Spring 2018 Honors Scholar Seminars

How the Heavens Go

The application deadline for this course has now passed. 

HON 341-07 / HON 351-07
TTh, 11:30-12:45
Professor Joseph M. Steffen
Projected Cost of Travel: $2,000

Copernicus and Galileo were the “disruptors” of their time - the former, hesitantly, the latter, aggressively, rediscovering and supporting the heliocentric model of their universe.  The course will examine models of the solar system and universe from the Babylonians and Egyptians onward, discuss the influence of leading scientific figures such as Pythagoras, Ptolemy and Aristotle, and, using the biographic novels of Dava Sobel about Copernicus (A More Perfect Heaven) and Galileo (Galileo's Daughter), more closely examine the historical and religious contexts of these two individuals as they promote the heliocentric versus geocentric models in the 16th and 17th centuries. The course will utilize our access to rare books to view and handle first editions of both scientists’ writings along with other relevant materials. The course will culminate with international travel to sites associated with this topic and will appeal to those interested in natural science as it is influenced by the world around it.

This course will fulfill requirements in the Social Sciences or Natural Sciences.

The Park and the City 

The application deadline for this course has now passed. 

HON 341-01 / HON 351-01
T, 4:00-6:30
Professor Daniel H. Jones
Projected Cost of Travel: $650-$700

In 1891 the designer Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr.—father of New York’s Central Park and founder of the discipline of landscape architecture—arrived in Louisville to lay out a system of parks and parkways. Understanding Olmsted’s lessons about beautiful, livable cities remains critical. Visiting a variety of parks and places, “The Park and the City” examines placemaking, great parks, and livable cities in several ways:

• The 21st Century will be an urban century. If city leaders preserve land in parks and integrate those parks with neighborhoods, they will create great cities. If not, their cities will fall short. We will examine the history and challenges of doing so.
• We will also learn to “read” natural and human landscapes, so this is also a course about landscape history.
• Finally, this is a “how to” course. We examine specific aspects of park design, development, and management. 

In short, you get to be a thinker, a planner, a dreamer, and a hard-headed civic leader; a historian, a naturalist, a designer, and a critic. I welcome all majors and backgrounds—I expect you to study hard, participate in class, take all assignments seriously, and complete a final project at an Honors level. Many classes will be off campus in Louisville’s parks and neighborhoods so please arrange transportation. In addition to required travel to New York over spring break, we may also hold one Saturday field trip. 

This course will fulfill requirements in the Social Sciences or Natural Sciences.

Genre and Style: The Films and Influences of Quentin Tarantino

HON 331-02 / HON 341-02
W, 4:00-6:30
Professor Scot Entrican

This seminar will examine the major films and influences of director/writer Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino is an unusual filmmaker in that he has authored films in a wide variety of genres (crime, heist, western, war, martial arts, horror). He has created a body of work that is derivative, often times lifting characters, scenes, and ideas from other films. Yet he is original, evoking a voice and sensibility that is uniquely his own. Each film is simultaneously a work of traditional genre storytelling and an exercise in style. Tarantino films are familiar while subverting convention and audience expectation, making “Tarantino” a genre of its own. In this course, students will screen all of Tarantino’s major works, examine his influences, discuss his place in film history, and study the nature of genre and authorship in contemporary filmmaking.

This course will fulfill requirements in the Humanities or Social Sciences.

Music Scenes and Subcultures

HON 331-03 / 341-03
TTh, 9:30-10:45
Professor Luke Buckman

"New York. London. Paris. Munich. Everybody talk about pop music." It is impossible to trace the history of popular music in the 20th century without considering the development of musical scenes (local, regional, and otherwise) and subcultures. The international 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 mainstream culture or societal norms. In this seminar, we will examine (through listening, reading, and viewing) some of the major music scenes and subcultures that developed over the last century, while also dedicating time to exploration of lesser-known national and--time permitting--international scenes. We will grapple with questions such as:  What is it that defines a musical subculture? 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 mainstream culture? Are music scenes bound by physical space and geography? How has the Internet transformed music scenes and subcultures? 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? Or to put it all another way: Who took the bomp from the bompalompalomp? Who took the ram from the ramalamadingdong?  

This course fulfills requirements in the Humanities or Social Sciences.


