FALL 2018 FWIS Course Schedule

Check out the Profile of a FWIS blogposts for more information about the different FWIS courses offered.

FWIS 105      Greek Myth in Words
FWIS 109      Art and Environment
FWIS 114       Introduction to Literature
FWIS 115      Wellbeing
FWIS 117       Art in Place & Places for Art
FWIS 122      Leaders and Leadership
FWIS 125       Your Arabian Nights
FWIS 126      Nobel Prize in Literature
FWIS 127      Feminist Fabulations
FWIS 128      Inner Dimensions
FWIS 131      The War on Drugs
FWIS 132      Slavery on Film
FWIS 135      Childhood on Film
FWIS 137      Pop Music and American Culture
FWIS 140      Film, Fiction, and History
FWIS 143      Brazil Modern

FWIS 146      Religion and Science Fiction
FWIS 153      Disability and Society
FWIS 155      Fakes, Forgeries, & Stolen Art
FWIS 163      Medical Humanities
FWIS 164      Ways of Walking
FWIS 165      Science Fiction and Shakespeare
FWIS 168      Building Design Problems
FWIS 175      The Medieval City
FWIS 179       Love and Death in Film and Fiction
FWIS 184      Religion and Sports in America
FWIS 188      Introduction to Engineering Design
FWIS 191       Migrant Experiences
FWIS 192       The Roaring Twenties
FWIS 194      Empires
FWIS 196      Literature & Business
FWIS 199     Jews on Film

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FWIS 105 Greek Myth in Words

Mackie, Hilary・TTh 2:30-3:45
This course introduces you to texts that are integral to the mythology, literature, and culture of ancient Greece. Hesiod’s Theogony, a creation narrative, includes the epic battle between the Olympian gods and the Titans. The Homeric Hymns celebrate individual Olympian gods and goddesses. The Works and Days is an early Greek example of wisdom literature. Hesiod, as poet, challenges the authority of the local kings and educates his community about justice and the value of hard work. The course introduces you to these important texts through the regular practice of close reading, writing, and spoken discussion. You will learn to develop and articulate your own interpretations of them in response to the views of others, including your classmates. The assignments and in-class activities will help you to hone your communication skills, and to employ reading, writing, and speaking in the service of critical thinking. (All works read in English translation.)

FWIS 109 Contemporary Art and Environment

Dib, Lina・Section 1: TTh 1:00-2:15 / Section 2: TTh 2:30-3:45
This course delves into questions of environment, ecology and sustainability through the lens of contemporary art. From earthworks, to performance, to land art, activist art, and community-based practices, participants engage critically and creatively with various contemporary practices. We discuss works that put art and environment into conversation by using landscapes as raw material and by highlighting our relationship to local and global ecological systems. Throughout the course, we explore how art provides ways to rescript interactions with our environment. Students work to design and create their own projects. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of much of the work we view, discuss, and propose, we read across a wide range of disciplines, including media studies, design, urban planning, humanities, art and anthropology. The course involves excursions to landfills, museums, gardens and other visits led by experts. This course is eligible for credit toward the Environmental Studies minor.

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FWIS 114 Introduction to Literature

Huston, Dennis・MWF 10:00-10:50
In this course we will examine representative works of drama, poetry, and fiction, ranging from ancient Greece to modern times. These works will include plays by Sophocles, Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, and David Auburn, selected poems by John Donne, and novels by Jane Austen, James Dickey, and Ian McEwan.  During the semester students will write four different essays about some of these important works, ranging in length from two pages to eight or ten pages. In addition, students will keep journals in which they will write for ten minutes after every reading assignment, which will prepare them to speak individually in class about what they have read.  The aim of this course is to help students become more active, more imaginative, more independent, more intelligent readers, writers, and talkers about literature.

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FWIS 115 Wellbeing

Kao, Sherry・WF 2:00-3:15
Everyone wants to live well. Some people even argue that living a good life is the only goal in life. But what does living a good life mean exactly? Some philosophers argue that enjoying the greatest amount of pleasure over pain is living well, while others argue that wellbeing consists in the satisfaction of desires or preferences. Yet others argue that exercising virtues is the only secure path to a good life. This course critically evaluates different conceptions of wellbeing proposed by philosophers and encourages students to form their own conception of wellbeing with persuasive arguments.

