Sophomore Research Seminar: 2011-2012

Fall 2011

SRS 200-01

TTH 9:00 - 10:45

Barr, V.

Disaster and Technology

SRS 200-02

TTH 9:00 - 10:45

Cass, A.

Designing as if People Mattered

SRS 200-03

TTH 9:00 - 10:45

Clark, C.

Philosophy of Education

SRS 200-04

TTH 9:00 - 10:45

Feffer, A.

1963: Betty Friedan and the Rebirth of Feminism

SRS 200-05

MWF 10:30 - 11:35

Foroughi, A.

Class, Gender, and Race in the American Civil War Era

SRS 200-06

TTH 9:00 - 10:45

Klein, D. / Traver, C.

Research for a Smarter Planet

SRS 200-07

TTH 9:00 - 10:45

Madancy, J.

Drugs and Cultures

SRS 200-08

MWF 10:30 - 11:35

Nicholas, P.

Environmental Politics in the United States

SRS 200-09

TTH 9:00 - 10:45

Peterson, B.

Colonialism in Africa

SRS 200-10

MWF 10:30 - 11:35

Romero, S.

Cognition in the Wild

SRS 200-11

TTH 9:00 - 10:45

Toher, M.

Alexander the Great: Use and Abuse of History

SRS 200-12

TTH 9:00 - 10:45

Walker, M.

Nazism

SRS 200-13

MWF 10:30 - 11:35

Christensen, P.

Research across Cultures

Winter 2012

SRS 200-01

MWF 10:30 - 11:35

Aslakson, K.

Slavery in the Antebellum South

SRS 200-02

MWF 10:30 - 11:35

Brennan, D.

Sport and the American Identity

SRS 200-03

MWF 10:30 - 11:35

Christensen, P.

Research across Cultures

SRS 200-04

TTH 9:00 - 10:45

Grigsby, J.

‘Unpacking' Hurricane Katrina: What Can Social Science Tell Us

SRS 200-05

TTH 9:00 - 10:45

Lawson, M.

African-American Protest Movements

SRS 200-06

TTH 9:00 - 10:45

Morris, A.

The Incarceration of Japanese Americans During WWII

SRS 200-07

TTH 9:00 - 10:45

Ndiaye, C.

African Migration: Borders, Violence, and Identity

SRS 200-08

TTH 9:00 - 10:45

Striegnitz, K. / Wunderlich, M.

Research for a Smarter Planet

SRS 200-09

MWF 10:30 - 11:35

Tan, J.

Spartacus and Other Slaves

SRS 200-10

TTH 9:00 - 10:45

Wicks, F.

The Oil Age

Spring 2012

SRS 200-01

TTH 9:00 - 10:45

Calandra, N.

"Chaos" across the Disciplines

SRS 200-02

MWF 10:30 - 11:35

Ellis, A.

Harlots, Heretics, and Hell-Raisers: Badly Behaved Women in the English-Speaking World, 1500 to the Present

SRS 200-03

MWF 10:30 - 11:35

Lewis, B.

The Automobile in American Culture

SRS 200-04

MWF 10:30 - 11:35

Motahar, E.

Rethinking Iran: Images and Realities

SRS 200-05

MWF 10:30 - 11:35

Richmond, J.

Human Origins

SRS 200-06

TTH 9:00 - 10:45

Sargent, S.

Scottish Witchcraft Trials, 1590-1660

SRS 200-07

MWF 10:30 - 11:35

Silvestre, S.

Black Paris, Black London: The African Diaspora in Two European Capitals

SRS 200-08

MWF 10:30 - 11:35

Solovieva, O.

Angels, Demons, Harlots, Saints: Gender, Sexuality and the Body in Late Ancient Religions

SRS 200-09

TTH 9:00 - 10:45

Walker, M.

Nazism


Course Descriptions




Fall 2011

SRS 200-01

Barr, V.

