Spring 2020 First Year Seminars

SEARCH BY SUBJECT

CLASSICS

CLAS 055H.001 | Three Greek and Roman Epics

MWF, 2:30 pm – 3:20 pm. Instructor(s): James O’Hara. Enrollment = 24.
The course will involve a close reading in English of Homer’s ILIAD and ODYSSEY and Vergil’s AENEID, and as a transition from Homer to Vergil, we will also read the tragedies of Sophocles from fifth-century Athens. It was epic and tragedy that formulated the bases of Graeco-Roman civilization and provided the models of heroism and human values for the Western Tradition—along with raising fundamental questions about the individual’s relationship to society. We will analyze, discuss, and write about these works both as individual pieces of literature in a historical context, and in terms of how they position themselves in the poetic tradition; after reading the ILIAD and ODYSSEY, we’ll see how heroic myth gets reworked by tragedy for democratic Athens, and then how Vergil combines Homer, tragedy and other traditions to make a new poem for his time. We will look at aspects of structure and technique, questions of overall interpretation and values, and the interplay of genre and historical setting. Requirements: discussion, short online readings in addition to the primary texts, several short papers during the term, and a 6-10-page term paper.

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY.

Professor James O’Hara received his A.B. in Classics from the College of the Holy Cross in 1981, and his Ph.D. in Classical Studies from the University of Michigan in 1986. From 1986 to 2001, he taught at Wesleyan University; since 2001 he has been the George. L. Paddison Professor of Latin at UNC, where he has also been department chair. His research and teaching interests are in Greek and Latin poetry, with special interests in Homer, Vergil, and the literature written during the reign of Rome’s first emperor, Augustus; other interests include Roman Civilization, Hellenistic poetry, didactic poetry, and satire.

COMPUTER SCIENCE

COMP 060H.011 | Robotics with LEGO

MWF, 9:05 am – 10:20 am. Instructor(s): Henry Fuchs. Enrollment = 24.
This seminar explores the process of design and the nature of computers by designing, building, and programming LEGO® robots. Competitions to evaluate various robots are generally held at the middle and/or at the end of the semester. Previous programming experience is not required. Assignments will typically take one to two weeks, most of them building on a previously constructed robot and making one that will perform a more complex task. Early robots will follow black race course routes or run through mazes constructed on the floor of the robotics laboratory. Later robots may play simple games with human users. Others robots will play simple soccer games, remotely controlled by human handlers. Most assignments will include a written report, as well as a demonstration of a working robot and a listing of its computer program.

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY.

Henry Fuchs is the Federico Gil Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Adjunct Professor of Biomedical Engineering at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has been active in computer graphics and computer systems since the 1970s, with rendering algorithms (BSP Trees), hardware (Pixel-Planes), virtual environments, tele-immersion systems and medical applications. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and recipient of the 2015 ACM SIGGRAPH Steven Anson Coons Award, the highest award in computer graphics.

COMP 089H.080 | Video Killed the Radio Star: Netflix, Deep Fakes, and Body Cams

TR, 11:00 am – 12:15 PM. Instructor(s): Ketan Mayer-Patel. Enrollment = 24.
The rise of streaming video as a data type has completely transformed our relationship to audiovisual information and the ways in which we use it. Today, over 70% of all Internet traffic is in the form of video. We no longer watch television at common times and mediated through the tastes and decisions of a handful of programming executives. Instead, independent producers of niche genres are increasingly able to find an audience on streaming video platforms. Similarly, the production of video has been democratized with the advent of the smartphone making each of us a potential documentarian of the world around us. In this course, students will learn about the technological underpinnings of video as a data type and explore potential uses and misuses of video in the contexts of entertainment
(Netflix), disinformation (deep fakes), and social justice (police body cams).

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY.

Ketan Mayer-Patel is an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science in 1999 from the University of California at Berkeley. His research generally focuses on multimedia systems, networking, and multicast applications. Currently, he is investigating model-based video coding, dynamic media coding models, and networking problems associated with multiple independent, but semantically related, media streams.

