Science fiction is a modern art form closely tied to advances in science and technology. It generates an imaginary space where a new development in science can be imaginatively tested for its possible effects on humanity. Some scenarios are cautionary, while others are hopeful and exhilarating. When combined with the fantasy genre, these stories set the imagination free to soar. This seminar will examine a series of great science fiction and fantasy narratives, including novels, short stories, movies, and TV shows. Whether the topic is robotics, artificial intelligence, space exploration, alien languages, enhanced intelligence, surveillance, time travel, or the future of gender, each of the works we consider will have a particular take on an alternate reality that humans may inhabit.
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Looking for our really old courses (going back to the founding of the HSP program)? You can find them in our Course Archive.
1. Chiang, Ted. Stories of Your Life and Others. Vintage Books, 2016. ISBN-10: 1101972122.
2. Clarke, Arthur C. Childhood’s End. Del Rey Books, 1987. ISBN-10: 0345347951.
3. Herbert, Frank. Dune. Ace Books, 1990. ISBN-10: 0441172717.
4. Liu, Cixin. The Three-Body Problem, Tor Books, 2016. ISBN-10: 0765382032.
5. McCaffrey, Anne. Dragonflight. Ballantine Books, 1986. ISBN-10: 0345335465.
6. Willis, Connie. To Say Nothing of the Dog, or, How We Found the Bishop’s Bird Stump at Last. Bantam Books, 1998. ISBN-10: 0553575384.
Other readings will be posted at Box@UA. Registered students will receive the link to that site to download these readings.
This seminar will examine the social movements that came to the fore in the year that began with the Tet Offensive and ended with the launch around the moon. The first three classes will examine the antiwar, civil rights, and women’s movements using images and texts to consider what the ‘60s came to represent. In our last class we will consider how the divisions between the counterculture and “moral majority” led to the election of Richard Nixon—and to the antigovernment sentiments that have spread from left to right in recent decades. In the last class we will also examine the environmental movement as a final case to reflect upon how our political consciousness has evolved over the last half-century as guerilla wars have continued to rage on the evening news, minorities and women have struggled to claim their rights, and our sense of self has become ever more mediated.
Readings will be provided closer to the beginning of the course. They will be uploaded to a virtual site at Box@UA, the link of which will be shared with all registered students.
Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron (ca. 1348-1351) is a masterpiece of world literature. Boccaccio is one of the Three Crowns, the three founding authors of Italian literature (along with Dante and Petrarch). Yet his Decameron is a conundrum. Composed in the wake of the Black Plague of 1348, the Decameron presents a world populated with flesh-and-blood individuals motivated by personal desires. Often its characters are women, and their desires are sexual; Boccaccio’s female characters use their intellect to achieve personal gratification. Yet to his contemporary readership, Boccaccio did not appear revolutionary. Although he was an innovative author in many ways, Boccaccio grounded his text in the tradition of bawdy literature already well established in the Middle Ages. In this seminar we will discuss the Decameron closely, examining its links to the works that preceded it, and its impact on subsequent literary developments throughout the world.
Boccaccio, Giovanni. The Decameron. Penguin Classics, 2nd edition. 2003. ISBN: 978-0140449303.
This class continues the discussion of Technological Wonders of Classical Antiquity from 2016. While the 2016 course focused on pyrotechnology (pottery and bronze-casting), this course will emphasize stone working (sculpture and temple architecture). The 2016 course is NOT a prerequisite to this class:
What were the key technologies and major technical advancements of classical Greek antiquity? This course examines the interrelated achievements of ancient sculpture making and temple construction. From the colossal nude males of the Archaic period to the stunning nude females of Hellenistic times, sculptors continued refining their craft to challenge both material limitations and cultural norms. The construction of such wonders as the Parthenon on the Athenian Acropolis required sculptors to work closely with stonemasons, gilders, and woodworkers for over a decade — a great accomplishment of architectural expertise, artistic inspiration, and managerial skill. The coordination of such a diverse group of technical specialists spanned the social strata of Athens and produced monuments that are as iconic today as they were in antiquity.