Disaster and Technology

This SRS will focus on the role of technology in causing, preventing, or aiding in recovery from disasters. The course will start with an look at some old examples, such as the 1900 hurricane that destroyed Galveston, TX, and the impact of levee construction along the Mississippi River. It will continue by looking at the impact of or use of technology in situations such as the Qinghai earthquake in China, the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the BP oil spill, and the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. New technologies considered will include search and rescue robots, temporary cellphone systems, translation tools, online mapping, esri.com, ushahidi.com, google.com/crisisresponse. The readings will include Isaac's Storm, by Erik Larson, Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America, by John Barry, and recent readings from Technology Review (MIT), the Computing Research Association, the National Science Foundation, New Scientist, and IEEE Spectrum, among others. Students will also read selections from The Craft of Research and The Landscape of History. Each student will be responsible for researching a specific example of technology and disaster, developing both a research paper and oral presentation.

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SRS 200-02

Cass, A.

Designing as if People Mattered

Think about things you use every day: your DVD player. A microwave oven. A restaurant menu. Your iPod. A paper clip. A roadmap. A webpage. These things all have one thing in common -- their designers tried to make them useful. Some succeed. Some don't. This sophomore seminar focuses on good design: how to do it, how to recognize it, and especially how to evaluate alternatives. Using texts such as Donald Norman's The Design of Everyday Things, we'll explore the process of design by drawing on your experience and interest in a wide range of fields. In cross-disciplinary terms, you'll design new usable systems, evaluate systems through hands-on experiments, and present your results in both oral and written form

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SRS 200-03

Clark, C.

Philosophy of Education

This course will present some major questions that have animated philosophy of education from its inception in ancient Greece. We will consider such issues as the relationship between education as enlightenment of persons and education for the greater good, the meaning, purpose, and value of knowledge, the philosophy of knowledge (epistemology) and its transmission.

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SRS 200-04

Feffer, A.

1963: Betty Friedan and the Rebirth of Feminism

This class begins with what some consider the most politically important book published in the U.S. after the Second World War, Betty Friedan's Feminine Mystique. After reading and discussing the text in its entirety, the class will work historically through Friedan's sources, in the vast "archive" of popular magazines, TV shows, films and advertising of the late 1940s through early 1960s. The class will then read some of the literature that responded to and elaborated on Friedan's argument and comprised the "Second Wave" of American feminism. We will also look at some of the literature from the era critical of Friedan's approach. Research projects will use Life, Time, Ladies Home Journal, House Beautiful and other magazines in Schaffer and Schenectady public library, as well as other cultural artifacts to reassess Freidan's conclusions about the effects, extent and nature of the "feminine mystique." Work will be evaluated in stages -- research design and proposal, outline of paper, first draft and final draft. Assigned texts for the class will include (besides Friedan's) a collection of selections from magazines and women's literature (as preparatory to the process of archival investigation), a book of oral history and memoire on the early years of second wave feminism and a book of feminist writing of the next generation of feminists.

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SRS 200-05

Foroughi, A.

Class, Gender, and Race in the American Civil War Era

On the Fourth of July 1861, President Abraham Lincoln characterized the conflict dividing the North and South as "a people's contest" to determine whether the U.S. would have a government "whose leading object is, to elevate the condition of men." In the ensuing 140+ years, historians have studied not only how the Civil War tested the country's political principles but also how people on and off of the battlefield -- women and men, enslaved and free, native and foreign born, northern and southern -- experienced and understood their roles in the war. Students in this SRS will pursue research in printed and on-line Civil War diaries, letters, newspapers, and speeches to explore how gender, class, and race were integral to the "people's contest" and its outcome.

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SRS 200-06

Klein, D. / Traver, C.

Research for a Smarter Planet

We live in a rising tide of data. How can we use all this information to make the world a better place? For example: Can data help us make and use energy more efficiently? Can cars be made safer using more sensors? Can we use computer simulations to design more energy efficient buildings?

