Interdisciplinary Honors Seminars

Spring 2010 Interdisciplinary Honors Seminars


Human Development & Public Policy
01:090:270 Index #69625 (cross- listed with 10:762:497:01)
Professor Stephanie Curenton – Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy
T 03:55-06:55P
Voorhees Chapel  005
Douglass Campus

OPTIONAL: Students may also register for a 1 credit community service learning option 10:762:299:01 Index#74771.

The purpose of this seminar is to provide an overview of the major theoretical perspectives and empirical findings that guide our understanding of child, family, and education policy. The seminar explores the effects child and family policies and programs have on children's short- and long-term development. Students will use their reading, writing, reasoning, and discussion skills to demonstrate they have accomplished this goal.  In addition, students who are interested will have an opportunity to get hands-on experience doing classroom observations for Head Start programs.  This hands-on experience is being offered by an additional 1 credit community service learning option to the course.

STEPHANIE M. CURENTON earned her Ph.D. in Developmental and Community Psychology from the University of Virginia. After receiving her degree, she spent two years as a Society for Research on Child Development Policy Fellow, examining early care and education interventions and policies in the Administration for Children and Families, Child Care Bureau.  Dr. Curenton studies the development of low-income and minority children within various ecological contexts, such as parent-child interactions, early childhood education programs, and related state and federal policies. She has been the principal investigator on a National Research Council Pre-doctoral Fellowship from the Ford Foundation and several university-funded research projects.  Presently, she serves as the co-director for a federally funded study with the Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), investigating the impact of pre-K expansion on child care for low-income families. This project is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of Program Research and Evaluation.  Dr. Curenton has been recognized as a national leader in the early education field through her appointment to the governing board of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

Exploring the Nano-World with Electron Microscopy
01:090:271 Index #69626
Professor Frederic Cosandey - Engineering - Materials Science and Engineering
TH 01:40-04:40P
LSH A215
Livingston Campus

The word “nano” has now entered our every-day life and has been used (and misused) to describe small objects from listening devices to very, very small entities like viruses or a small group of atoms forming clusters.  These nano-objects are all around us; they affect properties of materials such as color and are used in a large variety of technological applications like TV screens or phones as well as in biology and medicine for application like drug delivery or cancer treatments.  Such nano-objects are invisible to the naked eye but can be visualized using electron microscopes. 

What is an electron microscope? Is it just a scientific instrument or can it provide images with some aesthetic value? What is the 3D structure of viruses and carbon nanotubes? Can we see atoms and the atomic structure of materials?  These are questions that will be addressed in this seminar.  Discussions will range from the historical development of electron microscopes to the design of modern instruments with practical examples in materials science and biology.  There will be laboratory visits where the students will experienced first-hand the operation of an electron microscope and yes!…see directly the atomic structure of materials.

The goal of the seminar is to introduce students to the nano-world and to show with examples and direct observation what our nano-world is made off.  There will be assignments where the students will review a particular topic and describe the nano-world as observed through the lens of an electron microscope. 

There are no pre-requisites for this seminar but some background in physics, chemistry or biology will be helpful.

FREDERIC COSANDEY received his MS and PhD degree in Materials Science from Carnegie Mellon University.  He spent three years at Columbia University as a post-doctoral fellow before joining Rutgers University in 1982. He is currently Professor of Materials Science in the School of Engineering and is head of the electron microscopy facility. His teaching and research interest center on understanding materials properties and the determination of their atomic structure. 

