Summer & Fall 2021 Honors Scholars Seminars

A list of all Summer and Fall 2021 Honors Scholars Seminars offered through the University of Louisville Honors Program.

Summer 2021 Seminar Offering:

Music Scenes & Social Change  

Click the title to hear Professor Buckman speak more about this topic!

HON 331-20 / HON 441-20
Professor Luke Buckman
M-F Daily; 1:00-2:30 PM, Summer Term II 
Remote - 100% instruction digital with synchronous sessions available at the time and days designated in the schedule of classes

I hope you’ll join me this summer as we retrace the history of popular music in the 20th century through the development of music scenes (local, regional, and even virtual), musical subcultures, and their relationship to various social movements. The global musical landscape is dotted with many independent factions that operate--and, in some cases, thrive--according to their own set of rules and ideals. These scenes emerged and developed as alternatives to, or in alienation from, mainstream popular culture or societal norms. In this seminar, we will examine (through listening, reading, and viewing) some of the major music scenes that developed over the last 75 years, while also dedicating time to the exploration of lesser-known national and--time permitting--international scenes. Some examples of scenes and movements we will explore include: Stax Records & Memphis during the Civil Rights era; the early days of disco and dance music and its relationship to LGBTQ history; Riot Grrrl & Seattle Grunge; Athens, GA and the creation of indie music culture; and more. In addition to considering each of these scenes from a social change lens, we will grapple with questions such as:  What constitutes a music scene? What is genuinely and authentically local about local culture? How does the production and consumption of its music affect a scene? What happens when the sounds of a scene are co-opted and absorbed into popular music? Are music scenes bound by physical space and geography? How has the Internet transformed our understanding of music scenes? How does the relationship between musicians and fans shape a scene? How is music used to represent or depict a place, a community, or its way of life? Who took the bomp from the bomp-a-lomp-a-lomp?

This course fulfills requirements in the Humanities or the Social Sciences.

Fall 2021 Seminar Offerings:

Black Entrepreneurship

HON 331-08 / HON 341-08
Professor Arielle D. Clark
TTh, 1:00-2:15 PM

Entrepreneurship—while a unique, amazing journey on its own—becomes more complex when the entrepreneur is Black. Black-owned businesses face particular challenges, demonstrating that race and racism affect real-life experiences and opportunities for Black business owners. In this seminar, you will participate in a realistic simulation of starting your own business. You will learn real-world entrepreneurship skills, such as creating a business plan, designing business model canvases, and pivoting, while working through unique, common setbacks and hurdles Black-owned businesses face. This seminar combines material on business and on racism and discrimination, from generational wealth to barriers in fundraising.  

This course fulfills requirements in the Humanities or the Social Sciences.


Excelsior! Marvel Comics in American History & Popular Culture, 1961-2021

Click the title to hear Professor Pruitt speak more about this topic!

HON 431-75 / HON 441-75
Professor Dwain Pruitt
W, 5:30-8:15 PM 

Remote - 100% instruction digital with synchronous sessions available at the time and days designated in the schedule of classes

On August 8, 1961, Stanley Lieber and Jacob Kurtzberg released an unheralded little comic book. Each had worked in comics since the 1940s and each was dissatisfied with his place in the industry. Lieber wanted to write the Great American Novel and felt stifled by comics limitations. Kurtzberg wanted to prove those who had criticized his art work wrong and re-establish himself as the creative genius who co-created one of the 1940s' most popular heroes and the 1950s’ most popular comic genre, the romance comic. The book the men better known as Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created, Fantastic Four #1, launched a comic book storytelling revolution that reimagined superheroes and the stories that could be told with them, inspiring a generation and making comic book heroes and heroines matter in ways they never had before. “Excelsior! Marvel Comics in American History and Popular Culture, 1961-2021” tells the amazing story of modern American superheroes and superheroines and the uncanny men and women who told—and tell—their stories. Face front, True Believer! Welcome to the House of Ideas!

This course fulfills requirements in the Humanities or Social Sciences.

