The Common Curriculum

Scholars Research Seminar 2019

Spring 2019

  • Imagining the Nation(s): Irish Culture from 1880 to 1922 | Professor Claire Bracken

    Imagining the Nation will focus on the historical period of 1880 to 1922 in Ireland. This is a time of extraordinary cultural change, which saw the country move from colonization to revolution to independence to civil war. In the course we will engage in a sustained analysis of this crucially important era through an analysis of a variety of historical, literary and cultural texts. These texts will include political speeches, newspaper articles, popular advertisements, documents about cultural institutions (such as the Gaelic Athletic Association and the Gaelic League), in addition to poetry, drama, fiction, and film. The dominant preoccupation during this time period is with the imagining of the concept of the nation, and we will explore this in terms of its variety and diversity, balancing the more official versions of a romanticized, traditional Irish identity with alternative and counter imaginings, particularly as they are refracted through the variables of gender, race, sexuality and class.

  • Going Green in New York State | Professor Kara Doyle

    In this course, you will acquire and hone research skills, analytical thinking skills, and communication skills (both written and oral) as you pursue a 15-to-20 page research project evaluating a possible new solution to a New York State environmental issue of your own choosing.  We will take as our starting point recent IPCC reports and New York State reports on waste, energy, and conservation, examining the complexity of real world problems and potential solutions.  You will learn how to track down sources of information, beginning with footnotes and bibliographies and expanding outwards to databases, indexes, and even  – gasp! – books.  Along the way you will develop an interest in a particular environmental problem, which will become the springboard for your project.  In the second half of the course, after having narrowed your initial idea down to a manageable size, you will work intensively on your own project, researching it thoroughly in order to describe and evaluate a possible solution.

  • Nanomaterials and Nanotechnology | Professor Michael Hagerman

    Nanoscience deals with the fabrication and characterization of materials at the scale of billionths of a meter. You may not realize it, but if you have worn sunscreen or stain-resistant khakis, ridden a carbon fiber bike or hit the brakes on a high-end sports car, chances are you have seen what nanomaterials can do. Advances in nanotechnology offer intriguing applications including: molecule-sized devices that can locate and destroy cancer cells, clothing made of fabric containing bio-contamination sensors, and zero-emission buildings made of materials that convert solar energy into electricity. This course focuses on nanomaterials and nanotechnology with interdisciplinary perspectives from engineering, materials science, chemistry, physics, and biology. We will explore specific applications in telecommunications, computers, alternative energy, sensors, and drug delivery and develop your critical thinking and oral and written communication skills through analysis of the primary literature in nanoscience.

  • Transformative Partnerships with the Arts and Humanities | Professor Christine Henseler

    “Don’t leave school without the arts and humanities.” This is not the advice most-often heard among college students. We all know not to leave school without a plan, a skill-set, a career path, but without the arts and humanities? Why not? This class explores the transformative, essential value of the arts and humanities to your education and to contemporary society. Students in this class will reflect on the role of the arts and humanities in their own lives and careers and in partnership with a variety of disciplines and professional fields. They will get to conduct research on a topic of their choice that explores how artistic and humanistic learnings are transforming the way we think, live, and work in surprising and exciting new ways.

  • Jewish Graphic Novels | Professor Judith Lewin

    Jewish Graphic Novels focuses on reading graphic novels written by Jews on “Jewish” subjects, learning critical analysis of a “new” genre that combines words and images, and honing critical research and writing skills in an extended research paper on a topic of your choosing. Together, we will study the advent and evolution of the graphic novel genre, its terminology and visual and textual logic, and consider why and how it became associated with Jews and Jewish issues. The graphic novel offers a special combination of narrative devices and unusual rewards to its readers that this course will help us to appreciate and to articulate orally and textually. We may also decide, as a group, to present our findings publicly.  The aim of this scholars' research course is for you to strive to improve your reading and writing skills, and to understand what it means to write analytically in general and to construct a complex argument about graphic literature in particular.  

  • Scottish Witchcraft Trials | Professor Steven Sargent

    This seminar will examine the phenomenon of witch hunting in Early Modern Europe through a detailed study of several Scottish Witch Trials between 1590 and 1660. Scotland had no medieval witch trials. Only after the Reformation, when witchcraft became a secular as well as religious crime, did the trials begin. Course readings will include a general history of early modern witchcraft, two early treatises on witch hunting (the infamous Hammer of Witches [1486] and James VI's Demonology), a collection of original documents concerning the so-called North Berwick Witches (1590-93), and trial records from several seventeenth-century cases. Using these resources, the course will reconstruct the political, social, economic, intellectual, religious, and gender context of the witch trials with the goal of understanding why people were willing to burn their neighbors for crimes they not only did not commit, but could not have committed.