Representing Addiction in America
01:090:272 Index #74248
Professor Sara Harrington - Research & Instructional Services-Libraries
TTH 07:40-09:00P
35 College Avenue Rm 102
College Avenue Campus

This seminar will examine representations of alcohol/drug use and abuse in visual and literary culture in the United States during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The course will begin with an exploration of the development of a disease concept of alcohol abuse. We will examine the visual culture of alcoholism and the temperance movement in nineteenth and early twentieth century high and low art. Additional issues for examination include the imagery of Prohibition, cigarette advertisements, and the visual culture of the Alcoholics Anonymous movement. In addition to still imagery in art and advertising, the course will consider the moving image, and examine the televised Public Service Announcements (PSA’s) of the late twentieth century related to the so-called “War on Drugs." Finally, we will move to consider contemporary reality television shows such as “Intervention” and “Celebrity Rehab.” This imagery will be set and studied against the social and cultural history of nineteenth and twentieth century America.

This interdisciplinary seminar will include elements from the study of art history and visual culture, media studies, American history and American studies, and the history of medicine.

Students will conduct original research on primary source material including both images and literature from the period under study. Assignments will include one short paper of 3 pages, two oral presentations, and one longer paper of 15 pages.

SARA HARRINGTON is the Art Librarian here at Rutgers. She holds a Master's in Library Science and a Ph.D. in Art History, and has written on 19th century French art, World War II posters, and Shaker art and material culture. Dr. Harrington looks forward to working with Honors Program students, whom she first met while facilitating Honors Colloquia. She hopes that this course will engage honors students and promote visual literacy, the critical exploration of the images that surround us, and foster information literacy, the transformation of information into knowledge.

Jung for the 21st Century
01:090:273 Index #69627
Professor Steven Walker - SAS - Asian Languages and Cultures
T 09:50A -12:50P
Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Avenue Campus

This seminar will introduce students to a system of psychology that, after having been overshadowed by Freudian psychology in the 20th century, is coming into its own in the 21st.  The seminar will present basic principles and paradigms, and will engage students in a number of practical applications in the areas of the psychology of everyday life: the role of mythology in dreams and social life, religion, the analysis of films and literary texts, and self-analysis.  No special preparation is needed, but students should come with an attitude of openness towards what may seem at first to be somewhat uncanny and even disturbing aspects of the unconscious mind.

In the area of the psychology of everyday life, Jungian psychology makes its greatest contribution through its dynamic presentation and analysis of the shadow (the unconscious and repressed personality), the anima and animus (the repressed contrasexual personality), and typology (categories of psychological functioning).  Students in this seminar should be ready for some creative self-analysis!  We will also deal with the disturbing issue of psychopathy/sociopathy as presented by Guggenbuhl-Craig, one of Jung's most original followers. 

Jungian psychology also values the creative arts, and sees them as performing a remarkable role in the psychic life of the individual and society.  Accordingly, we will analyze several narrative and film texts from a Jungian perspective: Toni Morrison's Sula, Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Jane Campion's The Piano, and other texts chosen as the occasion arises.

The textbook will be my own recent presentation of the Jungian system and its later developments, Jung and the Jungians on Myth: an Introduction (2002).  We will also study Guggenbuhl-Craig's The Emptied Soul and Jung's autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections.

STEVEN F. WALKER, Professor of Comparative Literature, holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin (B.A. in classical Greek) and Harvard (M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature).  He teaches in both the graduate and undergraduate programs in Comparative Literature, and he is a direct descendent (really!) of Henry Rutgers.  He has been reading Jung voraciously since his undergraduate days.


Wonderful Life: Genes and Evolution
01:090:274 Index #69628
Professor Frank Deis - SAS - Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
MW 01:40-03:00P
ARC 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.  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 2006).

British Novels and Film
01:090:275 Index #69739
Professor Dianne Sadoff - SAS - English
MW 02:50-04:10P
Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Avenue Campus

What happens when a postmodern, postcolonial, or queer author rewrites the modern novel? Or adapts and films it? Wild things! Come along on this journey on which we will read rewritings and screen remediations of modern British novels. We’ll ask questions about our—and our authors’ and filmmakers’—historical moments and cultural locations, about racial, sexual, and gender positions from which to speak, write, and rewrite. We will encounter exciting new ways of thinking about classic novels of the recent past—as historical, cultural, and media documents.

