Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

You are here: Home Thomas Hunter Honors Program Colloquia & Booklists
The Macaulay Honors College

The Macaulay Honors College (MHC) is not affiliated with the Thomas Hunter Honors Program. For more information about the MHC, please visit the Macaulay Honors College website.


Honors Colloquia - Fall 2015

Click on a course name to read a description.

Course Name
Course Number/Section
Reading List
Memory Across the Disciplines HONS 2011B
  • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (A Harvest/HBJ Book) ISBN 0-15-662863-5
  • The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco (A Harvest Book/Harcourt, Inc.) ISBN 978-0-15-603043-4
  • Memory by Philippe Grimbert (Simon and Schuster) ISBN 978-1-4165-6000-5
  • Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Vintage International) ISBN 978-1-4000-9594-0
  • W, or The Memory of Childhood by Georges Perec (David R. Godine, Publisher) ISBN 978-1-56792-158-8
  • Memory, A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan K. Foster (Oxford University Press) ISBN 978-0-19-280675-8
  • A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro (Vintage International) ISBN 0-679-72267-X
  • Swann's Way by Marcel Proust--Lydia Davis, translation (Penguin Books) ISBN 978-0-14-243796-4

Integrating the Irrational
HONS 20152
  • Bulgakov, M. (trans Burgin & O'Connor); The Master & Margarita
  • Zamiatin, E. We
  • Aeschylus, Aeschylus I
  • Sophocles, Sophocles I
  • Euripides, Euripides V
  • Freud, S. Intro Lectures on Psychoanalysis
  • Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness
  • Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart

Plato: History, Philosophy, and Poetry
HONS 20130

Required Books
  • Essential Dialogues of Plato. Tr. Benjamin Jowett. Ed. Blas. Barnes and Noble, 2005. ISBN 159308269X
  • Great Dialogues of Plato. Tr. W. H. D. Rouse. Signet Classics, 1999. ISBN 9780451527455.
  • Xenophon. Conversations of Socrates. Tr. Tredennick and Waterfield, Penguin. ISBN 0-14-044517-X
  • Four Plays by Aristophanes: The Birds; The Clouds; The Frogs; Lysistrata. Tr. William Arrowsmith. New American Library. ISBN 0452007178


  • G. A. Press, Plato: A Guide for the Perplexed. Continuum. 2007. ISBN: 0-8264-9176-6.
Urban Women: New Visions in the Industrial City in Europe and the US
HONS 3011B
  • Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit.  Penguin Classics; ISBN-13: 978-0141439969
  • Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie.  Dover Publications; ISBN-13: 978-0486434681
  • Friedrich Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England.  Oxford Paperbacks; ISBN-13: 978-0199555888
  • Jessie Fauset, Plum Bun.  Oshun Publishing Company; ISBN-13: 978-0991052301
  • Elizabeth Gaskell, Mary Barton.  Wordsworth Editions Ltd; ISBN-13: 978-1840226898
  • Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth.  Dover Publications; ISBN-13: 978-0486420493
  • Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway.  Mariner Books; 1st Harvest/HBJ edition; ISB N-13: 978-0156628709
  • Anzia Yezierska, Salome of the Tenements.  University of Illinois Press; ISBN-13: 978-0252064357
  • Emile Zola, Ladies' Paradise.  Oxford Paperbacks; ISBN-13: 978-0199536900
The Islamic City
HONS 3011H
To be posted
Poverty in the US
HONS 30148
  • Rank, Mark. One Nation Underprivileged. Oxford University Press. 2006
  • Shipler, David. The Working Poor. Vintage. 2005
Interdisciplinary Independent Study
HONS 30199
Advanced Interdisciplinary Study
HONS 49151

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

Course Descriptions

Memory Across the Disciplines

Robert J. White (Classical & Oriental Studies)

HONS 2011B
Mondays; 5:35-8:05 p.m.
Room 412 West
3 hours, 3 credits

What is a personal memory? Is it a story or a scene, as if in a film? Is there such a thing as body memory? Or is that even the wrong question to ask, since surely we need a body to remember? These are the types of questions we will explore in a seminar organized around literary examples of personal remembrance and close readings of texts by Virginia Woolf, Marcel Proust, George Eliot, Gérard de Nerval, Georges Perec, and Annie Ernaux (all available in English).  In order to make better sense of our "case-studies," we will study a selection of philosophical essays as well as scientific articles or book chapters drawn from cognitive psychology and the neurosciences. Building on our better understanding of how personal memory works, we will then turn our attention, again with the help of fiction, to the important recent debates on memory and history as well as on the ethics of memory. Coming out of this course, you will not only have a better comprehension of how memory works, you will also know why some of the sharpest minds from different disciplines have been drawn, over the last twenty years or so, to study so closely a mental phenomenon or "activity" that we take for granted and is yet of fundamental importance for our sense of personhood.

Requirements and assignments

Regular class attendance, participation, and careful preparation. Mid-term in the form of a short 6-8 page paper, short oral presentation, final 12-15 page research paper.