NO REQUIRED TEXTS
All readings referenced in the syllabus will be distributed will be uploaded to a secure site at Box@UA. Registered students will receive the link after they register for the course.
In order to understand modern China, we must understand the changes that have shaken its cultural foundations and profoundly transformed the country with a speed unrivaled in recent world history. The term “modern” in this sense is more than a chronological marker but a new conceptualization of the self and the world. This seminar will explore the rationalization and execution of these changes and resistance to them in modern China. The course will focus on significant moments of rupture in 20th-century history and explore their political and social implications, particularly the context of revolution and utopia. We will then examine literary reflections of this context that center on the construction of modernity and the narrative of its discontent.
Jin, Ha. Waiting: A Novel. Vintage, 2000. ISBN-10: 0375706410.
All other readings will be uploaded to the secure site Box@UA and the link will be shared with students closer to the beginning of the course.
This course explores the emergence of freedom as an ideal in Africa during and after the movements for national liberation. We will examine the people’s ongoing struggle to achieve social justice after colonial independence as a quest for meaningful freedom. To understand the emergence of this ideal and the nature of the people’s struggle, we will consider complex narratives (film, fiction) of major importance and read social theory (history, economics, sociology). The seminar’s scope is pan-African and covers the historical period of the 1950s to the present day. Areas of particular narrative interest include introspective gaze and intimate self, gender dynamics, national experience, globalization, and spirituality.
This course brings together six distinguished scholars from the College of Humanities to explore movements of social resistance and revolution. Malcolm Alan Compitello, Professor and Head of Spanish and Portuguese, examines the Spanish Civil War as a crucial moment whose social and cultural impact is still felt today. Alain-Philippe Durand, Dean of the College, explores how wars and revolutions shape Jean Renoir’s 1930s films. Albert Welter, Professor and Head of East Asian Studies, focuses on the role that revolution has played in China’s 4,000-year history. Praise Zenenga, Associate Professor and Director of Africana Studies, addresses the important and multifaceted antiapartheid revolution in South Africa. Denis M. Provencher, Professor and Head of French and Italian, explores how North African immigrants to France resist and ultimately reshape narratives of national identity. Finally, Karen K. Seat, Associate Professor and Head of Religious Studies and Classics, will examine the sexual revolution of the 1960s and the rise of the religious right’s counterrevolution in the United States.
Professor Smith brings his popular June 2016 course to Oro Valley!
Environments commonly known as “deserts” occupy nearly one-third of the earth’s land surface and are home to about a billion people. We will first discuss the geographical features of deserts, answering seemingly simple questions: What is a desert, and why do they occur where they do? Humans are particularly maladapted to life in deserts, but many organisms exhibit remarkable adaptations to aridity. We will investigate examples of these within plants from different deserts. Here the key questions will be: How do these plants grow and develop in these environments? Deserts are also associated with significant events in human history and many issues in contemporary international relations. Throughout the course we will consider humans and their influences on desert environments. We will also explore challenging questions here such as how societies perceive and steward deserts, and how are these actions connected?
Professor Kosta repeats her popular course from 2015 with a few variations:
Germany’s Weimar Republic (1919-1933) rose out of the ashes of World War I to become both an immensely creative and fraught period of the twentieth century. The exciting capital Berlin, a laboratory of modernity, was the center of radical experimentation in the visual and performing arts, in mass entertainment and theater, and in literature and architecture. While the cultural stage was vibrant and intoxicating, the shell shock of World War I, the demands of the Versailles Treaty, economic instability, social upheaval, and political turmoil also haunted the celebrated roaring twenties. To explore the rich landscape of the 1920s, this seminar examines the avant-garde movements Expressionism and Dada along with the vast social changes and technological developments exemplified in Lang’s film Metropolis and Brecht’s theater. Still relevant today, this period continues to fascinate us.
The movie The Blue Angel will be screened in the classroom on February 12, 2018.