Fall 2023 Courses

Note: the geological laboratory course that was previously listed here is actually being offered in the Summer II term.

Slavery in American Pop Culture

Rothman TR 11-12:15

This course examines how slavery has appeared in American popular culture over time. Students will be engaging with novels, film and television, theater, advertisements, art, and other cultural products from the nineteenth century to the present.



Insect Decline and Climate Change

Abbott TR 9:30-10:45 AM

Insects have evolved and diversified for over 400 million years of Earth’s changing climate. However, shifts in temperatures and precipitation along with anthropogenic changes do seem to be affecting insect populations. This class will review the history of climate change and dive into what we knew/know. When we knew about climate change and then explore what we know about insect decline. Usually, climate research takes decades of long-term studies to monitor the effects of climate change so we will take a look at what the research on insect decline is really telling us! This class will be filled with insect diversity, some live insects and of course a LOT of discussion on what we know about the effects of climate change on insects. We will also look at research on the best ways to communicate climate change. At the end of class, we will discuss topics and approaches that would effectively communicate what we have learned to the general public.

Civic Leadership Development

Harris TR 3:30-4:45 PM

A 2016 Pew Research study found that the political polarization in the U.S. continues to deepen and grow more hostile, and the widening economic disparities predicted by the July 2019 McKinsey Global Institute report The Future of Work in America are likely to further accentuate our national divides. In response to these alarming trends, this course takes an innovative approach to prepare students to be citizens more capable of addressing a politically divisive environment, locally and globally. Serving as a civic learning “laboratory,” the Civic Leadership Dialogues offer students the opportunity to acquire the “democratic knowledge and capabilities” that can only be “honed through hands-on, face-to-face, active engagement.”

American Gothic

Whiting TR 2-3:15 PM

If monsters are a persistent feature of nearly all societies and historical periods, their features and shapes are profoundly variable. Contemporary American monstrosity has one of its most compelling forms in a figure that emerged in a variety of legal, scientific, literary, and popular discourses somewhere around the first third of the twentieth century: the psychopath. In this course, we’ll read a selection of American novels from the last 100 years, as well as a selection of historical and theoretical texts, to see what this distinctively American monster can tell us about the culture in which he was produced. Among the issues we will take up are: What are the defining characteristics of the monsters these texts contain? In what ways are these creatures incompatible with the existing social order? In what ways do they function (or fail) to establish the boundaries of “the human?” How do they complicate abstract and universalizing notions of the human in terms of class, race, gender, and other social and political structures? The aim of the course will be both to see how the psychopath operates as a cultural production and to take stock of the historical transformations in the concept of the psychopath, and perhaps monstrosity itself, within the last century.

Environmental Humanities

Stamm MW 3:00-4:15 PM

This course will provide an overview of the different ways that humanities scholars can engage with ecological issues can contribute to the understanding of our relationship with our environment. To understand the evolution of this domain of study, we will begin with some forerunners such as Henry David Thoreau’s Walden and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, but the majority of the course will present contemporary perspectives on human-environment relationships. Some of these will be from a theoretical perspective, such as post- and trans-humanism, but we will also look at the ways in which our understanding of ecological factors can intersect with issues of equity and justice, such as in the movements of ecofeminism and environmental justice. We will be discussing these issues not only from a US perspective, but also with voices from Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.

Survival is Insufficient

Presnall TR 3:30 – 4:45 PM

This course uses Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven as a central text to explore critical perspectives on nostalgia, kinship, trauma, survival, and art in the Anthropocene. We will read the novel along with posthuman theories to discuss possibilities for reimagining current contexts—revision as a mode of disruption rather than continuation. We will consider the novel’s conversation with recent postapocalyptic fiction by women, use of Shakespeare and Star Trek, and its adaptation to the screen. Students will create research and writing projects according to their own interests.

Sustainability as Relationship

McLelland MW 3:00-4:15 PM

This seminar will introduce students to the breadth of Sustainability as a subject and will serve as a vehicle for further student research into specific topics within the context of Sustainability. Students will become acutely aware of the presence of connections, systems, interrelationships, and flows at all levels, from the very smallest to the very largest scales.

This course is about exploring the meaning of our humanity. Fundamentally, this course will present and explore the idea that humanity, as species and as idea, emerges from and exists within relationship. Embracing that understanding means coming to grips with a paradigmatic shift that recognizes humanity’s place within the Earth system. It means recognizing both that we belong and that we bear enormous responsibilities to all the communities — human and non-human — of which we are a part.

Like every other species on the planet, we are biological creatures. Alone among all our kin, however, we have evolved the kind of individual and collective consciousness from which civilization emerges. The power of that emergent phenomenon, and the suddenness, in evolutionary terms, with which it developed has allowed us to see ourselves for nearly all of our history as a species apart, masters of a world we live on, not in. The challenges we now face — both the existential threat of climate change and the unprecedented opportunities for transformation that that threat offers — flow directly from the urgent need to understand what it means to be responsibly human.

The nature of these questions and concerns are fundamental to all of us and cut across all disciplines and all courses of study. This seminar will strengthen students’ ability, regardless of their majors, to recognize and appreciate the power of connection, and will encourage them to be empowered by complexity, rather than overwhelmed by it.