Sherlock Holmes // WR

HON 336-01 / HON 346-01
Professor Michael Johmann
TTh, 9:30-10:45 AM

With the sole exceptions of Santa Claus and Count Dracula, Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective Sherlock Holmes has been portrayed more times in film and on television than any other fictional character. Played by actors ranging from Basil Rathbone to Benedict Cumberbatch, Holmes has not only survived attempts by his own author to kill off the character as early as 1893 but has lived to fight Nazis, defeat Jack the Ripper, reside simultaneously in London and New York, and use digital messaging to taunt the police. This class will explore the publishing and media phenomenon that is Sherlock Holmes, who first appeared in print in 1887.Beginning with the novels and short stories, we will examine the fascination with the character among his earliest Victorian readers, which extended onto the Victorian stage and even into silent film during Doyle’s lifetime. With the coming of sound in the 1930s, we’ll explore the ways in which Sherlock, along with his friend and biographer John Watson, become the model for Batman and Robin, along with other superheroes, during the golden age of comics and are transformed from their Victorian origins into patriotic Britons fighting against Hitler’s spies and saboteurs during World War II. We’ll examine the return to a traditional depiction of the great Victorian detective in the Granada Television productions of the 1980s and early 90s starring Jeremy Brett, and his emergence as a 21st century crime solver living in today’s London in the BBC series starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Along the way, we will consider some of the other characters and types of fiction created by Conan Doyle that either mirror his greatest success or starkly contrast with the Holmes universe. We’ll examine the development of both the literary detective and the detective story genre inspired by Holmes which dominates so much of contemporary fiction and media and try to answer the question: why does such an egotistical, arrogant, cocaine-addicted Victorian continue to fascinate us?  As one of Sherlock’s adversaries, Irene Adler, famously puts it: “Brainy is the new sexy”. Be sure to bring your pipe and deerstalker hat.

This course fulfills requirements in the Humanities or the Social Sciences.

Television Criticism of the Paranormal

Click the title to hear Professor Smith Jones speak more about this topic!

HON 331-03 / HON 341-03
Professor Siobhan Smith Jones
MW, 2:00-3:15 PM

Claws that tear, fangs that bite, your TV is on…things go bump in the night! Prepare yourself for TV Criticism of the Paranormal! 

Today, it’s hard to find a channel on broadcast, cable, or a subscription service that doesn’t offer series such as HannibalLovecraft Country, Stranger Things, Mindhunter, The Walking Dead, Paranormal State, Gravity Falls, and American Horror Story. Our critical analyses will explore how these terrifying texts operate. 

This course will provide you with the necessary critical tools to reflect upon and understand the gratifications scary television texts provide viewers. In addition, you will critique the assumptions that these texts put forth about you, others, and the world around you. This semester, we will develop a more thorough and critical understanding of the ways in which paranormal/horror television programs make meanings by studying the theories and methods for examining these programs, the audiences who watch them, and the culture in which television programs are produced and viewed. We can’t do this without also taking into account who produces these horror(fying) texts, who their (assumed) target audiences are, who the texts represent, and the authenticity of these representations. My hope is that you will become more thoughtful, engaged, critical television viewers.

This course fulfills requirements in the Humanities or Social Sciences.


Religion and U. S. Politics: From Washington to Louisville // WR

HON 436-06 / HON 446-06
Professor David Buckley
TTh, 2:30-3:15 PM

This course examines two things we’re often taught not to discuss in polite company: religion and politics in America. Religious questions divide American voters, and tensions over religion and politics were prominent throughout the Trump Administration. These tensions attract national headlines, but how do they fit within longer trends in American political development? And do headlines about religious tensions mask examples of religion fueling cooperation and social change? The course draws on readings touching on a variety of religious traditions and themes, including: the history of religion in the American founding and political development; constitutional law on religion-state issues; voting behavior of major religious groups; and the impact of religion on US public policy. The seminar will focus on national political issues, but also include several in depth looks at how these issues play out right here in Louisville and Kentucky, from legal debates over COVID restrictions on religious congregations to the involvement of religion in social movements advocating criminal justice reform and racial justice.

