hauntings

In this course, we will read literary works from the seventeenth century to the present, focusing on the theme of “Literary Hauntings.”  For the first half of the semester, we will read various ghost stories from around the globe and discuss the cultural characteristics of different ghosts, their attachment to specific locales, and what they mean to their respective cultural communities.  For the second half of the semester, we will turn our attention to one of the most famous ghosts in the history of English literature – in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  We will not only discuss the significance of Hamlet’s ghost, but also look at some literary and film adaptations to explore how Shakespeare’s work “haunts” literary representations at different historical moments.

VT:  Beyond Cowboys and Indians:  The Myths of the U.S. West


The story of the U.S. West has been told in countless ways: as conflict between advancing civilization and disappearing “savage,” as site of individual self-discovery or transformation, or more recently, as site of struggle over issues such as immigration and race. In this course we will ask how the West has been portrayed at different times and what functions such portrayals might serve. In examining these questions, we will read literary and historical accounts and view selected films and ask how and why the West has proven so important to understandings of U.S. history and culture.

VT:  Labor and Literature


“Labor and Literature” is designed to explore the representation, cultural reproduction, and meaning of work in the United States.  While work is central to conceptions of U.S. national identity, its representation is frequently contested both in cultural and in political discourse, and indeed, is often entirely unrepresented depending how "work" is conceived.  This course will focus on artists, writers, and filmmakers for whom labor, the workplace, and class are the central foci of their texts.  Themes the course will explore include what it means to construct a subjective identity through the lens of labor, how intersections of race, gender, and national origin contribute to concepts of a laboring subject, as well as how definitions of labor have been used to construct and contest a homogenous national identity. In addition, we'll look at the ways individual artists and writers sought to represent work and the ways they have engaged in political and cultural movements to change how Americans experience working and viewing/being/ becoming working-class. 

VT:  Stories of the Dysfunctional Family

The course focuses on the repetitive pattern of dysfunction in family groups from the ancient Greeks to modern writers. The class will analyze the causes of socially dysfunctional actions and the effects on family members and the surrounding society. We’ll study dysfunctional characters in literary works and film with the help of some psychological texts. We will examine the difficulty of breaking out of dysfunction and investigate ethical consequences of characters’ actions. How are the destructive consequences of dysfunctional acts treated by the authors in this course? How does modern society view such acts? Can dysfunctional acts be explained away by fate or birth? Where does responsibility reside?

 VT:  The Outcast

The image of the outcast has captured many writers’ imagination, for it raises interesting questions about the relationship between individual and society.  In what ways are the outcasts different from other people? Why are they excluded/rejected by the society?  Do they pose problem, harm, or danger to the society? Do they challenge/critique social conventions and traditions?  How do they view their own marginalized condition? Are they seeking for social acceptance or insisting on their own isolation? By reading writers from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds, we will explore the issues of social boundaries, cultural definition, individual freedom and independence, and the price paid to be assimilated or excluded in a society.

VT:  Signed, The Land of the Long White Cloud

New Zealand is increasingly called by its indigenous Māori name, Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud, referring back to Māori mythology according to which the explorer Kupe and his crew discovered the North Island thanks to the long cloud that permanently hung over it. The existence of a bilingual name for a single country betrays some of the tensions at play in the emergence and establishment of New Zealand’s national identity along a binary divide between the indigenous Maori population and the Pākehā (European) settler. This course foregrounds the rise and establishment of New Zealand’s political, cultural, and literary, independence from Great Britain through the study of the distinctive stylistic traits of signature Kiwi authors and film directors of both Māori and Pākehā descent.

ENG T191    WORLD LITERARY AND INTELLECTUAL TRADITIONS I        (Reading placement, 90 or above)

VT:  Heroes in Ancient and Medieval World Literature

RESTRICTION: PRIORITY FOR THIS SECTION IS GIVEN TO EDUCATION STUDENTS (unless otherwise noted in the online schedule of classes. The restriction may be removed in order to fill the class.)

Three boys without a father:  one finds a sword in a stone, one is given a light saber, and one is chosen by a wand.  All become heroes.  The significance of these and many other similarities among such tales of heroes—as well as of their important differences—is the topic of this course.  The focus, in particular, will be on heroic legends from the ancient and medieval eras, ranging across time and space from 4000 years ago in Mesopotamia (Gilgamesh), to 2500 years ago in India (the life of the Buddha), to 500 years ago in England (Sir Thomas Malory’s account of King Arthur).  Throughout, we will reflect on apparent continuities among these stories as well as the vast differences in culture that they carry, and we will think about the cultural functions of heroic legends in general.  And, yes, we will also talk about how the Star Wars and Harry Potter sagas fit into the long tradition of heroic literature.

