1997-98 University Bulletin Entry for:

University Seminars in Humanistic Inquiries

S = Objectives

The University Seminars in Humanistic Inquiries are special courses specifically designed for first-year students and intended as a foundation for their studies at Brandeis. The primary objective is to offer a small seminar environment where students, under the close guidance of faculty, can engage major texts from ancient times to the present. The topics and texts of the seminars are extremely broad-ranging and come from every school of the University; such diversity allows students and faculty to focus on subjects in which they both have a particular interest. The seminars are also quite consciously interdisciplinary: although taught by faculty from regular departments, the seminars seek to transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries and to address important problems from a much broader perspective. That approach is indeed integral to the mission of humanistic inquiry, which seeks to address fundamental and enduring questions of human existence.

The seminars are also skill-oriented. At one level, they seek to sharpen analytical skills; seminar discussions, under faculty guidance, will help students to formulate key questions and to construct a critical analysis of the author's assumptions, evidence, and argumentation. The seminars also require substantial and frequent writing. Working in close cooperation with the attached writing seminar, the seminars will help students to become imaginative and effective writers and, thus, to develop a skill absolutely essential for their studies at Brandeis and for their professional careers afterward.

S = Courses of Instruction

USEM 1a Literature and Ethical Values

Enrollment limited to 17.

Most ethical arguments arise out of stories that we tell ourselves about who we are and what we are doing. There is scarcely a work of literature that does not carry a weight of moral urgency or exemplify an ethical position. We will examine ethical concepts and issues as they are dramatized and discussed in imaginative and theoretical works.

Mr. Goodheart

USEM 2a Bad Girls

Enrollment limited to 17.

Explores our fascination with the bad girl. As a character and a social type, the bad girl turns up throughout Western culture in a variety of guises and toward a number of ends. Sugar and spice and everything nice?

Ms. Harder

USEM 3a Nature and Natural Law

Enrollment limited to 17.

Students in this course will analyze and discuss material concerning the concept of the natural, its immutability or alterability, and the ethical and religious questions posed by the concept of a natural law. Authors to be read include Cicero, Philo of Alexandria, Thomas Aquinas, Clarence Thomas, Pope John II, and Elizabeth Minnick.

Ms. Brooten

USEM 4b Becoming an Educated Person

Enrollment limited to 17.

We will read texts about education from a variety of cultures, eras, and individuals in an attempt to help students reflect upon the central issues of their experience at Brandeis. Questions we will ask include: How do we learn? What do we learn? Why? Who teaches us? What is the role of writing and the printed word in different educational traditions? Is the purpose of education to transmit or to change culture, or both? Students will be asked to define their own educational goals for college and beyond within the context of writings from Plato to Dewey, and from Australia to Senegal.

Ms. Hale

USEM 5b Conceptions of the "Good Life"

Enrollment limited to 17.

This course explores competing conceptions of the "good life" and of moral right and how these conceptions vary within different cultural periods in history; it also explores standards for what is good and for justifying claims that one way of life is better than another. Included are conceptions of the "good life" as pleasure (Epicurus), as virtuous activity (Aristotle), as renunciation, as reason (Kant), as utilitarianism (J.S. Mill), as self-assertion (Nietzsche), as faith (Kierkegaard), as aesthetics, and as spirituality.

Ms. Hayim

USEM 6a Anatomy and Gender from Antiquity to Modern Times

Enrollment limited to 17.

This seminar traces changing perceptions of the body and sexual difference from the ancients to Freud and Foucault. It examines relations between men and women, notions of gender and sexualities, and the social construction of decent and indecent behavior in Western culture.

Ms. Kelikian

USEM 8a Textual Transformations

Enrollment limited to 17.

This course examines how literature responds, internally and externally, to the challenge that change poses for the individual and society. Metamorphosis, the transformation of one object into another, will be the primary focus within each text studied, but considerable time will also be spent in determining how each text relates to the others with which it shares characters, plots, and themes. As we will read multiple versions of a few particular stories, only students with a tolerance for repetition and an appreciation for variation should consider enrolling.

Ms. Walker

USEM 9b Ancient Lives

Enrollment limited to 17.

