French novelist Émile Zola famously conceived of the novel as a laboratory: a space to experiment with characters, treated as human subjects, and discover truths about humanity and society. This course takes seriously the idea that the novel constitutes a kind of laboratory that enables us to apprehend things about humankind that cannot be understood save through the experience of reading fiction. The novel allows us to know what we cannot know, to experience what we haven’t experienced, and in so doing, sheds light on parts of ourselves that we might otherwise want to leave hidden and unexamined: the inhumanity that is just as much a part of our humanity as the humane. Where the social sciences and hard sciences produce empirical data, the novel produces experience and holds open a space of possibility between the world as it is and the world as it might be. By reading a broad range of novels from the past century, you will hone your critical analytical and interpretative skills as a reader and come away with a better understanding of the (in)humanity behind the mass production, mass consumption, mass war, and mass death that led to the twentieth century shattering what humanity had been and making us what we are today.... Read more about Novel Thought: Being (In)Human (Gen Ed 1182)
Clearly, ideas about what language is and what it does shape scientific inquiry well beyond the discipline of linguistics. Language serves not only as a primary medium for formulating and communicating scientific ideas, but also, and very often, as a paradigm for generating these scientific ideas. Where do these ideas about language—whether they be intuitions, assumptions, popular beliefs, rumors, trends, or theoretical models—come from?... Read more about Language in Culture and Society (Gen Ed 1177)
Geniuses are said to possess it. Self-help books offer to teach it. Both the arts and the sciences celebrate it. It sits at the heart of some of our oldest myths and is the subject of up-to-the-minute neuroscientific research. Some say it comes in momentary flashes; others call it a way of life. Some identify it as the key to deep fulfillment; others claim that it entails intense suffering. Many agree that it sets us apart as a species—but does it? What is creativity?... Read more about Creativity (Gen Ed 1067)
The myths of ancient Greece and Rome embody both our worst nightmares and our most fabulous fantasies. Heroism, happy endings, and everlasting love blend with disturbing themes of parricide, cannibalism, incest, misogyny, and unthinkable violence. The resulting stories have fascinated generations of artists, writers, and thinkers, and this course will serve as an introduction to this distant but strangely familiar world. We will move from the very first works of Greek literature through the classic Greek tragedies and the Roman tales in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.... Read more about Classical Mythology: Myth in Antiquity and Today (Gen Ed 1110)
This course introduces major works, genres, and waves of East Asian cinema from the silent era to the present, including films from Mainland China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. We will discuss issues ranging from formal aesthetics to historical representation, from local film industries to transnational audience reception.... Read more about East Asian Cinema (Gen Ed 1049)
What is the nature of the object that has been the focus of your education since you began to read--and at the core of Western culture since its inception-- and why is it important to understand and appreciate its presence before your eyes even if it's all but transparent?
Mental health experts believe that globally, more than 1 billion people have a mental illness. And yet the biases and misperceptions surrounding mental illness, not to mention the dehumanization and abuse in many communities of individuals with a mental illness, remains acute. This course uses literature and the arts to help students learn about more about some of the prevalent biases/misperceptions/myths/stigmas against individuals with mental illness and how these biases can be (or in the past have been) ameliorated.... Read more about Mental Health and Mental Illness through Literature and the Arts (Gen Ed 1144)
"To thine own self be true,” runs the famous line in Hamlet. But which self? And why? And who’s judging? Does this injunction to be authentic even make sense today, when profiles proliferate online and surveillance is ubiquitous?... Read more about Act Natural (Gen Ed 1050)
Painting is an engagement between the self and the world. It is a practice of embodied making, and, as a language outside of words, can think around conditioned understanding. This introductory studio art course proposes learning to paint as a new experience of relating to the world, and through painting we will investigate not only what we have to say, but what we have to see.... Read more about Painting's Doubt: A Studio Course (Gen Ed 1114)
Why did Nazi sights, sounds, and propaganda prove to be so captivating and compelling for German audiences of a modern nation and how do we explain the continuing impact of Nazi images and fantasies to this very day, which is to ask, what do “they” have to do with “us”?
As thinking beings we consider the limits of human potential and wonder what is the worst. The Nazis obsess us because they were masters of extremity who brought to the world unprecedented violence, destruction, and murder. They were also masters of propaganda who engineered sophisticated techniques of mass manipulation; in this endeavor cinema and modern media assumed a seminal role.... Read more about The Art and Politics of Propaganda (Gen Ed 1012)