Interdisciplinary Honors Seminars

Spring 2008 Interdisciplinary Honors Seminars

 



Parents and Children in Verdian Operam
01:090:270 Index #72921
Professor Rudy Bell, Department of History
W 6:10-9:00P  Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Avenue Campus

Giuseppe Verdi, perhaps uniquely among operatic composers, returned again and again to the theme of parent/child conflict, especially in father/daughter relationships, for his dramatic plots. Why he did so, and why audiences ever since have found the theme so appealing, is the subject of this seminar. We may not reach a conclusion but the exploration should be interesting.

We will focus on seven operas where father/daughter issues loom large: Nabucco (1842), Rigoletto (1851), La Traviata (1853), Simon Boccanegra (1857), La Forza del Destino (1862), Don Carlo (1867), and Aida (1871). Paired with each of these operas, we will explore the father/daughter theme in related texts and venues. For example, Nabucco will trigger us to look at Lot and his daughters, Rigoletto at chastity texts, Simon Boccanegra at historical documents, La Traviata at fathers-in-law, La Forza del Destino at Electra, Don Carlo at Freud, and Aida at race and class issues.

Students who speak Italian or who have a background in musicology, psychology, or history are welcome BUT these talents are not required. Good armchair listeners who love the opera or want to give it a serious try are welcome in the seminar. The course will include attending live performances of La Traviata at New York’s Metropolitan Opera (Violetta will be Ruth Ann Swenson’s last role at the Met) and a semi-staged fully-costumed version of Rigoletto at the State Theatre in New Brunswick with a pre-performance Insight session – both tickets compliments of the Honors Program!

Each student will write two “program notes” (5-7pp.) relating the father/daughter theme in an opera to a counterpart in the other texts we will study. There will be a final take-home exam on the overall theme, with a focus on the large question of why father/daughter conflict fascinated Verdi and the opera goers who flocked to his see and hear his works.

RUDOLPH BELL has taught at Rutgers since 1968, including undergraduate honors seminars over the years on anorexic saints, popular advice manuals, and childrearing in history. He is the author of scholarly books related to these teaching endeavors, including Holy Anorexia and How to do It: Guides to Good Living for Renaissance Italians. He has two daughters and three granddaughters, with all of whom he thinks he has good rapport.

 

 

Molecular View of Human Anatomy
01:090:271 Index #72922
Professor Helen Berman, Department of Chemistry
T 05:00-08:00P  Doolittle Annex Rm 122
Busch Campus

What do proteins, DNA, and other biological molecules look like? How do they work? Where do these molecules fit in your body? This seminar will introduce you to the basics of structural biology using human anatomy, physiology, and disease as themes.

In the first half of this seminar, we will learn the fundamentals of structural biology – how proteins and DNA are shaped and how these structures are determined by scientists.  Through the second half of the seminar, students will conduct researchl on molecules archived in the Protein Data Bank (PDB), and review literature in order to understand how these molecules are involved in the workings of the human body.

Students will learn to critically read articles, in scientific journals and in lay press. This seminar will also provide an opportunity for students to interactively use computers for self-publishing.

This seminar has no pre-requisites; non-science majors are encouraged to enroll. The main aim of the seminar is to encourage research-based learning in students and to stimulate interest in structural biology.

HELEN BERMAN is a Board of Governors Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers University.  Her research area is structural biology and bioinformatics, with a special focus on protein-nucleic acid interactions.  She is the founder of the Nucleic Acid Database, a repository of information about the structures of nucleic acid-containing molecules; and is the co-founder and Director of the Protein Data Bank, the international repository of the structures of biological macromolecules.  She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Biophysical Society, from which she received the Distinguished Service Award in 2000.  A past president of the American Crystallographic Association, she is a recipient of the Buerger Award (2006).  Dr. Berman received her A.B. in 1964 from Barnard College and a Ph.D. in 1967 from the University of Pittsburgh.

