Interdisciplinary Honors Seminars

Fall 2008 Interdisciplinary Honors Seminars

How Sex Changed: Biomedical Sex Research in the 20th Century
James Reed, Department of History
W 6:10 PM - 9:00 PM
Brett Hall Seminar Room (CAC)

This is a seminar about the relationship between scientists and human sexuality.  We will examine some of the most important efforts to understand and to control sexual behavior.  Who studied sex?  How did they define it? What methods did they use? Why did they do it?  Who paid for the work? What is the relationship between this science, gender systems, and other salient aspects of U.S. society? What can we learn from the immense disseminar constructed by sex researchers?  
We will begin with the "crisis in civilized sexual morality" and Freud's visit to the U.S. in 1900, and end with the emergence of the intersexed and transsexuals as self-conscious minorities successfully struggling for civil rights.  We will have an Alfred Kinsey film festival, and will devote several weeks to the career John Money, the Johns Hopkins University clinical psychologist who championed the cause of surgical sex reassignment.  Assigned readings will include: Anne Fausto-Sterling, Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality; Deborah Rudacille, The Riddle of Gender; John Coalpinto; and other materials provided by the instructor.  All participants in the class will be expected to make a presentation (15 minutes maximum) about a researcher, novel, autobiography, journal, or website that is relevant to our story.   There will be two short written assignments (5 pages) and a longer essay (minimum 10 pages) that will serve as a final exam.

JAMES REED has professed History at Rutgers since 1975.  He got his B.A. at Louisiana State University and his A.M. and Ph.D. at Harvard.  Among historians he is best known for a book titled From Private Vice to Public Virtue, which is a history of birth control in the U.S.  He has also written on intelligence tests, penitentiaries, and biomedical sex research.   His current writing project is a history of biomedical sex research, working title—Sex Research in America: From Social Hygiene to Sexology.    Among students he is best known as the instructor in Development of the U.S. I & II, as well as more specialized courses such as Health and the Environment in the U.S., Sport in History,  The IQ Controversy, and an honors seminar on “How Sex Changed.”  He served as Dean of Rutgers College from 1985 to 1994.


Identity and Culture in an Age of Uncertainty
01:090:251 Index #10983
Arlene Stein, Department of Sociology
M 05:00-08:00pm    LSH A215
Livingston Campus

“Identity” signifies both individuality and community.  It suggests a connection between our subjective understandings of the world and the cultural and historical settings in which we find ourselves.  To have an “identity” is to possess a sense of oneself as relatively stable over time, even as the world around us is constantly in motion.  This seminar explores the relationship between identities and social/cultural change.  We will explore some of the challenges facing us in a world where risk, uncertainty, and flux are an indelible part of life.

As individuals, we are products of our time, and of the events that shape our worlds.  Yet we are not prisoners of time or of the culture and society in which we live.  As C. Wright Mills once said, a central task for sociology is to imagine how three dimensions—history, biography, and social structure—combine to create social reality.  This is one of our primary tasks this semester.  Toward this end, we will ask: what is identity - is there even such a thing?  How are identities socially constructed, maintained, and transformed?  Is identity a life story, a narrative?  If so, how do we tell the story of a life?  How has identity evolved across time and space?  How does it become transformed across the life span, and through the activities of social movements, and in response to war and social unrest?

In the second part of the seminar, we will discuss the ways in which traumatic events such as rape and war can challenge the integrity of the self, and call one’s identity into question.  We will try to understand how traumas shape individual and collective memories, how different groups have tried to commemorate past traumatic episodes, and how/with what consequence traumatic images circulate through mass media, affecting us all.  Finally, we will consider the ways that globalization, as a cultural and economic process, leads to greater opportunities for some while introducing a new set of risks, and bringing new inequalities.  How is globalization shaping identities today?  How and why have some ethnic and religious groups responded to globalization, and the uncertainties it introduces, by turning to religious/ethnic fundamentalisms?  What are the prospects of moving beyond such defensive forms of identification?

ARLENE STEIN teaches courses on the sociology of gender, sexuality, culture, religion, and identities. She is the author of three books and the editor of two collections of essays. Among them is The Stranger Next Door: The Story of a Small Community’s Battle Over Sex, Faith, and Civil Rights (Beacon), an ethnographic study of a conservative campaign against gay/lesbian rights and its impact upon one community. The book won the American Anthropological Association’s Ruth Benedict Award and an Honor Award from the American Library Association. Sex and Sensibility: Stories of a Lesbian Generation (University of California), an earlier work, examines the impact of feminism on women’s sexual identities. A collection of her essays, Shameless: Sexual Dissidence in American Culture (NYU), was published in 2006. She received the Simon and Gagnon Award for career contributions to the study of sexualities, given by the American Sociological Association. She has two current research projects: the first is a study of trauma and family memories; the second concerns religious expression in public schools. She serves on the graduate faculty of the Women’s and Gender Studies program at Rutgers, and previously taught at the University of Oregon and the University of Essex.


Communication and Ethnicity: Asian Americans
01:090:252 Index #10984
Hui-Min Kuo, Department of Communication
T 01:10-04:10pm    Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Ave Campus

This seminar will introduce the theories, approaches, and processes involved in communicating with individuals of different cultural backgrounds, specifically, Asian Americans, while examining potential challenges and issues relevant to this context.  This seminar aims to help advance the understanding of Asian and Asian American communication in a multicultural society and global world by focusing on how the concepts of ethnicity and culture can influence everyday communication behavior and outcomes.  The seminar will explore (a) the theoretical assumptions of Asian and Asian American culture and communication, (b) the role of ethnicity and communication in Asian and Asian American cultures, (c) the perspectives and development of ethnic and cultural identities, (d) the communication patterns and styles of Asians and Asian Americans studied in the literature, and (e) the practical implications for communication and interaction with Asians and Asian Americans.  

