Spring 2022 Featured Courses

PHIL 1109: Global Existentialism

Instructor: Matthew Holmes

In Phil 1109, “Global Existentialism”, students will explore the philosophical themes of meaning, value, freedom, and responsibility. While certain important texts by European philosophers will be examined, the focus of the course is on the insight and innovation philosophers of the Global South have brought to existential thought. Consistent short writing assignments are balanced with work in small groups that puts a premium on dialogue and collaboration.

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The Philosophy department has also applied to have PHIL 1109 receive the Content Area 1 (Arts & Humanities) designation. 

DMD 3998-016: (Variable Topics) Diverse Perspectives in Digital Media and Design (Conversion Opportunity)

[UConn Storrs]

Instructor: Clarissa Ceglio

While this is not an Honors course, Prof. Ceglio welcomes Honors students of all majors and would be happy to offer Honors conversions for interested students.

To paraphrase James Baldwin, nothing can be changed until it is faced. This is certainly true of the inequities that have historically shaped digital media technologies, content, fields, and careers. This class interrogates how racism, sexism, classism, ageism, and other forms of oppression are perpetuated through digital media works, practices, and industries. We will, as the chief learning activity of this class, meet and talk with contemporary practitioners who are challenging and changing the status quo. For six of our class sessions, we will meet virtually and sometimes in-person with industry professionals, artists, and media scholars from film, game, design, cultural and other sectors so that we can learn how issues of equity manifest in their work, creative processes, and professions.

Because these practitioners are also part of DMD’s Diverse Perspectives in Digital Media & Design: 2022 Speaker Series, students will also have the opportunity to participate as hosts in the series, learn how to professionalize their on-camera presence, and gain skill in preparing and moderating live Q&A sessions. Interactions with our guests will be supplemented by readings, in-class film screenings, and engagements with other media works.

Permission number required. Contact: clarissa.ceglio@uconn.edu

University Honors Laureate: This Variable Topics course will count toward the Arts & Humanities category and will also meet the Diversity & Multiculturalism requirement.

PHIL 1104: Philosophy and Social Ethics

[UConn Storrs]

Instructor: Tracy Llanera

Is humanity getting better? A way of gauging this question is via the lens of social ethics. Social ethics is concerned about investigating systems of (explicit or implicit) principles governing conduct in human societies. Are we treating ourselves well? Are we behaving in ways that improve the lives of (human and non-human) others as well as our own?  Are we thriving in our communities? Do we owe anything to human beings, even other beings, in the future? This course examines moral and social issues using philosophical argumentation, with the hope of engaging – critically, collectively, and clearly – the challenges raised by the question of human progress.

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PHIL 3218: Feminist Theory

[UConn Storrs]

Instructor: Elena Comay del Junco

Prerequisites: At least one of PHIL 1101, 1102, 1103, 1104, 1105, 1106, 1107 or WGSS 1104, 1105 or 2124.

This course will take a philosophical approach to feminism, understood as a theoretical and political attempt to understand and combat gender oppression. Topics of discussion will include: the idea of “feminist philosophy”; the nature and origins of gender inequality and oppression; the concept of patriarchy; the relationship between gender and sexuality; “woman” and the gender binary; race and gender in the American and global context; class, labor, and “women’s work”; pornography; gendered violence; MeToo and other contemporary feminist movements and reactions to them.

We will read a variety of authors, both historical and contemporary, writing in different contexts and with different backgrounds. Our guiding assumption will be that all of these authors offer important insights *and*  that our task is to read them critically, to ask what they do not say and what is omitted from their arguments. The syllabus will include some or all of: Gloria Anzaldúa, Simone de Beauvoir, Talia Mae Bettcher, Judith Butler, Angela Davis, Andrea Dworkin, Shulamith Firestone, John Stuart Mill, Catherine McKinnon, Christine de Pizan, Gayle Rubin, Ida B. Wells, Monique Wittig, Mary Wollstonecraft, Susan Stryker.

MATH 3094: Undergraduate Seminar

MATH 3094-001: Knot Theory

Instructor: Katie Hall

Prerequisites: MATH 2710/W or 2142Q is preferred. Linear algebra and some familiarity with proofs and/or mathematical maturity is necessary. Email instructor with a description of your mathematical background for a permission number.

The objectives are this course are twofold: First, students will learn how to distinguish knots using both basic knot invariants like 3-coloring and more compli- cated invariants like knot polynomials. They will learn how to determine properties of a knot, for example, whether a knot has an alternating knot diagram, from these invariants. Students will also learn about surfaces, including the classification of orientable and non- orientable surfaces. Finally, we will tie these ideas together to see what surfaces we can get from knots.

