Course Number: INQS-125
2017 Fall Semester:
INQS 125 01: Game Theory in Pop Culture - An investigation of game theory through film, television, and fiction. This course explores ideas such as perfect information, prisoner's dilemma, and volunteer's dilemma. Students will learn the basic mathematical underpinnings of game theory and then apply these concepts to societal questions of conflict and cooperation. 4 credits
INQS 125 02: Path of Wisdom - This course explores the world's "wisdom" traditions through the study of the Biblical Wisdom books (Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, and Psalms). We will bring in other texts from ancient Southwest Asian traditions, other world religions, and contemporary voices that deal with wisdom, suffering, and theodicy. We will consider how these texts continue to have relevance and address the questions: Does the world have order and meaning? What would a "successful" and "happy" life look like, and how might we pursue that goal? How should we make sense of suffering and injustice in the created order? 4 credits.
INQS 125 03: What is a Good Citizen? What is a Good Citizen? Explores ideas about and commitments to citizenship. Is being a good citizen more than the occasional paying of taxes and casting of ballots? Has the concept of citizenship changed over time? Are the duties, obligations and privileges of US citizenship peculiar to its borders? Has technology undermined nationalism and dissolved borders? This class will consider these questions and more as well as outline many forms of civic engagement taking insights from philosophy, political activism and history. Using literature, film, and classroom debate, students will be challenged to create their own critical assessments and agendas for wider community engagement. 4 credits.
INQS 125 04: Language Matters - Study American English and examine the influence of other languages (e.g. German and Spanish) on the development of the American idiom. Examine the role of dialects and slang in constant linguistic renewal. The course's main text is an informal history of the United States as seen through a linguistic lens, illuminated musically through introduction of American folk songs, the texts of which often shed important light on our social and linguistic past. 4 credits.
INQS 125 05: The Tragic Side of Life - What is specifically tragic about a tragedy? How is "tragic" different from "very sad" or "dramatic"? Through discussion of the ascription of the name "tragedy" to several plays, from "Oedipus Tyrannus" to "Exit the King", students will speculate about what they have to say about suffering, transcendence and fate, as well as society and gender, and more generally, about human self-understanding. Students will also explore the presence of a tragic dimension in other creative venues. 4 credits.
INQS 125 06: Genius of East Asian Civilization - An Introduction to the philosophical foundations of East Asian culture and examines the cultural highlights of the three major civilizations in East Asia: China, Korea and Japan. Examine the visual arts, music and literature of these three civilizations. All works will be read in English translation and no background in an Asian Language is required. 4 credits.
INQS 125 07: Literature of Environmental Crisis - In this course, we will explore a range of texts that describe how 'natural' crises and catastrophes (real or imagined) impinge on and condition political and cultural contexts. Pollution, global warming, toxicity, acidification of the oceans, radiation, and natural disasters are all indifferent to national borders: they do not abide by the rules of nation states. Oil and water are the stuff of conflict. We will spend this semester reading and discussing texts in which such forces figure prominently. Some possible questions: What can texts tell us about ecological crises and their damaging effects? How is 'nature' perceived, interpreted, and represented in texts and media? What is at stake in these perceptions and representations, and for whom? 4 credits.
INQS 125 09: Complementary Healing Methods- In the United States, there is an increasing use of complementary and alternative medical techniques in the treatment of various illnesses. Some of these methods have their origins in other cultures. Examine the efficacy of complementary healing methods such as intercessory prayer, humor, and animals as well as exploring healing methods used in other cultures around the world. 4 credits.
INQS 125 10: Votes for Women - Explore why and how individuals in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries created new opportunities for women to speak in public, forged the Woman Suffrage Movement, and campaigned for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that guarantees women the right to vote. Investigate the life, work and speeches of Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt, Abigail Scott Duniway, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, and others. 4 credits.