In this seminar, students will explore fundamental theories of Asian American cultural communication; critically assess the theoretical construct and application of various concepts relevant to Asian American cultural communication; critically compare and contrast applications of the approaches studied in interpersonal, family, or organizational settings; identify potential challenges and perceptual similarities and differences relating to Asian American communication and cultures; and complete a research project by participating in the processes of literature review, research methods, discussion and results, and writing research reports.  Besides research, students will engage in discussion of assigned readings, small group projects based on contemporary films, and exposure to cultural events.

HUI-MIN KUO is Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Communication.  Her teaching and research interests are in organizational culture and intercultural communication.  As a first-generation Asian American, she is particularly interested in studying communication norms and behaviors of Asian Americans when they interact with others.  She earned her PhD in Communication from Rutgers.  With diverse professional experience in instruction, administration, and services to students and faculty, she is interested in connecting communication theories to everyday practices.  Through teaching and research, her goal is to integrate theory and practice to enrich student learning and the communication discipline.


Globalization in Historical Perspective
01:090:253 Index #11152
Michael Bordo, Department of Economics
TH 09:50a-12:50p    Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Ave Campus

In the past two decades, globalization -- defined as the integration of goods, labor and financial markets -- has been a powerful force in the global economy.  It has led to heated controversy.  Debate has been engaged between proponents who see the benefits of globalization as a better global allocation of resources, more rapid economic growth, and the opening up of parts of the world that have previously been left behind. Opponents view globalization as disruptive of the existing economic and social order and as transferring resources from the losers in the globalization game to the winners.  This debate has played vociferously into the political arena at the International Institutions and at the domestic political level across the world.  In the US and EU, concern has mounted over the loss of jobs to the emerging countries.  In the emerging countries there is concern over financial instability and financial crises consequent upon capital flow reversals.

The recent era of globalization is not unique. The world saw a similar phenomenon a century ago, in the period 1870 to 1914.  Evidence on migration, trade flows, and capital flows suggests that integration was in some dimensions as extensive or more so than in the present.  However, just as in the current era, capital flows were fickle, leading to waves of financial crises in the emerging countries of the day.

The earlier era of globalization was also rife with debate and political controversy.  Indeed a backlash by labor in the new world countries of the US, Canada, Australia, and Argentina against the massive flows of labor from Europe led to very restrictive legislation against immigration in all these countries.  In the old world land owners objected to the decline in their rents in the face of cheap new world agricultural products.  This led to a rise in tariffs in the 1890s.  These forces some have argued contributed to the rise of nationalism leading to World War I and the end of the first era of globalization.

Students will write papers and give presentations on the facts of globalization then and now; the costs and benefits of integration; the political debates in both eras ; and the policies taken and not taken.  Finally it would discuss the present debate and the challenges for the future.


01:090:254 Index #10985
Steven Walker, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures/ Comp Lit
T 09:50a-12:50p    Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Ave Campus

A critical investigation into the phenomenon of heroism in both men and women, as represented in complex ways in literary texts and mythology, and also as occurring in real life events both contemporary and historic.  The seminar will examine various older narratives involving heroes and heroines in order to consider (in cultural context but also in terms of universal human potential) these and other questions:

1. What motivates people to risk their lives and welfare in order to engage willingly in some form of heroic action? Is there a hero archetype?

2. Is there a dark side to heroism?

3. Can one extend the idea of heroism to include intellectual heroism (Socrates, Oedipus, Faust) or psychological and spiritual heroism (Inanna, Odysseus, Nachiketa)?

4. Does heroism present a gendered dimension in some cultures? To what extent can one distinguish male and female forms of heroism?

Texts (to be read and discussed, or on occasion to be presented by the professor) will include most of the following: Sophocles’ tragedy Oedipus the Tyrant (along with Jean-Joseph Goux’ Oedipus, Philosopher); Plato’s Apology and its presentation of the figure of Socrates; the Sumerian myth of The Descent of Inanna; Odysseus’ journey to the Land of the Dead in the Odyssey; the Katha Upanishad’s story of Nachiketa and Yama the god of Death; the Iliad’s portrayal of Achilles; the Bhagavad Gita’s presentation of Arjuna’s dilemma; Joan of Arc and her myth; Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage; Aristotle’s anatomy of the virtue of courage in the Nicomachean Ethics; the thematically parallel stories of Alcestis (in Euripides’ serio-comic play) and Savitri (in the Mahabharata); Joseph Campbell’s anatomy of the heroic quest; figures from Robert Segal’s anthology of hero myths.

The second part of the seminar will dedicated to the presentation of individual student projects, the goal of which will be to discover and discuss in a complex fashion (using the theoretical perspectives established earlier in the seminar) heroic actions in real life, whether contemporary or in the past.  

