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Northwestern University

Choosing a First-Year Seminar

Winter Quarter 2019 First-Year Seminars

The following seminars will be offered in Winter Quarter 2019.  Click on the ">" in front of a title to read the course description.  For students who are scheduled to take a Winter Quarter first-year seminar, the Top 10 process will open at 12:01 AM (just after midnight) on Wednesday, October 31, and will close at 8:00 AM on Friday, November 2, 2018.  When you have identified the ten seminars that interest you most, log in to your dossier and scroll down to First-Year Seminar Selections: Winter 2019 to submit your Top 10 list.  You will be placed in your Winter 2019 seminar shortly after the dossier closes on November 2, 2018.  Students who do not submit their Top 10 list by the deadline will need to choose from the seminars with spots available.


Instructor(s): Ean High

Description: In this seminar, we will look at the ways in which public writing by medical practitioners intersects with broader social and cultural concerns. What are the limits of narrative when it comes to issues like profound illness, social and moral injustice, and death? What do we gain from narrative’s ability to nurture empathy and insight? The course will balance fiction and non-fiction, reading novels, poems, and short stories alongside clinical memoirs, and other forms of non-fiction storytelling. This class is curated for students considering careers in medicine, public health, or the medical humanities, but is open to anyone interested in the intersections of literature and science. Teaching Method(s): Discussion, collaborative group work. Evaluation Method(s): Two short, exploratory essays (1-2 pages); a close reading essay (4-5 pages); and one longer essay (7-8 pages). Preparation and participation, reading quizzes. Texts include: Anne Fadiman, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down; Tracy Kidder, Mountains Beyond Mountains; Oliver Sacks, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat; Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor and Aids and Its Metaphors. Texts will be available at: Norris campus bookstore.

The Art of Medicine
MW12:30 PM-1:50 PM

Instructor(s): Melissa Rosenzweig

Description: The concept of environmental justice in the United States emerged in the early 1980s as African-American residents fought hazardous waste sites planned in and around their communities.  Since then, the environmental justice perspective has been expanded to include the struggles of other minority groups disenfranchised on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender or class.  In the first part of the course, students will learn about the history of the environmental justice movement in the US and its development. Next, the course will take a closer look at environmental justice in Chicago, both past and present.  As a final project, students will be tasked with researching an environmental justice organization in the Chicago area. 

Chicago Environmental Justice
TTH9:30 AM-10:50 AM

Instructor(s): Melissa Macauley

Description: This seminar explores the ways American views of China have changed over the past one hundred years. Historically these views have oscillated between anxiety and hope, between a conviction that China poses a threat to the economic well-being of the United States on the one hand and a presumption that a benighted China is seriously in need of American tutelage on the other. In our study of popular literature, memoirs, films, scholarly works, and newspapers, we will consider how and why American views of China and the Chinese have shifted so repeatedly and profoundly over the past century. We will also consider why some Americans believe that the current “rise” of China constitutes a threat to the United States. No previous course work on Chinese history is required, but you should have a strong high school background in twentieth-century American history.

China in American Imagination
TTH3:30 PM-4:50 PM

Instructor(s): Tracy Hodgson

Description: Topics for discussion and exploration will include (but not necessarily be limited to): The history, ecology and sociopolitical impact of cacao cultivation and chocolate production; the biology and psychology of gustation and olfaction (taste and smell); the biochemistry of the components of chocolate, and their physiological and neurological effects; chocolate in fiction/literature.

Chocolate: From the Biochemical to the Geopolitical
MW3:30 PM-4:50 PM

Instructor(s): Ryan Marks

Description: While superheroes rule the box office, alternative comics and graphic novels have established a unique niche in literary culture. This class will examine how alternative comics emerged as a multi-generational countercultural phenomenon, from the early centrality of comix in the 1970s San Francisco arts scene to the prestige graphic novels that are now essential to discussions of contemporary literature. We will focus class sessions on the social contexts from which alternative comics and graphic novels emerged while developing our capacity as critics to read and interpret comics form. This class will additionally examine criticism of the “alternative” in alternative comics for its overreliance on “coolness” and “authenticity,” scrutinize underground comics' fascination with issues of gender and sexuality, and consider the continuing conversation between literary comics and their mass cultural counterparts in the superhero, romance, and horror genres.