Second, this class will introduce students to potentially new proof techniques including how to write an appropriately rigorous proof in a very visual area of math.

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MATH 3094-002: Mathematics for Machine Learning

Instructors: Jeremy Teitelbaum and Kyu-Hwan Lee

Prerequisites: MATH 2110Q, MATH 2210Q, and MATH 2710/W, or permission of the instructor. Email one of the instructors for a permission number.

Machine Learning is a “hot topic” that brings together ideas from computer science, statistics, and mathematics to extract structures from large data sets. As a branch of artificial intelligence, it has applications in building automated systems, identifying patterns and making decisions. Some typical problems in machine learning include image recognition, fraud detection and extracting meaning from text.

Machine Learning uses mathematics as its basic language and main resource of important techniques. In order to exploit the immense possibilities of Machine Learning, a thorough mathematical understanding of many of these techniques is necessary.

In this course we will discuss the mathematical foundations of key algorithms in Machine Learning, and, through lab projects, apply these algorithms to some real world data. This course will incorporate computer work in Python. Necessary programming skills will be taught as part of the course.

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PNB 3700: Sensory Physiology (Conversion Opportunity)

[UConn Storrs]

Instructor: Karen Menuz

Prerequisites: PNB 2274 or 3251 or instructor consent; open to juniors or higher.

While this is not an Honors course, Prof. Menuz welcomes Honors students of all majors and would be happy to offer Honors conversions for interested students.

This course is designed to provide students with an in-depth understanding of sensory physiology. Special attention is paid to the receptors, cells, and physiology in peripheral sensory organs. The course covers senses that are familiar to humans, such as olfaction, taste, vision, touch, and hearing, and those that we lack such as magnetoreception, electroreception, and infrared detection. A comparative approach will be taken, highlighting the common principles and key differences in select sensory systems in vertebrates, invertebrates, and other organisms.

The Honors conversion for this course will involve researching one of the “atypical” senses, such as electroreception, and delivering an oral presentation to the class.

ENGL graduate courses, Spring 2022

Graduate courses act as Honors credit, as long as you earn a grade of B- or higher. Contact each instructor directly for permission numbers.

ENGL 6750: Seminar in Language and Literature (The Gothic novel and its British and Irish contexts)

Instructor: Mary Burke

This seminar will broadly consider Irish, British, and American Gothic writing from the eighteenth- to the twenty-first century, with attention to the British and Irish particularities of the genre and to the novel and novella forms. Students will have the opportunity to utilize major theories and foci of interpretation, from queer theory, Marxism, feminism, gender, race, and psychoanalysis to postcolonial studies. It is difficult to create a literary history of the British Gothic without considering the impact of Anglo-Irish writers such as Maturin, Le Fanu, Stoker, Wilde, Yeats, and Bowen as well as a British writer born to an Irish father such as Brontë. The colonial relationship between Ireland and Britain means that the course will be less of a literary history and more of an anti-tradition of discontinuities, fracture, gaps, silences and fragments (McCormack; Watt). One of the few coherent connections between most Irish Gothic writers is their origins in or links to the settler-colonial order or “Anglo-Irish” cohort. Foster reads this “siege-mentality” Protestant Irish class as preoccupied with its own impending extermination (Bowen). As hybrid, conflicted figures, the Anglo-Irish were well positioned to nurture a literature that emphasizes “hesitancy over certainty, and which refuses to dissolve binaries such as living/dead, inside/outside, friend/enemy, desire/disgust” (Killeen). Thus, there is a specifically colonial context to Irish Gothic’s use of the broader British tradition’s deployment of the Catholic archaic as site of terror (Walpole; Lewis) and its emphasis on the return of the dispossessed Other. Nevertheless, the prevailing theorization of Anglo-Irish Gothic does not account for the other colonizer-settler cohort in Ireland, the Ulster-Scots, nor for the cultural productions of or about their descendants in America (the Scots-Irish) by important names in American Gothic such as Poe, James, and Faulkner. Thus, we will set earlier themes and texts into relief and broaden our lens on race and colonialism by pivoting to the Americas and the authors just listed, closing with a recent Gothic metafiction centered on a rapacious Anglo-Irish settler-colonial family in midcentury Mexico (Moreno-Garcia).

ENGL/AMST 6850: Seminar in American Studies: Keywords (Disability Studies)

Instructor: Brenda Brueggemann

This is a course about “doing disability studies” in the arts and humanities.  In order to maintain some focus we will center our reading and work on AMERICAN texts (literature, film, popular culture artifacts) and the important (and sometimes also obscured) contexts, history, cultural, political, and rights movements that have shaped and grounded the field of Disability Studies. The course is intended to be interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary –as currently aligns with the burgeoning field of Disability Studies itself –and although our focus will be “American” we will make many transnational and global connections.

