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Honors Colloquia - Fall 2016

Click on a course name to read a description.

Course Name
Course Number/Section
Reading List
Chinese Food Cultures
HONS 2011D/01
  1. E. N. Anderson, The Food of China (Yale University Press, 1990)       ISBN-13: 978-0300047394
  2. * Yong Chen, Chop Suey, USA: The Story of Chinese Food in America (Columbia University Press; Reprint edition, 2014)
    ISBN-13: 978-0231168922
  3. Erling Hoh & Victor H. Mair, The True History of Tea Hardcover  (Thames & Hudson, 2009)
    ISBN-13: 978-0500251461
  4. * George Solt, The Untold History of Ramen: How Political Crisis in Japan Spawned a Global Food Craze (University of California Press, 2014)        ISBN-13: 978-0520282353
  5. * Roel Sterckx, Food, Sacrifice, and Sagehood in Early China (Cambridge University Press, 2015)
    ISBN-13: 978-1107547780
  6.  Q. Edward Wang,  Chopsticks: A Cultural and Culinary History Cambridge University Press (January 26, 2015)
    ISBN-13: 978-1107023963; Hunter Main Library Stacks GT2949 .W36 2015
  7. Isaac Yue & Siu-fu Tang, Scribes of Gastronomy: Representations of Food and Drink in Imperial Chinese Literature (Hong Kong University Press, 2013)         ISBN-13: 978-9888139989; Hunter Main Library Stacks PL2263 .S37 2013
* available as ebooks for free for Hunter students
Nuns' Stories
HONS 2011Q/01
  1. Rogers, Carol Garibaldi. Habits of Change
  2. Godden, Rumer.· In This House of Brede
  3. Hoy, Suellen. Good Hearts: Catholic Sisters in Chicago' s Past
  4. Williams, Joan M. Hunter College
HONS2011U /01
  1. Ball, Phillip. Why Society is a Complex Matter.· Springer-Verlag, Berlin.· 2012. 978-3-642-28999-6 (Print) 978-3-642-29000-8 (Online)
  2. Barabási, Albert-László.· Linked.· Plume publishing (the Penguin Group), New York, USA.· 2003.· 9780452284395
  3. Firestein, Stuart.· Ignorance.· Oxford University Press, Oxford. 2012.· 978-0199828074
  4. Gladwell, Malcolm. The Tipping Point.· Little, Brown & Company, New York.· 2002.· 978-0316346627
  5. Meadows, Donella H.· Thinking in Systems.· Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction.· 2008.· 978-1603580557
  6. Mitchell, Melanie.· Complexity.· Oxford University Press, Oxford. 2009.· 978-0199798100
  7. Strogatz, Steven.· Sync.· Hyperion, New York.· 2003.·· 978-0786887217
Archaeology at the Movies
HONS 3011J/01
  1. ·Haggard, H. Rider.· She.Penguin Classics.
  2. Christie, Agatha. Murder in Mesopotamia. Harper Collins.
  3. Peters, Elizabeth. Crocodile on the Sandbank. Grand Central.
Topics in Evolution of Human Social Behavior: Evolution of the Social Thinking
HONS 30136/01 Wilson, D.S. (2007). Evolution for Everyone. Random House: New York
Interdisciplinary Independent Study HONS 30199/01 TBD
Advanced Interdisciplinary Study HONS 49151/01 TBD


All course materials can be purchased at Shakespeare & Co. Booksellers, located at 939 Lexington Avenue.

Course Descriptions

Chinese Food Cultures

Professor Richard Belsky (History)


HONS 2011R
Mondays and Thursdays; 1:10-2:25 p.m.
Room 412 West
3 hours, 3 credits

Course Description:

In this colloquium we will examine Chinese foodways from an interdisciplinary and comparative perspective. We will familiarize ourselves with the richness and complexity of Chinese cuisine, and consider what is distinctively Chinese about Chinese food.· We will examine the history of food and eating in China and explore how it has developed and evolved over time.· We will look critically at the metaphorical uses of food and food consumption in Chinese late-imperial, and contemporary literature and film.· We will consider food and eating as components of Chinese medicine and traditional conceptions of health and bodies.· We will also investigate contemporary issues surrounding food and eating, including food and Chinese identity, Chinese food abroad (how it is altered and how it is adopted within other cultures, especially in the US and Japan), changing patterns of food production and consumption within China, and the problem of food safety and security.· The goals of this course include both taking food/eating as a means by which to better understand China; establishing this approach as a model to consider the foodways of other cultures, and finally enriching your learned appreciation of Chinese food for the rest of your lives.·

Students will be expected to write numerous short papers and one longer (12-15 page) research paper.· Class participation in discussions of readings will be required, and we will also see if we can find some way to fit a few tastings in as well.