STEVEN F. WALKER is Professor of Comparative Literature, and has taught frequently in the Rutgers Honors Program. After majoring in Greek at the University of Wisconsin, and receiving a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature (French, Greek and Sanskrit) from Harvard University, he went on to teach at Rutgers, where he has been ever since.  His professional interests range from the discovery of significant but covert subtexts (some of them classical) in modern literature to the Jungian study of mythology, as manifested most recently in a book Jung and the Jungians on Myth (Routledge, 2002) and in articles on Proust and the Mass, the hypothesis of the Greek invention of world theater, and the Faustian subtext of Nabokov’s Lolita.  His other interests include classical piano music, the 1920s jazz of Bix Beiderbecke, spending time in France, Jungian psychology and Hindu mysticism.


Global Warming: Policy without Politics?
01:090:255 Index #10986
Sunil Somalwar, Department of Physics and Astronomy
MW 01:40p-03:00p HLL Rm 009
Busch Campus

Everybody is concerned about energy and global warming these days. Politicians and entrepreneurs are pushing their favorite solutions, many of which are not sensible. In the meanwhile, the United States continues to use enough energy to bring the entire Lake Erie to a boil within a couple of years. Is energy consumption on such enormous scale necessary to maintain our living standards?  Is it possible that reducing our energy consumption via increased efficiency will in fact increase our technology base and living standards?  What are the European and Japanese experiences and how do they compare to ours?

In this class, we will examine the usage of energy in modern society that has resulted in the dramatic increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, learn the basics of the greenhouse effect and global warming, and discuss the consequences.  We will explore how individual actions (such as commuting, housing choices, etc) impact global warming.  From a public policy standpoint, we will evaluate the relative merits of various approaches and discuss the political implications.  This area is fraught with “unintended consequences”, so instead of proposing pat answers, we will learn how to evaluate proposed solutions critically.  For example, are solar panels cost effective?  Does the electric car make sense?

This seminar will take an interdisciplinary approach to exploring energy and climate change policy, and should be of interest to both science and non-science majors.  

SUNIL SOMALWAR smashes very high energy particles at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) near Chicago and the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland.  The protons he studies collide head on while travelling at about 99.999999% of the speed of light. These collisions create conditions that existed in our universe soon after the Big Bang and help us answer fundamental questions such as how the universe came about, what it is made of, why things attract or repel each other and where all the antimatter has gone. Professor Somalwar is also very concerned about how we humans are smashing the natural world, which is partly why he teaches classes on energy and global warming. He also runs a nonprofit to save the world's remaining few wild tigers (yes, really!) and is a volunteer activist with New Jersey's Sierra Club.


Sickle Cell Anemia-
The Intersection of Genetics, Biochemistry, Medicine, History, Evolution and Politics

01:090:256 Index#10987
Professor Abram Gabriel, Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
W 03:20-06:20P CABM Rm 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.  This is his first SAS honors seminar, and 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.

The Social Psychology of Gender
01:090:257 Index #10988
Laurie Rudman, Department of Psychology
MW 01:40-03:00p    LSH A215
Livingston Campus

From birth onward, female and male individuals are perceived to be fundamentally different -- so much so that whether a newborn is a boy or girl is usually the first question people ask. Further, young boys and girls largely segregate themselves and develop very different styles of interaction.  Yet, adult men and women typically seek an intimate partner of the other sex and, increasingly, work together in a variety of occupational settings.  This seminar will emphasize the challenges that women face as they strive toward gender equality, and that both sexes face as they strive toward harmonious relations.  We will address fundamental questions about how people think about and behave toward others because of gender categories.  How and why are women and men conceived to be different, and to what degree are these beliefs a matter of explicit ideologies versus implicit (nonconscious) beliefs?  What are the social consequences of these perceived gender differences?  What happens to people who deviate from gender stereotypes and roles – when is this tolerated versus punished?  How do men and women negotiate the complexity and contradictions of gender relations in heterosexual romance and at work?

This seminar will assign primary readings to accompany a book on gender that was written by the instructor (with Peter Glick; see reference below) and was conceived in the spirit of a new look at gender.  The materials will emphasize how two basic aspects of gender relations – male dominance and intimate interdependence – combine to foster a complex relationship between and attitudes toward men and women.  These basic structural facts can be used to make sense of many otherwise puzzling and seemingly contradictory aspects of gender conceptions and relations.

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

Rudman, L. A., & Glick, P. (2008). The social psychology of gender: How power and intimacy shape gender relations. New York: Guilford.

LAURIE A. RUDMAN is a Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  Her research interests are inter-group relations and implicit social cognition.  The author of over 40 professional publications, she is currently Associate Editor of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.  Her honors and awards include a National Science Foundation Fellowship, National Research Service Award (National Institutes of Health), and winner (with Eugene Borgida) of the Gordon Allport Prize for the best paper on inter-group relations, given annually by the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.  Dr. Rudman is an honorary fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, and the Society for Experimental Social Psychology, for which she currently serves on the Executive Committee.  She also serves on the Advisory Council for the National Science Foundation and is a representative on the board of the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological, and Cognitive Sciences.

That's Not Fair! Inequality and Opportunity in America
01:090:258 Index #10989
Patricia Roos, Department of Sociology
M 01:10-04:10p    Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Avenue Campus

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 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.  In a general way, 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 come to work in the jobs they do and what factors affect the promotions and salaries they earn.  We will examine how inequality has been rising in recent years, and the effects rising inequality has on that quintessential group, the American middle class.  We’ll focus on categorical (i.e., group) inequalities, especially the "big three" (race, class, and gender), but address other forms of inequality (such as immigrant status) 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 societal 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 perspective and imagination.  

