Students Enthuse Over Anticipated Highlights of Spring Semester

When we walked through the Smith Union recently, asking students about what they’re looking forward to this semester, many spoke about eagerly anticipated classes.

Here is more information from the spring course catalog about the classes the students mentioned:

AFRS 2605: The Harlem Renaissance, with Elizabeth Muther, associate professor of English
Focuses on the African American literary and cultural call-to-arms of the 1920s. Modernist resistance languages; alliances and betrayals on the left; gender, sexuality, and cultural images; activism and literary journalism; and music and visual culture are of special interest.

AFRS 3015: James Baldwin, with Guy Mark Foster, associate professor of English
Examines the major postwar writings of the controversial African American author and the role his fiction and nonfiction played in challenging that era’s static understandings of racial, gender, and sexual politics. Although Baldwin lived abroad for much of his life, many critics associate the author narrowly with the United States black civil rights and sexual liberation struggles. In recent years, however, Baldwin has increasingly been recognized as a transnational figure and for his invaluable contributions to the discourse of globalization. Indeed, Baldwin’s “geographical imagination,” one informed by critical racial literacy, led him to anticipate many of the central insights of contemporary Queer Studies, Whiteness Studies, as well as Africana philosophical thought.

HIST 2081: History of the Holocaust, with Susan Tananbaum, professor of history
An analysis of the persistence of anti-Jewish attitudes through history, with a special emphasis on the Hitler regime’s attempt to destroy European Jews and their culture. Begins with a brief overview of the Greco-Roman world and Medieval Europe, and concludes with an examination of the cultural phenomenon of antisemitism. Draws on primary texts, scholarly analysis, and films. Students have the opportunity to develop individual research projects. Note: This course is part of the following field(s) of study: Europe.

HIST 2580: The German Experience, 1918-1945, with Page Herrlinger, associate professor of history
An in-depth inquiry into the troubled course of German history during the Weimar and Nazi periods. Among the topics explored are the impact of the Great War on culture and society in the 1920s; the rise of National Socialism; the role of race, class, and gender in the transformation of everyday life under Hitler; forms of persecution, collaboration, and resistance during the third Reich; Nazi war aims and the experience of war on the front and at “home,” including the Holocaust. This course is part of the following field(s) of study: Europe.

SOC 2228: Sociology of Disability, with Kimberly Underwood, visiting assistant professor of sociology
Applies a sociological lens to understand how dis/ability is produced within the structure of society. Examines ways that social institutions intersect with dis/ability to create privilege and marginalization. A main focus entails how experience with dis/ability intersects with race, class, gender, sexuality, and culture/religion. Also explores the historical and political foundations of the fight for equal rights of dis/abled people.

GOV 2480: Comparative Constitutional Law, with George Isaacson
A comparative examination of constitutional principles and constitutional processes in democratic and non-democratic countries. Explores the roles that constitutions play in shaping civil society and defining the relationship between governments and the people they govern. Compares American constitutional law with that of other nations to scrutinize alternative models of governance, and to gain new perspectives regarding the legal foundations for the protection of individual rights. Special attention given to the constitutions of Canada, India, Germany, South Africa, Israel, and the People’s Republic of China, along with that of the United States. Structural issues include consideration of executive-legislative separation of powers, constitutional courts, federalism, and church-state relations. Discusses arguments in favor of and against a written Bill of Rights, as well as such specific issues as emergency powers, political dissent, hate speech, religious belief, reproductive choice, racial and gender discrimination, public welfare, privacy, and police investigative authority.

ANTH 2375: Law, Culture, and Society, with Simon May, visiting assistant professor of anthropology
Examines law from an anthropological, cross-cultural perspective. Analyzes law as a set of institutions and practices that are shaped by the cultures in which they are situated. Readings include classic ethnographies of non-Western legal traditions, as well as contemporary works on legal and social theory. Class discussions explore the ways in which legal systems reveal the cultural assumptions and values upon which they are founded. Consideration of comparative perspectives across both time and space, and to the application of legal anthropology to issues of social justice.

GOV 2002: Judicial Politics, with Maron Sorenson, assistant professor of government
Introduces students to the study of judicial politics and judicial decision-making. Approaches large topics including how the nomination and confirmation process impact the federal courts; if elected politicians and unelected actors alter the court’s decision-making; factors the court considers when choosing which cases to hear; and actions the Supreme Court takes to ensure the public and lower courts comply with its rulings. Students explore different stages of the legal system (i.e. agenda-setting, decision-making, etc.) and assess their relative importance. Imparts the ability to define and apply social scientific theories to judicial decision-making and to the legal process as a whole.

BIOL 1066: The Molecules of Life, with Bruce Kohorn, Linnean Professor of Biology and Biochemistry
An exploration of the basic molecules of life. Starting with DNA we will explore how cells use and pass on this stored information to produce a variety of products used to form cells and organisms. This basic science will be related to every-day examples of biology, health, agriculture, and social issues arising from these applications; genetic modification for health and food production, drug and vaccine development, C02 and our warming the planet. Hands-on experience with DNA, protein, lipids and complex carbohydrates will be included in the regular class meeting time. The class will be a combination of lecture, discussion and exploration in a lab setting and outdoors.

PHIL 2112: Modern Philosophy, with Jonathan Virtanen, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in Philosophy
A survey of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European philosophy, focusing on discussions of the ultimate nature of reality and our knowledge of it. Topics include the nature of the mind and its relation to the body, the existence of God, and the free will problem. Readings from Descartes, Hume, Locke, Kant, and others.

PHIL 2425: Philosophy of Science, with Scott Sehon, professor of philosophy
Science is often thought of as the paradigm of rational inquiry, as a method that gives us an unparalleled ability to understand the nature of the world. Others have doubted this rosy picture, and have emphasized historical and sociological aspects of the practice of science. Investigates the nature of science and scientific thought by looking at a variety of topics, including the demarcation of science and non-science, relativism and objectivity, logical empiricism, scientific revolutions, and scientific realism.

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