 The Light Inside by James Turrell

FWIS 117 Art in Place and Places for Art

Grenader, Nonya・TTh 10:50-12:05
Students will look closely at a curated selection of influential, Houston‐based works of art, installations, and architecture from the past century to understand the context and ideas behind the emergence of modern and contemporary art and design. They will observe, analyze, and describe these primary sources using both words and images. Through a sequence of reading, observing, and responding, students will: understand methods of viewing original work to observe nuances of color, form, style, material, massing, and context; develop skills for conveying their observations to audiences using words (written and spoken) and images (photography, collage, diagram, drawing, etc.) in precise and descriptive ways; learn strategies for preparing questions for active participation in class discussions and site visits; apply techniques for planning, editing, and revising their responses; and learn various approaches for synthesizing ideas in a final paper and presentation, comparing or contrasting several works of art viewed during the semester.

FWIS 122 Leaders and Leadership: What We Know, What We Believe

Cornwell, John・TTh 4:00-5:15
For over a hundred years, social scientists have studied leaders and leadership. The popular press and media pundits continue to expound on the topic with conflicting views. Students will explore what they believe and what science informs us about leaders and leadership and share their analyses through discussions, writing, and oral presentations. This course does not study individual leaders but instead is devoted to learning about scholarship in the field of leadership and applying it to better understanding oneself as a leader. Besides writing about their leadership experiences and applying leadership scholarship in analyzing those experiences, students will also create visual images about leadership using digital technologies and share them with each other.

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FWIS 125 Your Arabian Nights

Sanders, Paula ∙ MW 4:00-5:15
The Arabian Nights is one of the best known yet poorly understood literary masterpieces. It has been passed down orally, in writing, in performance and film; in multiple languages; and with different collections of stories. What is your Arabian Nights? Is it one of the many Arabic versions? The famous Burton translation? Disney's Sinbad? Alladin or Ali Baba? Scheherezade the storyteller? Robert Louis Stevenson's stories? Do you know it as a collection of stories or a group of colorful characters? We will consider stories of the Nights through both a literary and historical lens, and we will consider stories, films and works of art that were inspired by the Nights in different cultures.

FWIS 126 The Nobel Prize in Literature

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Messmer, David・TTh 10:50-12:05
Each year the Swedish Academy awards the Nobel Prize in Literature “to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction.” The award confers a standard of prestige that can secure an author’s legacy long after his/her literary career comes to an end. But what does “outstanding work” entail, exactly? What does “an ideal direction” mean? Why does a committee of people in Stockholm Sweden have the authority to bestow such an important award on writers from around the entire world? This course will address these questions by interrogating the works of the five most recent winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature. We will see what patterns we notice in the Swedish Academy’s selections while paying attention to both aesthetic merit and the roles that social justice and cultural diversity might play in the awards process.

FWIS 127 Feminist Fabulations

Henry, Brittany・MWF 2:00-2:50
Traditionally a male-oriented genre, science fiction (SF) has grown steadily in popularity with feminist writers since the 1970s. In fact, the intervention of women writers has changed the landscape of the genre, bringing into popular parlance the term “speculative fiction” to encompass the variety of genres that use literature as a medium to ask, “what if?” What if women dominated positions of power in society? What if men could give birth? What if we could transfer our consciousness to different bodies? What if government control of women’s reproductive choices reached totalitarian extremes? These are just some of the questions raised by the alternate worlds of the texts we will explore. Through our readings, we will examine how women writers have employed SF to think imaginatively about the feminist concerns of issues ranging from gender roles, sexual identity, and reproductive rights to technological development, climate change, economic exploitation, and racial justice.

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FWIS 128 Inner Dimensions

Belik, Katerina ∙ TTH 2:30-3:45
How much does what we say characterize us? The course explores personality traits through their linguistic manifestation. Students will be introduced to personality theory and the lexical hypothesis which states that the most significant personality characteristics are reflected in person’s language. We will attempt to identify what personality traits are vividly imprinted in one’s language, and whether language characteristics can be used as a predictor for personal and professional success. For our study, we will use personal observations as well as  academic articles, fiction and documentary stories. Students will be offered to take personality tests to learn more about themselves and others. We will discuss validity of the theories and accuracy of the personality tests.

