George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Courses

Choosing Courses That Interest You

Many Honors College (HNRS) classes are topical seminars, which means that the catalog descriptions are more generic than the section descriptions. With our program, you'll be able to choose seminars and classes that align with your interests and specializations.

Honors College courses are topical seminars, taught by professors at the top of their fields.

For up-to-date information, please refer to the official online schedule of classes via PatriotWeb.


 

Fall 2018

HNRS 122 Reading the Arts

Expression in Video Games

Jan Allbeck: Section 001 – MW 9-10:15 am

This course will examine video games and expression, including expression manifestation in color choice, lighting, animation, pacing, dialogue, environmental storytelling, and character design. We will also look at video games as a form of expression for both game designers and players. Finally, we will discuss the influence of society on video games and the influence of video games on society.

Theater and Major Social Shifts

Chuck Leonard: Section 002 – TR 10:30-11:45 am & Section 003 – TR 1:30-2:45 pm

Explores the language of the art medium and the relationship of parts to whole in art works, connections among different art forms, and links between art and its historical context. In exploring multiple art forms, including literature, students will also learn how various artistic devices contribute to meaning. Students will critically explore detail and nuance in the social, historical and personal context of the work(s). Students will also participate in or attend a visual or performance based art work(s) or event(s).

Medieval Poets and the Material World

M. Leigh Harrison; Section 005 – TR 1:30-2:45 pm

Medieval artisans and poets made their works shine with bold color, elaborate organization, and rich detail. To discover why, we’ll examine a range of creations taken from ruined cities and secluded monasteries, bustling universities and stately halls. We’ll pair our exploration of some of the most striking and enigmatic poetry from the Middle Ages with an investigation of the role of materials in the medieval worldview. We’ll compare printed poems and stories with other texts that have been carved into stone and engraved on glass—as well as written in “the book of nature.” Throughout, we will consider the shared preoccupations of visual art and poetry.

Contemporary American Drama

Heather McDonald: Section 006 – TR 3:00-4:15 pm

Through study of contemporary American plays and musicals, students will explore theatre as a mirror of the culture. Dialogue and the importance of valuing and evaluating multiple perspectives and points-of-view are core to theatre. The central concerns of the class are listening to the myriad voices currently working in American theatre, seeking to understand why live stories urgently matter, looking at theatre’s relationship to other art forms, placing theatre in its political and cultural context, forming questions about how contemporary dramatists wrestle with and ask questions about the great American Experiment, and building a portrait of our contemporary world.

Pompeii: A Window on Ancient Roman Life and Art

Christopher Gregg: Section 007 – MW 10:30-11:45 am

Since its rediscovery over 200 years ago, the Roman city of Pompeii has fascinated the modern world. This minor Roman town, entombed by a volcanic eruption in AD 79, has fired the imagination of both scholars and artists. As an example of Roman civilization, Pompeii gives us a view into a past society that has had a tremendous impact on Western European and North American architecture, art, law and literature. This class will use the unparalleled physical remains of Pompeii’s art, architecture and infrastructure as well as primary Roman literary source material in translation to explore the complex urban and cultural environment of this ancient civilization. Class discussion, critical reading of sources, and visual analysis will all play significant parts in our multi-disciplinary approach to interpreting this familiar yet “foreign” culture.

Literature of the Middle East

Amal Amireh: Section 008 – MW 12:00-1:15 pm

Music and Exoticisim

Gregory Robinson: Section 010 – MW 1:30-2:45 pm

This course will explore discourses of exoticism as they emerge in and surround music. We will begin by reading selections from Edward Said’s landmark 1978 study, Orientalism, along with additional writings from the academic fields of musicology and ethnomusicology that will help us to contextualize his ideas. We will then consider musical performance in several major world regions, alongside outsider representations of these regions, in order to see how Said’s insights on the relationship between the arts and politics play out (or do not play out) in these areas. Students will learn and practice critical reading and listening skills, and will gain a discipline-specific introduction to current research in the arts and humanities.