The Online Misinformation Economy: Lies, Conspiracies, and Fake News

HON 331-08 / HON 341-08
TTH, 12:30-1:45
Professors Anne Marie Johnson and Rob Detmering

Fake news, alternative facts, post-truth. A Presidential administration openly hostile to mainstream journalism. A media ecosystem suffused with conspiracy theory and propaganda. A society polarized by wildly different conceptions of reality. How are we as citizens and information consumers to discern for ourselves fact from fiction? This seminar will explore this question by examining how media stories are constructed and how the role of the traditional press has evolved over time and may change in the future. We will investigate how we can evaluate claims in the media, including why some news sources might be more trustworthy than others. We will consider our own propensity to believe in conspiracy theories and what roles conspiracy theories and hoaxes historically and currently have in our culture. Finally, we will look at who benefits from misinformation and propaganda and how information is never value-neutral. Projects may include researching fake news stories and conspiracy theories, as well as analyzing how a mainstream news story is framed across different media.

This course fulfills requirements in the Humanities or Social Sciences.

The World That Africa Made

HON 331-09 / 341-09 / PAS 300-02 / PAS 301-04
TTh, 1:00-2:15
Professor Joy Carew

Students will explore key elements of African American history, starting with an overview of pre-colonial Africa including key cultural contexts prior to slavery. They will then investigate the reality and impact of the Triangular Trade that brought enslaved Africans into Europe and North, Central, and South America. Moving forward in time, they will consider the challenges faced by the slaves during the Trade and afterwards, and the indomitable spirit that has kept people going despite these hardships. Post-slavery, they will come to appreciate the impulses that have caused Black people to continue to move, migrating elsewhere in search of better opportunities. In the process, they will learn about the impact Black people have had on other regions, peoples, and societies. Even today, the contacts between Black people and their evolving culture surfaces in dramatically different places. These cross-fertilizations, like before, have been many and profound, though little studied. The attendees will come to appreciate the resilience of a people, whose early import into the Americas was so traumatic, and yet, whose contributions to the economic and social fabric of these countries is undeniable.

This course fulfills requirements in the Humanities, Social Sciences, or Pan-African Studies.

To the “I” Land: Women’s Memoirs and Self-Portraits / WR

HON 336-05 / HON 346-05
TTh, 4:00–5:15
Professor Patricia Condon 

Janet Frame, New Zealand’s preeminent writer, recounted the story of her life in a three part memoir: To the Is-land (1982)An Angel at My Table (1984), and The Envoy from Mirror City (1985). From the first of these volumes, I take the title for this seminar. While most university writing rewards us for the removal of the “self,” this interdisciplinary seminar will seek entry into the “I” land. Through immersing you in the techniques that writers and visual artists employ to transform their personal lives into “ART,” this seminar aims to “fast track” your creative process. You will respond to provocative examples of 1st person narratives with works inspired by your own lives. Student performance will be evaluated on four things: the insights you contribute to class discussions; your written analytical response to the texts; your own creative work; and the insights and sensitivity you demonstrate in peer review. Ultimately, we will ask: Can we learn to approach our daily life by being more attuned to the detail of it? How do we adopt the habit of being more reflective about the significance of our experiences and relationships? Where do we find the discipline it takes to emulate Emily Dickinson, Mary Sarton, Adrienne Rich, Annie Dillard, bell hooks, Käthe Kollwitz and Frida Kahlo? Our inspiration may also be found in a single extraordinary song like "Diamonds & Rust" by Joan Baez, or in a book by an author you have never heard of, who has written an account of a life you can never forget.

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

Economics of Social Issues

HON 341-06 / ECON 490-01
MW, 9:30-10:45
Professor Audrey Kline

In this course, students will learn essential tools of microeconomic theory, such as supply and demand, elasticity concepts, production and cost, and market structure differences such as competition, monopoly, and imperfect competition. Once students are equipped with the microeconomic tools, they will examine an array of contemporary social issues and learn to apply objective microeconomic analysis to contemporary issues.  Issues may include such topics as crime, health care, education, minimum wage, law & economics, aspects of sports, terrorism, gambling, and so on. We will retain the flexibility to discuss and examine issues currently in the news as well. Students will be expected to be engaged in classroom discussion and may be asked to present topics as part of the course. 

This course fulfills requirements in the Social Sciences or College of Business. 

