Spring 2017 Courses

Oedipus Goes to the Movies: A Study of Freudian Film (SPCL 400.301)

Student Instructor: Courtney Aucoin
Faculty Mentor: Rick Warner
T, 03:30-05:30. GM 0035.

This class will discuss the various ways the work of Sigmund Freud interacts with, appears in, and influenced film. While discussing the basics of Freudian psychology, students will learn how to apply these concepts to film theory and be able to spot Freudian influences in films across genres. Students of all departments will be able to learn the basics of film theory and analysis while applying it to an interesting topic that has been present in film history since its creation in the 1890s.

Translational Medicine: The Closing Gap between Research and Patient Care (SPCL 400.302)

Student Instructor: Sukriti Bagchi
Faculty Mentor: Brian Hogan
T, 05:00-07:00. GM 0210.

The field of translational medicine has been expanding rapidly, changing the way many of us choose to develop new therapies for the most challenging diseases of our time. As a result, it has become necessary to adopt a new, highly interdisciplinary mindset to focus on scientific inquiry regarding a particular disease. These kinds of investigations are directed towards discovering ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases, often in a targeted manner, ultimately to find better treatments for patients. Such a task requires the combined efforts of experts in a wide variety of fields from basic science and technology, to educators, public health specialists, and policy makers.

In a seminar-type classroom setting, students will read and discuss articles surrounding case studies and commentaries to explore the full process of generating and delivering therapies efficiently to patients within this unique discipline, including appreciating the advantages and addressing the challenges that have arisen as more institutions adopt this style of investigation.

The Political and Cultural Implications of Superheroes in the Post 9/11 World (SPCL 400.303)

Student Instructor: Justin Cole
Faculty Mentor: Courtney Rivard
W, 04:00-6:00, GM 0212.

More than a year before the United States entered World War II, the cover of “Captain America Comics #1” showed the titular character punching Adolf Hitler. During the civil rights movement, the dispute between Dr. Xavier and Magneto in the X-Men comic books can be viewed as a commentary on the differences between Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X. The popularity of the Punisher and Daredevil during the presidency of Ronald Reagan reflects the tough stance that many Americans possessed towards crime. Without question, superheroes have always been used to express political, religious, and cultural opinions.

After 9/11, however, superheroes changed. They grew darker and more vulnerable; the issues examined – including torture, mass surveillance, and foreign intervention – grew more complex. Simultaneously, they have entered the mainstream of American culture through films in a way that they rarely did through comic books. In this course, we will examine a combination of comic books and movies to analyze the importance of superheroes throughout American culture and discuss how and why they have changed. Most importantly, we will ask ourselves if superheroes have simply reflected the views of society or actually played a role in affecting them.

There’s No Place Like Home: Explorations of Place-Based Identity in Policy, Design, and Conflict (SPCL 400.304)

Student Instructors: Megan Cross & Martha Isaacs
Faculty Mentor: Nina Martin
M, 05:00-07:00, GM 0038.

“People and the places where they reside are engaged in a continuing set of exchanges; they have determinate, mutual effects upon each other because they are part of a single, interactive system.” — Professor William S. Sax

Where are you from? Often the first question asked upon meeting someone new at UNC, this question is seemingly insignificant. How one chooses to answer, however, is one of the greatest determinants of socioeconomic status, health, and resources we have as researchers. More importantly, this answer affects our identities, from the level of household to town, city, region and country. Utilizing a wide range of popular and academic sources, this course seeks to examine how conceptions of home define lives across the globe.

The class will begin with analyzing students’ personal notions of home, and then move into topics such as gentrification, suburban sprawl and community, affordable housing and homelessness, and international issues with refugees. Our course will pair together theories such as Lefebvre’s production of space and Harvey’s ‘Right to the City’ with field trips to different neighborhoods to analyze how their structure and design influence resident interaction. This course will utilize films and newspaper articles to guest speakers and urban planning documents, culminating in a student-led website sharing content generated during the semester. With mapping, writing, fieldwork, and art, students will begin to unpack different facets of home in the Chapel Hill community, in national examples from Brooklyn to Oakland, and in international contexts, discussing the policies, designs, and conflicts that shape living spaces and identity.

The Modern (Melting) Arctic (SPCL 400.305)

Student Instructor: Christian Haig
Faculty Mentor: Erica Johnson
W, 04:00-06:00. GM 0213

Course Description: For aeons, the Arctic has been considered an irrelevant periphery—a forbidding, icy region home to polar bears and santa claus and not much else. No longer. The High North is a fascinating and increasingly dynamic region at the intersection of major global issues ranging from indigenous rights to international commerce to geopolitical conflict between NATO and Russia. In this course, we will examine climate change’s effect on the Arctic and how the region’s melting will change the world. This interdisciplinary course will examine the North from a historical perspective, touching on the colonization of the Arctic, environmental and public policy, geography, sociology, energy politics, international security, and maritime law. Together, we will examine the future of the timeless North and its impact on the world.


Playoffs and Payoffs: The Economics of Corruption in Sports (SPCL 400.306)

Student Instructor: Christina Kochanski
Faculty Mentor: Rita Balaban
W, 03:30-05:30, GM 0035.

As sports spectators, we have felt the glory of our teams’ victories and the pain of last-second defeats. But often underlying these experiences is a world of money and corruption. Billions of dollars change hands between players, teams, leagues, and fans. In this class, we will examine the role of corruption in sports, particularly through an economic lens. Students will learn basic economic concepts and use them to explain why cheating occurs at every level of the sports industry. Classes will be discussion-based and centered on prominent occurrences of cheating in the modern sports world. At the end of the semester, students will propose economically-sound solutions to the corruption problem. Prior economic knowledge is not necessary.

The Great War in Middle Earth: The Influence of WWI on Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (SPCL 400.307)

Student Instructors: Adrienne Kronovet & Annie Rutledge
Faculty Mentor: John McGowan
M, 05:00-07:00, GM 0213.

WWI was the defining conflict of the modern era. The scale and destructiveness of the war had significant political, social, and moral consequences that affected all members of society.  Both these changes and personal war experiences greatly impacted British officers, which became evident in their post war writings. One clear example of this is J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Through Tolkien’s own admittance, his experience in World War I influenced his writing and character development. In an interview conducted with Joseph Loconte, Tolkien said, “My ‘Sam Gamgee’ is indeed a reflection of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognized as so far superior to myself.” Furthermore, he admitted to drawing on his experiences with the Battle of the Somme for the inspiration of The Dead Marshes, described in the second book in the trilogy. Through the use of the text and films, we will examine how themes of World War I are reflected in Tolkien’s construction of Middle Earth.

Landmark Discoveries in Molecular Biology and Genetic Engineering (SPCL 400.308)

Student Instructors: Jeet Patel & Danielle Spitzer
Faculty Mentor: Blaire Steinwand
M, 03:30-05:30, GM 0035.

In this course, we will examine the most important and influential discoveries that have shaped the field of molecular biology – establishing a molecular basis of life, heredity, and disease, uncovering the structure and function of DNA, cracking the genetic code, sequencing the human genome, creating genetically modified organisms, cloning entire animals…and more! Students will work together to study historical developments in molecular biology while developing skills in critical thinking, experimental design, and data analysis. We will engage in critical discussions about collaboration and social tension among the scientific community, research ethics, and how scientific advancements interact with political and social forces. By the end of the semester students will be knowledgeable about the scientific concepts underlying major breakthroughs in molecular biology, the historical context in which these discoveries were made, and their broader impacts on science and society.