The lives of others hold for us a compelling fascination, perhaps because others seemed to have solved the problems of identity, of separation from and integration with society and of shaping life into a coherent whole. The readings in this course focus on sharply depicted characters with the dual purpose of understanding how the techniques of literature inform their subject and of learning what ancient authors valued in humanity.

Ms. Walker

USEM 10a Folk and Their Tales

Enrollment limited to 17.

This seminar provides an introduction into the realm of folk and fairy tales. Taking the famous collection of Children's and Household Tales by the Brothers Grimm as a central point of departure, we will survey the riches and variety of this genre, discussing our reactions to individual stories, tracing the historical development of some of them, and investigating their role in the shaping of a cultural and social heritage and a national identity. In addition to folk tales from the Western tradition, samples from India, China, Japan, native African and Native American sources will be studied for comparison.

Mr. Frey

USEM 11b The Rise and Fall of Humanism

Enrollment limited to 17.

The emancipation of the human mind from fear, superstition, and intolerance is at the root of what is called the humanist tradition. The course follows the birth, development, and decline of humanism. Authors read include Lucretius, Rabelais, Montaigne, Swift, Diderot, Marx, Freud, and modern critics.

Mr. Gendzier

USEM 12a Myself, My History, My World

Enrollment limited to 17.

Through the writing of your own social profile you will explore the social and historical forces that have helped to form your identity. Texts to learn from are by people with a vision of the individualís connection to history and society, such as Kim Chernin, James Baldwin, Mitsuye Yamada, Langston Hughes, and Studs Terkel; also films such as Matewan, Coal Minerís Daughter, and others.

Ms. Harth

USEM 12b Not for the Fainthearted

Enrollment limited to 17.

Does "human nature" really mean white, middle-class, and male? How have various writers from Shakespeare to Toni Morrison dealt with issues of social, gender, and racial inequality? Authors to be read include Rousseau, Marx, Freud, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Malcolm X. Films are also used.

Ms. Harth

USEM 13a America in Black and White: A History of Race in the Workplace.

Enrollment limited to 17.

This seminar examines the relations between whites and African Americans from the earliest colonial settlements to late 20th-century postindustrial society. Special attention is paid to the encounters between black and white women and men in the work place. Texts include autobiographies, novels, and essays, as well as legal statutes, labor contracts, court cases, and government reports.

Ms. Jones

USEM 14a Imagining the Other: Encounters in North America from Columbus to the Revolution

Enrollment limited to 17.

Using North America after Columbus as a case study, this course examines the problems of understanding and representing people across cultural frontiers. The seminar focuses on the various ways authors have explored and defined boundaries of race, ethnicity, and gender.

Ms. Kamensky

USEM 15a Journeys to Enlightenment

Enrollment limited to 17.

Literature often symbolizes the meaning of existence as a journey from error to truth, from affliction to freedom and enlightenment. Works by Dante, Rabelais, Shakespeare, Blake, Baudelaire, Hesse, and Hurston will illustrate visions of human existence that have been entertained from the Middle Ages to the present.

Mr. Kaplan

USEM 16a Charting the Void

Enrollment limited to 17.

The texts for this seminar have been selected with the presumption that their authors present a view of the world that is essentially polar in nature, a view that sees humanity as standing between belief and despair and humans as constantly struggling with themselves and God, and with themselves and others. The texts further presume the existence of "the void."

Mr. Szulkin

USEM 17a Mirror of Princes

Enrollment limited to 17.

The Fürstenspiegel or "Mirror of Princes" is a literary topos that can be found in a wide spectrum of societies throughout the ages and around the world. With the explicit purpose of instructing the leaders of society, this discourse is characterized by implicit, allusive, and even enigmatic messages ostensibly restricted to those who truly "understand." The purpose of the course is to show not only how "wisdom literature" teaches but also how the wisdom learned by heroes in epic and drama in turn teaches us.

Ms. Davidson

USEM 18a Understanding Evil and Human Destiny

Enrollment limited to 17.

This seminar is designed to introduce students to some of the Western classics that deal with the impact of evil on human destiny. Suffering, justice, and death will be studied in their relationship with God, the world, and history.

