The Common Curriculum

Sophomore Research Seminar: 2015-16

Fall 2015

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Animal Rights, Race Rights and Religious Rights | Professor Felmon Davis

    We are going to explore some questions about rights and justice, for instance, whether animals have moral standing comparable to human beings, whether groups that have been discriminated against deserve special treatment, whether religious convictions or ethnic identity justify exemption from laws mandating equal treatment and individual autonomy. The goal is to explore some important questions and consider reasonable grounds of agreement and to increase our ability to disagree intelligently and sensitively.

  • “The Wild West”: Manifest Destiny and Empire in the U.S. | 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 "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: the Oregon Trail, missionaries, reform movements, Indian removal and creation of Indian Territory, the U.S.-Mexican War, slavery, gold rushes, prostitution, "buffalo soldiers," the Plains Wars, cowboys and cattle drives, railroads.

  • Performing Gender in Ancient Rome | Professor Tommaso Gazzarri

    This seminar tackles modern debates about human sex and gender from a historical perspective, and examines in detail a wide range of different texts that provide us with evidence about sexual practices and ideologies in classical antiquity. Particular emphasis will be given to the thorough study of primary sources, both literary and archaeological, from the Greek and Roman worlds. Major questions addressed will include but will not be limited to:

    • What does it mean to be male, female, masculine, feminine, man, woman, boy, girl?
    • What can we discover about you from the way(s) you have sex, and with whom?
    • How all these things relate to life, love, power?

    The student’s progress will be assessed through a series of activities, supervised by the teacher, which include: 1) presenting a reasoned research proposal; 2) providing an annotated bibliography; 3) presenting a structured paper outline; 4) first paper draft; 5) final version of the paper.

  • 'Unpacking' Hurricane Katrina: What Can Social Science Tell Us | Professor Janet Grigsby

    In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina ravaged the U.S. Gulf Coast and devastated the city of New Orleans. For weeks after, the popular media framed the almost total failure of institutions to adequately prepare for and respond to the disaster and raised stark questions about the role of race and class. New Orleans' history of social problems was painted in ugly terms. Katrina was definitely a social as well as a natural disaster. Since then, social scientists have been studying the many issues raised by these events. In this seminar, we will attempt to 'unpack' the Katrina disaster by examining this research and by doing some of our own. In honor of the ten year anniversary of Katrina, this year's class will focus particularly on the city's complex struggle to recover and rebuild. Each student will research and write a paper on a specific sociological issue concerning the hurricane.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Winter 2016

  • 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.

  • Analyzing Genders and Sexualities in French Cinema from 1950 to Now | Professor Michelle Chilcoat

    In this course, students will train their eyes on how sex and gender are represented in popular French films (and several US remakes) explicitly concerned with “sexual orientation.” More specifically, the course will be divided into three sections, with the first addressing the “male gaze,” constructions of femininity, lesbian desire, and “heterosexualization”; the second, constructions of masculinity, homosexuality, and the family order; and the third, transgender/sex, intersexuality and “gender dysphoria.” After each section, and informed by readings drawn from a variety of disciplines, including film theory, queer theory, race studies, anthropology, psychoanalysis, feminism, and masculinity studies, students will write a “critical film analysis” paper (for a total of three 5-6 page papers), a form of scholarship integrating research into a film’s context (historical, ideological, social, cultural, etc.) with close film analysis. Students will be encouraged to work toward refining one of their essays for submission to Film Matters, UNC-Wilmington’s high quality peer-reviewed undergraduate magazine now published by Intellect/University of Chicago Press.

  • Research Ethics | Professor Chalmers Clark

    The area of research ethics came into prominence shortly after public disclosure of the Tuskegee study on untreated syphilis. Of the study, President Clinton said: "The United States government did something that was wrong—deeply, profoundly, morally wrong. It was an outrage to our commitment to integrity and equality for all our citizens... clearly racist."—President Clinton's apology for the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment to the eight remaining survivors, May 16, 1997.

    The study was not sponsored privately, but by the Public Health Service (PHS) and lasted from 1932 to 1972. The study was designed to track the course of untreated syphilis and was performed on 399 black men in the late stages of syphilis. The men were poor, largely uneducated, rural, Alabama sharecroppers, who were never told what the study was about, but were told they were being treated for “bad blood.” The doctors who were involved had no intention of treating or curing these men and the data for the experiment was to be collected from autopsies after their degeneration and death. Indeed, one of the doctors actually was quoted to have said, after recruitment, “we have no further interest in these patients until they die.” The public outrage resulted in the National Research Act (NRA) which created a National Commission that was charged with identifying basic ethical principles that should be clearly and firmly be put in place in biomedical research.

    In this course we will investigate the emergence of these and other ethical principles and we will study the arguments and applications of these parameters to variety of challenging cases in the ethics of biomedical research.