Comix and the Counterculture
TTH12:30 PM-1:50 PM

Instructor(s): Mayda Velasco

Description: Cosmology is the study of the physical universe. It describes the universe as a whole which includes origin, evolution and ultimate fate of the universe and it  draws on the fundamental theories of physics.  Enormous strides have been made in the past 100 years  due to significant development on both theoretical and observational issues.  Cosmology began as a branch of theoretical physics through Einstein’s 1917 static model of the universe (Einstein 1917) and was developed in its early days particularly through the work of Lemaître (1927). As recently as 1960, cosmology was widely regarded as a branch of philosophy. It has transitioned to an extremely active area of mainstream physics and astronomy, particularly due to the application to the early universe of atomic and nuclear physics, on the one hand, and to a flood of data coming in from telescopes operating across the entire electromagnetic spectrum on the other.  In parallel, several branches of philosophy-- philosophy of physics, philosophy of science, metaphysics, philosophy of mathematics, and epistemology — continue to study this topic.  Although physical cosmology  by now is a modern science, many of the theologically relevant questions related to current cosmology are old. Has the universe come into existence a finite time ago? Will it come to an end? Why are the cosmic evolution and the laws of nature of just such a kind that they permit intelligent life to exist?

In this seminar we will discuss the latest development made by scientists, philosophers and on cosmology.

Cosmology: Past, Present and Future
TTH3:30 PM-4:50 PM

Instructor(s): Robert Gordon

Description: World War II was clearly the most important single event of the twentieth century. However, the seeds for World War II were laid in World War I, making it necessary to study both wars. We will study both why these wars occurred and why they turned out the way they did. In asking why wars turned out the way they did, we will emphasize the size and performance of the economies involved, and such issues as why the U.S. and Soviet Union produced so much while Germany produced so little. In the last part of the course, students will have a chance to do independent research on any aspect of World War II which interests them, economic, political or military.

Teaching Method
In class discussion of readings. Students will be encouraged to disagree with each other and with the readings as their knowledge of the subject develops. Active class participation is important and counts for 30 percent of the grade.

Evaluation Method
There are no exams. The class grade will be based primarily on written papers, but 30% of the total grade will be based on the quality and quantity of participation in class discussion. There will be three 5-page papers, and one final paper of up to 15 pages, including at least one original table or graph. Papers will be worth a total of 70% of the final grade.

Class Materials (Required)
Most of the reading is available online through the library. In addition there is an inexpensive course packet with some of the readings. The one required book for purchase: Why the Allies Won by Overy, 1997 (ISBN: 978-0393316193)

Did Economics Win Two World Wars?
MW3:30 PM-4:50 PM

Instructor(s): Carol Heimer

Description: Rights to health and healthcare are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 23; adopted by the UN in 1948), in the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (Article 12; adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1966), and in many national constitutions. Yet it is far from clear what these rights mean. For instance it is sometimes a right to health that is being asserted and at other times a right to healthcare. It is also unclear how these rights can be achieved in practice. In this course, we will talk about how and why health became a right and what is accomplished by thinking of health as a right. We will be talking, among other things, about how rights to health vary from one country to another and even one disease (or condition) to another. We will also ask what institutions (such as the World Health Organization at the global level) protect and extend rights to health and whether or not they are effective. And we will consider the difference between legal rights and the de facto rights that may be created much more locally (for instance in a clinic). Grades will be based on short written assignments, class presentations, and class discussion; class attendance is required.

The Elusive Right to Health
TTH3:30 PM-4:50 PM

Instructor(s): Bernard Dobroski

Description: This seminar is designed for the general campus student. Students with a music major, or a dual degree with music, are not permitted to register for this seminar. The course is designed to provide opportunities for music aficionados to experience music and music theater events from the inside-out. The only prerequisite for the course is a love of the performing arts - you don't have to read, perform, or understand music notation to succeed. However, you have to be prepared to spend a lot of time attending rehearsals and concerts (minimally six to eight hours a week), outside of the two required class sessions. During and outside of classroom sessions, the instructor and invited guests will attempt to nurture a heightened awareness of the challenges that conductors, opera and music theater directors and musicians/actors face when preparing for a performance. Through a series of observations, presentations, interviews, and interactive discussions/seminars, you will be better prepared to listen, observe, and critically analyze performing arts events on and off campus - during this academic quarter, and hopefully for the rest of your life. After Week One's introduction to the course and the music library, the Week Two class sessions will concentrate on conducting lessons and video observations of concerts and rehearsals. In these initial sessions, you will learn many of the techniques needed to lead the world's greatest instrumental and choral ensembles (of course, with many additional years of practice). Course participants, using their required conductor's baton and music CDs will learn a variety of conducting techniques - mastering beat patterns, the expressive use of the left hand, and using the conducting gesture to communicate interpretation, phrasing, dynamic shading. You may never conduct a major ensemble, but after meeting the requirements of the class you should have the knowledge and understanding to critically analyze conductors during your future career as a member of audiences for classical and popular music concerts.