The course will have four (interwoven) movements.  First:  we will begin in a space of “key words” and “core concepts,” exploring groundbreaking and foundation-building critical vocabulary and analytical frames.  Second: we will draw upon the rights-based, advocacy, activist frames and materialities (social, political, educational, medical) that have shaped American disability studies and have also then inspired much of its creative production.  Third: we will insert disability into identity politics (and identity politics into disability) as we consider disability in complex relationships to other identities and how, once again, that complexity has forged creative and critical production for the field.  Fourth: we will need to engage the issues inherent in accessing the archives around disabled lives –particularly in an American context—and how disability diagnosis and embodiment challenges and invigorates historical excavation and archival work.

Course Elements and Activities:

  • Weekly participation in interactive class activities
  • Annotations and index for 2-3 Disability Keywords entries
  • Five short compositions (multimodal –but accessible—compositions are encouraged) in response to any 4 or 5 weeks of texts/discussions.  Preliminary prompts offered by instructor.
  • Articulation of a final project (determined upon consultation with instructor): a project comprising 15-20 hours of intellectual labor (need not be finished)

PSYC 3770W-002: (Current Topics in Social Psychology) Psychology of the Arts

[UConn Storrs]

Instructor: Blair T. Johnson

Prerequisites: ENGL 1007, 1010, 1011, or 2011 and instructor consent. The catalog-level prerequisite of PSYC 2700 is recommended but will not be required.

Psychology of the arts is far more vast than any individual course can possibly cover, ranging from the written word, to song, to music, to visual arts, performance art, and more. Thus, this course is an introduction to the subject. As a psychological topic, a strong focus of the course is emotions and judgments and their underlying experiential and functional bases; a related focus revolves around the functional purposes of consuming and making art (e.g., self-expression, social justice activity, therapy), along with understanding the motives of people who make art and what might make their art more powerful—or even fail. As a writing seminar, this course will focus on contemporary and classic scholarship as well as the students’ own essays on these subjects.

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ENGL Honors classes, Spring 2022

All of these courses carry the pre-requisite of first-year writing (ENGL 1007, 1010, 1011, or 2011).

ENGL 2101-Z81: British Literature II

[UConn Stamford]

Instrutor: Frederick Roden

British Literature II examines a broad variety of genres (poetry, non-fiction prose, and novel/short story) in three historical periods, from 1800 to roughly 1950: Romanticism, Victorianism, and Modernism. We will pay particular attention to works and movements on the margins of these categorical terms. This era was one of tremendous change with respect to definitions of identity: race, class, gender, sexual orientation, national and ethnic self-understanding, and religion — just to name a few. Honors students will select to focus on clusters of historical documents concerning some of these themes and will develop their formal course writing around those texts.  Professor Roden will mentor these projects individually, and we will meet as an Honors group to workshop this independent study.   Collectively as a full class, we will analyze the literature in the context of the politics of identity and the idea of “subjectivity”: the speaking self.

CA 1.

ENGL 2301W-003: Anglophone Literatures

[UConn Storrs]

Instructor: Patrick Hogan

The obvious feature that connects Anglophone literatures is the colonial history (partially) shared by their countries of origin. Why would we otherwise link such different nations as Nigeria, India, Canada, and Australia? This course will, therefore, stress colonialism and the ways in which these diverse literatures emerged from colonial conditions. Of course, the diversity of these literatures is as consequential as the similarity. In connection with this, it is important to distinguish various kinds of colonialism. Colonialism in Nigeria is not the same as colonialism in Canada, for example. As this is a literature course, we also need to be aware of the various literary approaches to “emplotting” colonialism, which is to say, creating stories that address the colonial condition. We will begin the semester by considering just what constitutes colonialism (e.g., how we might define “colonialism”). From there we will turn to the chief varieties of colonialism and some of the recurring structures—particularly story genres—taken up by authors in examining colonialism. In connection with these theoretical topics, we will read and discuss some theoretical work—Kwame Anthony Appiah’s The Lies that Bind: Rethinking Identity< and perhaps Dane Kennedy’s Decolonization. (This further engagement with theoretical writing is the main difference between the Honors and non-Honors versions of the course.)

