Interdisciplinary Honors Seminars

Spring 2009 Interdisciplinary Honors Seminars




Parents and Children in Verdian Opera

01:090:270 Index # 50817
Rudolph Bell, Department of History
W 06:10-9:00P            Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Avenue Campus

Giuseppe Verdi returned again and again for his dramatic plots to the theme of parent/child conflict, especially in father/daughter relationships. No other composer, or his contemporary dramatist for that matter, did so as frequently. Why this theme fascinated him, and why audiences ever since have found the subject so appealing, comprise the “state of the question” for this seminar. We may not reach a conclusion but the exploration should be interesting.

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trigger us to look at the biblical Lot and his daughters, Rigoletto at Renaissance chastity texts, Simon Boccanegra at historical documents, La Forza del Destino at Electra, Don Carlo at Freud, and Aida at race and class issues.

Students who speak Italian or who have a background in musicology, psychology, or history are welcome but these backgrounds are NOT required. Good armchair listeners who love the opera or want to give it a serious try are welcome in the seminar. The course will include attending a live performance of Rigoletto at New York’s Metropolitan Opera (the powerful baritone Željko Lučić will sing Rigoletto and Diana Damrau should be terrific as Gilda). Tickets are compliments of the Honors Program!

Students will write two short essays (5-7pp.). One will relate the father/daughter theme in an opera to its counterpart in one or more of the other texts we will study, for example, the treatment of incest in Don Carlo and Freud. The other will be a performance review that assesses costume, setting, theatrical, and other production issues versus voice and musicality in the Salzburg version of La Traviata that we will view in class versus the Met productions we will have seen to that point (Nabucco on DVD and Rigoletto live). There will be a final take-home essay (12-15pp.) on some aspect of the overall parent/child theme in all seven Verdian operas (plus, if students wish Ernani, Luisa Miller, even Il Trovatore, and others that we will not have time to study in class). I’m open to a take-home on other themes, such as the use of the malediction (often resulting in the death of a daughter under her father’s curse – this is opera!) in Verdian plots, or to proposals for going outside the Verdian corpus to look at Wagner’s handling of Wotan and Brunhilde…but these matters can wait until the seminar unfolds.

Please note that on DVD performance sessions, especially La Forza and Don Carlo, the class will run late, even to 10:00 P.M. and of course for Rigoletto at the Met we will not return to New Brunswick until after midnight.

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


Quantum Reality

01:090:271 Index # 50818
Sheldon Goldstein, Department of Mathematics
TF 10:20-11:40A         SEC-202
Busch Campus


Without the belief that it is possible to grasp the reality with our theoretical constructions, without the belief in the inner harmony of our world, there could be no science. This belief is and always will remain the fundamental motive for all scientific creation. (Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld in The Evolution of Physics)

Quantum theory is the most successful physical theory yet devised.  Not one of the multitude of its calculated predictions has ever been found wanting, even in the last measured decimal place.  All the same, it is a bizarre theory, so much so that Richard Feynman, one of the deepest scientist-thinkers of the last century and one not known for his intellectual (or any other) modesty, once said: “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.”  According to its traditional Copenhagen interpretation, quantum mechanics marks a sharp departure from the belief and scientific ideal of Einstein, expressed by the above quotation, replacing it with the view that the aim of physics is not to grasp any objective reality but merely to describe our observations, and that, indeed, there is no quantum reality.

Many physicists have been unhappy with such an austere view of quantum physics, and they have provided us with a bewildering variety of peculiar quantum realities and quantum paradoxes, including multiple universes (the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics), observer-created reality, spooky-action-at-a-distance, reality founded upon a repudiation of classical logic, reality grounded in minds alone (the many-minds interpretation of quantum mechanics), and a reality involving transitions from irreducible potentiality to definite actuality.  At the same time, it has often been claimed that quantum phenomena are demonstrably incompatible with a more normal and less romantic account of physical reality, one in which objects of a precise and unambiguous character behave in a coherent and sensible way.  In other words, it has been claimed that the sort of reality that Einstein might have found acceptable is impossible.

