Honors Program : Classes

Spring 2014 Classes:


HON 3950: Magic:  Practices of Perception and Deception (Michael McNulty)

This course will examine various conceptions of magic from religion and philosophy to confidence schemes and the performances of magicians.  It will additionally consider the relationship those conceptions have to understandings from a variety of other disciplines including sociopolitical power, neuroscience, perception, strategic communication, rhetoric and persuasion.   The underlying inquiry of the course will be the extent to which conceptions of magic are a part of our everyday understanding and practices of life.   The course will draw on discussion, presentation, demonstration, experiment, video, as well as substantial reading and writing.

Tues./Thur. 3:20-4:35


HON 3951: The Black Death (Donald Leech)

This course will explore the effects of a large scale natural catastrophe—the Great Plague that began in 1347—on Europe.  We will read modern scientific and medical papers alongside those of medieval philosophers and theologians to compare concepts about the plague. We will continue on, using especially a couple of excellent primary source collections, to discover the effects of the plague on individuals, communities, and kingdoms. In the longer term, into the fifteenth century, we will try to ascertain the changes wrought by the plague in the creation of early modern Europe.

Tues./Thur. 2:00-3:15


HON 3952: Rousseau:  Nature and Civilization (Roman Zylawy)

This seminar will study and assess Rousseau’s claim that the experiential and moral development of the individual is the key to his successful integration into societal productivity and usefulness.  We will begin with a detailed examination of Rousseau’s Emile, before moving on to related works like the Discourse on Arts & Sciences and the Social Contract.  From Rousseau’s works we will explore the interaction of political values with philosophy, religion, and biology/nature in the creation of a successful social being. Students will then study works that are descended from and/or react against Rousseau, including John Dewey’s Experience and Nature, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, and Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. We will also view two classic films on education, Vigo’s Zero in Conduct, and Rambling Rose.  At the conclusion of this course we will connect this discourse to contemporary issues, including organic and genetic food alterations and the moral and long term biological problems they represent.

Mon./Wed. 2:00-3:15