 

 

HNRS 130 Conceptions of Self

The Romantic Self

Kristin Samuelian: Section 002 – TR 10:30-11:45 am

In Honors 130, we will explore conceptions of selfhood from a period in European history when writers, philosophers, and political thinkers were becoming increasingly preoccupied with questions of what it meant to be an individual self distinct from a communal or collective identity: the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, often referred to as the Romantic Period or the Age of Revolution. Through reading selections of fiction and philosophical essays by some major and some lesser-known eighteenth- and nineteenth-century writers—including David Hume, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley, William Hazlitt, and Charlotte Brontë—and writing essays both formal and informal, we will explore the origins of a concept of selfhood that remains the basis of most modern psychological and philosophical doctrines, from Freudian psychoanalysis and theories of personality to existentialism and beyond.

HNRS 131 Contemporary Society in Multiple Perspectives

Artifical Intelligence

Jesse Kirkpatrick: Section 001 – W 4:30-7:10 pm

This course serves as an introduction to a range of ethical and social issues that may arise in connection with the development of artificial intelligence (AI). Rapid advances in technology have already enabled the production of AI systems that allow robots to serve as caregivers, outperform humans in games like chess and Go, mine huge amounts of data, and allow cars to drive autonomously. As technology advances further at an accelerating pace, we may possibly produce non-human systems that equal or surpass human capabilities in a growing number of activities. Trends and developments such as these raise fundamental ethical and social issues that will be explored using such sources as scholarly literature, art, film, and science fiction.

Congressional Elections

Steven Pearlstein: Section 004 – T 9-11:45 am

We will study the 2018 Congressional campaign as it unfolds this fall in Virginia and around the country—an election that will be referendum on the Trump administration in which control of both houses of Congress will be at stake. We will not only follow it through the mainstream (and not so mainstream media), but also through the eyes of individuals who are in some way participating in it: a farmer, a small business owner, a teacher, a soccer mom, a nurse, an evangelical minister, etc. Each student will be assigned someone who comes from as different a background, and has as different views, as we can find (that’s the “multiple perspectives” part). Students will speak to their subjects by phone weekly, keeping a journal and “seeing” the election through his or her eyes. Along the way, we will read about politics, political journalism and public policy and discuss the interaction among them. A campaign manager, a pollster, an elected official and a political journalist will be invited to speak to the class. We will also conduct an exit poll on Election Day. Some summer reading may be required. Registration closed after August 1.

Freedom

Ted Kinnaman: Section 006 – TR 9-10:15 am

This course will offer a philosophical and historical perspective on contemporary society. The course will focus on freedom. In American society today there are few concepts more used and less understood than freedom. We will be asking questions such as, What is freedom? What if any value does it have? Is the human will free– and what are the consequences if it is not? To guide us in this we will read texts by Plato, Kant, Mill, Hume, and Milton Friedman, among others.

Relgion, State and the Law

Randi Rashkover: Section 011 – MW 3:00-4:15 pm

What is the relationship between democracy and religion? Should democracies separate church from state or are there ways to incorporate religious ideas into democratic governments? In this course we will explore contemporary ideas concerning the separation of church and state and examine a range of international models for how the two areas can and do work together.

Globalization and its Impact on Institutions, Society, and the Individual: Progress, Problems, and Challenges

Phil Thomas: Section 013 – MW 12:00-1:15 pm

Globalization is a dynamic process that has brought the world’s diverse population closer together since the beginning of civilization through the exchange of goods, products, information, jobs, knowledge and culture. Contemporary globalization in the beginning of the Twenty-First Century is the result of dramatic advancements in technology, communications, science, transport and industry. The current global population of 7 billion people has become increasingly interdependent. The economic, cultural and political implications of globalization are matters of great controversy and debate. A fundamental question remains unanswered. Will a smaller technologically enhanced interdependent world produce an environmentally sustainable, safer and more just world? As we progress toward the year 2050 with the prospect of the global population projected to reach 9 billion people, many challenges exist confronting the viability and stability of the global community. In this class we will identify and examine the many multi-dimensional and crosscutting issues and challenges affecting globalization in the Twenty-First Century including: communication/social media, governance, democracy, nationalism, conflict, humanitarian crises, food insecurity, environment, biotechnology, climate, population growth,commerce, discrimination, freedom and responsibility. Phil Thomas is the instructor for this course. He has an extensive background in globalization issues that includes a variety of academic, government service, and international research projects.