Dogs in Society 

HON 441-09 / 451-09
MW, 12:00-1:15
Professor David Simpson

This course will examine the evolution of dogs as human partners in society, and delve into the relationship of our species with one another. We will examine the many ways in which dogs serve in societal roles, as companions, workers, and in service capacities. We will explore in some depth the manner in which dogs contribute in these capacities, and the way in which our society has, or has not, accommodated these interactions. We will explore medical, safety, ethical, regulatory and legal issues, including Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and municipal approaches to regulating ownership. We will look at behavioral adaptations of both species and some of the cutting edge research in canine neuroscience. We will also explore how the built environment affects this interaction and the challenges of the urban fabric for dogs and owners. Finally, we will examine what the future may hold, and what ideas and research are critical for ongoing relationships.

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

Faith, Migrations, and Diasporas in Latin American Culture

HON 431-03 / 441-03 / ML 401-01 / 400-01
TTh, 11:00-12:15 
Professor Manuel F. Medina

The course will explore the representation of topics related to faith, migration, and the diaspora in the cultural production of Latin American and US Latino authors and artists. The class will use a cultural studies theoretical framework to study the wide diversity of belief systems present in Latin America. It will study global religions (e.g, Christianity, Islamic, Judaism) concentrating on more localized manifestations and religious practices such as syncretism, Afro-Hispanic (including Brasil). The introductory section will deal with pre-Columbian religions and it will trace their evolution and cultural adaptation through the centuries. On a subsequent part, the course will analyze the cultural production created by Diaspora and Migrant cultures within the context of faith and assimilation and adaptation regarding faith. The students will examine different cultural artifacts such as visual art (popular and high culture), literature, film, documentaries, websites, music, and mass media. Class participants will read a representative selection of articles related to religion and its connection to the fields of the humanities and the social studies. The class will concentrate on texts published since the mid-20th century but it will include works published during colonial times.  Students will deliver an oral presentation, submit a final paper, and take two exams. Weekly homework will be assigned.  

This course fulfills credit in the Humanities, Social Sciences, or Modern Languages.

Segregated Cities / WR

HON 436-01 / HON 446-01 / ENGL 402-01
MW, 2:00-3:15
Professor Amy Clukey

This course will take a comparative approach to the history, literature, and culture of segregation. Americans tend to think of segregation as essentially regional—a product of an exceptionally aberrant South—but, in fact, it is a global phenomenon. The class will begin by looking at Jim Crow segregation in the United States, before shifting focus to late twentieth- and twenty-first-century segregation in cities as varied as Belfast, Johannesburg, Jerusalem, speculative cities, and, most importantly, contemporary Louisville. Topics of discussion will likely include redlining, gentrification, apartheid, the so-called "9th street divide," busing, identity, inequality, and social justice. We will read Carl Nightingale’s Segregation: A Global History of Divided Cities, and we’ll also read widely in sociology and urban studies, alongside literary and cinematic texts. Texts may include: the television series Atlanta, the film District 9, China Mieville’s The City and The City, Ciaran Carson’s Belfast Confetti, Catherine Fosl’s Subversive Southerner, Anne Moody's Coming of Age in Mississippi, Nella Larsen's Quicksand, Ta-Nehesi Coates's Between the World and Me, among others. We’ll also take a Civil Rights tour of Louisville and visit historical sites within the city, such as the Western Branch Library. 

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

The Poetics of Time and Memory / WR

HON 436-02 / HON 446-02 / ENGL 402-02 
TTh, 2:30-3:45
Professor Deborah Lutz

In this course we consider the ways that time can work magically: loop, repeat, fall away in sublimity. Our memories carve out time and seem also to link to spaces in the past. What does it mean for memories to be revised or erased? Do our memories constitute who we are? Is it worth dwelling in the past, living an examined life? States of longing and altered consciousness such as sleeping and dreaming will be of special interest to us. We will muse about what it means to live, as we all must, embedded in time. By taking texts that explore the nature of memory, that treat time as something that can bend in various ways, this class will develop an aesthetics of time.

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


U.S. Foreign Policy from Obama to Trump

HON 436-03 / HON 446-03
TTh, 1:00-2:15
Professor David Buckley

In this seminar, students will examine developments in U.S. foreign policy from the Obama to Trump presidencies. Students will conduct research documenting elements of change and of continuity in U.S. foreign policy during this period, and grapple with the question of what an “America First” foreign policy means for the future of international order. The course will cover a range of topics tied to U.S. foreign policy, including counterterrorism policy, nuclear nonproliferation, trade and foreign assistance, science and technology, human rights and democracy promotion, religion and foreign policy, cultural diplomacy, and more. The seminar will draw in part on Dr. Buckley’s service as Senior Advisor in the State Department through the recent presidential transition from August 2016 – August 2017. Readings will blend scholarly literature on foreign policy formation with contemporary accounts of debates in U.S. foreign policy. Students will conduct original research into a particular topic in international affairs, and present this research to the class as a part of their final assignment. 

