Fall 2019 Honors Courses
UPPER LEVEL SEMINARS
HONR 302--The Human Experience: Whiteness and White Supremacy
Williams Visiting Professor Edward Ball
TR 12:30-1:50 (34415)
This is a U.S. history course about the roots of white identity in the American past, the growth of “whiteness” as idea, and the return of white supremacy as a movement in the present. Whites often do not see themselves as racial subjects; yet “whiteness” is born with the nation and lends structure to centuries of American culture, economics, and spatial relations. We study the birth of white identity in the colonial past and trace its maturation during the 19th century into whiteness, as both internal psychology and raw social fact. We examine the growth of white supremacy after the Civil War and look at its branches in science and in policy in the 20th and 21st centuries. When and where does whiteness take shape? How does it spread and change without disappearing? Does white supremacy differ from whiteness? What constitutes white identity? Where and why does white supremacy surface in discourse and politics, as today? Students research and write two papers, as well as give one presentation.
Course packet: a selection of essays and archival material (about 300 pages) available in hardcopy and from the course website.
Books: Theodore Allen, The Invention of the White Race (1994); Matthew Jacobson, Whiteness of a Different Color (1998).
FREDONIA FOUNDATIONS HONORS SEMINARS
CHEM 113 – Chemistry & Environment
CCC - Natural Science & Fredonia Foundations - Natural Science/Critical Thinking and Analysis
Prof. Krista Bellis
TR 11:00-12:20 (13967)
This course is designed for students in all majors. It focuses on the examination of prevalent environmental issues and the chemical concepts related to these issues. Students will develop innovative solutions to complex problems via their responses to case studies and build on critical thinking skills necessary for citizens to be engaged, form educated opinions and actively make decisions related to these issues in a responsible manner.
ENGL 124 – American Fictions
CCC - American History & Fredonia Foundations - American History/Critical Thinking and Analysis
Dr. Christina Jarvis
TR 12:30-1:50PM (33764)
How do the stories we tell about our cultural past shape and reflect the present? Can narratives about war engender future wars? How do literary representations of particular periods help us question which voices, perspectives, and topics have shaped our historical narratives and constructions of national identity? How do literary texts challenge and help expose American myths and “fictions” such as the American Dream or the ideal nuclear family? What role does memory play in shaping individual, familial, and national stories of the past? This interdisciplinary course seeks to explore these any many other questions by examining historical fictions about specific periods alongside film, art, media, music, and other primary texts from those eras.
- E. L. Doctorow’s Ragtime
- Nella Larsen’s Passing
- Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman (and possibly August Wilson’s Fences as well)
- Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five
- Several xeroxed essays, short stories and other primary documents (potential authors [brief selections]: Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Sherman Alexie, Tim O’Brien, Katherine Dunn, Stephanie Coontz, Joanne Meyerowitz)
Assignments: critical essay, final project, group research presentation, exam, discussion questions, and lively participation.
ENGL 127 – Becoming American
CCC - American History & Fredonia Foundations - American History/Global Perspectives and Diversity
Dr. Jeanette McVicker
TR 9:30-10:50AM (33765)
Our focus this semester will explore the gaps, contradictions and tensions produced by the language of ‘official’ documents of being/becoming American (e.g. the Constitution, immigration and citizenship acts of Congress, Supreme Court cases) and literature over time that speaks to and explores those tensions. We will read and discuss historical and recent American literature across multiple genres that relates the experience of migration and exile – forced and voluntary – to the process of “becoming Americans.” From the forced migration of indigenous peoples through the acts of removal and creation of the reservation system, and the enslavement and forced migration of African and Caribbean people that formed the economic foundation for the “new” nation of America, to the waves of immigrants and refugees seeking a better life, migration and exile have been key factors in what it means to “become American.” These are stories of suffering and resilience, of the promise of ‘America’ and the historical failure to deliver that promise to generations of Americans.
