GRW Course Descriptions
The Fall 2016 Global Perspectives Seminar (GRW-101) offerings are almost finalized. Below is the list of known sections that will take place this fall. Updated 6/21/16
GRW 101-10 The Body Toxic
Prof. Mindy Reynolds - TTH 8:30 a.m. - 9:45 a.m.
Have you ever wondered about how the chemicals in everyday products such as shampoo, nail polish, or plastics may be affecting your body? Are we predisposed to the development of cancer, or are there environmental effects that make us more susceptible to disease? Are the pesticides being sprayed in the fields around the world bad for our health? Is early onset of puberty due to genetics or environmental exposure? This course is designed to help students become better and more engaged global citizens by understanding the biological effects of common products. We will examine current and historical cases of exposure to chemicals from around the world and their long term implications on human health and the environment. These case studies will be supplemented by exploring the social, ethical, and economic implications of these products - both in the United States and abroad. Required readings will include scientific research articles, historical films and novels, and current news articles. In addition to a research paper and presentation of a case study, assignments will include short reaction papers, debates, a current events journal, and the production of a public broadcast video to educate the general public on current hazardous chemicals.
GRW 101-12 Religious Freedom
Professor Joseph Prud’homme – MWF 10:30 a.m. - 11:20 a.m.
The protection of religious liberty is enshrined in both American constitutional and international law. This course explores the theological, philosophical, political, and geo-political questions surrounding religious freedom. Attention will be paid to primary domestic and international legal texts and court cases; the sacred books of many of the world’s great religions; and contemporary reports on the global state of religious liberty. Special co-curricular trips will be arranged to prominent organizations in Washington, D.C. addressing religious freedom.
GRW 101-13 The Science Behind Our Food
Professor Betsy Moyer-Taylor – MWF 10:30 a.m. - 11:20 a.m.
Just what is gluten anyway? Will the Rawfoods and Caveman diets keep you healthier? Why would you ever need to carbo-load? And what, really, are those unpronounceable ingredients listed on the labels of processed food? Global societies are becoming increasingly obsessed with discussing healthy food options. But as the health food revolution continues to grow, so does the number of questions we have about what to eat, not to mention our waistlines. As this debate becomes more complex, perhaps it’s time to get to know our food better. In this course, we will investigate the science behind our global menus. We will examine the basic chemical components that comprise a typical meal. We will collect data to understand what happens when our food is cooked, cooled, blended, preserved, genetically altered and combined with other ingredients. This data will be used to draw conclusions about the nature of food and unlock the mysteries of the food label. We will use our scientific knowledge to examine how cultural diets and manufacturing processes impact the health of different societies around the world. Research, writing, and presentation skills will be honed by doing innovative projects about what draws us to the dinner table every day.
GRW 101-14 Dramatizing Discovery
Professor Laura Eckelman – MWF 11:30 a.m. - 12:20 p.m.
How do science and art fit together? What does nuclear physics have to do with memory? Does chaos theory have a place in the theatre? Over the last decade or so, intersections between science and art have become more and more prominent, and a new sub-genre—plays about science—has emerged. In this course we will explore theatrical works that incorporate science and mathematics in a variety of ways: as documentary content, thematic through-line, and even dramatic structure. We will examine plays both dramaturgically and scientifically, through discussion, research, presentation, and hands-on activities. By looking at each piece through these multiple lenses, we will develop a more nuanced understanding of the plays themselves and the genre as a whole, as well as broader insight into how science and art can inform and parallel each other. This course is supported by SANDBOX, Washington College’s initiative for interdisciplinary collaboration merging art and science.
GRW 101-15 A New China Through Literature
Professor David Hull – MWF 11:30 a.m. - 12:20 p.m.
Manchu (Qing) dynasty could not long survive under the dual threats of internal rot and external aggression, many Chinese people saw not the imminent collapse of one single dynasty, but a danger of the utter elimination of the Chinese state or perhaps even the Chinese race. And yet there might be a way to save China: if western science and technology could be imported and domesticated could they be used to defend China? What then becomes of the old China? Must the Chinese people and society be reformed in a “western” mold in order to take advantage of the new tools? Does China need to become less Chinese in order to avoid destruction?