This course will fulfill requirements in the Humanities or Social Sciences.

Order and Disorder in International Relations

HON 436-05 / HON 446-05 / POLS 504-01
TTh, 11:00-12:15
Professor Julie Bunck

The principal objective of this course will be to use a world-order perspective to investigate certain central concepts and theories of international relations. We will explore the chief sources of international disorder and examine how order is sometimes fostered or imposed, through a variety of mechanisms and approaches. Students will be challenged to come to their own opinions as to the validity of theories regarding social, military, and economic relations among governments and significant non-state actors. The overall aim is to provide students with the fundamental knowledge about the theory and practice of international relations needed to come to their own informed opinions about leading issues in this field.

This course will fulfill requirements in the Humanities, Social Sciences, or Political Sciences.

Mental Illness in Film and Literature / WR

HON 436-08  / HON 446-08 / PSYC 414-01
TTh, 19:30-10:45
Professor Alison McLeish

Much of what people know about mental illness and its treatment comes from what they see in movies and what they read in books. But, are these portrayals accurate? How do such portrayals shape our understanding of mental illness and the treatment of mental illness? How do they contribute to the stigma associated with mental illness and the lack of mental health literacy in our society? This seminar will explore these issues through critical discussions and written assignments based on several movies and memoirs about mental illness viewed or read throughout the semester. 

This course will fulfill requirements in the Humanities, Social Sciences, or Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

Corporate Social Responsibility

HON 441-05 / BUS 441-01
MW, 2:30-3:45
Professor Jenna Haugen

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives provide businesses with opportunities to engage in public dialogue, legitimize the company’s for-profit activities, and build positive relationships with external stakeholders. In this class, we will learn how businesses do well by doing good through their CSR efforts. Guest speakers from across industries in Louisville including Brown-Forman, LG&E, Humana, etc. will present their organization’s CSR strategies. Additionally, we will hear from the non-profits that benefit from CSR initiatives and the media producers who publicize these efforts. As part of this course, you may get to engage in service learning centered around the CoB’s own community outreach efforts, the Elevate Portland Elementary initiative.

This course will fulfill requirements in the Social Sciences or College of Business.

Great Ideas in Psychology: Grawemeyer Awards / WR

HON 446-06 / HON 456-06 / PSYC 414-04
MW, 3:30-4:45
Professor Heywood Petry

What makes the annual $100,000 Grawemeyer Award in Psychology unique is that it honors ideas rather than life-long career achievement. The Psychology Award is the youngest of the five Grawemeyer Awards, with the first award given in 2001 for the idea “Imaging the human mind” (Posner, Raichle, Peterson). Grawemeyer Awards have been made annually in Psychology since then and the topics have been as diverse as the field of psychology. For example, in clinical psychology: “Cognitive behavioral therapy” (Aaron Beck); cognitive psychology: “The malleable nature of memory” (Elizabeth Loftus); social psychology: “Self-efficacy” (Albert Bandura); perception: “Feature integration theory” (Anne Tresiman); sensory neuroscience: “Gate control theory of pain” (Ronald Melzack); and personality: “Demystifying willpower” (Walter Mischel). In this seminar we will take a close look at the 18 great ideas in psychology honored by the Grawemeyer Award and the people that created them. We will read descriptions of the ideas as originally presented, listen to the winners describe the development of their idea in video presentations and also explore the impact that these ideas have had on subsequent scientific exploration, medical advances, and public policy. The seminar will culminate with the Grawemeyer Awards week activities in April when the winners of all five Grawemeyer Awards come to Louisville to present a public lecture on their award-winning idea and accept their award. The 2018 Psychology Award winner will be invited to attend the class and students will have the opportunity to meet the winner, discuss the winning idea with its author and attend the Grawemeyer Awards banquet. The ideas contributed by these award-winning individuals have been transformative and have made a tremendous impact on the field of psychology and on the community. The story of each one is fascinating.

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