There will be several sections of the Sophomore Research Seminar next year focused on research inspired by the IBM “Smarter Planet” initiative. Students will work together to conduct interdisciplinary research that addresses these important social questions. Both the students and faculty will have access to researchers from IBM who will help to provide up-to-the-minute data sources and research tools. Students will produce a written final product, and may also create a website or a public presentation. The sections are structured be of interest to students with many different interests.

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SRS 200-07

Madancy, J.

Drugs and Cultures

Virtually every society has its favorite drugs. We all consume them – for aches and pains, for pleasure and recreation, to alter mood, to wake us up, to help us sleep, and to mark important occasions, among other things – but cultural, economic, and political factors determine whether those drugs are considered beneficial or dangerous, are freely obtained or regulated, etc. Our goal here is to examine several drugs over time and in particular geographical and cultural contexts to analyze how and why those factors emerged and interacted, as well as how they affected popular attitudes. We will focus primarily on opiates, but will touch on other drugs such as caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco.

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SRS 200-08

Nicholas, P.

Environmental Politics in the United States

Environmental politics will be our thematic focus, and we will discuss beaucoup environmental issues, programs, regulations, and the governmental and nongovernment organizations that affect the amount of environmental protection we have. The most important learning objectives in the course involve the development of writing and research skills. Students will research and write a paper in phases and receive feedback on their work throughout the course. There will be two assigned books. One will provide material about writing and research and the other will cover environmental politics. We will discuss various methods of social science research throughout the course and students will learn how to read scholarly material in a sophisticated way.

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SRS 200-09

Peterson, B.

Colonialism in Africa

This course will explore the history of European colonial rule in Africa from the period of exploration and conquest during the 19th century to the era of decolonization in the 1950s and 1960s. The course will explore different interpretations of imperialism and colonialism, through a careful examination of case studies drawn from diverse colonial contexts. Topics will include technology and empire, colonial warfare, colonial occupation and African resistance, colonial government and economics, and religious and cultural change under colonialism. The central questions for the course will be: How and why did Africans lose control over their lands following the wars of conquest? What impact did European colonialism have on Africa? How did colonial states manage to stay in power?

The course will be structured as a seminar, which means the focus will be on the discussion of readings. Furthermore, we will spend considerable time focused on student research projects.

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SRS 200-10

Romero, S.

Cognition in the Wild

Students will read two conflicting accounts (Into Thin Air, and The Climb) of the 1996 mountaineering tragedy on Mt. Everest, along with key papers from cognitive psychology regarding human perception, memory, performance and reasoning. Class discussions and assignments will focus on understanding and resolving key conflicts between the two accounts as well as understanding the causes of the tragedy by applying the findings from the key papers from cognitive psychology.

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SRS 200-11

Toher, M.

Alexander the Great: Use and Abuse of History

Despite the fact that Alexander the Great has now fallen victim to an Oliver Stone cinematographic epic, he will remain an important and epochal figure of history. To quote a recent comment of a recognized authority on Greek history who doesn't produce movies but can read the ancient sources, "Alexander is one of those very few genuinely iconic figures, who have both remade the world they knew and constantly inspire us to remake our own worlds." In less than ten years Alexander conquered "the known world", extending his empire from mainland Greece to the western borders of modern India, and yet, most likely a clinical alcoholic and possibly mentally unbalanced, he died at the age of 33 in Babylon. The career and conquests of Alexander the Great influenced the political and cultural development of Mediterranean world for over a millennium. The effects of his legend resonated throughout history down to the early modern era, and until the 15th century he remained the standard of comparison for all generals and most statesmen in the West. To this day, Alexander is still prayed to for aid by fishermen in Greece, he is cursed as a "thief" in Iran, and worshipped as a saint in the Coptic Church of Egypt. After Jesus Christ, no figure from Classical antiquity has had such a wide-ranging and enduring impact on our own culture, and cultures far removed from our own.

