HCOL 86 A - D1: Representing Race - Prof. David Jenemann, Honors College & Department of English

CAS: Humanities
GSB: D1, Humanities Core
CALS: Humanities
CEMS: Engineering Students - Gen Ed Elective; Math/Stat/CS/DS students check with your advisor
RSENR: Consult with your academic advisor
CNHS: Consult with your academic advisor
CESS: Consult with your academic advisor


In this seminar, students read three philosophers—Descartes, Hume, and Aristotle—who gave them three different perspectives on how and what we know: rationalism, empiricism, and a kind of humanistic thinking that we referred to as narrativism.  In the reading that followed our exploration of those philosophical texts, we looked, sometimes directly, often indirectly, at the ways in which subjectivity can play a role in the construction of knowledge. Following on that experience, “Representing Race” narrows the focus to consider questions of knowledge (what do we know?), persuasion (how do we know it?) and power (who decides?) in the field of race and race relations. These are exceedingly vexing questions which play out across disciplinary boundaries. How biologists consider race is likely different than how a legal scholar thinks of the issue and distinct once again from how a poet, a painter, or philosopher thinks about the question. At the turn of the twentieth century, the issue of racial representation was further complicated by the births of cinema and the mass media, which offered spectators images of race that were at once “authentic” pictures of reality while at the same time culturally-determined fabrications. Hence in the first half of Representing Race, we will take a broad view of racial representations across a variety of disciplines, (biology, legal theory, visual arts, literature, philosophy, etc.) dating from antiquity to the present-day. In the second half of the semester, we will examine how these various types of knowledge play into representations of race in the mass-media from early silent films to television shows to the Internet, and beyond. In addition to traditional assignments, the course will culminate in the opportunity to a creative, collaborative project incorporating materials and ideas from the class.

HCOL 085 B – The Opioid Crisis – Prof. Ian Grimmer, Honors College & Department of History

Honors College Distribution
CAS:  CAS elective credit
GSB:  Consult with academic advisor
CALS:  Consult with academic advisor
CEMS:  ENGR: Gen Ed Elective; Math/Stat/CS/DS students consult with your advisor
RSENR: Consult with academic advisor
CNHS: Consult with academic advisor
CESS: Consult academic advisor
 may count towards the following major/minor requirements: HSCO (toward the 9 addtional credits)

During the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, the ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States worsened considerably. Vermont, in particular, was especially impacted, standing out as having the highest per capita overdose fatality rate in the country. This course will inquire into the historical, social, and economic underpinnings to this contemporary problem, and explore how professionals in fields from medicine to social work are trying to address it. Key course themes include the role of stigma and racism in shaping the current crisis, reasons why the opioid epidemic has occurred in four distinct waves, and implications for future policy and treatment.  As a writing-intensive course, students will have opportunities to express their ideas in written form throughout the semester. Because the opioid crisis is best understood from an interdisciplinary perspective, students from a diverse range of academic interests and backgrounds are also encouraged to join this seminar. 

HCOL 085 C – Narrative Knowing: Fiction - Prof. Deborah Noel, Department of English

Honors College Distribution
CAS:  Literature
GSB: English Writing
CALS:  Consult academic advisor
CEMS:  ENGR: Gen Ed Elective; Math/Stat/CS/DS students consult with your advisor
RSENR: Consult academic advisor
CNHS: Consult academic advisor
CESS: Consult  academic advisor

Major/Minor requirements: English: elective below the 100-level; can count for the major or minor.

In this course, we’ll explores narrative as a way of knowing with a focus on fiction. Across the semester, we’ll read a selection of short stories and one novel supported by critical theory in narrative and literary studies, philosophy and history to frame some big questions: How do fictions, from “historical realism” to “absurdist fantasy,” reflect the world we think we know? What are the effects of getting to know the world through fiction? What kind of thinking do we engage in when we read fiction? What sort of “truth,” if any, can we find in fiction? What can a study of narrative knowing teach us about other ways of knowing? What does it mean to “read for pleasure,” and how do (or should) our reading habits change when we’re reading for study? The masterful story-writers we’ll encounter include: Anton Chekhov, Ernest Hemingway, Chimamande Ngozi Adichie, Ursula Le Guin and Ted Chiang, among others. Our novel is the darkly satirical classic of postmodern fiction: Kurt Vonnegut’s Mother Night. Coursework will closely follow the shared goals of HCol 085, including three shorter, drafted essays (1200 words) and a longer, research-based final project, including a drafted final essay (1800 words). Students will be expected to attend class, participate actively in class discussion and complete short weekly writing assignments for homework.