 

 

Ancient Greek and Hindu Philosophical Thought: Comparative Perspectives
01:090:272 Index #72923
Professor Edwin Bryant, Department of Religion and Dean Julio Nazario, SAS Honors Program
W 10:55A-01:55P  Voorhees Chapel 005
Douglass Campus

This seminar will consist of a sampling of some of the most important philosophical writings from classical Indian and Greek sources.  The material from the Indian side will include extracts from the Upanisads, the ancient mystico-philosophical texts of the Hindus, as well as the later Vedanta tradition which stems from it.  Both texts deal with the nature of the world, the soul, reincarnation and the ultimate Truth which is thought to underpin them.  We will read part of the Yoga Sutras, the classical treatise on meditation, as well as the Bhagavad Gita, perhaps the best known Hindu text, which features devotion to God and speaks to how the liberated soul should act in the world.  Readings from Greek philosophy will include the pre-Socratic philosophers, such as Parmenides, Zeno, and Heraclitus, who deal with the nature of the world, knowledge, and the soul.  Additionally, we will read Plato's Republic with an emphasis on Book Ten, which touches on reincarnation and the immortality of the soul; Aristotle's De Anima, which deals with the nature of the soul; and selections from Plotinus, the neo-Platonic “mystic.”  Students will be exposed to some of the most influential philosophical writings of the ancient world, East and West.

Requirements: TBA

EDWIN BRYANT received his Ph.D in Indic languages and Cultures from Columbia University. He taught Hinduism at Harvard University for three years, and is presently the professor of Hinduism at Rutgers University.  He teaches courses on Hindu philosophy and religion. He has received numerous awards and fellowships, published six books and authored a number of articles on Vedic history, yoga, and the Krishna tradition. In addition to his academic work for the scholarly community, Professor Bryant’s Penguin World Classics translation of the Srimad Bhagavata Purana, the traditional source for the story of Krishna's incarnation, is widely read by Indology specialists as well as by students and those interested in Hinduism from the general reading public and the yoga community.

JULIO NAZARIO coordinates outreach and co-curricular programs for the SAS Honors Program.  He is also an amateur philosopher (he has read widely in the field and earned his B.A. in Philosophy from Queens College, CUNY) and is famous on campus for being the only dean with the distinction of having an MFA (from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers).  He exhibits his photography all over the country.  He also served in Vietnam, and says that art can be socially therapeutic, because it makes us really look at the world, and teaches us something important about being human.

 

Philosophy and Cosmology, Ancient and Modern
01:090:273 Index #72924
Professor Alan Code, Department of Philosophy
W 02:15-05:15P  Voorhees Chapel 005
Douglass Campus

This is a course on the concept of potentiality and its place in nature.  Living things exhibit all sorts of potentialities.   The acorn is potentially an oak, the egg is potentially a chicken, and the tadpole potentially a frog.  These are examples from familiar parts of the world we inhabit.  However, we sometimes wonder whether other parts of the universe have the potential for life, and when we push this question back through time we consider such things as what it is for stars to have a potentiality for producing elementary atoms.  How far can the search for potentiality go?  What are the ultimate origins of all of these potentialities?

In this course we will approach these questions through an examination of cosmology in both an ancient and a modern setting.  On the ancient side we will examine the general principles and assumptions discussed in Plato and Aristotle concerning the basic structure of the physical universe and its physical elements. For Plato and Aristotle, the basic structure of space and time is due to the potentialities of substantial bodies, and the activity of a divine agent.  On the modern side we will consider recent developments in astrophysics in an attempt to see how they are related to the ideas that shaped the early cosmological debates in antiquity.  Particular emphasis will be given to questions about the overall size of the world, in both space and time, and about whether and how there can be boundary conditions for the entire universe.  What is a ‘baby universe’ and how does it develop over time from its earlier conditions?

Rather than studying the ideas in chronological order, we will start with Stephen Hawking’s recent book, A Briefer History of Time, to see one view as to how modern cosmology deals with these issues.  Among other topics, we will consider such things as how cosmic microwave radiation provides empirical evidence for the claim that we live in an expanding universe that originates from a hot Big Bang, as well as problems involved in providing a quantum theory of gravity that applies to the early universe during the so-called ‘Planck era’.  It is during this extremely short period of time that Einstein’s theory of general relativity breaks down. 