This course will explore these problems through Chinese literature of the period as well as works of western social theory that the Chinese intellectuals hoped could be used to save China. Students will develop reading, communication, research, writing, and editing/revision skills through multiple written assignments, presentations and student-led discussions. All class material will be presented in English. No foreign language ability is required.
GRW 101-16 Transformations in Literature
Professor Elizabeth O’Connor - MWF 10:30 p.m. - 11:20 p.m.
As Heraclitus said, “The only thing that is constant is change.” The first semester of college can definitely reflect this but temporal, spatial, psychological, and emotional flux is all around us. At times, it can be a bit overwhelming. This course will use literature from around the world as a lens through which to explore what it means to change and the different ways one can change. Furthermore, we will focus on how change is affected (or prevented) by gender, class, and ethnicity. To accomplish this we will read fiction and non-fiction from a wide selection of authors ranging from the Brothers Grimm and Angela Carter to James Joyce and lê thi diem thúy. A primary focus of the class will be on the transformation of the students’ own writing. Using an iterative process of reading, writing, discussion and revision, students will analyze the relationship between good writing and clear thinking. Throughout a range of writing assignments that culminate in a research paper students will demonstrate their ability to close read a range of texts as well as enter into conversations with various critical viewpoints. Appropriate MLA citation and documentation will also be discussed.
GRW 101-17 Godlike Heroes and their Fatal Flaws
Professor Victoria Finney – MWF 12:30 p.m. - 1:20 p.m.
This course explores the concepts of a hero and honor in a global context focusing primarily on the images found in the poetical history of mankind, i.e. in the epic poems. We will encounter the wise Väinämöinen from Kalevala, the national epic of Karelia and Finland, learn about heroic deeds of Charlemagne’s nephew from the oldest extant epic poem in French The Song of Roland, and explore why in The Song of the Nibelungsthe dragon-slayer Siegfried is ultimately defeated. Then we will venture further east considering the unsuccessful raid of Igor Svyatoslavovich from The Lay of Igor ‘s Campaign and the massacre at night as is depicted in the Sanskrit epic of ancient India, the Mahäbhärata. Analyzing excerpts from these texts will allow us to understand perceptions and values of several cultures which led to the creation of their ultimate heroes. It will also help us ponder the question of human responsibility, ability and limitations and whether perceptions of them are universal. As we discuss texts written hundreds of years ago, we will consider our own understanding of honor and heroes.
Students will develop better research, writing, and presentation skills by completing several short written assignments, working on a research project, and sharing their findings with class.
GRW 101-18 A Global History of Water
Professor Andrew Case – MWF 1:30 p.m. - 2:20 p.m.
Despite the fact that water is foundational for biological life on the planet, we often only pay attention to it at times when we have too much of it or not enough. Yet the control of water for irrigation, transportation, flood control, industrialization, and sanitation has been central to the social and economic development of the modern world. Scholars have long asked questions about how water management has shaped human societies, questions which have renewed urgency today in the face of a rapidly changing, and rapidly warming, global environment. This course will explore the role of water in global history and ask how societies have sought to address their water needs in different times and different places. In addition, students will explore how conflicts over the use and availability of water are playing out across the globe today. After surveying the role of water in human history, student-led research projects and discussions will explore the broader contexts of contemporary (and future) water crises. By using water as a “lens” for critical inquiry, students will develop their research, writing, and rhetorical skills.
GRW 101-19 Trashed: Consuming and Disposing
Professor Andrew Case – MWF 2:30 p.m. - 3:20 p.m.
The stuff we send out to the curb and down the drain is often “out of sight and out of mind.” This class will change that. We will explore the processes and places that define how we make, move, and manage waste in modern life and how they came to be that way. From the local landfill to the waste water treatment plant to an unregulated scrapyard for e-waste in the global South, this course will highlight the human and environmental costs of waste in modern consumer economies. After exploring the history of waste-making and its impacts on the American landscape, we will turn to a global perspective that explores the consequences of increased consumption in emerging economies.
