Spring 2018 Course Schedule

FWIS 101      The Bible in Popular Culture
FWIS 103      Debates over Confederate Flag
FWIS 112       Modern Families
FWIS 113       Race, Policy, & Racial Change
FWIS 115       Wellbeing
FWIS 119       Muslim Women & Global Politics
FWIS 120      Fiction and Empathy
FWIS 123      Star Wars & Writing Culture
FWIS 125      Your Arabian Nights
FWIS 126      The Nobel Prize in Literature
FWIS 127      How Poems Work
FWIS 128      Inner Dimensions
FWIS 129      The Empire of the Mongols
FWIS 130      Writing Everyday Life
FWIS 138       Art Criticism in Context
FWIS 141        Writing About Music
FWIS 144       Writing about Greek Drama
FWIS 146       To Eat or Not to Eat GMO's?

FWIS 151      Modern Castaways
FWIS 152      The Science of Supplements
FWIS 153      The Lewis and Clark Expedition
FWIS 154      The Good, the Bad and the Border
FWIS 155      Fakes, Forgeries, and Stolen Art
FWIS 156      Extreme Sports
FWIS 160      Life Narrative
FWIS 162      Critical Thinking in a Democracy
FWIS 163       Medical Humanities
FWIS 164       Ways of Walking
FWIS 168       Building Design Problems
FWIS 174       The Future of Medicine
FWIS 183       Writing Cultures
FWIS 188       Introduction to Engineering Design
FWIS 193       Banned Books and Other Dangers
FWIS 194       Empires
FWIS 195       Wanderlust
FWIS 196       Growing Pains
FWIS 197       Health Disparities in the U.S.

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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.

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FWIS 103 Debates Over Confederate Flag

Andrew Johnson ∙  MW 2:00-3:15
The Confederate Battle Flag is one of America’s most contentious symbols. This course is designed to study points in time when the flag’s meaning came up for debate between the Civil War and today. We will read and discuss primary and secondary readings covering these points in history. To what ends were pro-flag people using it? Anti-flag? How did these historical actors understand the terms of the debate? How much continuity was there in the flag’s meaning? How should we as historians think about the long history of the cultural symbol of the flag? This course will use the historical problem of the display of the Confederate flag, particularly in public spaces, to concentrate on students thinking historically, argument formation, and writing skills.

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FWIS 112 Modern Families   

Sophia Hsu ∙ MWF 10:00-10:50
What does “family” mean today when debates over gay marriage, blended families, and America’s declining birth rates seem to ring the death knell for the nuclear family? To what extent have we moved beyond the image of the nuclear family with its 2.5 children? And to what extent does this image continue to exert a strong social and emotional pull? This course examines the myth of the nuclear family by looking at representations of the Anglo-American family from the nineteenth century on. In tracking the nuclear family’s rise and fall, we will consider how today’s modern families reinforce, complicate, and translate the nuclear family for our contemporary times. Through analyses of novels, short stories, television shows, films, newspaper articles, and nonfictional texts, we will look at how issues such as gender, class, race, sexuality, and globalization have shaped and transformed family structures.


FWIS 113 Race, Policy, & Racial Change

Melissa Marschall∙ TTH 9:25-10:40
This course provides an introduction to race and public policy in the United States. We will examine the different ways in which race and political representation have been conceptualized and studied in America and how has race been intertwined with public policy development in the 20th century. The course will also explore how American political institutions have shaped outcomes for different racial groups, focusing on several contemporary public policy areas—e.g., education, housing, policing and incarceration, and voting rights. Finally, the last section of the course will focus on issues of mobilization and change: What political victories have racial minorities achieved, where and in what ways does public policy in America now provide equal protections and equality of opportunity to racial minorities? How have political mobilization and participation contributed to racial change in the United States?

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FWIS 115 Wellbeing

Sherry Kao ∙ TTH 2:30-3:45
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.

FWIS 119 Muslim Women & Global Politics

Elora Shehabuddin ∙  TTH 1:00-2:15
This course traces the history of Western interest in Muslim women, paying particular attention to how the figure of the Muslim women has been used by western feminists to make their own case for gender equality. These ideas about Muslim women have had very real consequences, serving as justifications for colonial policies in the nineteenth century, but also more recently for the US intervention in Afghanistan which was presented to the American public as a mission to save Afghan women from the blue burqas. Just this year, several French towns imposed a ban on modest swimwear, dubbed the burqini, on French beaches, describing them as unsafe and incontrovertible evidence of Muslim women’s subservience to Muslim patriarchy. Readings include the writings of different English and American feminists and feminist organizations as well as texts by Muslim authors from around the world for their take to Western efforts to “rescue” Muslim women.

