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Scholars Research Seminar

Winter/Spring 2017

Homer, War, and Religion in Ancient Greece | Professor Hans 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 war and religion. 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 legend and fiction 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 war and religion, but we will also expand our view to include the contributions of ancient historians and archaeologists. With the assistance of the instructor, students will also formulate their own questions (about aspects of ancient Greek war and/or religion), 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.

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

In early 1942, after the outbreak of the Second World War, over 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry, both immigrants from Japan and their American-born children who were citizens, were forced to leave their homes on the West Coast and were transported to “relocation centers” further to the east – surrounded by barbed wire, and referred to as “concentration camps” by some contemporaries. Our reading and research will focus on the experience of internment from the point of view of individuals involved in the process as well as from the perspectives of officials, journalists, and other contemporary sources. Students will pursue their own research on an aspect of internment, using the wide variety of primary and secondary sources available at Schaffer Library, including print material in the stacks, microfilm, historical on-line databases, government documents, on-line collections of primary sources, as well as resources available through inter-library loan.

Philosophy of Happiness| Professor Krisanna Scheiter

In 2016 the World Happiness Report declares Denmark the happiest country in the world. Naples, Florida is noted as the happiest city in the USA by the annual Well-Being Index. Some studies claim that pets make people happier, whereas having children may not increase overall happiness. Some studies suggest that married people are happier than unmarried people. And one study claims that vegetarians tend to be happier than carnivores. There are, in fact, numerous studies, just like these, purporting to show that certain lifestyles and life choices will make us happier than others.  But what is happiness and is it necessary to be happy in order to live a good life? Every decision we make every single day is aimed at living the best life possible, but what exactly does this mean? In this course we will examine several theories on happiness that give different accounts of what it takes to live a good and happy life. We will begin with theories from the ancient Greek philosophers, comparing their answers to those proposed by contemporary philosophers while also developing our own views on what makes life worth living.

Global Remix Culture | Professor Christine Henseler

We remix. We mash-up. We create, read, and watch a host of sarcastic, parodying, and wildly innovative works uploaded to YouTube and Facebook every second. Remix culture is all around us. We find it in video and literature, in architecture, fashion, sports, food, cars, and any other imaginable field. Its history can be traced to the beginning of the nineteenth century in sound and image collages, cut-up poems and mixed music. What is the history of the remix? How is it shaping contemporary culture and business worldwide? How is it affecting everything from art and engineering to everyday news? In this class you will learn about the remix phenomenon and its effects on you. You will listen to music, watch remixes, share material, and engage in a research project on a global remix phenomenon of your choice. And to top it all off, the class will even remix the syllabus itself.

 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.