ENG T192    WORLD LITERARY AND INTELLECTUAL TRADITIONS II           (Reading placement, 90 or above)

VT:  Literature and the Invisible World

This course will consider the presentation of visual experience in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction.  We’ll attend to a few critical points at which visual experience, of people and places, is central to the writer and the form in which he or she is writing.  We’ll think about two streams of influence—science, which not only observes but tries to explain— and aesthetics—that is, the study of the creative, beautiful, and pleasing—and what each dimension adds to the other.  We’ll read works that rely on observation of the natural world, but we’ll also have a glimpse of the humanly invented spaces of cities. Readings will probably include works by Tracy Chevalier, Charles Darwin, Thomas Hardy, Franz Kafka, Jun’ichiro Tanizaki, haiku poets, Yoko Ogawa, and Italo Calvino. The format for the class will be discussion with occasional short lectures on historical periods. There will be two medium-length analytical essays and numerous reading response papers.

For part of the general education requirement that this course provide instruction in a literacy, we will pay particular and sustained attention to metaphor, simile, analogy, model, and paradigm as they inform both creative and scientific thinking because they are a foundation for constructing knowledge, especially the logical relationships based on resemblance.  We will also investigate the limits of these linguistic figures and models.

HIST  T190    LITERARY AND INTELLECTUAL TRADITIONS           (Reading placement, 90 or above)

VT:   Philadelphia: Revolution to Republic

This course will examine Philadelphia’s place in the American Revolution and the formation of the American republic.  Many historians believe Philadelphia should be considered as the primary example of a revolutionary city in early America.  Through the use of primary and secondary sources, students will examine the role of Philadelphia from 1600-1860.  These works will focus on the areas of race, religion, government and politics and maritime economy as these were major issues facing the United States as it moved from Revolution to Republic. 

MUS T190     LITERARY AND INTELLECTUAL TRADITIONS         (Reading placement, 90 or above)

VT:  Exploring Musical Genres:  Classical Music and Beyond

This course explores the elements and performing media of music using live music, recorded music, and video. The role of music in society at different times in history in both Western and non-Western culture will be examined. Students will be expected to attend classical music concerts, and to develop the listening skills needed to write critically about their concert experience and other music experienced in the course.



VT:  Music and Literature

This course is designed around the different ways in which Music and Literature have interacted in different eras. To better express these relations, students will focus on threedifferent modules: Poetry and Music, Prose and Music, and Drama and Music. Each module has been designed with the perspective on focusing on different works, all presented from a historical point of view. The poetry unit will begin by discussing an excerpt from Aristotle’s Poetics in order to establish mimesis as a common characteristic of both arts. It will proceed to a broader discussion of the powers ascribed to music by various poets and writers throughout history, focusing on particular excerpts spanning from Ovid’s Metamorphoses through Walt Whitman; finally, it will include discussion of the “musical” aspects of the written word, including meter (rhythm), alliteration, onomatopoeia, and text painting. The poetry unit will focus primarily on musical works inspired by literary creations and the ways in which composers interpret literary texts to depict literary characters or events. The primary foci will include 1001 Arabian Nights and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherezade, Don Quixote and Strauss in Prose (program music). Finally, our drama unit will study discuss Oedipus Rex (Sophocles and Stravinsky), Shakespeare in Music (excerpts from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, TheTempest, and Romeo and Juliet) and will end with a more in-depth analysis relating to Shakespeare’s Othello to Verdi’s Otello.

VT:  Conquest, Progress, and the U.S. West

The story of westward movement has been told in countless ways: as conflict between advancing civilization and disappearing “savage,” as site of individual self-discovery or transformation, as a locus of unfolding national or universal Progress, or more recently, as site of struggle over issues such as immigration, race, and gender. In this course we will ask how the West has been portrayed at different times and what functions such portrayals might serve. In examining these questions, we will read and analyze a variety of primary and secondary sources, from poetry and fiction to film and visual art, always keeping in mind the central question: how and why has the West has proven so important to ideas of human Progress and specifically of U.S. historical, political, and cultural identity?