In this honors seminar we shall explore these claims about and versions of quantum reality.  We shall try to judge the extent to which these strange realities and the claims denying the possibility of a more ordinary account of quantum phenomena are genuinely supported by solid evidence and analysis.  In so doing, we shall also examine some specific proposals reputedly refuting most of the impossibility claims and assertions of quantum strangeness.

To the degree that knowledge of quantum mechanics is necessary for this seminar, the relevant material will be developed as we go along.  No prior acquaintance with physics, quantum or classical, will be assumed on the part of the students---though it would of course be helpful.  Knowledge of elementary calculus, as would be obtained for example in a high school advanced-placement calculus course, will, however, be expected, as will a healthy curiosity about the nature of physical reality.

SHELDON GOLDSTEIN is a Professor of Mathematics, Physics and Philosophy. He worked for many years on probability theory and the rigorous foundations of tatistical mechanics.  In particular, he has investigated the arrow of time and the notion of entropy, why it tends to increase, and why physical systems tend to approach equilibrium.  In more recent years his main concern has been with the foundations of quantum mechanics, where he has focused on Bohmian mechanics and on nonlocality.  The goal of this research is to make sense, good clean sense, of quantum theory.

**CANCELLED** Public Monuments in America, 19th- 21st Centuries

01:090:272 Index # 50819
Sarah Blake McHam, Department of Art History
M 02:50-05:50P          Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Avenue Campus


This seminar will address the issues surrounding public monuments from the nineteenth century through the present day. It will focus on sculptures commissioned to commemorate major events in the United States -- for example, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 -- but will also consider some important recent European examples, particularly those memorializing the Holocaust.  The location of these monuments in the streets and squares of cities and their construction in permanent materials like stone and steel convey official sanction and the goal of lasting into posterity.  Their public situation, durability, and universal legibility as images mean that they play a powerful role in creating viewers’ memories of what they commemorate.

Until the unveiling of Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the early 1980s, conventional wisdom held that the public monument was a dead form, killed by the lack of common cultural associations and bonds among the citizenry.  In the intervening decades that evaluation has radically changed, and a large group of memorials have been built.  They mark a rupture with the tradition of public monuments that began as early as ancient Greece and Egypt.  Recent monuments no longer commemorate gods and heroes -- who can agree on them? -- but instead victims.  These recent monuments have occasioned vehement controversies about who and what should be remembered and honored, how the event and persons should be interpreted, where the monument should be located, and what advantages accrue to the monument’s commissioners from these choices.  At stake are crucial questions surrounding national identity and the shaping of the historical record.

Through the discussion of weekly readings about a selected group of recent memorials, the seminar will investigate how and why these groundbreaking changes occurred.  There will be at least one class trip to study a group of public monuments on site.  Students will be expected to prepare presentations of the readings, and ultimately to select a specific monument that they will study in person and do research on by reading original sources and documents, for example, through the Smithsonian inventory of American monuments and at the archives of local historical societies.  Each student will present his/her research to the class, and write it up as a 10- page term paper.

SARAH BLAKE MCHAM, an art historian specializing in the Italian Renaissance (1250-1600), has been a professor at Rutgers for most of her career.  A graduate of Smith College with a PhD from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, she has won teaching awards from Rutgers and international organizations.  She has published several books and many articles dealing with sculpture in the Renaissance period and its links to ancient Greece and Rome.  In recent years, she has become interested in the legacy of this tradition in the modern world.

Madness and Perversion

01:090:273 Index # 50820
Nicholas Rennie, Department of German
W 02:50-05:50P          Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Avenue Campus


What thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are normal?  Which are aberrant?  This seminar looks at literary treatments (and a selection of film adaptations) of madness and perversion over the last four centuries.  Particular attention will be given to the roots and development of modern conceptions of sex and psychology as developed in the literary work of German-speaking Europe.  Topics will include the holy fool, the Romantic invention of madness and genius, sexual perversion and bourgeois normalcy, the invention of psychology, and gender and the idea of “natural” social roles. 

