The Common Curriculum

Sophomore Research Seminar: 2019-2020

Fall 2019

  • Slavery in the United States | Professor Aslakson | MWF 10:30-11:35

    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.

  • Nanomaterials and Nanotechnology | Professor Hagerman | MWF 10:30-11:35

    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.

  • Arts and Humanities: Don't Leave College Without Them | Professor Henseler | TTh 9:00-10:45

    “Don’t leave college without the arts and humanities.” This is not the advice most-often heard among college students. We all know not to leave college without a plan, a skill-set, a career path, but without the arts and humanities? Why not? This class explores the transformative 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 other 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.

  • Dreamers, Misfits, Radicals: Origins and Legacy of the American Transcendentalist Movement, 1830-1850 | J. Johnson | MWF 10:30-11:35

    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's origin, development, or legacy.

  • Music as Activism | Professor Matsue | MWF 10:30-11:35

    From Green Day’s iconic American Idiot (2004) to the strumming of Middle Eastern lutes in Syrian refugee camps, music is an integral means of expressing individual and collective identity, critiquing injustice, and enacting change. This course explores the forms such activism may take and how music and the arts may increase awareness of real social and environmental problems and potentially help resolve conflicts. Both through theoretical arguments and concrete case studies, we will see that music—and the individuals who make it—play a central role in shaping social interaction and inspiring social activism, from advocating for autistic children in the United States (Bakan 2015), to motivating anti-nuclear demonstrations in post-Fukushima Japan (Manabe 2015). Students will also develop their own critical reading and argumentative writing skills through a series of assignments covering a variety of research and composition styles, including a song analysis, a community-based project proposal, and creative expression project. Throughout the course, we will also work through the research and writing techniques presented in Craft of Research (2016). Students will further explore their own musical interests and a particular activist approach in a final research project (consisting of an oral proposal, an outline with annotated bibliography, a presentation, and a final paper). Students thus will expand their knowledge of research methodology while also exploring the power of music to move people.

  • Time, Changer of Seasons | Professor Pease | MWF 10:30-11:35

    From ancient calendars to the theory of relativity, humanity has always been preoccupied with Time. And human ideas about Time have changed through the ages. Time has been perceived as linear or cyclical, as a flow or as another dimension of the universe. But what *is* Time really? What is the "space-time continuum"? How did our species learn to measure time? From sundials to hourglasses to cellphones, how were timepieces invented and perfected? How were they used? How do different cultures view time? Why does time seem to slow down when you're bored? Why does it fly when you're having fun? These and many other questions will be explored in this section of the SRS. Students will be encouraged to research related topics of particular interest to them. The SRS will encompass Physics, Astronomy, Sociology, History, Biology, Psychology, Geology, Theology, Philosophy, and Literature.

  • Colonialism in Africa | Professor Peterson | TTh 9:00-10:45

    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.

  • Food for Thought | Professor Singy | TTh 9:00-10:45

    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.

  • Alexander the Great: Use and Abuse of History | Professor Toher | TTh 9:00-10:45

    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.

Winter 2020

  • On Death and Dying: Reflections on Death and What it Means in Our Lives | Professor 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 We Die, and The Modern Art of Dying: A History of Euthanasia in the United States, which won the American Sociological Association's Distinguished Book Award for 2006. 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, presenting and writing about your position on some topic related to the course.

  • The Evolution of Making: Emergence & Impact of Digital Design & Fabrication | C. Belmont

    Digital design and fabrication tools and technologies have allowed humans to make things in new ways and even to make entirely new things! Digital Design and Fabrication help to shape the world around us and in fact it’s difficult not to see the impacts of these technologies in most aspects of everyday life. Advances in these technologies and tools have also directly enabled advances in a vast array of fields including medicine, geology, astronomy, biology, art, architecture and engineering, just to name a few. In this course students will research the history and trajectories of digital design and fabrication technologies and the societal and technological impacts they have had and may have in the future.

  • Gender Trouble at the Movies | Professor Chilcoat

    This course explores how cinema both manufactures and breaks down representations of normative sex and gender by focusing on French suspense films, dramas and comedies (and their US remakes), from the 1960s to today. The course divides into 3 sections: Part 1 introduces how the “male gaze” of director, camera, actor and spectator make “normative” masculinity and femininity; Part 2 analyses how cinema represents masculinity and taboos on homosexuality to maintain the “normative” family order; and Part 3 looks at how cinema “breaks” gender norms and disrupts “normative” heterosexuality. After each section, and informed by interdisciplinary readings in film analysis, queer theory, gender, class and race studies, anthropology, psychoanalysis, and masculinity studies, students learn how to develop a “critical film analysis” paper (totaling three 5-6 page), a form of scholarship that integrates research into cinematic context (i.e., historical, ideological, social, cultural, etc.) with close film analysis. Students are also encouraged to refine one essay for submission to Film Matters, UNC-Wilmington’s peer-reviewed undergraduate magazine published by University of Chicago Press.

  • The Wild West: From Frontier to Empire | Professor 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, to extend law and land systems, and to transplant "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 the creation of Indian Territory, the U.S.-Mexican War, the Oregon Trail, slavery, gold rushes, prostitution, immigrants, the Plains Wars, cowboys and cattle drives, railroads.