NB Information and suggestions for summer readings are in preparation for the course will be sent to you or posted by the end of May.

[Back to top] 

Integrating the Irrational

Professor Elizabeth K. Beaujour (Classical & Oriental Studies, Russian)

HONS 20152 
Tuesdays and Thursdays; 4:10-5:25 p.m.
Room 412 West
3 hours, 3 credits            

This colloquium will examine the ways in which a variety of human systems attempt to integrate phenomena that challenge their basic assumptions and violate their fundamental structures. Underlying all our other readings will be short texts by cultural anthropologists and linguists:  Mary Douglas, Claude Levi- Strauss, and Steven Lukes.

Each of the five units of the course will involve a comparison. We will begin with a peculiar masterpiece of Russian Literature: Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita and read it in conjunction with William Blake's "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell".  We will then go back to ancient Greece to see how the Aeschylus trilogy and Sophocles' Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonus find ways to resolve the conflicts between absolutely contradictory obligations and rights.

From Oedipus, it is an obvious segue to a short unit on psychoanalysis, where we will read excerpts from Freud and Jung and look at some of Jung's drawings from his Red Book.  Continuing in an associative way, we will then consider the imagery of Hieronymus Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights (sometimes called the Millennium Triptych), and compare this work with the imagery in twentieth century Surrealist art, particularly works of Magritte, Max Ernst and Salvador Dalí.

We will close the semester with a comparison that has now become classic: the antithetical visions  of Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and Chinua Achebe's, Things Fall Apart,."

There will be a short paper after the first unit,. This paper may be revised.  You will be asked to write several brief responses to some of the paintings,  and a longer final paper on a topic agreed upon with the instructor (to be begun during the weeks when we are looking at visual material. I will want to see at least one draft before final submission of the paper).This final paper should reflect the interests of the student, and may therefore consider kinds of "irrationality" other than those addressed in the course.

There will also be an odd, one hour, final exam.

[Back to top]

Plato: History, Philosophy, and Poetry

Professor Gerald Press (Philosophy)

HONS 20130                         
Tuesdays and Fridays; 12:45-2:00 p.m.
Room 412 West
3 hours, 3 credits

Plato is usually thought of as a philosopher; but from the philological standpoint he was a poet as well. In fact, his dialogues are widely considered the best Attic Greek ever written. Besides the philosophical ideas and arguments in them, the dialogues are stories, comic and tragic dramas of astonishing brilliance in some cases. The dialogues are not history, though they are often taken to be; and Plato is not a historian, though some modern readers - anachronistically - fault him for this. Nevertheless, they can be used, with caution, as sources for the reconstruction of Greek political and cultural history. Moreover, a grasp of the dialogues as poetry or philosophy requires some knowledge of their historical contexts.

In this colloquium, we will read Plato in an interdisciplinary way, from the standpoints of history, literature, and philosophy. This will illustrate an approach that can be fruitfully applied as well to other "great books" and great authors. I hope that students will come to appreciate that what Plato is doing in the dialogues transcends modern disciplinary distinctions.

We will read some of the shorter dialogues, such as Ion, Euthyphro, and Apology, and some of the medium-length dialogues, such as Meno, Protagoras, and Phaedrus. We will note differences between the more richly literary and dramatic, such as Symposium, Protagoras, and Phaedrus, and the more dryly argumentative, such as Parmenides and Republic, of which we will read not only the central books 5 - 7, but also the important books 1 and 10.

We will also look at some attempts to perform the dialogues on stage and in films, and possibly attend a local performance.

Required work and grades

  1. Each student will be required to write a short (800-1,000 word) paper on a topic reflecting each section of the course. Short papers will constitute 40% of the course grade.
  2. Students will also be required to write a term paper of 3,000-4,000 words. Term papers may be research papers or non-research interpretative papers. Instructor will provide individual guidance on all phases of term paper writing. Term papers will constitute 40% of the course grade.

20% will reflect student's participation and contribution to in-class on on-line discussions.

 [Back to Top]

Urban Women: New Visions in the Industrial City in Europe and the US

Professor Sarah Chinn (English)
Professor Ida Susser (Anthropology)

HONS 3011B
Mondays and Wednesdays; 4:10-5:25 p.m.
Room C103 North
3 hours, 3 credits

Cities are transformative public spaces where new ideas are sown, exciting movements begin, and people meet one another and embark on new lives. The experience of the city is especially life-changing for women, whose workplaces and urban environments have been shaped by changing ideas about women and the relationship between public and private spheres. 

This course will explore both literary and social scientific representations of women's experiences in major cities in Europe and the United States.  Beginning with the first major wave of urbanization in England and France in the mid-19th century and then moving to New York and Chicago at the end of the 19th and early decades of the 20th century, we will look at women's relationships to labor movements, financial booms and busts, political activism, and the ongoing pressures of domesticity.  We will integrate literary texts that anchor the course with other kinds of materials: manifestos, visual representations of working women, autobiography, sociology, history, and political science, including documents from reform movements.