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FWIS 120 Fiction and Empathy

Burke Nixon ∙ MWF 3:00-3:50
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.

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FWIS 123 Star Wars and the Writing of Popular Culture

Dave Messmer ∙ TTH 2:30-3:45
From Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” speech to Hilary Clinton’s declaration at the end of a recent primary debate, “May the Force Be with You,” the Star Wars franchise has entered our national vocabulary in ways that no one could have imagined upon its release in 1977. This course will unpack the stakes of that discourse through a variety of disciplinary approaches. Why did the Star Wars franchise and its hopeful message emerge out of a popular culture rife with cynicism, and why does it continue to resonate today? What does the franchise’s popularity reveal about our nation’s relationship to issues of imperialism, race, gender, and spirituality? Are these films merely escapist fun, reaffirming a nostalgic vision of America, or are they a vehicle for cultural and social critique? Writing assignments in the class will challenge students to address these questions, while engaging the ever-expanding scholarly discourse surrounding the films.


FWIS 125 Your Arabian Nights

Paula Sanders ∙ TTH 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

David Messmer ∙ 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 How Poems Work

Terrance Doody ∙ MWF 10:00-10:50
Poems start from the meaning of the words and build up through the lines and sentences—and the tension between them—through the play of the vowels and consonants, and the differences between the images and metaphors. When these relationships are understood, a conversation about what the poem means can begin.

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FWIS 128 Inner Dimensions

Katerina Belik ∙ 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 129 Chingis Khan and the Empire of the Mongols

Lisa Balabanlilar ∙ TTH 10:50-12:05
At the beginning of the thirteenth century the Mongol tribes were united under the leadership of Genghis [Chingis] Khan. Within just a few decades, much of China, Eastern Europe and the Middle East were conquered, becoming a part of the the largest contiguous empire in world history. This class will explore the Mongol experience through readings of a broad array of primary sources, including the letters and memoirs of eye witnesses, including merchants, diplomats, travelers and adventurers as well as the Mongols themselves. Through short wring assignment projects, the students will learn to work closely with primary sources, and develop analytical writing skills. This class is eligible for credit towards a History major.

FWIS 130 Writing Everyday Life

Lina Dib ∙ Section 1, TTH 2:30-3:45 / Section 2, TTH 4:00-5:15
This course is dedicated to the poetics of everyday life. It introduces its participants to cultural and historical writing that draws from the real world and from the forms and colors of the ordinary. First, we will experiment with some non-fiction writing styles, from journalistic, to poetic, to documentary and ethnographic. Then, shifting the focus from writing styles to writing topics, the course will delve into how we experience landscapes, bodies, and objects in prosaic ways. We will develop reading, research, writing, and presentation skills through creative assignments and workshops. Engaging in fieldwork around Houston, we will practice observational and literary tactics, such as experimenting with rhythm and repetition, shifting scales from the micro to the macro, and making the strange familiar or the familiar strange. In short, we will explore, evaluate, and communicate the everyday. This course is eligible for credit toward the major in Anthropology.

FWIS 138 From Leo Tolstoy to Cornel West, Art Criticism in Context

Rachel Hooper ∙ TTH 10:50-12:05
What does art mean? Where does interpretation start, and under what circumstances does it become criticism? How can I articulate what I am thinking and feeling when looking at art and make my perspective convincing? Some of the most influential modern and contemporary writers have grappled with these questions in reference to art of their time. The class will think through challenges of visual interpretation through close looking at art around our campus, including the Rice Gallery, Contemporary Arts Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and public art collections at Rice and Hermann Park. Art critics who live in and around Houston will visit class to discuss their writing process and personal perspectives. In this course, you will develop a rich understanding of the genre of art criticism, and by the end of the semester, will be able to write your own concise and insightful analysis of art.

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FWIS 141 Writing About Music

Sydney Boyd ∙ MWF 9:00-9:50
Music is all around us almost all of the time on the radio, in the grocery store, and at the gas station. It ranges across class and place, from opera houses to hotel elevators. Because music exists fleetingly but meaningfully in the present, poets, artists, politicians, scholars, psychologists, and physicists alike have used music to express what can’t be put into words. But how does one write about what is by nature indescribable? In this course, we will study several ways masterful figures have written about music, as well as what effects music has as a subject in art and on the page. Situated largely in the twentieth century, this course will look at poetry by Langston Hughes and Joan Larkin, and fiction by Virginia Woolf and Ian McEwan. We will read music reviews, historical sketches, dictionary entries, and essays about music to build a repertoire of approaches.


