The Common Curriculum

Sophomore Research Seminar: 2018-19

Fall 2018

  • Slavery in the United States | Professor Kenneth Aslakson

    The topic of this course is Slavery in the United States, but its primary objective is to teach you to become fully versatile in conducting research and fully competent in writing long research papers. In the first few weeks of the course you will become familiar with the issues and debates that have driven the scholarship on American slavery. This will provide the necessary context for you to conduct primary source research on the topic. The course will then turn its attention to research and writing. To this end, you will be responsible for a research project which defines a topic related to Slavery in the United States, locates sources, analyzes these sources in an appropriate way, and presents the results in an accessible fashion.

  • The Self/Your Self | Professor Suzanne Benack

    Modern psychologists have claimed that late-adolescence-and-early-adulthood, the period of the lifespan inhabited by traditional college students, is a critical period for the formation of a “self,” or an “identity,” or a “life narrative.” In this seminar, we will look at a variety of ways of thinking about this process of self-creation and using research techniques to try to understanding one’s self. We will read some core writings about the modern self (e.g., Erikson’s Identity, Youth and Crisis; Gergen’s The Saturated Self) as well as memoirs (Dillard’s An American Childhood) and psychological works on basic dimensions of a person. For your final project, you will conduct ​an ​investigation ​on a topic that is relevant to deepen​ing​ your self-understanding.

  • Creatures of Myth and Legend | Professor Stephanie Dosiek

    Throughout history, humans have told countless tales of fantastical monsters and beasts. From bigfoot to unicorns, dragons to the kraken, these legends have enthralled and terrified us for centuries. Civilizations around the globe and throughout time have developed, cultivated, and shared these myths, many of which still persist today. What often makes legends of beasts and monsters endure, is that many of these legends have at least a small basis in scientific fact that is then enhanced and expanded by the human experience.

    In this seminar, you will conduct research into a particular cryptid (an organism whose existence is questionable) of interest to you. You will propose a research question about your cryptid and answer it by investigating the historical, cultural, and scientific basis of this species, presenting this information in a written research report (15-18 pages) that you develop and revise over the duration of the term. You will also present your findings to your classmates through an in-class oral presentation. The Sophomore Research Seminars are designed to build on the critical reading and writing skills that you began to develop in your first year at Union, and introduce you to the world of scholarly research.

  • 1963: Betty Friedan and the Rebirth of Feminism | Professor Andrew Feffer

    This class begins with Betty Friedan's Feminine Mystique, considered by some the most politically consequential book published in the U.S. after the Second World War. After reading and discussing the text in its entirety, the class will work historically through Friedan's sources, in the vast "archive" of popular magazines, TV shows, films and advertising of the late 1940s through early 1960s. The class will then read some of the literature that responded to and elaborated on Friedan's argument and comprised the "Second Wave" of American feminism. We will also look at some of the literature from the era critical of Friedan's approach. Research projects will reassess Freidan's conclusions about the effects, extent and nature of the "feminine mystique." Work will be evaluated in stages -- research design and proposal, outline of paper, first draft and final draft. Assigned texts for the class will include (besides Friedan's) selections from magazines and women's literature (as preparatory to the process of archival investigation), a book of oral history and memoirs on the early years of second wave feminism and other texts from the period.

  • Dreamers, Misfits, Radicals: Origins and Legacy of the American Transcendentalist Movement, 1830-1860 | Professor Joseph Johnson

    From the 1830s to the 1850s, a group of intellectuals, writers, activists, and dreamers in New England aspired to transform culture and remake society. While the transcendentalists had profound effects on debates over slavery, women’s rights, labor, the environment, and education, their most lasting influence is in American literary culture. This Sophomore Research Seminar will focus on intensive reading of key works by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Henry David Thoreau, and their circle, as well as consideration of the social, intellectual, religious, and political contexts that gave rise to the movement. Students will pursue independent research and complete a 12-18 page paper on some aspect of transcendentalism and its legacy in the twenty-first century.