First Rehearsal to Final Performance
MW2:00 PM-3:20 PM

Instructor(s): Patricia Beddows

Description: Global warming represents a massive global experiment with unknown consequences. In this course we will discuss the scientific evidence for modern-day global warming including melting ice sheets, long-term temperature records from ice cores and extreme weather events such as hurricanes. Current trends and the role of human activities will be examined in the context of the geologic record of natural climate variability and the feedbacks inherent in the climate system. Anticipated future impacts include droughts, floods, spread of infectious diseases, drinking water shortages, habitat loss and extinctions. Given these forecasts, strategies for managing the effects of global warming will be assessed. This writing seminar specifically aims to develop effective scientific writing and visual communication for the natural and physical sciences.

Global Warming: Scientific Evidence

Instructor(s): Lauren Stokes

Description: Is Siri spying on you? Can the government read your Gmail? In the last decade, new revelations about the scale of government surveillance have joined a growing concerns about corporate surveillance and the potential uses of big date.

In this class, students will situate contemporary concerns in historical perspective through examining previous periods in European and American history when new techniques of surveillance inspired public debate--whether that be opening the mail, tapping into the phone wires, gathering personal data for the census, fingerprinting individuals, or turning your financial activities into a credit score.

We will also read classic theoretical works on surveillance and examine changing norms about personal privacy. What is the line between justified and unjustified surveillance? How does the idea and the experience of surveillance change the relationship between society and the individual?

A History of Surveillance Society
MW3:30 PM-4:50 PM

Instructor(s): Justin Simard

Description: This seminar examines the American legal profession from its small and provincial origins in the eighteenth century to its enormous and influential presence today. It will explore topics including legal education, practice, ethics, and professional organization, and it will survey the influence of the profession in fields from politics and business to the civil rights movement. Students will gain an appreciation for the many roles that lawyers play outside of the courtroom and the way that the profession has shaped the development and application of American law.

History of the American Legal Profession
TTH9:30 AM-10:50 AM

Instructor(s): Keith Woodhouse

Description: This seminar will consider the history of the internet from the mid-twentieth century to the present. This will NOT be a technical history of the computer science or actual infrastructure that constitute the internet, but rather a history of the social and political ideas contributing to and arising from a worldwide system of networked computers and protocols. In particular, the course will discuss the culture surrounding the internet—the ways that the Cold War, the counterculture, libertarianism, and environmentalism all helped define Silicon Valley and continue to shape companies that call for revolution while placing their trust in the market.

History of the Internet
MW9:30 AM-10:50 AM

Instructor(s): Robert Gundlach

Description: This seminar is designed for students who want to advance their ability to write clearly, thoughtfully, and effectively in many situations, both in college and beyond. We will consider the activity of writing from several perspectives, aiming to increase each student’s understanding of, and control over, writing viewed as (1) a way of speaking; (2) a process of composition; (3) the deliberate construction of sentences; and (4) an instrument for thinking, learning, and imagining. We will also read widely, allowing students to analyze and emulate writing techniques evident in the work of other writers. Throughout the quarter, students will be able to relate their work in the seminar to their own individual interests and goals.

TEACHING METHOD: Discussion. Regular opportunities for students to write and share ideas developed in essays. Opportunities for students to conduct research on topics of individual interest.

EVALUATION METHOD: Grades will be based on three short essays (3-4 pages), one longer essay (6-8 pages), and participation in seminar discussions. Students will have the opportunity to revise their essays.

Edwidge Danticat, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work (paperback: Vintage Books ISBN: 0307946436).

Steven Pinker, The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century (paperback: Penguin Books ISBN: 9780143127796).

Eudora Welty, One Writer’s Beginnings (paperback: Harvard University Press ISBN: 0674639278).

Garry Wills, Lincoln at Gettysburg (paperback: Simon and Schuster ISBN: 0743299639).

