1. Union Home
  2. Offices & Services
  3. Common Curriculum
  4. Build Intellectual Foundations
  5. Sophomore Research Seminar
  6. Scholars Research Seminar

Scholars Research Seminar

Spring 2018

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.

 Transformative Partnerships with the Arts and Humanities | Professor Christine Henseler

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

 Media FARCE (Fairness, Accuracy, Reliability, Credibility, Ethics) | Professor Mohammad Mafi

The main stream media have been a farce when it comes to informing people about important issues. A Gallup’s study in 2015 shows that “Americans' Trust in Media Remains at Historical Low”. People who rely on the mainstream 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 learn how to become critical thinkers who can intelligently analyze the effects of ownership, advertisement, logical fallacies, and other tricks of the media trade. They will become better informed citizens that won’t be easily bamboozled by the main stream media sound bites. 

Import/Export/Convergence | Professor Timothy Olsen

Selected texts will examine three related topics: globalization and America's appetite for cheap foreign imports; one of America's most important exports-the blockbuster movie; and the convergence of traditional and new media in our ever-shrinking, information-overloaded world.  The reading consists of four books of general, non-expert interest:  Pietra Rivoli, The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy; Mark Harris, Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood; Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide; Sherry Turkle, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other.

Scottish Witchcraft Trials | Professor Steven Sargent

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