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Honors Colloquia: Fall 2012

Click on a course name to read a description.

Course Name
Course Number/Section
Reading List
Aesthetics of Every Day Life
HONS 201.1A/01

1. Philosophies of Art & Beauty (P), by Hofstadter, 0-226-34812-1, Req/Excl

2.  Aesthetics of the Japanese Lunchbox, (P), by Ekuan, 0-262-55035-0 98; Req/Excl

3.  Experience As Art (P), by Kupfer, 0-87395-693-1, Req/Excl

Memory Across the Disciplines HONS 201.1B/01
1.  Radstone, Susannah, Schwarz, Bill. Memory - Histories, Theories, Debates,  978082323604

2.  Proust, Marcel, Scott-Moncrieff, C.K., Kilmartin, Terence. Swann's Way, 9780679720096

3.  Woolf, Virginia, Schulkind, Jeanne. Moments of Being, 9780156619189

4.  Perec, Georges. W, Or the Memory of Childhood,  9781860461668

5.  Emaux, Annie, Leslie, Tanya. Shame, 9781888363692
Feminist New Media and Health
HONS 201.65/01
Narrating Violence in Latin America HONS 301.1A/01

1)  Abad Fanciolince, Héctor. Oblivium: A Memoir. London: Old Street Publishing, 2010. ISBN-13: 978-1906964221.

2)  Vásquez Perdomo, María Eugenia. My Life as a Colombian Revolutionary. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 2005. ISBN:1-59213-101-8.

3)  Bolaño, Roberto. Distant Star. NY: New Directions: 2004. ISBN-13: 978-0811215862.

4)  Dorfman, Ariel. Death and the Maiden. NY: Penguin, 1991. ISBN-13: 978-0140246841.

5)  Vázquez, Juan Gabriel.  The Informers. NY: Riverhead Book, 2009. ISBN-13: 978-1594484674.

Other readings in digital files (pdf). 300+ pp
Urban Women: New Visions in the Industrial City in Europe and the U.S. HONS 301.1B/51
Map Reading, Reading Maps HONS 301.51/01
  • Required: Norman Thrower, Maps and Civilization: Cartography in Culture and Society (University of Chicago Press 3rd Edition), #0226799743*
  • Required: Denis Wood, with John Fels, The Power of Maps (Guilford Press), #0898624932*
  • Required: Paul Auster, City of Glass (New York Trilogy), #0140097317
  • Required:Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose (Harvest Books), #0156001314
  • Required: Brian Friel, Translations: A Play (Faber & Faber), #0571117422
  • Req: Thomas Harriot, A Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (Dover Thrift), #0486210928
  • Required: William Shakespeare, King Lear (The Pelican Shakespeare), #0140714901
  • Required: Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island (Oxford University Press), #0199560358
  • Optional: Adele J. Haft, Jane G. White, Robert J. White, The Key to the Name of the Rose: including Translations of all Non-English Passages (University of Michigan Press), #0472086219
  • *Note: Books listed in bold are background books to be read over the summer.
Interdisciplinary Independent Study
HONS 301.99/01
Advanced Interdisciplinary Study
HONS 491.51/01

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


Course Descriptions

Aesthetics of Every Day Life

Professor Christa Acampora (Philosophy)

HONS 201.1A                           Tuesdays & Fridays
Code 4832                                12:45-2:00 p.m.
3 hours, 3 credits                     Room 412 West

Artistic activity and responses are manifest not only in the production and appreciation of fine art but also in our efforts to shape knowledge, design communities, create values, form friendships, and imagine the kinds of lives we want to live.  This course examines questions about beauty and art as well as the relationship between aesthetic experience and the creative possibilities it affords us in our pursuits of truth, justice, community, and our search for a good and happy life.

Our readings and class discussions will explore the nature of the aesthetic in education, contemporary forms of violence, sex, sport, decision-making, and how we think about death. Along the way, we'll make connections between aesthetic experience in everyday life and philosophical analyses of specific works of art and aspects of artistic appreciation. The semester will conclude with a further exploration of the interplay of artistic values and social, political, and moral concerns. Drawing on what we learn about the historical and cultural contexts of aesthetic values, we shall test our conceptual tools by applying them in a consideration of various aspects of everyday life and art in Japan.


