- CrIME: Criminal Investigation through Mathematical Examination
- Identity in Ancient Greece: Belonging and Otherness
- Applying Cognitive Science to Problems in the Real- and Virtual-Worlds
- Literature and Medicine
- The United States During the 1980s
- Complementarity in Physics, Biology and Philosophy
- What is Political Theater?
- Wonderful Life Genes and Evolution
- Inequality and Opportunity in America
- Our Vampires, Ourselves: Literature, History, Visual Culture, Science
- Lives of the Dead
- Conservatism: What is it?
- Bodies in Social Interaction
- Scripts and Writing
- The Problem of Evil in Philosophy and Popular Culture
- The Biological Basis of Cancer
- Forging an Irish Identity
- The Beast Within: Animals in the American Imagination
- Molecular View of Human Anatomy: Diabetes
- Love in South Asia
INFORMATION ON POSSIBLE CREDITS TOWARDS THE CORE CURRICULUM AND/OR TOWARDS A MAJOR OR MINOR WILL BE UPDATED REGULARLY.
NO SPECIAL PERMISSION NUMBERS WILL BE GIVEN OUT DURING PRE-REGISTRATION FOR CLOSED SECTIONS. PLEASE CONTINUE TO CHECK THE SCHEDULE OF CLASSES FROM NOW UNTIL ADD/DROP PERIOD IN THE SPRING SEMESTER.
Forensic science is the collection and study of evidence from crime scenes to help solve crimes. Forensic techniques are also applied to sites such as archeological digs to help reconstruct ancient societies and their culture and to fields such as epidemiology to determine how diseases are started and spread. Mathematics plays an essential part in many forensic techniques. Mathematical forensics is the application of mathematics to forensic methods as a means to solving problem. General mathematics is used to take measurements of bodies and bone fragments to determine gender and general body size. Algebraic functions and graphs are used to determine blood alcohol level and time of death through such measurements as body temperature. Additional mathematical topics such as Trigonometry, Calculus, and Vector Analysis are used to determine ballistics and blood spatter patterns. These examples are a few of the ways in which mathematics is used within forensic science to help solve crimes. This seminar will provide students with a better understanding of mathematical forensics and the role it plays in solving mysteries, to gain an appreciation for mathematical applications, and to give some appreciation of forensic science as a career. This will be achieved through a series of activities designed to introduce the students to the forensics methodologies. The activities will be organized according to the mathematical concepts relevant to the methodologies. Mathematical concepts will be covered in the seminar as they are needed.
Student progress will be assessed through several formative and summative activities that emphasize the applications. A final assessment will be presented as a staged “crime scene” scenario set up at a campus location. Students will be asked to demonstrate understanding of the concepts by applying them to the staged scene and solving the “crime” through the use of those concepts and techniques covered in class.
Professor EUGENE R. FIORINI is a Research Professor and the Associate Director of DIMACS (Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science) at Rutgers University since 2008. He received his Ph.D. in 1993 from University of Delaware and his M.S. in Statistics in 2003 from Temple University. He is the co-principal investigator and project director of DIMACS/DIMATIA, US/Czech International Research Experiences for Undergraduate Program, funded by the National Science Foundation since 2010. He is also the organizing committee member of Integrating Mathematics and Biology, funded by the National Science Foundation since 2010, and has been involved in ABI Innovation: Scalable Baysean Methods for Analyzing Copy Number Variantsin Population, submitted to the National Science Foundation since 2011. His recent research involves Medical Informatics, to be submitted to the National Science Foundation.
*This Honors Seminar has been approved for elective credit in the Classics major and minor - please consult the Department of Classics for details.
*This Honors Seminar has also been approved for credit as a 200-level course in the History major and minor - please consult the Department of History for details.
A naive and erroneous view of ancient Greek civilization would describe it as the work of “dead white European males”. This not only misstates the nature of diversity in ancient civilizations but also implies a false conception of the nature of socialization and acculturation in ancient western society. In our seminar, we are going to explore the interaction of ancient Greek political classes with others who have been rightly or wrongly considered to be marginal to such societies, including women, slaves, individuals from different ethnic or racial groups, and those who varied in their sexual behaviors. It is my hope not only to impart a reasonable amount of information and interpretation about the nature of ancient Greek social institutions, but also to explore social identities in a cultural setting that is arguably ancestral to our own.
THOMAS J. FIGUEIRA was born on Broadway in Manhattan in 1948 and educated in the public schools of New York City and Poughkeepsie, New York. He received his B.A. in Liberal Arts from Bensalem College of Fordham University in 1970 and his Ph.D. in Ancient History from the University of Pennsylvania in 1977. He is a Professor (II) of Classics and of Ancient History at Rutgers, where he teaches courses in ancient history, Greek, Latin, and classical civilization in the departments of History and Classics and in interdisciplinary programs. He has taught over fifty different courses. He is the author of Aegina (1981), Athens and Aigina in the Age of Imperial Colonization (1991), Excursions in Epichoric History (1993), The Power of Money: Coinage and Politics in the Athenian Empire (1998), co-author of Wisdom from the Ancients (2001); editor of Spartan Society (2004) and co-editor of Theognis of Megara: Poetry and the Polis (1985). In his areas of interest in Greek history and literature, he has written numerous articles, chapters, contributions, and reviews that number around one hundred in their totalality. In recent years, Figueira has begun to produce scholarship in Comparative Studies in collaboration with his sister, the noted Comparatist, D.M. Figueira. For details, see classics.rutgers.edu/tjf.
