1999-2000 University Seminars in Humanistic Inquiries

1999-2000 Bulletin Entry for:

University Seminars in Humanistic Inquiries

(file last updated: [7/6/1999 - 13:21:41])


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.

Courses of Instruction

USEM 1b Jewish Literatures in Eastern Europe

Enrollment limited to 17.

The emergence of a modern literary consciousness was one of the results of the breakup of traditional Jewish society. We examine some of the leading Jewish writers in Eastern Europe who wrote in Hebrew, Yiddish, Polish, or Russian.

Mr. Polonsky

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 3b What is Color?

Enrollment limited to 17.

Color--visible color and color images--"colors" our whole experience. Neuroscience reveals how we see color; psychology--how we perceive color; art history -- how color is used to express art; literature and music--how color imagery may describe them; and linguistics--how a language characterizes its culture through its description of color.

Mr. Henchman

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 7a The Twentieth-Century Political Novel

Enrollment limited to 17.

Novelists have illumined the ethical complexity and the ideological pressures entangled in political choices. Such texts can also be read as showing how political acts are heightened versions of the tragic limitations embedded in social experience.

Mr. Whitfield

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 8b Ancient Lives

(Formerly USEM 9b)

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 9a The Wandering Hero in Ancient Literature

Enrollment limited to 17.

Focuses on the Epic of Gilgamesh. We examine such issues as: friendship, social responsibility, the meaning of life, mortality and immortality, the difference between the human and divine. We also read texts from Mesopotamia, Greece, Israel, and Canaan which intersect literally and thematically with the epic such as: The Odyssey, Genesis, Aqhat, Ecclesiastes, and selected Sumerian narratives.

Mr. Abusch

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 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 16b Science and Western Culture

Enrollment limited to 17.

The development of science since the 16th century has had a significant influence on Western culture, and Western culture has had a crucial influence on the development of science. We analyze these influences from both perspectives.

Mr. Pendleton

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 19b Why Homer?

Enrollment limited to 17.

Why read Homer, the Bible, or Shakespeare? What use do contemporary authors and filmmakers make of them? Texts include poetry, fiction, drama, musicals, and contemporary text to engage in dialogue.

Ms. Klein

USEM 20a How Do You Know What You 'Know'?

Enrollment limited to 17.

I am fascinated by what we "know," but more so by how we know it to be true. We begin with the controversy of creation science versus evolution, two competing "truths." 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 "truths" and to use the courts to force the issue. We end with what "truth" 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 Greeks Bearing Gifts

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 26a Property in the Information Age

Enrollment limited to 17.

We examine the history and future of such concepts as copyrights, copylefts, patents, licensing, public domain, fair-use, interfaces, caching, framing, work-for-hire, joint tenancy, digital cash, software freedom, upgrades, warez, electronic read-once books and DIVX movies, in a collective effort to understand what, exactly, is the information age doing to the core human idea of property.

Mr. Pollack

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 29a The Jewish Family: Past and Present

Enrollment limited to 17.

Examines the transformation of the Jewish family in four different settings (Europe, America, North Africa, and the Middle East) from medieval to modern times, focusing primarily on the internal dynamics of family life and interaction with majority cultures.

Ms. Freeze

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.

Examines the relation between Islam and society in the Modern Middle East through reading and discussion of the writings of prominent Muslim thinkers and leaders. We focus on Islam's reaction to modernity and on some social, economic, and political issues facing Islamic societies in our times.

Messrs. Levy or 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 homefront 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 rewritten artistically and reinterpreted 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 34b Agrarian Ideal and Rural Reality in America

Enrollment limited to 17.

Once, the American farmer embodied economic and political independence. A pastoral impulse persists among urban people. However, for the last two centuries economic competition and suburban sprawl have undercut country life. Are healthy family farms and attractive rural landscapes mythical, doomed, or an enduring American dream.