We will then use this vantage point of modern developments in cosmology to explore some of the main ideas about the nature and origin of the universe that were developed in classical antiquity.  We will attempt to understand the ways in which the contemporary developments share common ground and the ways in which the have rejected earlier assumptions.  This perspective can enhance our understanding and appreciation of the character of the contemporary scientific achievements and some of they ways they impact on traditional philosophical questions about the nature of the world.

Reading List:
Aristotle,  On the Heavens and The Physics
Plato, Timaeus
Richard Feynman, The Character of Physical Law
Stephen Hawking, A Briefer History of Time

Students will be required to write a term paper based on ongoing research and seminar discussion.

ALAN CODE (BA Wisconsin 1972; PhD Wisconsin 1976) is a Professor in the Department of Philosophy.  He specializes in ancient Greek philosophy, with an emphasis on Aristotle. His works include the following forthcoming publications:  The Philosophy of Aristotle (Oxford 2008), Collected Papers on Aristotle’s Metaphysics and Logic (Princeton 2008).

 

Wonderful Life: Genes & Evolution
01:090:274 Index #72925
Professor Frank Deis, Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
MW 01:40-03:00P  ARC Room 105
Busch Campus

Life appears to have originated on Earth nearly 4.5 billion years ago when the oceans boiled and the atmosphere had no oxygen.  The changing conditions on our planet have defined the parameters within which life has existed.  An increase in the amount of oxygen in the air from 2.5 billion to 500 million years ago eventually permitted “modern” animals to exist.  Massive extinctions (especially at the end of the Permian Period) have narrowed the spectrum of species on the planet.

One theme of the seminar will be the origin of life, early evolution, implications for life in extreme environments, and possible life on Mars.  Students with an appreciation of chemistry will perhaps better understand the concepts in this part of the seminar than those without, but the readings are intended to be non-technical.

A second theme of the seminar is that science, as a human endeavor, is full of disagreements and political axes to grind.  One of the most controversial areas of evolutionary science is the connection between genes and behavior.  We will try to illuminate this controversy through class readings and discussions.

The reading materials throughout the seminar will be enhanced and complemented by materials in other media, especially video and film.  Books by Stephen Jay Gould and other writers on evolution and paleontology will be assigned.  Dr. Deis will also bring in appropriate fossils, shells, and minerals from his collection.

Periodic papers will be assigned.  The factual content of the course will also require and occasional short quiz.  Attendance and active class participation contribute to each student’s grade.

DR. FRANK DEIS studied Chemistry at Rice University and the University of Virginia, and Medicinal Chemistry at the Medical College of Virginia.  He has taught Biochemistry at Rutgers since 1977, and is author of Companion to Biochemistry (W.H. Freeman 2006).

 

The Mind of the Young Child
01:090:275 Index #73199
Professor Rochel Gelman, Department of Psychology
F 10:20A-01:20P  Psy A139
Busch Campus

There is a seachange regarding what researchers and citizens assume about the cognitive and language abilities of young children.  One of the goals of this seminar is to have students learn about the research and theory that challenges traditional theories, for example, Piaget’s.  The coverage would be related to earlier views of the young child, including examples of paintings.

Another goal is to relate the findings to the various writings in the press about what young children can and cannot do. In a related way, it would be interesting to take trips to toy stores to see how the research has made its way into the economy of child rearing.

Requirements: TBA

ROCHEL GELMAN is Professor of Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science (RuCCS) and Psychology and a Co-Director of RuCCS.  Dr. Gelman’s research brings together longtime interest in learning and developmental cognitive science, including: the theory of concepts; domain-relevant concept learning and conceptual change; causal principles and their relation to perceptual information about the animate-inanimate distinction; verbal and non-verbal representations and re-representations of arithmetic; representational tools; the acquisition of math and science literacy.  Studies ongoing in her lab include: adult’s nonverbal knowledge of quantity and number; preschool children’s knowledge about the deep differences between separably moveable animate and inanimate objects; an in-class preschool science learning curriculum; and adult innumeracy/numeracy and its relation to decision making.  Dr. Gelman is the recipient of many honors, including membership in the National Academy of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Science, and awards for her scientific and mentoring successes.