Critical thinking about literature, culture, and film inquires into the categories that “general” cultural consumers normally take for granted, such as the concepts of authorship, writing, reading, and cultural production. The 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, ideas useful to anyone pursuing a major in the humanities or social sciences.

There will be a strong emphasis on assignments that teach the skills of 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.

Terror and Empire
01:090:276 Index #69740
Professor Jonah Siegel - SAS - English
F 01:10-04:10P
Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Avenue Campus

What does it mean to be an empire in the modern era?  What is the relationship between fear and empire?  What is the political force of fear?  How is language affected by empire, by fear?  What is the effect of empire on the home (or "homeland”)?

From the middle of the nineteenth century until the middle of the twentieth Great Britain came to know itself as the heart of a great empire.  This was also the period that saw the rise of a mass public and of an ever-broader form of national democracy.  How did literature reflect the anxieties of the imperial project?  Why do so many of the texts dealing with empire feature fearful protagonists or endangered homes?  In what ways were activities taking place at the edges of the empire related to the creation and manipulation of anxiety?

This seminar will consider texts that reflect on the project of empire, focusing in particular on the relation between fear and politics in a set of extremely effective, complex, and often moving works from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Reading will include Heart of Darkness, Kim, Secret Agent, Waiting for the Barbarians, The War of the Worlds, 1984, and other novels, short stories and essays that reflect directly or indirectly on the interplay of language, terror, and empire, on the troubling relationship between the foreign and the domestic.

JONAH SIEGEL is a scholar of literature and culture from the nineteenth to the twentieth century.  His research has focused on the relation between literature and the fine arts in that period, but he also has a strong teaching interest in the literature and culture of the turn of the twentieth century, and on the complex relationship between literature and society. 

Cold War Culture
01:090:277 Index #69741
Professor David Greenberg - SCILS - Journalism & Media Studies
W 01:10-04:10P
35 College Avenue Rm 302
College Avenue Campus

The years just after World War II helped define American politics and culture in the half century that followed.  This seminar 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 will explore include the origins of the Cold War, the Red Scare, domestic politics, espionage, and the civil rights movement.  Social issues examined will 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 Associate 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); he 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. NEXT


Three Modernist Cities: London, Paris, Harlem
01:090:278 Index #70982
Professor Carol Smith - SAS - English
W 09:50A-12:50P
Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Avenue Campus

London, Paris, and Harlem have come to known as centers of 20th century modernist culture.  In this seminar we will look at the cities themselves and how they became the urban spaces that drew early 20th century writers and artists.  For each city we will examine a pair of writers, one male, one female, who were part of the city’s cultural debates and who, in most cases, used the cities themselves as a backdrop for the texts we will read.

We will look first at the London that attracted American writers such as Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot, as well as British writers and intellectuals who were part of the Bloomsbury Group, especially Virginia Woolf.  Next will be post World War I Paris and the expatriate literary colony centered on the Left Bank.  We will discuss the painters who attracted and influenced writers like Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway, as well as the proliferation of experimental presses, bookstores, and literary salons where writers and artists gathered.  Finally we will look at Harlem and the literary movement of the Harlem Renaissance, including the close connections between Left Bank Paris and Harlem.  Here we will focus on texts by Zora Neale Hurston and Ralph Ellison, as well as the cultural battles over the way black culture should be presented to the public.  We will end the discussion of each city with a roundtable with short reports on individual student research projects.

