FALL 2017 FWIS Course Schedule

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

FWIS 101       The Bible in Popular Culture
FWIS 104      Texts as Intercultural Communication
FWIS 105      Greek Myth in Words
FWIS 109      Art and Environment
FWIS 116       American Journeys
FWIS 117       Art in Place & Places for Art
FWIS 118       Music, Myth, and Madness
FWIS 120      Fiction and Empathy
FWIS 121       Time Travel Narratives
FWIS 122      Leaders and Leadership
FWIS 126      Nobel Prize in Literature
FWIS 131       Ruins Landmarks and Monuments
FWIS 132      Women in the Civil Rights Movement
FWIS 133      Women and the Holocaust
FWIS 135      Childhood on Film
FWIS 136      World According to Pixar
FWIS 137      Pop Music and American Culture
FWIS 143      Brazil Modern
FWIS 146      To Eat or Not To Eat GMOs?

FWIS 155      Fakes, Forgeries, & Stolen Art
FWIS 157      Food and Culture
FWIS 158      Propaganda in the Roman Empire
FWIS 160      Life Narrative
FWIS 163      Medical Humanities
FWIS 165      Sci Fi and Shakespeare
FWIS 166      U.S. Migration History
FWIS 170      Philosophy and Science Fiction
FWIS 171       Word Magic
FWIS 172      Health Policy Debates
FWIS 178      Globalizing Museum History
FWIS 184      Religion and Sports in America
FWIS 185      Contemporary American Poetry
FWIS 186      Writing the Drone
FWIS 191       Literature and Public Health
FWIS 193      Banned Books and Other Dangers
FWIS 195      Wanderlust
FWIS 196      Growing Pains
FWIS 199      Jews on Film

FWIS 101 The Bible in Popular Culture

Brian Ogren・WF 2:00-3:15
What do Bob Marley and the Hebrew Bible have in common? How was Moses utilized by civil rights activists like Martin Luther King, Jr.? Why was Darren Aronofsky’s film Noah so controversial among Evangelical Christians? What does Donald Trump know about the Bible? This course will address such questions as we introduce ways in which the Bible plays a significant role in contemporary popular culture. By analyzing biblical references found in music, film, art, and the media, we will discover that even in today’s seemingly secular pop culture, the Bible continues to influence our artistic, social, and political landscapes. This class should be of interest regardless of background. Anyone can study the Bible, whether she or he is Jewish, Christian, of a different religion or of no religion. In this course, the Bible is explored as a cultural text; all we require is an inquiring mind.

FWIS 104 Texts as Intercultural Communication

Fleck, Jonathan・TTh 9:25-10:40
When aesthetic texts cross cultural boundaries, they bring with them complex histories, codes, and experiences from their place of origin. These traveling texts, then, serve the ambitious project of intercultural communication: they direct their audience to decode the foreign and the unfamiliar. To understand texts as intercultural communication, readers must develop the skills and knowledge to situate works within and across aesthetic traditions. Global Texts as Intercultural Communication introduces fiction, non-fiction, and multimedia works from a wide array of global perspectives. By guiding students through the comprehension and critical analysis of these works, the seminar invites young scholars to reflect on their own cultural experiences and to cultivate their own habits of communication.

FWIS 105 Greek Myth in Words: Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns

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.)

 Fluvial Intervention Unit by Lucy and Jorge Orta ( image credit )

Fluvial Intervention Unit by Lucy and Jorge Orta (image credit)

FWIS 109 Contemporary Art and Environment

Dib, Lina・Section 1: TTh 1:00-2:15 / Section 2: TTh 10:50-12:05
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.

FWIS 116 American Journeys

Randal Hall・T 2:30-5:20
The narratives of travelers in the US are a window into history. Drawing on authors like Crèvecoeur, Tocqueville, Trollope, and Kerouac, the class will discuss and write about themes such as Indian life and territorial expansion, democracy, slavery, civil war, western settlement, and 20th-cent. social movements.  This course is eligible for credit toward the major in history.

