2015 First Year Seminars

1.  Are You Really What You Eat? Scientific, Cultural, and Sociopolitical Perspectives on Eating Behavior

In this course, we will examine the multifaceted scientific, cultural and sociopolitical factors that underlie food preferences and eating behaviors. Topics to be addressed include:

  • How do culture and individual psychology shape the meaning of food and the significance of eating in our lives?
  • How do colonization and globalization influence our eating?
  • What roles do the economy, public policy and the food industry play in our eating behavior?
  • How do we respond to food-related advertising and determine for ourselves what constitutes “healthy” eating behavior? 

We will address these questions by reviewing scientific articles, books and documentaries from psychology and other disciplines, as well as accounts from the popular media.

Professor: Suman Ambwani, Psychology
Time: MF 11:30

2.  Between Two Cultures: Hispanics in the U.S.

Hispanics are the fastest growing minority in the U.S.  Hispanic persons are frequently between two cultural realities.  At the same time that they maintain very important links with their culture of origin, they have to adapt to the realities of life in the U.S.  The results can produce some confusion and sometimes ambivalence. In this course, students will read the following novels: How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez, The Road to Tamazunchale by Ron Arias, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, Canícula by Norma Elia Cantú and Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina García.  Topics to be discussed are the difference between exile and immigration, the Hispanic person as an exile, the (im)possibility of assimilation, discrimination from natives, problems of identity for the Hispanic, language and bilingualism and poverty.

Professor: Alberto Rodriguez, Spanish & Portuguese
Time:  MWF 11:30

3.  Buddhist Lives

For 2,500 years, bold men and women have undertaken inconceivable tests to seek enlightenment from Buddhist masters. In this course we will use autobiography and biography to explore the emotions, actions and insights of these seekers. We will begin with the Buddha himself. Other great stories include Bodhidharma, who brought Buddhism from India to China; Faxian, who centuries later traveled from China to India; the great yogis of the Himalayas, Tilopa and Naropa and their Tibetan disciples Marpa and Milarepa. We will also meet modern Buddhists such as Belgian Alexandra David-Neel, who in 1924 reached Lhasa disguised as a man; Robina Courtin, a brassy Australian nun who teaches meditation to Death Row inmates; Tenzin Palmo, a British woman who became a Tibetan nun and spent 12 years alone in a cave high in the Himalayas; and the exiled Dalai Lama of Tibet, who is a world-renowned religious and political figure. We will ask what it is about Buddhism that motivated and energized them; how they reconciled life in the world with the pursuit of enlightenment; what lessons they learned about suffering, humility, etc. Our reading will be interspersed with films and guest speakers. Students will write essays comparing Buddhist lives as well as research and do presentations on one historic and one contemporary Buddhist life. We will take field trips to local Buddhist centers and meet Buddhist teachers of all the major traditions. We will experiment with the types of meditation that our subjects describe.

Professor: Dan Cozort, Religion
Time:  MF 11:30

4.  Class in the Classroom

How do we learn the language and social mores of being a college student?  How does social class affect that experience?  College campuses have what many argue is an upper-class culture and are unwelcoming to students who aren’t upper class.  If that is true, then how do students who are middle class or working class fit in?  How do they learn the rules of college so that they can succeed?   In this seminar, we will read a variety of texts such as first-person accounts by students from different classes about their college experiences and the results of studies done about these kinds of student experiences.  We will also "read" Dickinson as a text to understand college culture.  We will analyze a variety of cultural artifacts such as web pages, the physical spaces, clubs, activities, policies and procedures, official rules, unofficial mores, etc.  Our goal, by the end of the semester, is to recommend changes that will make schools like Dickinson more welcoming to all students, regardless of class.

Professor: Brenda Bretz, American Studies
Time:  MF 11:30

5.  Cancelled

6.  Galileo’s Commandment

Bertolt Brecht, in his play The Life of Galileo, wrote that Galileo Galilei, the father of the scientific method, said: “Science knows only one commandment: contribute to science.”  This seminar will focus on those men and women who have dedicated their lives to this commandment, how they view the activity called science and how their efforts to follow its one commandment are viewed by society. By reading the best of their writings, we will explore how, with their energy and imagination, they assembled the edifice of modern science. We will explore how the rest of society has understood and misunderstood science and its creators.  We will confront two contrasting views of scientists as seen through the eyes of Hollywood: the “Mad Scientist” and the “Scientist as the Romantic Hero.”  In addition to reading and discussing great science writing and plays - such as Brecht’s The Life of Galileo, Stoppard’s Arcadia, or Frayn’s Copenhagen, seminar members will also view and discuss films that highlight stereotypes about scientists.  Other activities may include a trip to a national laboratory or to a performance of one of the plays we will read.

Professor: Robert Boyle, Physics & Astronomy
Time:  MWF 12:30

7.  Genesis to Metropolis: The City in Western Civilization

This course aims to provide an understanding of urban centers and their alternatives (rural areas, suburbia) and attitudes toward them and the people who live in them. It will consider and analyze the image of the city from a variety of perspectives (e.g., an artifact of human civilization, a metaphor, a symbol, a mental image) to address how the concept of the city grips Western thought. In particular, the course considers how and why people shape cities and how cities shape people. The course will draw upon a range of sources, including music, literature, film, source texts, journal articles, novels and scholarly books.