CAROL SMITH is Professor Emerita of English.  She has taught many courses on modernism and 20th century literature in the Department of English.  She directed the Graduate Program in English, and served as chair of the Douglass English department and as Acting Dean of Douglass College.  She is the author of T. S. Eliot’s Dramatic Theory and Practice and many articles on American and British 20th century authors.  Her special interests include the cultural backgrounds of modernism and 20th century women writers. NEXT


The Preposterous Universe
01:090:279 Index #69742
Professor Charles Keeton - SAS - Physics & Astronomy
MW 04:30-05:50P
Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Avenue Campus

Science is a dynamic process of discovery, not a fixed set of facts.  In this seminar we will develop scientific critical thinking skills that are central to the discovery process, by reading and writing about astrophysics.  We will focus on how astronomers have come to believe the universe is filled with exotic "dark matter" that pulls on everything (through gravity) but is invisible, and "dark energy" that produces a bizarre cosmic repulsion.  Since neither substance has been seen or felt directly, we have an outstanding opportunity to examine how scientists interpret evidence and construct arguments to support the "dark universe" paradigm.  The paradigm is still evolving—the evidence for dark energy is only a decade old—and even subject to debate, so we will see how science operates at the frontiers of knowledge.

Even before taking advanced technical courses, students can learn to evaluate scientific evidence and arguments, and to construct arguments of their own.  We will do this by engaging scientific literature directly.  We will analyze the evidence presented in the papers we read, discuss its interpretation, and critique the way the scientific arguments are presented.  We will begin with pieces from popular science publications (such as Scientific American and Science News) to set the context and give the students a familiar starting point.  We will read research literature to examine first-hand how new insights are obtained and presented, and see how they work their way into a general understanding of the universe.  Reading original works will help students realize (perhaps to their surprise) that science is primarily about what we do not know, and how we discover. 

Prior knowledge of astrophysics is not required, but willingness to be quantitative and mathematical is a must.

Students will hone their critical thinking and writing skills by composing four papers representing different styles of scientific communication:

  • News item in the style of Science News, written for an educated but general audience.
  • Commentary in the style of Nature News & Views, written for scientists but not astronomers.
  • Scientific conference presentation.
  • Scientific research paper.

For each project, I will offer comments on the strength and clarity of the argument, the depth of the analysis, and whether the paper reaches its target audience, and then return the paper for revision.  The freedom to make mistakes, receive comments, and make improvements is central to effective learning.  Plus, revision is essential to good writing, and a very real part of writing in science.

CHARLES KEETON is an astrophysicist who studies the bending of light by gravity to learn about the exotic dark matter that permeates the universe.  One of his current interests is finding the invisible dwarf galaxies that are predicted to surround each massive galaxy.  Professor Keeton combines theoretical studies with observations using the Hubble Space Telescope and telescopes in Arizona, Hawaii, and Chile; and he expects to use the new Southern African Large Telescope, in which Rutgers is a major participant.  Before coming to Rutgers, Professor Keeton was a Hubble Fellow at the University of Chicago, a researcher at the University of Arizona, and a graduate student at Harvard University.


Molecular View of Human Anatomy: The Human Nervous System
01:090:280 Index #69743
Professor Helen Berman - SAS - Chemistry & Chemical Biology
W 8:40-11:40A
Doolittle Annex Room 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 research on molecules related to the human nervous system in order to understand how these molecules are involved in the workings of the human body in health and disease.

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 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 on participation in class discussions/activities. The main aim of the seminar is to encourage research-based learning and to familiarize students with a molecular view of 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.

Violence and Spectatorship: Major European Filmmakers
01:090:281 Index #69744
Professor Fatima Naqvi - SAS - Germanic Russian & E. European Lang & Lit
TH 09:50A -12:50P
German House Seminar Room
College Avenue 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; and a 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.

Reading the Bible: Early Church Fathers
01:090:282 Index #69745Professor Karl Morrison - SAS - History
TH 01:10-04:10P
Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Avenue Campus

Focusing on the first through the sixth centuries of the Common Era, this seminar introduces students to one of the most decisive movements in European History: the formation of the Christian Bible.  In the process, it also opens the door to another, almost equally powerful innovation: laying out the contours of doctrine in a time before there was any Bible or developed Church hierarchy.  To mention establishing the shape of doctrine is also to say preparing the field of battle over which wars of religion were fought for centuries.  Both movements began with the same challenge: being forced under pressure in debates among believers and under persecution by unbelievers–to say what Christians stood for.  We begin at that pressure point to piece together the story of how the canon of Scriptures slowly came together, structures of authority were devised to rule on authentic belief, and the creative dynamic of European culture was formed around a nucleus of conflict, not only in areas of belief and discipline, but also in art, politics, and other areas of expression.