Possible readings and viewings include:

Anderson, Eugene N.. The Food of China (New Haven : Yale University Press, 1988).

Chang, K. C., (edited). Food in Chinese culture: anthropological and historical perspectives (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977).

Chen, Nancy, N. Food, Medicine, and the Quest for Good Health (New York, Columbia University Press, 2009).

Farquhar, Judith. Appetites : food and sex in postsocialist China (Durham, NC : Duke University Press, 2002).

Lu Xun, "Diary of a Mad Man" 1918.

Mintz Sidney W. and Du Bois, Christine M.· "The Anthropology of Food and Eating"
Annual Review of Anthropology , Vol. 31, (2002), pp. 99-119.
Article Stable URL:

Watson , James L; and· Caldwell, Melissa L. (ed). The Cultural Politics of Food and Eating : A Reader (Malden, MA : Blackwell Pub., 2005.

--- (ed.) Golden Arches East : McDonald's in East Asia (Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, 2006.)

Tampopo (タンポポ) [video recording]; written and directed by Juzo Itami. 1986.

Eat drink man woman [video recording] / Samuel Goldwyn Home Entertainment; Central Motion Pictures presents in association with Ang Lee Productions and Good Machine ; an Ang Lee film. 1995.

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Nuns' Stories

Professor Bernadette· McCauley (History)


HONS 2011Q
Wednesdays; 10:10-1:00 p.m.
Room 412 West
3 hours, 3 credits


Most American women religious, popularly referred to as nuns, have not worn a traditional habit for forty years but the image of that woman, in a stiff headpiece and veil and heavy serge dress, is entrenched in the collective memory of Americans whether they were raised as Catholics or not, and reinforced on calendars, greeting cards, bobble-heads dolls, and refrigerator magnets. Moreover, there is a popular perception that by the 1960's the decision to enter a convent was no longer a meaningful life choice. Why would a liberated American woman choose a life which demanded vows that included chastity and obedience? Critics claimed that the religious life was more than out-dated, it was antifeminist.· But the "Nuns on the Bus" tour of the recent past reminded Americans that sisters were still around and that they had something to say. Still, often by their own choosing, women religious remain under the radar for most of us even as we buy those cocktail napkins of Sister Mary Margarita.

In this course we will work at de-mystifying nuns through an investigation of the realities of their lives, past and present. Our readings will include literature from anthropological, historical, medical and sociological perspectives, first-person accounts, observations of convent life by outsiders, and promotional materials. ·We will evaluate popular culture depictions including ephemera, films and novels, and talk to women who have been and remain engaged in the religious life.

The class will conduct a shared research project investigating the experiences of three Hunter graduates who chose this life in the early twentieth century, and attempt to reconstruct the paths that took these women both to Hunter and the convent. In individual research projects students will investigate specific topics, such as, religious practices of the era, the development of higher education for women, the influence of class and ethnicity on choices available to women. Your own work will result in a documented final research paper which will be 25% of the final grade. Other written work will include several short essays on readings. There will be a midterm exam, and an oral presentation of individual work to the class.

Required readings include: Carole Garibaldi Rogers, Poverty, Chastity and Change: Lives of Contemporary American Nuns (1999); Rumer Godden, In This House of Brede (1969); Joan M. Williams, Hunter College (2000); selections from The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk (1836); Kathleen Sprows Cummings, New Women of the Old Faith: Gender and American Catholicism in the Progressive Era (2009); Mary J. Henold, Catholic and Feminist: The Surprising History of the Catholic Feminist Movement (2008); Sueellen Hoy, Good Hearts: Catholic Sisters in Chicago's Past; Elizabeth Kuhns, The Habit: A History of the Clothing of Catholic Nuns (2003); Richard Russo, The Whore's Child ·(2002);· Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Monroe, Michigan Building Sisterhood: A Feminist History of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (1995); David Snowdon, Aging with Grace: What the Nuns Study Teaches Us About Leading Longer, Healthier and More Meaningful Lives (2001).

Please read In This House of Brede for our first class. (It's terrific!)

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Professor Timothy Bromage (Biomaterials & Biomimetics, NYU)


HONS 2011U
5:35-8:05 p.m.
Room 1022 North
3 hours, 3 credits


What is Complexity?