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

PATRICIA ROOS is a Professor of Sociology.  She received her BA and MA in sociology from the University of California, Davis, and her Ph.D. in sociology from UCLA.  She teaches courses on work; inequalities; work, family, and politics; gender and work; and research methods.  She won both the President’s and Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching while at SUNY Stony Brook.  Professor Roos has published widely in gender and work, the feminization of traditionally male occupations, and work and family.  Three projects are currently front and center on her research agenda:  (1) gender equity in higher education, (2) race, class, and gender differences in work/family behavior and attitudes, and (3) a collaborative project with Rutgers colleagues on how to move toward real gender equality among women and men.
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Extraterrestrial Life
01:090:259 Index #13320
Andrew Baker, Department of Physics & Astronomy
MW 04:30-05:50p    Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Ave Campus

For centuries, humans have looked at the night sky and wondered whether we are alone or whether we share the universe with advanced extraterrestrial civilizations.  In recent years, this question has begun to move from the realm of speculation to the arena of scientific inquiry, thanks to new discoveries about planets orbiting stars other than our Sun, about potential habitats for life in our solar system, and about the possible development of life in extreme environments on Earth.  This seminar, intended for students from all academic majors, will examine the prospects for the emergence of extraterrestrial life (intelligent or otherwise) and our detection of it from a scientific perspective.  A familiarity with basic mathematical and scientific concepts will be assumed; moderately sophisticated mathematics (e.g., calculus and Fourier analysis) will be discussed but not assigned for homework.  Course meetings will be principally devoted to discussions -- led by students (selected at random at the beginning of each class) and guided by the instructor -- of weekly reading assignments.  Background material from a single textbook will be supplemented by popular books and articles, as well as selected papers from the research literature.  Grades will be based on leadership of and participation in discussions, short weekly writing assignments, a mid-term research mini-project, and an end-of-term paper.

ANDREW BAKER is an observational astrophysicist working in several areas of extragalactic astronomy at optical, infrared, and radio wavelengths.  His principal interests center on the formation and evolution of galaxies in the nearby and distant universe: how they form stars, how they grow in mass, and how they coevolve with their central black holes.  Professor Baker expects to make extensive use of the new South African Large Telescope, in which Rutgers is a major participant.  Before coming to Rutgers, he was a Jansky Fellow at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and the University of Maryland, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics outside Munich, and a graduate student at the California Institute of Technology.

The Invention of Romantic Love in Medieval France
01:090:261 Index #10991
Mary Speer, Department of French
T 03:55-06:55p    RAB- Rm 207
Douglass Campus

Around the middle of the 12th century, French aristocrats learned how to “fall in love” and how to express their love--a completely secular, (mostly) heterosexual love--in words, deeds, and images.  This revolutionary concept, sometimes called “courtly love,” represents a major cultural transformation that continues to influence the way we think and talk about being “in love” today.  Crucial to teaching the new languages of courtly love and the remapped gender identities it produced were popular literary works performed at courts throughout Western Europe, before audiences of men and women eager for the latest entertainment and for instruction in the refined manners that confirmed their elite social status.

In this seminar we will look first at two important pre-courtly conceptions of love: feudal male relationships celebrated in the well-known Song of Roland; and the church-sanctioned rejection of earthly loves exemplified in early saints’ lives.  Then we will explore major literary models that shaped the new discourses on love: intricate troubadour songs in which skill with words and music demonstrates prowess in both loving and singing of love; other lyric genres that exploit the tensions between idealized poetic love and real sexual desire, as well as class differences between aristocrat and commoner; the Tristan legend of tragic adulterous passion; Arthurian romances in which knights seek out perilous adventures to prove themselves worthy of love; and the internalization of the love quest through allegory.

All works will be read in English translation.

The Song of Roland
The Song of Saint Foy (packet)
Troubadour songs (selection: packet)
Beroul, The Romance of Tristan
Chrétien de Troyes: The Knight with the Lion (Yvain), The Knight of the Cart (Lancelot)
Guillaume de Lorris, The Romance of the Rose

Regular attendance, preparation of readings, and participation in discussions
3 oral presentations based on written reports (1-2 pp.) of assigned readings
1 research paper (12 pp.) and oral presentation based on research
1 museum trip

MARY B. SPEER (BA Duke, PhD Princeton) is a Professor in the French Department.  In her 31 years at Rutgers she has taught courses on medieval French and comparative literature at many levels, including undergraduate seminars for Honors and Medieval Studies students.  Her research focuses on medieval narrative and lyric works of the 12th and 13th centuries, recently with an emphasis on literary constructions of gendered identities.  She is also particularly interested in the ways medieval texts are transformed both by the inevitable alterations introduced by scribal copyists and by conscious reworkings for new audiences, including modern readers who use printed and electronic editions

Gender, Power and the Development of Black Politics and Thought
01:090:262 Index #10992
Nikol Alexander-Floyd, Department of Women's & Gender Studies
T 09:15a-12:15p    Voorhees Chapel Rm 005
Douglass Campus

This seminar offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of Black politics, focusing on the central role of gender power in the development of contemporary Black thought and politics.  Students in this course will assess the gendered norms and practices animating key social and political movements, as well as various modes of popular cultural production.  While previous exposure to feminist theory may be helpful, it is not essential.

Upon completion of this course, students should:
(1) be familiar with recent revisionist interpretations of the civil rights and Black power movements and the role, scope, and participation of the women therein;
(2) be able to define gender and explain how gender power has operated within and affected these various movements;
(3) be conversant with the dominant perspectives and debates on Black female sexual assault in the U.S. and in international conflicts;
(4) be positioned to critically interpret narrative practices in film and media in terms of their race, gender, class, and sexual politics.