Additional selections will be distributed in class or made available electronically.

How Writing Works
MW2:00 PM-3:20 PM

Instructor(s): Ashish Koul

Description: ‘Islam’ is often believed to be a religion which justifies oppression of women and regulation of their public lives in theological terms. In this seminar, we will use South Asian Muslim communities as a site for examining the historical evolution of Islamic perspectives on gender issues from the eighteenth century to our own times. South Asia is home to one of the world’s largest Muslim populations today, not to mention the substantial South Asian Muslim diasporic communities who live in Europe and the United States. We will read texts that describe Muslim women’s lived experiences as well as texts that offer theological arguments about pressing gender questions—mostly rooted in South Asia but speaking to issues that encompass much wider geographies. During this seminar, we will encounter Muslim intellectuals of various persuasions, ranging from theologians such as Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanavi (1863-1943) to modernist thinkers such as Sayyid Ahmad Khan (1817-1898), from Muslim women politicians such as Begum Jahanara Shahnawaz (1896-1979) to fashion bloggers who underline their agency as ‘hijabi’ (veiled) Muslim women. Using scholarly writings as well as primary sources, some of them written by Muslim women, we will consider the following issues: reformist traditions in Islam, marriage and divorce, seclusion (called parda in Urdu), education, property ownership, women’s right to vote, and Muslim women’s participation in representative politics. By dwelling on this diverse array of issues, we will elucidate the complexity and diversity of Islamic intellectual traditions and emphasize their historical dynamism, particularly in a world shaped by colonial authority and post-colonial dilemmas. By studying these questions in light of both theoretical debates and Muslim women’s voices, we will discover the many ways in which Muslim women have become agents of their own change while compromising with and negotiating multiple forms of social authority in Muslim societies.

Islam, Gender, and the Modern World

Instructor(s): Marcus Moseley

Description: This seminar revolves around a question that can be easily formulated but cannot be easily answered: why do the righteous suffer? This question has been at the center of Jewish thought and practice from its very earliest times to the most recent. Beginning with passages from the Book of Genesis, the seminar discusses the question of unjustifiable suffering by examining a range of biblical texts and figures, culminating in the exemplary figure of Job, whose story we will read in conjunction with classical rabbinic commentary and impressive illustrations of the romantic poet William Blake. The seminar then turns to texts written in response to the Khmielnitsky massacres in the seventeenth century and the surge of pogroms in early twentieth-century Russia, with special emphasis on H. N. Bialik's poetic response to the Kishinev Pogrom of 1903 and Marc Chagall's Jewish crucifixion series composed in the wake of the destruction of Jewish shtetls in the First World War. The final four weeks of the class are concerned with the Holocaust, as we read excerpts from diaries written in the Warsaw and Lodz ghettoes, analyze Elie Wiesel's Night, and conclude with Art Spiegelman's Maus.

Job's Tears: Jewish Response to Suffering
MW3:30 PM-4:50 PM

Instructor(s): Adia Benton

Description: At the height of the 2013-2016 West African Ebola epidemic, it was often said that the fears of the disease globalized more quickly than the disease itself. These kinds of statements - and the proliferation of official efforts to control Ebola outbreak in West Africa and elsewhere - show the significance of cultural, social, political and economic dimensions of epidemics. This first-year seminar privileges a critical medical anthropology perspective on the dynamics of epidemics: from disease transmission to prevention and control. Together, we will investigate how complex interactions among social, cultural, political, economic, and environmental factors influence the natural history of infectious disease and public health efforts to understand and address them. The seminar focuses on contemporary problems and issues with the explicit purpose of addressing questions of equity and justice.

Modern Plagues
TTH9:30 AM-10:50 AM

Instructor(s): Amy Partridge

Description: The U.S. 1970s Women’s Health Movement demanded everything from safe birth control on demand to an end to for-profit healthcare. Some participants formed research collectives and published D-I-Y guides to medical knowledge such as the Boston Women's Health Collective's Women and Their Bodies or Carol Downer's A New View of a Woman's Body. Some movement members established battered women's shelters, underground abortion referral services, and feminist health clinics. Others formed local committees and national networks, such as the Committee for Abortion Rights and Against Sterilization Abuse (CARASA) and the National Women's Health Network (NWHN), with the goal of transforming contemporary medical protocols and scientific research agendas. Because many of these local and national groups are still in existence, original movement goals continue to define the parameters of a "women's health" agenda in the present moment. On the other hand, the Women's Health Movement was (and is) a heterogeneous movement. Then, as now, groups with competing ideas about the healthcare needs of women as a group identified as part of same movement. Thus, an examination of historical and current debates over "women's health" is also a means of assessing several distinct, often competing, paradigms of health and disease. Moreover, how we articulate a "women's health agenda" depends on our (often taken-for-granted) ideas about gender, sexuality, and embodiment itself.