  • Art in Ritual Context | Professor Sheri Lullo

    Many of the works we see on display in museums, from African masks and Buddhist statuary to Chinese bronze vessels and Egyptian relief carvings, were not simply considered “art” in their original contexts. Though they were often created to be pleasing to the eye—in many instances, the most expensive and precious materials available were used—these works were primarily intended to provoke and activate much more profound feelings or emotions related to the spiritual, and were frequently intended to facilitate communication with participants beyond the human realm. This research seminar aims to explore and restore the use contexts, performative spaces and architectural frameworks that are frequently lost when works of visual culture are hung on museum walls or placed within a glass case. We will read about anthropological and art historical approaches to art and ritual and analyze case studies of the ways in which ritual practice, both sacred and secular, can be integral to our understanding of how the works of art were created, used, viewed and experienced across global contexts. Your research project in this course will focus on an object chosen from Union’s own rich collection of works.

  • Heaven on Earth: the material culture of Christianity | Professor Louisa Matthew

    For all of its attention to the heavenly and the spiritual, Christianity was profoundly engaged with life on earth – from the physical bodies of saints and their burial sites to monks in stone huts on the coast of Ireland to crusading knights on the battlefields of the Middle East. We will be studying the variety of objects made and structures built during 1000 years of Christian history in Western Europe and the “Holy Land”. Your research will be based on an object of your choice from the collections of the Metropolitan Museum. Your object will be the focus of your research throughout the term. You will examine different aspects of the object as the course progresses, including, for example, materials and techniques, geographical and cultural affiliations, including possible ties to non-Christian cultures, relationships to Christian ritual and belief, and the meanings of imagery – all of which will be synthesized in the final paper. Each week we will engage with an aspect of the research and writing process, from choosing a topic, to bibliographical research, creating topic statements and outlines, creating notes and bibliographies, and writing draft papers.

  • A Brief History of Timekeeping | Professor Chad Orzel

    One of the major drivers of progress in science and technology through history has been the steady improvement in technology to measure and keep track of time. In this course, we'll look at the development of timekeeping from Neolithic calendar markers like Newgrange and Stonehenge through the invention of mechanical clocks to modern atomic clocks. We'll also look at the basic science developed through the study of time, including both special and general relativity.

  • Weimar Era | Professor Michele Ricci Bell

    This course focuses on the cinema of Germany’s Weimar Era, the culturally-daring and politically-turbulent period between the First and Second World Wars, when Germany established its first, however fragile, democracy.

    Students will develop an understanding of the unparalleled technological, formal and thematic contributions to film history made during this age, including its ground-breaking role in the development of the film genres of horror, science fiction, thriller and film noir. We will also explore its particular link to Hollywood, as many Weimar directors and actors fled Nazi Germany to find great commercial success in the U.S. We will examine the ways that Weimar film boldly treated political and social issues of its age, including evolving notions of gender and class, as well as a greater awareness of psychology, whether related to the shell-shocked soldier, the serial killer or the adolescent student. Although produced some 100 years ago, films of the Weimar period continue to fascinate scholars, whose often divergent readings of the films evidence the films’ complexity and enduring legacy. We will screen key films of the Weimar period together, considering differing interpretive approaches to each film. This work will prepare students for the research project, for which each student will select one movie from our library’s collection of Weimar films. The student will research the film’s history and critical reception, as well as provide his/her own interpretation of the film as primary source.

  • Alexander the Great: Use and Abuse of History | Professor Mark Toher

    Over 2,300 years ago Alexander “the Great” conquered “the known world” in less than ten years, creating an empire from Greece to the border of modern India. And yet, most likely a clinical alcoholic, he died mysteriously at the age of 33 in Babylon. His career and conquests influenced the political and cultural development of the Mediterranean world for over a thousand years and the effects of his career and legend resonated throughout history down to the early modern era. Alexander is still prayed to for aid by fishermen in Greece, he is cursed as a “thief” in Iran, and worshipped as a saint in the Coptic Church of Egypt. After Jesus Christ, no figure of western antiquity has had such a pervasive and enduring impact on our own culture and cultures far removed from our own. This course, through reading the four ancient sources on Alexander and sampling the prodigious modern bibliography, will introduce students to the story of Alexander, and to the “history” of Alexander. Alexander has fascinated historians from antiquity to the present and he illustrates the problem of writing an accurate account of the past versus a commentary on the present through the use of the past.