FWIS 131 The War on Drugs

Suárez-Potts, William・TTh 9:25-10:40
The “War on Drugs” is a rhetorical phrase that we hear repeatedly. President Nixon first articulated it in 1971, and since then government agencies have carried out domestic policies to suppress drug use, which have affected public health, civil liberties, and national security. Outside the U.S., this “war” intertwines with foreign interests. This seminar will focus on the current situation and its recent past in the U.S. and regions of Latin America from where illicit drugs are imported. It will pose a fundamental question: “how did we arrive at this situation”? Students will explore answers to the question by closely examining various genres of text: government statements, congressional laws, court opinions, newspaper accounts, literary prose, and historical scholarship. Through close readings and by tracing policies from a historical perspective, the seminar will show how historical knowledge and textual analysis can contribute to more reasoned debates on public issues.

 Mattie Tom, Apache, 1899

FWIS 132 Slavery on Film

Sidbury, James・MWF 11:00-11:50
This course will look at the ways major Hollywood (or equivalent) films have dealt with chattel slavery in the United States. We will explore the general question of how feature films deal with controversial historical issues by analyzing more specifically how Hollywood has dealt with American slavery. We will seek to identify aspects of the films that are historically inaccurate, not in an effort to 'debunk' the films, but to ask why filmmaker choose to depart from the known truth and thus to think about the different kinds of truths and interpretations one might look for in film and in historical writing.

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FWIS 135 Childhood on Film

Oukaderova, Lida・WF 2:00-3:15
This seminar will examine the filmic representation of childhood across diverse historical periods and places. We will utilize a variety of critical perspectives to explore the place childhood occupies in modern cultures—and particularly, how cinema contributes to and complicates our understanding of that place. Of particular concern will be issues including children’s relations to nature, language, and sexuality; modern systems of education; children’s perceptions of race; children in horror films; and filmmakers’ interest in childhood as a metaphor for cinema itself. Our meetings will be grounded in discussion of films and critical texts, with substantial time dedicated to working on students’ writings skills.

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FWIS 137 Popular Music and American Culture

Klein, Andrew・Section 1: MWF 3:00-3:50 / Section 2: MWF 4:00-4:50
This course will explore the world of popular American music by looking at a number of recent albums and songs as well as many critical and journalistic writings about music. Ranging from Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love to Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap, and from a novelistic portrayal of Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality to a memoir of the Riot Grrrl movement, these texts will also allow us to think critically not only about music itself, but about what other issues (race, gender, sexuality, class, taste, etc.) we talk about when we talk about music. Assignments will include album reviews, song analyses, genre/region presentations, and personal essays.      

FWIS 140 Film, Fiction, and History

Derrick, Scott・TTh 1:00-2:15
In an important text from several decades ago, Benedict Anderson argued in Imagined Communities that nations construct their identities around shared narratives that necessarily mythologize and simplify their national pasts. Indeed, it’s unclear that a perfectly objective account of something as complex as a national history is even possible (though scrupulous historians do the best they can). Obviously, then, the contemporary crisis of “fake news” may simplify a complex problem if the implication is that the “real news” is easily within our grasp. The premise of this course is that in the twentieth century and beyond, movies and television have been an important ongoing source of mythologized national historical narratives, from war movies, to westerns, to “biopics” of figures such as Kenneth Turing, and Winston Churchill, to Ken Burns-style documentaries. Are their patterns of distortion at work we can identify? How do we correct them?

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FWIS 143 Brazil Modern: Art and Architecture between the Nation and the Metropole

López-Durán, Fabiola・Th 4:00-6:50
This FWIS course introduces students to the artistic and architectural theories and practices of modernism in Brazil. From its origins during the process of modernization in the early twentieth century, to the construction of supermodern Brasilia, to today’s contrasting forms of urban development, this seminar examines the built environment—natural and architectural—as the main transmitter of modernism in Brazil. Bringing together art, music, dance, film, and literature into the analysis of architecture, landscape architecture and urbanism, this interdisciplinary course offers an exploration of the complex political, social and cultural histories that shaped the built environment of modern Brazil. This is a seminar on Brazilian modernism and its discontents.