The work of the seminar will include intensive readings of original texts in translation, two papers (one of them a term paper), and other assignments.  Classes will be conducted by discussion.

KARL F. MORRISON is a specialist in Medieval History.  He has taught at a number of universities, serving at Rutgers as Lessing Professor of History and Poetics since 1988.  He has written widely on Church History, medieval political thought, and art theory.

Sickle Cell Anemia- The Intersection of Genetics, Biochemistry, Medicine, History, Evolution and Politics
01:090:284 Index #69747
Professor Abram Gabriel - SAS - Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
W 03:20-06:20P
Center for Advanced Biology and Medicine (CABM) Room 308
Busch Campus

As our society becomes more and more specialized, the gaps in knowledge and perspectives separating scientists, physicians, politicians, and consumers from one another, become wider and the consequences more serious.  Although half the American public does not believe in the theory of evolution, advances in molecular biology, genetics and genomics, all with an evolutionary underpinning, are transforming our concepts of health and individual disease risks, with implications for insurance coverage, diagnostic decisions and treatment options.  

This seminar will concentrate on examining medical, biochemical, genetic, evolutionary, as well as historic, political, and sociological aspects of sickle cell anemia (SCA), the most common Mendelian genetic disorder of African-Americans.  SCA has been at the forefront of biomedical research, in terms of understanding its molecular basis and designing diagnostic tests and treatments.  The relationship between SCA and malaria resistance is one of clearest examples of natural selection, while the prevalence of SCA in the U.S. (>80,000 affected individuals) is the direct result of the importation of slaves from West Africa.  Diagnosis, treatment and ongoing management of patients with SCA varies among states and countries, and reflect political and cultural priorities. 

The class will consist of lectures, guest lectures, as well as class discussions and student presentations.  Students will be assigned readings from journal articles and books.  Early in the semester, students will decide on a research topic of mutual instructor/student interest related to some aspect of SCA or another genetic disorder.  During the semester, students will present their findings to the class.  At the end of the semester, students will submit a term paper on their topic, utilizing primary literature, policy reviews, and/or personal interviews.

This course is designed for students interested in majoring or already majoring in Biology, Biochemistry, Genetics, History, Africana Studies, Evolution and Ecology, Anthropology, as well as for students with career interests in medicine, public health, molecular biology, biotechnology, sociology, or the history of medicine.  There are no pre-requisites. 

ABRAM GABRIEL is an associate professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and Graduate Director of the Joint Program in Biochemistry.  He received his B.A. from Harvard University and his M.D. and M.P.H. from Johns Hopkins University.  His research centers on mechanisms and consequences of transposable genetic elements.  His seminar is based on his interest in making molecular genetics more widely understandable to non-scientists and making the societal repercussions of genetics better appreciated by those planning careers in biomedical science. 

Meaning & Morality: Questions About Who We Are, How People Act, And What We Should Believe About Good And Evil
01:090:285 Index #71154
Professor Larry Temkin - SAS - Philosophy
TH 09:50A-12:50P
Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Avenue Campus

This seminar will explore some of the most profound questions humans have addressed.  Of special concern will be questions about good and evil, justice and equality, freedom and autonomy, and the meaning of human existence.  This seminar will be taught by a moral philosopher, and special emphasis will be laid on approaching these questions philosophically.  But the seminar aims to combine literary, philosophical, and historical insights and perspectives in addressing these profound issues. 

Readings may include Shakespeare’s King Lear, Pascal’s Pensees, Kant’s Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave, Nietzsche’s Geneology of Morals, Glover’s Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century, selected stories by Kafka, Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz, Spiegelman’s Maus, and selections from Martin Luther King Jr., including Letter from a Birmingham Jail.  All these readings are absolutely first-rate, and some are amongst the most important and influential writings in the history of Western thought. 