 The Light Inside by James Turrell

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 118 Music, Myth and Madness: Studies in Musical Biography

Ferris, David・TTh 1:00-2:15
Biographical narratives about musicians typically borrow from mythology and literature and treat their subjects as creative heroes who defy societal conventions and devote themselves wholly to their art. In this seminar we will study memoirs, scholarly biographies, novels, and films that are concerned with a wide range of musicans, including J. S. Bach, Bob Dylan, Thelonius Monk, Mozart, and Robert and Clara Schumann. We will focus on the themes of genius, creative inspiration, and madness and on the literary and cinematic techniques that biographers use to bring their subjects to life. Students will also be introduced to the music of these composers and performers, but no musical background is necessary.  

FWIS 120 Fiction and Empathy

Nixon, Burke・MWF 1:00-1:50
Is there a link between reading literary fiction and empathizing with others? A much-discussed 2013 article in Science seemed to answer this question in the affirmative, but writers and readers have been making (and challenging) similar claims for almost as long as the novel has existed. In this course, we’ll explore and debate the question ourselves. What does empathy actually mean? What’s the difference between empathy and compassion? Can a work of fiction actually change the way we perceive others in real life? We’ll read and write about the work of fiction writers who are often praised for their ability to inhabit the consciousness of their characters, as well as contemporary authors who attempt to do the same thing in different ways. We’ll also examine and debate what literary critics and authors themselves have claimed on this topic, focusing in particular on the elements of fiction and how those elements might provoke empathy.


FWIS 121 Time Travel Narratives

Richardson, Laura・TTh 4:00-5:15
From an aesthetic perspective, time travel has existed as long as there have been stories: narrative is time tourism. Narrative introduces alien temporalities, transporting listeners and readers into different temporal landscapes. Throughout the twentieth century, science and science fiction participated in a shared economy of inspiration, each stirring the other to new creative potential. This course investigates the historical, aesthetic, and scientific connections between the authorial and scientific co-creation of time travel. Our central quests will be to define the relationship between scientific and narrative jumps through time, as well as forge, as a class, a general understanding of how our culture represents time travel, given not just technological limitations, but also the historico-cultural limiting factors of gender, race, politics, and language.

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

Cornwell, John・TTh 2:30-3:45
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.

FWIS 126 The Nobel Prize in Literature

Messmer, David・TTh 2:30-3:45
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 131 Ruins, Landmarks, and Monuments

Chappell, Lindsey・MWF 9:00-9:50
The Statue of Liberty in ruins has become a stock shot signaling the collapse of human civilization in films like Planet of the Apes. Meanwhile, the ruins of the Berlin Wall remain an icon of progress and freedom. How do ruins and other architectural icons of community come to have such broad and deep cultural significance? This seminar will explore how cultures map community identity onto (or in opposition to) physical edifices and how these markers of identity endure or shift meaning over time. We’ll look at representations of ruins, landmarks, and monuments across a variety of genres, stretching back to nineteenth-century accounts of sites famed as part of the European Grand Tour, such as the Parthenon in Greece and the ongoing political controversies surrounding Britain’s continued possession of ancient Greek artifacts. Over the semester, we’ll analyze how geographical icons contribute to community, cultural, or national identities.

 Mattie Tom, Apache, 1899

Mattie Tom, Apache, 1899

FWIS 132 Women in the Civil Rights Movement

Walker-McWilliams, Marcia・TTh 9:25-10:40
The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s is well-known as a groundbreaking movement against racial segregation and discrimination in America. Though iconic figures like Martin Luther King Jr. have become nearly synonymous with the movement itself, there were many who played crucial roles in the movement at local, regional and national levels. This course will explore the contributions and struggles of the many women who shaped and where shaped by the Civil Rights Movement. We will examine how through formal and informal leadership roles, grassroots organizing, performative arts and theoretical contributions negotiated the complex terrain of place, race, gender and class within the Civil Rights Movement and the larger American society. We will study key events such as the March on the Washington and the push to desegregate schools, alongside biographical studies and organizational histories.

