Spring 2018 Featured Courses

PSYC 3884-002: Seminar in Psychology

Instructor: James Magnuson

Science of Learning and the Art of Communication

In this seminar-style course, we will discuss classic and recent findings in the “science of learning,” drawing on fields ranging from cognitive psychology and education to cognitive neuroscience and neurobiology. We will read primary sources and discuss them each week. We will also embrace the idea that effective learning in the sciences (as in all fields) requires effective communication, whether in research papers, course lectures, or presentations to non-scientific audiences. We will critically evaluate best communication practices for different media, venues, and audiences in light of research on the science of learning.

Those interested should contact Dr. Magnuson directly for more information, syllabus, and/or a permission number.


This class has been cancelled for Spring 2018.

Instructor: Osvaldo Pardo

This course, which is taught in English, will introduce students to Latin American modern literature by exploring a wide variety of works by twentieth-century and contemporary male and female writers who expanded, renewed and questioned the possibilities of narrative forms and genres in an effort to redefine inherited notions of “realism.” Some of the topics to be discussed include the modernization and internationalization of Latin American literature; the changing relation between authors and the market; the politics of translation of Latin American literature; the place of literature in a global age, among others. The authors to be read and discussed include Jorge Luis Borges, Felisberto Hernández, Silvina Ocampo, Clarice Lispector, Mario Bellatin, and Samanta Schweblin, among others.

The course will be conducted as a seminar, which means that active and regular participation in class discussions is essential and expected.

CA 1, CA 4-Int.

ENGL 3207W-001: American Literature Since the Mid-Twentieth Century

Instructor: Clare Eby

Prerequisite: ENGL 1010, 1011, or 2011; open to sophomores or higher

Concentrating on fiction that breaks new ground (particularly in terms of narrative form and structure), this class begins with two classics from shortly after the middle of the 20th century: Sylvia Plath’s vivid and disturbing The Bell Jar, an acid-sharp examination of the position of women in midcentury America; and Thomas Pynchon’s wacky, conspiratorial, postmodern quest narrative, The Crying of Lot 49. We then move on to Art Spiegelman’s holocaust narrative and autobiography Maus (the text that, more than any other, established the graphic novel as a serious art form). Next, we sample texts from the 21st century. We will read at least one book of stunningly interlocking short stories, such as Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, which experiments with narrative form to pose questions about how technology changes social interactions, and/or Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth, brilliant tales about immigrant families that attend closely to generational differences. We will probably read Gary Shteyngart’s satirical dystopia, Super Sad True Love Story, and definitely read the heartbreaking, multigenerational saga of exile, Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. There will be seven or so books total, plus some secondary readings. Because this is an honors course, requirements will be equivalent to what I assign in advanced studies (the 4000-level capstones for English majors): one short paper (5-6 pp.); one research paper (10-12 pp), which will be broken down into several preliminary stages, including an annotated bibliography; and a twenty-minute presentation on a scholarly text. The class will be discussion-based (with discussion a significant portion of the final grade); there will also be frequent quizzes.


ENGL 2407-007: The Short Story

Topic: Train Reading: Short Fiction Since 1945

Instructor: Kathy Knapp

Prerequisite: ENGL 1010, 1011, or 2011

This course will examine short fiction that originally appeared in The New Yorker and its role in reflecting, shaping, and educating the burgeoning middle class of the postwar years and resituating them in the contemporary era. By reading the stories of John Cheever, John Updike, Philip Roth, and J.D. Salinger among others, as well as that of contemporary writers such as Jhumpa Lahiri, Sherman Alexi, George Saunders, and Junot Diaz among others alongside cultural, historical, and literary criticism and essays, we will see how this fiction has helped readers of the Professional Managerial Class (PMC) form their identity as they came to “arrive” in the suburbs or transform the city by way of gentrification. Indeed, many of these stories wrestle with the ephemeral anxieties peculiar to their readers’ station in life: numbing conformity, debilitated manhood, marital woes, and perceived professional slights. Still others challenge readers to imaginatively engage in a rapidly changing and increasingly globalized world in ways both productive and problematic. These stories have alternately offered the middle class a glamorized version of themselves, exposed their weaknesses, preyed upon their fears, and both challenged and confirmed their assumptions concerning race, gender, class, and privilege. We will supplement our reading by sampling and discussing representations of the PMC in films, television, and advertising. This course should fulfill the objectives of a General Education course and an Honors course, which is to say it is designed to help you write and think more critically and deeply about the way that fiction interacts with our perceptions of ourselves and the larger world.

CA 1.

ENGL 1616W-001: Major Works of English and American Literature

Instructor: Margaret Breen

Prerequisite: ENGL 1010, 1011, or 2011

In this course we will engage a range of American and British literary works—from the Renaissance to the present—and in the process encounter such great writers such William Shakespeare, Charlotte Brontë, and Alice Walker. We will be reading across genres: poems, plays, short stories, essays, and at least one novel. We will explore how form and social context shape writers’ development of a theme or exploration of an idea, and begin to consider how a particular critical approach can direct our textual analysis. Three 5-6-page essays, as well as several short response pieces.

CA 1, W.

MCB 2225: Cell Biology Laboratory

[UConn Storrs]

Instructor: David Knecht

Prerequisite: BIOL 1107 or equivalent

Many Honors students in the life sciences have benefited from MCB 2225, Cell Biology Laboratory.  The laboratory is designed to help students decide if they are interested in research and to prepare them for working in a research laboratory. Students will become proficient with experimental design, quantitative data analysis, and data presentation in the context of learning to work with living cells.  Like a research laboratory, the course laboratory is accessible 24/7 because real science often does not fit into 3 hour time blocks.

Students do not need an extensive knowledge of cell biology in order to succeed in the class.  The background cell biology for each experiment will be discussed in class and a general protocol will be provided.  Students working in pairs will then design the details of the specific experimental question, develop a protocol including the necessary controls, carry out the experiment and then analyze the data.  Experiments are often repeated outside of class time as student researchers fine-tune their technique or protocol.  The results are then discussed in a “group meeting” so that each group can see how others approached related problems. There is great flexibility for students to branch out from the starting point provided to take the experiment in a direction that is of interest to the student.

Students will maintain their own wild type and mutant cell lines throughout the semester.  The laboratory is equipped with computer controlled video microscope workstations for acquiring data on cell behavior. The experiments will focus on the growth, motility, development and underlying cellular structure of the soil amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum.  Many of the experiments will ask questions about how cells move and respond to signals both in unicellular and multicellular environments.  Students will transfect cells DNA to express fluorescent probes (GFP and RFP) and investigate the role of the cytoskeleton in cell motility and signaling. Flow cytometry and confocal microscopy will also be used to analyze cells.  Open source image processing software (Fiji/ImageJ) will be used to analyze the data captured from the microscope.   One emphasis of the course will be on the quantitative analysis of image data.

In the last third of the course, students will work on independent projects of their choosing.  Often these projects involve investigation of mutant cell lines available from a National Stock Center or cells isolated from the local environment.

Unlike many courses that aim to teach science concepts, this course puts an emphasis on teaching students to think like a scientist. The class size is small and there is ample opportunity for individual attention from the instructor and TA. This course will provide students with specific skills and experience that will aid them in applying to any laboratory in MCB (and other departments) for Honors thesis research. There is also the possibility of continuing these projects as Honors thesis research in the instructor’s research laboratory as many of the experiments conducted in the class are an outgrowth of ongoing research projects.