Professor: Phillip Earenfight, Art & Art History
Time:  MWF 11:30

8.  Graphic Narratives in a Global Frame

“Graphic Narratives in a Global Frame” will help develop the core skills of critical analysis, intellectual discussion and debate and expository writing through the study of American, Canadian, Iranian, Australian, Danish, French and Japanese comics and animation. While so-called “graphic novels” have begun to assume the status of literature and fine art only recently in America, other audiences from around the world have long appreciated the high-art potential of the comics medium. We’ll look carefully at this intersection of popular culture and high art and talk about the ways in which the cultural locations of the artists we study might shift our understanding of high and low culture in these graphic narratives. Intensive, weekly reading and writing assignments will structure our study of graphic narratives, animated film and other comparable media, and we will also try our hand at crafting our own web comics throughout the semester and blogging about comics in contemporary culture. What we will learn is that rather than being characterized by intuitive and uncritical apperception, graphic narratives rely upon a complex and culturally specific set of rules and codes that demand intellectual acuity and global sensibilities. Pursuing these ends will allow us to transfer these analytical skills to other forms of popular culture, bridging formal intellectual analysis with the wider world around us. My hope after this class is that you can begin to see everything from Shakespeare to Super Bowl ads as the occasion to think critically about cultural narratives.

Professor: David Ball, English
Time:  MF 11:30

9.    Ideas That Have Shaped The World

Why do ideas matter? What is the relationship between the individual and community? How can we define human nature? What is justice? Are there universal moral principles, or are our actions considered moral according to the moment and place in which we find ourselves? Explore these and other fundamental issues of humanistic inquiry through a series of compelling and influential texts. Fifteen faculty members from nine different disciplines developed this exciting course.

This year, six professors will join with students to read and discuss the work of authors as diverse as Homer, Plato, Augustine, Shakespeare, Nietzsche, Jefferson, Marx, DuBois, Duras and Achebe. Faculty have focused the seminar reading list around the question, "How do the ideas of these authors - all from different cultures and eras - resonate across time and help us to understand our present experience within a global community?" Furthermore, studying carefully the work of outstanding thinkers, readers and writers is one of the best ways to learn to read, think and write well yourself. Because all sections of the course will read the texts simultaneously, conversations will extend beyond the classroom. The seminar also features six plenary lectures by guest speakers and Dickinson faculty on themes and issues central to the readings that students and faculty in all course sections will attend together.

Click here for additional information on the seminar, list of texts, and faculty for 2015.   

Professor:  Lucile Duperron, French & Italian
Time:  MF 11:30

10.  Ideas That Have Shaped The World

Professor:  Douglas Edlin, Political Science
Time:  MF 11:30

11.  Ideas That Have Shaped The World

Professor:  Cotten Seiler, American Studies
Time:  MF 11:30

12.  Ideas That Have Shaped The World

Professor:  Chris Francese, Classical Studies
Time:  MF 11:30

13.  Ideas That Have Shaped The World

Professor:  Jacob Sider Jost, English
Time:  MF 11:30

14.  Ideas That Have Shaped The World

Professor: Andrea Lieber, Religion
Time:  MF 11:30

15.  Ideas That Have Shaped The World

Professor: John MacCormick, Mathematics & Computer Science
Time:  MF 11:30

16.  Images & Culture: A Current & Historic Look Through The Lens

This course will explore how we as a culture are moving away from written and verbal communication and reverting back to a purely image-based society.  As a class, we will discuss the importance of the photographic image and how it has shaped our culture since its invention in 1839.  Through a variety of readings, students will broaden their understanding of the photographic medium and its power to shape the future.  Students will read On Photography by Susan Sontag in which she takes an in-depth look at photographic images and how those images have shaped the way we look at the world and ourselves.  We will read Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag.  Here she takes a 12th-century look at how photographs of war and violence change the way we think about images as well as the politics of suffering.  For a different perspective, we will read Beauty in Photography by Robert Adams who takes us on a journey in his defense of traditional values within the medium.  During the second half of the semester, you and your classmates will embark on a documentary-style, re-photographic survey of the historic Carlisle downtown using the archives at the Cumberland County Historical Society as a starting point.  By the end of the semester, we will produce a self-published book of our work.

Professor: Andrew Bale, Art & Art History
Time:  MF 11:30

17.  In Search of the Sports Gene: Hurting or Enhancing the Olympic Dream?

Have you ever heard someone say “I’m not a runner” or “I don’t have the body for gymnastics”? This seminar will examine the truth behind these statements by exploring the science behind extraordinary athletic performance. The sequencing of the human genome has allowed us to address the role of genetics in complex traits like athletic performance like never before. However, does knowledge about our genes limit us, or does it allow for more personalized training and goals? Readings and discussions will focus on the traits and habits of elite athletes, and students will debate the question of how limited we are by genetics. In order to explore this topic experimentally, students will have the opportunity to analyze one of their own genes, a-Actinin-3, which is expressed in fast-twitch muscle fibers. The presence of this gene product in fast-twitch muscle fiber has been correlated with elite sprint performance.  This project will include guest speakers with expertise in sports training. Through readings, discussions, writing, hands-on experiments, and guest speakers, students will develop a basic understanding of the human genome and explore the impact that genetic knowledge has on society with regard to sports performance.