*This Honors Seminar has been approved for elective credit in the Cognitive Science minor.
*This Honors Seminar has also been approved for elective credit in the Cognitive Science Independent major and minor.
How do our minds search for and remember information? What are the cognitive processes that inform our reasoning and decision making? Can cognitive shortcuts that help simplify problems actually cost us in biased and erroneous reasoning? This course will explore these questions and more, providing students with an introduction to the field of cognitive science. We will examine cognitive science research and look at how research findings have informed our understanding of human cognition, paying particular attention to how this knowledge can be applied to real-world problems. Students will be introduced to essential processes from neurobiology, perception, and attention and how they are used in cognition. Finally, we will consider how our understanding of human cognition can help us overcome cognitive limits and improve problem solving in the real world.
DEBORAH AKS is currently a Research Associate with the Rutgers University Center for Cognitive Science (RuCCS) studying attention and eye-movements in object tracking and visual search. Deborah has many years of university teaching experience with a focus on experimental methodologies, critical reasoning skills, and Cognitive and Perceptual Psychology. Deborah received her Doctorate from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver in 1993, earned tenure as an Associate Professor in 1999 at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and served as a Research Associate Professor at Rutgers from 2005 to 201. In this position, Deborah established an eye-tracking laboratory, has mentored many students, and collaborates closely with Dr. Zenon Pylyshyn on various eye-tracking and object-tracking projects.
*This Honors Seminar has been approved for credit as a 300-level course in the English major and minor.
Disease appears to be a subject best understood by science, but disease and illness are rife with social and cultural meanings and treatment involves social interactions that take place in cultural institutions. In addition, the experiences of patients, physicians, and nurses are shaped by language, history, economics, and politics. Because illness and medicine connect science and culture in so many ways, they have long fascinated fiction writers, memoirists, essayists, and filmmakers, who explore shifting understandings of patient and doctor, health and illness, body and mind, self and science.
In this seminar, we will read 20th- and 21st-century literature about illness, including memoirs that ponder the limits of language; narratives that explore cultural meanings of bodies, health, and healing; novels that raise questions about the relationship between our brains and our selves; and essays by physicians and patients that examine the meaning of embodied experience. Throughout the seminar, we’ll ask what literature and narrative contribute to our understanding of illness and medicine, and, in turn, what the subjects of illness and medicine contribute to contemporary literature.
This seminar will be reading- and writing-intensive, with occasional informal writing assignments and two formal papers. For seminar discussions to be lively and rich, everyone will be expected to prepare and participate.
Readings include: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Jean Dominique Bauby); Never Let Me Go (Katsuo Ishiguro); The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down (Anne Fadiman); Contagion (film, dir. Steven Soderbergh); The Anthropologist on Mars (Oliver Sacks); Complications (Atul Gawande), and The Empathy Exams (Leslie Jamison).
ANN JURECIC is an Associate Professor of English, with an A.B. from Bryn Mawr College, a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Brown University, and a Ph.D. in English from Princeton University. She is author of Illness as Narrative, which charts the emergence of personal writing about illness in the twentieth century and explores the problems these works pose in culture and criticism. Professor Jurecic is also an Associate Editor of the journal Literature and Medicine. Her articles include “Life Narratives in the Genomic Age” (The Lancet, March 2014) and “Neurodiversity” (College English). She recently completed Habits of the Creative Mind, co-authored with Richard E. Miller and forthcoming in 2015.
*This Honors Seminar has been approved for elective credit in the American Studies major and minor.
What’s in a decade? In certain ways, it is an arbitrary designation, its length fixed to a ten-year block of time and its beginning and ending determined by accidents of the calendar instead of by historical events or cultural watersheds. And yet, Americans consistently use decades to organize their own experiences and think about their country’s past.
This course will be an intensive investigation of one particular decade in American life: the 1980s. We will discuss the presidency of Ronald Reagan, the endgame of the Cold War, urban decline and renewal, deindustrialization, the AIDS crisis, the war on drugs, evangelical Christianity, and the Wall Street boom. We will discuss how Americans in the 1980s remembered the past and how they imagined the future. And we will try to identify some of the key turning points in U.S. and world history that occurred during those ten years.
Assignments will include works of history, sociology, fiction, journalism, and film. Texts for the course will include Meg Jacobs and Julian Zelizer, Conservatives in Power: The Reagan Years; Jay McInerney, Bright Lights, Big City; William Julius Wilson, The Truly Disadvantaged; Bobbie Ann Mason, In Country; Randy Shilts, And the Band Played On: People, Politics, and the AIDS Epidemic; Oliver Stone, Wall Street; and William Gibson, Neuromancer. And, yes, we will discuss some John Hughes teen movie as well.