  • The Vikings | J. Grayburn

    From a young age, we learn that the Vikings are the arch-villains of medieval Europe, that they were a plague that swept down from Scandinavia to destroy Christian villages and monasteries. In popular culture, Vikings are instantly recognizable as warrior men, complete with blonde hair, beards, and horned-helmets. But who were the Vikings really? Did they, as we think we know them, even exist in the Middle Ages? Do their art and records tell us another story? This course will follow the Vikings as they journeyed from North America to Russia, exploring the adaptability, creativity, and diversity of these long-denounced villains. Along the way, we will grapple with many controversies of the Viking Age, including the possibility of female warriors and the forgery of Viking discoveries in North America. In the process, you will practice critical research skills, including the development of a Vikings-related research topic, identification of relevant print and digital resources, and composition of an evidence-based argument.

  • African-American Protest Movements | Professor 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.

  • Made in China | Professors Madancy and Bishop

    Most of us own many things with the label "Made in China," but we don't think very deeply about what that means. Team taught by professors of Chinese history and environmental biology, the class will explore the social, political, and environmental consequences – positive and negative – of China's rapid economic growth through a variety of readings, films, an discussion geared to developments in particular cities and regions. Students will choose their own topic, and write and present their research in written, oral, and visual forms.

  • Socialisms | Professor Meade

    This course will examine the history of socialist thinking, and its life as an economic and political practice. To its critics, socialism has been the tragic, and even moral, failure of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Others have argued that the demise of socialism has left in its stead a capitalist era marked by rising inequality, environmental devastation, and war. Widespread protests in favor of improved social services, the Bernie Sanders’ campaigns, the popularity of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other democratic socialists, have seen the reemergence of discussion around anti-capitalist alternatives, including debates over new forms of socialist planning. Are these viable alternatives? Why does the idea of socialism refuse to die? 

    In this course we will read some of the founding texts of socialist thought, including Engels and Marx, and the main critics of what came to be known as “Marxist” ideology, especially from free-market economists such as Friedrich Hayek. We will look at thinkers who have argued for socialist answers to the problems of sexism, racism, and imperialism, paying particular attention to current debates surrounding the feasibility of capitalist growth and environmental sustainability. Students will write a research paper on a range of topics, including the relevance or irrelevance of socialist theory, the success or failure of socialist states, and the possibilities of post-capitalist alternatives.

  • The Incarceration of Japanese-Americans During WWII | Professor 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 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. 

  • Time, Changer of Seasons | Professor Pease

    From ancient calendars to the theory of relativity, humanity has always been preoccupied with Time. And human ideas about Time have changed through the ages. Time has been perceived as linear or cyclical, as a flow or as another dimension of the universe. But what *is* Time really? What is the "space-time continuum"? How did our species learn to measure time? From sundials to hourglasses to cellphones, how were timepieces invented and perfected? How were they used? How do different cultures view time? Why does time seem to slow down when you're bored? Why does it fly when you're having fun? These and many other questions will be explored in this section of the SRS. Students will be encouraged to research related topics of particular interest to them. The SRS will encompass Physics, Astronomy, Sociology, History, Biology, Psychology, Geology, Theology, Philosophy, and Literature.

  • Weimar Germany in Cinema | Professor 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.

Spring 2020

  • On Death and Dying: Reflections on Death and What it Means in Our Lives | Professor 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 We Die, and The Modern Art of Dying: A History of Euthanasia in the United States, which won the American Sociological Association's Distinguished Book Award for 2006. 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, presenting and writing about your position on some topic related to the course.

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

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

  • 1963: Betty Friedan and the Rebirth of Feminism | Professor 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) and other texts from the period.

  • Nanomaterials and Nanotechnology | Professor 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.

  • Islam and Empire | Professor Khan

    This class explores the complex historical encounter between Islam and the West in colonial and postcolonial settings in South Asia, the Middle East and Africa.  Although the relationship between Islam and the West is frequently characterized as one of a ‘clash of civilizations,’ the historical record reveals not only conflict but also intimacy, cooperation and exchange. This class focuses on how colonialism gave rise to new and competing interpretations of Islam and how these various interpretations continue to shape the relationship between the Muslim world and the West. Through a cultural and historical approach that focuses on the colonial period, we will learn about the diverse manifestations of Islam in the postcolonial world and examine the rise of contemporary Islamic movements.

  • Bourgeois virtues and the “great enrichment” | Professor Lewis

    In her 2010 book Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World (one of a three-part trilogy on "bourgeois virtues"), distinguished scholar Deirdre McCloskey offers an unusual and controversial view of why we have had large changes in the standard of living since 1800 in much of the world: "A big change in the common opinion about markets and innovation, I claim, caused the Industrial Revolution, and then the modern world." Countries in northwestern Europe, she says, "began talking about the middle class, high or low—the 'bourgeoisie'—as though it were dignified and free. The result was modern economic growth." I eagerly seek students from a variety of disciplines and with diverse opinions for this class: McCloskey's aim is "engaging the educated reader," which you are already at least starting to be! We will spend time understanding basic arguments in the book and abundant topics for research papers will cover everything from the humanities to engineering.

  • Music and the Holocaust | Professor Liu

    This seminar views multiple aspects of the Holocaust through the lens of music. The period beginning in 1933 in which many musicians were gradually dismissed from orchestras and mainstream musical life in Europe is a rich subject of musical study. Music played a variety of roles ranging from bringing comfort to victims to providing material for Nazi propaganda videos. The diverse roles that music played in the lives of the victims of the Holocaust will be examined during the time stretching from the rise of the Third Reich to 1945, with a special emphasis on the organized events of the Jüdischer Kulterbund, Eastern Ghettos, and Concentration Camps. The ability to read music notation is not a prerequisite for this course.

  • Media Critique | Professor 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.

  • Scottish Witchcraft Trials, 1590-1660 | Professor 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.

  • Neanderthals | Professor M. 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.