  • Neanderthals | Professor Mark Walker

    The Neanderthals were a type of human, indeed the one closest, but not quite the same as Homo sapiens, modern humans. In a real sense, they represent the “other” and have functioned as a sort of mirror, reflecting our humanity back at us. The study of Neanderthals includes the fields of archaeology and anthropology (fossils, artifacts), art (both by early humans, and modern representations of them), biology (genes and DNA), geology (putting fossils and artifacts in geological/historical context), literature (in particular, science fiction), physics (radioactive dating), and prehistory. Students are welcome to do a research project in any of these fields, and will start out with a basic research question: what does [the subject of their project] tell us about Neanderthals and/or about our perceptions of them? There is a historical current underlying almost all of these fields, because they have roots well back into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and have changed profoundly over time. Readings will include scientific papers, science fiction, visual art, and historical texts.

Winter 2019

  • On Death and Dying: Reflections on Death and What it Means in Our Lives | Professor Robert Baker

    In this course we read the reflections of physicians, philosophers, theologians–and people approaching death–about what the fact of death means for our lives. We also visit a cemetery and write about tombstones and write our own obituaries. We also think about killing and mass killing by terrorists and in war, and by governments in the form of capital punishments. You will read a book that won the National Book Award, HOW PEOPLE DIE, and an Oxford reader on death, dying and killing. In addition to reading about, discussing and debating issues about death, dying and killing, you will also develop a research project and, with the help of the instructor, hone you skills in researching, developing resources (books, data, etc.), and debating, presenting and writing about your position on some topic related to the course.

  • Sport and the American Identity | Professor Denis Brennan

    Three years after the U.S. Census Department announced that a fixed line demarcating the American frontier could no longer be drawn, Frederick Jackson Turner delivered his famous address, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History.” For Turner, the existence of the frontier had defined the rugged independence of the American individual, i.e., self-reliant, optimistic, adaptable, and ingenious. Furthermore, he warned that with the loss of the frontier the nation required a new means of defining American character. Concurrent with this development, the last decades of the 19th century witnessed an explosion of interest in sports. Long distained, especially by those who held Victorian values, athletic activity and sports developed during this period into an important institution with a vital social purpose in American life. In particular urban, middle-class men and women envisioned sport as an activity that taught the values fundamental to American identity, the values of a frontier society, the values of the rugged individual, of free enterprise, of community, of adaptability, of creativity, and of success. The intertwining of sport and American identity (whether by class, gender, ethnicity, or race) only deepened during the whole of the 20th century. The linkage of sport to the development of the distinctive traits often associated with American identity can be researched from a variety of perspectives. In addition to the expansion and acceptance of particular sports (perhaps especially professional baseball and college football) as well as the lives of late 19th and 20th century sports heroes and personalities, social reformers, business executives, and political leaders embraced and popularized this relationship.

  • The Wild West: From Frontier to Empire | Professor Andrea Foroughi

    During its first century, the United States transformed itself from an embattled new nation to an imperial power extending "from sea to shining sea." In "The Wild West," students will explore how the frontier ideal, "manifest destiny" and imperialism shaped Americans’ conceptions of themselves, their nation, and "others" during the nineteenth century. This includes examining policies and practices intended to facilitate the pursuit of economic success, the extension of legal and land systems, and the transplanting of "American" values – all of which would cause incalculable losses for American Indians across the continent. Topics might include: western exploration, missionaries, reform movements, Indian removal and creation of Indian Territory, the U.S.-Mexican War, the Oregon Trail, slavery, gold rushes, prostitution, the Plains Wars, cowboys and cattle drives, railroads.

  • African-American Protest Movements | Professor Melinda Lawson

    This course will examine the history of African-American protest movements. Students will learn in rough outline about African-American struggles for freedom from the earliest slave revolts to the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. We will examine such struggles as Gabriel's Rebellion (considered perhaps the largest slave conspiracy in Southern history), abolitionism (with a focus on the strategies of David Walker, Martin Delaney, Henry Highland Garnet, and Frederick Douglass), the anti-lynching movement, Booker T. Washington and the Tuskegee Institute, W.E.B. DuBois and the Niagara Movement, Marcus Garvey, the Harlem Renaissance, the struggle to integrate sports such as boxing and baseball, the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s, and the Black Power Movement. Students will write a research paper on the movement of their choice.