  • Joseph H. Kupfer, Experience as Art: Aesthetics in Everyday Life, SUNY, 1983
  • Hofstadter and Kuhns, editors, Philosophies of Art and Beauty, Chicago
  • Kenji Ekuan, The Aesthetics of the Japanese Lunchbox, MIT, 1998
  • Additional articles by Dutton, Parkes, and Saito to be posted on BlackBoard

Objectives and Outcomes

1. Understand how philosophy has developed in terms of how aesthetic values are distinguished. Students will gain familiarity with how aesthetic values are distinguished from and related to other kinds of values in the history of western philosophy, particularly in the works of major figures such as Plato, Kant, and Dewey. By the endof the course, students should be able to summarize the views of others, ask critical questions, and apply course materials in analyses relating to other interests.

2.Explore the relevance of aesthetic values in everyday life. Assigned readings discuss how aesthetic relations are intrinsic to education, agency, political participation, sexual relations, and our reflections on death. Specific weekly assignments will give students the opportunity to organize and test their efforts to draw these connections and make applications. A culminating project will allow students to perform relevant analyses or create exemplary works.

Assignments and Measures-Weekly writing assignments (50%); Participation (20%); Culminating Project or Paper (20%); Portfolio: self-assessment and retrospective (10%)

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Memory Across the Disciplines

 Professor Evelyne Ender (Romance Languages, French)

HONS 201.1B                           Mondays & Thursdays
Code 4844                                2:45-4:00 p.m.
3 hours, 3 credits                     Room 412 West

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 research 12-15 page paper.

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Feminist New Media and Health

Professor Jessie Daniels (School of Public Health)

HONS 201.65                          Mondays & Thursdays
Code 4833                               11:10-12:25 p.m.
3 hours, 3 credits                    Room 412 West

A New York Magazine cover story (October 30, 2011) recently proclaimed the 'Rebirth of the Feminist Manifesto' through feminist blogs.  In the article, 20-something feminist blogger Shelby Knox described the blogs as her generation's "version of consciousness-raising groups."  When conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh called Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" in response to her testimony before Congress about the prohibitive costs of contraception, he faced a firestorm of reaction from young feminists who took to Twitter and Facebook to express their outrage.   Today, young feminists engaged in activism around health issues are most likely to do that using new media. Whether through blogs, Twitter, or Facebook, feminist activists are using these tools to mobilize support for legislation protecting access to abortion or campaigning against sexist advertisements that promote a distorted body image.  Within this new way of mobilizing, old fissures around race continue to present challenges for a white feminist who would organize across racial boundaries. 

This honors colloquium offers students an opportunity to examine the rise of feminist activism around health in the era of new, digital media. Specifically, this course is designed to 1) cultivate an awareness of the structural, political, and cultural factors that affect women's health; 2) develop the ability to critically analyze media as well as build skills in creating media; 3) provide an introduction to feminist theorizing about gender, race, class, and the body. 

Readings & Assignments:

Gajjala, Radhika and Oh, Yeon Ju. 2012. Cyberfeminism 2.0 Peter Lang Press.

Additional required reading may be assigned from peer-reviewed journals.  These articles will be assigned and made available at no additional charge via a course wiki.

VISUAL TEXTS:  Throughout the semester, we will see a number of documentaries.  These are considered visual texts for the class.  An important goal of the course is to develop critical media literacy, and learning to read visual texts is a key way to do that. Mostly, we will screen films in class but sometimes you may also be required to view some films outside of regular class time.

Flip Cameras + YouTube

A key component of your work in this course will be using Flip Cameras (provided) to record short videos about topics related to feminism and health.


Each student will be responsible for creating and maintaining a blog throughout the semester on some topic related to feminism and health.  In one of the first class sessions, students will receive instruction on how to set up their blog and then throughout the semester they will write blog posts about a specific topic related to feminism and health. 


Twitter will be the main back channel for discussion beyond class. Each student should have a Twitter account. Early in the semester, we'll designate a hashtag to add to posts that relate to feminism and health.

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Narrating Violence in Latin America

Professor Maria Luisa Fischer (Romance Languages, Spanish)
Professor Mary Roldan (History)

HONS 301.1A                             Mondays & Wednesdays
Code 4834                                  4:10-5:25 p.m.
3 hours, 3 credits                       Room 412 West