Our Bodies Ourselves: The Women's Health Movement
TTH2:00 PM-3:20 PM

Instructor(s): Gerald Gabrielse

Description: Three types of big questions will be considered. The first are the big questions about the limits and domain of physics. To start, what are the limits and domain of applicability of the classical physics studies studied in high school? How do these relate to special relativity, quantum mechanics and quantum field theory? Next, what are some of the big questions that physics seeks to answer. For example, what is the "standard model" of particle physics and how is it tested? Other important big questions relate to how physics informs some major challenges to our society. For example, what does physics say about the options for powering our homes and cars given limited petroleum reserves and the need to reduce carbon dioxide production. The final set of big questions are about the compatibility or incompatibility of physics and religious faith. Here we will consider very divergent answers in a climate of respect for what will be big differences in opinion.

Physics and Big Questions
MW12:30 PM-1:50 PM

Instructor(s): Robert Wallace

Description: Students will read all seven extant plays (including Antigone and Oedipus the King) and one fragmentary play (Phaedra) of Athens' greatest dramatist, plus critical scholarship. An aristocrat, Sophocles' dramas performed to 17,000 Athenians are enmeshed in the problems and controversies of that city's democracy. What is the relationship of these texts to the democracy and to Athens' democratic leader Perikles, and how do their ideas change over time? No exams, but a weekly 1-2 page paper: either a critique of scholarship or an analysis of a play, which we then discuss in class. Students will learn about one of the world's greatest dramatists and the world's first democracy, while improving their skills in writing, critical thinking, and debate. Grades are based on the weekly papers and class participation. Attendance mandatory.

Learning Objectives
Students will learn about one of the world's greatest dramatists and its first democracy, while improving their skills in writing, critical thinking, and debate.

Evaluation Method
Grades are based on weekly short papers and class participation.

Class Materials (Required)
1. Electra and Other Plays, ed. David Raeburn (Penguin, 2008) ISBN-13: 978-0140449785. 2. The Three Theban Plays: Antigone; Oedipus the King; Oedipus at Colonus, tr. Robert Fagles (Penguin 1984) ISBN-13: 978-0140444254 Must be these editions.

The Plays of Sophocles

Instructor(s): Paul Caradonna

Description: This course will focus on developing an understanding of the ecology of plants, pollinators, and their interactions. We will build on this ecological knowledge in order to think critically about the conservation challenges faced by plants and pollinators all across the globe today.  Topics in this course will range from plant and pollinator life cycles, pollinator behavior, pollination ecology, pollination as an ecosystem services, and conservation.  Emphasis in this course will be on the development of skills in critical reading, interpretation, discussion, and writing for the sciences.

Pollination Ecology: From Conservation to Extinction
TTH3:30 PM-4:50 PM

Instructor(s): Rogers Reuel

Description: The election of Barack Obama, the country's first Black president, marked a historic watershed in American race relations. His presidency prompted heady expectations for greater racial tolerance and inclusion while also fueling worries about racial backlash and conflict. The contest to select a new president following Obama's two terms and the eventual victory of Donald Trump actually amplified the concerns about deepening racial divisions. This course examines shifts in American racial politics since the Obama presidency, including the period covering Trump's election victory and the early days of his administration. We will consider Blacks' political fortunes, racial attitudes across groups, reactions to demographic and economic change, and racial dynamics in party politics and specific public policy areas over the course of the Obama era and the beginning of the Trump presidency. By the end of the course, students should have, at a minimum, a deeper, more fine-grained understanding of racial dynamics in American politics in the wake of the historic Obama presidency. The more ambitious aim of the seminar is to help you cultivate or refine your own perspective on enduring debates about the quest for racial equality and nature of democracy in the United States.