We will also engage in first-hand exploration of “spaces of consumption” and “spaces of disposal” around the campus and nearby vicinity. Students will tackle critical questions about waste and the environment while also developing their research, writing, and presentation skills.
GRW 101-20 Illness & Care: Narrative Medicine
Professor Sherri Foster – MWF 8:30 a.m. - 9:20 a.m.
In a 2008 New York Times article, “Stories in the Service of Making a Better Doctor”, Dr. A. Scott Pearson, Associate Professor of Surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said “As we improve the technology of medicine, we also need to remember the patient’s story.” The belief that literature and medicine are intimately connected is not a new idea, but many renowned residency programs are now making ‘narrative medicine’ part of their training routine for young doctors. Columbia University has even designed a Master’s program in Narrative Medicine because, as they claim, “The care of the sick unfolds in stories. The effective practice of healthcare requires the ability to recognize, absorb, interpret, and act on the stories and plights of others.”
This multidisciplinary course is an introduction to narrative medicine. It is open to all students, but it may be particularly relevant to those who are considering careers in medicine; to those who have a particular interest in how the experience of the body is translated into text; or to those who want to examine literature as an interdisciplinary field. It examines both patient and physician narratives across cultures, and considers the ways in which illness and care are represented in fiction, film, and autobiographical texts. It also seeks to answer why this even matters. Students will write a series of short papers, as well as a significant research paper inspired by the course material. In addition, students will record and tell a patient’s story, which they will share with the class.
GRW 101-21 Economics of Health Inequality
Professor Mook Lim – MW 2:30 p.m. - 3:45 p.m.
The objective of the course is to examine the economic issues of health inequality across time and countries. The content of the course covers the basic concepts of health economics, the origins of health inequality since the Industrial Revolution, the effect of economic growth on health inequality within the United States and across countries, and the contemporary debates on reforming health care systems in selected countries.
There are three components to the course from which students earn grade. They are: 1) writing assignments, 2) a 10-minute presentation, and 3) class participation. There are six writing assignments which are based on the weekly readings. The presentation relates to introducing a country’s health care system within the scope of economics.
GRW 101-22 False Idols in the Age of Colonization
Professor Marsha Libina – MW 2:30 p.m. - 3:45 p.m.
In 2015, ISIL militants smashed ancient Assyrian statues, calling them “false idols.” Since the ancient world, people have endowed material objects with powers that go beyond their physical appearance. Statues of gods, miraculous icons, amulets, and relics are just a few examples of art that is believed to point to an otherworldly reality. Yet how were these material manifestations of different gods able to co-exist in an increasingly global world? The European colonization of parts of Africa and the New World brought about the meeting of clashing belief systems and the cult objects that embodied them. What did Europeans do when they encountered the veneration of non-Christian gods and spirits? How did Latin American and African cultures integrate, appropriate, or resist the Christian cult images of their colonizers? To answer these questions, and others, we will examine the topic of idolatry - the worship of lifeless images or false gods - and its significance for the arts of European, African, and post-Colombian American cultures. In doing so, this writing course will explore the ramifications of cross-cultural encounters between societies whose Gods and objects of worship were often radically different from one another. As you investigate the cultural and material exchanges of the 16th-18th centuries, you will work with sources pertaining to the perspectives of both the colonizer and the colonized. Our objects of study will include media coverage of the destruction of ancient statues by ISIL, watercolors depicting the burning of fetishes and idols, engravings documenting missionary activities, wooden crucifixes and figurines, salt cellars, and ivory masks. The aim of this writing course is to develop your ability to write clearly and persuasively as you engage with the themes, images, and texts presented in class. Note: No specialized knowledge is required for this course.
GRW 101-25 Voices from the Grave: Uncovering Family Secrets
Professor Heather Calloway – TTH 11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.
