Spring courses on climate, rebels, laughing matters

All told, dozens of new offerings are added to the academic catalogue

From Thomas Mitsch's "Climate Change"

Sabine von Mering wants to have a conversation about climate change; one that goes beyond whether it's happening.

So the German language and literature professor is teaching a course this spring, “European Perspectives on Climate Change,” that offers a European perspective on the topic, told through literature and film.  

“Because I am a professor of German, primarily, and because I am somewhat frustrated about the fact that climate change is treated so differently in Europe than here in the United States, it will focus on the question of communicating climate change,” von Mering says.

Von Mering says it's difficult to have climate change discussion in the United States because the conversation gets mired in whether climate change is occurring and whether it’s manmade.

“In Europe, this question is just not on the agenda,” von Mering says. “Across the political spectrum, it’s accepted that scientists have given us enough data" to say that climate change is a reality and whether it's manmade or not "it’s ours to deal with.”

Von Mering's is one of dozens of new courses listed below that will be taught at Brandeis this spring. Some highlights include:

    •    “Local Rebels: Cambridge Authors Against the Grain,” a one-time offering taught by Michael Gilmore. The course will examine Cambridge, Mass. – as opposed to Concord or Boston – as a locus of rebels. At one time or another, Cambridge was home to some of the foremost literary dissenters in the 19th-century United States. This course will ask why the city was able to play this role, and explore how Cambridge writers spoke to, supported, inspired, and borrowed from each other

    •    “Muhammad: The History of a Prophet,” taught by Joseph E.B. Lumbard. The course explores the life of Muhammad based upon the earliest biographical accounts and the academic analyses in both Islamic and non-Islamic sources, accompanied by an examination of his legacy in different aspects of Islam, such as Shi'ism and Sufism.

    •    "Laughing Matters: Short Form Comedy," taught by Jonathan Katz, who probably is best known for his animated television show “Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist.” From jokes to sketches, the course will ask students to create something “funny” that has a storyline and can only be told using three people.

Von Mering's course was born out of former Dean of Arts and Sciences Adam Jaffe’s meetings with students who said they wanted more courses dealing with big questions, she says.

The course is cross-listed in the International and Global Studies and Environmental Studies programs and, according to Von Mering is geared toward students who have fulfilled their requirements and are seeking an “interdisciplinary course to sort of wrap up their liberal arts experience.”

Students will examine the role of ethics and aesthetics in European climate change discourse from its beginnings in European Romanticism to contemporary science fiction and computer games. They’ll do a variety of fiction and non-fiction reading, and will view feature and documentary films that deal with the topic. This includes science fiction such as “The Ice People” by Maggie Gee and “The Year of the Flood” by Margaret Atwood or activist writings like Elizabeth Ammoms’ “Brave New Words: How Literature Will Save the Planet.”

“It will first give students the vocabulary and some ideas from history,” she says.

Students will learn what people have been able to accomplish legally, politically, socially and artistically with regard to climate change and ultimately will work on their own experiential learning projects.

“Hopefully, they’ll be inspired,” von Mering says.