Global Politics and Humor

Jennifer Ashley: Section 015 – TR 3:00-4:15 pm

This course explores the relation between entertainment television and global political discourse. We begin the course with an examination of the work of Habermas on the public sphere. This discussion will be followed by a consideration of humor and satire as a form of political communication, drawing on Bakhtin’s discussion of the carnivalesque. We will consider how scholars have taken up these theoretical frameworks to analyze the use of  satire television (such as The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update in the US and Les Guignols de l'info in France) to promote public debate. Students will be asked to critically evaluate the concept of the public sphere in relation to media as they consider whether, why, and how television allows for (or fails to allow for) critical engagement with issues of public concern. They will also be asked to consider the potential and limits of dissident laughter in effecting political change.

Gender, Race, and Immigration

Mark Rudnicki: Section 016 – MW 10:30-11:45 am

Emerging Power, Changing Trends

Susana Carrillo: Section 017 – F 1:30-4:10 pm

The world is going through unprecedented changes with important impacts on the global economic and financial architecture. Demographic trends, financial and trade flows are shaping the emergence of economic growth poles. China and India are examples of emerging economies that will play a strong role on global governance. Along these emerging economies, new global institutions are contributing to change the world balance of power. In addition, priorities of a growing middle class will define economic consumption patterns and global connections. In this class, we will examine and analyze these changing trends and global interactions. We will discuss questions such as: In today’s interconnected world, how will our own society be impacted by these shifting dynamics? How are emerging economies contributing to a different global landscape? Are new global governance institutions defining new models of cooperation to solve emerging global challenges? Be prepared to learn about new concepts and participate in engaging group discussions.

HNRS 230 Cross Cultural Perspectives

Cross-Cultural Communications

Megan Patrick: Section 002 – TR 12:00-1:15 pm
This course in cross-cultural communications is designed to provide students with the fundamental principles to understand the diverse cultures that inform the operations of a 21st century professional environment. The class will explore how professional language, behavior, work practices, and organizations are shaped by culture and interpreted through one’s own cultural locus. By establishing mindfulness of our own cultural programming, as well as an understanding of the obstacles to cross-cultural engagement, participants will build the necessary skill set to navigate the contemporary workplace.
HNRS 240 Reading the Past

The History of Science

James Trefil: Section 001 – M 4:30-7:10 pm

This course will trace the development of science from the construction of monuments like Stonehenge to the beginning of the twentieth century. No previous scientific knowledge will be presumed, and the major ideas of science will be developed in their historical context. The course will include readings from important historical texts, and students will be asked to develop and present topics related to the course subject matter.

History of the Family

Spencer Crew: Section 002 – TR 10:30-11:45 am

The definition of family and the role of each member has evolved over the years. Often the changes are related to economic circumstances and the social beliefs of the society. This course will primarily examine the way the American family has changed since colonial days. In the process we will study how the responsibilities of women, children, and men have evolved and why. In addition we will learn how oral history can aid in researching family history.

History of Emotions

Peter Stearns: Section 003 – TR 12:00-1:15 pm

This course focuses on the history of emotions, a rapidly growing field that seeks to contribute both to an understanding of the past and to interdisciplinary analysis of emotion itself. Key methodological and analytical issues in the field will be addressed, along with work (both existing and potential) on emotions such as love, shame, fear, and nostalgia. Coverage will focus on American patterns but with opportunities for comparison with other societies. Student participation will be emphasized, including recurrent discussion of why history seems to have undertaken an “emotional” turn and whether this is a desirable direction.