Mr. Kimelman

USEM 19a Survival

Enrollment limited to 17.

This seminar focuses on how individuals, groups, and cultures survive traumatic events and on the relationship their stories and art have to that survival. Examining personal and collective disruption and violence, we will consider strategies for overcoming trauma, journeys of redemption, and myths of self-making. The readings include texts from Homer, Euripides, Van Gogh, Morrison, Soyinka, Alexie, MacLean, and Lessing.

Ms. Klein

USEM 20a How Do You Know What You ëKnowí?

Enrollment limited to 17.

I am fascinated by what we ìknow,î but more so by how we know it to be true. We begin with the controversy of creation science versus evolution, two competing ìtruthsî. This controversy is all the more interesting because evolution is perceived as confronting religion. How did and do people react? We look at attempts to reconcile the two ìtruthsî and to use the courts to force the issue. We end with what ìtruthî means.

Mr. DeRosier

USEM 21a Being Asian-American

Enrollment limited to 17.

What does it mean being Asian in America? This course attempts to answer this question by reading and discussing the work of early and contemporary Asian-American writers.

Mr. Maeda

USEM 22a Right and Left in Europe from 1900 to the Present

Enrollment limited to 17.

This seminar reviews the main political families of 20th-century Europe and their 19th-century ancestries. Using original texts, novels, and documentaries to examine the ideas and followers of each movement, it introduces the participants to analytical tools as well as to modern history.

Mr. Jankowski

USEM 23a Opera as Drama

Enrollment limited to 17.

This seminar explores the literary, theatrical, and musical dimensions of opera. The course may be organized in one of several ways, e.g., by historical period, by thematic considerations, by composer or group of composers, by librettist or librettists, or by literary sources.

Mr. Keiler

USEM 24a ìKnow Yourselfî: Naked Truths from the Ancient Greeks

Enrollment limited to 17.

Offers a metaphorical journey through several major literary works of the ancient Greeks to discover their artistic and philosophical contributions to Western thought. We focus on humanity, morality, and the enduring significance of these texts for our own moral consciousness.

Ms. Koloski-Ostrow

USEM 25a Human Nature, Happiness, and the Human Good

Enrollment limited to 17.

Conceptions of human nature deeply influence conceptions of happiness and the ultimate good at which human beings ought to aim. This seminar explores these relations through texts from philosophy, social science, and literature. Texts originate from Eastern and Western traditions, and from the ancient, medieval, and modern periods. Participants also consider ways in which claims about the "inferior" nature of groups of persons have played roles in justifying their subordination.

Mr. Wong

USEM 26b Everyday Activity

Enrollment limited to 17.

This seminar examines various frameworks for describing everyday activity. "Everyday activity" refers to such common behaviors as riding a subway, attending a movie, buying groceries, playing a CD, doing the laundry, and carrying on a conversation. The course will focus on models of skill acquisition and problem-solving, the nature of activity and planning, and the role of culture in everyday activity.

Mr. Alterman

USEM 27b Coming into One's Own: Sources of the Self in Modern Literature

Enrollment limited to 17.

With the collapse of the old imagery of hierarchy and harmony, individuals who have been cut loose from their social moorings require new images and symbols in order to orient themselves in the world. This course explores problems of acting in a world where the outward signs denoting inner life are no longer believed to be adequate and where definite limits and fixed principles are missing.

Mr. Teuber

USEM 28b Exploring the Boundaries of Identity: Family, Society, and the Construction of Selfhood

Enrollment limited to 17.

This course examines the family as an "embattled paradise": a site for the expression of love and power. Relationships between family members (parent and child, husband and wife, siblings) are examined historically and across the life cycle. Intersections between family and society in fostering and constraining autonomy are highlighted.

Ms. Antler

USEM 29b Musical Biography: The Lives of Composers and Musicians

Enrollment limited to 17.

This course will focus on biography as a genre, concentrating upon works about the lives of composers and musicians. Students in the class will read one biography or autobiography a week and learn to evaluate the various techniques historically used in the writing of such works.

Mr. Marshall

USEM 30b Development of Play, Art, and Creativity

Enrollment limited to 17.