FWIS 144 Writing about Greek Drama  

Hilary Mackie ∙ TTH 2:30-3:45
This course introduces students to texts that are integral to ancient Greek culture, and core texts in the Western literary tradition.  The assigned primary texts are: Aristotle’s Poetics; Aeschylus’ Oresteia trilogy; Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, Antigone, and Electra; and Euripides’ Medea, Hippolytus, and Iphigenia in Tauris (all to be read in English translation).  Students who take the course also read a modest amount of secondary literature about the interpretation and application of Aristotle’s Poetics. The course introduces students to the assigned texts in a manner that provides frequent regular practice at close reading, writing, and oral communication.  Students who take the course write six or seven essays, and receive feedback on all but one from the instructor or teaching assistant.  Students also each give one oral presentation.  Most class meetings are devoted to discussion of the assigned texts.  A few class meetings are devoted to peer review of students’ essays.  

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FWIS 146 To Eat or Not to Eat GMO's?

Jordan Trachtenberg・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.

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FWIS 151 Modern Castaways

Mark Celeste ∙  MWF 11:00-11:50
You need not be stuck on an island to be considered a “castaway.” This course will challenge us to think about isolation, alienation, and survival in a global age. What happens to those left behind, those cast out, and those seemingly out of place? How (if at all) do they assimilate and survive in a new world? Where do these “modern castaways” stand with respect to particular national, racial, social, and historical identities? Our readings will move us through a range of literary forms, critical conversations, and historical moments, asking us to consider how issues of nationality, race, gender, and class change across time and space. We will grapple with topics such as colonialism, immigration, feminist history, the anthropocene, and the refugee crisis – topics that will invite us to reflect on the moral and political dimensions of “castaway” figures.

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FWIS 152 Nutritional Supplements: Real Remedies or Shady Science?

Mary Purugganan ∙ TTH 10:50-12:05
This course examines the science behind some of the most highly promoted nutritional supplements for preventing or treating disease. The supplement industry has recently grown to $33 billion per year, and more than half of Americans now take supplements regularly. Because nutritional supplements are not regulated like pharmaceuticals, consumers have begun to question the safety, purity, and efficacy of these products. Students will examine the challenges in regulating supplements, the role of supplements as alternative or complementary medicine, the biology of common but complex diseases such as cancer and depression, and the molecular mechanisms of supplements’ effects on the human body. Through writing assignments and oral presentations, students will explore this rapidly growing but poorly regulated approach to improving health.

FWIS 153 The Lewis and Clark Expedition

John Boles ∙ TTH 9:25-10:40
In 1803 Thomas Jefferson established an exploratory party to travel up the Missouri River to its headwaters and across the “Stony” Mountains all the way to the Pacific and back again, reporting on every aspect of what they encountered. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were chosen to lead the “corps of exploration,” and setting out from St. Louis in the spring of 1804, the party spent almost three years performing their duty. Their journals record their encounters with many Native Americans and graphic descriptions of animals, plants, and geological formations never before seen by Europeans. The men overcame tremendous hardships, traversed extremely hostile terrain, suffered hunger, cold, and hail storms, and met a variety of very diverse Indian nations. All this they describe in vivid language in their journals, now available on-line and in print. Students will read and analyze portions of these journals and write short papers on them. This course is eligible for credit toward the major in History.

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FWIS 154 The Good, the Bad, and the Border

Elizabeth Cummins-Muñoz ∙ MWF 11:00-11:50
This course will explore portrayals of morality in cultural texts produced in the US-Mexico borderlands. Through film, literature, music, and cultural criticism, students will examine representations of right and wrong that often conflict and many times converge in unexpected ways. As we consider perspectives from within the borderlands and without, we will also explore the ways in which border dwellers employ artistic production to expose and make meaning out of these alternative moral codes. Through the study of a variety of texts, students will be introduced to the following concepts: the nature of representation in film, literature and ballad; the border as both a physical and theoretical construct; the concept of a moral code and its relationship to cultural context.

FWIS 155 Fakes, Forgeries, and Stolen Art 

Kariann Fuqua ∙ TTH 9:25-10:40
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?