This course fulfills requirements in the Humanities or the Social Sciences.


"Holy Terror:" Religiously Inspired Violence in Contemporary Society

Click the title to hear Professor Fuller speak more about this topic!

HON 331-01 / HON 341-01
Professor Roy Fuller
TTh, 11:00 AM-12:15 PM

One of the distinguishing features of international terrorism over the past twenty years has been the resurgence and proliferation of terrorist groups motivated by religious imperatives. Such groups are far more lethal than their secular counterparts, regarding violence as a divine duty or sacramental act conveyed by sacred text and often imparted by clerical authority. Such “holy terrorism” can be found in all major religious traditions and includes both international and domestic organizations and sometimes operate with government support. Students will examine the religious motivations, support, and tactics behind the phenomena of domestic and foreign terrorism. Analysis of case studies of specific terrorist organizations, justifications for violence, and rationale for target selection will be explored. Course materials will include Mark Juergensmeyer’s Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence, a Grawemeyer Religion Award winning book as well as novels, films and other media from popular culture. Methods of countering religiously inspired terrorism will also be explored. 

This course fulfills requirements in the Humanities or Social Sciences.

Building Resilience through Traditional Healing Practices

HON 331-11 / HON 341-11
Professor Sarah Nuñez
TTh, 4:00-5:15 PM
Remote - 100% instruction digital with synchronous sessions available at the time and days designated in the schedule of classes

In this time of racial uprisings, political uncertainty, and global pandemic, our communities need healing that reconnects us to the earth, who we are, and where we come from. In this seminar, we will explore traditional healing practices rooted in Latin American, African, and Indigenous traditions. We will engage in ways that student activism, mutual aid and support, storytelling, circle dialogues, herbal remedies, rituals, art, popular education, collectivist frameworks, and lived experiences can propel shifts in body, mind, and spirit and fuel self-preservation, values alignment, and healing. While learning about healing practices, students will utilize daily practices of reflection to engage with the material. In addition, students will facilitate class discussions, connect with movement healers, gain new skills, and learn to think critically about how healing can happen for individual and collective care. 

This course fulfills requirements in the Humanities or the Social Sciences.


River Stories: Exploring the Ohio River

Click the title to hear Professors Wicks and Barnett speak more about this topic!

HON 341-06 / HON 351-06
Professor David Wicks & Russell Barnett
MW, 3:30-4:45 PM

This interdisciplinary experiential seminar will work with the Ohio River Recreation Trail, The National Park Service, River Trails and Conservation Assistance Program and the Ohio River Basin Alliance.  We will focus on islands and natural areas on the 50 river miles around Louisville. Using the Ohio River Basin Plan 2020-2025, we will investigate and document environmental, historical, and cultural aspects of the river.  The class is built around six weekend canoe field trips with River City Paddle Sports exploring six Ohio River initiatives with community advocates. 

  • West Point – confluence of the Salt River and Ohio andthe starting point of The John Muir Trail  
  • The Falls of the Ohio Wildlife Area and Shawnee Park Outdoor Learning Center – islands below the lock and dam, and a proposed center in West Louisville focused on the Ohio River  
  • Origin Park - the new 600-acre park in southern Indiana by the River Heritage Conservancy  
  • Ecological Restoration of Beargrass Creek - ecological restoration of the largest watershed in Louisville 
  • Jeff Boat - envisioning sustainable uses of the 100-acre vacant shipyard in Jeffersonville 
  • Westport, KY– protecting the natural resources of 18- and 12-mile islands and Charleston State Park. 

The river stories and class projects created will be published on the ORRT website and the Ohio River Digital Guide. Sunday field trips are from 9 am to 3 pm. Field dates that are under consideration are: August 29; Sept 5, 12, 19, 26, Oct. 3, 10 and 17. Students pick at least 5 trips to participate. 

This course fulfills requirements in the Social Sciences or Natural Sciences.

