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Sophomore Residential Seminars - Course Descriptions

Find your course of interest below, and apply for this truly immersive experience by January 31, 2015.

Challenges of Modernity: Istanbul (CORE 152)

Professor David McCabe - Professor of Philosophy

The challenges of modernity are often seen in terms of a set of sharp contrasts: West versus East, equality versus hierarchy, secularism versus religion, and so on. While these dichotomies can sometimes be helpful, they are overly tidy and potentially misleading. This section of Core 152 explores the challenges of modernity by concentrating on the city of Istanbul, a city that straddles Europe and Asia and is today the object of a self-conscious attempt to modernize (economically, politically, culturally) without diluting its distinct identity and traditions. It thus offers an especially interesting prism through which to explore the familiar tensions that mark modernity. Turkey's relation with Islam also offers an opportunity to think through the relation between norms of liberal democracy and claims for religious distinctiveness, an especially important question today. 

Empire and Its Aftermath: Caribbean Literature and Society (ENGL/ALST)

Professor Kezia Page  - Associate Professor of English and Africana and Latin American Studies 

This course will examine Caribbean literature and society post-independence, tracing the conflict and contradictions inherent in the post-colonial experience. The work of decolonization is at the heart of Caribbean society. Yet the Caribbean post independence is more than this, it is a complex society still caught up in its self-definition. It negotiates this identity through discourses of race, class, gender, and sexuality. We will explore Caribbean literature, film, music, art and ritual placing special emphasis to the following themes: Globalization and Violence; Migration and Diaspora; Reggae and Revolution; Religion and other politics. In January we will travel to Jamaica, which will serve as exemplar of Caribbean social life. There we will continually juxtapose the archival "record" of the nation with the vibrant contemporary culture lived on the streets, as well we will witness the consonances and contradictions of a fierce national pride and a continued deference to power structures which mimic the colonial moment. 

Hunting, Eating, Vegetarianism (ENST)

Professor Ian Helfant - Associate Professor of Russian

In this course we will investigate the intertwined themes of hunting, industrial versus family farming and slaughter, eating, and vegetarianism and their relevance to our lives as individuals and members of modern industrialized society.  We will probe the ethical, environmental, and health issues that underlie diets ranging from the carnivorous to the vegan, and more recent approaches such as locavorism.  Utilizing literature, artistic and documentary films, autobiographical accounts, online hunting (and anti-hunting) forums, diverse web resources, self-reflective essays, and scholarly analyses ranging from animal studies to humanistic ecocriticism, we will situate these topics in an international and historical context but will also focus upon the key prey species that is hunted for meat in modern America – the white-tailed deer – as well as the animals most commonly raised for meat including cattle, pigs, and poultry. We will also address fishing and fish farming.  In January we will travel to Austin, Texas – touted for both its meat eating and progressive food cultures – to explore these issues in a rich comparative context.

Jerusalem: City of Gods (RELG/JWST)

Professor Lesleigh Cushing - Associate Professor of Religion and Jewish Studies

This course is an introduction to the Abrahamic faiths- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam- that uses Jerusalem as its centering theme. By considering the ways that each tradition understands Jerusalem as a holy city, the course will get at what the religions have in common and how they diverge from one another. Students will be exposed to key themes in the study of religion (scripture and interpretation, feasting and fasting, pilgrimage, sanctuary and sacred space, ritual and worship).

As importantly, the course will explore the city's sacred geography, seeing how religion has been lived there. While our primary focus will be the religions of Jerusalem, students will also become acquainted with the city's history (the major periods in its growth and development, its place in international contexts), geography (the natural landscape, layout of the ancient and modern cities, contemporary neighborhoods, and significant architecture), and (inevitably) the politics that come of the city's being a sacred center for three major religions. Food culture will also play a central role in our understanding of the city; as a class we will cook regularly from Yotam Ottolenghi's award-winning cookbook Jerusalem

San Francisco: Immigrant and Sexual Cultures (SOAN/WMST/LGBT)

Professor Meika Loe - Associate Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies
Christina Khan -- Assistant Dean and Director of International Student Services

This interdisciplinary course focuses on community, culture, identity, and place. Our focus in San Francisco, a modern city composed of diverse immigrant and sexual subcultures. We will ask how identity-based communities are created and mainatined in the face of oppression and contestation. We will focus on the stories that members of these communities hold and pass on through generations. We will consider the unique and ongoing struggles of immigrant and sexual communities in terms of health, poverty, history, and rights. Readings will range from socio-historical analysis, to U.S. Census data, to memoir, to poetry, to fiction. 

The theme of community runs through this course, and it is taught with community-centered pedagogy. We will utilize a mix of inter-group dialogue (IGD) and community based research exercises that engage students on where they stand, and push them to complicate, critique, and voice their positions in  myriad ways while modeling interdependecy and integration.