HCOL 085 D – Physics of Light and Color – Prof. Randall Headrick, Department of Physics

Honors College Distribution

CAS:  non-lab natueral sciences
GSB:  Consult with academic advisor
CALS:  Consult with academic advisor
CEMS:  ENGR: Gen Ed Elective; Math/Stat/CS/DS students consult with your advisor
RSENR: Consult with academic advisor
CNHS: Consult with academic advisor
CESS: Consult academic advisor

The purpose of this course is to develop an appreciation for the physical phenomena that underlie light and color, beginning with the most basic phenomena and working towards more advanced topics. The course is structured around two 75-minute in-person meetings, that will include brief lectures. Most class meetings will also include either a hands-on or conceptual group activity to help student become familiar with the content. Homework will consist of reading, a reading quiz, and additional problem solving or activities. A writing assignment will normally be included in each homework assignment.

HCOL 085 E Russian Space: Sacred & Profane – Prof. Kathleen Scollins, Department of German & Russian, CAS

Honors College Distribution
CAS:  literature
GSB:  Consult with academic advisor
CALS:  Consult with academic advisor
CEMS:  ENGR: Gen Ed Elective; Math/Stat/CS/DS students consult with your advisor
RSENR: Consult with academic advisor
CNHS: Consult with academic advisor
CESS: Consult academic advisor

may count towards the following majors/minors: Russian; Russian & Eastern European Studies; European Studies (Culture & Thought)
How do Russians perceive, map, and decipher the world? Our course will approach this question, which has gained new resonance in the wake of Putin’s repeated incursions into Ukrainian territory, through an examination of artistic representations of some of the essential spaces ‒ real, imaginary, and hybrid ‒ of the Russian cultural tradition. In the American context, we might think of the Wild West or Wall Street as real geographical entities whose representations in literature and film are employed to express our national character, preoccupations, or values. What are some analogous spaces of the Russian imaginary, and what can their artistic representations or critical interpretations tell us about their cultural significance and value? This course takes theoretical direction from the so-called “spatial turn” in literary and cultural studies, which shifted scholarly focus from the discourse of temporality to that of space. Accordingly, readings and viewings will not be sequenced chronologically, but according to physical site or structure ‒ the concentric rings of the medieval Russian city will provide the primary organizing principle for the five modules: Church; State; Home; City; Woods.

HCOL 085 F & K – D2: Street Children – Prof. Jonah Steinberg, Department of Anthropology, CAS

Honors College Distribution
CAS:  social sciences
GSB:  Consult with academic advisor
CALS:  Consult with academic advisor
CEMS:  ENGR: Gen Ed Elective; Math/Stat/CS/DS students consult with your advisor
RSENR: Consult with academic advisor
CNHS: Consult with academic advisor
CESS: Consult academic advisor

may count towards the following majors/minors: Anthropology

Populations of street children can be found in cities across the planet. With numbers in the tens or perhaps hundreds of millions, they are among the least powerful and the least privileged in our contemporary global system Their existence and situation presents us with a powerful lens for studying the ways that large-scale processes affect individual people and places. Through an inspection of the ethnography of street children, we can better understand the ways that historical forces like globalization, colonialism, and industrial capitalism shape people’s daily lives and experiences.

Observations of street children point to important questions about social life, history, and subjective personal experience. The purpose of this course will be to explore those questions. We will examine in particular detail questions which might help us explain how and why populations of street children come into existence. For our purposes, the term “street children” generally refers to youth who either live or work full-time on the streets, especially runaway youth, but we will interrogate and explore this poorly understood definition in greater detail.

HCOL085 G - Metacognition: Gateway to Learning - Prof. Judith Christensen, Department of Psychological Science

Honors College Distribution
CAS:  CAS elective credit only
GSB: English Writing
CALS:  Consult academic advisor
CEMS:  ENGR: Gen Ed Elective; Math/Stat/CS/DS students consult with your advisor
RSENR: Consult with academic advisor
CNHS: Consult with academic advisor
CESS: Consult academic advisor

How is it that human thinking has evolved the ability to engage in complex thinking focused on the self? Metacognition involves self-awareness and understanding of your own thought processes and as such promotes learning, goal setting, problem solving, personal insight and future planning to name a few important functions. This course will examine an overview of the current science on metacognition. Perhaps more importantly, the course will also draw on examples from creative writing, history, philosophy, art and more of people using metacognition to understand the world and their places in it. Students will also have the opportunity to explore examples on their own and in line with personal interests. This course is a seminar requiring students to engage in classroom discussion and reflective writing using assigned readings as well as self-selected readings. The goal is for students to use both science and examples drawn from the study of many liberal arts sources to gain a personal understanding of their own thought processes.