  • Drugs and Cultures | Professor Joyce Madancy

    Virtually every society has its favorite drugs. We all consume them – for aches and pains, for pleasure and recreation, to alter mood, to wake us up, to help us sleep, and to mark important occasions, among other things – but cultural, economic, and political factors determine whether those drugs are considered beneficial or dangerous, are freely obtained or regulated, etc. Our goal here is to examine several drugs over time and in particular geographical and cultural contexts to analyze how and why those factors emerged and interacted, as well as how they affected popular attitudes. We will focus primarily on opiates, but will touch on other drugs such as caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco.

  • India and British Colonialism | Professor Rajashree Mazumder

    The purpose of the course is to understand what is colonialism? How are ‘knowledge’ and ‘power’ intrinsically linked and essential tools in the creation of Empire? How during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the colonial rulers imagine India? Further, how have some of these stereotypes endured even today and are the various sources we can use in our research? We will try to understand how contemporary political and social concerns informed the creation of these works and how to critically analyze them as historical sources for Modern India. SRS is a writing and research-intensive seminar designed to aid students in developing skills to effectively research, analyze and write academic papers. This course is aimed at teaching students research techniques, methods to evaluate sources, and how to successfully communicate their ideas in writing.

  • Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink | Professor Laura MacManus-Spencer

    Water: It is one of the most abundant substances on Earth, yet only 2.5% of the world’s water supply is fresh, and much of that is locked in glaciers. Due to rapidly increasing use, these days, water sometimes “flows uphill toward money.” Just as wars have been fought over oil, in the future, more conflicts will likely be fought over precious water resources. At the same time, exciting new developments in both high- and low-tech water treatment technologies will help deliver fresh water to the almost seven billion people on the planet. In this course, we will explore global water issues from a variety of perspectives. Topics covered will include the history of water use, water shortages, water pollution, effects of climate change, water treatment technologies, and water reuse. Students will be asked to think critically about water issues from these perspectives. Each student will write a research paper on a relevant water issue, ideally that pertains to her/his academic focus.

  • Cuba and the Cuban Revolution | Professor Teresa Meade

    The focus of the course is the history of Cuba from the 1959 triumph of the revolution led by Fidel Castro and the July 26 Movement, through the several decade-long period in which Cuba struggled to build an independent communist nation aligned with the Soviet Union, into the post-Cold War decades since the demise of the Soviet bloc and ending with the recent opening of relations with the United States. The course will examine changes within Cuba in revolutionary ideology, problems of scarcity and tensions among different sectors of Cuban society, gender and race relations, economic and political relations with the US, Latin America, and the rest of the world.

  • The Incarceration of Japanese-Americans During World War II | Professor Andrew Morris

    This research seminar will focus on the internment of Japanese-Americans and Japanese citizens in the United States during World War II. This topic offers the chance to explore a variety of important historical issues with contemporary resonance: the tension between national security and civil liberties during wartime, the impact of racism on the shaping of American wartime policy, ethnic identity and assimilation in the United States, resistance and accommodation by minorities facing discrimination, and the evolution of American attitudes toward past injustices. We will address these issues by examining a wide range of types of primary sources, including government documents, newspapers, legal documents, photographs, camp newsletters, oral histories, and memoirs.

  • Mythology, Religion, and Society in Archaic Greece | Professor Hans-Friedrich Mueller

    In this seminar, we will study the evidence provided by Homer's Iliad and Odyssey (in English translation) for understanding ancient Greek attitudes to mythology, religion, and society. The ancient Greeks thought that Homer wrote history. Most modern readers, on the other hand, might assume that he writes fiction. In fact, Homer's epics offer a curious combination of both. How then do we separate facts from mythology in texts that are almost three thousand years old, and that present a worldview that, if it ever existed at all, was nothing like our own? We shall begin with a close reading of our ancient sources, the Iliad and Odyssey. We will place this ancient evidence in the context of work by modern scholars who rely on this same evidence in their own investigations of Homer's attitudes toward the gods, their stories, and the mortals caught in the crossfire both human and divine, but we will also expand our view to include the contributions of classical archaeology. With the assistance of the instructor, students will also formulate their own questions (about aspects of ancient Greek myth, religion, society, war, etc.), and then delve deeply into finding answers to their questions in light of their own close reading of the sources and in conversation with modern scholarship on related topics.