The primary purpose of this seminar will be to introduce students to the problem of composing a "history" of a famous man and his era. Students will read the existing four accounts of the history of Alexander by ancient authors and analyze how they differ from one another and why they do so. Furthermore, the seminar will examine how modern perceptions affect the reading of ancient evidence in order to determine how leading scholars of different eras have presented widely divergent views of Alexander.

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SRS 200-12

Walker, M.

Nazism

This seminar will focus on the National Socialist (NS) movement in Germany during the first half of the 20th century. Topics will include: the rise of the NS movement during the Weimar Republic; the establishment of a dictatorship; the NS goal of a "People's Community", the NS policies of "racial hygiene" and autarky (national self-sufficiency) and their consequences; military expansion and war; genocide; and the postwar "denazification" of Germans. Reading will include primary sources -- letters, speeches, reports, film and images from the NS period -- and selections from secondary accounts--articles and books written by historians. Students will both interpret the primary sources for themselves, and compare and contrast how various historians have written the history of NS.

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SRS 200-13

Christensen, P.

Research across Cultures

This Sophomore Research Seminar will focus on the study of human behavior in cultural context. Are individuals constrained by society or do shared practices and beliefs give us the tools to become happy and successful? Anthropologists believe that human behavior is shaped by deeply rooted, “tacit” assumptions about individuals and society. How can we understand how we uncover our own assumptions and reflect on those of other cultures? How can we assess the influence of these ideas on human behavior? Where do we go to access scholarship on these questions? How do we formulate our own questions about culture, and how do we make our own arguments in a scholarly fashion about what it is that may really have happened? Our researches will help us answer these and other questions, and we just may learn some new things about our own culture and other cultures.

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Winter 2012

SRS 200-01

Aslakson, K.

Slavery in the Antebellum South

This course will examine slavery in the United States with a focus on the 19th century. In the first half of the course students will read some of the classic works on slavery in order to familiarize themselves with how historians have talked about slavery to this point. They will then spend the second half of the course researching and writing a term paper based on primary sources (newspapers, slave narratives, etc.). Specifically, students will be asked to develop a thesis based on this primary research addressing the topic of slave resistance. They are to not only develop an original argument, but also situate this argument within the existing literature on the topic.

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SRS 200-02

Brennan, D.

Sport and American Identity

Three years after the U.S. Census Department announced that a fixed line demarcating the American frontier could no longer be drawn, Frederick Jackson Turner delivered his famous address, "The Significance of the Frontier in American History." For Turner, the existence of the frontier had defined the rugged independence of the American individual, i.e., self-reliant, optimistic, adaptable, and ingenious. Furthermore, he warned that with the loss of the frontier the nation required a new means of defining American character.

Concurrent with this development, the last decades of the 19th century witnessed an explosion of interest in sports. Long distained, especially by those who held Victorian values, athletic activity and sports developed during this period into an important institution with a vital social purpose in American life. In particular urban, middle-class men and women envisioned sport as an activity that taught the values fundamental to American identity, the values of a frontier society, the values of the rugged individual, of free enterprise, of community, of adaptability, of creativity, and of success. The intertwining of sport and American identity (whether by class, gender, ethnicity, or race) only deepened during the whole of the 20th century.

The linkage of sport to the development of the distinctive traits often associated with American identity can be researched from a variety of perspectives. In addition to the expansion and acceptance of particular sports (perhaps especially professional baseball and college football) as well as the lives of late 19th and 20th century sports heroes and personalities, social reformers, business executives, and political leaders embraced and popularized this relationship.

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SRS 200-03

Christensen, P.