 

 

Science, Technology, and Society
01:090:276 Index #73200
Professor Michael Geselowitz, IEEE History Center
MTH 0810-09:30A  Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Ave Campus

Science and technology are the human activities that perhaps most define the modern world.  Certainly many of the greatest challenges to 21st century society—global warming, weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, the spread of exotic disease, information privacy—have a strong basis in science and technology, what might be called technoscience.  Many social scientists have labored to understand the relationship of science and technology to each other and to the rest of human society, and yet other scholars have ignored them, and the social scientific study of technoscience has struggled to emerge as a discipline. 

This seminar introduces SAS honors students to the range of approaches and issues involved in the study of science, technology, and society.  Topics include:  the history of the study of science and technology; science and technology as social systems; the relationship of science and technology to each other and to other aspects of society; disciplinary approaches to science and technology; and the culture and politics of scientific and technological decisions.  Readings will include primary studies from a variety of different social science disciplines as material self identifying

Course requirements will include weekly written assignments based on the readings, quizzes, a final term paper, and thoughtful and informed class participation.

MICHAEL N. GESELOWITZ is Director of the IEEE History Center at Rutgers University, and a co-adjutant professor of history of technology and of science, technology, and society. He is affiliated with the Rutgers-New Brunswick History Department and Director of the Rutgers-New Brunswick School of Arts and Sciences extradepartmental, interdisciplinary (minor) Program in Science, Technology and Society.  Dr. Geselowitz holds S.B. degrees in electrical engineering and in anthropology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in anthropology from Harvard University. His research focus has been on the history and social relations of technology. Dr. Geselowitz has worked as an electronics engineer for the Department of Defense, and he has held teaching and research positions relating to the social study of technology at M.I.T., Harvard, and Yale University, including a stint as Assistant Collections Manager/Curator at Harvard's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.  Immediately prior to coming to Rutgers in 1997, Dr. Geselowitz was Group Manager at Eric Marder Associates, a New York market research firm, where he supervised Ph.D. scientists and social scientists undertaking market analyses for Fortune 500 high-tech companies. He is also a registered Patent Agent.

 

 

Cold War Culture
01:090:277 Index #73201
Professor David Greenberg, Department of Journalism and Media Studies
M 01:10-04:10P  Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Ave Campus

The years just after World War II helped define American politics and culture in the half century that followed. The course examines the Cold War that emerged, the politics of the era, and the culture that it
created. In the political realm, the topics that the seminar explores include the origins of the Cold War, the Red Scare, domestic politics, espionage, and the civil rights movement. Social issues examined include
the conformity of the era, the new material abundance, and feminism. We will also look at examples of the era’s culture, including beat literature, film noir, Cold War journalism, abstract expressionist art,
early television, and rock music. By looking at the period from so many different angles, the seminar seeks to show the interconnectedness of politics, ideas, and culture; to complicate today’s clichés about the period; to locate the origins of patterns that persist in our own time; and to appreciate the differences of this era from our own.

Students will be assigned weekly readings and participation in discussion is mandatory every week.  Students will be required to submit one short paper and one long paper.

DAVID GREENBERG is assistant professor in the departments of Journalism & Media Studies and History.  His specialty is U.S. political history.  He earned his BA from Yale University (summa cum laude, 1990) and his PhD from Columbia University (2001) and has taught at Rutgers since 2004. His books include Nixon's Shadow: The History of an Image and Presidential Doodles. Before entering academia, he was managing editor and acting editor of The New Republic and he still writes for publications such as The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and Slate.