  • Identity and Security in a Technological World | Professors Anastasia Pease and Shane Cotter

    The acquisition and storage of biometric data (fingerprints, face images etc.) are crucial in personal identification and forensic investigations of crimes. In this SRS, students will learn about how biometric and forensic systems currently work, and explore their uses, merits, and limitations. Students will also ponder a future world where all biometric and personal data, including genetic and healthcare records, as well as shopping patterns, etc. will be easily accessible in real time. The technologies that allow the tracking of individuals anywhere in the world also bring forward questions of security, privacy, and identity. Reading Science Fiction stories, along with news and science articles, students will explore the ethics, the dangers, and the advantages of a Big Brother world.

  • 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 use Life, Time, Ladies Home Journal, House Beautiful and other magazines in Schaffer and Schenectady public library, as well as other cultural artifacts to 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) a collection of selections from magazines and women's literature (as preparatory to the process of archival investigation), a book of oral history and memoire on the early years of second wave feminism and a book of feminist writing of the next generation of feminists.

  • The Automobile in American Culture | Professor Bradley Lewis

    Arguably no people in the world have been more in love with their cars than Americans. Certainly no country’s real estate, livelihood, and life have been more reshaped by the automobile than those of the United States, in the course of little more than a century. Our seminar will explore when, how, and why the automobile came to so dominate our society and how that dominance in American transportation affects our entire culture. Our common readings (including My Years with General Motors by GM Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. and Crash Course: The American Automobile Industry’s Road from Glory to Disaster) will not be covering the basic material as if studying for a test, but rather to have enough common discussion and understanding to facilitate a useful dialogue on the automobile in American culture and to allow each student to write a meaningful paper on a relevant topic that relates the automobile specifically to American culture. We will discuss briefly, and students may write on, a wide variety of topics including the changing science and engineering of cars; the economics of the industry, mass production, and niche marketing, design and aesthetics; the reshaping of urban and rural landscapes and life, with a focus on Schenectady as a case study; the changing politics of transportation in the social context of the rise of General Motors and other large companies; the automobile in media, including advertising, music (including the youth culture of the 1950s and 1960s with its “car songs”), and movies; the rise of auto racing and its connection to other social institutions such as the southern moonshine industry; the challenge to the American auto industry from Japan and Europe from multiple standpoints; and views of the auto by its critics and mainstream supporters.

  • Imagining India: British Colonialism and Indian Society in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries | Professor Rajashree Mazumder

    Aimed at students with no previous knowledge of the Indian subcontinent. Examination of key moments in modern Indian history (c. 1757-1947). The main questions that we will address are: how did the establishment of British rule in India fundamentally alter the nature of Indian economy, polity and society? What are the new identities created in this process? How was India “imagined”? We will read classic pieces of literature written from this period and watch cinematic adaptations (with English subtitles) of many of these works during the term. We will try to understand how contemporary political and social concerns informed the creation of these works. We will try to hear the many different voices in these accounts: the British colonial official, the declining ruling nobility, the rising Hindu and Muslim middle class in the cities, the lower caste leader and the modern Indian woman. By the end of this course, students will trace and question the legacies of many of these developments during the colonial period, which are present even today.

  • Socialisms | Professor Teresa 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 century. 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, spearheaded by the Occupy Movement, have seen the reemergence of discussion around anti-capitalist alternatives, including debates over new forms of socialist planning. Is this a viable alternative? Why does the idea of socialism, despite its obvious failures in Eastern Europe, refuse to die?

    In this course we will read some of the founding texts of socialist thought, including Engels and Marx (although the latter wrote very few pages on socialism), 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. 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, the possibilities of post-capitalist alternatives, among other subjects.

  •  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.

  • Nature and God | Professor David Nowakowski

    What is our place, as human beings, in the wider natural world? How do we come to know and relate to that world? Must we appeal to God, or to some other transcendent principle, to explain why the world exists and follows predictable laws, or not? In addressing these topics, we will ask both epistemological questions (regarding how we can have knowledge) and metaphysical questions (regarding the basic features of the universe). The course is designed to improve skills of critical reading, writing, and thinking; and to promote thinking on some big-picture issues, such as happiness, wisdom, spirituality, and knowledge.

  • Weimar Film | Professor Michelle 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 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, often divergent readings of the films evidence the films' complexity and enduring legacy. We will screen key 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 a primary source.

Spring 2016

  • 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. Along the way, you will do a series of mini-research projects into aspects of your own self. For your final project, you will conduct an investigation that is intended to deepen your self-understanding. This can be an empirical investigation (e.g., researching your family, taking personality tests and analyzing the results, interviewing people from your past) or an examination of the literature on a topic relevant to your self-understanding.