The seminar will require significant amounts of reading and writing, regular attendance, and frequent participation in classroom discussion.  It will emphasize critical thinking, careful writing, thoughtful expression, and deep reflection on fundamentally important issues.  Students will be required to do short homework assignments (~2 pages each) and two papers (~ 7 pages and ~ 8-10 pages).  Papers will be expected to combine rigor, analysis, and arguments with originality, insight, and depth.

This seminar should be one of the most interesting and important classes that you ever take.  With your help, it should also be a great deal of fun. 

LARRY TEMKIN is Professor II of Philosophy.  A specialist in ethics and social and political philosophy, Temkin is one of the world’s foremost experts on equality.  Professor Temkin graduated number one from the University of Wisconsin at Madison with a B.A.-Honors Degree, and received his Ph.D. from Princeton University.  Professor Temkin has received numerous honors and awards, including Fellowships from the Danforth Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the National Humanities Center, Harvard University’s Program in Ethics and the Professions, All Souls College Oxford University, the National Institutes of Health, and the Australian National University.  Before coming to Rutgers, Professor Temkin taught at Rice University, where he won eight major teaching awards, including each of Rice’s highest teaching awards, as voted on by peers, current students, and former students.  In addition, Temkin received Rutgers’s 2008 School of Arts and Sciences Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Education.  Temkin is also acutely aware that none of this means diddly-squat to current students.  Nor should it!


Marriages Made in Heaven and Hell
01:090:286 Index# 69748
Professor Louise Barnett – SAS – American Studies
W 02:15-05:15P
RAB 018
Douglass Campus

This seminar will explore the institution of marriage, the foundation of modern society. While laws and customs surrounding marriage vary from one society to another--often enormously--historically, marriage has been an effective institution. Most human beings who have lived in historical times have married, and most marriages function more or less well from the point of view of society.  We will examine a particular subset of married couples, those whose marriages work unusually well or unusually poorly. These married couples are all well known historical or literary figures (with the exception of a few fictional couples we will read about), and all are now deceased. The marriages are complicated and interesting, which is why I chose them.

LOUISE BARNETT is a member of the American Studies Department. Her primary field is nineteenth-century American culture, which she has pursued in a number of directions, beginning with The Ignoble Savage: American Literary Racism. A later work of literary criticism, Authority and Speech: Language, Society and Self in the American Novel, investigated the relationship between authority and speech in novels from early in the nineteenth century to the 1970s. In 1996 Professor Barnett published her best known book, the biography Touched by Fire: The Life, Death, and Mythic Afterlife of George Armstrong Custer. Another excursion into military history, Ungentlemanly Acts: The Army’s Notorious Incest Trial, was selected by New York Public Library as one of the year 2000’s twenty-five best books. Her most recent book, Atrocity and American Military Justice in Southeast Asia is forthcoming early in 2010. In conjunction with this research she attended the thirtieth anniversary commemoration of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam where two Americans received medals from the government of Vietnam for their efforts to stop the massacre. Professor Barnett teaches courses on American narrative, nineteenth-century American literature, and Native American literature.


Self and Freedom: East and West
01:090:287 Index #74685
Professor Tao Jiang - SAS - Religion
TH 10:55A-01:55P
Loree Hall Rm 131
Douglass Campus

The point of departure of this seminar is the freedom of the will in the Western intellectual tradition. The issues to be examined in the seminar include: why is the will such a centrally important concept in the Western intellectual discourse? Why has the Christian West been so obsessed with the freedom of the will, at least since late antiquity? How are the will and its freedom conceptualized? Why haven’t the major religious traditions in India and China exhibited similar interest in the notion of the will and its freedom? What kinds of freedom do the indigenous Indian and Chinese religious traditions conceptualize and sanctify instead? Why do those kinds of freedom captivate them, or what motivates them to schematize those kinds of freedom, as opposed to the freedom of the will that has fascinated the Christian West? How do the Indian and Chinese religious traditions conceptualize freedom? What do the differences in the conceptualizations of freedom tell us about the characters and the configurations of the religious traditions as well as the cultures that give birth to them in the way they do? …