  • Food for Thought | Professor Patrick Singy

    Whether we eat to live or live to eat, food is at the center of our lives. Our ordinary days are punctuated by meals and snacks and we feast or fast on holy days. And yet, we rarely give food the serious thought it deserves. For the most part, we chow down like automata, guided at best by our taste buds, traditions, medical fears, or desired body image. Using the tools of both history and philosophy, this research seminar will examine critically a few of the many issues related to food.

Spring 2019

  • On Death and Dying: Reflections on Death and What it Means in Our Lives | Professor Robert Baker

    In this course we read the reflections of physicians, philosophers, theologians–and people approaching death–about what the fact of death means for our lives. We also visit a cemetery and write about tombstones and write our own obituaries. We also think about killing and mass killing by terrorists and in war, and by governments in the form of capital punishments. You will read a book that won the National Book Award, HOW PEOPLE DIE, and an Oxford reader on death, dying and killing. In addition to reading about, discussing and debating issues about death, dying and killing, you will also develop a research project and, with the help of the instructor, hone you skills in researching, developing resources (books, data, etc.), and debating, presenting and writing about your position on some topic related to the course.

  • Global Discontent(s) in the 21st Century | Professor Elise Bouhet

    From public opinion to street protest to rioting, how do people express their discontent individually and collectively to demand change? What makes individuals voice their opinions in ways other than conventional political actions? While the traditional street protest still exists in a globalized 21st century – with movements such as Occupy or the Women’s March- social voices of discontent have found ways to reinvent themselves with the rise of technologies and instant media access as the #MeToo movement illustrates. This seminar examines the state of discontent at a global scale across cultures. From the local to the national to the global, to what extent do movements inspire each other and resonate? Moreover, this SRS will assess the elements and circumstances at the roots of discontent. Through specific examples of movements and protests around the globe (French riots of 2005, Arab Spring, Black Lives Matter, to name a few), we will consider the correlation between cultural diversity and global trends to question what determines and defines this young century. At the end of the term, students will write and submit a research paper (12-18 pages, double spaced) demonstrating skills in research, analysis, critical thinking, coherence, persuasion, and academic writing conventions.

  • Discovery of Humanity, 1500-1800 | Professor John Cramsie

    Historians have long recognized that the peoples of Britain had a massive curiosity about the peoples of Asia, Africa, and the Americas. In some cases the curiosity was just that, simple curiosity. At other times curiosity served the interests of commerce, conquest, and colonization — in other words, curiosity was central to the creation and expansion of the British Empire. In all of these cases, British writers produced a fascinating and diverse array of books describing the peoples whom they encountered. In this seminar we will study books within the genre of “discovery literature” printed between 1500 and 1800. We will analyze the authors, interrogate how their works reported on and constructed non-Europeans, and assess the impact of those works on British perceptions of and relationships with peoples around the globe.

  • Media Critique | Professor Mohammad Mafi

    Most people agree that the media play an increasingly important role in the management of public opinion and perception. A Gallup’s study shows that “Americans' Trust in Media Remains at Historical Low”. The mainstream mass media have been problematic when it comes to informing people about important issues. People who rely on the mainstream mass media, as the only source of information, are at a disadvantage when it comes to important issues that affect their lives, rights, health, and pocketbooks, while they are kept busy with trivial issues.

    In this course, the students will learn how to become critical thinkers who can intelligently analyze the effects of ownership, consolidation, advertisement, advertisers, special interest groups, logical fallacies, and other aspects of the media trade. They will become better informed citizens that won’t be easily bamboozled by the mainstream mass media sound bites. They can defend or refute a claim by logical arguments and can support the reasons for their claims with evidence.