Research across Cultures

This Sophomore Research Seminar will focus on the study of human behavior in cultural context. Are individuals constrained by society or do shared practices and beliefs give us the tools to become happy and successful? Anthropologists believe that human behavior is shaped by deeply rooted, “tacit” assumptions about individuals and society. How can we understand how we uncover our own assumptions and reflect on those of other cultures? How can we assess the influence of these ideas on human behavior? Where do we go to access scholarship on these questions? How do we formulate our own questions about culture, and how do we make our own arguments in a scholarly fashion about what it is that may really have happened? Our researches will help us answer these and other questions, and we just may learn some new things about our own culture and other cultures.

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SRS 200-04

Grigsby, J.

'Unpacking' Hurricane Katrina: What Can Social Science Tell Us

In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina ravaged the U.S. Gulf Coast and devastated the city of New Orleans. For weeks after, the popular media framed the almost total failure of institutions to adequately prepare for and respond to the disaster and raised stark questions about the role of race and class. New Orleans' history of social problems was painted in ugly terms. Katrina was a social as well as a natural disaster.

Since then, social scientists have been studying the many issues raised by these events. In this seminar, we will attempt to 'unpack' the Katrina disaster by examining this research and by doing some of our own. We will use content analysis techniques to examine television representations of the disaster, documenting their key themes. Then we will explore what social science has learned about the adequacy of media images of disaster. How do sociologists define disaster? How does TV news work and what role does it play in disasters? How do our popular myths about disaster compare to reality? How do the existing social structures of race, class and gender in a community make its members more or less vulnerable to disaster? How do communities go about recovering from disaster? How did these issues play out in New Orleans before, during and after Katrina? Each student will research and write a paper on a specific sociological issue concerning the hurricane.

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SRS 200-05

Lawson, M.

African-American Protest Movements

This course will examine the history of African-American protest movements. Students will learn in rough outline about African-American struggles for freedom from the earliest slave revolts to the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. We will examine such struggles as Gabriel's Rebellion (considered perhaps the largest slave conspiracy in Southern history), abolitionism (with a focus on the strategies of David Walker, Martin Delaney, Henry Highland Garnet, and Frederick Douglass), the anti-lynching movement, Booker T. Washington and the Tuskegee Institute, W.E.B. DuBois and the Niagara Movement, Marcus Garvey, the Harlem Renaissance, the struggle to integrate sports such as boxing and baseball, the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s, and the Black Power Movement. Students will write a research paper on the movement of their choice.

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SRS 200-06

Morris, A.

The Incarceration of Japanese Americans During WWII

This research seminar will focus on the internment of Japanese-Americans and Japanese citizens in the United States during World War II. This topic offers the chance to explore a variety of important historical issues with contemporary resonance: the tension between national security and civil liberties during wartime, the impact of racism on the shaping of American wartime policy, ethnic identity and assimilation in the United States, resistance and accommodation by minorities facing discrimination, and the evolution of American attitudes toward past injustices. We will address these issues by examining a wide range of types of primary sources, including government documents, newspapers, legal documents, photographs, camp newsletters, oral histories, and memoirs.

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SRS 200-07

Ndiaye, C.

African Migration: Borders, Violence, and Identity

This course examines the critical terms of home and elsewhere through the lens of African migration to Europe and North America. African youth who are under overwhelming socio-cultural and economic pressures migrate to Europe and North America in search for greener pastures. In the course of these migrations, successful stories are often overshadowed by traumatic and violent experiences and identity crisis.

Our study of African migration will be undergirded by an in-depth examination of the notions of border, exile, trauma, violence, and identity. We will use critical texts, works of fiction, films, and documentaries for that purpose. One of the goals for this course is to hone students critical thinking and writing skills. Thus, students will read, discuss, present, and write about both primary and secondary sources.

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SRS 200-08

Striegnitz, K. / Wunderlich, M.

Research for a Smarter Planet

We live in a rising tide of data. How can we use all this information to make the world a better place? For example: Can data help us make and use energy more efficiently? Can cars be made safer using more sensors? Can we use computer simulations to design more energy efficient buildings? There will be several sections of the Sophomore Research Seminar next year focused on research inspired by the IBM “Smarter Planet” initiative. Students will work together to conduct interdisciplinary research that addresses these important social questions. Both the students and faculty will have access to researchers from IBM who will help to provide up-to-the-minute data sources and research tools. Students will produce a written final product, and may also create a website or a public presentation. The sections are structured be of interest to students with many different interests.