Nonprofit Fundraising

Click the title to hear Professor Bobbitt speak more about this topic!

HON 331-07 / HON 341-07
Professor Eddie Bobbitt
TTh, 4:00-5:15 PM

Louisville is regarded as a compassionate city. Currently, the city has over 2,200 nonprofit organizations that provide support for social services, environmental research, pediatric healthcare, education, child advocacy and more. With such an abundance of nonprofits, there is great competition in fundraising and development. This seminar will examine nonprofits in Louisville. Specifically, the course will focus on how public charities can maximize revenue to make a greater social impact. The course will explore organizational structure, earned income strategies, philanthropic giving, grant writing, marketing, and special events. This course will analyze the dos and don’ts of nonprofit development using both theoretical and case study approaches.

This course fulfills requirements in the Humanities or Social Sciences.

Talking to Animals, Listening to Nature // WR

Click the title to hear Professor Poole speak more about this topic!

HON 436-02 / HON 446-02 / ENGL 401-02
Professor Megan Poole
MWF, 9:00-9:50 AM 

Birds tweet, dogs bark, and whales sing, yet language has primarily been defined as the ability to communicate through human speech, or symbolic ways of knowing. This course decenters that perspective, considering humans as human animals who language alongside the communicative acts of animals, trees, and other agents in nature. Throughout the semester, we will grapple with the following questions: How do humans open themselves to hear and understand the languaging of animals and the natural world? What might we learn by studying rhetoric, language, and communication beyond the human? How does moving beyond “the human” allow us to better conceive of difference and individual ways of being in the world? To answer such questions, we will turn to rhetorical theory, literature, and case studies in the biological sciences. 

This course fulfills requirements in the Humanities, the Social Sciences, or for the Department of English.

Sustainable Development: Balancing People, Planet and Profit

Click the title to hear Professor Darst speak more about this topic!

HON 341-04 / HON 351-04
Professor Tim Darst
TTh, 2:30-3:45 PM

We will approach urban studies from a multidisciplinary perspective. We cannot understand how the modern city works without understanding America’s history of settlement by succeeding waves of European ethnics and the movement of African Americans from the plantation South to the industrial North. An anthropological perspective is important in looking at how European, Asian, and Hispanic immigrants and African American transplants brought their cultures with them to the city, and how those cultures impacted their respective social and political organizations. Economic forces are obviously powerful in shaping the American city and in determining whether it succeeds or fails. Much of the energy of city officials is spent trying to make a better “business climate” in order to improve the quality of life and to obey the imperative that their municipality must grow or die. American cities look the way they do, and are organized the way they are, largely as a result of political decisions. Elected and appointed officials write and enforce the rules of the game, and their decisions are influenced by voters, business interests, and other political entities. From the political scientist’s perspective, of course, everything is politics, particularly when we are talking about decisions that create winners and losers in the public sphere. We will use the City of Louisville as an example, a laboratory, and a resource.

This course fulfills requirements in the Social Sciences or the Natural Sciences.

American Law and Legal Negotiations // WR

Click the title to hear Professor Bunck speak more this topic!

HON 436-04 / HON 446-04
Professor J. Bunck
TTh, 11:00 AM-12:15 PM

This new course entitled American Law and Legal Negotiations offers to students the opportunity to learn about the American judicial process, actually participate in a series of legal negotiation simulations produced by the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, and analyze specific cases at all levels of the American court system. As part of their case analysis, students will also write a series of case briefs. This is a course in which students actually dig in and participate in settling all kinds of real-life disputes, from divorce cases to personal injury cases, from inheritance disputes to those solved through arbitration. This is a new course, and I think we’re going to have a lot of fun!  


This course fulfills requirements in the Humanities or the Social Sciences.