 

 

How to Do Things with Stories: Narratives in Everyday Conversation
01:090:279 Index #73203
Professor Jenny Mandelbaum, Department of Communication
W 01:10-04:10P  Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Ave Campus

Whether they are stories our families tell, stories from books, from the media, or the internet, the influence of narratives on our lives is pervasive and widely acknowledged.  We have come to see narrative as central to such processes as the transmission of culture, the organization of social knowledge, and the structure of experience.  Telling stories has been the object of extensive academic study in numerous disciplines, but ultimately it is generally viewed as a “monologic” literary phenomenon – something produced by an active storyteller for a passive audience.  This seminar proposes to study stories as “dialogic” social objects, dynamically and interactively constructed in communication by teller and recipient(s) working together.  This will bring students a new understanding of narrative in general, as well as insights into how and why particular stories get told.

We will examine classic and modern theories of narrative from a variety of disciplines (e.g., literary theory, anthropology, folklore, sociology, linguistics, psychology, communication), and then re-conceptualize storytelling outside of a literary frame, as a dialogic, interactive activity through which experiences are shared as a way of undertaking other social activities (such as warning, complaining, joking, explaining, reminiscing, advising, educating, entertaining, etc…).  We will do this by examining audio and video tapes of naturally occurring interaction in everyday and institutional settings.  Students will learn to use techniques for detailed analysis of these conversations, in order to discover the communication processes through which narrative is enacted, and the social activities that telling stories is used to accomplish.  By working inductively on naturalistic materials, students will learn how to challenge a paradigm through empirical work, contrasting classic theories about narrative with their own, instructor-guided, empirical research on the phenomenon.

The semester grade will be based on attendance and participation, two short exercises, a midterm, and a final research presentation and paper.  The research project will be done partly as a class project, and partly individually.

JENNY MANDELBAUM received her BA in French and Philosophy from Oxford University in England, and a Masters and Ph.D. in Communication Studies from the University of Texas.  Her research examines the organization of everyday interaction, using video and audio tapes as a resource for describing, for instance, how we tell stories in conversation and what we "do" through the stories we tell.  Her findings include accounts of how we "construct" relationships and identity in and through interaction.  Currently she and her students are working on a large database of videotaped Thanksgiving, Easter and Passover dinners.  She looks forward to the continued participation of Honors students in these projects.  She teaches classes at all levels (including Introduction to Communication), and enjoys the challenges of introducing technology into the classroom.

 

 

 

A Critical Review of the Corporation and its Role in Western Culture
01:090:280 Index #73204
Professor Joseph Markert, Department of Management
W 06:10-09:00P  
35 College Avenue Room 302
College Avenue Campus

 

 

Corporations are a major component in every aspect of western society, a point that many consumers and society members both accept and resent. Society has difficulty seeing where the balance is between perceived excess profits and the need for employment and a fair wage; between degradation of the environment and the introduction of new technologies which can lead to an easier life style.

This seminar will study and assess the effect corporations have on western society, including changes in government, ethics, moral values, technology, economic conditions, and social structures.  We will review the delicate balance that exists between the needs of society and the needs of corporations, between the need for a social good and the need for profits.  We will ask several questions: What impact do new products and technology have on society and culture?  What impact does society and culture have on the creation and production of new products and technologies?  At what point does society feel industry is “out of bounds” and needs to be controlled by government?  During each class session discussion will focus on a specific product or cultural change in an attempt to define and measure how each has had an effect on the other.  We will review the delicate balance that exists between the needs of society for new products and the needs of corporations to generate a profit, between the need for social good and the need for stockholder dividends.

We will attempt to put a measure on those factors which we identify as positive for society and those which are positive for business and determine if the two sets of values can be balanced. During the semester we will explore such industries as fast food, television, automotive, electronics, and recent government laws as examples of how culture and business are intertwined.

A combination of instructor led discussions, class discussions, active exercises, and a research project, coupled with student group presentations and book reports, will give each student a thorough understanding of the subject.  Each student will submit weekly articles with written summaries that pertain to the scheduled discussion topic, and will present a research project/topic to the class.

JOE MARKERT teaches in the Department of Management and Global Business in the Rutgers Business School, and has a broad background in employee development, human resources, manufacturing, customer service and strategic planning.  He is a member of the American Management Association (AMA), Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), and is currently Director of Professional Services at Datamatics Management Services Inc. Professor Markert is a member of the Rutgers University Senate and Rutgers New Brunswick Faculty council.

