Spring 2023 Courses


Fields – TR 12:30-1:45

This course examines the medical-legal classification and societal treatment of the insane. Topics include how insanity has been historically perceived, the development and current use of insanity defenses, variations in confinement/treatment/punishment, and the relationships among mental illness, legal competence, and insanity. Topics are paired with case studies of notorious criminal trials, their media portrayals, and popular reactions.


Nature Photography

Man holding cameraAbbott – F 12:00-2:50 PM

This course is intended to show you how to use a digital camera to photograph everything from insects to elephants. The techniques from this class will equip you to extend beyond nature to product photography and other print quality images. By the end of this course, students will be able to make publishable quality photographs for use in biological research, communications, and creative/artistic applications. This course will focus on using digital single lens reflex (DSLR) cameras, DSLR-related equipment, field and studio techniques, post-processing, and photographic workflow. Equipment can be rented from the library if you do not already own a camera or can borrow a camera from a friend or family member.



West African Music and Culture

Caputo – TR 9:30-10:45 AM

Kiniwe? (Are you ready?) This seminar will combine hands-on musical performance* with academic readings, multi-media presentations, and critical discussions. We will examine West African culture through music and dance with a focus on the country of Ghana in sub-Saharan Africa. The course will begin with a brief overview of music and culture in Africa and quickly delve into music and dance traditions of selected countries and ethnic groups in West Africa. As we progress through the semester, we will explore ways in which West African music and dance have influenced performing arts beyond the continent.
*You do not need previous experience in African dance-drumming to do well in this course.


Imagining Heaven and Hell

Cruz-Uribe – MW 3-4:15 PM BUI 301

Imagining Heaven and Hell: Visions of Utopia and Dystopia in Literature and Cinema
How do we envision Utopia, the perfect society, or Dystopia, the society which has gone perfectly wrong? For many years, authors and filmmakers have created worlds, separated from our own by time or space, where all that is good or bad in humanity is realized. Their fictitious worlds were intended as sharp commentary on the world they lived in. Some of these visions, such as 1984 or Brave New World, have become part of our cultural consciousness; others languish in relative obscurity.
This seminar will be devoted to a close reading/viewing and analysis of a variety of utopian and dystopian visions, ranging from We by Yevgeny Zamyatin to such recent popular films as The Hunger Games. We will consider both the ideas of good and evil they contain and the images used to capture and express these ideas. Some of the questions we might touch on are: what constitutes the good/bad society? How and why have these ideas evolved? Is there a place for the less than perfect in utopia? What is the role of the state, religion, corporations, and technology in creating and maintaining utopia and dystopia? What price should we pay to create utopia?

Intermedia Intersection in Art

Dewar- MW 4:30-5:45 PM

This interdisciplinary course discusses intermedia intersections in 20th and 21st century art and music. We will examine the cultural and historical roots of intermedia art, the outpouring of experimentation in the 20th century avant-garde, and the postmodern pastiche of the digital realm in the 21st century. Spanning work created for galleries, to art and music from urban streets and rural villages, we will explore examples from the visual arts, dance, music, film and architecture to learn how and why artists work with and combine different media. In addition to engaging with a variety of artistic works, we will discuss the cultural, philosophical, theoretical, and compositional issues that meet at intermedia junctions.

Paleontology & Society

Klompmaker – F 2:00-4:50 PM 

In this course, we will explore the relationship between paleontology and our civilization. In addition to gaining a basic understanding of paleontological principles and its interdisciplinary nature, we will discuss how the ever-growing knowledge of ancient life is used in our society today, why paleontology is important, how it is communicated, how paleontology has influenced society and vice versa, ethical considerations involving fossils, the role of movies, and how paleontology in the media compares and contrasts with paleontological research. An emphasis will be placed on the roles amateur/avocational paleontologists and museums have. Activities outside the classroom or in an online learning environment will include a trip the exhibits of the Alabama Museum of Natural History, a trip to the extensive fossil collections of the UA Museums, and field trips to two fossil sites, including the famous Harrell Station Paleontological Site.