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

    Imagining the Nation will focus on the historical period of 1880 to1922 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.

  • “Chaos” across the Disciplines | Professor Nicole Calandra

    In Greek and Roman mythology, “chaos” is the word used to describe the origins of our universe. In 20th-century scientific and mathematical discourse, chaos theory emphasizes, among other things, the often untraceable and disproportional impact of original conditions on future outcomes--a notion made famous by Edward Lorenz’s assertion that “the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil” just might be able to “set off a tornado in Texas.” In this course, we will explore why the science of chaos appeals so strongly to scholars in the humanities and social sciences, asking what insights follow from the use of chaos theory to understand our modern age of decolonization (and neocolonialism), international migration, and globalization. Conversely, we will explore the limits of applying evolving scientific concepts (either as metaphors or as models) to work in other disciplines: namely literature, history, and cultural studies. Students will write a research paper on the subject of chaos in the 20th and 21st centuries in the context of at least one of the disciplines we explore in class.

  • 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.

  • Rethinking Iran: Images and Realities | Professor Eshragh Motahar

    The 1979-80 Iran hostage crisis, in which Iranian university students held U.S. citizens in captivity for 444 days inside the American embassy in Tehran, has left an indelible mark on U.S.-Iranian relations. In this course we will study the economic, political, cultural, historical, and other factors that have shaped today's Iran. We will take, as our point of departure, one of the most important events in modern Iranian history: The CIA-sponsored coup that overthrew the democratically-elected government of Iran in 1953. We will study this event, and the subsequent 25 years of repression and de-democratization, in the context of Iran's anti-colonial struggles and modernization efforts of the previous 150 years or so. This approach will illuminate the genesis of the 1979 revolution, the hostage crisis, the evolution of the Islamic Republic since then, and the many aspects of the current multifaceted relationship between Iran and the rest of the world. The goal is to enable students to contextualize, and thus better understand, current issues such as the role of petroleum and nuclear energy in Iran's political economy and in its relationship with the rest of the world, the role of Islam in Iran, the position of women in society, the emergence of the "Green Movement," and related issues. In this journey, students will develop an appreciation of Iran as a complex, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, modern, vibrant society with an ancient history and a rich cultural heritage.

  • Gender Stereotypes and Immigration in France | Professor Claire Mouflard

    This interdisciplinary course explores the public image of immigrant women writers in relation to French institutions (national museums, publishing houses and official media). The goal of the course is to highlight the historical, ideological and socio-cultural background behind the eroticization of the immigrant female in France. The texts (novels, short stories, films) and paratexts (publishing materials, visual, online, and print media) presented in class will include works by Suzanne Cesaire, Calixthe Beyala, Nina Bouraoui, Yamina Benguigui and Geraldine Nakache.

  • African Migration: Borders, Violence, and Identity | Professor Cheikh Ndiaye

    This course examines the critical terms of home and elsewhere through the lens of African migration to Europe and North America. African youth who are under overwhelming socio-cultural and economic pressures migrate to Europe and North America in search for greener pastures. In the course of these migrations, successful stories are often overshadowed by traumatic and violent experiences and identity crisis. Our study of African migration will be undergirded by an in-depth examination of the notions of border, exile, trauma, violence, and identity. We will use critical texts, works of fiction, films, and documentaries for that purpose. One of the goals for this course is to hone student's critical thinking and writing skills. Thus, students will read, discuss, present, and write about both primary and secondary sources.

  • Human Influence and Power | Professor Anastasia Pease

    Humans have always been fascinated by Power. It is said that power attracts the corruptible, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. From ancient kings and warlords to Machiavelli, to today's CEO's and politicians, the powerful have been feared, admired, and deposed. So what are the roots of human power over other humans? What causes people to lead or to follow? How can human power be used or abused? This section of the SRS will examine many aspects of these questions: the power of charisma, attractiveness, lust, persuasion, coercion, money, norms and values, contagious ideas, physical force or the threat of it, conformity and dissent. This SRS will include research in psychology, sociology, anthropology, behavioral economics, neuroscience, religion, marketing, public relations, and civic engagement.

  • 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.

  • The Emergence of Sexuality | Professor Patrick Singy

    At what time, in what context, and under which conditions have human beings come to identify as “heterosexuals,” “homosexuals,” etc.? This Sophomore Research Seminar will explore the different ways sex has been regulated in the Western tradition, from ancient Greece until the present. The course will focus on the historical emergence of some key concepts of sexuality, in particular “the sexual instinct” and “sexual identity.” We will read authors from a variety of periods and fields, such as religion (Thomas Aquinas), medicine (Tissot), psychiatry (Krafft-Ebing, Freud), philosophy (Marcuse), and law (Lawrence v. Texas).

  • 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.