Mr. Donahue

USEM 35a Don't Get Mad, Get Even: The Ethic and Aesthetic of Revenge

Enrollment limited to 17.

From the Oresteia of Aeschylus to Stephen Sondheim's 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 36b Drama and Social Issues

Enrollment limited to 17.

What are the values and purposes of drama? We explore what drama can tell us about violence and sexuality, about political relationships, and about ourselves, through plays by writers from Sophocles to Calderón to Dorfman.

Ms. Fox

USEM 37a Myth and Prejudice: Social Attitudes about Language

Enrollment limited to 17.

As Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle knew well, the minute we speak, we are judged and categorized as to our social class, competence, and even intelligence. We examine the sources of some prevalent beliefs about language and ask whether the value judgments that many of us make on the basis of those beliefs stem from valid assumptions about language or from destructive myths that perpetuate prejudice.

Ms. Maling

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 The Future of the Book

Enrollment limited to 17.

Is there a future for the book? Will the Internet destroy printing as we know it? Popular wisdom now claims that linear narrative is yielding to hypertext, and that books will give way to comic-book screenshots and virtual picto-novellas. This seminar suggests otherwise. We study the history of the book and the social and linguistic transformations accompanying print in society. We trace these revolutions, giving the student a greater understanding of how digital technologies create possibilities and the social and cultural consequences.

Mr. Pustejovsky

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.

Messrs. Fraden or 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 46b Cities and Cyberspace

Enrollment limited to 17.

How are cities and cyberspace related? How do anonymity and transiency, characteristics common to both, shape social identity and social relationships? These questions are addressed in an exploration of urbanism and the worlds of computer-mediated communication.

Mr. Jacobson

USEM 47b Growing Up and Growing Old: Concepts of Masculinity and the Adult Life Cycle

Enrollment limited to 17.

Using Erik Erikson's theory of the life cycle, we explore the difficult transitions in adult life and the various roles men play as they mature from adolescence into adulthood and old age. Topics include the creation of the autonomous self; the search for a vocation and success; the patterns of romance, intimacy, and parenthood; the mid-life crisis; old age; and the confrontation with death.

Mr. Holmberg

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, Euripides, Matthew, Shakespeare, Racine, Stendhal, Flaubert, Ibsen, and Thomas Mann.

Mr. Binion

USEM 50b Humor

Enrollment limited to 17.

Often thought of as light reading, humor can also be great literature. In this course we read and discuss humorous works by writers such as Aristophanes, Shakespeare, Molière, and Mark Twain, among 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 57b Tomorrow is Another Africa

Enrollment limited to 17.

Humankind itself was born on the giant continent of Africa. Gloriously varied in background and environment, Africans face difficult challenges. Poverty persists. AIDS spreads. Many institutions are in disarray, the legacy of the slave trade, colonial rule, and of being the last to be incorporated in the world's systems of markets and states. We explore these challenges as Africans build for tomorrow.

Ms. Morgenthau

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 58b Animal Kingdoms

Enrollment limited to 17.

The term "animal kingdom" suggests an analogy between the human and animal worlds. We explore the meaning and significance of the analogy--aesthetically and ideologically--in a wide variety of cultural activities and artifacts. We focus on both "high" and "popular" culture.

Mr. Morrison

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 one's 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 61b Stigmatized Identities

Enrollment limited to 17.

Society creates stigmas which can stain one's reputation. We examine sources and forms of stigmatization and managing stigmatized identities, focusing on deviance, disabilities, and the Hollywood "blacklist." We investigate stigma through text, film, and firsthand interviews.

Mr. Conrad

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 64b Madness in Western Civilization

Enrollment limited to 17.

Explores the meaning of "madness" in Western civilization--how its definition changed over time, how societies have sought to address the problems it raises, and how it has been reflected in literature, art, and law.

Mr. Freeze

USEM 65a Eros and Marriage

Enrollment limited to 17.