We will read from the following: Shakespeare, King Lear; Cervantes, Don Quixote; Georg Büchner, Woyzeck; Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Venus in Furs; Frank Wedekind, Lulu; Sigmund Freud, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality; and Peter Weiss, Marat/Sade.  Additional readings will include selections by Foucault, de Sade, Horkheimer and Adorno, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Angela Carter, Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Magnus Hirschfeld, and films or film selections by Georg Wilhelm Pabst, Fritz Lang, Peter Brook.

NICHOLAS RENNIE studied at Princeton University, the Ruhr-University Bochum (Germany), and Yale University, where he received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature.  He has received numerous awards, including a School of Arts and Sciences Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Education, and an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship supporting his work at the Ludwig Maximilians University Munich (2002-2003) and the Free University Berlin (2007-2008).  He is the author of Speculating on the Moment: The Poetics of Time and Recurrence in Goethe, Leopardi, and Nietzsche (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2005), and has written articles on Molière, Lessing, Goethe, Leopardi, Nietzsche, and Benjamin.

Wonderful Life: Genes and Evolution

01:090:274 Index # 50821
Frank Deis, Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry
MW 01:40-03:00pm    ARC Rm 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 and 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). 

Mixing Race and Culture- US and Latin America

01:090:275 Index # 51023
Cesar Braga-Pinto, Department of Spanish and Portugese/Comp Lit
TH 04:30-07:30P         Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Avenue Campus

In this interdisciplinary, cross-cultural seminar we will discuss processes of racial mixing and cultural exchange as they have been articulated in fiction and theory by U.S., Latin American, and Caribbean writers.  We will first discuss the issue of miscegenation in the U.S. at the end of the 19th century and the significance of anti-miscegenation laws.  We will also discuss the figure of the tragic mulatto and the theme of “passing” in U.S. fiction by writers such as Langston Hughes and Nella Larsen.  In contrast, we will try to understand how the concept of mestizaje or racial mixture developed from notions of biological degeneration to celebration of national identity in Mexico, Cuba, and Brazil.  Indeed, triumphant mestizaje has been used as a way of explaining Latin-American realities since the colonial period.  What are the differences between the representations of white/indian and white/black mestizos? What were some of the scientific theories that attempted to explain racial mixture and miscegenation?  What happens when mestizaje begins to mean mostly cultural, rather than racial mixture?  To what extent does the term mestizaje remain useful for us to think about Latin American realities, and to what extent do terms such as transculturation, (Ortiz), hybridity? (Garcia-Canclini, Bhabha), heterogeneity (Cornejo-Polar) or creolité introduce new possibilities for understanding the contemporary world?

In the last part of the seminar, we will discuss how U.S. Latinos have re-appropriated the Latin American concept of mestizaje, to propose a critical intervention in U.S. racial discourses.  We will also look at the current debate on affirmative action that has been displacing traditional forms of representing Latin American racial categories.  Our intention is to consider new paradigms for a global concept of race that transcends U.S. binary categories as well as Latin American triumphant mestizajes.


Shakespeare and History

01:090:276 Index # 51024
Emily Bartels, Department of English
MW 11:30-12:50P       Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Avenue Campus


To produce "history," whether on the page or on the stage, is indeed to make it.  When William Shakespeare brings Richard II, Richard III, Henry IV, and Henry V imaginatively back to life in the early modern theater, or when Raphael Holinshed chronicles the reigns of these remarkable (in some cases outrageous) kings, they - the playwright and historian alike - are not simply recording a "real" past; they are shaping a vision of that never quite recoverable "reality."  They are also setting their own terms for what history is and does - for what counts as an historical subject, an historical way of representing, and an historical agenda.  Early modern English playwrights and chroniclers were, in fact, deeply engaged with not only the matter but also the question of "history."  For them, to represent the past was to potently politicize the present, to shape the state as well as the stage, to interrogate the all important fault-line between fact and fiction, and to create brave new texts, brave new politics, and brave new worlds.  "Such is the breath of kings," as Shakespeare writes in Richard II.