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SRS 200-09

Tan, J.

Spartacus and Other Slaves

73 B.C. A slave, trained to perform violent acts for the delight of Roman audiences in the role of gladiator. His name was Spartacus. Now famous to us through books, films, or TV shows, then he was notorious for starting a slave rebellion that lasted for years--even against the might of the Roman legions. In this course we will read both ancient sources and modern scholarship on the heady mix of slavery, spectacle, violence, and charisma that Spartacus represents. Students will delve deeper with their own research on historical, literary, sociological, or economic topics.

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SRS 200-10

Wicks, F.

The Oil Age

The “Oil Age” which includes natural gas is only 150 years old. Prior to 1859 no one anticipated that large amounts of recoverable liquid and gaseous fuel that existed below the surface of the earth.

The original benefit of the newly discovered oil was saving the whales. They were being hunted to extinction for lantern fuel. The crude oil from the ground that could be distilled into kerosene for lighting was much better and cheaper than whale oil.

Uses of oil have dramatically expanded. Oil allowed for internal combustion engines that would power new generations of magnificent land vehicles, ships and airplanes. Oil also provided a better material for paving roads, plastics and clothing, a better fuel to heat and cool buildings and more food production via better fertilizers. New industries were created. Personal fortunes were made and sometimes lost.

Armed forces had relied upon human power, horses and wind. New oil powered war machines were developed for land, sea and air. Wars were fought for oil. The lack of oil and other resources led to the aggression of Japan and Germany that became WWII. Oil in each well, region and country goes through a pattern of discovery, peak production and decline. U.S. oil production peaked in 1970. Global oil production is peaking now. About half of the estimated 2 trillion barrels of oil have been recovered. Society must soon confront the magnitude of the declining “Oil Age” challenges. There will be great challenges and hardships. There may also be new opportunities.

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Spring 2012

SRS 200-01

Calandra, N.

“Chaos” across the Disciplines

In Greek and Roman mythology, “chaos” is the word used to describe the origins of our universe. In 20th-century scientific and mathematical discourse, chaos theory emphasizes, among other things, the often untraceable and disproportional impact of original conditions on future outcomes--a notion made famous by Edward Lorenz’s assertion that “the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil” just might be able to “set off a tornado in Texas.” In this course, we will explore why the science of chaos appeals so strongly to scholars in the humanities and social sciences, asking what insights follow from the use of chaos theory to understand our modern age of decolonization (and neocolonialism), international migration, and globalization. Conversely, we will explore the limits of applying evolving scientific concepts (either as metaphors or as models) to work in other disciplines: namely literature, history, and cultural studies. Students will write a research paper on the subject of chaos in the 20th and 21st centuries in the context of at least one of the disciplines we explore in class.

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SRS 200-02

Ellis, A.

Harlots, Heretics, and Hell-Raisers: Badly Behaved Women in the English-Speaking World, 1500 to the Present

In 1976, well-known American historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich observed, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” Ulrich was writing a scholarly article about funeral sermons eulogizing women in pre-Revolutionary New England. She never intended to coin a female-empowerment catchphrase. Yet, the popular consciousness subsequently has latched onto Ulrich’s statement, or slight variations thereof, and turned it into a feminist slogan that adorns merchandise from bumper stickers to t-shirts, coffee mugs to tote bags, and beyond.