Where are you from? Famous celebrities have been featured in popular television specials where they learn of their fascinating family histories. But, what about you? Using archives, historical newspapers, online resources and other clues, students will learn how to use primary documents, oral histories and technology to find out about their own past. The course will explore the roles that historic documents play in tracing one’s past. Students will have the opportunity to use augmented reality technology and create virtual exhibits using rare memorabilia used to document the secrets of the past. Through assigned readings, classroom discussion, and independent research, we will work together to tell our family histories. The class will also visit cultural repositories to examine places to discover and access unique resources for research.
GRW 101-26 The Global Music Industry
Professor John Leupold – TTH 1:00 p.m. - 2:15 p.m
This course explores topics related to the music industry around the world. We will examine the spread of Western music around the world through cultural and musical analysis. Examples will be selected from both Western Art Music (historical “classical” traditions) and Popular music styles (including folk music). To this end, composers inside and outside of the Western tradition will be discussed as well as the musical traditions from which they borrow. In addition to studying the confluence of Western music with the music of other cultures, we will explore topics related to the industry behind the music such as marketing, copyright, and licensing. Students will hone their research and writing skills by drafting and rewriting an extensive research paper and will present their findings in oral reports. No musical experience is required.
GRW 101-27 Where Are We - And Why?
Professor Adam Goodheart – TTH 2:30 p.m. - 3:45 p.m
Like intrepid explorers setting foot upon an uncharted continent, members of the Class of 2020 will soon arrive in an exotic new place that awaits their discovery: Chestertown, Md. In this course, we’ll explore the town and its surrounding area to situate ourselves in place and time. Together, we’ll look at everything from its history, to its natural environment, to its architecture, to its economy and politics, to its folklore, to its colorful native population. Our expeditions will serve the broader purpose of the course, which is to explore the concept of “place.” What gives a geographical location its distinctive identity? How does its past shape its present? How might a certain place define who we are? How might it expand our humanity? How might it limit us, or even imperil us? How might it become a character in the story of our lives? And how can a writer, scholar, filmmaker, or artist capture a place’s essential qualities and communicate them to others? Students in this course will not just develop a richer understanding of their new surroundings, but also intensively polish their craft as writers, developing new skills to convey their findings vividly and authoritatively.
GRW 101-28 Power of Language Ideologies
Professor Amber Neely – TTH 2:30 p.m. - 3:45 p.m
Language is a powerful tool, one that can be used to help or to harm, to entertain or to condemn, to uplift or to oppress. According to Schiefflin, language ideologies are beliefs that “link language to identity, power, aesthetics, morality and epistemology” and affect not only individuals but communities and nations, both those in power and the powerless (1998). In this course we will explore the effects of language ideologies in different parts of the world, from behaviors as seemingly harmless as telling jokes to very real struggles for social justice. What does the language one speaks tell others about his or her place in the world? Who says what is the “proper” way to speak, and what are the consequences if one resists? How can it be disadvantageous, or even dangerous, to speak the language of one’s ancestors? Through a research paper, revision and presentations, we will examine the effects of beliefs about language and the benefits, or repercussions, of actual language use by communities both across the world and in our own backyard.
GRW 101-29 Making a Living in Kent County
Professor Joseph Bauer – MWF 9:30 a.m. - 10:20 a.m
In this course, we will look at the past, the present, and the future of Kent County, Maryland through the prism of work and the ways of earning a livelihood in this smallest county in the state. We will begin with the European influence of colonial times that brought agribusiness to the Eastern Shore more than 300 years ago and look at the various ways in which Kent County residents have supported themselves since. We will explore the extent to which farming, harvesting the riches of the Bay, running small businesses, and other commercial pursuits have been inward-focused or outward-focused. Today’s Kent County combines a desire to preserve the pristine nature of Chestertown and its environs with the need for good jobs and an acceptable quality of life for all of its citizens. Does the county’s future depend on connecting with the larger world or can it remain more the insulated jewel? You will combine what you learn about the past and present of Kent County with research on other small locales experiencing similar circumstances to propose recommendations for its future.
I have selected a number of publications that provide a meaningful cross section of the county, its history, present day, and what the future may hold. We will visit locations throughout the county which represent our past, today, and a possible tomorrow. Readings will be from a host of solid publications that should provide enjoyable reading as well as information about the county and its towns, villages, and hamlets.