JEFFERSON DECKER is assistant professor of American Studies and Political Science. He received his B.A. from Amherst College and his Ph.D. in history from Columbia University. His research interests include the political and legal history of the United States in the twentieth century. He is currently completing a manuscript titled The Other Rights Revolution: Conservative Lawyers and the Remaking of American Government, which explains how the American right challenged and ultimately reshaped the U.S. regulatory state through litigation. He is also working on a political history of the 1982-2000 bull market in stocks.
Recent developments in molecular and cell biology indicate that Bohr’s principle of complementarity originally derived from quantum physics may play a fundamental role in living processes in the form of information-energy complementarity. Complementarity-like concepts also occur in psychology, philosophy, semiotics (the study of signs), and world religions. The universality of Bohr’s complementarity may be traced to the complementary neuro-electrophysiological functions of the human brain, including the dichotomy of the left and right hemispheres. These findings motivated the formulation of a new philosophical framework known as complementarism in the early 1990’s, the essential content of which being that the ultimate reality perceived and communicated by the human brain is a complementary union of irreconcilable opposites [S. Ji, “Complementarism: A Biology-Based Philosophical Framework to Integrate Western Science and Eastern Tao,” in Psychotherapy East and West: Integration of Psychotherapies, The Korean Academy of Psychotherapists, Seoul, Korea, 1995, pp. 518-548].
In the latter half of the 1990’s, it was found that living cells use a language (called cell language) whose design principles are very similar to those of human language [S. Ji, BioSystems 44: 17-39 (1997)]. This finding further strengthens the link between biology and philosophy, in agreement with the philosophies of Aristotle (384-322 BC), Spinoza (1632-1677), and Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1907-1961). Thus, complementarism, which is rooted in both modern biological sciences and classical and modern philosophical systems, may provide a powerful new philosophical framework for integrating not only science and philosophy on the one hand, but also apparently irreconcilable philosophies and religions of the world on the other.
During the first half of the semester, students will be introduced to the essentials of complementarism, and their physical and metaphysical supports derived from physics, chemistry, biology, linguistics, philosophy, and semiotics. The second half of the semester will be devoted to students’ presentations consisting of short talks (10-minute long) and final seminars (30-minute long) on topics related to some aspects of complementarism or to its application to solving practical problems in contemporary life. The final grade will be based on classroom participation, including short talks (30%, two short talks per student), final seminar (30%), and a written version of the final seminar (10–15 pages, single spaced, including figures, tables, and references; 40%) due one week after the oral presentation.
Pre-requisite: A college-level introductory course (or equivalents) in biology, chemistry, or physics.
DR. SUNGCHUL JI received a BA degree in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Minnesota in 1965 and a Ph.D. degree in physical organic chemistry in 1970 from the State University of New York at Albany. After a series of postdoctoral research and teaching experiences in enzymology (University of Wisconsin, Madison), biophysics (University of Pennsylvania), systems physiology (Max Planck Institute, Dortmund, West Germany), and toxicology (University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill), Dr. Ji has been teaching pharmacology, toxicology, and computational/theoretical cell biology at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Rutgers University since 1982. Dr. Ji founded the Theoretical Aspects of Pharmacology course in 2000 at Rutgers and is the author of Molecular Theory of the Living Cell: Conceptual Foundations, Molecular Mechanisms and Applications, to be published by Springer, New York, in 2010.
*This Honors Seminar has been approved for credit as a 300-level course in the English major and minor.
Theater has always been dangerous. Queen Elizabeth canceled a production of Shakespeare’s Richard II because she thought it encouraged insurrection. In the Puritan colonies, before our insurrection against Britain, theater was banned for immorality—but rebellion against the state was often called immoral. In the heart of the U.S. Depression, a performance of Waiting for Lefty about a taxi drivers’ strike drove the audience to join the actors in their call for “strike! strike!”
So what is political theater? Does the content of plays matter most? What about form? audience reception? Can political theater also be art? What is the relation of aesthetics and politics?
We will answer these questions by reading some rich and wonderful theater theory by Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956) along with several of his plays. Brecht’s “epic theater” was a mélange of storytelling devices and avant-garde shock that gave pleasure while encouraging audiences to think. Next we'll sample the Brecht-influenced working-class drama from the Federal Theater Project in the 1930s; then we’ll turn to plays from the 1960s to this past summer, that deal with the politics of war, sexuality, race, and globalization. We’ll think about off-off Broadway theater, street theater, and performance art.
Writers may include Caryl Churchill the Red Ladder Collective (Britain), Amiri Baraka, Robbie McCauley, Tony Kushner, Suzan Lori Parks, David Henry Hwang, Jennifer Haley (U.S.); Manjula Padmanabhan (India), Guillerno Gomez-Peña (U.S. and Mexico), among others.
The class will take at least one field trip to see theater in New York and will also take advantage of theater closer to home. Video will accompany our discussion whenever possible.
Requirement: Two short essays and one class presentation plus regular contributions to our online sakai discussion site.