After a few weeks on these theoretical topics, we will turn to literary works. In the course of the semester, we will consider narratives from different types of colony. For example, we will examine a work from Canada (Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing) and one from Australia (Nugi Garimara’s Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence), works from India (including some poetry and visual art from Kashmir), and works from the very different African colonies of Kenya (Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s A Grain of Wheat) and South Africa (J. M. Coezee’s Waiting for the Barbarians and Athol Fugard’s Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act), as well as a selection of stories from across the continent–Ama Ata Aidoo’s African Love Stories. As the title of Aidoo’s collection suggests, we will pay particular attention to the ways in which authors take up the love story genre to address colonialism, though we will touch on other recurring genres as well.

Coursework will include short responses to readings, one or two group presentations, and general class participation, one 6-page essay explicating part of one of the literary works or rewriting it creatively (in line with themes explored in the course), and one 10-page essay involving cultural or historical research integrated with explication of part of one of the literary works, as well as outlines and drafts of the two essays. (Though the course is primarily in person, a limited number of lectures will be recorded and made available on HuskyCT instead.)

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ENGL 2701-003: Creative Writing I

[UConn Storrs]

Instructor: Sean Forbes

Finding Your Artistic Voice Through Creative Writing Prompts

In this introduction to creative writing class we will examine the different approaches that a writer can take when trying to establish a speaker in a poem or short story. We will look at exemplary works of poetry and fiction from writers like David Dominguez, Allison Joseph, Richard Blanco, and Justin Torres. Students will produce a final portfolio of their original work. Class participation is an essential component to this largely workshop-based course along with weekly writing prompts such as writing in iambic pentameter and challenging prose sketches.

ENGL 3640-001: British Film

[UConn Storrs]

Instructor: Gregory Semenza

In this course, we will trace the long and colorful history of British film since the invention of the cinema around 1895 until the present day.  One of the original powers of the global film industry—along with the US, Germany, France, and Italy—the British cinema experienced serious decline in the early years of World War I.  Although, according to some (especially British) film historians, it has never fully recovered, the British filmmaking industry has been at the forefront of numerous historical innovations and developments, serving important roles in the rise of documentary film, wartime propaganda film, cinematic realism, and the evolution of the horror film, heritage film, franchise film, and especially film adaptations of literature—to mention only a few key examples.  Through all these changes, the British film industry has always been linked closely to Hollywood, serving not only a training ground for directorial and acting talent (from Charlie Chaplin to Alfred Hitchcock to Ridley Scott to Emma Thompson), but also as an important site and collaborator in an increasingly multinational film industry (from The Bridge on the River Kwai to Star Wars to Harry Potter).

The course will consider all of these contributions within the context of questions about Britishness itself.  Given the violent forces that forged the British union since the Middle Ages, ideas of Britishness have always had an intensely constructed, political quality which certain powerful interests wished to portray as permanent and consensual.  But from the vantage point of 2021, the artificial nature of this project is much more apparent and seems on the verge of flying apart. The recent Scottish vote for independence was the logical extension of the politics of devolution dating back at least to 1920, when Home Rule in Northern Ireland was implemented and a parliament was established there a year later.  The politics of devolution are at this moment putting “English” identity under extreme pressure—as are changes ushered in by the ongoing reconfiguration of traditional geographical, racial, ethnic, class, and sexual hierarchies.  In this course, we will need to think, therefore, much about ever-changing definitions of what constitutes “British” in order to truly understand the history and culture of British film.

Required films will include, but not be limited to, the following: David Lean’s Brief Encounter (1945); Powell and Pressburger’s Black Narcissus (1947); Carol Reed’s The Third Man (1949); Tony Richardson’s A Taste of Honey (1961); Peter Watkins’ The War Game (1966); Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man (1973); Franco Rosso’s Babylon (1980);  Bill Forsyth’s Local Hero (1983); James Ivory’s A Room with a View (1985); Stephen Frears’ My Beautiful Laundrette (1985); Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting (1996); Steve McQueen’s Hunger (2008); Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank (2009); Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block (2011); Sam Mendes’ Skyfall (2012); and Steve McQueen’s Small Axe (2020).

CA 1.

SOCI 2260: Science, Medicine, and Race (Conversion Opportunity)

[UConn Storrs]

Instructor: Matthew Hughey

While this is not an Honors course, Prof. Hughey welcomes Honors students of all majors and would be happy to offer Honors conversions for interested students.

An introduction to science, medicine, and the construct of “race.” We will encounter the development of medical sciences, colonialism, eugenics, & Darwinism; modern notions of biology & species; the causes & consequences of health inequities across the color-line; genetic & genomic research; and DNA & ancestry testing.

A critical class for students interested in the role of race, truth, facts, methods, and inequality in the genetic age.

Questions? Contact the instructor:
Matthew W. Hughey, PhD
Professor of Sociology
matthew.hughey@uconn.edu