Professor:  Tiffany Frey, Biology
Time: MF 11:30

18.  It’s Just a Theory: Public Perceptions of Science

The public has seemingly always had a tenuous relationship with science and scientists, from Galileo’s trial for heresy to the teaching of evolution in public schools. In this course, you will examine some notable scientific controversies, starting with when science clashed with religions, governments and even itself, and ending with contemporary issues that impact education, economics and public health. You will visit the home of Joseph Priestley, who discovered oxygen, and eventually left England for Pennsylvania after his home and laboratory were destroyed in what became known as the Priestley Riots. Finally, you will produce original research on a primary source document from Dickinson’s extensive collection of Priestley’s books and correspondence.

Professor: Jason Gavenonis, Chemistry
Time:  MF 11:30

19.  London: World City

For centuries, London has drawn newcomers from England and the United Kingdom, from elsewhere in Europe, from the Empire and later the Commonwealth and indeed from the entire world. Perhaps more than any other European city, London is truly multicultural—and has been for centuries. In this class, we will use a variety of sources (including, but not limited to, literature, artwork, film and scholarly works) to examine both historical and contemporary dynamics as we explore three major questions: What is so attractive about London, and how has this changed over time? How have new residents shaped and re-shaped the city? How does London’s diversity impact the political, economic, social and cultural life of the city?

Professor: Kristine Mitchell, Political Science
Time: MWF 12:30

20.  Longer Lives, Fewer Babies, and the Extraordinary Rise of Living Alone: How Demographic Transformations Determine our Present and Shape our Future

In 1950, four million American adults lived alone, accounting for 9 percent of all households. Today 33 million – roughly one in every seven adults – live alone, accounting for 28 percent of all U.S. households. One million people live alone in New York City,and, in Manhattan, nearly half of all residences are one-person dwellings. Average life expectancy at birth in the U.S. has increased from 62 years in 1935 to 79 years today to a projected 85 years in 2050. Longer life spans beget lower birthrates. As living standards improve and people become more confident that their children will survive into adulthood, succeeding generations reduce the number of children they have. As a result, the population grows more slowly – which is good news for the planet – but what does it mean for society? What does it mean for the future of the U.S. economy? These demographic transformations are dramas in slow motion. They unfold incrementally, almost imperceptibly, but have real consequences; some of them good, others maybe not. Through a variety of readings in demography, economics and sociology we will explore the demographic changes occurring in the United States and elsewhere and discuss their consequences. Why are so many adults living alone? Why are people having fewer babies? Why are adults waiting so long to get married or not getting married at all? Meanwhile, 10,000 baby boomers are retiring every day. What does this mean for the economy? Is this putting unsustainable stress on the social safety net? Can we keep our commitments to the old without bankrupting the young? Furthermore, as we continue to live longer and have fewer babies, we continue to build larger and larger homes. Does this make sense? What does this mean for the future of the environment and the planet?

Professor: Tony Underwood, Economics
Time:  MF 11:30

21.  Cancelled

22.  Mathematical Identities: Diverging from the Stereotypes

A mathematical theorem is either true or false.  A solution to a mathematical result is either right or it is wrong.  A mathematician is white and male.  Still yet, a mathematician is an eccentric genius and a social outsider.  Is this the case, or are the characteristics of a mathematician less linear than their work?   In this course, we will investigate how mathematicians are portrayed in popular culture and how these images align with reality.  We will also analyze how these portrayals involving gender, sexual orientation, race, and mental health affect who is attracted to, and often welcomed into, the field of mathematics.  In so doing, we will study the biographies of famous mathematicians such as Alan Turing and not so famous mathematicians such as Betty Jean Jennings.  We will read books, essays, and articles, including portions of Mathematics in Popular Culture, and we will watch films such as A Beautiful Mind and Top Secret Rosies.  The famous mathematician David Hilbert has been quoted as saying, “Mathematics knows no races or geographic boundaries; for mathematics, the cultural world is one country.” You will discover for our diverse world whether mathematicians have one distinct identity as well.

Professor:  Jennifer Schaefer, Mathematics & Computer Science
Time:  MWF 12:30

23.  Modernity and Its Critics: 19th Century Ideas that Shape 21st Century Life
*This seminar has been designated part of the Learning Community, “Modernity and Its Critics”

We are dealing with increasing unrest fueled by issues of race, class, technology and religion and other issues. But none of these issues are new. Karl Marx’s critical analyses of capitalism and exploitation, Sigmund Freud’s investigations into the unconscious and our discontent in civilized society, Charles Darwin’s explanations of evolution and species development, Mary Shelley’s attempts to come to terms with technology, and W. E. B. Du Bois’ account of the importance of race in modern life addressed these issues in the 19th century.   All have contributed to changes in the ways in which people lived and thought in the 20th century and continue to do so today.  In this class we will read, critique and write about selected works from these thinkers (and a few others) in order to better understand their relationships to one another and to the ways in which history has since unfolded.