This seminar will give students a sense of how psychological theory and research can help them understand creativity in art. The students will be encouraged to analyze and to integrate principles of human development and intrinsic motivation toward an understanding of how artistic creativity develops. Some classic writings regarding the theories and functions of play, intrinsic motivation, and the development of art will be included, as well as writings on artistic creativity.

Mr. Watson

USEM 31b Religion and Society in the Modern Middle East

Enrollment limited to 17.

This seminar examines the interaction between Islam and society in the modern Middle East when Muslim societies were reshaped by the contacts with the West and the rise of the nation state. The texts cover a wide range of topics in social, economic, and political life. They include the writings of prominent Islamic modernists and religious figures like Hasan al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb, Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, Mahmud Taliqani, and Ruhallah Khomeini.

Mr. Nakash

USEM 32a Images of War in the Twentieth Century

Enrollment limited to 17.

War is what young boys glamorize, old men remember, poets celebrate, governments rally around, women cry about, and soldiers die in. We investigate war and the vision of war at the front and on the home-front by looking at oral testimony, contemporary journalism, poetry and novels, still photography, cartoons, painting, sculpture, architecture, film, and music.

Ms. Moeller

USEM 33b Revisioning the Classics: Then and Now

Enrollment limited to 17.

Participants in this seminar will read works from the canon of Western civilization and then analyze how these works have been re-written artistically and re-interpreted theoretically from a 20th-century perspective. It is hoped that, by listening to the dialogue that takes place across the centuries between major texts, students will come to a deeper understanding of some of the political, social, and philosophical ideas that have shaped contemporary thought.

Ms. Ratner

USEM 34a Confronting Poverty

Enrollment limited to 17.

Students will examine how poverty has been defined, understood, and portrayed over the past 150 years. Drawing on works of fiction, history, photography, sociology, psychology, oral history, and autobiography, class discussion will focus on the nature of generalizations about "the poor," the various literary and social science techniques used to describe poverty, interactions between the privileged and the disadvantaged, and the moral, ethical, and spiritual dilemmas raised by the condition of economic deprivation.

Mr. Terris

USEM 35a Donít Get Mad, Get Even: The Ethic and Aesthetic of Revenge

Enrollment limited to 17.

From the Oresteia of Aeschylus to Stephen Sondheimís Sweeney Todd revenge has been the subject of a large body of drama. Not only does revenge in the theater raise questions of ethics, morality, and interpersonal relationships, it has also given rise to conventions that have shaped the forms of plots and character development in the drama.

Mr. Jones

USEM 36a Equality and Inequality

Enrollment limited to 17.

Most Americans subscribe to the "self-evident truth" that "all men are created equal." But how evident is this "truth"? And what does equality mean? This seminar will explore these questions through a careful reading of works by Plato, Aristophanes, Locke, Rousseau, Tocqueville, Marx, and Nietzsche.

Mr. Melnick

USEM 37b Creation

Enrollment limited to 17.

This course will examine works of art from diverse cultures that reveal mythologies and legends of creation of the planet Earth and of the species Homo sapiens. We will then consider works of art that aid us in envisioning the act of creativity within an individual's accomplishments.

Ms. Scott

USEM 38a Organized Crime

Enrollment limited to 17.

Organized crime has long been understood to have its own identifiable culture. But despite its enormous impact, the reality of that culture is usually invisible, while fictions about it are enormously popular. This seminar considers why that disparity should exist, what its consequences are, in legal, ethnic, social, and other terms, and what responses, if any are available to citizens and their governments.

Mr. Luftig

USEM 39a On the Road from Homer to Ridley Scott

Enrollment limited to 17.

The voyage has always played an important role in European and American literature and culture. This course analyzes the theme of the voyage as it occurs in written works and in films, pondering questions about why the trip is made and what the "road" in the trip means. Why, for example, does Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey embark on his trip? Or why do the title characters in Ridley Scott's film Thelma and Louise set off on theirs?

Mr. Randall

USEM 40a Fate and Freedom

Enrollment limited to 17.

When are we free? Is freedom possible? Is it desirable? What is fate? These and other questions will be addressed in a wide range of religious, philosophical and literary texts, as well as the music of Beethoven.