FWIS 146 Religion and Science Fiction

Bakker, Justine・MWF 9:00-9:50
Who are we? What are we? Why are we? Where are we? While these questions are fundamentally religious they are also the stuff of science fiction. Some would even suggest that science fiction has offered us some of the most unique, creative, moving, and inspiring answers to these questions. In this course, we test the veracity of this claim. We read science fiction novels and short stories, and watch films and television series, to consider how a wide variety of twentieth- and twenty-first century artists have queried the most fundamental ontological and existential matters. In doing so, we study numerous intersections between science fiction and religion, probing for instance the ways in which science fiction has formed the basis for religious mythologies and movements, and the prevalence of religious themes in science fiction narratives. Readings include: Asimov, Bradbury, Brown, Butler, Clarke, Du Bois, Heinlein, Sturgeon. Films include: Prometheus, The Matrix.

FWIS 153 Disability and Society

Nittrouer, Christine・MWF 3:00-3:50
The 2010 U.S. Census documents that 56.7 million (19%) people who live in the U.S. have a disability, but only 41% of these people are employed. A 2015 Kessler Foundational Employment survey documented that more than 68% of people with disabilities are actively striving to work. What are the factors resulting in this mismatch, particularly when technology is making our society increasingly inclusive and interconnected? This course will examine the historical segregation experienced by people with disabilities, and the particular prejudice they encounter from childhood through adulthood. It will also focus on the impact an historical lack of access to full-time work has had on this population and their resultant negative health, social, and independent living outcomes.

FWIS 155 Fakes, Forgeries, and Stolen Art

Fuqua, Kariann・Section 1: TTh 1:00-2:15 / Section 2: TTh 2:30-3:45
In 1990, two men dressed as police officers entered the Gardner Museum and stole 13 paintings worth an estimated $300 million dollars. This crime remains unsolved. It has been estimated that 40%—70% of the artwork on the market today is either a fake or a forgery, and countless pieces of art and antiquities have been looted over centuries. It makes sense why faking or stealing art is such a lucrative enterprise. This class will discuss complex issues involving authentication, repatriation, the black market and art law, and scientific advancements in identification technology. Can a copy of a work of art be exactly the same as the original? Why is art often discussed first in terms of monetary value opposed to its cultural or intrinsic value? What, then, is the true value of art or cultural heritage, and what does this say about the societies that exchange it?

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FWIS 163 Medical Humanities: Literature, Medicine, and the Practice of Empathy

Nixon, Burke・Section 1: MWF 1:00-1:50 / Section 2: MWF 2:00-2:50
This course will provide an introduction to the field of medical humanities, focusing specifically on narrative medicine and the role narrative can play in illness and the clinical encounter. We’ll also examine the use of literary fiction as a way to increase empathy in doctor-patient interactions, which will lead to a series of questions: Can empathy be taught? If so, can the humanities, and literature in particular, teach it? To help us explore these and other questions, we’ll scrutinize academic research on empathy and fiction, as well as examining some of the most influential texts in the field of medical humanities. We’ll also read medical-themed short stories by Ernest Hemingway, Lorrie Moore, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the physician-writer Anton Chekhov, among others. Writing assignments will range from a work of personal reflection to a research paper and presentation arguing for or against the use of literary fiction in medical schools. 

FWIS 164 Ways of Walking

Klein, Andy・MWF 2:00-2:50
For most of us, walking is an activity of necessity: we put one foot in front of the other in order to move from Point A to Point B. For others, however, the act of walking holds far greater potential. Whether it's a pilgrimage, a nature hike, a city stroll, a protest march, or something else altogether, a walk can be much more than just a walk. In this course, we will explore the cultural history and significance of walking by looking at a wide array of interdisciplinary texts, ranging from a study of the marathon monks of Mount Hiei to Romantic poetry and from urban planning policy to experimental art practices.  These readings will be accompanied by integral writing assignments that will allow students to develop their abilities to write clearly and persuasively in a number of different genres. There will also be a number of field trips in and around the Houston area. 