Professor: Karl Qualls, History
Time: MWF 12:30

24.  Modernity and Its Critics: 19th Century Ideas that Shape 21st Century Life
*This seminar has been designated part of the Learning Community, “Modernity and Its Critics”

We are dealing with increasing unrest fueled by issues of race, class, technology, and religion, among others. But none of these issues are new. Karl Marx’s critical analyses of capitalism and exploitation, Sigmund Freud’s investigations into the unconscious and our discontent in civilized society, Charles Darwin’s explanations of evolution and species development, Mary Shelley’s attempts to come to terms with technology, and W. E. B. Du Bois’ account of the importance of race in modern life addressed these issues in the 19th century.   All have contributed to changes in the ways in which people lived and thought in the 20th century and continue to do so today.  In this class we will read, critique, and write about selected works from these thinkers (and a few others) in order to better understand their relationships to one another and to the ways in which history has since unfolded.

Professor: Dan Schubert, Sociology
Time: MWF 12:30

25.  Muslim Lives in the First Person

The traditional college course on Islam gives a broad overview of history, ritual, belief and institutions.  This course will begin with a snapshot of basic beliefs and practices but will focus on memoirs and autobiographical fiction by Muslim authors in order to figure out in what ways religion matters, and does not matter, in the lives of individuals. The authors range from a 19th century princess of Zanzibar to a Saudi novelist describing boyhood in Mecca, from a pioneer of women’s liberation to one of the most influential thinkers in radical Islam.  Students will write essays and give presentations on short research projects on topics related to the authors’ lives: slavery, religious education, Muslim women’s reform movements, rural customs and other topics.

Professor:  David Commins, History
Time: MWF 11:30

26.  New World Encounters: Conquest and Settlement in the Americas

This course examines the European exploration, conquest and settlement of the Americas. Our goal is to better understand the projects and perspectives of European invaders, their American descendants and the indigenous peoples of the Americas. To that end we will read secondary sources about relevant historical and cultural contexts. We also will carefully consider historical documents and first-hand accounts written by some of the era’s protagonists, including explorers, politicians and intellectuals from Spain, England, France, the Netherlands and, of course, the New World. Students will apply a comparative framework to understand similarities and differences in the experiences of encounter and settlement in different regions of the Americas.

Professor: Elise Bartosik-Velez, Spanish & Portuguese
Time:  MF 11:30

27.  Cancelled

28.  Ouija Boards to Big Data: Possibility, Probability, and Prediction

Today’s world is full of uncertainty and scholars from a variety of disciplines ask questions about what will happen in the future.  Economists want to know when global recessions will strike.  Climate scientists ask what effect rising temperatures will have on coastlines.  Political scientists make claims about what laws might pass during the current Congress and who the next president will be.  Outside the academic realm, we all engage in predictions.  Should I carry an umbrella because it might rain this afternoon?  Will the Phillies win the World Series this year?  Whether we immediately recognize it or not, all these questions rely on data and probability.  In this seminar, we will discuss mathematical concepts like probability and statistical inference and think about how those ideas inform our understanding of the world.  The majority of the class will focus on predictions and data within a social science context – politics, economics, sociology and law.  We will read Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise, Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez’s Math on Trial, and a selection of other texts examining how (and if and when) data analysis aids us in predicting the future.  Finally, students will have the opportunity to work together on their own data-oriented project where they collect, analyze and present data in a way that is compelling and accessible to their colleagues.

Professor: Sarah Niebler, Political Science
Time:  MWF 12:30

29.  Political Economy of Gender, Race and Class

Gender, race/ethnicity, class, nationality and other characteristics are interconnected designations that influence human experience and options in society. For instance, in the U.S. individuals of different ethnic and racial backgrounds often work different jobs, earn different incomes, hold different levels of wealth and live in different neighborhoods. Men and women are clearly concentrated in different kinds of jobs and their earnings and their likelihood of living in poverty differs.  There are large and growing differences in the social circumstances of the rich and poor, and one’s socioeconomic status is clearly affected by one’s gender, race, ethnicity, social class and other characteristics. Inequalities exist across as well as within nations. In a world of unprecedented wealth, the average life-expectancy in some parts of the world is 45.6 years. Women on average earn considerably less than men. This course is concerned with the economic analysis and interpretation of these kinds of inequality within and across nations. The primary objective of this course is to challenge you to think critically about and develop the ability to analyze gender, race and class issues that can become invisible or get denied, trivialized, or ignored in our daily lives.  We will examine the diversity of experiences, the mechanisms that support the status quo, the consequences of gender, class and race differences, the historical political economic and legal underpinnings of contemporary inequalities, selected contemporary issues and the strategies to restructure self and society. Since the main concerns of the course are in the news every day, nationally and locally, the classroom will provide a forum for relating current events to the course. In-class activities include documentaries (e.g. Unnatural Causes, Inside Job, Sicko), peer-review of student essays, student presentations of current news articles, and class discussions of scholarly and popular writings on the course topic. We will be doing weekly writing assignments (e.g., reflection essays) and a sequenced semester-long research project on a topic of your choice related to political economy of gender, race and class. The purpose of the project is to integrate and apply the ideas from this class, examining an issue or problem in a way that indicates the complexity of the ideas we have been discussing. You are encouraged to explore creative projects such as creating a webpage or a video, or projects that aim at improving the well-being in a community such as Carlisle, your home state/country.