Mindfulness, Movement, and Exercise // WR

HON 446-03 / HON 456-03 / PSYC 414-02
Professor Paul Salmon
MW, 3:30-4:45 PM
Remote - 100% instruction digital with synchronous sessions available at the time and days designated in the schedule of classes

Mindfulness: This seminar is based on the concept of mindfulness, a contemplative practice with historical roots in Buddhism that is part of a system of skillful, ethically principled living that evolved 2500 years ago. Contemporary definitions of mindfulness emphasize its value as a cognitive skill that involves focusing attention on present moment experience in an openminded, non-judgmental manner. Bringing mindful awareness into everyday life not only serves as an effective antidote to the many sources of suffering in life, but encourages experiencing more vividly the moments that collectively comprise our lives. Modern embodiments of mindfulness include Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR), a time-limited behavioral medicine program developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in the 1980’s, and numerous other Mindfulness-based clinical Interventions (MBIs), including Koru, a derivative of MBSR for college students. Extensive research supports the value of these programs in mitigating the impact of illness, emotional distress, and other vicissitudes of everyday life. In this seminar we will begin by exploring the nature of mindfulness through readings and contemplative practices, using as a foundation the book, Mindfulness in Plain English.

Movement and Exercise: Our society is also burdened by near-epidemic levels of physical inactivity and associated chronic illnesses including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity according to the American Medical Association. These and many other medical conditions result in part from a lack of physical activity, poor eating patterns, and chronic stress. We will explore reasons why encouraging people to exercise is met with so much resistance, despite its many benefits by reading and discussing Exercised: What Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy and Rewarding.

Mindfulness and Movement: One promising trend in counteracting negative health habits is the application of mindfulness to encourage people to engage in more health-enhancing practices. Such practices, both ancient and contemporary, include sitting meditation and yoga, core components of MBSR. However, a missing piece in this evolution concerns integrating mindfulness within more mainstream Western clinical, health, and exercise programs. Fortunately, there is now a growing recognition of how approaching the body and its need for regular physical activity with mindful awareness can positively impact motivation to become active for those who are presently inactive and deepen the experience of movement for those who engage in athletics and recreational activities. In the final part of this seminar, we will look at movement and physical activity through the lens of mindfulness in two contrasting contexts: psychotherapy (Mindful Movement in Psychotherapy) and athletics (Mindful sport performance: Mental Training for Athletes and Coaches). 

  1. Gunaratana, H. (1991) Mindfulness in plain English. Boston: Wisdom Publications 
  2. Kaufman, K. A., Glass, C. R., and Pineau, T. R. (2018) Mindful Sport Performance: Mental training for athletes and coaches. Washington D.C., American Psychological Association 
  3. Lieberman, D. E. (2020) Exercised: What something we never evolved to do is healthy and rewarding. New York: Pantheon Books 
  4. Salmon, P. (2020) Mindful movement in psychotherapy. New York: Guilford Press

    The course instructor, Paul Salmon, is a faculty member in Psychology at UofL. He has conducted extensive research on mindfulness. In addition to a Ph.D. degree in Clinical Psychology and Master’s degrees in both Clinical Psychology and Exercise Physiology, he is a licensed psychologist and is certified as an exercise physiologist (American College of Sports Medicine), yoga instructor (Yoga Alliance RYT/200) running coach (Road Runners Club of America) and YMCA LiveStrong exercise program instructor and personal trainer. 

This course fulfills requirements in the Social Sciences, the Natural Sciences, or the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences.


Breonna Taylor's America // WR

HON 436-01 / HON 446-01
Professor Amy Clukey
MW, 2:00-3:15

In the year since she was killed in her home by LMPD officers, Breonna Taylor’s story has become international news, catalyzed protests around the world, and led to widespread anger at police brutality, the war on drugs, gentrification, mass incarceration, violence against black women, racial injustice, and white supremacy. This class will ask who was Breonna Taylor and who has she become within American political and popular culture? How can we understand her life and death within the context of racial history and Black culture in the US in general and in Louisville in particular? Why and how did Taylor become central to the Black Lives Matter movement, and how did that movement emerge? What might justice for Taylor—and for Black Louisville, for Black Americans—look like? This class will begin by examining what we know, and what we don’t know, about the events of March 13th, 2020. We’ll consider the rhetorics used to discussed Taylor in journalistic and nonfictional writing. We’ll contextualize Taylor’s life within Louisville’s long history of white supremacy, its well-documented “polite racism,” segregation and the 9th street divide, and the last year of events in our city: the #BLM and #SayHerName movements; the street protests; the armed militias; boogaloo boys and oath keepers; the grand jury’s failure to press charges against the officers who killed Taylor; the deaths of David McAtee and Tyler Gerth; and the many scandals of political deception, stonewalling, or ineptitude. We’ll discuss the literature and culture of the Black Lives Matter movement and what anti-racism means in 2021. 