Professor ELIN DIAMOND is the author of Unmaking Mimesis: Essays on Feminism and Theater (1997) and Pinter's Comic Play (1985); she is also the editor of Performance and Cultural Politics (1996). Her many journal publications include essays on seventeenth and twentieth century drama, and Freudian, Brechtian, and feminist theory. Her work continually explores the connection between performance and feminist or critical theory, using texts from early modernism through postmodern art. She is currently at work on a book on modernism and transatlantic performance.
Wonderful Life Genes and Evolution
Frank Deis, SAS-Division of Life Sciences
Allison Road Classroom Room 203
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 writers on evolution and paleontology will be assigned. Professor 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 require an occasional short quiz. Attendance and active class participation will contribute to each student’s grade.
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, 5th, 6th, and 7th ed.).
*This Honors Seminar has been approved for elective credit in the Sociology major and minor.
Issues of inequality are central to the research that many social scientists do. Sociologists have long studied how inequality gets produced and reproduced, and how ascriptive inequalities such as gender or race shape our access to a wide range of opportunities. These core issues will be the focus of this seminar.
We begin with an overview of why class still matters in contemporary American society. We’ll assess how important class remains in defining our life chances, and our opportunity to pursue the American Dream. More specifically, with respect to the workplace we'll see how people end up in the jobs they do and what factors affect their promotions and salaries. We will explore how and why inequalities in wealth have been rising in recent years, and explore as well the inequalities existing in our criminal justice system.
We’ll focus on categorical (i.e., group) inequalities, especially the "big three" (race, class, and gender), but will address other forms of inequality (e.g., education) as well. As more overt forms of discrimination have declined, researchers have begun to examine the more subtle ways in which inequality is reproduced, especially in the workplace. We'll talk about these more subtle mechanisms of inequity, and discuss the ways they are often embedded in interactions among people and in the policies and procedures of our social institutions.
There are no prerequisites for this seminar. Although many of the readings come from a variety of disciplines, an important goal of this seminar is to introduce you to the sociological imagination. Students are required to attend each class session. This course is a "seminar" and not a "lecture" course. Its success thus depends on active participation.
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 at SUNY Stony Brook. Professor Roos has published widely in gender and work, the feminization of traditionally male occupations, and work and family. Two projects are currently on her research agenda: (1) occupational sex segregation since 2000 and (2) gender equity in higher education.
*This Honors Seminar has been approved for credit as a 300-level course in the English major and minor.
Our focus in this SAS Honors seminar will be on vampires, parasites, and other modern vermin. I have called the course "Our Vampires, Ourselves" because I believe that the horror genre does remarkable cultural work for the modern cultural consumer and for the nation at large. Questions we will ask include: how are nineteenth-century vampires "modern"? Why have their tales lived on to "haunt" us? What kinds of social problems do they address for twentieth- and twenty-first-century readers and film-goers? How does the vampire morph into an identity thief? Into a cosmetic surgeon? Into a self-representing artist? Into the medical-industrial complex? How, then, are vampires "ourselves"? And finally, why is movie-generated fear so much fun?
I also hope to expose you to a wide range of films, some of which you may have seen, many not. We will view films from a variety of film genres: silent movies, mainstream Hollywood cinema, and foreign art film. We will read the nineteenth- and twentieth-century novels from which these films were adapted or on which they're based to discover how the films appropriate and remediate the narratives (that is, rewrite them in a new medium).
We will read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Patricia Highsmith's Talented Mr. Ripley and other modern vampire tales. We'll read selections from Sander Gilman's Making the Body Beautiful, newspaper pieces and research essays about anxieties that surround New Reproductive Technologies, essays and portraits by Cindy Sherman that unsettle our notions of modern identity. We'll watch movies by some of the following filmmakers: F. W. Murnau, James Whale, Kenneth Branagh, Francis Ford Coppola, Werner Herzog, and Pedro Alomdóvar.
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.
*This Honors Seminar has been approved for elective credit in the Comparative Literature major and minor.
This honors literature seminar will examine a corpus of works that portrays the lives of the dead body. Students will attempt to decipher what the body reveals in death, what desires it embodies, what losses and sacrifices it signifies, and what ethical demands it places on the living. This investigation will begin with a consideration of the roles of the dead warrior, the ghost, and the suicide in the Greek epic and in dramatic works by Sophocles and Shakespeare. We will then address the modernist body in literature by Faulkner and the simulacrum of bodies caught in visual and narrative feedback loops in novellas by Bioy Casares and García Márquez. The seminar will then turn toward the political to consider the war body in works by Wiesel and Ishiguro; the complicated historical afterlife of Eva Perón’s corpse; the political remains of the body during Sri Lanka’s civil war; and the historicized dead in Forché’s The Angel of History. In the final weeks of the seminar, we will discuss the museumification of memory of the dead and visit the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum at the site of the World Trade Center in New York City. And we will end the course with a consideration of American burial practices as portrayed in Mitford’s classic The American Way of Death Revisited and in Alan Ball’s HBO series, “Six Feet Under.” Members of this seminar will carefully examine the aesthetic and political manifestations of the dead, absent, embalmed, copied, errant, tortured, dismembered, buried, and re-membered body in some of the major works of Western literature and cultural studies. This seminar will read these bodies and locate them in their corresponding aesthetic, ethical, and historical contexts.