Professor:  Ebru Kongar, Economics
Time: MF 11:30

30.  Politicization of Science

How do the politics of the day influence scientific discovery, and how does scientific discovery shape the politics of the day?  Should scientific inquiry be conceived of and executed in a vacuum insulated from influences of the political arena?  How does science shape political discourse?  These are some of the fundamental questions that will be addressed through the examination of historical and contemporary case studies including: 1) the birth of the modern environmental movement in the United States, 2) the teaching of evolution of public high schools, and 3) climate change. In the end, I hope that this seminar provides a venue for you to develop an appreciation of science in modern American society while simultaneously sharpening your time management and communication skills (oral and written).

Professor: Peter Sak, Earth Science
Time: MWF 11:30

31.  Politics of Race in Brazil: Challenging Discourses

This seminar analyzes how discourses on race have been constructed in Brazil since slavery was officially abolished in 1888. The seminar aims to question the power play behind racial discourses. What does it mean to be citizen? How are Afro-Brazilians (re)presented in society? What is the meaning of a post-racial Brazilian society? Through short stories, novels, films, and scholarly articles, students will analyze the establishment and questioning of the concept of “Racial Democracy.” Students will also examine the implications of discourses and laws such as one-drop rule, mestiçagem, and affirmative action, while establishing comparisons between Brazil and the U.S. and other Latin American countries.

Professor: Carolina Castellanos, Spanish & Portuguese
Time:  MWF 11:30

32.  Public Health, Private Lives

Before the development of antibiotics, a strep throat was considered a serious illness.  Now, it is routinely treated with a course of oral antibiotics.  Some forms of cancer that were nearly always fatal just fifty years ago can now be cured in nearly 95% of patients.  From the development of powerful drugs and vaccines to advances in treating chronic disease, modern medical science has made tremendous strides in keeping patients alive and returning them to good health.  But these advances come with a cost.  The expense of modern treatments has denied these advances to much to the third world at the same time that jet travel links these countries more closely to us than any time in our history.  Even in America, poverty still plays a role in an individual’s health and the distribution of health care.  And, in a strange twist, our efforts to eradicate some diseases have resulted in more virulent forms of the same disease, requiring ever greater expenditures to stay ahead of the microbes.  We will examine the social, economic, and scientific aspects of public health, and how decisions made for the good of society sometimes conflict with what the individual patient wants or needs.  Primary readings will include The Healing of America by T.R. Reid, The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson, and The Coming Plague by Laurie Garrett.

Professor:  David Crouch, Chemistry
Time:  MF 11:30

33.  Sex

In many ways, sex and sexuality are central to human experience. Our sexual and gender identities seem to mold our social roles, giving them a unity they wouldn’t otherwise have. Sexual interactions, meanwhile, are often crucial to our most intimate relationships, and they of course help to keep our species alive (for now). We’ll try to get clear about what sex and sexuality are, which sex roles there are, and how sex differs from gender. We’ll ask whether sex between consenting adults can be morally wrong and whether a life without sex can be good. We’ll have guest lectures from experts on sex, gender, sexuality and perhaps sex work.

Professor:  Jeff Engelhardt, Philosophy
Time:  MWF 12:30

34.  Singing Amidst Social Unrest: Music and Self-Expression
*This seminar has been designated part of the Learning Community, “Music and Social Conflict”

Recalling his incarceration during South Africa’s period of apartheid, Grant Shezi—a Zulu prisoner on Robben Island—emphasized the role that music played in surviving the ordeal:  “Singing with your heart, it sustains you, it composes you. … You remember the songs that you used to sing, [and] those songs give you power.”   This seminar explores more broadly the various roles that vocal music has assumed in response to social conflict, from the inspiring to the dehumanizing.  Students will examine twentieth-century music within its relevant political, social, and cultural contexts, including the following: music of the French infantry during World War I; Jewish music in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust; and South African music in the struggle against apartheid.  Students will engage directly with musicians, scholars, and institutions working on these topics, including experiential opportunities like a trip to the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington DC and working with our 2015 artists-in-residence, the Adaskin String Trio.

Professor:  Amy Wlodarski, Music
Time:  MF 11:30

35.  Terminator vs. Astro Boy: Visions of Robotics in Society and Fantasy

The rise of ubiquitous information technologies has led to a greater reliance on intelligent machines in daily life than ever before. Path breaking work in artificial intelligence and robotics have led some to look forward to a merging of man and machine in a future “singularity,” while others have expressed anxiety about an eventual “robot apocalypse” in which humans are enslaved by machines of their own creation. Such hopes and fears have a long history in Western culture, but not all societies view robots and man-machine hybrids in the same way. This course examines the varying ways in which robots and cyborgs have been depicted in popular culture across time and place. The course places particular emphasis on contrasting images of intelligent machines in Japanese and American science fiction. As a contrast to these fictional renderings, the course considers as well how robotics technologies have already come to function importantly in our contemporary world. The socioeconomic effects of these activities as well as ethical concerns they raise will be areas of additional focus.  