Ms. Herzog

USEM 41a New Ways of Seeing Nature

Enrollment limited to 17.

This seminar introduces fractals and chaos theory in a non-mathematical manner as a new language to describe and emulate the complexities of nature. The older traditional language of microscopic reductionism is used as a backdrop to illustrate the revolutionary nature of the new language.

Mr. Canter

USEM 42b Experiencing Statistical Thinking

Enrollment limited to 17.

This course will use reading, writing, and discussion, on the one hand, and experimentation, on the other, to delve into the role of statistical thinking in current life. Throughout the semester, we will be experimenting with materials whose analysis and description will require seminar participants to develop statistical concepts for themselves.

Mr. Lange

USEM 43a Evolution and Chance

Enrollment limited to 17.

Participants in this seminar will explore the ways in which the concept of history has entered into explanation in biology, physics, and cosmology. In so doing we also address the role and meaning of chance in natural phenomena.

Mr. Schweber

USEM 44a I Spy: Ritual, Spectatorship, and Violence

Enrollment limited to 17.

This course focuses on a central aspect of Western culture: the connection between the I and the eye--the need to watch, to see and be seen; to peek and pry, to be a voyeur, to seek pleasure through watching.

Mr. Mandrell

USEM 45a Obligations of Social Solidarity

Enrollment limited to 17.

Do those who are more fortunate owe support to those who are less fortunate, and should the more fortunate be asked to transfer some portion of their comfort to mitigate the effects of social inequalities and the harshness of market outcomes? If so, how should these transfers be arranged? If not, why not? This seminar will consider differing answers to such questions from modern literature, social science, and social philosophy.

Mr. Ross

USEM 46a Women, Science, and Gender in Historical Perspective

Enrollment limited to 17.

With the possible exception of warfare, no modern institution is as male-dominated as science. Why? Has it always been so? Must it be so? A historical approach reveals many surprises regarding women's participation in science and the gender-dependence of scientific knowledge.

Mr. Harris

USEM 47a Studies in Love: Novels and Film

Enrollment limited to 17.

An exploration of how love has been depicted in the novel and on film from 19th-century romanticism through the modern search for intimacy. Authors include Flaubert, Tolstoy, Proust, Lawrence, Thomas Mann, Nabokov, and Puig.

Mr. Holmberg

USEM 48a Justice

Enrollment limited to 17.

What is the relationship between personal responsibility and social justice? We will read works of fiction, drama, philosophy, political theory, and law exploring ideals of justice from Plato and Sophocles to Louis Brandeis and Jean-Paul Sartre.

Mr. Kloppenberg

USEM 49a Text and Subtext

Enrollment limited to 17.

A close study of eight classics of Western literature that will explore how their surface contents connect with meanings that they convey only indirectly or between the lines. The works to be read are by Sophocles, Matthew, Shakespeare, Racine, Stendahl, Flaubert, Ibsen, and Thomas Mann.

Mr. Binion

USEM 50a Can Machines Think?

Enrollment limited to 17.

We will study the works of philosophers, writers, and scientists who have addressed this question and will examine the reasons for their differing conclusions. Texts include works by Plato, Capek, Asimov, Turing, Dreyfus, and others.

Mr. Gessel

USEM 51a Faces: Understanding the Influence of Appearance on Social Perception and Social Development

Enrollment limited to 17.

An interdisciplinary examination of the ubiquity, origins, and consequences of using facial appearance to judge psychological attributes. Attention will be given to associations between facial appearance and character in literature and the arts, and to biological, social, and psychological analyses of these associations.

Ms. Zebrowitz

USEM 52a Race and Representation

Enrollment limited to 17.

As readers of literature and as viewers of film, do we have shared assumptions about the racial and ethnic identities encoded in the texts we receive? How do we learn to "read" categories such as "white," "ethnic," or "mixed," and how is this related to our status as citizens? In this course we will review narrative and cinematic strategies in 19th- and 20th-century texts, paying close attention to issues of assimilation and marginality, racialized constructions of gender, and the politics of interpretation.

Ms. Smith

USEM 53b Conflict and Concord in Near Eastern Myth

Enrollment limited to 17.