Our reading and discussions will be divided into the following topics: Re-membering the Ancient Body; Intervention: the Dramatic Body; The Modernist Body; Bodies in a Feedback Loop; The War Body; The Mythical Body Turned Monument; The Body Politic; Aftermath: The Historicized Body; The Body Immemorial; and Dead in America. In addition to primary texts by Homer, Sophocles, Faulkner, Bioy Casares, García Márquez, Wiesel, Ishiguro, Martínez, Ondaatje, and Forché, we will read short stories, poetry and theoretical texts that foreground the rich afterlives of the body. All assignments will be in English, though students may read works in their original language.
KAREN ELIZABETH BISHOP is Assistant Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature at Rutgers University. She holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Before joining Rutgers in 2010, she taught History and Literature at Harvard University, where she first designed and taught “Lives of the Dead.” Professor Bishop teaches and writes on the aesthetic and political representation of the dead body, with a particular interest in Latin America’s disappeared. She has published essays on contemporary world poetry, historical fiction, translation, reading strategies of torture literature, exile studies, mapping, and architectural theory, and is currently working on two books that each take up her interests in human rights and the construction of space, Cartographies of Exile and The Space of Disappearance. She maintains an online abode at http://www.kebishop.org.
*This Honors Seminar has been approved for elective credit in the History major and minor
A few quotes from famous intellectuals and politicians suggest the power of conservatism’s reach into the minds, hearts, morals, passions and politics of Americans. One of conservatism’s most famous intellectuals, William F. Buckley Jr. wrote: “A Conservative is a fellow who is standing athwart history yelling ‘Stop!’.” Democratic President Woodrow Wilson stated his agreement: “A conservative is someone who makes no changes and consults his grandmother when in doubt.” Or consider liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith: “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy, that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” But Hannah Arendt, Jewish intellectual refugee and philosopher, observed: “The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.” What, then, are we to make of this obviously contentious subject?
In this course we will study modern conservative movements and their history. We will read classic texts by such well-known conservatives as Barry Goldwater, Ayn Rand, William Buckley, Justice Antonin Scalia and by wealthy businessmen such as the Koch brothers. But we will also study the beliefs of ordinary people who initiated the contemporary conservative movement in the 1970’s, people such as the Christian Evangelicals, the grass roots political organizers, the anti-feminists, and Tea Party founders. The course will examine the idea of conservatism and the individuals who practice those ideas as they are understood across the disciplines. How do historians, moral philosophers, psychologists and sociologists understand conservatism? How have visual artists contributed to the conservative movement or opposed it? How do conservatives including constitutional theorists, Supreme Court Justices, and Tea Party supporters define the Constitution?
Students will actively participate in and direct weekly discussions. The class and the readings offer opportunities to share ideas across the political spectrum with mutual respect for ideological differences. Using a workshop format, each student will choose a research project initially presented in periodic oral reports that will result in a 12 to 15 page final essay. At the end of the semester students will also be asked to present a short reflective essay, a commentary on their personal weekly reactions to the readings and discussions.
GINNY YANS is a Board of Governors Distinguished Professor in the Department of History. She is also a filmmaker and has acted as a historical consultant to major museums. The daughter of immigrant, she is an expert on immigration and ethnicity. Her current project, a study of Supreme Court Justices Scalia and Alito, grew out of her fascination with white ethnic conservatism in contemporary America. Teaching Rutgers honors students is one of her greatest pleasures.
*This Honors Seminar has been approved for 300-level elective credit in the Communications major.
Our bodies play a central role in how we construct meaning and actions through social interaction with each other in the diverse settings that make up a society’s social worlds. In this seminar, we will analyze embodied behaviors not as an isolated, self-contained code but in relation to language, processes of human interaction, and the rich settings where people conduct their lives. We will examine the role of different kinds of embodied behaviors (i.e., body orientation and posture, eye gaze, gestures, laughter, prosody, etc.) in carrying out fundamental human activities in talk-in-interaction, including establishing joint foci of attention, coordinating turn-taking, repairing interactional problems, negotiating meaning, and constructing and negotiating interpersonal relationships. We will also consider embodied communicative behaviors in a variety of professional settings, such as courtrooms, archeological sites, and doctors’ offices. This seminar is interdisciplinary and will incorporate materials from the fields of communication, anthropology, linguistics, and sociology.
Videotapes of actual, everyday interactions will be used as a primary source of data, and ordinary face-to-face interactions will be treated as a prime site for studying embodied communicative conduct. We will inspect videotaped recordings of interactions to discover how people assemble the actions that make up ordinary social life and will produce empirically-based analyses of some of those practices.
You will be engaged in a guided semester-long research project that will involve video recording, transcribing, and analyzing a naturalistic face-to-face interaction. The goals of the project are to develop technical and analytic skills for conducting empirical research on social interaction and to produce a detailed, original analysis of an embodied interactional phenomenon.