FWIS 133 Women and the Holocaust

Oesmann, Astrid・MWF 1:00-1:50
This course will examine the Third Reich and the Holocaust from the perspective of women as perpetrators and as victims. Students will be introduced to the political, social, and cultural history of German fascism and its consequences for women in and outside of Germany through the analysis of literature, art, and film. In addition, students will analyze the testimony of female Holocaust survivors according to time and the circumstance in which it was given. Throughout the course we will explore questions of representation and students will be pushed to learn how to speak and write about this challenging topic.

FWIS 135 Childhood on Film

Oukaderova, Lida・TTh 9:25-10:40
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.

FWIS 136 The World According to Pixar

Eyler, Joshua・TTh 9:25-10:40
In the summer of 2013, writer Jon Negroni posted a new essay called “The Pixar Theory” on his blog, and it very quickly went viral.  Essentially, Negroni suggests that each of the films made by the Pixar studio is one piece of a larger narrative about the interconnectedness of our world.  Whether one agrees with Negroni’s argument or not, it does speak to the complexity and sophistication of the Pixar films, which critics have long hailed for their strong writing and powerful social commentary.  In this course, we will be delving into the world of Pixar by watching many of the films and exercising our analytical skills through a variety of writing assignments.  We will pay just as much attention to the narratives of the films as to their technical elements, such as animation and color theory, as we explore the meanings they create.

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

López-Durán, Fabiola・T 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 To Eat or Not To Eat GMOs? That is the Question

Trachtenberg, Jordan・MWF 10:00-10:50
Genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) have been a topic of contention in the media and our grocery stores. Are they safe to eat? Will the pesticides used to grow these crops harm us in the long run? What is the impact of GMO farming on people and the environment? Through written and oral assignments, we will explore the ethical controversies behind GMOs and how they impact our health and society. Students will debate relevant case studies on GMO research and perform a food-related research project.

FWIS 155 Fakes, Forgeries, and Stolen Art

Fuqua, Kariann・TTh 1:00-2:15
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?

157 - Food.png

FWIS 157 Food and Culture

Morgan, Molly・MWF 11:00-11:50
Food is an essential part of human life.  People have sought food not only for sustenance, but also to symbolize, celebrate, innovate, and protest cultural norms since ancient times.  Through the perspective of archaeology this class will explore what we eat, the origins and development of food technologies, ways in which our bodies are affected, and how food acquires cultural meaning.  While learning about how people used to eat and ways in which ancient food choices led to modern cultural preferences, students will be introduced to methods used by archaeologists for understanding the wide human experience.  In our own society the general awareness of food and food culture has become an integral part of contemporary life.  The explicit emphasis on food in this course provides a concrete way to link our own personal experiences with scholarly discourse, and to express our opinions through reflective writing assignments, research papers, and casual classroom presentation.

FWIS 158 Propaganda, Deception, and Forgery in the Roman Empire

Langenfeld, Kathryn・MWF 11:00-11:50
Barely a day goes by without a new article on the dangers of “fake news.” Fake news has been accused of influencing international elections, and tech giants like Facebook and Google are working on strategies to stop the spread of misinformation on their social media platforms. But is the spread of “fake news” only a modern phenomenon? Or can we find evidence of biased reporting and political propaganda influencing world events 2,000 years ago? By engaging with ancient texts and archeological material, this course examines how three of Rome’s most famous emperors—Augustus, Septimius Severus, and Constantine—used the literature and art of their reigns to paint their political rivals as threats to public security and promote overly flattering accounts about their rise to power. We will discuss the impact of these narratives on historical accounts of the Empire, and debate what constitutes historical truth, fiction, and forgery in the ancient and modern worlds.