The course explores the themes of chaos and order, war and peace, sickness and wholeness, and death and life in various myths and related texts from ancient Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Syria, Egypt, and Israel.

Mr. Wright

USEM 54a Ideas of Equality, Systems of Inequality

Enrollment limited to 17.

This seminar examines classic and contemporary accounts of equality and inequality in Western and non-Western societies. We first read influential philosophical texts on equality and inequality, and then confront these speculative accounts with empirical evidence from the ancient Near East and from so-called "egalitarian" societies. We locate the origins of an ideology of individual equality in the Western tradition and examine ways that obvious evidence of social inequality is rationalized in contemporary America.

Mr. Parmentier

USEM 55b Music as Text

Enrollment limited to 17.

Is music a kind of text? We explore ways in which classical music conveys meaning by considering compositions based on other works of art (for example, an autobiography, novel, or painting). We consider the potential of music to narrate a story and investigate ways in which film uses classical music to help tell a story.

Ms. Owens

USEM 56a Utopia in Theory and Practice

Enrollment limited to 17.

An exploration of utopian societies as presented in the classical literature, in modern utopian and anti-utopian fiction, and in accounts of experimental utopian communities of the United States and Canada. The Israeli kibbutz will be examined as a functioning socialistic production and consumption unit.

Mr. Schwalberg

USEM 57a Motherhood and Fatherhood

Enrollment limited to 17.

By considering the images of mother and father in various kinds of literature from the Bible to modern European, Middle Eastern, African, and American writings, participants in this course will examine how the roles of mothers and fathers may be understood.

Ms. HarPaz

USEM 58a Politics, Principles, and Passions

Enrollment limited to 17.

We will read a set of major works of the Western canon that address conflicts between peoples and that wrestle with questions of what legitimates power. Throughout we will be concerned with questions of what constitutes consent to being governed, of what kinds of principles inspire and survive struggles to govern, and of how passions have been seen to inspire and to threaten the human desire to live in peace in an ordered society.

Ms. Staves

USEM 59a Majorities and Minorities

Enrollment limited to 17.

This course explores how political philosophers and practitioners from ancient Greece to the contemporary era have dealt with the problem of reconciling the rights of individuals, majority groups, and minorities in democratic political systems.

Mr. Burg

USEM 60b Art and the Bible

Enrollment limited to 17.

From prohibition to inspiration, the Bible has had a profound influence on the development of art. This course explores the rich and complex relationship between sacred text and image in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic art from antiquity to the present.

Mr. McClendon

USEM 61a Illness Narratives

Enrollment limited to 17.

How do people make sense of illness and caring for sick people through stories? Beginning with a historical overview of Western medicine, we analyze illness narratives as a coping device and a means to restore oneís biography. The different viewpoints of health care providers and patients will be linked to the broader structural characteristics of the modern health care system.

Mr. Timmermans

USEM 62b How Science is Really Done

Enrollment limited to 17.

Science is seen by many as the "culture of our times," yet popular misconceptions about science abound. In this course we examine a variety of discoveries to learn how scientists actually go about their work and whether there exists, in fact, a "scientific method." We also discuss ways in which science as a creative activity is linked to pursuits in the humanities.

Ms. Cohen

USEM 63a The Work of Citizens

Enrollment limited to 17.

This course will examine the meanings of active citizenship as the foundation of democracy in America. It will examine classic texts, as well as speeches, documents, biblical inspiration, and "stories from the field" of contemporary civic action and democratic empowerment.

Mr. Sirianni

USEM 64a Human Rights in Modern Russia

Enrollment limited to 17.

The problem of human rights has been a central question in Russian intellectual life from the 18th century to the present. This course will examine how major figures in the intelligentsia have defined human rights and endeavored to change the existing order.

Mr. Freeze

USEM 65b Cultbooks and the Popular Imagination

Enrollment limited to 17.

In this seminar, we will read works (from Rousseau, Goethe, Byron, Nietzsche, Hesse, Buber, Camus, and Kerouac) that were considered "cult books." How did these texts come to assume nearly religious qualities for certain epochs, generations, or ethnic groups?