Technology and Identity

Zachary Schrag: Section 004 – TR 1:30-2:45 pm

We define ourselves by the tools we make, the tools we use, and the tools we reject. Individuals select consumer goods, communities deploy infrastructure, and whole nations seek glory through science, invention, and warfare. This course will explore the intersection of technology and identity in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the United States and other nations. We will learn how people living today and previous generations made choices about three sets of technologies: vaccination; electrification of cities, homes, and farms; and aviation, with an emphasis on the role of the pilot. By learning this history, we can better understand the choices we ourselves face as individuals, communities, and nations.

Roots of American Music

Suzanne Smith: Section 006 – TR 1:30-2:45 pm

This course explores the roots of American popular music.  American roots music encompasses a wide array of music styles including: the blues, gospel, early jazz, country, bluegrass, Western swing, as well as immigrant music such as polka and zydeco.  Throughout the semester, we will study how these different styles evolved, influenced each other, and laid the foundation of rock and roll.  Another important dimension of the course will be learning how the history of race relations, gender relations, and class in America play a key role in understanding why certain musical styles develop and become popular.  Since music is the focal point of the course, weekly assignments include readings, listening to music, and screenings of films about American roots music.

Elizabethan Politics and Prose

Chuck Leonard: Section 007 – MW 1:30-2:45 pm & Section 008 – MW 10:30-11:45 am

This course will examine Elizabethan history, writers and the politics of the period. A major project will be construction of a performance piece, after considering multiple period and contemporary performance styles. Works by Shakespeare and his contemporaries, as well as historical narratives will be explored to further understanding of the period.

The History of Normal: Mosters, Freaks, and Crips

Teresa Michals: Section 009 – MW 3:00-4:14 pm

"The distant past inspires the sense and the respect of differences between men, at the same time as it refines our sensitiveness to the poetry of human destinies.”

– Marc Bloch, 1944

Before 1840 or so, the word "normal" commonly meant "perpendicular." This meaning derived from the carpenter's square, called a "norm." Today we rely heavily on a very different idea of "normal.” How did people make sense of themselves and each other without this sense of "normal," and how did this idea come to have the power it holds today? This course will focus on the rise of statistics, medicine, education, and the state in nineteenth-century Britain, arguing that these developments created new ways of seeing ourselves and others that now feel natural. In addition to medical and statistical models, we will consider wonder, the monstrous, cruelty, pain, laughter, sentiment, and the freak as categories that eighteenth and nineteenth-century writers use to frame the very different behaviors, minds, and bodies they try to describe. We will also take a look at the field of disability studies as a place where social history and political activism intersect. Course work will include a class presentation, short papers, quizzes, and a 7-page research project (in discussion with me, you are free to research any topic of your choice, as long as it is relevant to the intellectual framework of the class). This class demands a good deal of discussion and interaction. In order to help us focus on this task, I do not allow the use of cell phones or laptops during class time.

HNRS 310 Honors College Connects I
Kevin Stoy

The first of a two-semester course in which students work in groups on long-term service projects coming from community nonprofit organizations.

HNRS 330 Research, Technology, and Online Community

Communication Strategy Research Team

Richard Todd Stafford: Section 001 – F 9-11:20 am

Our students receive communications from the Honors College through a number of different media, including emails, newsletters, flyers, and our website. At the same time, the Honors College frequently communicates with other audiences, both within the University and in the broader community, including alumni, business partners, other academic units, and more. We are looking for a multidisciplinary team of students who would like to undertake a comprehensive study of how we currently communicate, how well our current practices are working, and how we might improve our communication strategy moving forward.

There are opportunities for students of all disciplines to participate, as one of our core objectives  involves learning to undertake collaborative multidisciplinary research. We will work to analyze the research needs of the Honors College, develop a formal research proposal that we will present to Honors College faculty in charge of communication strategy, then undertake the primary quantitative, interpretive, and/or qualitative human research necessary in order to answer our questions.

In this class, each student will be encouraged to develop an individual skill development plan, focusing on skills that are of interest to the student and necessary to meet our group’s research needs. Throughout the course, we will actively reflect on the challenges and opportunities entailed by work on a multidisciplinary team.