This course is about complexity science and the tools for scrutinizing complex systems that embody many of the world's greatest challenges.· Underlying the order of natural systems and the simple rules they would appear to follow, is complexity born from the large number of objects under consideration and the functional connections, or links, between these objects at hierarchies of scale.· The science of complexity, and goal of this course, concerns how to evaluate such systems as diverse, interdependent, connected, and adapted networks so that we may better understand how the objects of a disparate array of systems become self-organized, robust to disruption, and connected by links that increase in number/length according to common mathematical power laws.· Most of the world's top challenges are complex system problems, and thus topics for discussion will be drawn from the physical, biological, and social systems.· The class shall capitalize on the collective self-organized behaviors of its participants in the search for natural patterns harboring complexity and, in small-group teams, shall each ask and address a big question of their choice. ·

Students who successfully complete this course will:

  • Identify a complex system by its topology, or structure, as something different from a system that is simply complicated;
  • Discourse on the robustness and vulnerabilities of complex systems, and to identify circumstances that may potentially lead to system, or cascade failure;
  • Learn to make a map and evaluate complex systems, becoming acquainted with software programs used in network analysis;
  • Gain an appreciation for a variety of disciplines occupied with complex systems, including fields within the physical, biological, and social sciences;
  • Work in teams to apply principles and acquired skills to assess the reasons why specific complex systems are "broken" in efforts to fix them;
  • Communicate knowledge of complex systems effectively through writing assignments and term projects.

Teams will self-organize (following a "six-degrees of separation" game played in the first week of the course) and work on a final project with the aim to provide solutions suggested to resolve complex system failures.· Presentations by each team will facilitate class discussions and encourage diverse perspectives on the subject matter.·· There will be required reading (7-8 books), writing assignments, and a team project (2-3 members) with class presentation of the project.· Two midterm examinations will be held at 1/3 and 2/3 of term.

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Archaeology at the Movies

Professor Joanne Spurza (Classical and Oriental Studies)
Professor Robert White (Classical and Oriental Studies)

HONS 3011J
Mondays and Wednesdays; 5:35-6:50 p.m.
Room 412 West
3 hours, 3 credits

·"Much more is learned from studying bits of broken pottery than from all the sensational finds.
Our job is to increase the sum of human knowledge of the past."
········································ ~ the archaeologist Sir Joseph Whemple in The Mummy (1932)

· "Archaeology is the search for facts, not truth. If you want truth, philosophy class is right down the hall . . . X never marks the spot."· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·· · · · · · · ·· ····· ·········· · · · · · · · · · · · ······· ~ Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

This course explores the portrayal of archaeology and archaeologists in popular film - a distinct subset of the much larger subject of "antiquity in film."· The conventional image of archaeology enshrined in the pre-cinematic popular culture of novels, painting, drama, newspapers and magazines is an inheritance that cinematic versions never entirely discard; in the world of film, archaeological excavations routinely are saturated with elements of horror, superstition, time travel, science fiction and the occult. ·Equally durable are the historical influences of such spectacular discoveries as the tomb of Tuthankhamen by Howard Carter in 1922 (extensively photographed and filmed by Harry Burton) and the excavations of the Royal Cemetery of Ur in Mesopotamia by C. Leonard Woolley (1922-1934). ·Beyond all the clichés of exotic scenery and the stereotypes of treasure-hunting, however, these films address difficult issues of cultural appropriation and patrimony, Eurocentric colonial imposition, imperial elitism - balancing the noble search for hidden knowledge on the one hand, with plunder and betrayal of the indigenous and the sacred on the other.

Weekly film screenings focus primarily, though not exclusively, on the evolving cinematic image of archaeology:· some of the earliest renditions (Cleopatra (1934); The Mummy (1932) vs. The Mummy (1999)); ·modern classics (Spartacus (1960); Cleopatra (1963); Gladiator (2000)); ·popular successes (The Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and the rest of the Indiana Jones trilogy; Lara Croft Tomb Raider (2001); ·less well-known European and Egyptian examples (Al Mummia (The Night of Counting the Years) (1969); Fellini's Roma (1972); L'Amour et Mort (1984)); as well as movies in which archaeological investigation plays the significant, symbolic backdrop to personal drama (Viaggio in Italia (1953); ·A Month in The Country (1988)).· Analysis of each film is supplemented by reading assignments in the now-abundant critical literature on the subject, by related novel, and by apposite selections from ancient literary sources (e.g., Herodotus, Histories Book 2: ancient Egypt as the 'Other' to a foreign visitor).· Grading is based on: 1) active participation in class discussion; 2) weekly quizzes; 3) a mid-term examination;

4) two writing assignments, one shorter (ca. 6 pages), and a longer research paper (ca. 12 pages) due at the end of the semester.