This seminar will take as its subject the ways in "history" was being produced, on the stage by the indomitable William Shakespeare, and off the stage by chroniclers such as Raphael Holinshed and Richard Hakluyt.  In looking at the intersection of dramatic and non-dramatic writers in a period 400 years before our own, our aim will be to "historicize" the notion of what history is and does, to think seriously about how "history" evolves within a particular historical moment, and to understand how the form of an historical story defines its content.  We will learn how to ask questions of dramatic and non-dramatic historically loaded texts, how to account for historical differences, how to read an historical moment through textual lenses, and how to read texts in their history moment.

Our primary readings will include: a selection of Shakespeare's plays (likely among them Richard III, Julius Caesar, Richard II, Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2, Henry V, The Tempest) as well as other plays (John Ford, Chronicle History of Perkin Warbeck; Christopher Marlowe, Edward II; Bertolt Brecht, Edward II; Aime Cesaire, A Tempest) that provide useful temporal and generic contrasts; and selections from William Warner, Albion's England; Raphael Holinshed, Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland, John Stowe, Summary of English Chronicles, and Richard Hakluyt, Principal Navigations of the English Nation.

Students will work on one extensive research project of their own design through the term, and will keep a reflective critical journal summarizing and analyzing their readings-in-progress.

EMILY BARTELS (BA Yale 1979; PhD Harvard 1987) is an associate professor in the English department and a specialist on early modern literature and culture.  Her publications include: Spectacles of Strangeness: Imperialism, Alienation, and Marlowe, an edited collection of essays on Christopher Marlowe, and a number of essays on Shakespeare and questions of race, gender, and cross-cultural contact.   She is currently completing a book, Staging the Moor: From Alcazar to Othello.

Cold War Culture

01:090:277 Index # 51025
David Greenberg, Department of Journalism and Media Studies
M 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.
Energy Materials and the Environment

01:090:278 Index # 53301
Gabriel Kotliar, Department of Physics and Astronomy
MW 01:10-02:30P       Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Avenue Campus


Will we run out of energy in the next century?  How will nations deal with the increasing competition for scarce natural resources? As the world standard of living and the energy consumption per capita increases can we avoid destroying our own habitat? Is there a technologically viable solution to the current energy crisis or is the survival of our human species dependent on technological breakthroughs that have not yet taken place?

We really do not know the full answers to these pressing questions but we can learn about the physical ideas connected to the field of energy, and we can discuss the constraints imposed by the laws of physics when addressing these questions.

In this seminar we will look at these questions from the perspective of a physicist. The course will start by asking the question of what is energy. It will then describe the different forms that energy can take, such as nuclear, solar, chemical, electrical, chemical and mechanical. We will discuss the issue of conversion between the different forms energy, how efficient can this energy conversion be, and what are the effects that energy conversion has on the environment. The physics that relate to these topics will be presented at an elementary level.  It should be suitable for a motivated non-science major with a good high school science education.

The goal of the course is to learn about energy and elicit discussions about the current options that we have, as a society, to deal with the current energy and climate crisis.

GABRIEL KOTLIAR is a theoretical physicist with interests in materials science and a Board of Governors Professor at Rutgers University.  Professor Kotliar received the 2006 Agilent Technologies Europhysics Prize for his work on strongly correlated electron materials.  He is also a recipient of a Guggenheim and a Sloan fellowship.  His research interests are in the theory of materials, and his goal is to speed up the discovery of materials with useful properties.  For this purpose he uses quantum field theory methods, algorithms, and computer simulations.  He believes that education and scientific research are the keys for a better future.

The Preposterous Universe

01:090:279 Index # 51026
Charles Keeton, Department of Physics and Astronomy
TTH 09:50-11:10A      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.

Causality and Causal Inference

01:090:280 Index # 51027
Itzhak Yanovitzky, Department of Communication
W 09:50A -12:50P      35 College Avenue Rm 302
College Avenue Campus


Are genes the cause of obesity?  Does exposure to televised violence cause viewers to be violent?  And is Speedo’s newest high-tech swimsuit the only possible explanation for swimmer Michael Phelps’s amazing achievement (8 gold medals, 7 world records) in the 2008 Olympic Games?  Wondering why something exists or how something came to be is in our nature as humans.  Not surprisingly, then, the central aim of many scientific studies is the elucidation of cause-effect relationships among variables.  However, while most people possess an intuitive understanding of causality as it appears in everyday life, scholars and philosophers, at least as far back as Aristotle, have been debating the notion of causality and the best ways to describe and assess it.  In recent years, with the emergence of clearer semantics for causal claims across scientific fields and with the mathematical advances in the modeling of causal relationships, the study of causality and causal inference seems to have reached a point of maturity while developing into a scientific field in its own right.