Racial Politics in the Obama Era
MW3:30 PM-4:50 PM

Instructor(s): Christopher Herbert

Description: In this class, we will closely read three classic (and, incidentally, famously appealing) English novels of the nineteenth century, the golden age of popular fiction. The reading list is designed as a case history of how a given complex of story materials (centered in this case on a certain image of an idealized heroine) may become conventional over time and also may be dramatically altered when seen through the prisms of different literary types. The list is designed also to test the thesis that reading serious fiction with critical understanding-and with maximum pleasure-involves seeing it as a mode of philosophical argumentation. Like all First-Year Seminars, this one will concentrate on the writing of argumentative prose of your own. Three short analytical papers will be assigned in the course of the quarter, and several class sessions will be set aside for workshopping specimen papers written by members of the class. In addition, attention will be given to developing effectiveness in oral as well as written communication. To this end, each student will sign up to deliver two short oral presentations on designated topics related to our reading assignments.

Reading Fiction
TTH3:30 PM-4:50 PM

Instructor(s): Rebecca Johnson

Description: “The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule,” Walter Benjamin wrote in 1940 before fleeing Vichy France. Though it might seem new in our cultural vocabulary, calls to “resist” through literature have a long and international history, with roots in what Benjamin recognized as “the history of the oppressed.” This course will look at the relationship between literature and resistance in colonial and postcolonial contexts, identifying themes, techniques, and political objectives as we go. Rather than reading literature through the lens of politics, however, we will investigate literature as a site where the boundaries of the political are produced and tested, and where the relationship between politics and art is negotiated. By reading political fiction, prison literature, and protest poetry as they take up issues such as anti-colonialism, government repression, and foreign invasions and occupation, we’ll ask what role literature can play in the state of emergency in which we currently live.

Resistance: Postcolonial Lits, Politics, and Power
MW3:30 PM-4:50 PM

Instructor(s): Rachel Zuckert

Description: In this course we will discuss philosophical questions about the nature of the self, raised and answered in readings from the history of philosophy and contemporary philosophical writings. Thus we may discuss questions such as: Can one prove the immortality of the soul? What guarantees the continuity of personal identity over time? How do portraits "capture" the selfhood of the sitter? To what degree is the self constituted by its social context? As with any first-year seminar, the course will also involve frequent writing assignments, including both informal exercises and formal argumentative papers.

The Self
TTH12:30 PM-1:50 PM

Instructor(s): Jeffrey Masten

Description: What was Shakespeare's sex? We will read intensively a small set of plays and other texts by and about William Shakespeare in order to think about sex, sexuality, gender, and desire in his time and ours. How can we "translate" the foreign-yet-familiar languages and intensities of human interaction and emotion we read in Shakespeare into our own understanding? What acts, affections, emotions, and identities counted as "sex" in Shakespeare's time? How can we begin to understand the "sex" of a writer one of whose central skills was continually to cross-voice himself as a variety of women (and sometimes women as young men)? Alongside our close reading, discussion, and writing about A Midsummer Night's Dream, Venus and Adonis, Othello the Moor of Venice, The Two Noble Kinsmen, and Twelfth Night, Or What You Will, we will sample biographies (Shakespeare in Love) and feminist and queer criticism that attempt to answer the question of Shakespeare's sex.

Shakespeare's Sex

Instructor(s): Sherwin Bryant

Description: Capital and ongoing state violence against Black populations across the Americas have a history in slavery, Native American removal, and the development of western law. This course explores the development of colonial law and indigenous displacement through the lens of colonial attempts to regulate slavery and claim Indigenous territories. Students will read and engage a range of colonial texts to explore the ways that racial slavery served to sketch American capital and law. Students will come away with the ability to critically discuss these developments in their own words, and perhaps think more carefully about the implications of law and state structures etched during the era with regard to racial slavery. Through it, students will come to know the peculiar relationship between slavery, property, capital, race, and Law across the Americas.