In this research seminar, we will investigate how women who challenged tradition and authority made history. We will look at various examples of “badly” behaved women in the English-speaking world, 1500 to the present. These include seventeenth-century English witchcraft accuser Anne Gunter, eighteenth-century Irish-American pirate Anne Bonny, and twentieth-century American Civil Rights protestor Anne Moody: three women connected by little but their shared first name and the outraged response, justified or not, that their refusal to be “good” elicited. We will consider, for example, some of the prevailing expectations for women’s behavior over the centuries, the consequences for failing to live up to those cultural norms, and how both have (and have not) changed over the centuries. In sum, we will examine at how badly behaved women continue to infuriate, intrigue, and even inspire us.

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SRS 200-03

Lewis, B.

The Automobile in American Culture

Arguably no people in the world are more in love with their cars than Americans. Certainly no country's real estate, livelihood, and life have been more reshaped by the automobile than those of the United States, in the course of little more than a century. Our seminar will explore when, how, and why the automobile came to so dominate our society and how that dominance in American transportation affects our entire culture. Accordingly, our common readings, other course material, and class discussions will cover varied topics, including the changing science and engineering of cars, the economics of the industry, the rise of mass production and later niche marketing, design and aesthetics, the reshaping of urban and rural landscapes and life (with a focus on Schenectady), the changing politics of transportation, the rise of General Motors and other large companies, the youth culture of the 1950s and 1960s with its "car songs" and movies, and views of the auto by its critics and by mainstream media. Each student will start from these materials and his or her own interests and work actively with both the instructor and a librarian to find a topic for which a 12-18 page research paper is feasible and relevant, and to complete the research and writing. Each student will participate in class discussions; summarize several key book chapters, articles, or other sources to be used in the research paper; and make a brief report on his or her topic to the class around the middle of the term. Working in groups, all students also will participate in creating a wiki for the course and each group will give a brief report to the class on its pages of the wiki. There will be no examinations, though I do reserve the right to give quizzes or ask for a few one-page "microthemes" to aid class preparation. If a joint poster session can be arranged with several other SRS sections, each student also will make a poster describing his or her work and participate in the poster session.

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SRS 200-04

Motahar, E.

Rethinking Iran: Images and Realities

The 1979-80 Iran hostage crisis, in which Iranian university students held U.S. citizens in captivity for 444 days inside the American embassy in Tehran, has left an indelible mark on U.S.-Iranian relations. In this course we will study the economic, political, cultural, historical, and other factors that have shaped today's Iran. We will take, as our point of departure, one of the most important events in modern Iranian history: The CIA-sponsored coup that overthrew the democratically-elected government of Iran in 1953. We will study this event, and the subsequent 25 years of repression and de-democratization, in the context of Iran's anti-colonial struggles and modernization efforts of the previous 150 years or so. This approach will illuminate the genesis of the 1979 revolution, the hostage crisis, the evolution of the Islamic Republic since then, and the many aspects of the current multifaceted relationship between Iran and the rest of the world.

The goal is to enable students to contextualize, and thus better understand, current issues such as the role of petroleum and nuclear energy in Iran's political economy and in its relationship with the rest of the world, the role of Islam in Iran, the position of women in society, the emergence of the "Green Movement," and related issues. In this journey, students will develop an appreciation of Iran as a complex, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, modern, vibrant society with an ancient history and a rich cultural heritage.

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SRS 200-05

Richmond, J.

Human Origins

Where do human beings come from? Scientists have been trying to answer that question for more than a century, and this course will survey their efforts. Beginning with 19th Century developments in geology, prehistoric archeology, and evolutionary biology, we will examine how scientists’ conceptions of human origins have developed over time, and how present day scientists envision the evolution of our species. We will also look at ways in which ideas about human origins escape the boundaries of science into popular culture. Students will write research papers that explore current scientific opinion on a particular aspect of human origins and evolution, and present their findings to the class.

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SRS 200-06

Sargent, S.

