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INQUIRY SEMINAR

Course Number: INQS-125

Course Description:
2016 Spring Semester:

INQS 125 01 INQS 125 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.

INQS 125 02 Russian Writers and Political Violence - This course explores how Russian writers have represented political violence. We will read a variety of fictional and non-fictional texts and focus on how writers have understood, depicted-and, in some cases, experienced-three forms of violence that have been recurrent features not only of Russian history, but of the history of much of the world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: the bloody interface between the imperialist state and its colonial subjects, which for Russia played out (and continues to play out) most dramatically in the Caucasus mountains; the terrorist campaigns of revolutionary insurgents, which Russian radicals pioneered in the 1870s and to which they turned periodically through the first decades of the twentieth century; and the mass murder perpetrated by a dictatorial state against its own citizens, which took the lives of millions of people in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin in the 1930s and 1940s. 4 credits.

INQS 125 03 History of Mexican Immigration to the U.S. - An introduction to the nature of U.S. cultural, political, and economic relationships with Mexicans and Mexican Americans via an exploration of Mexican immigration to the U.S. Examine both the historical context of this process, as well as contemporary issues urrounding the immigration debate. Explore the historical importance of Mexican immigrants to the U.S. economic and political system, as well as the role Mexican immigrants have played in the shaping of U.S. cultural identity. 4 credits.

INQS 125 04 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 05 The American Experiment - The United States is an experiment that has lasted over 235 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 06 The Shock of the New - Virginia Woolf once asserted that "human character" itself had changed "on or about December 1910." Walter Benjamin, thinking of the First World War, similarly observed that "a generation that had gone to school on horse-drawn streetcars now stood under the open sky in a landscape where nothing remained unchanged but the clouds and, beneath those clouds, in a force field of destructive torrents and explosions, the tiny, fragile human body." The modern age brought with it mechanized war, mass production, crowded cities, dazzling new commodities, and a whole set of new experiences both thrilling and shocking. The generations of artists and authors who experienced the intoxicating excitements and intolerable miseries of the modern age broke with many old traditions and invented new ways of thinking, feeling, and seeing which were adapted to the realities of modern life. In this course, we will measure the distance, culturally speaking, between their experiences of life and our own, and in doing so, we will find new ways of questioning and analyzing daily life in our own time. 4 credits.

INQS 125 07 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 08 Reimagining the Other - Explore cultural encounters between Spaniards and natives in the Americas and the subsequent (mis)representations of indigenous others in the writings and art of the colonial period. Focus on conquest and colonization as an on-going process. Study the ways in which native peoples strive to preserve remnants of their culture. Sources include film, art, travel narratives, historical accounts, critical essays, and literature. 4 credits.

INQS 125 09 The Iraq War Across the Genres - This coursefocuses on the history of the Iraq War and the discourse emerging from it: blogs, memoir, fiction, poetry and film. Special attention to the pre-war national debate, the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, and the experience of U.S. soldiers, Iraqi civilians, and U.S. and Canadian Muslims. 4 credits.

INQS 125 10 Energy in the Modern World - From charging a phone to jumping into the car for a quick errand, the easy availability of energy underpins our everyday existence. In this course, we will look more closely at this luxury, which enables so many aspects of "modern" life-- lighting, cooking, heating, transportation, communications, technology, industry. Where does this energy come from? How does our use of energy impact our sense of self, our society, and the health of the planet? With our reliance on external forms of energy, what is gained and what is lost? What might that mean for the future? We will explore each of these themes through personal reflections, historical perspectives, and future predictions using a wide range of resources, including fiction and non-fiction texts, essays, news reports, and other media. 4 credits.

INQS 125 11 Stories and Storytelling - Stories are everywhere. They play a pervasive role in our daily lives-not only on screens or in novels, but also in songs, in the workplace, in courtrooms, on the playground, and in history classrooms. In his course we will discover how stories shape who we are and how stories help us to construct meaning. We will examine the nature of story - what it is, how it functions, where we find it, why we love a good story. Written and oral stories will be read and researched, and students will participate actively in the seminar-analyzing, discussing, imagining, and telling stories. 4 credits.

2016 Fall Semester:

INQS 125 01 Star Wars Philosophy - A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, thinkers confronted the same fundamental questions that philosophers consider today. We will therefore develop philosophical tools and theories through interpretation of the "Star Wars" films. Is Han Solo an empiricist? Should anyone accept Darth Vader's social contract? Does Kylo Ren have a choice to [SPOILER REDACTED]? Join us to find out! 4 credits.

INQS 125

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