Slavery, Race and Law

Instructor(s): Sarah Taylor

Description: This seminar explores the spiritual dimensions of the human/horse relationship, drawing perspectives and analytical frameworks from religious studies, cultural studies, anthropology, folklore, and animal studies. Seminar topics will include: divine horses as portrayed in myth and symbol, horses as spiritual teachers, healing through horses, human/horse spirit connections, horse whisperers, practices of horse meditation and horse yoga, spiritual journeys with horses, mystical representations of horses in advertising and film, ghost horses and “horse presences,” horsemanship as a spiritual life path, and an examination of the rhetorical power of horses in mediated texts. Primary sources for the course are drawn from multiple media sources such as television, film, and advertising and will include the work of Carter Heyward, Laurie Brock, Richard Rowland, Joe Camp, Monty Roberts, and others. With funding, this seminar hopes to include an observational field trip in which students will have the chance to visit a therapeutic horse riding center on the North Shore that works with special needs children and adults. No riding experience is necessary to take this course. The seminar instructor is a former competitive equestrienne who specializes in study and analysis at the convergences of religious studies, media studies, cultural studies, and environmental studies. Students will have the option to produce scholarship in multimedia forms.

The Spiritual Power of Horses
TTH2:00 PM-3:20 PM

Instructor(s): Shelby Hatch

Description: Is sustainability a White issue? How and where does sustainability intersect with the principles of environmental justice?  In this course, we will explore how issues of race and class shape our views of these concepts. Northwestern University is currently about halfway through its first five-year strategic sustainability plan. This plan will serve as a starting point for discussing various issues of sustainability such as the built environment, transportation, and resource conservation. We will delve into the chemistry behind sustainable design with a particular eye toward how the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry and Green Engineering are applied.  Students will also critically examine the plan with an environmental justice lens. For example—where are our solar panels made?  How is the coal mined for our electricity? How do race and class relate to who grows our food? Is the latest innovation necessarily the most effective for the national/global community? And how do behaviors of individuals and institutions contribute to the success or failure of a sustainable and environmentally just future? We will explore these questions through readings, field trips, and student-directed projects. Students will use various media to communicate their findings from this course to both the Northwestern community and beyond.​

Sustainability Meets Environmental Justice

Instructor(s): Julianne Merseth Cook

Description: This course examines the politics of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Topics include the construction of "illegality" and unauthorized immigration policy in historical perspective; political identities among the undocumented, foregrounding the role of race and ethnic/national origin; public opinion toward and among the undocumented; media framing and representations of undocumented immigrants; participation and mobilization with a focus on undocumented youth activism (DREAMers); and policies targeting undocumented immigrants (e.g., racial and ethnic profiling, sanctuary cities, detention and deportation, birthright citizenship and mixed status families, access to work permits and public benefits). Throughout the course, we attend to how undocumented immigrants fit into larger—and increasingly contentious—local and national immigration debates in the contemporary U.S., examining the distinct challenges that undocumented immigrants face, and theories and evidence of how unauthorized immigration impacts American politics and society.

Undocumented Immigrant Politics

Instructor(s): Jennifer Lackey

Description: In this course, we will look at questions about what we value, what we ought to value, whether there are objective values, and what makes something valuable through an examination of some fundamental philosophical problems. We will pay particular attention to the role that power dynamics play in value-driven disagreements, regarding, for example, mass incarceration, abortion, euthanasia, affirmative action, and animal rights.

Values and Power
TTH2:00 PM-3:20 PM

Instructor(s): Galya Ben-Arieh

Description: We will explore Northwestern's historic activism on behalf of refugees in the form of the Northwestern Circus that raised funds to create and maintain the Northwestern Settlement House, later becoming the Dance Marathon that still exists today. We will use this historic entry point to explore the broader contemporary politics around standing with refugees, providing sanctuary as we consider why and ways in which some communities are welcoming while others take the position "not in my back yard."

#WithRefugees: Politics of Sanctuary and Solidarity
MW2:00 PM-3:20 PM

Instructor(s): Ginger Pennington

Description: In this seminar, we will explore perspectives on being female, with a particular emphasis on evolving conceptions of the female gender role in the current social and political climate. In the wake of such events as the Women's March on Washington and highly-publicized harassment and sexual violence allegations against major political and media figures, women are confronted with conflicting messages about the nature and impact of "girl power." Do today's young women feel more empowered than previous generations? Does the modern woman truly have the power to "choose" her own definition of femininity? In what ways do media and marketers "sell" feminism, shaping girls' understanding of their own sexuality, social roles, and future opportunities? We will read work by psychologists, sociologists, ethnographers, and other scholars who present divergent points of view on modern gender roles and feminist psychology. Students will be encouraged to engage in the spirited exchange of ideas on these issues and to hone their ability to effectively communicate their perspective through writing.

Women Warriors and Riot Grrrls: Being Female in the 21st Century
TTH2:00 PM-3:20 PM
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