I will be arranging a view of the county through the eyes of our watermen and others associated with the Cheater River and the Bay – some from a regulatory standpoint with others from a political perspective. Students will have time in our library to learn proper research techniques, and how to move from existing publications to a manuscript of their own efforts. An emphasis will be on creative as well as critical thinking.
GRW 101-30 Transgender Lives & Politics
Professor Sherri Foster – MWF 9:30 a.m. - 10:20 a.m
This course examines the category ‘transgender’ through a critical analysis of the identities, movements, and communities that have arisen around it both in the United States and globally.
We begin with a consideration of medical and sexological texts of the early- to mid-twentieth century as well as early feminist critiques of transsexual identities. We then examine other texts – academic, activist, fictional, and autobiographical – to explore transgender identities and experiences from a wide range of perspectives. Guest speakers have also been invited to share personal stories. During the first half of the course, students will maintain a course blog to react to readings and speakers and develop a series of short essays.
After a consideration of transgender history and politics in the United States, we investigate global understandings of gender variance. How have terms like “transgender” been taken up, expanded or even rejected outside the United States? How do understandings of the relationship between gender and sexuality change across the globe? To answer such questions, students will research and present on the lives of Indian hijras, Brazilian travestis, Native American two spirit, Thai kathoey or ladyboys, and Indonesian tombois. We ask if terms like “transgender” and “transsexual” are useful to describe non-Western forms of embodiments.
Near the end of the semester, students will develop a research topic inspired by any aspect of the course and produce a substantial research paper.
GRW 101-31 Neurons and Networks
Professor Ryan Eanes – MWF 2:30 p.m. - 3:20 p.m
The human brain is one of the most fascinating, and yet mysterious, networks in existence; we all carry around this mass of gray and white tissue inside our skulls, but very few of us hold a strong appreciation for, or understanding of, all of the functions - both autonomic and voluntary - that our brains perform twenty - four hours a day, seven days a week. This course will be divided into three primary units:
1) Anatomy and physiology of the brain, including what makes it such a unique organ; this will include a unique field trip to the Georgetown University Brain Bank
2) Globally-focused historical and cultural conceptions of the brain, including beliefs held by ancient cultures (e.g., Egyptians, ancient Greeks, Chinese, etc.), and how these beliefs informed our modern understandings of the brain and its functions
3) The brain as a network, and how research into neural networks is informing a wide array of areas of science and technology, including computer-mediated communication, the Internet, and cloud computing.
This course will also heavily emphasize academic research, writing, revision, and presentation skills that should transfer to future coursework undertaken at Washington College and beyond.
GRW 101-32 Indigenous Resistance: Literature & Film
Professor Rebeca Moreno-Orama – MWF 1:30 p.m. - 2:20 p.m
The primary goal of this course is to examine the indigenous visions of violence and resistance around the world. Through the study of primary texts from the 16th to the 21st century, and through the discussion of documentary and feature films, students will gain a greater understanding of the past and present issues faced by the indigenous people. As we approach our main topic, we will concentrate on exploring the contrast between the indigenous and Western views of “discovery,” “conquest,” “rights,” “land,” “development,” and “organization.” Students will re-evaluate categories, such as ethnicity, religion, and cultural identity from colonial and postcolonial perspectives. The course will include a field trip to the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC.
GRW 101-33 Making Meaning in Museums
Professor Jean Wortman – TTH 1:00 p.m. - 2:15 p.m
As storytellers and keepers of culture, museums have evolved over time. In ancient Alexandria the museum was a gathering place for scholars. During the Renaissance wealthy Europeans collected “cabinets of curiosities.” Today many museums have found an empowering role as centers for civic engagement, challenging an exclusive past. In this course, we’ll dust off museum “curiosities” - the material culture of the past and present - to reveal the stories they tell about individuals and societies, necessity and desire, creation and possession. Combining the theoretical with the practical, students will take a hands-on approach to learning about material culture, and probe ethical issues facing museums around the globe. By applying critical thinking to scholarly articles, exhibitions, film, and literature, students will examine questions of ownership, cultural patrimony, authority, and representation in both a historical and contemporary context. With a focus on history museums, this course will feature guest speakers and field trips to local museums, as well as the Smithsonian Institution. Students will hone their research, writing, revision, and oral communication skills through a variety of writing assignments and a final presentation that incorporates artifacts.