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FWIS 165 Science Fiction & William Shakespeare

Sherrier, Lindsay・MWF 10:00-10:50
William Shakespeare is scattered throughout the science fiction genre, from episodes of Star Trek to the 1956 film Forbidden Planet to Stan Lee’s graphic novels. There is even a translation of Hamlet into Klingon! Compelled by this surprising fascination, this course explores why Shakespeare and his works are so prolific in science fiction. How does science fiction capture and expand Shakespeare’s exploration of what it means to be human? In what ways does science fiction use Shakespeare’s works to address scientific and technological advancements, such as robotics, genetic engineering, and time travel? And, finally, what is it about Shakespeare’s works that make them so adaptable to different time periods and geographical locations (both real and imagined)?

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FWIS 168 Case Studies of Building Design Problems

Fleishacker, Alan・TTh 1:00-2:15
This course is not for the faint of heart or the timid. We will read and analyze case studies, project documents and other source materials on buildings that have experienced serious design problems and ended up in the news and in court. Some major buildings lose their high-rise windows inexplicably, others experience catastrophic structural failures, while others are saved from disaster through brilliant professional skill and sheer luck. You will write about what went right and wrong, why the situation happened, who caused the problem, and who should have acted differently. We will conduct a mock trial with students serving as the designers, constructors, clients and others involved, as well as their attorneys. Active participation in class is essential and a part of your grade. The broad goals of the course are to improve and refine your ability to think and write critically and powerfully, and to present a convincing argument on the written page and in person.

FWIS 175 The Medieval City

Sweeney, Kyle・Section 1: MWF 11:00-11:50 / Section 2: MWF 1:00-1:50
From The Legend of Zelda to Game of Thrones, the Middle Ages have inspired countless movies, novels, television series, video games, role-playing fairs, and other medievalisms that are an integral part of popular culture today. This seminar examines life in the medieval city in western Europe as it has been documented, studied, and imagined over time in primary source texts, scholarly publications, documentaries, movies, works of art, television series, contemporary best-selling novels, and so on. Streets, daily life, guilds, governance, trade fairs, Gothic cathedrals, processions, hospitals, universities, plagues, and revolts will be among the topics surveyed. Students will be introduced to ArcGIS Story Maps software and the DAVinCI Visualization Wall at Rice's Chevron Visualization Laboratory. No exams. Optional Field Trip to Texas Renaissance Festival.

FWIS 179 Love and Death in Film and Fiction: The Art of Reading Closely

Harter, Deborah・TTh 10:50-12:05
This will be a course not just about five great films and seven extraordinary short stories, nor just about what they tell us about love and death, the chaos of marriage and affection, the layered meanings of prejudice and obsession, alienation and loss.  It will also be about the power we gain and the pleasure we feel when we learn to “read” them closely.  To study the art of reading, of course, is to have no choice but to study simultaneously the art of writing.  As students write and revise, share their work and present their ideas, they will be invited to explore a variety of formats and of purpose, experimenting freely with short response, personal essay, journal-writing, and formal exposition.  Our goal will be to create for ourselves a field of writerly expression that is both scholarly and personal, analytic and reflective—a source of confidence rather than trepidation.

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FWIS 184 Gods of the Diamond, the Gridiron, and the Hardwood: Religion and Sports in America

Homewood, Nathanael・TTH 9:25-10:40
From the origins and development of the culture of athletic competition in America through the contemporary professionalization of sport, from James Naismith to Russell Wilson, this course will look at the curious intersection between sport and religion in America. This course will approach this intersection in two distinct ways. The first is, how do religion and sport work together as separate but cooperative entities in culture-shaping. For example, how is God invoked during matches, how do religion and sport cooperate in defining the ideal human body, gender, sexuality etc.? The second is to consider sport as a religion, filled with rituals of its own that make it meaningful and central to those who watch and participate. Each week a case study (an athlete, a team, or an event) will be presented alongside academic works that will help us analyze how the combination of religion and sport in America.

FWIS 188 Introduction to Engineering Design and Communication

Matthew Wettergreen & Deirdre Hunter ∙ TTH 1:00-2:15
First-year students learn the engineering design process and use it to solve meaningful problems drawn from clients such as local hospitals and medical facilities, other local and international companies and organizations, and the Rice University community. Students work collaboratively on a team to design an engineering solution to meet the client’s need, and they use the resources of the OEDK to construct innovative solutions. Documentation is an essential element in the engineering design process.  Engineers must be able to communicate the need for a novel design, numerical design objectives, ideas for solutions, and the success or failure of a project.  During the engineering design process, students interact and communicate with teammates, the project client, instructors, and potential users. This course covers the same technical content as ENGI 120, Introduction to Engineering Design.  This course places additional emphasis on an individual’s development of the written and oral technical communication skills necessary for professional practice, especially results-oriented technical memos and oral presentations.  