FWIS 156 Extreme Sports

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Lindsey Chappell ∙ TTH 1:00-2:15
Stories of high-risk athletic endeavors—from mountaineering to free climbing to marathon swimming—have long captivated us. What investments do we have in human victories over physical barriers? How does gender play into narratives of possibility? How do stories of physical triumph intersect with race and empire? This FWIS explores humanity’s fascination with pushing our bodies beyond their limits. Through texts and films, we’ll investigate activities that are perceived to break the boundaries of the human body (and that base their appeal on that perception). These “extreme sports” tend to be highly individualized—even valorizing lonely struggles against nature—and involve a substantial level of uncontrollability, often due to the sports’ environments and a lack of official regulation. We’ll specifically explore how Western culture depicts extreme sports and the individuals who perform them, historically and in the present, by examining concepts for articulating limitlessness: transcendence, endurance, freedom, and the sublime.

FWIS 160 Life Narrative

Joanna Fax ∙ MWF 11:00-11:50
“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. 

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FWIS 162 Critical Thinking in a Democracy

John Hutchinson & Paula Hutchinson ∙ TTH 1:00-2:15
We will examine the vital importance and significant challenges of thinking critically as a citizen in a democracy. Critical thinking runs counter to an inherent tendency towards confirmation bias in decision making. This conflict is often exploited by governmental leaders and media to control specific outcomes which may not be in the best interests of individual citizens or the citizenry collectively. Students in this class will learn to develop their critical thinking and analytical skills in the context of the function of a democratic society. They will learn to analyze media and political rhetoric to recognize and work past propaganda, partisanship, hypocrisy, and nationalism. 

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

Burke Nixon ∙ 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 in Literature and Culture

Andrew Klein  ∙  MW 2:00-3:15
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. 

FWIS 168 Case Studies of Building Design Problems

Alan Fleishacker ∙ 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.

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FWIS 174 Science/Fiction and the Future of Medicine

Rachel Bracken ∙ Section 1, TTH 4:00-5:15 / Section 2, TTH 1:00-2:15
The possibilities we imagine for the future of medicine tell us much about our present culture’s priorities, as well as its pitfalls. In this course, we will approach twentieth- and twenty-first-century science fiction novels and films with an eye to how these imagined medical futures represent our hopes and fears for medical science and society at large. Science fiction is an imaginative genre, but also one particularly well-suited to social commentary. Throughout the semester, we will consider what critique of contemporary society, if any, is offered in the class texts. Turning our attention to recent medical innovations, we will critically consider the context in which new treatments or diagnostic technologies are developed. What potential do these technologies have to help or harm humankind? What injustices might they alleviate, and which might they (unknowingly) perpetuate? Paying close attention to the rhetoric that masks—or does not—the social commentary embedded in science fiction thought experiments, this course places a strong focus on close reading and purposeful writing.

FWIS 183 Writing Cultures

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Molly Morgan ∙ MWF 11:00-11:50
This course teaches communication skills in the context of studying different cultures and evaluating the ways they are represented in writing. A key component of the class involves thinking about how culture shapes us as individuals and as writers, and how we, as writers, shape the cultures in which we live. Currently, we are witnessing social discourse regarding the importance of language in characterizations of other groups of people. This class takes the point of view that the words we use and the manner in which we characterize other groups of people matters. Since several Rice students have expressed to me similar points of view, Writing Cultures seems to be a topic through which first-year students would be eager to engage in the study of writing and to practice communicating their own thoughts about our world.

FWIS 188 Introduction to Engineering Design and Communication

Matthew Wettergreen & Deirdre Hunter ∙ TTH 9:25-10:40
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.  

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FWIS 193 Banned Books and Other Dangers

Joanna Fax ∙ Section 1, MWF 2:00-2:50 / Section 2, MWF 1:00-1:50
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.

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FWIS 194 Empires

Aysha Pollnitz ∙ TTH 2:30-3:45
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.

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FWIS 195 Wanderlust: Travel and Modern Culture

Lindsey Chappell ∙ TTH 10:50-12:05
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.

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

Sophia Hsu ∙ MWF 11:00-11:50
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.

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FWIS 197 Understanding Health Disparities: The Social Determinants of Health and Mortality

Mackenzie Brewer ∙ MW 8:00-9:15
Why do the rich live longer than the poor? Why are some children born healthier than others? Is unequal access to health care a primary cause of health disparities in the U.S.? This course will reflect on these questions by engaging scholarship from sociology and other disciplines that examine the fundamental causes of health and mortality in the United States. We will explore patterns and explanations of health disparities across five key status characteristics: socioeconomic status, race/ethnic identity, nativity, gender identity and sexual orientation. A major goal of this course is to better understand how social and economic factors reproduce unequal mental and physical health outcomes across groups in the U.S. and how we can address these disparities moving forward.