For the comparative purpose of the seminar, we will treat the notion of free will as a particular way to conceptualize spiritual freedom. In other words, free will is seen as a vital part of the broader human intellectual effort to grapple with the problem of spiritual freedom. The notion of spiritual freedom provides us with the conceptual tool to examine the family of religious ideals, and enables us to ground the free will discourse within the larger human intellectual discourse on spiritual freedom. Spiritual freedom is among humanity’s most powerful ideals. Each mature culture has formulated and enshrined its own ideal of spiritual freedom and is heavily invested in promoting such an ideal within its own sphere and beyond. Due to its potency, spiritual freedom is the locus of intense creative synergy of a culture, thus offering us a precious glimpse into a culture which postulates that particular form of spiritual freedom. This will be the focus of the seminar.

To make our case, we will carefully study some of the most representative and crystallizing texts in these traditions for their elaborations of the grounding conception of spiritual freedom in the tradition they represent.  For the Indian Brahmanic tradition, we will concentrate on the Bhagavad Gîtâ. The focus will be on the deliberation of the nature of the Self and that of freedom as identification with the Self or detachment from non-Self. Such a freedom is absolute and perfect. For the Indian Buddhist tradition, we will use Nâgârjuna’s Mûlamadhyamakakârikâ as the text which revolutionizes and crystallizes the Buddhist middle way that rejects the “extreme views” of both Self and non-Self in maintaining the dependent and empty nature of any actual or conceivable entities. For the Chinese tradition, we will use the classical Taoist text, the Zhuangzi, that points to a conception of freedom as human spontaneity in our being in the world. This conception of spiritual freedom idealizes and romanticizes the majestic movement of the natural world, hence advocating a notion of freedom as the daemonic, spontaneous and effortless navigation of the world. For the Western Christian tradition, we will focus on St. Augustine’s On the Free Choice of the Will. Since Augustine has been credited with the “invention” or “discovery” of the will in the technical sense of the word that has come to be used in the West, his arguments merit close attention as the originating moment of such a seminal notion. Special attention will be given to his using of the free will to preserve divine attributes of God, such as omnipotence, omniscience, and morally perfect, etc., on the one hand while accounting for the existence of evil in the created world on the other.

TAO JIANG is an associate professor in the Department of Religion at Rutgers, teaching Buddhism, classical Chinese religions and philosophies and comparative philosophy. He is the author of “Contexts and Dialogue: Yogâcâra Buddhism and Modern Psychology on the Subliminal Mind”(University of Hawaii Press, 2006) and a co-chair of “Religions in Chinese and Indian Cultures: A Comparative Perspective” Seminar under the American Academy of Religion.


The  Psychology of Religious Terrorism
01:090:288 Index #74249
Professor James Jones - SAS - Religion
M 09:15A-12:15P
Loree Hall Rm 131
Douglass Campus

The purpose of this course is to explore the role of violence and terrorism in the religions of the world and the psychology behind them. The course will be taught from the perspective of contemporary psychoanalytic theory but will also include material from social psychology and comparative religions.

Each class period will be devoted to brief lectures and discussions of the readings and the topic for the day. In addition to readings, videos may be shown in class and students may be required to do some research online involving reading foreign press reports and visiting various websites. Since this is a seminar, class participation will be the major determinant of the final grade. To facilitate discussion, at the beginning of each class, starting with the second, each student is to bring a one page reaction paper to class. These be graded and returned. In addition, each student will be required to write an 8-10 page paper on the role of violence in one of the religions of the world or, with the permission of the instructor, some other topic directly related to the material in this course. A topic proposal will be due around the 4th week of class A first draft of this essay is due at the beginning of class the day after spring break. Papers with comments will be returned. The week after the last day of class, students are to hand in both the final version of this essay taking account of the instructor’s feedback on the first draft and the first draft with the instructor’s comments. At this time they are also to hand in together all of their weekly papers. No extensions will be given on any of the written assignments.