FWIS 160 Life Narrative

Fax, Joanna・MWF 1:00-1:50
“This is the age of memoir,” observes writer William Zinsser, “everyone has a story to tell, and everyone is telling it.” In addition to telling stories, we are consuming them, thanks to the advent of podcasts, blogs, and other digital formats, at a remarkable rate. This course explores the historical and contemporary significance of life narrative in popular culture—from its origins in the 16th century to the popularity of This American Life. What various, often competing, versions of selfhood does the genre offer us?  What does life narrative reveal about shifting status of the “personal” in different historical and political moments? What counts as life narrative, anyway, and how is it different from autobiography, personal narrative, and memoir (is Facebook a form of life narrative?)? In addition to writing analytically about these and other questions, students will compose their own creative work. 

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

Nixon, Burke・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 165 Science Fiction & William Shakespeare

Sherrier, Lindsay・MWF 9:00-9:50
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)?

FWIS 166 Beyond the Melting Pot: U.S. Migration History

Khan, Suraya・TTh 4:00-5:15
In this course, students will explore how migration in the United States has been conceptualized over the past two centuries. By focusing on specific migrant groups, we will investigate the evolution of immigration policy alongside changing perceptions of citizenship, nationalism, race, and ethnicity. Some of the groups we will study include immigrants from Africa, Western and Eastern Europe, China, Japan, Mexico, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and South Asia. We will evaluate the ways in which the experiences of these immigrants have overlapped or diverged. Examining these different groups will allow us to identify both the push and pull factors that cause people to leave their homelands and make the United States their temporary or permanent home. Students will critically analyze the way that policy and cultural beliefs have shaped who can immigrate to the United States and what these migrants experience.

FWIS 170 Philosophy and Science Fiction

Medeiros, Darren・MWF 4:00-4:50
The best science fiction is not only entertaining but also explores philosophical issues concerning the nature of reality and human existence. In this course, we will engage with classic and contemporary philosophy texts alongside those science fiction novels and films that explore the same philosophical themes. What is the nature of consciousness, and could an artificially intelligent system be conscious? What is the difference between reality and virtual reality, how can we know which we are living in, and which would it be better for us to live in? What dangers and benefits does the technological enhancement of our bodies and minds pose, what ethical problems are involved, and what does this teach us about what it means to be human?

FWIS 171 Word Magic

Belik, Katerina・TTh 10:50-12:05
People create inner models of the world to represent their experience and guide their behavior. How we state and say things has direct impact on how we feel and affect others. Students will be introduced to art of persuasion, learn about the power of words, the importance of word choice, and might of a metaphor. They will learn to create effective messages through understanding patterns of communication and how they can be altered to bring about a change in human behavior. The course offers an opportunity to analyze and discuss various readings related to neuro-linguistics. It suggests recording observations, writing reports and a short research paper.


FWIS 172 Health Policy Debates

Laura Freeman・TTh 4:00-5:15
This course will interrogate current U.S. health and healthcare policy debates from a sociological perspective. These debates will serve as a point of departure to explore how social conditions and policies structure the patterning of health and illness across the nation. Specifically, this course will address why the U.S. spends more on health care than any other nation, why Americans have worse health outcomes relative to other industrialized countries, the social determinants of health, major elements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (better known as “Obamacare”), and the future challenges Americans face regarding health care.

FWIS 178 Globalizing Museum History

Ward, Kerry・WF 2:00-3:15
Museums are revered and reviled, inspiring and irrelevant, inclusive and exclusive. Why the contradictions? Analyzing the historical evolution of museums in different global contexts helps us to understand their role in society today. We will think critically about how individuals, communities, nations, and empires curate heritage, art, memory, and science.

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

Homewood, Nathanael・MWF 10:00-10:50
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 185 Contemporary American Poetry

Klein, Andrew・MWF 2:00-2:50
This course will explore the world of contemporary American poetry by looking at some of the most exciting collections to come out in the past few years.  Ranging from the intimate lyrics of Peter Campion’s El Dorado to the minimalist verse of Christina Davis’ An Ethic to the historical polyphony of Amaud Jamaul Johnson’s Darktown Follies, these collections have been chosen: 1) to introduce students to some varieties of American poetry in their literary and historical contexts; 2) to increase each student’s ability to understand and analyze how given poems “work”; 3) to develop each student’s ability to put the results of their engagements with poetry into clear, effective prose; and 4) to build a framework for reading and understanding other types of poetry.  Perhaps more significantly, though, these books will also allow us to ask a larger questions: what, if any role, can poetry play in contemporary life?