ENGLISH

ENGL 057H.001 | Future Perfect

TR, 3:30 pm – 4:45 pm. Instructor(s): Matthew Taylor. Enrollment = 24.
What will our world look like in ten years? Fifty? One hundred? Will the future be a utopian paradise or a dystopian wasteland? Through a wide-ranging survey of popular science writing, novels, and films, this first year seminar will examine fictional and nonfictional attempts to imagine the future from the nineteenth century to the present. We will explore everything from futurology and transhumanism to warnings of imminent environmental collapse. Our focus will be less on assessing the accuracy of these predictions and more on determining what they tell us about the hopes and fears of the times in which they were made. The course will culminate in a short research paper on a future-oriented topic of your choosing.

My research focuses on the intersections among environmental humanities, critical theory (including posthumanism, biopolitics, science and technology studies, and critical race theory), and nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature. My first book, Universes without Us: Posthuman Cosmologies in American Literature (Univ. of Minnesota Press), examines cosmologies that challenge the utopianism of both past and present attempts at fusing self and environment.

ENGL 071H.001 | Doctors and Patients

MWF, 9:05 am – 9:55 am. Instructor(s): Kim Weed-Buzinski. Enrollment = 24.
When medical anthropologist Arthur Kleinman writes that “illness has meaning,” he reminds us that the human experience of being sick involves more than bodily symptoms. Moreover, the effects of illness and debility are rarely confined to one person. In this course, we will analyze a diverse collection of writers who have taken as their topic the human struggle to make sense of suffering and debility through a range of genres including fiction, non-fiction, graphic memoir, podcasts, and oral histories.
Divided into five units, the course will allow us to explore not just the medical, but also the personal, ethical, cultural, spiritual, and political facets of illness from the perspectives of patients, healers, and families. Central texts may include Abby Norman’s /Ask Me About My Uterus/, Damon Tweedy’s /Black Man in a White Coat/, and Jennifer Brea (dir.) /Unrest/. We will also read shorter selections from an array of authors, such as Atul Gawande, Bettina Judd, Arthur Kleinman, Audre Lorde, Mia Mingus, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, and Susan Sontag. Additionally, students will utilize the growing archive of oral histories from the Stories to Save Lives project to learn more about the experiences of patients, healers, and families from across North Carolina.

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY.
MAY SUBSTITUTE FOR THE ENGL 268H / GATEWAY COURSE REQUIREMENT FOR THE MEDICINE, LITERATURE, AND CULTURE MINOR.

Kym Weed is a Teaching Assistant Professor in English & Comparative Literature and the Co-Director of the HHIVE Lab and Associate Director the MA program in Literature, Medicine, and Culture. She earned her PhD from UNC and recently returned to Chapel Hill via Vanderbilt University’s Center for Medicine, Health, and Society. Her research focuses on the intersection of science and literature in late-nineteenth-century American literature and culture as well as historical and contemporary understandings of illness, health, disability, and embodiment. She teaches courses in health humanities, disability studies, American literature, and writing.

ENGL 089H.001 | Literature of the Last Man

MWF, 11:15 am – 12:05 pm. Instructor(s): David Ross. Enrollment = 24.
This course considers post-apocalyptic scenarios involving the depopulation of the earth and ponders the existential solitude that befalls “the last man.” It pays particular attention to the interconnection between the “last man” scenario and related narratives of social dislocation: the Robinsonade (i.e., tale of the castaway), the Western, the wilderness survival adventure. Our questions will be various: What explains the anxieties implicit in the “last man” scenario? What does the last man teach us about ourselves? What if any consolations are available to a mortal species?

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY.

David A. Ross is a graduate of Yale and Oxford. He has been a member of the Department of English & Comparative Literature at UNC–Chapel Hill since 2002. He is the author of A Critical Companion to William Butler Yeats (2009) and the co-editor/co-translator of The Search for the Avant-Garde, 1946–1969 (2012), the descriptive catalogue of the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. A collector and amateur scholar of traditional Chinese paintings and Japanese woodblock prints, he has served as president of Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies and as both editor and book review editor of the Southeast Review of Asian Studies.