This seminar will introduce students to the topic of causality and causal inference – perhaps the most crucial element of any scientific inquiry.  The first part of the seminar will be a historical overview of causality as it evolved through the work of scientists in different fields.  The second part of the seminar will center on the two most fundamental aspects of causality, namely the empirical evidence needed for making legitimate claims about cause-effect relationships and the appropriate causal inference from such evidence.  Special emphasis will be given to the role of theory, the importance of deriving well-explicated empirical (logical) statements and employing rigorous tests, practical methods for elucidating potentially causal relationships from data, and the critical evaluation of causal evidence.  Students will have ample opportunities to consider and debate different aspects of causality through class discussions and small group assignments.  They will also work individually to apply the insights and knowledge they gain in class to a real-world problem involving a cause-effect relationship.  

ITZHAK YANOVITZKY is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication where he teaches courses on persuasive communication, communication and change, and research methods.  Dr. Yanovitzky joined Rutgers in 2001 after earning his doctoral degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication.  His primary research interests include health communication (particularly the use of communication campaigns to promote healthier behaviors and lifestyles) and the strategic use of communication to support social change.  He is also an expert in the area of program evaluation, which inherently deals with issues of causality and causal inference.  

Romantic Love East and West

01:090:281 Index # 51028
Ann Choi, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures
TTH 01:10-02:30P       Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Avenue Campus


What is love?  Why are people attracted to it?  What were the thoughts of the ancients regarding it and how are they different from our modern conceptions?  This seminar explores the phenomenon of love found in selected twentieth century Western and East Asian literary works.  We will first examine romantic love as it occurred in the two civilizations.  The European imagination and its longing for Asia will also be examined in the light of their histories interweaving during the age of colonization and empire.  We will look at the different historical background of each work and the socio-cultural milieu from which it was written.  After exploring some commonalities and differences among the literary works, we will look at how love as desire for that which we do not yet have continues to fuel our globalized twentieth first century imagination.

ANN Y. CHOI is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures.  She works on the intersection of poetry, memory, and history and is finishing her book manuscript titled Letting You Go Without Tears:  Modern Korean Love Poetry. She is also a poet and a recipient of  Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Poetry from Stanford University.  Also interested in diasporic and anglophone postcolonial literatures, she explores the notion of globalization of literatures in English as she continues to teach literatures in translation.

Maritime Culture

01:090:282 Index # 51029
Angus Kress Gillespie, Department of American Studies
W 02:15-05:15P          RAB 018
Douglass Campus

This seminar is an interdisciplinary course for students with a strong academic and personal interest in the sea.  No maritime experience is necessary.  This will be an ocean and coastal studies course combining maritime history, environmental policy, and the folklore, films, and literature of the sea.  We will use a number of academic disciplines to explore the influence of the sea on American life.  Readings and classroom discussions may come to life with a field trip to a nearby seaport.  We will begin with a study of maritime history; this factual material will be supplemented with weather lore, maritime art, and folklore, including stories of mermaids, monsters, sea serpents, and enchanted isles.  At the same time, we will study marine policy through lectures and guest speakers whose topics embrace economic and environmental issues as well as current policy regarding world trade and regulatory reform, conservation and fisheries, national defense and admiralty law. 