NIKOL G. ALEXANDER-FLOYD, an interdisciplinary scholar whose work and teaching integrate the study of politics, law, women's studies, and Black studies, joined the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers in Fall 2007.  Holding both the JD and Ph.D., Dr. Alexander-Floyd teaches courses on race, gender, and the law, Black women in the U.S., and feminist theory. Her current research explores the gender politics of contemporary Black nationalism, and has appeared in such journals as Frontiers, the International Journal of Africana Studies, and Meridians. She is Co-Founder, along with Rose Harris, of the Association for the Study of Black Women in Politics.  Her first book, Gender, Race, and Nationalism in Contemporary Black Politics, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2007.

Imagining Self/ Imagining Other: The Politics and Poetics of Hollywood Film
01:090:263 Index #10993
Fran Mascia-Lees, Department of Anthropology
W 02:15-05:15p    Voorhees Chapel Rm 005
Douglass Campus

King Kong, Tarzan, Bird of Paradise, Lawrence of Arabia, Aladdin, Dances with Wolves, the Piano, The Gods Must be Crazy, The Constant Gardener: these are just a few of the Hollywood films that draw on “the West’s” long-standing fascination with non-Western peoples.  Yet such films are not, as is often claimed, just innocent forms of entertainment.  With the rise of the Hollywood studio system at the beginning of the twentieth century, film assumed the role of mediator of cultural difference helping to shape the very notion of a Western “self” and non-Western “other.”  This course focuses on the representation of non-Western cultures in the genre of Hollywood film, placing it within the context of the larger “primitivist project.”  This project helped fashion a mythological past for “the West”—a past imagined as, at once, savage and repulsive, pastoral and erotic.  We will explore how this imagined past has acted not only to fashion a distinct identity for “the West,” but also to guide and justify its economic, social, and political aspirations.  The distinctive role film has played in the construction of a “Western imagination” will be illuminated by placing Hollywood films within historical context and comparing them to other forms of cultural representation (e.g., literature, painting, opera, world’s fairs, museums, and “freak” shows).  We will draw on work in anthropology, history, cultural studies, feminist studies, film studies, and post-colonial studies to analyze filmic representations of the exotic/erotic, primitive, savage, diseased, ethnic, and romanticized “other.”  Our effort will be to read Hollywood films as cultural documents to uncover the role of film in the construction of culture.

There are no prerequisites for this seminar.  Students are required to attend each class session, which will be run as a seminar, as well as special screening sessions.  Students can expect to watch 1-2 films per week and to write short, weekly film critiques.  Students should come to class prepared to present their analyses and listen carefully to others’ ideas.

FRAN MASCIA-LEES is Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology.  She has written widely on the body, consumer culture, and the relationship of cultural representation (in ethnography, film, literature, and museums) to forms of cultural encounters (e.g., colonialism, tourism, anthropology).  Mascia-Lees was Editor-in-Chief of the American Anthropologist, the flagship journal of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) from 2001-06.  She has won several national awards, including AAA’s President’s Award (2005) and the AAA/Mayfield Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Anthropology (1998).  She has conducted fieldwork at multiple sites in the United States, and has researched tourism and cultural representation in the British Virgin Islands and Mexico.  She has just finished a book on gender and difference in a globalizing world, and is beginning one on the anthropological study of the body.

Evolution and the Human Language Faculty
01:090:264 Index #10994
Ken Safir, Department of Linguistics
MW 04:30-05:50p    35 College Avenue Rm 302
College Ave Campus

The goal of this seminar is to expose students to current reasoning and knowledge about the emergence of the human language faculty (HLF) as part of human evolution. Although many animals have the potential to communicate with others of their species, no animal communication system remotely approaches the expressiveness and complexity of human language.  Indeed, the universal core of any natural grammar is so complex that there is substantial evidence that its essential properties cannot be learned - rather they must be inborn.  

The question that we will explore in this seminar is how this complex inborn capacity could have evolved.  Darwin’s theory of natural selection is an interesting theory precisely because it purports to explain, on the basis of simple and consistent principles, how complex biological structures could arise from small advantages accumulating in populations adapting to environments over long periods of time.  Having a human grammar is a great adaptive advantage, but there is no plausible reason to believe that subject-verb agreement phenomena arose because people who could make the verb agree were more successful at reproduction.  If HLF did not develop from selective pressure alone, or if it is possible that it did not arise from selective pressure at all, how then can we explain why the human language faculty has the particular complex properties that it does?  Put more succinctly, how can this form of biologically based mental complexity be a product of evolution without the pressure exerted by natural selection?  

Interesting answers to this question are only just beginning to emerge, because evolutionary biology and genetic studies have only recently and spottily taken into account what is actually known about the structure of HLF.  Moreover, much more sophisticated, fine-grained accounts of other human capacities, and the capacities of other primates, have led to a reassessment of what it is that humans have and other species do not.  The connection between the latter factors and the design of the language faculty are currently quite speculative, but some interesting hypotheses have emerged that we will begin to explore in this seminar.