Throughout, we’ll ask the questions of how literature, language and culture help us understand the process of Americanization, what makes “multi-ethnic” American literature distinctive, and how translation, representation, and symbolism are part of migratory and exilic cultural expression.
Readings: will include (but aren’t limited to):
- Selected short readings by Zitkala-Sa
- Whereas, Layli Long Soldier
- Selected short readings by James Baldwin
- Citizen, Claudia Rankine
- West Side Story – Dir. Robert Wise & Jerome Robbins (film)
- Arabian Jazz – Diana Abu-Jaber
- Native Speaker – Chang-Rae Lee
- The Line Becomes a River – Francisco Cantu
- Several historical documents online
- Readings from the New York Times online (free campus subscription)
- regular contributions to class blog/discussion board
- two short critical synthesis papers on the reading
- midterm essay exam
- group research presentation
- ‘Becoming American’ family history project
ENGL 132—Word and Sound
CCC - Arts & Fredonia Foundations - Arts/Creative Thinking and Innovation
Dr. Natalie Gerber
TR 8:00-9:20AM (33905)
This writing-intensive course examines how creative writers often manipulate sound patterns to capture our attention; through critical and creative assignments, it explores the rhetorical and emotional impact of the sounds of words, as well as other sounds found in and out of language. Students will study the play and purpose of sound in artistic texts and create original works utilizing sound for expressive and/or persuasive purposes. Examples may include song lyrics, spoken word, poems for page and/or performance, advertisements, musicals, oratory, and experimental traditions.
In this specific section, we will focus on the lyric—poetry for the page, stage, and performance, with a special emphasis on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton and hip-hop.
Reading/Listening: lyrics to Hamilton; interdisciplinary readings in sound studies; manifestos and lyric verse and song lyrics; online resources (e.g., Hamilton Algorithm, Poemage, YouTube).
Assignments: several annotations of lyric conventions; an interdisciplinary reader’s response; a “sound” manifesto; a portfolio of original lyrics, including an artist’s statement and an original audio performance and reflection; an information-literacy project regarding permissions and use of words and sounds
HIST 161 - Western Patterns: Citizenship & Identity
CCC - Western Civilization & Fredonia Foundations - Western Civilization/Critical Thinking and Analysis
Dr. John Staples
MWF 10:00-10:50 (33806
This course engages students with complex human problems rooted in the relationship between citizenship and individual identity from a historical perspective. Throughout the course, students will consider divergent and contradictory perspectives that defined the scope of personal freedoms within the framework of civil responsibilities in Europe in the 20th century, while evaluating the consequences and benefits of a variety of European political systems. Using digital technologies, students will plan, make, develop, and present historical narratives in a variety of forms.
HIST 170 - American Pasts: Race Riots
CCC American History & Fredonia Foundations - American History/Critical Thinking and Analysis
Dr. Jennifer Hildebrand
TR 2:00-3:20PM (33810)
The United States has a long history of rioting, and in particular a long history of incidents of mass violence inspired by racial tensions. Participants and motives vary. In San Francisco in the mid-nineteenth century, what began as ethnic violence directed towards Irish immigrants soon expanded to include violence against Mexican, Chilean, and Asian immigrants who sought to take advantage of opportunities presented by the Gold Rush. In 1919, 36 episodes of white violence towards black persons and property occurred across a span that includes the period that came to be known as the "Red Summer." For several days in 1992, Los Angeles burned following racial violence that is often remembered as the result of black and white tensions, but in fact represented a much more complex series of eruptions that also included Latinx individuals and Korean immigrants. The causes of these various explosions were myriad; in some cases minority populations, feeling that they had no other way to make their voices heard, took to the streets. In other cases, individuals in the majority population saw the rights of minority groups expanded in ways that they found threatening, so they turned to violence to try to uphold the status quo. We will examine a narrative of American history that focuses on why and how tensions along racial lines have so frequently spilled over into mass violence to develop a better understanding of larger processes like segregation and immigration and to ask what role whiteness has historically played in the definition of American identity.