JAMES JONES has earned doctorates in both Religious Studies and Clinical Psychology, as well as an honorary doctorate in theology from the University of Uppsala in Sweden. In addition to being a professor of Religion and adjunct professor of Clinical Psychology at Rutgers University and a Senior Research Fellow at the Center on Terrorism at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in NYC, he has also been a lecturer in Psychiatry and Religion at Union Theological Seminary in New York and a visiting professor at the University of Uppsala in Sweden. He is the author of twelve books, including /Contemporary Psychoanalysis and Religion/ (Yale University Press,1991), /Religion and Psychology in Transition /(Yale University Press, 1996), /Terror and Transformation: The Ambiguity of Religion/ (Routledge Press, 2002), and /Blood That Cries Out from the Earth/: /The Psychology of Religious Terrorism/ (Oxford: 2008) over twenty professional papers and book chapters. His books have been published both in the United States and Europe and translated in Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Portuguese. He serves on the editorial boards of several publications both here and abroad. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. For six years he was co-chair of the Religion and Social Sciences Section of the American Academy of Religion. He is the vice-president of the International Association for the Psychology of Religion. He also maintains a private practice as a clinical psychologist. Dr. Jones has been invited to lecture in Europe, Japan and the United States on the psychology of religious terrorism.

How to Do Things with Stories: Narratives in Everyday Conversation
01:090:289 Index #74727
Professor Jenny Mandelbaum - SCILS - Communication
MW 04:30-05:50P
35 College Avenue Rm 302
College Avenue 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 examine classic and modern theories of narrative from a variety of disciplines (e.g., literary theory, anthropology, folklore, sociology, linguistics, psychology, communication) and then reconceptualize 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 do this by examining audio and video tapes of naturally occurring interaction in everyday and institutional settings.  Students 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 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, three short exercises, a midterm, and a final research presentation and paper.  The research project would 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.


Analyzing the Post-Cold War Arena of Conflict & Economic Warfare
01:090:290 Index#77941
Professor Jack Jarmon – DIMACS
W 5:00-08:00P
CoRE Building Rm 433
Busch Campus NEXT

The seminar will delve into questions regarding the definition of national interests, security strategies, and understanding the risks and defenses of asymmetrical attack - be it the actions of a state or non-state actor.  These issues will be explored and discussed in the context of how they relate to national defense, the emerging new order in global governance, and the current financial crises.  Students will gain an understanding of the interconnectedness and tensions of globalization and what contributes to the inner rhythms of international relations, political conflict, and economic competition.  The seminar will require an independent research project on a relevant topic, and participation in a war game simulation.

JACK JARMON is currently Associate Director of the Command Control and Interoperability Center for Advance Data Analysis at Rutgers University.  He is also a Lecturer in the International Relations Program at the University of Pennsylvania, and Chief Research Officer of New Era Associates in Dallas.  His research focuses on the private/public sector partnership and issues of governance within the context of national security imperatives and frictionless trade.  His research also involves the analysis concerning the basilar societal, economic, political and cultural elements, which beget tension, and trigger and influence terrorist events.  His Ph.D. is in Global Affairs, from Rutgers University.  He was a Mid-Career Fellow at the Harriman Institute, Columbia University.  His Masters is in Soviet and Russian Affairs, from Fordham University, and his BA, in Russian & Eastern European Area Studies, is from Rutgers College.  His current book project is a core text for courses and students of security studies and international relations, to be published by The Johns Hopkins University Press.  The book is an analysis of the current arena of conflict and the competition over political and economic control by state and non-state actors.