This inquiry cannot be solved without an interdisciplinary approach.  If we are to understand what the modern HLF is, we must first understand the fundamental organization plan of HLF grammars, including phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics as well as general knowledge of the course of language acquisition and language diversity.  We also need to understand evolutionary reasoning about how complexity arises by natural selection.  The first part of the course addresses these issues, but then interdisciplinary questions have to be addressed that will broaden our discussion.  Then the class will break up into working groups that will each focus on a different part of the problem and the contributions to the debates that come from that perspective.  

Ken Safir received his Ph.D. in linguistics from MIT in 1982 after many detours from academic life.  He has been teaching at Rutgers since 1984.  He is best known for his work on language typology, syntactic theory, and the syntactician’s view of the syntax/semantics interface, but his work has also touched on questions of language acquisition and the philosophy of language.  He has linguistic expertise in Romance, Germanic and African languages, and he is currently editing a website for the study of African languages supported by the National Science Foundation.  His most recent work touches on evolutionary questions with respect to the origin of the human language faculty and more specifically, to the origin of human syntax.  He is also interested in exploring the relation between linguistic semantic distinctions embedded in grammar and the semantic distinctions more typically discussed in psychological and philosophical accounts of the theory of mind.

Telling Stories: Oral History and Performance
01:090:265 Index #10995
Jeff Friedman, Department of Dance
M 3:55-6:55pm    Corwin Lodge Seminar Room
Douglass Campus

For thousands of years, human beings have been dancing, making music, and putting on plays.  It could be said that the purpose of these endeavors has been to tell the stories of our lives.  Artists such as Anna Deavere, in theater, and Steve Reich, in music, currently serve as models for approaches to this effort.  These methods of presenting “oral history” are fascinating to view and to examine, and that is what we will do in this seminar.


This Honors Seminar will combine experiences in the classroom and in the studio, using a variety of activities.  In the classroom, students will view, via video/cd and live, several performance works based on oral history in a variety of genres; read and report on theoretical articles, method-oriented books, and performances scripts.  In the studio, students will work on projects incorporating dance, music, theater, and video/media.


Students will develop skills in qualitative methods of research inquiry with an emphasis on the performing arts.  Further, students will acquire oral history interviewing skills, including a solid foundation in human subjects-based research ethics and practices, and will apply that primary research data to the creation of several performance works in a variety of genres. 


JEFF FRIEDMAN is a dancer and choreographer who has been based in San Francisco from 1979 to 2003. He received a professional degree in architecture from the University of Oregon and specializes in the creation of multidisciplinary site-specific performance events.  He holds a Ph.D. in Dance History and Theory from the University of California, Riverside where he was Jacob K. Javits United States Department of Education Fellow. His research areas include oral history theory and methodology, narrative theory, phenomenological approaches in philosophy and Futurist photography. A certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst, Jeff's current research is a qualitative study of oral history interviews with former members of the Twyla Tharp Dance Company. His work extends cognitive science theories of language production through metaphor toward a more sophisticated apprehension of embodied channels of communication. His research has been published in Sounds and Gestures of Recollection: Performing the Art of Memory (Cándida Smith, Routledge); The Oral History Research Handbook (Baylor University, AltaMira Press); Historia, Antropologia y Fuentes Orales (University of Barcelona) and The Oral History Review.

Complementarity in Physics, Biology and Philosophy
01:090:266 Index #14456
*Pre-Requisite: A college-level introductory course, or AP credits, in Biology, Chemistry or Physics*
Sungchul Ji, Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology
TTH 4:30-05:50p    Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Avenue Campus

Recent developments in molecular and cell biology indicate that Bohr’s complementarity may play as fundamental a role in living processes as in quantum mechanics.  Complementarity-like concepts also occur in psychology, philosophy, semiotics (the study of signs), critical theories [A. Plotnitsky, Complementarity, Duke University Press, 1994], and world religions.  The universality of Bohr’s complementarity may be traced to the complementary neuroelectrophysiological functions of the human brain, including the dichotomy of the left and right hemispheres.  These findings motivated the formulation, in the early 1990’s, of a new philosophical framework known as complementarism, 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 uncovered 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 strengthens the link between biology and philosophy, in agreement with the philosophies of Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1907-1961) and Spinoza (1632-1677).  Thus, complementarism, which embodies both modern biological science and modern philosophical traditions, may provide a powerful new philosophical basis for integrating not only science and philosophy on the one hand but also seemingly 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, each 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 (20%), presentation (30%), and a written version of the presentation (15 – 20 pages, single spaced, including figures, tables and references; 50%) due one week after the oral presentation.  Pre-requisite: a college level introductory course (or AP credits) in biology, chemistry, or physics.

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 began teaching pharmacology and toxicology at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Rutgers University in 1982.  Dr. Ji founded the Theoretical Aspects of Pharmacology course in 2000 at the Ernest Mario School and has been teaching it ever since. He recently completed a book manuscript entitled “Molecular Theory of the Living Cell: Conceptual Foundations, Molecular Mechanisms and Applications”.

Infertility in Contemporary American Society
01:090:267 Index #15116
Helane Rosenberg, Department of Graduate School of Education
TH 1:40-4:40p    ARC Rm 212
Busch Campus

This seminar will focus on the social, psychological, medical, legal, and ethical issues involved with infertility and its resolution in contemporary American society.  Students will learn about the causes of infertility, the prevalence of infertility, and the choices faced by infertile individuals and couples.

