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Academic Calendar - Fall 2021

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 2022


Click on a course name to read a description.

Course Name
Course Number/Section
Reading List
Love in Early Modern European Philosophy & Literature
HONS 2011Y/01 To be posted
Maps and Culture
HONS 2012H/01
To be posted
Race, Rebellions, Riots: Uprisings and Social Movements
HONS 2012J/01
To be posted
Sonic Scholarship: Exploring Voices of Resistance
HONS 2012K/01 To be posted
CUNY, Slavery, & Justice: Properties of Knowledge
HONS 3011V/01
To be posted
Literature and the Question of Human Rights
HONS 3011W/01 To be posted
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


Love in Early Modern European Philosophy & Literature

Monica Calabritto (Romance Languages, Italian)

HONS 2011Y
Tuesdays and Thursdays; 4:00-5:15 p.m.
Room: 412HW
3 hours, 3 credits

This seminar will explore the subject of love in its dual nature: as physical, erotic passion and spiritual, ennobling emotion, starting with Plato's dialogue Symposium and the Treatise on Love by the Arab polymath Avicenna, who authored the Canon of Medicine, one of the most influential texts for the medical Islamic and European traditions up until at least the seventeenth century. These two works exemplify the tension between the body and the soul that is elaborated and developed in all the other texts that we will read. In both texts, the physiological/medical dimension is present, and interacts with the philosophical dimension. This interaction is replicated and amplified in Marsilio Ficino's commentary to Plato's Symposium, written in the fifteenth century, and read extensively by philosophers and writers alike. A selection of medical documents written between the early sixteenth and early seventeenth century will complete the exemplification of the connection of philosophy, medicine, and literature when it comes to the notion of love in the early modern period.

A selection of Italian, French, English and Spanish texts, composed between the beginning of the fourteenth and the end of the seventeenth century, will allow us to address, among others, the following questions:  how are the tensions between body and soul on the one hand and erotic passion and spiritual emotion on the other elaborated in these texts? In which way did Marsilio Ficino's Neo-Platonic fifteenth-century elaboration of the Symposium, affect the literature on love written between the sixteenth and the seventeenth century? Do genre and gender influence the way love is enacted in these works, and how?

What follows is a provisional reading list:

Plato, Symposium; Avicenna, Treatise on Love; Marsilio Ficino, On Love; Girolamo Mercuriale, Consilia Medica (selections); Michel de Montaigne, "On Affectionate Relationships", "On the Affection of Fathers for Their Children", "On Three Kinds of Social Intercourse", in Essays; Baldassarre Castiglione, The Courtier (with special focus on book IV); Leone Ebreo, Dialogues of Love (Dialogue I; available online throughout CUNY); Michelangelo, Rime (selections); Louise Labé, Elegies and Sonnets (selections); Francisco de Quevedo, Poems (selections); William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet; Jacques Ferrand, A Treatise on Lovesickness; Jean Racine, Phèdre; Madame de la Fayette, The Princess of Clèves.

Those who can read these texts in the original language are encouraged to do so. The seminar will be conducted in English. Students will be required to give an oral presentation, a written report based on the oral presentation, and a final research paper. Grading will also factor in class participation.

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Maps and Culture

Professor Gavin Hollis (English)

HONS 2012H
Tuesdays and Fridays; 1:00-2:15 p.m.
Room: 412HW
3 hours, 3 credits

Amalgams of science and art, maps are images of a society's knowledge and view of the world around it and beyond it. This illustrated, interdisciplinary seminar analyzes the roles that maps have played in selected works by writers and artists from Europe, North America, and the Global South from the late medieval period through to the early twenty-first century: paintings, films, poetry, drama, prose fiction, and of course maps themselves. 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 maps 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? And to what extent do they allow for different views of the world, or even worlds beyond our own?

Texts will include King Lear by William Shakespeare, selected poems by John Donne, Brian Friel's play Translations, Kei Miller's poetry collection The Cartographer Tries to Map his Way to Zion, and selected poems by Elizabeth Bishop. Artists will include Johannes Vermeer, Albrecht Durer, Mona Hatoum, David Maisel, Julie Mehretu, Jasper Johns, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and Maya Lin. We will also watch Vincent Ward's 1992 film, A Map of the Human Heart.