Course number Professor Title
AAAS 157b Obeng Pashington Neglected Diasporas
AMST 122 Sheryl Kaskowitz From Psalms to Hip-Hop: Music in American Culture
AMST 128b Joyce Antler History as Theater
ANTH 149b Andrew Koh Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Global Trade in the Ancient Mediterranean
ANTH 180 Dirck Roosevelt and Ellen Schattschneider Playing Human: Persons, Objects, Imagination
ANTH 30a Ieva Jusionyte Media and Violence: An Anthropological Approach
ANTH 62a Melanie Kingsley Archaeology in Politics, Film and Public Culture
BIOL 100 Satoshi Yoshida Advanced Cell Biology
BIOL 158b Justin Dore Cell Biology Project Lab
BIOL 176b Michael Rosbash and Nelson Lau RiboNucleicAcids (RNA)
BIOL 235 Barbara Lerner American Health Policy & Practice and the Delivery of Genomic Health Care
BIOT 203b Neil Simister Fundamentals of Management for Biotechnology
BUS 233f Gerard Donnellan The Family Enterprise
BUS 295f Edward Bayone Field Projects
BUS 55a Jane Ebert Consumer Behavior
COSI 162b Fernando Colon-Osorio Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Look
ECON/FIN 250a Blake Lebaron Forecasting in Finance andEcnomics
ENG 117a David Babcock
Salman Rushdie
ENG 120a Thomas King The Orlando Project
ENG 128b David Babcock Postcolonial Epidemics
ENG 135b Sebastian Lecourt Novel Horizons: Victorian Fiction and the Global Imagination
ENG 156a Michael Gilmore Local Rebels: Cambridge Authors Against the Grain
ENG 156b Kathy Lawrence When Genius Is a Family Affair: Henry, William and Alice James
ENG 20b Dawn Skorczewski The Art Flirtation: Reading Romance from Pride and Prejudice to Harry Potter
ENG 60b Caren Irr Disney
ENG 65b Laura Quinney The Last Romantics: Themes of Modern Poetry
ENG 75a Lisa Rourke Early Detective Fiction: The Birth of a Literary Genre
FA 40a Andrew Koh The Gift of the Nile: Egyptian Art and Archaeology
FILM 114a Alice Kelikian Genre Films in Cinema and Television
FIN 226f Edward Chazen Real Estate Capital Markets
FREN 163b Beatrice de Gasquet After Beauvoir: Gender, Culture and Politics in Postcolonial France
GECS 188 Sabine von Mering Human/Nature: European Perspectives on Climate Change
GS 203 Richard Parmentier The Global Economy
HISP 165b Fernando Rosenberg The Storyteller: Short Fiction in Latin America
HISP 194b
Jeronimo Arellano The Art of Crossing: Trans-American Narrative and Visual Culture
HIST 104a Clara Altman American Empire: The History of U.S. Expansion
HIST 106a Winston Bowman The Warren Court & Social Justice
HIST 172 Kirsten Weld 20th Century Social Movements in the Americas
HIST 182b Xing Hang Modern China
HIST 183a Xing Hang Empire at the Margins: Borderlands in Late Imperial China
HIST 206a Gregory Freeze Christianity in the Modern World, 1750-1914
IGS 150a Avinash Singh The Rise of India: History, Culture, and Politics
LGLS 127b Richard Gaskins International Economic Law
LGLS 149b Richard Gaskins Genetics, Law and Society
MUS 180b Ann Lucas Proseminar in Ethnomusicology
MUS 27b Ann Lucas Music and Ecstasy
MUS 5b Joshua Gordon Fundamentals of Music II
NEJS 177b Jonathan Decter Judeo-Arabic Literature
NEJS 189b Michael Feige Memory Wars: Collective Memory, Political Myths and History
NEJS 195a Joseph Lumbard Muhammad: The History of a Prophet
PHIL 131 Palle Yourgrau The Metaphysics of Death
PHIL 177 Palle Yourgrau Simon Weil
POL 121b Martin Levin Political Partisanship, Policymaking and Coalition Building
POL 126a Paul Herron The American Constitutions and Political Conflict
POL 138b Ofir Abu Israeli Politics in Comparative Perspective
POL 79b Robert Art War and World History
ROMS xxx Michael Randall Necessity and Freedom in French Literature
SOC 133a Clare Hammonds A Labor of Love?: Gender and Care Work in the Contemporary U.S.
SOC 194a Peter Conrad Sociology of Mental Health and Illness
THA 10b Theater as Vision, Light and Sound
THA 142b Alicia Hyland Feminist Playwrights: Writing for the Stage by and About Women
THA 144b Summer Williams African-American Theatre: From Emancipation Through the Obama Administration
THA 138b
Jennifer Cleary The Real American Idols: Education Through Creativity and Theatrical Pedagogy
THA 138a
Robert Walsh The Business of Show Business

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