Professor GALINA BOLDEN received her BA in Linguistics from the University of Minnesota, and her MA and PhD in Applied Linguistics from University of California, Los Angeles. Her research examines naturally occurring, video/audio-recorded social interactions in a variety of settings: ordinary conversations between family and friends, doctor-patient interactions conducted with the help of language interpreters, conversations among co-workers at workplaces, and psychiatric visits. She conducts research on talk in Russian and English languages, as well as bilingual Russian-English conversations.
*This Honors Seminar has been approved for credit in the African, Middle Eastern & South Asian Language & Literature (AMESALL) major and minor.
If "reading is fundamental," how much more fundamental must the act of writing be?
That simple act, to signify the words and even the sounds of a spoken language by etching, imprinting, painting, or engraving representative signs upon an object, is so central to our concepts of civilization that it is nearly impossible for us to conceive of a world without it, as demonstrated by the paradox that nearly all efforts to envision a return to a state of primary orality have been literary, such as Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker. Nevertheless, we are transitioning to what some scholars (such as Walter Ong) have called a "post-literate" society, due to the decline of the print media and the rise of alternatives to print, particularly digital audio and video alternatives delivered through the internet.
At the same time, literacy has historically been rare, and at no time in the past has it ever been as widespread and as common as it is today. The overwhelming majority of languages that are spoken today and that have been spoken throughout the history of humanity have produced absolutely no literature, and many languages have never even been recorded in written form, but were rather transmitted from generation to generation solely by word of mouth. At one time, writing was so pivotal yet uncommon a technology that the ability to write was closely associated with the practice of magic, as it must have seemed like magic to those who were unlettered.
Perhaps it is time for us to reassess what writing is and what it means to civilization. Through this course, students will be exposed to the entire span of the history (and proto-history) of writing, learn to identify the different types of writing systems, and appreciate the differences between primarily oral, literate, and post-literate societies.
CHARLES HABERL is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures. He graduated with an A.B. from Brown University in Providence, RI, where he studied Mediterranean archaeology and Northwest Semitic epigraphy. At Harvard University, where he received his A.M. and Ph.D., he continued his studies in historical and comparative Semitic linguistics, and wrote the first reference grammar of Neo-Mandaic, an endangered dialect of Aramaic formerly spoken along the Iran-Iraq border. His scholarship focuses upon the Aramaic language and its various scripts, and how the primarily oral cultures of the Ancient Near East are reflected even within their written texts.
*This Honors Seminar has been approved for elective credit in the Philosophy major or minor.
The "problem of evil," commonly phrased as the question, "why do bad things happen to good people, and good things to bad?," began its life as a theological problem, as far back as the Old Testament's Book of Job, but it's also a modern secular problem, which began its life at least since Rousseau's public dispute with Voltaire midway through the eighteenth century, as Susan Neiman has convincingly argued in her 2002 Evil in Modern Thought (www.susan-neiman.de/docs/b_preface.html). The secular version poses a threat not to God's standing, but to human reason's—how can we make reasonable sense of the world, if we can't make sense of it teeming with unreasonable suffering?—and yields primarily two competing perspectives, one beginning with Rousseau, insisting that "morality demands that we make evil intelligible," the other beginning with Voltaire, insisting that "morality demands that we don't." The seminar will be devoted to identifying and clarifying the various sorts of evidence of these competing perspectives we find in philosophy, literature, and popular culture.
On the philosophy side of things, we will want to clarify the nature of "Optimism" as a philosophical perspective. On the literature and popular culture side of things, choices will be driven in part by seminar participants' backgrounds and preferences, but will also include at least some of the following: the nineteenth-century Gothic novel tradition (Frankenstein, Dracula, and so on), their many visual interpretations, together with certain twentieth-century additions (The Walking Dead, for example); paraphrases and extensions of the parables of Job and Candide; the dystopian novel tradition, as a whole, but in particular as marketed increasingly to younger audiences (Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Divergent, among others); certain combinations of authors (for example, Dostoevsky, Conrad, and Camus), and of works of individual authors (for example, DeLillo's Mao II, Cosmopolis, and Falling Man, Harris' Hannibal Lecter series, Malick's The Thin Red Line, The Tree of Life, and To the Wonder, Morrison's Beloved, A Mercy, and Home, and Updike's Rabbit quartet and Terrorist), and how certain of their narratives are being taken up provocatively in serial television (for example, Hannibal and Homeland).
TRIP MCCROSSIN has been with the Philosophy Department at Rutgers for over ten years, working in various ways on the history and philosophy of the Enlightenment, and its legacy in contemporary ethics, politics, and popular culture. He attended college at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and graduate school at Stanford and Yale. He's working on several longish publications on the problems of evil and personal identity, and has essays periodically on these and other subjects in Open Court's Popular Culture and Philosophy series. He lives in Brooklyn with his eighteen-year-old son.
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the world and despite advances in treatment it remains one of the most dreaded diagnoses. At the same time studying cancer presents fascinating challenges for scientists. In this seminar we will discuss the biological basis of cancer. We will discuss basic cell biology as it relates to cancer and how cancer cells differ from normal cells. We will study what kinds of changes cells go through to become cancer cells and what are some of the genes and proteins that are thought to play key roles in the disease. This will include a discussion of tumor suppressor genes oncogenes and tumor viruses as well as changes in cell shape motility and signaling. We will also discuss new advances in cancer treatment and the kinds of roles that both academic labs and pharmaceutical companies play in developing new drugs designed to combat the disease. We will discuss new technologies that may lead to more individualized cancer treatment as well as new ideas in cancer prevention.