Mr. Dowden

USEM 66b Dreams

Enrollment limited to 17

Dreams are an important part of human experience. Students will examine the content and interpretation of dreams in various cultures from antiquity to the present and, in a multidisciplinary approach, consider some important dimensions of the dream phenomenon--prophetic, cultural, and psychological.

Ms. Bosch

USEM 67a Politics as Seen Through Fiction

Enrollment limited to 17.

How modern fiction helps us understand the dilemmas of politics, the tensions between ideas and actions, social change, leaders and followers, societies in transition and decay, revolution, law, bureaucracy, and ethnicity. We read Koestler, Twain, Sartre, Oz, Solzhenitsyn, Kafka, and Greene. Format will be a highly interactive seminar with several short writing assignments.

Mr. Levin

USEM 68b Female Textuality: Women's Lives and the Autobiography of Childhood

Enrollment limited to 17.

Women writers have examined their origins in a rich variety of childhood autobiographies. Using insights from recent studies of female psychological development, we will reflect on issues of autonomy, connectedness, and creativity in their texts and in our own lives.

Ms. Chester

USEM 69b Thinking with Socrates

Enrollment limited to 17.

We will read early Platonic dialogues on courage, friendship, sex, piety, art, and on whether virtue can be taught. We will then read later authors discussing the same topic, engaging the writings of these authors in Socratic cross-questioning of their views.

Ms. Rorty

USEM 70a Aliens! Foreigners! Immigrants!: Conflicts and Resolutions

Enrollment limited to 17.

What conflicts are experienced by immigrants and their children? Are these conflicts resolved? How does our society respond to the issues of immigrants? How are these conflicts reflected in the literature of our time and in the popular culture? Through selected texts and interviews with immigrants, we explore the conflicts of language and culture, of generational differences, and of economics. We also study the ways in which people and our society struggle with these conflicts and how they are portrayed by these texts.

Ms. Older

USEM 71b Social Behavior

Enrollment limited to 17.

Examines patterns of social behavior in different contexts. It will explore how verbal and nonverbal strategies are used to communicate and cooperate and also consider the impact of such factors as mental models, social organizations, and gender differences.

Ms. Mataric

USEM 72a Victorianism

Enrollment limited to 17.

Examines the myths and realities of a cultural concept in its 19th-century and more recent usage. We shall examine aspects of Victorian society and institutions; beliefs; science, thought, and education; literature, art, architecture, and music; and humor.

Mr. Black

USEM 73b Translation: Crossing Cultural Boundaries

Enrollment limited to 17.

What does translation have to do with sexuality? Race? Gender? Ethnicity? In asking these questions how do we understand the relationship to our ìnativeî language and culture as well as to those of other people? We examine translation in literature in order to explore cultural boundaries; to see how writers live on, cross over, and challenge the shifting borders of language and identity.

Mr. Larkosh

USEM 74b Population Size and Human Welfare

Enrollment limited to 17.

A debate on the relationship between human population size and human welfare has been in process since at least 1798. Food supply is a major component of welfare, and so we pay special attention to the production and distribution of food.

Mr. Hunt

USEM 75b Nature, Art, and Illusion

Enrollment limited to 17.

How the physical stimulus, its representation on the eye, and our phenomenal image of it are related has challenged philosophers, scientists, and artists. We will explore this problem historically and in laboratory experiments examining visual illusions in nature and art.

Mr. Morant

USEM 76a Law and the Search for Authority

Enrollment limited to 17.

Examines how societies seek to justify their basic legal rules. Readings drawn from political, historical, and philosophical works that search for ultimate legal principles in written constitutions, totalitarian authority, custom and tradition, or the fallible capacities of human reason.

Ms. Gaskins

USEM 77b The Senses: Experience and Expression

Enrollment limited to 17.

Sensory experience and its boundaries--our connection to the world--has long been a topic of controversy. Artists and naturalists struggle with the inadequacy of language in their efforts to communicate that experience. Readings, our own experience, and writing will continue the struggle.

Ms. White

USEM 78a Varieties of Religious Experiences in Modern Fictions

Enrollment limited to 17.

Dilemmas of religious belief in the modern world as reflected in novels and short stories. Themes include: the secularization of consciousness, personal salvation and messianic ideologies, art as a usurper of religion, the metaphysics of radical evil, religious authority, and personal autonomy.