GRW 101-34 Transnational Crime and Global Justice
Professor Andrea Lange – MWF 1:30 p.m. - 2:20 p.m
Transnational and organized crimes are pervasive. They are perpetuated by various organized, disorganized, and networked criminal groups. As noted in a recent bulletin from the White House National Security Council: “Transnational crime poses a significant and growing threat to national and international security with dire implications for public safety, public health, democratic institutions, and economic stability across the globe” (www.whitehouse.gov 2016). This course will explore the motives and strategies of various global crime groups and the characteristics of their expanding criminal behaviors. The course will be divided into four parts covering: “Criminal Groups in a Global Context”; “Characteristics and Types of Transnational Crimes” “Global Enforcement Responses to Transnational Crime” and “Regional Transnational Crime Patterns”. Crimes such as money laundering, human and other forms of illegal trafficking (i.e. weapons, antiquities, drugs), cyber espionage, transnational environmental crimes, and terrorism will be discussed. Students will learn how to access research databases related to transnational crime such as the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, the University of Maryland’s Terrorism “Start” program; and the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report system. By the end of the course students should be conversant with the terminology associated with transnational criminology and international law enforcement. The main textbook will be Paul Reichel and Jay Albanese (eds.) Handbook of Transnational Crime and Justice (2nd edition 2013). Since this is a writing course, students will complete a research paper on a related course topic. In addition, a series of research and writing assignments throughout the semester will be required to create a bibliography, learn about citation format, develop strategies for shaping robust arguments, and exploring techniques for drafting and revising their work. The text for the writing portion of the course will be Diana Hacker’s A Writer’s Reference (6th ed.).
GRW 101-35 Activist/Artist
Professor Pat Nugent – MWF 12:30 p.m. - 1:20 p.m
This course will explore the social movements that have transformed the world, both politically and culturally. Tracing transnational histories of the labor, civil rights, women’s liberation, and environmental movements across the twentieth century, students will investigate the relationship between artistic production and political activism. Social movements will be measured not simply for the laws they transformed, but for the cultures and consciousnesses they revolutionized. Considering a variety of modes – from poetry and painting to public performance – students will consider how art has communicated social injustices, mobilized political allies, and imagined alternative futures. Art and activism will also be our entry point into examining the scholarly crafts of critical analysis, research writing, and oral presentation. Coursework – including blog-posts, critical karaoke, scholarly reviews, and peer-editing exercises – will ask participants to examine a revolutionary artist of their own choosing, guiding students through the research process from the formulation of research questions to the final insights of revision. By semester’s end, students will enter their own voices into a meaningful scholarly debate, coming to view research as a creative and collaborative process, much like activism and art themselves.
GRW 101-36 Cultivating a Maker Mindset
Professors Amanda Kramer & Brian Palmer – TTH 2:30 p.m. - 3:45 p.m.
Born out of DIY culture, Makers today are leading the world into a new industrial revolution. Through collaborations at Makerspaces, these innovators, entrepreneurs, hackers, and artisans are coming together in shared social workspaces filled with digital fabrication, woodworking, metalworking, textile, and electronics tools. Combining global knowledge sharing and democratizing access to tools, Makers are more agile than ever before at tackling global problems.
As a society, how can we leverage the Maker “mindset” to generate true accessibility to innovation, and even help others in need across the globe? In this course you’ll learn about - and participate in – the Maker Revolution.
In this class your niche area for “making” will focus on helping victims of natural disaster. We’ll work together to research, write about, and discuss Maker Culture. Then, you’ll work in small groups to apply what you’ve learned; creating handcrafted prototypes for problems recognized at natural disaster sites (i.e. locating stranded victims, providing potable water, or quickly building temporary shelter). At the end of the course you’ll present both a peer-reviewed paper and an innovative product prototype.