VT:  The Commercial Revolution and the Rise of the Novel

In this class, we will examine how England responded to the crisis of identity wrought by the commercial revolution of the eighteenth century and how the literature of the time attempted to offer solutions to this crisis. In the early eighteenth century, money was quickly replacing social rank as the basis for power and prestige. As one shopkeeper of the time put it, “I can buy a gentleman, therefore I am a gentleman.” While this transformation produced a new sense of social equality, it also suggested the disturbing notion that one’s identity was based on what one owned rather than on any inherent attributes. A new luxury market promoted this consumer mentality by offering a wider array of goods than ever before and invented new techniques, such as advertisements and window displays, to make these goods appealing. One of the new luxury items that consumers purchased and used to define themselves was the novel—a form of literature that focused on workaday life and made everyday people the heroes of its plots. In doing so, the novel served as a device for analyzing the new commercial world and its effects on society. It also helped to shape, and was shaped by, attitudes towards this world. Novels will include: Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe; Samuel Richardson, Pamela; Tobias Smollett, Humphrey Clinker; Henry McKenzie, The Man of Feeling; and Frances Burney, Evelina. We will frame our discussions of the novels through selections from the sociologists Max Weber and Pierre Bourdieu, as well as period sources by the philosophers John Locke, David Hume, and Adam Smith.

VT:   Monsters of Modernity

In this course, we will read some classic “monster” literature to investigate how monsters function in the literary imagination as touchstones for exploring the essence and the boundaries of humanity. What if monsters are scary, not because they are different from us but because they are strangely similar to us? Which is more terrifying, to be attacked by a monster or to turn into one? Does modern science risk producing monsters in the attempt to enhance the human experience, or can technology help us fight monsters that threaten us? By the end of the semester, I hope you will begin to see that horror films and novels are part of our culture’s responses to historically specific developments in science and technology – developments that make us reconsider what it means to be human.


VT:   Needle and Thread:  A Cultural Analysis of World Textiles

This course will analyze world textiles from the prehistoric period to the modern age.  The varied needle arts will be situated within their historical, cultural, and artistic context in order to understand the role these art objects played in their societies.  This course will analyze how textiles and textile production both reflected and affected their various cultures not just in terms of aesthetics but also with politics, economics, and gender construction.


VT:  The Great War, 1914 - 1918

The Great War of 1914-1918 remade the world. Monarchs were deposed. Empires dissolved. New nations emerged. Millions perished in “hurricanes of steel.”  World War I stands as the portal to a century of mass ideologies, and paved the way for the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, the rise of fascism, and the transformation of European societies. This class will investigate the experiences of those who lived and died in the first total war. 


VT:  Religion and Science     

This course examines how science and religion have influenced and interacted with each other from ancient times to the present day. Topics will include ancient Greek and early Christian attitudes toward nature, science and the Church in the Middle Ages, the Copernican Revolution, Galileo and the Church, Christianity and the mechanical/Newtonian worldview, the rise of modern geology and paleontology, the Darwinian revolution and creationism, and the impact of contemporary physics on theology.


VT:  God, Space, and Time

This course offers an interdisciplinary investigation into metaphysical questions that arise around the concepts of God, space, and time. We will be investigating these topics through readings from philosophers, scientists, theologians, and writers of literature.  The course will involve getting clear on the concepts of God, space, and time (how they are different and how they are interrelated).  Then we will review arguments for and against the existence of each. We may also look into some specific questions about the nature of each, such as the following:  Does God exist in time? Are space and time separate, or do they exist as one unified entity? Might there be more than three dimensions of space? Do the past and future exist?  Is time travel possible? 


VT:  Media Law, Ethics, and the Public Interest

The purpose of this course is four-hold: [1] to explore the idea of freedom of speech through historical and theoretical examinations of U.S. case laws, media regulations and landmark Supreme Court decisions, [2] to explore the idea of media ethics through historical and theoretical examinations of controversial representations and media genres in the U.S. media history, and [3] to intersect these examinations of media law and ethics in order to develop the theoretical debate that defines meanings and the role of public interest in society, and [4] to explore how the contemporary media industry can best serve the welfare of the public. The course develops an understanding of free speech rights, while ethical considerations of the responsibility of the mass media industry are argued as public interest and welfare. The overall task of this course is to discuss new and/or justifiable approaches to challenge and negotiate the theoretical question that speech laws create an ethical dilemma in society when certain types of speech, such as hate speech and sexual speech, could be found disruptive to welfare of the public.

VT:  Television and Cultural Criticism

This course focuses on prime time television shows to discuss the cultural and social impact of the medium as a whole and its relationship with culture. Specific programs serve as examples of the historical rise of broadcast television, the development of television narration, the evolution of television genres, the changing nature of the entertainment industry, and controversies of television’s effects on audiences. The objective of this course is to introduce the student to television critical studies, or what is commonly called, within academics, "television criticism" (a parallel with literary criticism). By the end of the semester students will have a clear understanding of television as a unique meaning-producing medium. Throughout the semester we will dissect television's narrative and non-narrative structures and its uses of mise-en-scene, cinematography/videography, editing, and sound. Additionally, we will confront the critical methods that have been applied to the medium over the past 20 years: semiotics, genre study, ideological criticism, cultural studies, and so on.