Professor:  Shawn Bender, East Asian Studies
Time:  MF 11:30

36.  The Art of the Detective in Fiction and Film

This seminar will examine the widespread appeal of detective fiction and film.  Characters and plots in this genre are driven by issues of power, crime, and law, but also gender, desire, politics, class, race, individuality, and society—just to name a few.  At the heart of this literature is the suspense of unanswered questions: Who is it? Whodunnit? How do we know? What do we know? How could we interpret? How should we understand?  These are uncertainties of identity, epistemology, and hermeneutics and our course will think about what is at stake in asking these kinds of questions.   Through the art of close reading—following the clues left for you in the text— you will become investigators of the cultural messages and constructs presented in detective fiction and film.  Over the course of the semester, we will examine short stories and novels such as The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Maltese Falcon, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  In addition, we will consider noir and neo-noir films such as Double Indemnity, The Lady from Shanghai, Rear Window, The Usual Suspects, and episodes from the Veronica Mars series and the BBC’s Sherlock. Alongside the fiction and film, the class will read critical and philosophical essays that will provide clues to historical contexts, theoretical frameworks, and rhetorical tactics used to foster audiences’ experiences of mystery and suspense. 

Professor:  Sarah Kersh, English/Writing Program
Time:  MF 11:30

37.  Sickness, Science and Society: Investigating Their Complex Interplay

There exists a complex interplay between disease, science, and society and this seminar will examine the following examples of their interaction:
    • the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa; 
    • the contemporary anti-vaccine movement in the context of the development of the polio vaccine;
    • culturing cells and the development of immortalized human cell cultures, embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells;
    • influenza and past, present and future pandemics;
    • the impact of global climate change on disease.
Readings will include David Oshinky’s Polio: An American Story, John Barry’s The Great Influenza, and Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.  Other readings will derive from magazine articles and the scientific literature, and students will also engage in a cell culture-based laboratory project.

Professor:  John Henson, Biology
Time:  MF 11:30

38.  The Image of Objectivity: Critical Approaches to the History of Science

Objectivity, which we have come to understand to be the ideal standard for scientific conduct, has not always had the status it has been given today. And even today, the problems start when we try to define objectivity. The establishment of objective standards was a central part of the rise of modern science. By dissociating first from religion and later the humanities, the “hard” sciences have attempted to create their own unique perspective on the world that in today’s mainstream culture is often presented as superior to other worldviews. Studying the historical development of scientific culture will help us to understand its roots, agendas, successes, and failures. We will pursue and question the “image” of scientific objectivity in two respects: 1) What is the role and significance of scientific objectivity and how did the concept develop throughout the 19th century? 2) How is the notion of objectivity related to tools of visualization accompanying scientific experiments, such as photography and self-registering visual technologies that were newly emerging in the 19th century? Observations and writing exercises will test our own capacity for objectivity.

Professor:  Antje Pfannkuchen, German
Time:  MWF 12:30

39.  The Promise and Pitfall of the New Economy: What Should We Do?

As we are witnessing the advent and extension of the new information and communication revolution, we are facing an uncertain future with both promises and pitfalls. This course will lead students to explore these promises and pitfalls through reading, writing, and research. The chief textbooks include The Second Machine Age by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee and The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangered Our Future by the economic laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz.  In addition to reading, summarizing, discussing and debating the key issues raised by these texts, each student is required to conduct a sequenced semester-long research project pertaining to the central concerns of the courses. Students will have two field trips during the semester  — one to the Amazon Distribution Center in Carlisle and another to Project Share in Carlisle.

Professor:  Dengjian Jin, International Business & Management
Time: MWF 11:30

40.  Time and the Past, Present and Future

Time is one of the most important aspects of human life.  From ancient civilizations watching the periodic motions of the stars in order to know when to plant crops to modern societies using atomic clocks to coordinate Global Positioning System technology, humans have constructed time to govern our daily lives and our lifetimes.  In this seminar, we will examine how this social construct has affected human institutions.  We will ask questions such as: How do individuals perceive time?  How do we think about the past and the future – and the present?  The short term and the long term?   We will discuss the invention of timepieces, such as the clock, the watch and calendar.  How have these technological innovations influenced human society? Taken together, our look at time and timekeeping will help us understand the links between the two as well as history, technology, and our own experiences.  Students will also research and then produce a video illustrating a topic of their choosing.  We may do a field trip to the US Naval Observatory (home of timekeeping in the United States) and may do a field trip to the National Watch and Clock Museum in Columbia, Pennsylvania.

Professor: Windsor Morgan, Physics & Astronomy
Time:  MF 11:30

41.  Understanding the Research Community:  How Scholars Create Knowledge

As you make the transition to college, there are some fundamental questions about inquiry and research to grapple with on your road to academic success.  What is academic inquiry?  Where does new knowledge come from?  How do scholars and researchers create new knowledge?  How do you join an academic conversation?  Through a variety of readings across the disciplines, you will examine scholars and researchers whose work has taken them into archives, laboratories, and field sites.  You will read My Freshman Year and follow anthropology professor Rebekah Nathan as she enrolls in college in order to study first-year students in their habitat.  You will read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in order to understand why the federal government and the research community follow strict guidelines that insist on informed consent and protect the privacy and confidentiality of human subjects.  You will read about the biography of ex-slave Harriet Jacobs written by Pulitzer Prize-nominated Jean Fagan Yellin, a scholar whose research quest sent her into the archives to verify the existence of Harriet Jacobs.  Finally, you will read Masters of Sex, Thomas Maier’s biography of famous sex researchers Masters and Johnson, which dramatizes the risks and challenges faced by these researchers who posed questions that shocked the 1950s medical community.  Along with your classmates, you will consider the politics of research, the individual’s relationship to the broader research community, and the nature and importance of academic integrity.  Through class discussions, guest speakers and a variety of writing assignments, you will explore and participate in the academic research community.