HISTORY

HIST 072H.001 | Women's Voices: Twentieth Century European History in Female Memory

T, 3:35 pm – 6:05 pm. Instructor(s): Karen Hagemann. Enrollment = 24.
The seminar examines twentieth century European history through the lens of women’s autobiographical writings. It explores women’s voices from different generational, social and national backgrounds. We will read and discuss autobiographical texts by five women, who grew up in middle class families in Austria, Britain, France and Germany and wrote about their lives in the first half of the twentieth century. They all tried to make a difference in society and politics: Alice Salomon (1872-1948), a liberal Jewish-German social reformer and activist of the German middle class women’s movement; Vera Brittain (1893-1970), a British volunteer nurse during World War I, who became after the war a peace activist and writer; Toni Sender (1888-1964), a German-Jewish socialist and one of the first female parliamentarians in Weimar Germany, who  like Salomon after the Nazi’s takeover in 1933 had to flee Germany; Genevieve De Gaulle-Anthonioz (1920-2002), a French resistance fighter during World War II and a survivor of the women’s concentration camp Ravensbrück; and Ruth Klüger (1931-), an Austrian-Jewish student who survived Auschwitz and became a professor in the U.S. The overarching theme of the seminar is the struggle of women for equal economic, social and political rights. We will explore what effects social and political changes, revolutions and wars as well as the Holocaust had on this struggle and the lives of women in Europe more general. Through intensive discussions of the reading in class, group work and the opportunity to do research on a female autobiography of their own choice, the seminar offers students a unique approach to twentieth century European history and will introduce them to research and writing.

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY.

Karen Hagemann is the James G. Kenan Distinguished Professor of History and Adjunct Professor of the Curriculum in Peace, War and Defense. She published widely in Modern German, European and Transatlantic history combing political, social, cultural and military history with women’s and  gender history. Her most recent monograph is Revisiting Prussia’s Wars against Napoleon: History, Culture, and Memory (Cambridge University Press, 2015). Currently she  has finished as the general editor the work on the Oxford Handbook on Gender, War and the Western World since 1600. (http://history.unc.edu/people/faculty/karenhagemann) and (https://hagemann.web.unc.edu/)

MARINE SCIENCE

MASC 057H.001 | Waves: From 'The Sound of Music' to 'The Perfect Storm'

TR, 9:30 am – 10:45 am. Instructor(s): Alberto Scotti. Enrollment = 24.
We are constantly surrounded by phenomena that are wave-like in nature. We communicate over short distances with sound waves, while we use electromagnetic waves over long distances. We see waves when we stand at beach, and the weather we experience is controlled very often by wave-like features of the jet stream. In this seminar, we will develop the conceptual framework necessary to
understand waves, starting from laboratory observations. The main goal is to expose the common traits of waves, and how they can be used to enhance our understanding and predict the outcome of a broad range of important physical phenomena.

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY.

Professor Scotti’s research focuses on problems of applied fluid dynamics which are environmentally and/or geophysically relevant. Presently, he is involved in several projects involving stratified flows interacting with topography, internal waves (linear and nonlinear) and boundary layer turbulence using a combination of theoretical and numerical tools.