Selective Bibliography

Day, David, 1997.· A Treasure Hard to Attain: Images of Archaeology in Popular Film, with a Filmography.· Langham, MD and London: Scarecrow Press.

Russell, Miles, ed., 2002.· Digging Holes in Popular Culture: Archaeology and Science Fiction.· Oxford: Oxbow Books.

Trümpler, Charlotte, ed., 2001.· Agatha Christie and Archaeology.· London: British Museum Press.

Wyke, Maria, 1997.· Projecting the Past. Ancient Rome, Cinema and History.· London: Routledge.


H. Rider Haggard, She (made into two films)
Agatha Christie, Murder in Mesopotamia (the Hassanieh dig in Iraq, made into a TV movie)
Elizabeth Peters, Crocodile on the Sandbank (Egypt)
Ngaio Marsh, When in Rome (San Clemente, the Villa Giulia)
Barry Unsworth, Land of Marvels (also Mesopotamia)

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Topics in Evolution of Human Social Behavior: Evolution of the Social Thinking

Professor Justin Garson (Philosophy)
Professor Jason Young (Psychology)

HONS 30136
Tuesdays and Fridays; 11:10-12:25 p.m.
Room 412 West·
3 hours, 3 credits


EVOLUTION OF SOCIAL THINKING is a contemporary look at highly topical (and sometimes controversial) questions of how human evolution may have influenced how humans frame the world around them. Included in the issues to be covered:

1)···· ·Free will vs. determinism: There have been numerous treatises on the notion of free will and how it can best be defined and delimited in human experience.· Folding in an evolutionary perspective adds the consideration of a) are there evolved limits on our ability to experience free will, and 2) what evolved within our brain's architecture that makes free will seem important to us-that is, how does free will confer survival value?· Does our exploration of human experience at the neuroscientific level necessarily imply that everything is determined, or does neuroscience still leave room for the self-control required by free will?

2)···· Religious belief:· Why do religious beliefs exist?· What functions do they serve?· We will discuss the various facets of religious beliefs, including their social function (they bring people together), their explanatory function (they help solve Big questions and reduce the sense of unpredictability about the world), and their cognitive function (as our brains evolved and our ability to question and analyze improved, did we "invent" new things to think about to take advantage of this new processing power in our heads)?· This discussion will NOT focus on whether or not God (or some deity) exists, but instead will focus on peoples' considerations of religious beliefs.

3)···· How can we understand psychiatric classifications using the lens of human evolution?:· As part of our evolved social nature, how critical is it that we define "normal" behavior (and if so, how mutable is the idea of "normalcy"?)· That is, how does this notion of normalcy confer survival value?·· The flip side of this is what can be defined as dysfunctional behavior and how useful/accurate are we at classifying it?· And how might the evolutionary lens lead us to (re)think about psychiatric labels?

In all of our discussions, in addition to the regular classroom management program of Blackboard, we'll also utilize (and reflect upon) several contemporary social media.· The course will begin with a general focus on key features of evolutionary theory before turning to the targeted areas mentioned above. In the final third of the course, students will give oral reports on a topic of social thinking of their choice.· In addition, students will be divided into small groups that take responsibility for each week's class discussions on a rotating basis.

Grades will be based on class participation, two short take-home essays, a term paper, and an oral presentation.


While there will be numerous articles assigned each week, the following book is required for the first couple of weeks' discussion on the overview of evolutionary theory.

Wilson, DS. (2007). Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin's Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives. Delacorte Pres


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Interdisciplinary Independent Study

HONS 30199
3 hours, 3 credits
Hours to be arranged

Students wishing to take this course will need two readers, from different disciplines, one of whom generally should be a member of the Council on Honors.· In principle, the Council must approve the subject matter of such a paper before the student can register for the course.· This course may be taken only once.

HONS 30199 cannot replace any of the three required Honors Colloquia.

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Advanced Interdisciplinary Study

HONS 49151
6 hours, 6 credits
Hours to be arranged

Upon completion of 90 credits, certified Honors Program students may be admitted by the Council on Honors to Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies, with the opportunity of engaging in advanced independent study under the Council's supervision. A project for a thesis or other appropriate report of the results of the student's research is presented to the Council, which must approve it the semester previous to registration. Three sponsors, from at least two departments, one of whom must be a member of the Council on Honors, will supervise the work. The final product must be approved by all three sponsors and the Council.

HONS 49151 cannot replace any of the three required Honors Colloquia.

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