Students will learn abut the biological mechanisms involved in infertility, and about treatment options including basal body temperature monitoring, the use of ovulation predictor kids, “natural” remedies, medicated and non-medicated insemination, and assisted reproductive technology.  Students will also learn about third party options: sperm donation, egg donation, traditional surrogacy, gestational carrier pregnancies, and embryo adoption.  Students will learn about adoption and so-called “child-free” living options.  Students will learn about motives for wanting children and emotional reactions when one is unable to conceive, and about counseling strategies used to assist infertile persons. They will explore the difficult decision that infertile persons must make, and consider the legal, financial, emotional, medical, and ethical concerns they must deal with in attempting to resolve the infertility.  Guest speakers will include a reproductive endocrinologist, an attorney who specializes in third party pregnancy legal issues, an egg donor, and an adoptive parent.

Neuroscience & Stem Cell Research:
The Known, The Unknown, and The Process of Discovery
01:090:268 Index #15361
**Open to Sophomores, By Application**
Patricia Morton, Wise Young, Martin Grumet, Department of W. M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience
T TH 5:00-6:20p    Nelson Labs D251
Busch Campus

Enrollment is limited, and open only to SAS Honors Program Sophomores.  Students who are interested in enrolling in this seminar should contact the SAS Honors Program at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to request an application.

The W. M. Keck Center holds an upper level seminar entitled Topics in Cellular Biology and Neuroscience (146:464) taught by Dr. Martin Grumet, Director of the W. M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience, and Dr. Wise Young, Founding Director.  Five top-rated sophomores specifically interested in neuroscience and/or stem cell research will attend these lectures and do the required readings.  However, while the juniors and seniors give a final PowerPoint presentation, the Honors Seminar students will write a paper.  In addition to working with top-rated faculty, these high-quality sophomores will benefit significantly from interacting with upper class students and seeing the quality of their final presentations.  The Honors Seminar students will work with Dr. Patricia Morton during the course and on their final papers.

This course will focus on topics and concepts of early vertebrate development that are essential to understand functions and potential therapeutic applications of stem cells.  Discussions will include embryonic stem cells and their restriction into various kinds of precursors, methods and criteria for identifying stem cells and assessing their fate, and properties of neural stem cells and their applications in the nervous system.  The first half of the course (6-7 lectures) will involve textbook-based material and original research articles. Students will be taught how to read and critically evaluate papers. Political, social, and ethical questions will be raised and discussed. 

PATRICIA MORTON is Director of Planning and Development for The Spinal Cord Injury Project, W. M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience, Dr. Morton has extensive contact with people with spinal cord injuries and their families, and works in collaboration with the major spinal cord injury research institutions and organizations in the United States and internationally.  Dr. Morton has planned and organized seminars, symposia, and major meetings, has developed programs to bring injured persons and their families into partnership with scientists, and is coordinating Quest for the Cure, a state-by-state movement to pass legislation to increase funding for spinal cord injury research.  She is responsible for corporate and governmental relations, corporate sponsorships and fund-raising activities, and the building of cooperative efforts between various organizations involved in spinal cord injury research.  She serves as a founding member of the New Jersey Commission on Spinal Cord Research.

WISE YOUNG, M.D., Ph.D. is the Chair of the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience.  Before coming to Rutgers, Young was director of neurosurgery research at New York University and part of the team that discovered and established high-dose methylprednisolone as the first effective therapy for spinal cord injuries. That 1990 work upended conventional wisdom that such injuries led to permanent damage, refocused research, and opened new vistas of hope for the quarter-million Americans paralyzed by an injury to the spinal cord. At the W.M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Young has assembled a team of researchers who collaborate with more than 100 laboratories worldwide in the search for cures to spinal cord and brain injuries and disorders. He recently embarked on an initiative to set up a clinical network of more than a dozen spinal-trauma centers in China capable of performing state-of-the-art clinical trials.

MARTIN GRUMET, Ph.D. is Director of the W.M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience and a  professor at Rutgers, is acknowledged to be one of the leading researchers in spinal cord and brain injury repair.  Dr. Grumet obtained a BS degree in Physics from the Cooper Union and a doctorate in Biophysics from The Johns Hopkins University.  In 1999, he was appointed Professor of Cell Biology and Neuroscience at Rutgers University and joined the W.M. Keck Center as its Associate Director.  In 2002, he became Director of the W.M. Keck Center of Collaborative Neuroscience.  Dr. Grumet’s work has applied expertise in cell adhesion to problems in brain tumor biology and, more recently, in spinal cord injury research.  He isolated the first cell line with radial-like properties and has demonstrated the feasibility of implanting such cells into the central nervous system to improve recovery following injury.  These results provided the catalyst for his recruitment to the W.M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience to focus his research on repairing the injured spinal cord.

History, Material Culture and the Rutgers University Collections
01:090:269 Index # 15386
Virginia Yans, Department of History
W 1:10-4:10 PM
Case Room, Alexander Library, College Avenue Campus

The Special Collections and University Archives of the Rutgers University Libraries contain rich archives of maps, photographs, broadsides, coins, Rutgers memorabilia, oddities (a cat mummy, for example) and many other material culture artifacts.  Historians, who routinely consult written documents, also use material culture artifacts like these to narrate the past.  Researchers in several other disciplines including geography, cartography, archaeology, earth science, architecture, jazz studies, race and ethnicity studies also draw upon material culture remnants of the past.