ANGUS KRESS GILLESPIE is a folklorist with a strong interest in the traditions and legends of people who live by the sea.  He has studied their beliefs and superstitions about boatbuilding, the weather, creatures real and legendary, as well as the ghosts and saints and demons that influence their lives.  In the 1990s, Gillespie served on the Board of Trustees of the New Netherlands Museum, whose principal attraction was an 85-foot replica of the Half Moon, the ship Henry Hudson sailed while exploring the Hudson River in 1609.  Presently, Professor Gillespie is an active member of the Central Jersey Council of the Navy League of the United States, a civilian organization dedicated to the support of the men and women of the sea services and their families, founded in 1902 with the encouragement of President Theodore Roosevelt. 

The Tragedy of American Diplomacy

01:090:283 Index # 51030
Lloyd Gardner, Department of History
T 01:10-04:10p            35 College Ave Rm 102
College Avenue Campus
*BY APPLICATION ONLY** If you are interested in taking this seminar, please submit a short statement explaining your interest to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

How did we get into this mess?  Seven years and more since 9/11, five years and more since Gulf War II, the United States finds itself entangled in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, challenged by the Iranian nuclear program as well as Pakistan's growing unwillingness to tolerate American  attacks on the Taliban near its borders.  At the end of the Cold War, American power and  prestige seemed unassailable, but that is clearly no longer the case.  What can we learn about America's current predicament from historians?  2009 marks the 50th anniversary of the appearance of the most important (and most controversial) book published on foreign affairs, William Appleman Williams' The Tragedy of American Diplomacy.  We will read that book along with Reinhold Niebuhr's equally penetrating essay, The Irony of American History.  Williams and Niebuhr are both critics of American policy, from quite different perspectives.  They offer much to think about and discuss.  We will also read books by a famous diplomatic historian of today, Walter LaFeber, on Michael Jordan and globalism; an investigative journalist, Stephen Kinzer, on American interventions in the Third World; and a former government analyst, Chalmers Johnson, on the increasing power and influence of the military in political life.  The highlight of the course will be a conference to be held on April 24-25, 2009, when Andrew Bacevich, who writes op-eds as well as penetrating studies of American imperialism, and twelve historians will present papers discussing Williams' book and its relevance to today's predicament.  Students will have an opportunity to engage these scholars, both formally and informally, and to exchange opinions with them and one another.  The principle requirement for the course is a "term" paper on a topic of interest related to American foreign policy and its historiography.

LLOYD C. GARDNER has taught at Rutgers since 1963.  He holds the Ph.D. degree from the University of Wisconsin, and is the author of more than a dozen books on American foreign affairs, including most recently, The Long Road to Baghdad: A History of American Foreign Policy Since 1970.  He has taught at universities in Finland and England, and is a past president of the Society of American Historians of American Foreign Relations.

Artists and War in Historical Perspective

01:090:284 Index # 51031
Temma Kaplan, Department of History
T 2:50-05:50p  Van Dyck Rm 301
College Avenue Campus


History can be recounted in pictures and monuments as often as in words.  Like other forms of history, photographs, graphic novels, paintings, memorials, pageants, and architecture provide their own interpretations, and this is never more compelling than in accounts of war.  During periods of massive political and social change that accompany wars, artists frequently choose images from their repertoires and develop new imagery to advocate their views or express their horror.  Through an examination of a variety of historical art forms in Africa, Mexico, Iran, Japan, post-War Europe, and the United States, and the artists who created them, this seminar will consider how to refine interpretations of how we come to believe certain accounts and challenge others.
Students will read a group of books and articles in common and then formulate questions of their own that will enable them to write interpretive essays dealing with some aspect of the relationship of art and war.

TEMMA KAPLAN is an historian and a feminist social critic who has written about art and politics, social movements, environmental struggles, and human rights campaigns in Latin America, Africa, the U.S. and Europe, especially Spain. She is concerned with creativity in the pursuit of justice and civil rights, and writes about political demonstrations and popular arts.  She has written four books, including Red City, Blue Period: Social Movements in Picasso’s Barcelona (on demand with the University of California Press).  She is presently writing a book called Grotesque Humor that deals with the racism and sexism of Spanish and American cartoonists in the 1890s.

