LIBERAL ARTS SEMINAR
Course Offerings
Fall 2010

Animal Matters
Animals are inextricably intertwined with human history and culture. They figure prominently in our folklore, language, families, food, economics, entertainment, and our science. Drawing on the interdisciplinary field of animal studies, this seminar will examine the history and beliefs that have shaped our complicated (and often contradictory) relationships with animals. We will also address some of the issues and questions that such an examination provokes. Of particular interest will be the way we talk about animals—the language, stories, and arguments that we construct about them—and our relationship with them. We will begin interrogating the human/animal divide: What do our language, history, and folklore tell us about our perceptions of animals? What separates us from animals? What qualities do we share with them? We will also explore the topics such as pet keeping; animals as food; animal protection, welfare, and rights; and animals in sport and entertainment. Dr. Laurie Sterling.  Section B: MWF 9:00AM-9:50AM.  Section D: MWF 10:00AM-10:50AM

Baseball and the American Experience
This class will examine the phenomenon known as “Baseball.” This course will use a variety of written material to explore how baseball has paralleled the experience of America.  The course will focus on how baseball was founded, its impact and reflection of various social movements such as the labor union movement and civil rights to modern concepts such as drug use in society (steroids) and capitalism (player salaries).  Texts will include The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn, Baseball and Philosophy, edited by Eric Bronson, and a variety of other sources including selections from the Sporting News. Mr. Michael Berry.  Section J: MW 2:00PM-03:15PM

Flourishing The Positive Psychology of Well Being
For the last 50 years psychologists have often focused on what’s wrong with people and which therapy and self-help techniques are effective in improving their ailments.  This course will focus on what positive psychologists have identified through theory and research that help people flourish, lead happy and fulfilled lives, feel a sense of well-being and meaning, optimism, and openness to experience.  We will also peek at some of what filmmakers, philosophers, and popular media have to offer on these topics.  The course is highly interactive and hopefully will contribute to your own well-being and happiness.  In fact, research indicates positive psychology interventions have a positive effect on psychological and physical health, academic persistence, personal relationships, and athletic and work performance. Dr. Jean O'Brien.  Section I: MW 2:00PM-03:15PM

From Woody to Woodstock
In this course, we’ll respond to music, film, poetry, novels and critical essays spanning from the Great Depression to the Viet Nam War.  Our group will share the responsibility of contributing to a free exchange of ideas and continue the dialogue with several writers (Woody Guthrie, John Steinbeck, J.D. Salinger, Harper Lee, Truman Capote, Ken Kesey, Allen Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac, Thomas Wolfe, Hermann Hesse, Toni Morrison, and more) and musicians (Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, Arlo Guthrie, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix and more). Research and projects include analytical interpretation and interaction with critical reviews and documentary films.  All research topic selections and some novel selections will be student based. Mr. Marlon Alber.  Section G: MWF 12:00AM-12:50PM.

Greed: Wealth and Ethics in Modern America
If “Greed” were an acronym, it might stand for Gains and Rewards on Everyone Else’s Dime. There seems to be no end to the number of people who have recently managed to get very wealthy at someone else’s expense. Over the last decade, anyone attentive to any form of media could not escape the unsettling volume and varied forms of human greed exposed in activities conducted in the normal course of daily business. This course will examine topics and issues such as the role nature and nurture play in influencing human greediness and the rippling effect that the actions of individual perpetrators have had on the wellbeing of relevant stakeholders (such as citizens, family members, taxpayers, shareholders, and business enterprises). We will look not only at the motives and actions of people driven by greed, but also, more important, at the consequences of such illegal and immoral missteps.  Ms. Janet Mercincavage.  Section O: TTH 12:30-1:45PM

In Search of the American Dream: American Rhetorical History
A study and critical analysis of major oral and written “definitions” of the American dream, its essential elements, its major advocates and “guides.”  Significant emphasis will be placed on the reading and study of materials from1600 to1990. Focus will be given to significant issues and crosscurrents in American history (e.g. liberty, exceptionalism, manifest destiny, democracy, "the melting pot", equal rights, rugged individualism, community, welfare, a nation of laws, the Horatio Alger ethos, the Puritan work ethic, leisure, cultural pluralism etc. As necessary, desirable, and available, print, audio, and visual resources will be used in the course. Tools used will combine critical thinking skills, the classical rhetorical canons and the basic factors of historical context analysis. Mr. Howard Fedrick.  Section L: TTH 9:30-10:45AM

Myth Busters: Christmas, Santa, and Other Weird Things
We all systematically lie to our children, making them believe that an all-knowing all-seeing rosy checked fat man in a red suit will come down the chimney and give them presents on Dec 24th–but only if they are good and only if they are sleeping. But why? (And why can’t he use the front door?) And why are there 12 days of Christmas? (There is only one Dec 25th.) Why does Santa wear bishop’s ropes in Europe and travel with a little dude named “Black Peter?” Was Jesus really born on Dec 25th? And why won’t these people leave my house until they get some figgy pudding? In this class we will exercise our critical thinking and reading skills by looking at the origins of Christmas traditions, along with as many other myths and traditions as we can get our hands on, including: Easter bunny/eggs, tooth fairies, Halloween and even marriage. Dr. Kyle Johnson.  Section A: MWF 9:00-9:50AM.  Section C: MWF 10:00-10:50AM

Tolkein and Lewis: Faith, Fantasy, and Philosophy
This course aims to hone students’ critical reading and critical thinking skills through reading and discussion of the works of two of the most popular and influential Christian writers of the twentieth century: J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Readings will focus on Tolkien’s fantasies of Middle-earth (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings) and on Lewis’s reasoned defenses of Christian belief (Mere Christianity, Miracles, The Problem of Pain, The Abolition of Man). Through careful reading and analysis of these works, students will wrestle with classic issues of faith, morality, and meaning, and sharpen their college-level thinking, writing, and reading skills. Dr. Greg Bassham.  Section F: MWF 11:00-11:50AM. Section P: MWF 1:00-01:50PM

Understanding Our Actions
In this course we focus on questions we ask each other regularly, questions like, “Does playing violent video games lead to violent behavior?” “Do other racial groups all look the same?”; “Can the alcoholic drink socially?”; “Do children raised by gay parents turn out OK?” We will evaluate information on these and many other issues and move toward reasonable and critically-based positions on these questions about everyday behavior. (See g drive “Brooks” for a more complete list of topics.)  Books may include Autism’s False Prophets, byPaul Offit; Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, byMalcolm Gladwell; and How Psychology Applies to Everyday Life, by Charles Brooks & Michael Church.  Dr. Charles Brooks.  Section K: TTH 8:00AM-09:15AM

Unruly Women
Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton, Queen Elizabeth, Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, Medea, Lady Macbeth, and maybe your mom. This course investigates the strong female in literature, history and society and explores the attitudes and anxieties about power that smart, assertive women generate. Dr. Megan Lloyd.  Section M: TTH 9:30AM-10:45AM. Section N: TTH 11:00AM-12:15PM