Additionally, you’ll identify problems and collaborate to solve these challenges through the use of IDEAWORKS, our new Makerspace at Miller Library. You’ll use readings and online media to research Maker Culture, and take a daylong field trip to TechShop in DC-Arlington to watch true Maker Culture in action.
Are you ready to be a Maker? Then join us and let your transformation begin.
GRW 101-37 Deep Impressions: Letterpress, Zines, and Independent Publication
Professor Emma Sovich – TTH 1:00 p.m. - 2:15 p.m.
In 1877, the poet, novelist, designer, and social activist William Morris declared, “I do not want art for a few, any more than education for a few, or freedom for a few.” Since the invention of the printing press in 1440, writers have turned to broadsides, chapbooks, artist’s books, fine press, comics, and even the Brazilian cordel to spread their ideas outside of traditional publishing. They have letterpress-printed, etched, designed, sewn, carved, drawn, or even collaborated to perfect the method in which their words meet the world.
Through readings, discussions, independent research, and their own writing, students will investigate the benefits and risks associated with various publication methods and edition sizes. Speed of replication can be antithetical to care, material quality, and craft. Some writers desire to connect physically with their ideas. As the essayist and letterpress printer Anaïs Nin explained in 1942, “You pit your faculties against concrete problems. The victories are concrete, definable, touchable.” Yet the time and money invested in craft mean higher prices and smaller editions, which are at odds with wide circulation, limiting the audience to “a few.”
The course will consider writers such as Audrey Niffenegger, José Francisco Borges, William Blake, Artnoose, Anaïs Nin, Riot Grrrl Kathleen Hanna, and William Morris. Students will visit Washington College’s own Print Shop to feel the literal weight of words and to letterpress print a cover for a class zine. Course assignments, including a creative writing assignment, will build upon each other, culminating in a final research paper and presentation.
GRW 101-38 Chesapeake Bay: The Tides of Trade
Professor Kate Livie – TTH 6:00 p.m. - 7:15 p.m
At the settlement of Jamestown in 1607, John Smith called the Chesapeake, “a fruitfull and delightsome land.” He described in detail its remarkably abundant landscape— with an eye towards turning that abundance into profit for the Crown. Since then, successive generations have also valued the Bay’s extensive tributaries for their ease of trade, and the Bay’s productive environment for its potential riches— from tobacco and shad in the 18th century, oysters and waterfowl in the 20th, and crabs and— increasingly— invasive species in the 21st.
Through species and commodity case studies, this class will explore how markets across the world shaped and were shaped by the Chesapeake’s environment, culture, and industry over the past 400 years. Through lectures, readings, primary documents and objects, students will gain a detailed understanding of the close historic and contemporary connection between the Chesapeake’s incredible living resources and the unique cultures they have inspired. Assignments will include research-based writing assignments, class discussions and a final presentation to encourage critical contextual thinking and hone oral communication skills.
GRW 101-39 Abroad: The Literature of Travel
Professor Roy Kesey – TTH 1:00 p.m. - 2:15 p.m
There are as many reasons for travel as there are travelers. Some of us are fleeing something: debt, relationships gone wrong, deadly assassins. Some us are searching for something: riches, fame, knowledge, a place to start over. And some of us don’t know why we can’t stay in one place very long, but are convinced that our lives will be richer for having left, and, perhaps, having returned. Likewise, there are as many reasons for writing about one’s travels as there are travel writers, and just as many ways to falsify (intentionally and otherwise) one’s experience in the course of creating the texts.