 

 

Violence and Spectatorship: The Case of Michael Haneke
01:090:281 Index #73205
Professor Fatima Naqvi, Department of German
T 11:30A-02:30P  Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Ave Campus

This seminar will address the issue of violence in film in the oeuvre of acclaimed director Michael Haneke. In his films, the topic of violence is the center of concern: it is both socially conditioned and, within the logic of the films, aesthetically indispensable. While his films are not violent on a visual level (indeed there is little graphic violence worth mentioning), they are so on an auditory one. Through his strategic use of aural violence, Haneke seeks to sensitize the viewer to society’s purported exclusion of violence, which only includes it within social confines all the more securely. The audience is repeatedly asked to reflect on its own stake in narrative violence and its implicit, paradoxical condoning of such violence.

In a series of close readings of Haneke’s early works (The Seventh Continent, Benny’s Video), his internationally acclaimed later ones (The Piano Teacher, Caché, Funny Games) and his literary adaptations (The Rebellion, The Castle), this seminar seeks to familiarize students with the filmmaker and to broaden their awareness of the philosophical and theoretical discussion of violence as either transgression or necessary evil.  In readings by Georges Bataille, René Girard, Paul Virilio, and recent film studies (Judith Mayne, Stephen Prince), we will develop a theoretical framework that addresses the role of spectatorship and its relationship to violence. Comparative analyses of Michael Haneke’s employment of violence vis-à-vis his avowed predecessors will place the films in context; screenings of films by Michelangelo Antonioni and Robert Bresson will allow students to situate Haneke’s works within the tradition of filmic modernism and to reflect on the role of violence in avant-garde film practices. Readings of novels by Franz Kafka and Joseph Roth will deepen their understanding of modernism and facilitate a discussion of literary adaptation. Finally, issues of social critique—as it relates to the globalization, transnationalism, and societal fragmentation the films foreground—will be examined in oral reports that take the films and important readings as their point of departure (Peter Sloterdijk, Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, Alexander Kluge).

Students will be assigned weekly readings and film viewings; short response papers to films; research paper on one film at conclusion of the course.

FATIMA NAQVI is an associate professor and Graduate Director in the Department of German, Russian and East European Languages and Literatures at Rutgers University. She received her B.A. from Dartmouth College in 1993 and her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2000. Currently, she teaches courses on post-war literature and film, Vienna 1900, and the Austrian literary tradition. Her book, The Literary and Cultural Rhetoric of Victimhood: Western Europe 1970-2005 (New York: Palgrave, 2007), analyzes the pervasive rhetoric of victimhood in European culture since 1968. She has edited an issue of Modern Austrian Literature devoted to the Austrian Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek, focusing on Jelinek’s more recent writing.  She has also written articles on Czech photographer Miroslav Tichý, Jelinek’s variant of post-drama, film adaptation as melancholic translation (Michael Haneke and Ingeborg Bachmann), history and cosmology in Christoph Ransmayr’s prose and Anselm Kiefer’s works, the aesthetics of violence in Michael Haneke’s films, as well as dilettantism in Thomas Bernhard’s novel Old Masters. She has published on Bernhard’s controversial play Heldenplatz and its discourse of victimhood, El Greco’s influence on Rilke’s poetry, laughter as a means of social action in Roberto Benigni’s La vita è bella, and Catholicism’s continuing presence in contemporary Austrian writing. Her next book project focuses on the films of Michael Haneke.

 

 

Work, Family, and Politics in the 21st Century
01:090:282 Index #73206
Professor Patricia Roos, Department of Sociology
TTH 01:40-03:00P  LSH B205
Livingston Campus

Work and family issues have in recent years become inextricably linked to politics, for better or for worse. To better understand that link in the 21st century, we review the historical shifts that have occurred in the family and the workplace in the post-World War II U.S., and especially since 1970. Women now make up nearly half of the workforce, and have moved in large numbers into some occupations traditionally held by men. Dual-earner households are now the norm, reflecting in part the new economic reality faced by American families. Work has restructured such that it is more international, flexible, high tech, and service-oriented, and prosperity now coexists with rising inequalities. We will examine how these structural changes impact ongoing politics, policy discussions, civic engagement, and the economic and social opportunities available to women, men, and their families.