If COVID restrictions have lifted enough for us to safely travel by fall semester, we will take field trips to relevant sites within Louisville. I also hope to schedule visits with guest speakers, including local policy makers, community leaders, and #BLM activists. Our readings will be drawn from very recent African American poetry, fiction, and literary nonfiction, as well as history, theory, and popular culture texts. Readings may include works by Jesmyn Ward, Kiese Laymon, Claudia Rankine, Christina Sharpe, Michelle Alexander, Ibram Kendi, Ta-Nehesi Coates, James Baldwin, Carol Anderson, Angie Thomas, Hannah Drake, Blaine Hudson, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Angela Davis, etc. 

This course fulfills requirements in the Humanities or the Social Sciences. 


Clouds of Misunderstanding: Vaping Popularity

HON 341-09 / HON 351-09
Professor Kandi Walker
TTh, 9:30-10:45 AM

Some seats will be held for participants in the Honors 2nd-Year Science LLC.

Given the different names, varieties, sizes, shapes, flavors, and (mis)information about vaping products, it is no wonder clouds of misunderstanding surround these electronic devices. In fact, after more than a decade in the US marketplace, e-cigarettes continue to grow in popularity and use in some sectors while also being shrouded in misunderstanding regarding health claims and effects. From cloud competitions to appealing flavors, from exploding in pockets to being convenient and discreet, and from acting as a potential cessation tool to furthering addiction, it is obvious the communication surrounding these popular and controversial products contains conflicting information. In this seminar, we will discuss vaping from personal, social, financial, health, and cultural perspectives.  

Working closely with VAPERACE, an American Heart Association research center, this seminar will examine the youth vaping epidemic. We will begin to answer some important questions such as: Why do teens and young adults vape? What harm does vaping do? Are electronic cigarettes cessation products? What anti-vape messages are effective with teens and young adults? Why do people engage in a behavior that is known to cause harm? Does vaping lead to using other tobacco products?  Please consider joining this course as we navigate our way through the clouds of misunderstanding surrounding vaping.

This course fulfills requirements in the Social Sciences or the Natural Sciences.

Visual Illusions and Perception // WR

HON 446-06 / HON 456-06 / PSYC 414-01
T, 4:00-6:45 PM
Professor Z. He

Our everyday visual perception apparently reflects the physical world we live in. Or does it? The answer can be glimpsed from the fascinating study of visual illusions. In visual illusion, a stimulus in front of one’s eyes is not the same as the perception it instigates. As a matter of fact, there are overwhelming empirical findings by vision scientists suggesting that our everyday “normal” visual perception can be considered as illusions. This is because our perception of the world is not an exact replica of the external world but a creation of our brain. One good example is color perception. Isaac Newton remarked that, “For the rays to speak properly are not colored. In them there is nothing else than a certain power and disposition to stir up a sensation of this or that color”. In this regard, one can argue that visual illusions are special cases when the “created representation” of the external stimulus/object fails. The phenomenon of visual illusion thus provides a unique opportunity for scientists to explore how the eyes and brain construct visual perception. In this course, there will be both lectures and discussions (based on research literature) on visual perception and visual illusions. The students will also have the opportunity to experience various forms of visual illusions and to conduct experiments studying them in class. Some out of class time to work together should be expected. Attendance is required for participation points in the course.

This course fulfills requirements in the Social Sciences, the Natural Sciences, or the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.