This Honors Seminar will explore the challenges presented to researchers seeking to interpret these artifacts.  The course offers students an opportunity to engage "hands-on" with these material culture artifacts under the guidance of experts who regularly interpret, classify, and preserve them.  Professor Yans, an American historian, documentary film maker and museum exhibit consultant will be joined by Special Collections staff and other experts within the Rutgers community who oversee these materials.  Thomas Frusciano, University Archivist; Fernanda Perrone, Curator of the William E. Griffis Collection; Bonita Grant, New Jersey Bibliographer; and Paul Israel of the Edison papers are among these experts.  While the Library's Special Collections emphasizes New Jersey artifacts (many of them of local and national significance), students will also have the option of exploring material artifacts in other university collections.  The Thomas Edison papers, for example, document Edison's extraordinary technological innovations and the artifacts they produced.  The campus Geological Museum contains in addition to its geological materials, artifacts relating to New Jersey dinosaurs and mines.  Newark's Institute for Jazz Studies may be of interest to class participants interested in sound technology and reproduction.  We welcome students from across the disciplines including history, geology, photography, architecture, jazz studies, urban planning, geography, engineering, technology and communications.  The direct contact with the past that material culture artifacts offer will assist in bringing a new dimension of understanding to their studies.

VIRGINIA YANS is Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor of History.  Her research focuses on United States cultural history, women's history, and the history of immigration.  She is currently working on a biographical study of the anthropologist Margaret Mead.  Her documentary on Mead aired as a PBS Special.  She is actively involved in a number of public history projects including the Ellis Island National Museum, the Women's History Museum and Leadership Center planned for lower Manhattan, and the International Women's Museum in San Francisco.  Newer interests include the history of gender and technology and the history of collecting.  Along with Professor Rudolph Bell, she conducted two one-year research projects at the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis in 2004-05, one on single women and another on the gendering of children.

Shakespeare and His World
01:090:270    Index #15407
*Open to 1st Year and Sophomores
Professor Maurice Lee, Department of History
TH 09:15a-12:15p     Voorhees Chapel 005
Douglass Campus

This seminar, Shakespeare and His World, deals with Elizabethan and Jacobean England as Shakespeare saw it during the two decades of his active career as a playwright, from approximately 1592 to 1611.  The approach will be historical rather than literary.  Shakespeare wrote about two things: love and marriage (the private sphere), and power, kingship, and war (the public sphere), and sometimes about both at once.  We will read ten plays, four about politics and war, four comedies of love and marriage, and two which deal with both.  We will read the plays for the most part in the order in which Shadespeare wrote them.

You will be asked to get two books, a copy of the plays, and L.B. Smith, This Realm of England, for the necessary historical background.  There will be three papers, two shorter ones during the semester and longer one at the end.

MAURICE LEE is a Margaret Judson Professor of History Emeritus.  He taught at Rutgers for thirty years before retiring.  He is a specialist in the history of early modern Britain, and has written a total of ten books on the period.

The course described below is cross-listed with the Communication Department as 04:189:441:01.  The total stop point for the two “versions” of the course is 15, with 10 spaces available in the SAS Honors Program version of the course, and 5 available in the Communication version of the course.

Communication and Human Values
01:090:271 Index#15408
Professor Richard Heffner
T 9:50a-12:50p   Scott 201
College Avenue Campus

Honors Program students who are interested in enrolling in this seminar should contact Dean Lord at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with a short statement of their interest.

This seminar is not a practicum, not a "how-to" course about film and television, or about the media in America generally.  Rather, it is a fact-based intellectual venture in the development of communications public policy.  Its purpose is to analyze how much of our sense of what it means to be an American early in the 21st century has been molded by the media -- first print and now increasingly electronic -- with particular reference to their socializing and value-legitimating content.  To learn then to deal appropriately and reasonably with such media power, students are asked first to identify their own respective approaches to the role of the state and its proper relationship to the individual through discussion both of such readings as Walter Lippmann's */Public Opinion/*, Robert Merton's */Mass Persuasion/*, J. S. Mill's */On Liberty/*, Herman Melville's */Billy Budd/*, and Neil Postman's */Amusing Ourselves to Death/*, and of such films as "Birth of A Nation," "12 Angry Men," "Hearts and Minds," "JFK," and "Fahrenheit 9/11".  

Emphasis will be placed on analyzing and resolving such contemporary media issues as a Fairness Doctrine (the real or imagined "chilling effect" of a requirement for media fairness and balance); cameras in the courts (do televised trials enhance justice, or instead create a "mobocracy", with trial by a new jury of public opinion?); and media self-regulation (can there in fact be meaningful voluntary self-discipline in a free market, free speech, mass media-driven society?).

RICHARD D. HEFFNER is University Professor of Communications and Public Policy at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, where he began to teach in 1948.  Trained as an American historian, Mr. Heffner is the author of A Documentary History of the United States and the editor of Alexis de Tocqueville's classic Democracy In America.  His most recent book, a collaboration entitled Conversations With Elie Wiesel, derives from The Open Mind, the prize winning television program which he began in 1956 and which he still produces and moderates each week on public broadcasting stations around the country.  In 1961, after serving on-the-air and as an executive at CBS, ABC and NBC, Professor Heffner played a leading role in the acquisition and activation of Channel 13 in New York, becoming its Founding General Manager.  For twenty years (1974 to 1994), he also commuted to Hollywood, serving as Chairman of the Board of the motion picture industry's voluntary film classification and rating system.  Professor Heffner and his wife, Dr. Elaine Heffner, live in New York City.  They have two sons -- Daniel, a filmmaker; and Andrew, an Assistant New York State Attorney General -- and four grandchildren.