FWIS 186 Writing the Drone

LaFlamme, Marcel・MWF 3:00-3:50
The unmanned aircraft, or drone, has become one of the icons of a controversial and seemingly endless War on Terror. Meanwhile, civilian drones are crisscrossing farm fields and Hollywood movie sets, even as online retailers are promising drone deliveries to our doorsteps. How do we make sense of this technology and its newfound ubiquity in our culture? What practices of sensing, thinking, and writing do we need to develop in order to contend with its power? This course will offer an anthropological perspective on unmanned aviation, introducing students to a disciplinary tradition of studying technical objects and our investments in them. In the process, students will strengthen their communication skills through in-class exercises, oral presentations, writing across genres, and cycles of revision.

FWIS 191 Literature and Public Health

Hsu, Sophia・MWF 2:00-2:50
Zika, Ebola, AIDS, gun violence, birth control, climate change, healthcare reform: these are just some of the wide-ranging issues concerning public health today. But how do the realities of public health correspond with popular conceptions of it? How do depictions of the objects and subjects of public health reinforce, enhance, or complicate our understanding of the position of public health in our contemporary world? This course will examine how these depictions help us rethink our understandings of “health,” as well as our understandings of the “public” that public health policies are supposed to target. Through analyses of novels, short stories, newspaper and journal articles, and films, we will explore the concept of public health and its gendered, racial, class, and global connotations.


FWIS 193 Banned Books and Other Dangers

Fax, Joanna・MWF 3:00-3:50
What makes a work of literature suitable for the classroom? And who gets to decide? In this class, we will read, discuss, and write about literary works made infamous by their appearance on the American banned books list. Central to our examination of these texts will be the overarching question of the role of censorship in U.S. education, and culture at large. We will investigate the complex issue of censorship and its role in public education from multiple perspectives, starting with a look at the history of educational censorship in the twentieth-century U.S.. Situating each banned work within its historical context, we will explore the ways in which individual writers responded to the cultural and political climates of their time, as well as the social conditions that made their works the objects of public scrutiny -- and, oftentimes, scorn.

FWIS 195 Wanderlust: Travel and Modern Culture

Chappell, Lindsey・MWF 11:00-11:50
Wanderlust, or “an eager desire or fondness for wandering or travelling,” has inspired a contemporary phenomenon of travel blogs and Pinterest boards, launching an entire travel aesthetic that defines itself in opposition to everyday life at home. But the contemporary travel ideal so prevalent among virtual dreamers has long formed an integral part of literature and culture. In eighteenth-century Europe, young aristocrats embarked on the Continental Grand Tour to polish their educations; innovations in rail and steam technology during the nineteenth century sparked mass tourism and an entire guidebook industry; and modern travelers have sought adventure off the beaten track. But as long as there has been travel of any kind, there has also been travel writing.

FWIS 196 Growing Pains: Coming of Age in Literature and Culture

Hsu, Sophia・MWF 10:00-10:50
Do children grow up differently today than they did in the past? How do we determine when childhood and adolescence end and adulthood begins? What experiences and assumptions are associated with the idea of “coming of age”? And how do these experiences and assumptions change across culture and time? This course will reflect upon these questions by engaging with a variety of coming-of-age or bildungsroman texts from the nineteenth century on. Through analyses of novels, comic books, and films, we will think about how the concept of “coming of age” allows writers and filmmakers to explore questions about identity, belonging, gender, sexuality, and race. Moreover, by examining which life narratives are available for certain groups and which are not, we will consider how the social, cultural, and historical developments of the wider world influence the personal development of seemingly private individuals.

FWIS 199 Jews on Film: Cinematic Representations of Jewish Life

Weininger, Melissa・TTh 10:50-12:05
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.