PHILOSOPHY

PHIL 068H.001 | Moral Life

MW, 3:35 pm – 4:50 pm. Instructor(s): Douglas MacLean. Enrollment = 24.
Modern (post-Enlightenment) moral philosophy is primarily concerned with analyzing or defining moral concepts. This includes basic or “thin” concepts like good, bad, right, wrong, and ought; and it includes “thick” concepts that are more cognitively specific, such as kindness, cruelty, courage, cowardice, empathy, integrity, or selfishness. Thick concepts are often used to characterize moral virtues and vices.
Another aim of moral philosophy, which has been less pronounced in the modern era but was the central moral question in ancient times is: What is the proper or ideal life for a human being? How ought we to live? This seminar will focus on that ancient question, but it will draw heavily on modern philosophical works and concepts to help illuminate it.
We will begin with the Socrates, the first philosopher in the Western tradition to focus specifically on ethics, and then we will look briefly at other Greek philosophers, including Aristotle and the Stoic philosopher Epictetus. From there we move to more modern and contemporary philosophy, examining what modern moral theories tell us about the nature of a morally ideal life and what critics of these theories say about how human beings ought to live. Readings will be drawn primarily from philosophy but some literature and movies will also be on the syllabus.
The class will be conducted as a seminar, and students will be expected to take the lead in discussing various topics.  There will be no exams, but there will be at least five papers plus reports to the class.  Students will also be required to come up with examples of morally good lives and explain and defend their choice of those examples.

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY.

Douglas MacLean’s current research focuses on practical ethics and issues in moral and political theory that are particularly relevant to practical concerns. Most of his recent writing examines how values do and ought to influence decisions, both personal decisions and government policies.

RELIGIOUS STUDIES

RELI 089H.001 | Researching Religion in Women's Lives

TR, 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm. Instructor(s): Lauren Leve / Lisa Pearce. Enrollment = 12.
How do religious beliefs and practices shape gender identities, values, and expectations in different religious cultures? How are these understandings reflected, contested, and/or creatively transformed by women within religious traditions, and at different times? How do we know what we think we know? This course examines the relations between women and religion across different traditions and in diverse global contexts, asking how religious modes of authority and ethical being-in-the-world shape women’s aspirations for self-actualization and position them in relation to both opportunities and constraints. The course also asks, how can we know and measure these relations? Arguments about women and religion are based on evidence that reflect different sets of assumptions and are collected in different ways. Throughout the semester, we’ll explore key methods for data collection and analysis in the Humanities and Social Sciences through a series of hands-on research assignments, culminating in a final research project. Practical experience generating and interpreting diverse types of data will reveal the ways that scientific and humanistic modes of inquiry can work together to pose and answer key questions about women, gender, and human social life. This is a special class that is co-taught by two instructors—one from the Department of Sociology and one from Religious Studies. Students may register for either Reli 089 or Soc 089.

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY. CROSSLISTED WITH SOCI 89H.

Lauren Leve received her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology. Now an associate professor of Religious Studies, she has been living and working in Nepal since 1990; sometimes for a few weeks at a time, sometimes for a few years. Her research has also brought her to Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, and Singapore. She has written on topics that include Buddhism, globalization, women’s empowerment, theories of rural revolution, human rights, and suffering. Her recent book is titled “The Buddhist Art of Living in Nepal: Ethical Practice and Religious Reform.” She is currently working on a project on gender, health, politics, and the rise of Christianity in Nepal. Professor Leve is grateful to the monks, nuns, householders, newly-literate women, NGO staff, Maoists, Christians and others who have opened their lives to her and taught her to (try to) see through their eyes. She reports that it’s a little disorienting at first, but that once you learn to learn from others’ perspectives, there’s no better way to live in the world!
Lisa Pearce, a Professor of Sociology and Faculty Fellow at the Carolina Population Center, is a sociologist of family, religion, and the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Her research is based in the United States, Nepal, and Kenya. She has written two books, A Faith of Their Own: Stability and Change in the Religiosity of American’s Adolescents (with Melinda Lundquist Denton) and Mixed Method Data Collection Strategies (with William G. Axinn). Professor Pearce enjoys working with students to collect different kinds of data, moving back and forth between open-ended exploration and the systematic testing of ideas that emerge. She has been on the faculty at Carolina for 17 years.