Creating Art and Discovering Science Through Visualization in Polynomiography

01:090:285 Index # 53504
Bahman Kalantari, Department of Computer Science
M 06:10-09:00p           Brett Hall Seminar Room
College Avenue Campus


This seminar will introduce a novel and interdisciplinary field, polynomiography, the fine art and science of visualizing a polynomial equation through computer-generated images.  Students will learn the basics of the underlying mathematical and algorithmic foundation of polynomiography aimed at solving a polynomial equation, a task present in every branch of science and mathematics.  However, through polynomiography and its software students will also learn to create art and design by turning the polynomial root-finding problem upside down.  While polynomiography allows virtual painting using the computer screen as its canvas, it also inspires new artistic styles and actual paintings, whether originated directly from polynomiography software, or indirectly from its concepts.

In this seminar, students will be introduced to a range of possible course projects to be carried out either individually or in small groups.  Sample projects consist of: 2D or 3D artwork using polynomiography software, e.g. as prints or video productions; visualizations or animations, as art or as means in conveying a mathematical property or concept; comparison of polynomioraphic images and traditional human art and design.  Students may also propose their own creative projects.

The mathematical prerequisite for the course includes Calculus, and interest to explore.

BAHMAN KALANTARI is a professor of computer science and the inventor of the U.S. patented technology of polynomiography.  His research interests lie in theory, algorithms, and applications in a wide range of topics that include mathematical programming; discrete and combinatorial optimization; polynomial root-finding and approximation theory; and polynomiography.  Professor Kalantari's polynomiography has received national and international media recognition that include Science News, the Star-Ledger, DISCOVER Magazine, New Jersey Savvy Living Magazine, Tiede (popular science magazine of Finland), Muy Interesante (popular science magazine of Spain) and more.  His artworks have been exhibited in such venues as a traveling art-math exhibition in France, SIGGRAPH Art Gallery in LA, as well as at Rutgers and around New Jersey.  His artworks have also appeared on the cover of publications such as Computer Graphics Quarterly, Princeton University Press book, art-math conference proceedings, and in science magazines.  He has delivered numerous lectures, including invited presentations in Paris, Vienna, Rome, Montreal, Puerto Rico, as well as in middle and high schools in the United States.

Physiological Adaptation: Heart, Stress and Exercise

01:090:286 Index # 51032
Roseli Golfetti, Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience
MW 5:00-06:20P         ARC Rm 107
Busch Campus

This seminar will take an integrative approach to physiology.  We will discuss our understanding of the body’s ability to adjust and adapt to internal and external environmental challenges in a historical perspective.  We will examine when the body was first analyzed as a whole system, one that interacts and maintains its functional integrity even when it is submitted to disturbances.  We will consider the body view of the early 1900’s as well our present day understanding and the remarkable contributions of eminent scientists.  We will focus on the heart and vessels as a physiological system and will examine their relation to stress and exercise.

The cardiovascular system plays an important role in providing oxygen and nutrients for the human body (and mammals in general).  Under physiological conditions, the heart beats without fatiguing throughout life.  When there is a need, the heart speeds up to keep up with oxygen and nutrients body demands.  However, during calm conditions the heart slows down to economize energy.  Intricate physiological mechanisms underlie these conditions.  Physical and mental stressors promote both short- term adjustments and long- term body adaptations.

The class will consist of lectures, seminars, student presentations, and class discussions.  Students will be assigned readings from journal articles and books.  Students and Instructor will decide on a topic of mutual interest relating aspects of cardiovascular adaptation to stress and physical activity/ inactivity.  This course is designed for any honors student with an interest in the subject; you do not need to be planning to major in a science.

DR. ROSELI GOLFETTI is interested in the cardiovascular physiology and its responses to challenges such as exercise, stress and conditions including ischemia and reperfusion.  Prior to coming to Rutgers University, her research focused on the adrenergic responses of the heart to acute and chronic stress.  She also conducted research on the autonomic regulation of the heart during rest, exercise and the effects of physical training in various physiological states (men and women, adolescents, pregnancy and athletes).  At Rutgers, Dr. Golfetti’s research focuses on the effects of acetaminophen on the heart during ischemia and reperfusion.  She taught physiology to undergraduate and graduate students for many years at The State University of Campinas, Sao Paulo, Brazil.