FWIS 191 Migrant Experience

Henry, Brittany・MWF 10:00-10:50
This course focuses on the human experience of global migration and its representation in literature. As we explore the ethical and social justice implications of representations of migration and displacement in contemporary fiction, we will consider the following questions: How does literature by and about migrants convey the lived experience of displacement at the level of the social, the spiritual, the economic, the communal, and the family? How do race, class, gender, and religious identities shape migrants’ experiences in unfamiliar cultures? How do the narratives we examine attest to the creative strategies migrants employ to adapt, survive, and forge community in new (and often unwelcoming) places? How do narratives of displacement challenge our understanding of community, home, and hospitality? And finally, what role might storytelling, literature, and artistic expression play in the cultivation of a just and humane response to mass displacement in the age of globalization?

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FWIS 192 The Roaring Twenties

Richardson, Laura・TTh 4:00-5:15
Jazz. Flappers. Speakeasies. Art Deco. The Harlem Renaissance. After WWI, the U.S. and Europe erupted into frenzied cultural and aesthetic expression: the “Roaring Twenties.” New forms of art broke traditional modes of representation and inaugurated new structures and styles of narration, temporalities, and poetic form. The ’20s were about possibility, newness, change, and energy. In this course, we’ll read iconic ’20s literature by modernist authors, including Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. We’ll also study literary and cultural responses to WWI; high modernism’s poetry and novels; the Harlem Renaissance; prohibition, jazz, and dance; and popular comedic writing. Highlights include a screening of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, lessons on the Charleston and the Lindy Hop, and a Roaring Twenties-themed costume party, complete with jazz, mocktails, and dancing.

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FWIS 194 Empires

Pollnitz, Aysha・TTh 9:25-10:40
Is the United States of America an empire? Your answer to this question probably depends on the way you define "empire".  In turn, your definition of this term is likely to rest on your interpretation of the rise, fall, and internal workings of empires of the past. This course will examine a variety of empires in their historical contexts from Ancient Rome and Han Dynasty China, to the Aztecs, the Spanish Empire, the British Empire, and to the super­ powers of the twentieth century. It will investigate the extent and limits of their authority and the cultural as well as military, bureaucratic, and economic instruments of empire. In the process, the course will revisit myths about the unique significance of European imperialism in world history and reconsider common assumptions about the sources of state power. It will use the past to offer a broader perspective on contemporary political and economic questions.

FWIS 196 Business in the American Imagination

Pett, Scott・MWF 9:00-9:50
Because the world of business is so full of glass ceilings, corporate ladders, career paths, pay gaps, buyouts, sellouts, and human resources, it has always been a culturally productive site for national and self-reflection. As we read American literature from the 18th-century to the present, we will continually ask: What can it teach us about the ethics of pursuing happiness and material success in business? How have such types and tropes as the working class, the unemployed father, the embezzler, the captain of industry, and the work-aholic shaped our notions of the “American Dream”? How do work-life and work-place narratives address and shape issues of belonging, especially in terms of class, ethnicity, gender, immigration, and education? On the road to discussing such questions and improving our written and verbal communication skills, we will consider an array of allegories, motifs, and plots about the profits and pitfalls of American commerce cultures.

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FWIS 199 Jews on Film: Cinematic Representations of Jewish Life

Weininger, Melissa・MW 2:00-3:15
This course will explore the modern history and culture of Jews in America, Europe, Israel, and elsewhere through the medium of film. Students will be exposed to a diversity of Jewish communities around the globe while at the same time examining the way those communities are represented on film. The course will be organized around various themes and ideas that have shaped the Jewish experience in modernity, including secularization, immigration, assimilation, nationalism, race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, and religious practice. By situating the films in their historical, cultural, and political contexts, students will learn about the varied and changing forms of modern Jewish identity.