Mr. Mintz

USEM 79b Midrash and the Religious Imagination

Enrollment limited to 17.

Interspersed with some brief introductions to the Midrashic process, the course will examine classical and modern Jewish readings of four moments in the Biblical narrative: Cain and Abel, the binding of Isaac, the wrestling of Jacob with the "angel," and Ruth and Naomi.

Mr. Green

USEM 80a Wisdom, Story, Ritual, and the Fate of the Earth

Enrollment limited to 17.

Explores the wisdom of the world religions through stories, rituals, and meditation. We examine how wisdom stories and science stories about the origin, nature, and destiny of life and the universe influence our lives and the fate of the Earth.

Mr. Stein

USEM 81a The Literature and Politics of Paranoia

Enrollment limited to 17.

Focuses on narratives of paranoia as a crucial characteristic of modern life. We consider a number of novels, plays, stories, and films in order to examine how paranoia cannot be separated from issues of gender, sexuality, race, nationality, and power.

Mr. Dyer

USEM 81b Witchcraft in Western and Non-Western Societies

Enrollment limited to 17.

Witchcraft is social reality for some persons, evocative metaphor for others, and developing or virtual reality for still others. This course explores all of those possibilities in selected Western and Non-Western societies.

Mr. Saler

USEM 82b War in World History

Enrollment limited to 17.

How has war affected the course of world history? How different does war look across the ages? How has technological innovation influenced the conduct of war and the evolution of societies? These are the broad questions we address.

Mr. Art

USEM 83a The Social History of the Detective Story

Enrollment limited to 17.

Traces the development of detective, emphasizing how changing ideas of justice and morality are reflected in the character of the detective and the evolution of the "hard-boiled" mystery story. Writers such as Poe, Doyle, Chesterton, Freeman, Post, Christie, Chandler, and Heyer will be studied.

Mr. Petsko

USEM 84b The American Immigrant

Enrollment limited to 17.

The story of America, from colonial days to our day, is the story of immigration. This seminar explores that story using letters, memoirs, fiction, and film. Through these sources, we accompany selected immigrants as they leave home, journey to a new land, secure a job, interact with a new culture, and clash with their Americanized children.

Mr. Sarna

USEM 86a What Happened to the American Dream(s)?

Enrollment limited to 17.

Explores complex goals and paradoxes of American aspirations through four centuries of literature and legal expression, including case law and film. From the "I" of autobiography to the "we" of oratory, it analyzes immigrant dreams, dreams of liberty, individualism, and personal success.

Ms. Davis

USEM 86b The Art of Seeing Things Invisible

Enrollment limited to 17.

Our world is largely a creation of visionís capacities. To learn what vision could tell us about ourselves and about other lifeforms, we explore a variety of perspectives on vision from psychology, art, biology, speculative fiction, comparative zoology, philosophy, and computer science.

Mr. Sekuler

USEM 87a Religious Conflict and Holy War

Enrollment limited to 17.

Beginning in Early Modern Europe, we examine the interactions of Catholics and Protestants, Jews and monarchs, and witches and inquisitors. We then turn our attention to the modern world and explore conflict in Ireland and the Middle East.

Ms. Bernstein

USEM 88a Islands

Enrollment limited to 17.

Islands are worlds unto themselves, capable of developing singular ecologies and singular ìforms of life,î yet vulnerable to invasion and swift destruction. We study the wealth and the fragility of islands, as mythical and as actual places.

Ms. Quinney

USEM 88b Community in America

Enrollment limited to 17.

Community is a building block of society, defining boundaries in cultural, social, and ethnic terms. We explore the meaning of community in America--that is, how this concept was understood and evolved in Native American villages, religious enclaves, frontier settlements, slave compounds, rural towns, and inner-city neighborhoods.

Mr. Navin

USEM 89b What Does It Mean to be Conscious?

Enrollment limited to 17.

What does it mean to be conscious? How is being conscious different from being intelligent? Could computers be conscious? Animals? We consider aspects of the theory of consciousness, based on traditional and contemporary philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience.

Mr. Jackendoff