Learning outcomes:

By the end of this class, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the history of cartography from the medieval period to the present day
  • Demonstrate an understanding of cultural and aesthetic links between maps and visual art
  • Demonstrate an understanding of cultural and aesthetic links between maps and literature


Participation, Attendance, In-Class Writing (25%)

Three papers of 6-8 pages (25% each, including presentation):

  • a paper on maps and art
  • a paper on maps and literature
  • a creative map project.

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Race, Rebellions, Riots: Uprisings and Social Movements

Professor Calvin Smiley (Sociology)

HONS 2012J
Mondays and Thursdays; 10:00-11:15
Room: 412HW
3 hours, 3 credits

This course examines the intersection of uprisings and social movements throughout the 20th and 21st century that contextualize how race, rebellions, and riots inform and shape political, social, and economic conditions in the United States. By investigating various cases and events from Red Summer to Black Lives Matter, students will understand the differences between rebellions and riots as well as further explore the prominent role race plays in shaping American cities. Utilizing an interdisciplinary perspective of history, political science, and sociology, students will have a better understanding of why and what sparks uprisings and social movements.

Tentative Topics:

Race Riots & Urban Rebellions: Section one of this course will be a survey of historical events that are known as "race riots." Looking at several key events throughout the 20th century including Red Summer (1919); Tulsa Race Massacre (1921); and Newark, NJ rebellion (1967), students will learn how these events started as well as the difference between calling them a "riot" versus "rebellion."

The Rise of 'Law and Order' Criminal Justice: Section two focuses around the national call for "law and order," which begins in the mid-1960s and becomes standard practice under President Richard M. Nixon and beyond. This shift in cultural dynamic gives rise to mass incarceration throughout the United States that disproportionately impacts Black Americans and other people of color.

Black Lives Matter & social media: Section three examines the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in the 21st century. While urban unrest at the hands of police harassment and police brutality has existed throughout American history, the rapid growth in technology and personal recording devices added a new layer of legitimacy to Black complaints of police discrimination.

Black Lives Matter, Global Pandemic, and Beyond: The final section of this course will bring instruction to present date looking at issues such as continued police brutality, BLM in the wake of deaths of individuals such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and the call for "defund the police." All in the wake of the global pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted U.S. prison institutions and communities of color.

Tentative Assignments:

Research Paper Proposal: 20%
Annotated Bibliography: 20%
Policy Paper: 30%
Oral Presentation: 30%

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Sonic Scholarship: Exploring Voices of Resistance

Professor D'Weston Haywood  (History)

HONS 2012K
Wednesdays; 11:30-2:20 p.m.
3 hours, 3 credits

When scholars conduct research, they may spend much of that time combing through dusty archives containing documents left behind by some well-known or obscure historical actor in order to tell some compelling story about the past or present. Recently, however, several scholars have rightly called the archive into question, arguing that what makes it into the archive and becomes a part of the historical record has a lot to do with power and privilege: who does and does not get access to the written word? What about silences in the archive, or when certain voices can be accounted for but not others? What about violence in the archive, that it is no accident that certain voices are preserved while others are deliberately eliminated? What if these things help the archive maintain the hegemony and racial hierarchies of the colonial project, and therefore require decolonization? This course answers these important questions with “Sonic Scholarship.” In other words, where there are silences in the archive, Sonic Scholarship unearths, recovers, imagines, and represents possible voices. This experimental and exploratory class fuses the academic and artistic, the critical and creative, to challenge students to interrogate questions of state power and white supremacy, racial justice, the political dimensions of popular culture, Black activism and public rhetoric, movement-making, Neoliberalism, and the connections between the literary and liberation politics using, perhaps, a people’s archive—Hip Hop. Working through diverse readings, documentaries, films, close listenings, discussions, and lyrics that center on Black freedom struggles from the Civil Rights era to Black Lives Matter, assignments will involve critical and creative writing, research, and live student performances. Students will leave the course with a “usable history” that empowers them to produce research and knowledge in textual and sonic form intended to raise a critical voice at this critical historical moment.