HCOL 085 H - Modernism & Modernity – Prof. Joseph Acquisto, Department of Roman Languages, CAS

Honors College Distribution
CAS:  Humanities
GSB:  English Writing
CALS:  Consult academic advisor
CEMS:  ENGR: Gen Ed Elective; Math/Stat/CS/DS students consult with your advisor
RSENR: Consult with academic advisor
CNHS: Consult with academic advisor
CESS: Consult academic advisor

What does it mean to be “modern?”  What values and assumptions have shaped our world?  How have authors and thinkers across the centuries attempted to situate the modern self?  Some key foundational texts, in philosophy and cultural theory, of “modernity,” with special attention to the cultures of France and Germany, will help us characterize the modern self in its relation to the external world.  We will use these texts to help us understand the music, art, and literature of one of the most exciting, eccentric, and vibrant periods of cultural history, the turn of the twentieth century.   Along the way, we will talk about progress, power, freedom, individualism, race, sexuality, the role of art, and much more. We shall investigate key moments in the history of modernity: its foundations in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (the era known as the Enlightenment), and then its manifestation in the later nineteenth and turn of the twentieth centuries, when the art and ideas commonly labeled “modernism” flourished.  Along the way, we will read and experience some of the most influential and vibrant thinkers, writers, and artists of the modern world.

HCOL085 I - What Do You Know? Prof. Lisa Schnell, Department of English

Honors College Distribution
CAS:  Consult academic advisor
GSB:  Consult academic advisor
CALS:  Consult academic advisor
CEMS:  ENGR: Gen Ed Elective; Math/Stat/CS/DS students consult with your advisor
RSENR: Consult with academic advisor
CNHS: Consult with academic advisor
CESS: Consult academic advisor

What do you know? What can you know? For that matter, what does it mean to “know” something? And does it matter who is doing the knowing?

 This is a course about knowledge, knowing, and knowers. It will begin, after an opening unit focusing on your summer reading that we’ll share with all the sections of HCOL 085, with some foundational ways in which philosophers in the West have attempted, both explicitly and implicitly, to pin down those things. Plato, Aristotle, Rene Descartes, and David Hume, among a few others, will weigh in during this part of the course.

During the last part of the course, we will read (and watch) a variety texts, mainly from the 20th and 21st centuries, that are both aware of the foundational ideas about knowledge and knowing that we will have explored, and determined to disrupt the assumptions that lie beneath those foundations. Among the writers and thinkers we’ll encounter in this part of the course are Hannah Arendt, Alison Gopnik, Daniel Kahneman, and Jamacia Kincaid.

HCOL085 J - Identity: An Exploration of How Ours Develops - Prof. Jen Prue, CESS

Honors College Distribution
CAS:  CAS elective credit only
GSB:  English Writing
CALS:  Consult academic advisor
CEMS:  ENGR: Gen Ed Elective; Math/Stat/CS/DS students consult with your advisor
RSENR: Consult with academic advisor
CNHS: Consult with academic advisor
CESS: Consult academic advisor

How do we come to be who we are? Does our identity form, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle coming together-or are we born this way? Or is it both? We will explore fields of knowledge including psychology, literature sociology, education, media, music etc., to formulate responses to these questions. We will discuss why identity matters and the factors that impacted the evolution of our own. This class will be a mix of reading, watching, researching and sharing insights. There will be, curated (by me) assigned readings, TV, movie, TED talk viewing selections. Choice-in some of the materials we use, and the ways in which you can demonstrate what you learn will be a cornerstone of the course.

HCOL 085 L - Deconstructing Humor – Prof. Diana Popa, Linguistics Program, CAS

Honors College Distribution
CAS:  social sciences
GSB:  Consult with academic advisor
CALS:  Consult with academic advisor
CEMS:  ENGR: Gen Ed Elective; Math/Stat/CS/DS students consult with your advisor
RSENR: Consult with academic advisor
CNHS: Consult with academic advisor
CESS: Consult academic advisor

May count towards the following majors/minors: Linguistics (intro elective)

As Graeme Ritchie, one of the prominent humor researchers in the field of computational linguistics, notes in his book on jokes in 2004, the use of humor is a complex and intriguing aspect of human behavior. Throughout history and later on, in contemporary academic research, people have tried to establish what humor is, as well as how it functions, they attempted to classify it by analyzing its typology. In the present, there are over 100 competing theories of humor (and no definite answers) that range from general theories to characterizations and descriptions.
The current course has a primarily linguistic focus when trying to deconstruct the mechanism of humor. However, in our endeavor to understand what is funny, why it is funny, how it is funny, when it is funny, and to whom it is funny, we will be touching upon other aspects of humor, such as its inherent cultural component, social functions, and political implications. The course will introduce and further illustrate the concepts of incongruity, script opposition, high context and low context humor, self-deprecating humor, gelotophobia, etc.

HCOL 085 M - Dystopic Tech: Black Mirror – Prof. Randall Harp, Department of Philosophy, CAS

Honors College Distribution
CAS:  Consult with academic advisor
GSB:  Consult with academic advisor
CALS:  Consult with academic advisor
CEMS:  ENGR: Gen Ed Elective; Math/Stat/CS/DS students consult with your advisor
RSENR: Consult with academic advisor
CNHS: Consult with academic advisor
CESS: Consult academic advisor
Description TBD