Students in this course will read widely across and deeply into the literature of world travel, beginning with the ancients (Herodotus, Marco Polo, Wang Wei) and continuing on through the still-pretty-old (James Boswell, Laurence Sterne, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu), the not-all-that-long ago (Isabella Bird, Charles Darwin, Freya Stark), and the moderns (Laurence Durrell, Beryl Markham, William Golding), ending with some of the great travel writers of our own time, including Paul Theroux, Jan Morris, and Michelle Orange. We will be interrogating these texts to discover where they traveled, and why; what they focused on, and why; what they fictionalized, and why; what they left out, and, also, why. We will be honing our investigatory, writing and public speaking skills through a series of student-led discussions, research projects, short written assignments, and class presentations. The course’s overarching goal is a clear, sophisticated, multi-faceted understanding of what travel can bring to literature, and vice versa.
GRW 101-40 Fire and Ice: How the World Ends
Professor Roy Kesey – TTH 2:30 p.m. - 3:45 p.m.
In five billion years, give or take, the sun will expand into a red giant, swallowing the earth in a maelstrom of fire—but don’t worry, we’ll be gone long before that. Perhaps the end will come in a billion years when the sun’s expansion has raised the average temperature on earth to 116 °F, or perhaps in only 800 million years when carbon dioxide levels have fallen so low that photosynthesis is no longer possible. The big question—the biggest of questions—then becomes: How do we live with this knowledge, and what should we do with it?
We will begin this course by studying how a number of cultures—the Zoroastrians, the Pomo, and the Norse, among others—understood the end of the world as they foresaw it, and what implications that understanding had for the way they lived their lives. With that context in place, we will shift to a study of the primary threats that scientists have identified as most likely to cause species-ending events in the (relatively) near future, including those involving global pandemics, synthetic biology, and artificial intelligence. We will be honing our investigatory, writing and public speaking skills through a series of student-led discussions, research projects, short written assignments, and class presentations. The course’s overarching goal is a clear, sophisticated, multi-faceted understanding of the risks we face, what might be done to mitigate those risks, and how we might best live in the meantime.
GRW 101-41 The Holocaust and Genocide in the Modern Era
Professor Clayton Black – TTH 10:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.
What goal could there possibly be in studying and comparing the most horrific events of human history? The popularity of this course and to Holocaust literature in recent years attests to the grim fascination many of us have with the human potential for evil. But what is the nature of evil? Is it only made possible by evil people, or are we all, at some level, evil people?
The goals of this course are to enable students to identify the potential for evil in their own society and to locate its sources both in political ideologies as well as in fundamental human concerns for identity and belonging. Students should recognize both the unique aspects of the Holocaust of European Jews as well as its all-too-common characteristics. They should also question whether the defeat of Hitler really meant the end of the elements that made the Holocaust possible, and they should ask whether or not they are (or may become) unwitting participants in what may ultimately be one of the “dark spots” in human history.
Reflection on such issues should enable students to gain a greater appreciation for the complexities of historical causation. It should also help them adopt a more critical eye to the society of which they are a part and to see the importance of making informed social, political, and economic decisions.
GRW 101-42 Ruins: Ancient and Contemporary, Real and Imagined
Professor Kate Markoski – TTH 8:30 a.m. - 9:45 a.m.The ideas ruins evoke in me are grand,” wrote the art critic Denis Diderot in 1767. Ruins have long been of fascination to a range of thinkers, from archeologists to artists, politicians to philosophers. Far from understanding the ruined as something to be simply cast away, such individuals have understood ruins to be rich with meaning and highly productive objects of intellectual and creative consideration. This course seeks to uncover how and why the notion of the ruin has proven to be so important to so many for so long. Our investigation will cover a broad geographic range as we consider material ruins in the world—e.g. Pompeii, Machu Picchu—and the ways that different thinkers have engaged with them. We will also explore how both material ruins and an understanding of ruination as an ongoing process to which we are all always witness has for the last several centuries been addressed in literature, painting, poetry, and philosophy. We will ask how the study of ruins might lend us valuable insight to the past; teach us about our present; and allow us to think critically about our collective future. We will also question how we might come to appreciate ruins as both testaments to past catastrophes and potent warnings of those to come. The class will make special use of an exhibition featuring emerging artist Nara Park on display at Kohl Gallery this fall in thinking about the notion of the contemporary ruin. Also central to our exploration of ruins will be class discussions, student presentations, and research-driven writing assignments.