Examines the way love and marriage are reflected in art especially in plays, novels, films, opera, essays, and poetry. Is marriage itself a work of art, unique and original or is it a conventional contract? Does marriage confine the self and make it socially useful or does it release new creative energy? What are the consequences for those who flout conventional sexual arrangements? These and other questions are explored through selected works.

Mr. Dowden

USEM 66b Where is Utopia?

Enrollment limited to 17.

Major writings on utopia and space--from Plato to Robinson Crusoe and Edward Abbey. Issues include urban planning, sacred spaces, colonies, housework, the unconscious, and the environment. Some study of active contemporary utopian communities.

Ms. Irr

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 67b Political Biography

Enrollment limited to 17.

Examines political leadership as seen through works of biography, autobiography, and biographical fiction. Uses political biography as a source of political ideas and pictures of political and social life.

Mr. Levin

USEM 68a Heaven, Hell, and the Space in Between

Enrollment limited to 17.

Western art and literature has long used heavens and hells in a variety of ways: as symbols for theological beliefs, as expressions of metaphysical truths, as depictions for the individual's psychological ecstasies and agonies, and as allegory for social and political commentary. Spanning antiquity to the present, we examine such heavens and hells as they are viewed from the "space in between," in literature, art, and music.

Mr. Swensen

USEM 69b Walking on the Dark Side: Vice, Evil, and Nasty Emotions

Enrollment limited to 17.

Using films as well as philosophical, political, psychological, and literary works, we examine the tangled history of conceptions of greed, envy, anger, hatred, and sloth. Do they serve any useful function. We explore these questions using texts and art work from across the ages.

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 Right and Society

Enrollment limited to 17.

Explores theories of the best society, the nature of public and private obligation, the authority of law, and the nature of justice. Focuses on a handful of key texts from the classical and modern periods and examines their different visions of the nature of public duty and public life and their different theories of the role of political life in human destiny.

Mr. Burt

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 73a Thinking About Infinity

Enrollment limited to 17.

Explores the attempts of the finite human mind to think about infinity. Readings in mathematics, history of science, philosophy, literature, and art, including Euclid, Plato, Cantor, Poincare, Einstein, Pascal, Kant, Hegel, Wordsworth, Shelley, Joyce, Beckett, Leonardo, Michaelangelo, and Raphael.

Mr. Flesch

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.

Mr. Gaskins

USEM 77b Nature and Your Place in It

Enrollment limited to 17.

Where do humans stand in relation to nature? Does our environment shape or even determine us physically, culturally, or psychologically? Or is nature merely the helpless victim of our depredations? We look at how our ancestors have answered these questions.

Mr. Hellyer

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 81a Choice and Compulsion

Enrollment limited to 17.

Are "voluntary actions" truly voluntary? Many thoughtful people have doubted it and scientific developments of the last half century bolster these doubts. We consider deterministic accounts of human behavior, their implications, and reactions to them.

Ms. Herzfeld

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 85b Breaking the Rules: Deviance and Non-Conformity in Pre-Modern Europe

Enrollment limited to 17.

Explores the ways in which 'deviant' behavior was defined and punished by some, but also justified and even celebrated by others in pre-modern Europe. Topics include vagrancy, popular uprisings, witchcraft, religious heresy, and the status of women.

Mr. Sreenivasan

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 vision's 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 87b Time

Enrollment limited to 17.

The approach of a new millennium often causes us to reflect upon our understanding of "time." Through readings of ancient and contemporary literary and non-literary texts we explore the ways in which humans develop, express, research, and project their concepts of "time."

Ms. von Mering

USEM 88a Islands

Enrollment limited to 17.

Islands are worlds unto themselves, capable of developing singular ecologies and singular "forms of life," 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 89a Modern Ideas and Modern Identities: America in the 1920s

Enrollment limited to 17.

Present debates about ethnic and gender identity are only the latest in a long argument about the relationship of individuals to their pasts. We examine some notions of identity in American social thought and fiction of the 1920s.

Mr. Engerman

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