Participation: Students will participate in an online discussion board, and will be required to contribute at least once every week, as well as participating in class discussion (10%).  They will also work in groups on oral presentations based on research about the historical, political, and cultural contexts of the readings for that unit (15%).


Each week, two students will pose discussion questions to the class, as part of the writing requirement (10%).

Midterm essay of 6-8 pages; students will have the opportunity to write in drafts and revise (25%).

Final essay of 14-16 pages (40%); students will have the opportunity to write in drafts.

Selected Readings:

Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Projects; David Harvey, Paris: The Capital of Modernity; Christine Stansell, City of Women: Sex and Class in New York, 1789-1860; Ellen Ross, Love and Toil: Motherhood in Outcast London, 1870-1918; Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie; Edith Warton, The House of Mirth; Anzia Yezierska, Salome of the Tenements

[Back to Top

The Islamic City

Professor Anna Akasoy (Classical & Oriental Studies)
Professor Nebahat Avcioglu (Art & Art History)

HONS 3011H
Mondays and Thursdays; 9:45-11:00 a.m.
Room 412 West
3 hours, 3 credits  


This colloquium proposes a critical thematic and historical overview of architectural, social, political and cultural aspects of cities in the Middle East from the seventh century to the present. Often described as "Islamic" since the 19th century by Orientalists seeking religious authenticity, these cities were either inherited or founded at various times and under different circumstances by Muslims and became powerful cosmopolitan centers. Pointing to the rhetoric surrounding the "Islamic city" in the West, which describes it as a physically haphazard, socially segregated and culturally exotic space (or stagnant, traditional and despotic), we will engage with the challenges of understanding the city in its own terms. While we will focus on some of the traditional centers in the Islamic world (such as Istanbul, Cairo, Isfahan, Damascus and Baghdad), we will also discuss the remaking of Beirut, Abu Dhabi and Mecca as well as engaging in comparative exercises with European and North American cities.

Proceeding in a chronological order and identifying the most important topics in the study of the "Islamic city", we will

-          discuss early urban developments under Muslim rule, whether in pre-existing cities or newly established settlements, exploring which cultural, political, social and religious elements shaped them (e.g. preexisting architectural models, building regulations in medieval Islamic law)

-          discuss the relationship between architecture, urban structures and social and political realities (e.g., the location of power in the city or segregation based on gender, ethnicity, or religion)-          explore the unique urban constellations of material wealth, cosmopolitanism and critical intellectual mass for political, social, material and cultural dynamics in Islamic history

-          consider representations of cities in visual images, such as maps and panoramas, and in literature produced in the West and in the Islamic world and explore the reputations of different cities

-          Moving into the modern and post-modern periods, explore the impact of colonialism, post-colonialism, literary representations such as Orhan Pamuk's writings about Istanbul and Alaa al-Aswany's novel about Cairo

Requirements: 1 Research paper; 1 presentation; short in-class exercises such as analyzing an image, city plan or building

Select bibliography:

Urban Theory Beyond the West: A World of Cities, eds., Tim Edensor and Mark Jayne, Routledge: 2011.
The City in the Islamic World
, eds., Salma Khadra Jayyusi, Renata Holod, Attilio Petruccioli, André Raymond, Brill: 2008.
Cities in the Pre-Modern Islamic World: The urban impact of religion, state and society, eds., Amira K. Benison and Alison Gascoigne, Routledge, 2007.
Stefano Bianca, Urban Form in the Arab World: Past and Present. New York: 2000.

[Back to Top]

Poverty in the US

Professor Anthony Browne (Africana & Puerto Rican/Latino Studies)
Professor Roseanne Flores (Psychology)

HONS 30148
Tuesdays and Fridays; 11:10-12:25 p.m.
Room 412 West
3 hours, 3 credits


This interdisciplinary course explores how sociology and psychology explain persistent poverty and the attendant effects on individuals, communities and American society. Theories and concepts from both disciplines are utilized to examine the nature and extent of poverty in the U.S., its myriad causes and consequences, as well government programs and policies. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the intersectionality of class, race/ethnicity and gender.  Questions to be addressed include: What is poverty? Why is U.S. poverty higher than other industrialized nations? What are the perceptions of the poor by the non-poor? What is the effect of poverty on children and families? What are individual and structural explanations of poverty? And what is the psychological impact of being poor in an affluent society? Emphasis will be placed on urban poverty and the role of the state and civil society its amelioration.


  • Mark Rank, One Nation Underprivileged - Required
  • David Shipler, The Working Poor

Grading for this course is based primarily on a research paper, midterm and final exam, and class participation. 

Back to top


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 and does not count towards the three Honors Colloquia required of every member of the Program.

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

[Back to top]

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.

[Back to top]

Document Actions
« August 2015 »
Thomas Hunter Honors Program website contact:
West Building Room 1421 | Telephone : (212) 772-4127 | webmaster