  • Histories of Hysteria | Professor Kassandra Miller

    The term “hysterical” has meant many things over the centuries. It has been used to describe medical conditions of the womb, the nerves, and the psyche, a personality type, and a kind of panicked response. Today, physicians and researchers are still debating the medical status of “hysteria,” although they often refer to it by other names.

    In this course, we will investigate how the concept of “hysteria” has developed over time, from antiquity to the present day. We will address such topics as: Greek notions of wandering wombs, Renaissance fears of witches and wild women, nineteenth-century rest cures and sanatoria, Freudian psychoanalysis, and the use of the term “hysteria” in modern parlance. Along the way, we will find ourselves confronting challenging questions about the relationships between mind and body, sickness and health, deviance and normality, “male” and “female,” doctor and patient, biology and culture. Ultimately, students will formulate and pursue their own research questions, and present their findings in papers and oral presentations.

  • African Migration: Borders and Identity | Professor Cheikh Ndiaye

    This course examines critical terms including migration, border, home, and identity through the lens of rural-urban, interurban, and international movements of Africans. Africans of all ages, both sexes, all religions, all social classes, economic and political affiliations migrate from home to elsewhere (within Africa, to Europe and North America) in search for a better life. In the course of these migrations, stories alternate between success and failure and often involve trauma, violence, and identity crisis. Our study of African migration will be undergirded by an in-depth examination of resources involving works of fiction, critical essays, and audiovisual materials pertaining to the topic of migration, borders, and identity.

  • Understanding Identity | Professor Andrea Pedeferri

    How would you define your identity? How would you define the identity of a common object? How would you define the identity of a work of art? The concept of Identity is key to fully understand ourselves and the reality that surrounds us. However, the idea of identity has many theoretical facets and nuances which make the exploration of this concept both engaging and challenging. In this SRS seminar we will investigate the ideas of sameness and identity by focusing in particular on objectual identity and personal identity. In doing so we will tackle fundamental metaphysical problems like time and space persistence, definitions of possible identity criteria, identity relations between parts and whole, and more. During the seminar we'll also tackle various real-world concerns such as gender-identity, abortion, etc. The goal of the class is to make students aware of the complexity of the intuitive notion of identity and to provide them with some basic theoretical and analytical tools that they can use to inform discussions about identity in a variety of contexts. The SRS seminar distinguishes itself from regular courses in particularly because it focuses on learning research methods targeted to the production of an 12-18 page individual research paper.

  • Colonialism in Africa | Professor Brian Peterson

    This course will explore the history of European colonial rule in Africa from the period of exploration and conquest during the nineteenth century to the era of decolonization in the 1950s and 1960s. The course will explore different interpretations of imperialism and colonialism, through a careful examination of case studies drawn from diverse colonial contexts. The central questions for the course will be: How and why did Africans lose control over their lands following the wars of conquest? What impact did European colonialism have on Africa? How did colonial states manage to stay in power? The course will be structured as a seminar, which means the focus will be on the discussion of readings. Furthermore, we will spend considerable time focused on student research projects.

  • Scottish Witchcraft Trials, 1590-1660 | 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.

  • Theories of Human Nature | Professor Peter Woodford

    Theories of Human Nature is a seminar addressing some big questions that have occupied religious thinkers, philosophers, writers, and scientists over hundreds (well, thousands, really) of years. Discussion of ‘human nature’ touches on questions such as: What does it mean to be ‘human’? Are there certain capacities that only human beings have and that are common to all humans? (Suggestions such as: rationality; a ‘soul’; the propensity to relate to the divine; and more generally the question of whether humans are only an animal species or more than animals.) Do human beings have a purpose, and does human life (and society) have a goal? Are understandings of human nature socially constructed? How does one go about answering a question such as ‘what is human nature?’

    The seminar reviews a variety of theories on the topic of ‘human nature’ selected from various religious traditions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism) and from ancient, early modern and modern European philosophical and scientific perspectives (Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Darwin, Marx, Freud, Sartre, as well as recent neuroscience and feminist approaches). Students will develop their own research topic and situate it in the broader conversation about human nature.