Professor:  Noreen Lape, Writing Program
Time:  MF 11:30

42.  When the Bravest Thing is to Make Music
*This seminar has been designated part of the Learning Community, “Music and Social Conflict”

We will be examining the musicians and composers who bravely made music under some of the most atrocious circumstances in the 20th century  — Jewish music of the Holocaust  — in Nazi concentration camps during WWII and music under the Soviet oppression (including the singing revolution in the Baltic States). We will study how music was used and misused at the Terezin camp as a tool of propaganda, on one hand, as well as innate artistic need on the other. We will consider the political, social and cultural contexts. We will consider how the memory of what happened lives and is honored today (for example, the Defiant Requiem: Voices of Resistance) and what questions we must ask and keep asking about the living memory of events, people and art. We will also consider how the Holocaust and political oppression influenced musicians and music making in the United States. Students will read related articles, listen to works of music, view films, possibly conduct interviews. Students will engage directly with musicians, scholars and institutions working on these topics, including our 2015 artists-in-residence, the Adaskin String Trio. We will make a trip to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. along with our learning community partners.

Professor: Blanka Bednarz, Music
Time:  MF 11:30

43.  Where Have All The Wild Things Gone?

We appear to be entering the sixth major extinction of biological diversity in the history of life on Earth.  Unlike the previous five mass extinctions, this fast-paced decline in the diversity of life is largely a result of one specie: humans.  In this course, we will explore the varied and complex relationship between people and the diversity of life on Earth.  Through a variety of readings, we will look at how the diversity of life on Earth has changed in recent history and how scientists work to understand these changes and protect the world’s species, communities, and ecosystems.  As we read both popular and scientific literature, listen to podcasts and read news articles and blogs, we will ask: how do we value the natural world, and how do we decide what species and ecosystems to conserve and protect?  As a class, you will weigh in on debates among leading professionals in the field of conservation biology on how best to protect biological diversity.   This will include a range of topics, including de-extinction or bringing back extinct species through a variety of techniques also known as “resurrection biology”.  Is this just Hollywood science fiction or a valid scientific and ethical consideration?  This semester’s experience will culminate with a hands-on activity restoring and protecting biological diversity while visiting with a local conservation organization.

Professor:  Kristin Strock, Environmental Studies
Time:  MF 11:30

44.  Why They Fought: Mobilizing Societies for Modern War

Looking at three modern wars – the American Civil War, WWI and WWII – this seminar will explore why soldiers fought and why civilians did or did not support the war efforts. All three wars required a massive mobilization of societies and a need to sustain morale. Who were the most enthusiastic or committed versus who remained unconvinced? In particular, we will focus on how new inventions in media or modes of communication worked and whether they changed how people viewed their war, especially with the growing attention to propaganda. The Civil War relied heavily on texts such as newspapers and letter writing, while the 20th century wars saw the introduction of brightly colored posters and films. This course will take full advantage of the wealth of images and documents now on-line as a result of the efforts to commemorate these conflicts.

Professor:  Regina Sweeney, History
Time:  MWF 11:30

45.  You Are What You Eat: Food, Evolution and the Human Body

“You are what you eat,” a phrase many of us have known since childhood, implies that the food we eat makes us who we are and suggests that our individual health is determined by the quality of the food that we eat. What is a healthy diet? Why do we crave foods that are sweet and fatty? Why do poor diets lead to chronic diseases such as type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease? What kind of labor goes into producing the food that we eat? Given the positive health benefits of consuming locally based and organically grown foods, why do people continue to eat food that is unhealthy? Why is healthy food inaccessible to many people and communities in the United States? This seminar will critically examine these questions from an anthropological perspective. We will first study the evolution of human diets by examining the nutritional requirements of our ancient human ancestors. Through the study of human evolution, we will understand why many common health problems are rooted in a mismatch between our biological makeup and today’s diets of plentiful foods that are rich in sugars and fats. We will compare the labor required to produce food across different food systems including hunting and gathering, industrial agriculture, and small-scale organic farming. We will experience food production first hand by engaging in work at the Dickinson College Organic Farm. Through our comparisons of the labor of food production in different contexts, we will examine the social forces that generate unequal access to healthy foods and the health consequences of this inequality. Ultimately, our seminar will come to understand that the expression, “you are what you eat,” reflects not solely our food choices as individuals, but also the health of the communities in which we live.

Professor: Karen Weinstein, Anthropology
Time:  MF 11:30

46.  Founders of Modern Discourse: Marx, Nietzsche, Freud

In this class we will examine some of the most important works by three authors who are considered the main founders of modern discourse.  Marx’s critical analysis of capitalism, Nietzsche’s radical nihilism and Freud’s explorations into the collective and individual unconscious constitute the foundations on which our contemporary visions of the world were constructed.  Many philosophical, artistic and social movements originated through an intertextual dialogue (either in agreement or disagreement) with the theses put forward by these three thinkers. We will look at how their theories were interpreted and will try to determine whether or not they are still relevant in today’s world.