There are no prerequisites for this course. Although many of the readings come from a variety of disciplines (e.g., sociology, history, psychology, policy studies), an important goal of this course is to introduce you to the sociological perspective, and the sociological imagination.

Students are required to attend each class session. Because this course is a "seminar" and not a "lecture" course, there will be less lecturing, and more discussion. The success of the course depends on your active participation, and the small class size should facilitate this goal. Assigned readings should be completed prior to class meetings, and you should come to class prepared to ask questions.

PATRICIA ROOS is a Professor of Sociology.  She received her BA and MA in sociology from the University of California, Davis, and her Ph.D. in sociology from UCLA.  She teaches courses on work; inequalities; work, family, and politics; gender and work; and research methods.  She won both the President’s and Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching while still at SUNY Stony Brook.  Prof. Roos has published widely in gender and work, the feminization of traditionally male occupations, and work and family.  Three projects are currently front and center on her research agenda:  (1) gender equity in higher education, (2) race, class, and gender differences in work/family behavior and attitudes, and (3) a collaborative project with Rutgers colleagues on how to move toward real gender equality among women and men.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
rci.rutgers.edu/~roos/

 

Studying Literature, Culture, History
01:090:283 Index #73207
Professor Dianne Sadoff, Department of English
MW 04:30-05:50P  Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Ave Campus

Critical thinking about literature, culture, and history inquires into the categories that “general” cultural consumers normally take for granted, such as the concepts of authorship, writing, reading, and cultural production.  This purpose of this seminar is to introduce students to the terminologies, methodologies, and writing strategies important in understanding the relationships among literature, history, and culture (and necessary to pursuing a major in the humanities or social sciences). 

Through close readings of literary works, essays about culture and cultural studies, and historical material, we will study and compare several historical and theoretical approaches to textual analysis, and explore the relationships among literature, history, and culture.  We will also screen films that adapt some of the texts we read, asking questions about how the twentieth century rewrites the cultural situations and historical texts of the Renaissance, Victorian, and modern periods.  As we learn the skills of critical thinking in the disciplines of the humanities, we will ask questions such as: “What is an author?” “What is the link between historical situation and cultural production, and is it different in different historical moments?” “What is a genre in literature or film, and how does it shape the cultural consumer’s response?”  “Who ‘makes’ meaning: the author or filmmaker, the text, or the cultural consumer?” 

There will be a strong emphasis on assignments that teach skills necessary for effective critical thinking and literary writing.  You will learn how to identify secondary sources in the library and on the web, and how to evaluate their authority and usefulness to you, the student-critic.  You will learn the strategies of “close reading,” summary and paraphrasing, argumentation, methods of inquiry, and the framing of research questions.  The techniques and abilities you learn in this class will prepare you for reading and writing in your next humanities or social science courses

Students will be required to read assigned texts, attend class, and participate in discussion; to write one 10-15 page research paper and several process-oriented assignments; and to complete in-class and out-of class writing exercises.

DIANNE F. SADOFF studies nineteenth-century British literature and culture, psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic theory, and film adaptation.  Her books include Monsters of Affection:  Dickens, Bronte and Eliot on Fatherhood, Sciences of the Flesh:  Representing Body and Subject in Psychoanalysis, and the co-edited books, Teaching Theory to Undergraduates and Victorian Afterlife:  Postmodern Culture Rewrites the Nineteenth Century.  She has completed a new book, Victorian Vogue:  The Nineteenth-Century British Novel On Screen.  She attended Oberlin College, the University of Oregon, and the University of Rochester.  She has always been interested in interdisciplinary teaching and research.