The seminar will include critical analysis of scientific papers as well as lay news articles such as those found in the New York Times Science section. Students are expected to give two presentations based on the topics discussed in the course and to prepare one written report. This course is open to students with and without a science background there are no prerequisites.
AUDREY MINDEN received her PhD in Genetics from the University of Illinois, and was a postdoctoral fellow at University of California at San Diego where she studied signal transduction. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Laboratory for Cancer Research at the School of Pharmacy at Rutgers. Her research interests include studying cellular signal transduction pathways that are activated in cancer, using cell culture and animal models. She also teaches Molecular Biotechnology to PharmD Pharmacy students at Rutgers.
*By Special Permission only. Applications must be submitted through Study Abroad.
The course will examine the social and political development of Ireland in the modern era. It will focus in particular on the Great Famine (1845-52), the Easter Rising of 1916, the Irish War of Independence (1919-21), Partition (1920), and the Irish Civil War (1922-23). We'll consider poetry, novels, folk songs, speeches, movies and plays, using them as starting points from which to explore these key moments in the evolution of Irish history and culture.
At the heart of this Honors Seminar will be a week-long (Friday, March 13 – Saturday, March 21, 2015), one-credit study abroad trip to Ireland offered by Rutgers Study Abroad.
Therefore, if you are interested in enrolling in the Honors Seminar you must first apply for, and be accepted to, the trip.
To apply for the trip, and for information about costs, go to
The deadline for the application is Monday, December 1.
Your application will be reviewed and, if it is approved, we will provide you with a Special Permission Number to register for the Honors Seminar.
The SAS Honors Program will provide partial funding to SAS Honors students.
PAUL BLANEY is Writer in Residence in the School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program at Rutgers University. He also teaches courses in Creative Writing and Creative Non Fiction in the Department of English. In 2011 he led Rutgers' first Creative Writing Study Abroad Program to Lewes, England. Publications include poems, short fiction, and the novellas, Handover and The Anchoress. When not at his desk or in the classroom, he's happiest out of doors, walking or pottering in the garden.
Come to the Honors Program Tea with the Dean on Thursday, October 30 for more information.
In less than four decades, the study of human-animal relations has become a flourishing interdisciplinary field. Ever since Peter Singer published Animal Liberation in 1975, philosophers, anthropologists, biologists, novelists, and historians have explored the implications of an unsettling idea—the recognition that animals are not mere objects of human cruelty, kindness, or pragmatic intent, but subjects in their own right, sentient beings engaged in complex, dialectical relationships with human partners. At its most radical, the worldview animating human-animal studies is the one loosely associated with “posthumanism”—the outlook that aims to displace the human-centered cosmos with something more hospitable to non-human life.
The rise of human-animal studies is the most recent episode in a long history of humans’ efforts to make cultural meaning by observing, interpreting, and fantasizing about their fellow creatures. Animals have been good to eat, but they have also been good to think with—compellingly if not always clearly. Often the beast within—the one imagined in myth and magic, embodied as nobility or monstrosity-- has been as historically significant as the beasts themselves. This course will explore the intellectual and cultural history of animals in the American imagination, from the era of first European arrivals to the present. The word “American” includes Native American and South American perspectives, but the main focus is on the United States—with some gestures to European (mainly British) antecedents and parallels.
We will use the social history of human animal-relations as an indispensable foundation. So students will begin with background reading on fundamental developments: the domestication of animals as part of the shift from hunter-gathering to agriculture, the industrialization of agriculture and the mass production of meat; the rise of anti-vivisection and other crusades against cruelty to animals; the links among animals, slaves, and dark-skinned imperial subjects in general. We will then turn to exploring salient themes in human thinking about animals, based on historically-informed close readings of key texts. Possible topics and authors include: the fascination with wildness (Henry David Thoreau, Theodore Roosevelt, D. H. Lawrence, Annie Dillard); birds with human souls (Emily Dickinson, Wallace Stevens); Darwin’s worms (Charles Darwin, Adam Phillips); the pursuit of the ineffable (Herman Melville, Ernest Hemingway); animals who talk (E. B. White, Charles Chesnutt); from spirit animals to animal spirits (Native American folk tales, John Maynard Keynes) sentimental projections (Ernest Thompson Seton, Walt Disney); extinction and loss (John Muir, Rachel Carson); and the posthumanist counterattack (Peter Singer, J. M. Coetzee). Students will write a weekly one-page response to the reading, give one oral report, and turn that report into a 7-10 page paper addressing a question or problem raised by the course.
JACKSON LEARS is Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of History at Rutgers University and Editor in Chief of Raritan: a Quarterly Review. He was educated at the University of Virginia, the University of North Carolina, and at Yale University where he received the Ph.D. in American Studies. He is the author of No Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the Transformation of American Culture, 1880-1920, Fables of Abundance: a Cultural History of Advertising in America (which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in History), Something for Nothing: Luck in America, and most recently Rebirth of a Nation, the Making of Modern America, 1877-1920. His current book project, The Wild Card: Animal Spirits in American Economic and Cultural Life probes the history of an idea (“animal spirits”) that inhabits the borderland between mind and matter, soul and body, humans and animals. He is looking forward to exploring that borderland with Honors College students.