INQS 125 11: Women Writing War - Going to war has long been considered the foundational initiation rite of manhood, and yet women's lives have been deeply affected by it for just as long, both directly and indirectly. In this Inquiry Seminar we will explore literary and cinematic texts by women that document war and the legacies of war across a wide spectrum of experience: combat itself, familial impacts, civilian trauma, and long-term consequences of war both on the home front and in the combat zones war devastates. 4 credits.
INQS 125 12: From Beats to the Beatles - Throughout the 1960s, as the lines between the personal and the political became increasingly blurred, the lines between the nation's artists and activists began to blur as well. By the end of the decade, writers like Allen Ginsberg, Hunter S. Thompson, and Anne Sexton were as famous for their political activism and their personal escapades as they were for their writing. Indeed, it is impossible to fully understand the decade's literature without understanding its activism, and vice versa. The best way of understanding the 1960s is to bear these paradoxes in mind: democracy and separatism; personal and political; art and activism. And this will be the basic method for this course: to write our way to understanding how social movements inform and are informed by literature, song, and oratory. 4 credits.
INQS 125 13: Sex, Sanctity, Pwer: Medvl Womn Sex, Sanctity, and Power: Writing Medieval Women - Women in the Middle Ages are often imagined as powerless and voiceless, either as idealized objects of desire or as absent from the literary and political landscape. But does medieval literature reflect this stereotype? How are women represented in medieval literature; and when they write, how do women represent themselves? In this course we will read texts written by medieval women on a wide range of topics from political activism, philosophy, and social satire, to the spiritual life and sexuality. We will also read texts written about women, including selections from the blockbuster romances and satires of the late Middle Ages. Through discussions, short writings, class presentations, and formal papers we will discover how medieval women were "written" from others' perspectives and how they close to "write" themselves. 4 credits.
INQS 125 14: Coming of Age in Literature - How do you go from being a child to being an adult? What are the key stages and conflicts in this process? How does your older self relate to your younger self, to your parents, to your peers? We will explore how authors represent this transformation in a range of recent American literature, opening with a fictional memoir, and then focusing on contemporary drama from a variety of perspectives. We will also explore insights about coming of age from psychology, anthropology, and sociology, and even try writing original coming-of-age stories. 4 credits.
INQS 125 15: American Experiment - The United States is an experiment that has lasted over 240 years. As the citizens and innovators of this experiment, Americans have attempted to rethink and reshape every aspect of human experience. In this course, we will read some of the most influential texts produced by our relatively young nation, in its ongoing effort to define itself and its role in the larger world. We will ask questions about our understandings of nationality, citizenship, labor, leisure, nature, and the self, and we will examine some of the key concepts and ideals that have thus far defined American national identity. 4 credits.
INQS 125 16: Superheroes and Archvillains - In its relatively short history, American culture has produced an astonishing array of superheroes and archvillains, and each American generation produces its own vision of the heroic and the villainous. In this course, we will analyze the representation of the superhero and the archvillain in American film over the last few decades. Our investigation will take us from Hannibal Lecter to the Joker, from Lieutenant Ripley to Iron Man. We will ask what these figures tell us about our culture's ideals, anxieties, and contradictions. We will also inquire how these films renegotiate gender, race, class, and national identity. 4 credits.
INQS 125 17: The Haunting of Modernity - The "ghost story" is one of the oldest and most beloved literary genres. American culture, like so many other cultures, has produced an astonishing array of literary texts and films which use the paranormal (ghosts, vampires, zombies, etc.) to explore its deepest fears and anxieties. In this course, we will analyze some of the greatest "haunted" works of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries in an effort to better understand American culture itself. 4 credits.
INQS 125 18: In Search of the Good Life - In Search of the Good Life - What is the "good life"? This is perhaps the deepest human question. It is not only a question recipients of a liberal arts education should ask, but also a question that permeates film and literature. Looking at thinkers as ancient as Aristotle and films as contemporary as "Food, Inc.", this class will discuss and evaluate different conceptions of a good life and provide a place for students to engage in their own inquiry. 4 credits.