21st Century Archaeology: Using Scientific Methods to Answer Archaeological Questions

Keene TR 9:30-10:45 AM

This course will explore the ways in which techniques from biology, chemistry, and physics can be used to answer questions in archaeology. The course will give a brief overview of what archaeologists study and what kinds of questions are being asked in the field of archaeology. It will also give basic explanations of how various scientific methods are used to answer archaeological questions. The course will focus on famous controversies and exciting finds to illustrate the use of different methods. Topics will include the age and origins of the Shroud of Turin, how to use chemistry to determine if a great work of art is actually a fake, how to look under the ground without digging, what the Austrian Iceman ate and how he died, how to reconstruct past environments, and whether zombies are real or mythical. The course is also designed to teach students what it means to be a research scientist. The course covers how they fund their research, how to write for scientific journals, how to get published, and what it means to go to a conference. The course will be comprised of short lectures as well as class discussions. Readings will include scientific journal articles and popular magazine articles. There is no required textbook. The grade will be determined through class participation, written assignments, and a presentation.

Zen and Radical Arts

Lazer T 2-4:50 PM

The course will involve an introduction to Zen Buddhism, relying on Shunryu Suzuki’s classic Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, and a second text (perhaps Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching), and a range of additional brief readings. We’ll learn and practice zazen (sitting meditation). Through the lens of Zen practice, we will explore a range of experimental arts/artists, with particular emphasis on contemporary music, performance art, environmental art, dance, conceptual and found art. Artists we might consider include George Quasha, John Cage, Andy Goldsworthy, Carrie Mae Weems, Linda Montano, Bill Viola, James Turrell, Laurie Anderson, Davey Williams, John Zorn, and Kazuaki Tanahashi. Students will both discuss the art we examine and make some related art works of their own. And we’ll do our best to learn to be present.

After Wisdom

McWaters MW 3:00-4:15 PM

Paying particular attention to Western culture, but with some forays into Taoism and Buddhism, this class is concerned with 3 questions having to do with wisdom: How has wisdom been defined at certain moments in history? What are practical ways in which wisdom has been sought? And how might we proceed after “wisdom” has been discarded? In addition to the following books: The Enchiridion by Epictetus, Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche, The Sovereignty of Good by Iris Murdoch, Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy, we will (possibly) read selections by Plato, Marcus Aurelius, Paul, Spinoza, Pierre Hadot, Cornel West and several Native American wisdom writers. While taking a critical, academic approach to the topic, we will also be seeking to apply wisdom to our own lives. (However, this class makes no guarantee that you will become wise by the end.)

“Ghetto,” Banlieue, and Urban Marginality

Schwiete TR 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM

This course engages with debates about ‘disadvantaged urban areas’ in different national contexts and critically analyzes academic ‘ghetto’ discourses. We analyze ethnography, film, and auto-biography relating to life in poor urban areas in the US, in the French banlieue and favelas in Brazil. We discuss issues of representation – what ethical questions arise with the attempt to analyze marginalized people’s lives, one of the main aspects of anthropology? Who is ‘allowed’ to speak for whom? What role do class, race, and other inequalities play in the process? The course also aims for students to understand some of the main theoretical approaches to social inequality and -reproduction.

Defining Children’s Literature

Sasser MW 4:30-5:45 PM

What is a children’s book? How can “Cinderella,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “Where the Wild Things Are,” “Little Women,” “The Hunger Games,” “The Cat in the Hat,” “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” “Dr. Dolittle,” and “Harry Potter” all be considered children’s literature? Can children’s literature even be defined as a genre? Such questions will guide as throughout this course as we consider how various genres–such as short stories, fantasy, poetry, picture books, domestic stories, and school stories–work as children’s literature. We will spend much of the course discussing the relationships between author, publisher, parent, and child, as we reflect on how such literature challenges, confirms, and/or complicates constructions of childhood, especially in relation to power. Along the way, we will consider the richness and variety of over three centuries of literary works for children as we seek to understand and appreciate this important body of literature.

Fall 2023 Internships (BUI 399)

These count for a thematic seminar credit, but take a different format from the 301s.

In order to be considered for an internship, you must fill out the application at least one week before registration begins.

University Museums Internship

Interested in museums and collections? The UA Museums is home to more than 5 million objects and specimens from numerous disciplines including paleontology, entomology, history, ethnography, archaeology and more. In addition to curatorial work, active research is being conducted on many of these specimens and objects. The collections offer a wide variety of opportunities to gain experience across multiple disciplines. We will work with the student to design an internship that is interesting, fun and rewarding.

DEI Internship

The diversity, equity and inclusion Internship (DEI) experience is designed to deliver professional development, work experience, career advisement and networking opportunities for undergraduate students with diverse academic interests. This co-curricular experience will address social justice issues within diversity, equity and inclusion grounded in race, ethnicity, nationality, gender identities and, class etc. Students will have an opportunity to be a part of transformational change in the field of DEI through the construction and implementation of projects, policies and procedures.


Turning Point Services Internship

Turning Point is non-profit, social service agency that provides comprehensive support services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, empowering survivors to make productive decisions to improve their futures. Turning Point also promotes awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault in the communities it serves, and provides information geared toward preventing these forms of violence and promoting healthy relationships. Working under the supervision of the Turning Point’s Education and Outreach Coordinator, students will acquire an understanding of the diverse operations of the organization and have an opportunity to work in activities related to advertising, marketing, outreach, advocacy, and more.