What do proteins, DNA, RNA, and other biological macromolecules look like? Where do these molecules fit in your body and how do they work? This seminar will introduce you to the basics of structural biology using human anatomy, physiology, and disease as themes. The focus of the course will be to understand the structures and functions of proteins involved in a common endocrine disorder diabetes, its causes, effects, treatment strategies, prevention and management.
In the first half of this seminar, students will learn the fundamentals of structural biology - how proteins, DNA, and RNA are shaped and how their structures are experimentally determined. They will also be introduced to contemporary ideas concerning diabetes, its cause, diagnosis, treatment and management. Through the second half of the seminar, students will conduct supervised research on proteins related to diabetes. They will learn to appreciate the disease related molecules from a structural perspective and understand how these structures can play an important role in understanding the disease, currently used drugs to treat diabetes, and discovering new treatment options to manage it.
Through the seminar, students will learn to critically read scientific articles, identify molecules related to the assigned topics, analyze them in detail, and write scholarly articles about them. Students will have the opportunity to get their articles reviewed by experts in the field and publish them on an online educational resource. All class related material will be made available online. Students are strongly encouraged to bring in their own laptops to class.
The seminar has no pre-requisites; non-science majors are particularly encouraged to enroll. Students will be evaluated on two written reports and one oral presentation related to structural aspects of the course theme; and participation in class discussions/activities. The main aim of the seminar is to encourage research-based learning and to familiarize students with a structural view of biology at the atomic level.
This course satisfies the SAS Core Goal: WCD (t, u, v), where t, u, v, imply that the student is able to:
(t)--Communicate effectively in modes appropriate to a discipline or area of inquiry
(u)--Evaluate and critically assess sources and use the conventions of attribution and citation correctly
(v)—analyze and synthesize information and ideas from multiple sources to generate new insights
STEPHEN K. BURLEY is an expert in structural biology and proteomics, structure/fragment based drug discovery, and clinical medicine/oncology. He currently serves as Director of the Center for Integrative Proteomics Research, Associate Director of the Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics Protein Data Bank, Director of the BioMaPS Institute for Quantitative Biology, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, and Member of the Cancer Institute of New Jersey at Rutgers. Before joining Rutgers in 2013, he spent eleven years as a professor at the Rockefeller University and a member of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Burley spent another eleven years in the industry dividing his time between SGX Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Eli Lilly and Company.
SHUCHISMITA DUTTA is a structural biologist and educator. Currently she is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers, a senior educational coordinator and senior biocurator at the RCSB Protein Data Bank. Before joining Rutgers she completed her Ph.D. from Boston University and a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Dutta has a passion for promoting a molecular structural view of biology. She has taught audiences ranging from high school students to senior scientists about structural biology and the use of structural data archived in the PDB.
*This Honors Seminar has been approved for credit in the African, Middle Eastern & South Asian language & Literature (AMESALL) major and minor.
*This Honors Seminar has been approved for credit in the Comparative Literature major and minor.
*This Honors Seminar has also been approved for credit in the South Asian Studies minor.
Love may indeed be a universal feeling, but idioms of love convey vastly different sentiments, feelings, and meanings across cultural and linguistic contexts. Love, we will find, can operate as a political device for drawing together communities, or an economic affect for mobilizing consumer desire as much as it describes intimate, interpersonal bonds. In the South Asian context, love can signify a sacred bond with the divine, sacrifice in the name of community tradition, or duty to the kingdom, while simultaneously representing the romantic desires of individuals for one another.
This seminar will examine the particularly rich field of South Asian idioms of love, highlighting their plurality and overlapping influence at various moments from the classical to the modern periods. What types of social and political universes do these idioms imagine? How do they each configure the relationships between men and women differently? In addition, how have older idioms of love been reintroduced and redefined in modern South Asia to address the particular needs and desires of the time?
We will answer these questions through an exploration of ideas of love such as the classical Sanskrit trope of sringara (or, erotic love), the notion of viraha (or, longing for one's lover) found in oral narratives and medieval devotional poetry, the Perso-Arabic repertoire of ishq (passion or desire), colonial ideas of prem (love) between couples, and the more recent usage of the English word "love" in popular culture. Primary texts will include translations of South Asian epics, drama, poetry, folklore, novels, and short stories. Our analyses will be guided by texts in South Asian history and social theory, as well as film.
PREETHA MANI is Assistant Professor of South Asian Literatures in the Department of African, Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Literatures, as well as in the Program in Comparative Literature. Her research explores questions of genre, translation, identity, and authorship in modern Hindi and Tamil literature. She is currently working on a book that examines how postcolonial Hindi and Tamil short stories of the 1950s and 60s used representations of widows, prostitutes, virgins, and goodwives to contribute to the development of regional literary canons that simultaneously appealed to national and world literary audiences.