ROMANCE LANGUAGES

ROML 089H.001 | Sex, Sexuality and the Body in Early Modern European Literature

TR, 12:30 pm – 1:45 pm. Instructor(s): Lucia Binotti. Enrollment = 24.
The aim of this course is to explore the cultural constructions of gender and sexuality in the literature of Medieval and Renaissance Southern Europe. We will approach questions such as the status of women and the context of misogyny, the societal role of same-sex relations, the presentation and visualization of sexuality, desire and the body. We will observe the period through the lens of 5 overarching themes that recur at different moments and in different texts throughout the course: “Sex, beauty and artistic creation,” “Sex, marriage and family,” “Sex and religion”, “Sex and science,” “Sex, deviancy, and crime.” Using such themes as the framework for our interpretations we will read, analyze, and discuss in loose chronological order an array of literary works mostly of the Iberian and Italian tradition, from which we will tease out a interdisciplinary understanding of the cultural and aesthetic forces that shaped the representation of sex and sexual love before the advent of the scientific theories that in turn define modern gender and sexuality for us today. This historical approach will offer insights into the shaping of our own cultural and personal attitudes. By focusing our attention on the challenged and changing meanings of sexuality, this course aims to strengthen your skills of critical analysis.

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY.

Lucia Binotti is a Philologist turned into Digital Humanist. She works on material and cultural history and in the mechanisms that construct linguistic and cultural identity. Binotti has always been fascinated with the cultural and social parallels that the printing revolution of the sixteenth century shares with the information technology revolution of today. Her latest projects take her reflection on the place of the humanities in 21st century education outside of the walls of academia, in an endeavor to produce artifacts that will enhance the dissemination and fruition of social and cultural knowledge among a broader public.

SOCIOLOGY

SOCI 089H.001 | Researching Religion in Women's Lives

TR, 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm. Instructor(s): Lauren Leve / Lisa Pearce. Enrollment = 12.
How do religious beliefs and practices shape gender identities, values, and expectations in different religious cultures? How are these understandings reflected, contested, and/or creatively transformed by women within religious traditions, and at different times? How do we know what we think we know? This course examines the relations between women and religion across different traditions and in diverse global contexts, asking how religious modes of authority and ethical being-in-the-world shape women’s aspirations for self-actualization and position them in relation to both opportunities and constraints. The course also asks, how can we know and measure these relations? Arguments about women and religion are based on evidence that reflect different sets of assumptions and are collected in different ways. Throughout the semester, we’ll explore key methods for data collection and analysis in the Humanities and Social Sciences through a series of hands-on research assignments, culminating in a final research project. Practical experience generating and interpreting diverse types of data will reveal the ways that scientific and humanistic modes of inquiry can work together to pose and answer key questions about women, gender, and human social life.

FIRST YEAR STUDENTS ONLY. CROSSLISTED WITH RELI 89H.

Lauren Leve received her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology. Now an associate professor of Religious Studies, she has been living and working in Nepal since 1990; sometimes for a few weeks at a time, sometimes for a few years. Her research has also brought her to Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, and Singapore. She has written on topics that include Buddhism, globalization, women’s empowerment, theories of rural revolution, human rights, and suffering. Her recent book is titled “The Buddhist Art of Living in Nepal: Ethical Practice and Religious Reform.” She is currently working on a project on gender, health, politics, and the rise of Christianity in Nepal. Professor Leve is grateful to the monks, nuns, householders, newly-literate women, NGO staff, Maoists, Christians and others who have opened their lives to her and taught her to (try to) see through their eyes. She reports that it’s a little disorienting at first, but that once you learn to learn from others’ perspectives, there’s no better way to live in the world!
Lisa Pearce, a Professor of Sociology and Faculty Fellow at the Carolina Population Center, is a sociologist of family, religion, and the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Her research is based in the United States, Nepal, and Kenya. She has written two books, A Faith of Their Own: Stability and Change in the Religiosity of American’s Adolescents (with Melinda Lundquist Denton) and Mixed Method Data Collection Strategies (with William G. Axinn). Professor Pearce enjoys working with students to collect different kinds of data, moving back and forth between open-ended exploration and the systematic testing of ideas that emerge. She has been on the faculty at Carolina for 17 years.