Mentorship in Undergraduate Research

John Woolsey: Section 002 – F 12-12:50 pm

In this course students serve as Peer Research Mentors (PRMs) and guide first year Honors College students through the research process used in HNRS 110: Research Methods. PRMs act as student leaders and liaisons in the HNRS 110 community. Working closely with the Research Curriculum Coordinator, faculty and librarians, PRMs hold regular office hours, design and lead workshops, and help plan the Honors College Fall Research Exhibition.

Interested students can apply here: https://goo.gl/forms/X3rRsQ4p092Qeh9F2

Contact Dr. Woolsey if you have questions: jwoolsey@gmu.edu

Diversity & Representation in Student Governance (1 Credit)

Blake Silver: Section 003 – TR 1:30-2:45 pm

This course will offer students the opportunity to develop, refine, and work within a democratic student governance structure to address challenges relevant to the Honors College. Those involved in the course will work to create the Honors College’s new Student Advisory Board. This task will involve engaging with questions related to community, diversity, representation, and inclusion. Students in the course are not required to serve on the Advisory Board. Rather, they will have a direct voice in the creation and support of the board. For more information or to apply, contact Dr. Silver at bsilver@gmu.edu.

Application emails should include your: (1) name, (2) major, and (3) any involvement in extra/co-curricular groups at Mason. Include “HNRS 330-003 Application” in the title of your email.

Social Science Research Lab

Blake Silver: Section 004 – TR 1:30-2:45 pm

This course will offer students an opportunity to work through the research process in a team setting. Designed for students across fields/majors who are interested in gaining experience with multidisciplinary social science research, this course is situated between HNRS 110 and students’ future individual research projects. For many students in the social sciences, making the transition between these levels of research is more feasible after gaining experience with advanced stages of the research process. With this in mind, the Social Science Research Lab will offer students the opportunity to take part in instrument construction and testing, data collection, data management, data analysis/interpretation, and the presentation of research findings.

The sorts of methodological approaches used in this lab will be especially relevant to students in a range of majors and minors including: sociology, anthropology, psychology, education, communication, conflict analysis, global affairs, integrative studies, social work, cultural studies, women and gender studies, African and African American studies, immigration studies, etc. The first project this lab will address (beginning in Fall 2018) examines the experiences of first-generation American students during the transition out of college. For more information or to apply, contact Dr. Silver at bsilver@gmu.edu.

Application emails should include your: (1) name, (2) major, and (3) a brief description of your interest in the course (no more than a few sentences). Include “HNRS 330-004 Application” in the title of your email.

HNRS 353 Technology in the Contemporary World

Effective Responses to Crime: Policies and Strategies

Laurie Robinson: Section 002 – TR 1:30-2:45 pm

While the violent crime rate in the U.S. today is far lower than 25 years ago -- and much closer to rates in the 1960s -- the nation continues to face challenges in areas such as gun violence, gang crime, domestic violence and high rates of incarceration, and there is deep concern about how fairly the criminal justice system responds to racial and ethnic minorities, as events over recent years in Ferguson, Missouri and numerous other jurisdictions have highlighted. In the 1960s, a Presidential Commission appointed by Lyndon B. Johnson issued a landmark report that comprehensively looked at all facets of the criminal justice system and set out a blueprint for reform. No single document in criminal justice since that time has been so influential.

In this seminar, Honors College students will act as members of a crime commission to look at key issues in criminal justice in the United States and what solutions are -- or could be -- used to address them effectively. They will examine aspects of policing, prisons and sentencing, juvenile justice, substance abuse, courts and (more broadly) innovation and technology, and hold "hearings" at which they can question expert guest witnesses (for example, frontline criminal justice practitioners, such as police chiefs) and explore evidence-based approaches that are being, and should be, taken to address problems. Students will serve on subject area task forces and develop reports on their topics.

The work will culminate in the students presenting their research-based recommendations at the end of the semester to a leading policymaker who will visit the class.

This seminar is suitable for any student interested in public policy, government, technology, communications, criminology, political science, conflict resolution, or economics.