Sustainability as Relationship

Photo by Zachary DeBottis

McLelland– TR 11-12:15 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, the 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 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.

African American Women’s Fiction, Film & Art

Manora –MW 3-4:15 PM 

African American Women’s* Fiction, Film, and Expressive Arts
“bein alive & bein a woman & bein colored is a metaphysical dilemma/i haven’t conquered yet”
~ from For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf
This seminar inquires into issues of African American subjectivity, more specifically, black female* subjectivity, through the examination of 20th and 21st century African American women’s metaphysical fiction, film, and expressive arts. Together we’ll engage a range of “texts,” most notably postmodern, philosophical, and science/speculative fiction. With issues of race, gender, class and sexuality serving as our points of departure, we will foreground these writers’ and creatives’ critiques of Western models of subjectivity, notably the ideology and ethos of individualism, and use theories of subjectivity and black feminist thought and theory as critical lenses for our exploration of the range of their textual and theoretical responses to the dilemma of “bein alive & bein a woman & bein colored.”
By examining the manner in which these writers engage certain critical issues, dynamics, and dialectics within African American social, cultural, and literary history including slavery and freedom, assimilation/integration vs. cultural specificity/social equality, and individualism versus collectivism, we will also consider and interrogate the place of their metaphysical fictions/art – and the literary/generic forms they represent – within or outside of the African American/African American women’s literary and cultural arts traditions.

Quest Literature

Parker– TR 3:30-4:45 PM 

The heart of this course will be the study of the archetype of the hero’s quest in the mythology and literature of adventure. We will read classic adventure novels such as J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, as well as stories that challenge the very idea of ‘adventure’, such as Samuel Beckett’s “The Expelled.” We will examine the defining aspects of how a Here-to-There story arc shapes our cultural understandings of current society. Through a historical and philosophical lens, we will analyze representations of identity, class, and belief in these novels, as well as in contemporary films such as Katherine Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker and Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom.

Defining Children’s Literature

Sasser – MW 6-7:15 PM 

This course aims to complicate several canonical American and British texts for children essentially by addressing the following questions: 1) What counts as children’s literature? 2) Who gets to decide? and 3) How does power function within it? In other words, unlike other bodies of literature (such as African-American Literature or Women’s Writing), children’s literature is named after the presumed reader, as opposed to the ones who write or publish it. Such issues will guide us as we defamiliarize our understanding of popular children’s books and better explore how they are used to enfranchise and/or subjugate their presumed young readers. Anglophone texts likely to be discussed include Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Peter Pan, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Dr. Dolittle, Henry Huggins, The Snowy Day, Plain City, Black Folktales, Brown Girl Dreaming, and Where the Wild Things Are, as well as brief critical work by Hunt, Nodelman, Butler, Said, and Foucault.

Free Speech and Hate Speech

Webb– TR 11-12:15PM 

A brief history of free speech in the US, an analysis of major court cases, and an intensive study of cases involving the question of whether state or federal officials may punish groups or individuals who have verbally or in print attacked racial, ethnic, or religious groups or have attacked particular people because of their racial, religious or ethnic identity. Among the groups involved in many of the cases were the American Nazi Party, the Ku Klux Klan, and other white supremacist or anti-Semitic groups.

The Novel in America

Whiting – TR 3:30-4:45 PM

What are novels and why do we read them? In this course we’ll read a selection of novels as well as a variety of theoretical accounts of what novels are, what they do, and how they do it. Our inquiry will be historical in that it understands genre as a conceptual construct that changes with time and place. Our historical focus will be the United States from the inception of the Republic to the present. Among the questions we will pursue are: what are the shifting features of the American novel, what cultural work has it been understood to do, and how has it been understood to operate upon readers. Particular attention will be paid to the relation between literary form and ideology.


Internship – Natural History Museum

Contact Dr. Keene if you are interested in this course

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.


Internship – DEI

Contact Dr. Keene if you are interested in this course

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.