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CUNY, Slavery, & Justice: Properties of Knowledge

Professor Janet Neary (English)
Guest Speakers

HONS 3011V
Mondays and Thursdays; 1:00-2:15 p.m.
Room: 412HW
3 hours, 3 credits

Collecting texts across a wide variety of genres-history, literature, visual art, administrative report, journalism-this course establishes a framework for investigating the historical, structural, economic, relationships between CUNY, slavery, and abolition. We will study the institutional, epistemological, and pedagogical forms that condition race relations at CUNY, attending, in particular, to how value is assigned and how knowledge is organized. In addition to collectively establishing the epistemological framework for this project, students will individually pursue independent research to fill out the historical archive, calculate the impact of these legacies, and consider how to redress inequities within the system. Discussions will be organized around the way the texts under consideration shed light on the long trajectory of racial justice work in the US as it relates to higher education, from the antebellum period through Black Lives Matter movement today. The course culminates in a significant independent research project and essay that contributes to the historical archive on CUNY's relationship to slavery and abolition and sheds light on our institution's history of race relations. Requirements include lively participation in class discussion; Blackboard posts before each class meeting; a short writing project designed to expand and reflect on the historical archive around CUNY, slavery, and abolition; a comprehensive research proposal; and the final research paper and presentation. You may have an opportunity to present your research to a broader audience and the course will be in conversation with students from the "MIT and Slavery" course, putting our work in comparative context, addressing, among other things, differences in public vs. private education; the role academic specialization (engineering, art, or liberal arts) plays in understanding and excavating this history; and various social and institutional relationships to class and wealth production.

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Literature and the Question of Human Rights

Professor Sonali Perera (English)
Guest Speakers

HONS 3011W
Mondays and Thursdays;  11:30-12:45 p.m.
Room: 412HW
3 hours, 3 credits

What does it mean to invoke human rights in an age where, as one literary theorist puts it, "the banalization of human rights means that violations are often committed in the Orwellian name of human rights themselves, cloaked in the palliative rhetoric of humanitarian intervention?" What can the study of literature teach us about the paradoxes and enabling fictions of human rights? How do we understand the emergence of the Human Rights novel as a literary genre-as "popular" fiction? Where and how does literature as cultural practice intersect with the activism of international civil society groups and local human rights initiatives? By way of addressing these questions, in this course we will study the formal, historical, and ideological conjunctions between human rights and particular world literary forms.

In brief, our objectives are twofold: Towards framing the question of how we produce the concept of human rights in historical and literary studies, (1) we will read historical scholarship tracking the origins of the United Nations and International Law. (2) We will also consider alternative genealogies for internationalism opened up in postcolonial feminism, critical race studies, the literature of social movements, and other forms of world literature.

We will view two films: Dheepan (2015) and My Name is Pauli Murray (2021). Via Zoom, we will also have the opportunity to hear from guest speakers (interdisciplinary scholars, activists, and cultural workers) from South Asia and Europe as well as North America.

REQUIRED TEXTS (these may be purchased from bookstores or borrowed from libraries):

J.M Coetzee, Disgrace (Viking); Michael Ondaatje, Anil's Ghost (Vintage); Sinan Antoon, The Book of Collateral Damage (Yale UP); Bessie Head, A Question of Power (Heinemann or Wavelend Press edition); Lynn Nottage, Ruined (Theater Communications Group/TCG)

ADDITIONAL REQUIRED READINGS WILL BE AVAILABLE ON BLACKBOARD). THEY MAY INCLUDE: Hannah Arendt, Origins of Totalitarianism (selections); Giorgio Agamben, "Beyond Human Rights" from Means Without End; Walter Benjamin "Theses on the Philosophy of History" and other selections; Sophocles, Antigone; Ariel Dorfman, Widows; Saadat Hasan Manto, "Toba Tek Singh" from Khalid Hasan trans. A Wet Afternoon (short story); Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands/La Frontera (selections); Valeria Luiselli, Tell Me How it Ends (selection); Aime Cesaire, A Discourse on Colonialism (selection) ; Jacqueline Rose, "On the Universality of Madness" and "Apathy and Accountability"; Mark Mazower, No Enchanted Palace: The End of Empire and the Ideological Origins of the United Nations (selections) ; Crystal Parikh, Writing Human Rights (selection); Joseph Slaughter, "Novel Subjects and Enabling Fictions: The Formal Articulation of International Human Rights Law" from Human Rights, Inc ; Juliana Spahr, Du Bois's Telegram (selection); Samuel Moyn, Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World (selection); Oxford Amnesty Lecture series (selection)Text of the UDHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Course Requirements:

  1. A 10 minute oral presentation on one of the weekly history, theory, or literary readings (20%)
  2. Take-Home Midterm exam 20%
  3. Two page prospectus for the final paper (10%)
  4. Final paper (15-20 pages, double spaced, 12 point font) paper (35%)
  5. Engaged Class Participation and discussion board posts (15%)

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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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