Working List of Courses

Themester 2022: Identity and Identification

Courses offered as part of the College's Themester 2022 focus on Identity and Indentification can be found below. Themester is a fall program that showcases the College's teaching and scholarship.

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The following undergraduate courses count toward graduation in the College of Arts and Sciences. Students should consult with their advisors to discuss how a particular course fits individualized plans.

AAAD-A 479  – Contemporary Black Poetry: "Blacker than a Hundred Midnights"
Instructor: Dr. Maria Hamilton Abegunde

How do Black poets use language (and breath/sound) to explore and re/create Black identities in ways that commemorate the past, acknowledge the present, and re/vision the future? How do they invite us to know that BLACK=Love+BEING+Alive+Resistance=INFINITE Possibilities for LIFE? We will read, listen to, and visit with Black poets/performers who challenge us to understand differently what it means to BE Black in the world, and what it means to claim, honor, and/or challenge the multiple narratives that re/shape those identities.

ANTH-E 400  – The Anthropology of Citizenship
Instructor: Dr. Sara Friedman

This course will examine citizenship as a growing focus of anthropological concern, attending to how it shapes everyday life, experiences of inclusion and exclusion, and bases for community formation.  We will study how people experience citizenship as a critical part of their national and/or transnational identities and what happens when citizenship is changed or denied.  Through attention to the places and processes through which citizenship is produced and reinforced (for instance, border crossings and checkpoints, identity cards and passports, voting, immigrating, seeking a job, or marrying), we will explore various approaches to citizenship as a bundle of rights, responsibilities, and practices.  Adopting a global perspective, the course will use citizenship as a lens through which to understand the range of national and transnational identities emerging in the world today, together with the institutions and laws that both enable and constrain them. The course will include a required service-learning component.

This course meets with ANTH-E 600 and CULS-C 701.

CMLT C-321 – Medieval Literature: Defining Human Identity in Medieval European Literature
Instructor: Dr. Rosemarie McGerr

This course explores representations of individual and community identity in literature by Jewish, Muslim, and Christian authors in Europe from the 6th through 15th centuries. Readings will include works by some of the most famous medieval European authors, as well as anonymous texts like The Song of the Cid, The Romance of Silence and The Second Shepherds’ Play. We will study how teach text defines human identity or questions definitions and how these definitions relate to the text’s cultural context.

COLL-C 103 – Critical Approaches to Arts & Humanities: Researching White Supremacism and Antisemitism on Social Media
Instructor: Dr. Günther Jikeli 

Online hate speech, including white supremacism and antisemitism, is a growing problem for communication on social media. This course covers online conversations in English from across the globe to ask what are prominent forms of such online hate? Who are frequent disseminators and how does hate speech travel across the globe? What are current discussions of dealing with hate speech between censorship, free speech, and counter-speech? What are the historical roots of white supremacism and antisemitism?

We will examine the most significant myths in their historical and social contexts, including conspiracy theories. We will see how some older myths from the European Middle Ages are still relevant today and how they are reformulated and disseminated on social media. In order to do so, we will need to learn about the history of antisemitism, white nationalism, and race theory.

A strong emphasis will be put on your own original research on social media. You will work individually and in teams to answer some aspects of the above questions. Some of the material you will be reviewing will be deeply offensive in texts and images. We will use a large database of live tweets and analytical tools that we have developed in an ongoing international research project on this topic.

ENG-L 210 Video Game Narratives
Instructor: Dr. Alberto Varon

Video games are relative newcomers as narrative vehicles yet play an increasingly
prevalent role in American culture and as a communicative media. This course interrogates what stories are possible through and as video games. Under that lens, we will examine how video games perpetuate, challenge, or complicate ideas of race and identity in the United States. This course will introduce students some of the foundational skills in literary and textual analysis and consider what the medium might hold for the future of narrative.

HIST-A 398 – Disability in the United States
Instructor: Dr. Benjamin H. Irvin 

Disability is a nearly universal condition. Everyone becomes disabled if they live long enough. Yet, not until recently have scholars begun to historicize disability. Not until recently have they recognized that disability—both as a concept and as a collection of lived experiences—changes over time and in relation to the specific societies in which it is embedded.

In this reading-intensive seminar, we will explore disability as it has pertained to a variety of institutions, eras, and events in U.S. history, including slavery and emancipation, immigration, the Progressive Era, World Wars I and II, and the Great Depression. We will examine several phenomena that have particularly defined or shaped disability in the United States, including the birth of the asylum, the rise and fall of eugenic science, modern campaigns for veterans’ health care, the emergence of a disability civil rights movement, and passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Recurring themes will include the distinction between disability and physical, intellectual, and psychological impairment; the relationship between disability and race, class, gender, and sexuality; and the interplay between disability and capitalist ideologies of labor and productivity. We will analyze medical and social models of disability, and we will also grapple with ableism, a perspective that normalizes or otherwise privileges the able-bodied at the expense of the impaired. In so doing, we will contemplate the ways in which ability and disability have mutually constituted one another throughout U.S. history.

HUBI-B 300 – Ethical Dilemmas: Genetics and Eugenics
Instructor: Dr. Andrew Libby and Dr. Jennifer Cullin

This course examines the foundational principles of genetics and the controversial history of eugenics -- the social philosophy and scientific practices that define human worth in terms of genetic fitness. Eugenic practices included Nativist anti-immigrant legislation, marriage restriction laws, eugenic segregation laws, and compulsory sexual sterilization. Now, developments in genetic mapping and reproductive technologies are creating resurgent scientific and moral interest in the topic.

POLS-Y 300 –  Identity as Property
Instructor: Dr. Michael Weinman

“Identity as property” begins from the postulate that propriety, the normative basis and justification for property, is first and foremost about belonging, and only secondarily about possession or ownership. This course engages texts written in a number of different disciplines—literary theory, anthropology, philosophy, political theory—and written by authors who self-identify or are identified as either “European” or “non-European” or “hybrid” of both in order to investigate two cases of this belonging: nationality and cosmopolitanism; and authorship and authority.

SLST-S319: The Multilingual Self: Identities, Identification, and the Learning of Additional Languages (Special Topics in Second Language Studies)
Instructor: Dr. Debra Friedman

In this course we will examine identity and identification and their relationship to language learning and/or loss as described in research and language learners’ narratives and autobiographies. Students will also have an opportunity to engage in discussions with guest lecturers who will share their language learning experiences and/or research and to reflect on how identity and identification have shaped their own language learning. For a final project, students will analyze a language learning autobiography of their choice.