 

 

Indians and Cowboys, Women and Family, Land and Water: The American West in Politics, Literature and Film
01:090:284 Index #73208
Professor Gordon Schochet, Department of Political Science
T 02:50-05:50P  Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Ave Campus

From the earliest days of the nation, ideas of “the West” and the “frontier” have loomed large in American politics and imagination. The Louisiana Purchase, the driving of the Golden Spike, the building of Hoover Dam, cattle drives along the Chisholm Trail, the mythologies of Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid, “Miss Kittie” and “Marshall Dillon,” what used to be called “Custer’s Last Stand,” covered wagons on the Oregon Trail, and the buttes and mesas in automobile ads on television are all part of the popular and romanticized imagery of the West. It was the frontier that defined our national character and made us vital.

This seminar will examine these myths and attitudes along with the harsher truths of the exploitation of natural resources, the attempted destruction of native cultures, and land, mineral, and water give-aways. Course materials will include a mixture of classic western and “cowboy” films, novels, essays, memoirs about the American West, works by native writers, and studies of changing politics and political cultures. Students will make seminar presentations about the films and assignments and will complete individual research projects.

Assignments will include:
Willa Cather, O Pioneers
James Welch, Fools Crow
Ivan Doig, Dancing at the Rascal Fare
Mary Clearman Blue, All But the Waltz
Marc Reisner, Cadillac Desert
Wallace Stegner, Where the Bluebird Sings
Various essays on the West

Among the films are:
The Ox Bow Incident
High Noon
Shane
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence
The Searchers
Sergio Leoni’s “spaghetti western” cycle:
 Fistful of Dollars
 For a Few Dollars More
 The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
 Once Upon a Time in the West
Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider, High Planes Drifter, and Unforgiven

GORDON SCHOCHET, who grew up with cowboy movies, books, and radio and without television, has been in love with the American West since the first time he saw a picture postcard of the Grand Canyon during World War II. Among his childhood heroes were Tonto and Sitting Bull. His preoccupation with the West reflects a larger interest in the relationship of geography to culture and politics.  He has been at Rutgers for 43 years, where he has taught such divers subjects as the history of political thought, philosophy of rights and justice, epistemology, science fiction, pop music, and political thought in the Hebrew Bible.

 

 

Empire Formations and Classical Education (Paideia)
01:090:286 Index #73210
Professor Sarolta Takács, Department of History
TH 06:10-09:00P  Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Ave Campus

The purpose of this seminar is to explore the world of Late Antiquity and learn about its importance in shaping our world.  The vast and multicultural world of the Roman Empire encompassed the whole Mediterranean basin.  The period under consideration is one of the great social and cultural changes.  When the 18th Century scholar, Edward Gibbon, studied Rome, he associated the Late Antique period with the fall.  Nowadays, we like to think not in his terms of “rise and fall” but along the lines of “continuation and transformation.”  But, how and why did Late Antiquity come to differ from its “classical” precursor?  How did the changes that occurred in this period determine the varied developments of Europe’ successor empires? What was the discourse of power? If Rome and its traditions still shape our world, what function did and does classical education have in this perpetuation?

Readings (provisional; the course reader will be available on SAKAI):
- Ancient Greek Education: Selections from Isocrates, Homer, Thucydides, Plato, and Xenophon
- Roman Education: Selections from Caesar, Cicero, Polybius, Suetonius, and Tacitus
- Christian Education: Selections from Alcuin, Augustine of Hippo, Basil of Caesarea in Cappadocia, Bede, Gregory of Nazianz, Jerome of Jerusalem, and Julian the Apostate
 - Founding of Universities and curricula: France, Italy, Germany, and England
   
Requirements:
3 oral presentations based on written reports (1-2pp.) of assigned readings
1 research paper (15pp.) and oral presentation based on research
1 museum trip

SAROLTA TAKÁCS studies the Roman and Byzantine world and teaches in the department of History.  Her newest book, Vestal Virgins, Sibyls, and Matrons: Women in Roman Religion, looks at Roman women and the role they played maintaining Rome’s socio-political structure as well as the understanding of the Roman self by means of religious rituals. A forthcoming book investigates the power of rhetoric through the traditional virtues of the ancient Romans (the mos maiorum). Professor Takács is the dean of the School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program.