Dirty wars, civil wars, drug wars, and widespread repression have taken place in several Latin American societies in the twentieth century.  This course examines the contexts and effects of political and social violence in Latin America during the '60s and '70s through the years of democratic transition in the '80s.  What is the legacy of violence and how has it shaped individual and collective notions of citizenship, justice, identity, politics, and history?  What are the causes of violence and how does it operate? How do individuals/nations remember violence and how do those memories shape imagination, a sense of self, interactions with others, and understandings of power? How do societies deal with the aftermath of violence and the need to achieve reconciliation or give voice to the impact of traumatic events of national scope?  A central premise of the course is that how violence is narrated matters, constituting a powerful means of resisting oblivion, recuperating memory, or even, perpetuating violence (for instance, when certain acts, memories, or responsibilities are erased.) Narrating violence can be a way of establishing voice, asserting agency, and imbuing seemingly incomprehensible experiences with meaning.  We will explore these issues from a comparative and interdisciplinary perspective (literature, history, art) focused on close readings of monographs, memoirs, official documents, novels, poetry, photography, and film in countries such as Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico.  Our point of departure is the era defined by the Cold War, the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, and the rise of Liberation Theology through the emergence of unarmed activism, guerrilla warfare, authoritarian repression, and national projects of reconciliation.  We will endeavor to understand young leftist political cultures, anti-subversion state doctrines, and the ulterior revalorization of human rights and the resurgence of a democratic ethos as a way of rebuilding coexistence in the national experiences studied

Course Requirements:
There will be 3-4 short paper assignments (2-3 pages each), one mid-term exam, an oral presentation, and a final paper. A final paper proposal is to be approved by the instructors by mid-November, and an 8-10 page final essay will be due during the examination period in mid-December.

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Urban Women: New Visions in the Industrial City in Europe and the U.S.

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

HONS 301.1B                             Tuesdays & Thursdays
Code 4836                                  5:35-6:50 p.m.
3 hours, 3 credits                       Room 412 West

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

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Map Reading, Reading Maps

Professor Adele J. Haft (Classical & Oriental Studies)
Professor Gavin Hollis (English)


HONS 301.51                  Tuesdays & Fridays
Code 4837                      2:10-3:25 p.m.
3 hours, 3 credits            Room 412 West



Concoctions of science and art, maps are tangible images of a society's knowledge and view of the world. This illustrated, interdisciplinary seminar analyzes the roles maps have played in selected works from the late sixteenth century through to the late twentieth century: paintings, engravings, films, anatomical treatises, works of anthropology and geography, travel writing, memoirs, poetry, drama, and novels. We will explore the intersections of visual art and literature, history and anthropology, psychology and science (cognitive mapping, cartography, geography, and anatomy). Combining historical, thematic, and theoretical approaches to cartography, we will ask: What is cartography? How do we read and encounter maps? What cultural work do they perform? What power do they (and their users) hold? How do cultures determine what maps mean and how they signify, what they depict and what they omit, and what their relationship is to the world they claim to represent?

Map historian Norman Thrower's Maps and Civilization will provide an introduction to the history of cartography ("Western" and otherwise) to underpin the historical and political contexts of the works we'll encounter. Guided by geographer Denis Wood's The Power of Maps and Jorge Luis Borges' satire "On Exactitude in Science," we will analyze ways in which the map is and is not the territory that it depicts. The course then opens into five parts. Part I explores the intersections between mapping, history, and memory (memoirs of map historian/theorist J.B. Harley, selected poetry, Paul Auster's novella City of Glass). Part II examines the political, historical, and religious contexts of pre-modern cartography through the lens of Umberto Eco's novel The Name of the Rose. In Part III, scientist Thomas Harriot's account A Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia, Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, and Brian Friel's play Translations help us investigate how maps are employed to demarcate and lay claim to territories‑‑and to their inhabitants. In Part IV, we ask how territorial mapping and anatomical drawings conceptualize both landscapes and bodies in Andreas Vesalius's and Leonardo da Vinci's anatomical drawings, Shakespeare's King Lear, and John Donne's poetry. In Part V, the relationship between Western and non-Western mapping traditions is addressed in anthropologist Hugh Brody's account of the mapping of the Pacific Northwest, Maps and Dreams, and in Vincent Ward's film A Map of the Human Heart.

Course Requirements:

Participation (includes presenting discussion questions & summarizing two of your papers: 20%), final exam (20%), and three papers of 5-7 typed pages (approximately 20% each). The final paper has two due dates; if submitted by the first date, it may be revised based on comments from the instructors for final submission on the second.

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Interdisciplinary Independent Study

HONS 301.99      
Section 01 - Code: 1670
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 301.99 cannot replace any of the three required Honors Colloquia.

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Advanced Interdisciplinary Study

HONS 491.51      
Section 001 - Code: 1671
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 491.51 cannot replace any of the three required Honors Colloquia.

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