Professor: Tullio Pagano, French & Italian
Time:  MF: 11:30

47.  Drama and The American Dream

America is often called "the land of opportunity," and nothing seems to speak as specifically to the endless sense of possibility that is often synonymous with America as the idea of the American Dream.  In this course, we will work to understand the powerful impact of this idea by attempting to create a definition of The American Dream. To construct our definition, we will consider how the dream plays out in the lives of the characters that inhabit many of the most notable plays of the 20th century and thus far into the 21st century.  What is it that these people strive for?  Why does it drive them, sometimes to outrageous lengths, to achieve their goals?  Why do so many of them seem unhappy?  As we consider our definition, we will discuss the elements that create The American Dream, consider how or if it has changed over the years, and discuss whether it was, is, and will be possible to attain.   We will be reading dramas that may include Fences, August: Osage County, The Normal Heart and Glengarry Glen Ross and as others.  As we read these plays we will also discuss the craft of the playwright as he or she creates the characters, unfolds the story, and brings the play to its conclusion.

Professor: Sha’an Chilson, English
Time: MF 11:30

48.  More Than a Laughing Matter: Theories of Humor

There are few things more pervasive in our everyday life than humor. From TV shows, movies, and cartoons to jokes and funny comments that invade our daily conversations, comical references are ubiquitous. The quotidian practice of humor begs a number of questions: why do we laugh? Why is it so controversial (or even destructive) to do so? How does humor work within power relations? How can we establish its ethical boundaries?  In order to address these issues we will examine different approaches to humor through a series of readings from psychology, literature, and philosophy that will help us to discover concepts such as parody, satire, black humor and incongruity. We will reflect on humor’s linguistic, logical, and cultural intricacies and consider its political implications. Theoretical frameworks will be used to explore short stories, novels, films, and other cultural productions via class discussions and sequenced writing assignments.  By the end of the semester, students should be able to analyze humorous phenomenon critically through clear academic writing and  understand that humor can be a very serious thing.

Professor: Antonio Rivas, Spanish & Portuguese
Time: MF 11:30

49.  Community Service and Critical Thinking: Building a Holistic College Experience

This seminar is designed for students who have a passion for community service and a desire to learn about the issues facing the Carlisle community.  You will spend time working with a local non-profit organization, and meet local leaders who are working to alleviate poverty, reduce homelessness, provide nutritional food to people in need, and mitigate environmental harm to air and water—in short, efforts to build a sustainable local community.  At the same time, our seminar will read works that examine and even critique the idea of volunteer service. We will examine the religious and political context of community service, and explore alternative conceptual frameworks like social justice, community organizing and political activism.  Finally, we will examine the contemporary call to revitalize the civic purposes of higher education in such recent publications as Democracy’s Education: Public Work, Citizenship & the Future of Colleges and Universities.  This seminar will launch your Dickinson experience as an engaged citizen.

Professor: Shalom Staub, Academic Affairs
Time: MF 11:30

50.  Where is the Next Silicon Valley?

When one thinks about innovation and entrepreneurship in the U.S. context, Silicon Valley immediately comes to mind. There are various theories that attempt to explain the ways in which Silicon Valley was established. In this seminar we will explore the various events and processes that contributed to the emergence of industrial districts around Silicon Valley as well as in Route 128 and Israel.  We will try to answer questions concerning competition and culture in these regional clusters. Why do certain technology firms gravitate to these regions? How do some firms manage to flourish, even when economic hardships hits, while others fail?   How was Israel able to transform its market so that Tel Aviv trumped Boston as the urban area with the most venture activity following San Francisco?  Our reading will be interspersed with films and guest speakers. We will also take a field trip to the Ben Franklin TechCelerator. 

Professor: Anat Beck, International Business & Management
Time: MF 11:30

51.  Science, Culture and the Future of Civilization

The Problems: Pandemic Disease, Malnutrition, Poverty, Climate Change…
The Solutions: Drugs and Gene Therapy, Genetically Modified Food, Alternative Energy…
If you want a problem solved, give it to a scientist.  If this statement were true, AIDS would be eradicated, and fusion power would provide our electricity. There must be more to these problems than the quick ‘technological fix’.  How do we even start?   This seminar will explore the complexities of some of the world’s most pressing problems to discover the role science and technology play in the larger context of global economics and politics; diverse religious, cultural, and ethical beliefs; and limited natural resources.   Historical writings and interpretations of Malthus, Darwin, Spencer, Snow and others will show us how we got to the present state of the world.  Writings by Friedman, Wilson and others will help us to understand the present.  Alternative future scenarios and their implications will be debated using writings by Hardin, Lovelock, McKibben, Diamond and others.  The challenges come in making decisions about our future path.  Our discussions will include the role of a liberal-arts education in confronting the status quo of a world struggling to sustain 7.3 billion individuals and in finding ways to educate globally, nationally, and individually as we seek to bring positive change.

Professor: Jeff Niemitz, Earth Science
Time: TTh 12:00-1:15