Scottish Witchcraft Trials, 1590-1660

This seminar will examine the phenomenon of witch hunting in Early Modern Europe through a detailed study of several Scottish Witch Trials between 1590 and 1660. Scotland had no medieval witch trials. Only after the Reformation, when witchcraft became a secular as well as religious crime, did the trials begin. Course readings will include a general history of early modern witchcraft, two early treatises on witch-hunting (the infamous Hammer of Witches [1486] and James VI's Demonology), a collection of original documents concerning the so-called North Berwick Witches (1590-93), and trial records from several seventeenth-century cases. Using these resources, the course will reconstruct the political, social, economic, intellectual, religious, and gender context of the witch trials with the goal of understanding why people were willing to burn their neighbors for crimes they not only did not commit, but could not have committed.

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SRS 200-07

Silvestre, S.

Black Paris, Black London: The African Diaspora in Two European Capitals

Paris, France, dubbed “The City of Light,” and London, dubbed “The Big Village” are considered as ones of the most beautiful and exciting places in the world, and they are also critical sites in the African Diaspora. For two centuries, people of African descent and origin have migrated to Paris and London, and the French and British capitals have become the crucible of black intellection. The purpose of this course is to analyze the Black African, African-American and Caribbean presence, in Paris and London and compare their living experiences. We will examine these complex sites and the representations of Paris and London as a bit of heaven and/or a slice of hell by focusing on the life and times of people who came to live in these two capitals in search of a better life, adventure and opportunities. We will see how these two capitals present similarities and differences in terms of adaptation and perception of African, African-American and Caribbean people in these two spaces during the 20th and 21st centuries. We will also examine race and immigration politics in France and Great-Britain and the way these two nations deal with populations originating from its current and former territories. We will study written and visual narratives produced by writers and filmmakers such as Fatou Diome (The Belly of the Atlantic), Bernard Dadié (An African in Paris ), Samuel Selvon (The Lonely Londoners ), Jacques Goldstein (Africa to America to Paris, the migration of black writers), Jon Alexander (Small Island) and Bertrand Tavernier (Round Midnight).

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SRS 200-08

Solovieva, O.

Angels, Demons, Harlots, Saints: Gender, Sexuality and the Body in Late Ancient Religions

What kinds of fantasies did people in Late Antiquity construct about sexuality, and what can those fantasies tell us about their society and culture? What conceptions of gender roles, human psyche, cosmos, and the deities are reflected in the erotic magical spells? What are the social, cultural and ideological contexts for and implications of the practice of sexual renunciation? What images and valuations of the human body appear in late ancient literary works, and how do those variant descriptions relate to their contemporary religious landscape? In this course we will explore these and other questions related to the constructions of the human body and sexuality in Late Ancient religions. Our focus will be on religious traditions that flourished in the Mediterranean world during the first five centuries of the common era, such as Graeco-Roman mystery cults and magic, “Gnostic” sects, and early Christianity. These ancient traditions present us with a variety of ways of conceptualizing the body and sexuality which continue to inform and to haunt Western culture. The interpretive assumption that will guide our research is that the body and its sexual experiences, however “natural” and basic they may be, are also historical categories which must be understood within—and help us understand something about—particular societies and cultures. Our primary sources will range from popular novels such as Apuleius’s Metamorphoses and biographical and hagiographical accounts to the canonical and extra-canonical scriptures, personal diaries, and epigraphic sources and artifacts such as amulets, magical papyri and curse tablets. We will also read some of the classic works written by historians of late ancient religions.

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SRS 200-09

Walker, M.

Nazism

This seminar will focus on the National Socialist (NS) movement in Germany during the first half of the 20th century. Topics will include: the rise of the NS movement during the Weimar Republic; the establishment of a dictatorship; the NS goal of a "People's Community", the NS policies of "racial hygiene" and autarky (national self-sufficiency) and their consequences; military expansion and war; genocide; and the postwar "denazification" of Germans. Reading will include primary sources -- letters, speeches, reports, film and images from the NS period -- and selections from secondary accounts--articles and books written by historians. Students will both interpret the primary sources for themselves, and compare and contrast how various historians have written the history of NS.

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