Life in the Universe

Harold Geller: Section 004 – TR 3:00-4:15 pm

In this course we will critically analyze emergent technologies and their impact on contemporary culture as our species seeks to understand its place in the universe. The core concepts surrounding the technologies and their legal, social, and ethical issues will be considered. Students will develop a significant research project related to the search for life in the universe which, communicated through written, oral and digital means, demonstrates a critical understanding of the technologies and their impact via multiple disciplinary perspectives. Students will communicate their findings, both verbally and non-verbally, through ethically and culturally aware critical thinking and scientific reasoning.
Major Topics to be Included:
* The physical and chemical basis of the universe and its origins.
* The birth, life and death of galaxies and their stars.
* The geology of solid celestial objects.
* The biochemistry of life on Earth and possibly elsewhere.
* The diversity and similarity of life on Earth and implications for the universe.
* The search for planets outside our own solar system.
* The exploration and colonization of space and its extraterrestrial planets.

Cybernetics

Dean Taciuch: Section 005 – TR 1:30-2:45 pm

The course will begin with the concept of Cybernetics, popularized by Norbert Wiener's Human Use of Human Beings, a book he wrote (in 1950) specifically to explain cybernetics to the interested non-expert. Cybernetics, as Wiener and the first generation of computer engineers defined it, is the science of control and communication in machines, animals, and human beings. Cybernetics gave us the concepts of "cyberspace" and the "cybernetic organism"—the cyborg.

Throughout this course, we will address technology, in particular the idea of cybernetics and AI, from the perspectives of of a wide range of disciplines including engineering, statistical mechanics, mathematics, linguistics, sociology, psychology, neuroscience, biology, and philosophy. The field of cybernetics (the topic of our first text) is inherently interdisciplinary, born as it was from the fields of engineering and mathematics combined with biology, neuroscience, and sociology to form what today would be called information theory.

Norbert Wiener. The Human Use of Human Beings.
Nick Bostrom. Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. 

Technology and the Changing Economy

Lisardo Bolanos: Section 006 – TR 1:30-2:45 pm

Will most of your income in the future come from the peer-to-peer economy (e.g., Uber, Lyft, Airbnb)?  Will robots take over your future job?  Will faster and cheaper transportation allow workers from other countries to take over your job?  Or maybe the future is more complex?  With this in mind, students will develop projects to assess the benefits and risks of current technological breakthroughs, from industrial robots and nanomaterials to new trends in agriculture.  To understand how technologies will change the economy in the next one hundred years and beyond we need to look at the past.  The class will explore the following questions: Why was England in the 1700s able to start the industrial and agricultural revolution?  What obstacles are there for the development of vaccines?  Why was Japan able to take over China in the production of silk?  Why is the production of so many electronic products spread throughout a global supply chain?  Why don´t we see more tractors and factories in the rural areas of the developing world? 

HNRS 410 Thesis Preparation

Multidisciplinary Research and Creative Projects Seminar

Richard Todd Stafford: Section 001 – F 1:30-2:50 pm, Section 002 – W 12-1:20 pm, Section 003 – T 8:30-9:50 am

Students in HNRS 410 will work with faculty, classmates, and mentors through the process of developing an individually-designed research or creative project. This class is open to students of all majors who seek to develop a substantial or original product to put forward for consideration to some audience outside of our classroom. Because of the wide differences between disciplines in what counts as “substantial” or “original,” as well as what it means to “put [work] forward for consideration,” some aspects of the research or creative process and/or product are expected to vary. However, all students will be expected to try out some ways of engaging with their project that lead them beyond their standard disciplinary processes or professional training.

Throughout the process of developing your individual projects, the class will work together to pursue the insights that emerge from a consideration of research and creative practices across disciplinary and professional boundaries.

This class is especially well-suited for students who seek to explore and begin to develop a new research question or creative project outside of their regular coursework; who would like to continue pursing a research question or creative project that emerged in a prior class; who are developing a research proposal (for instance for an OSCAR grant or fellowship); or who are concurrently enrolled in an individualized study, a thesis or capstone course in the major; or who are currently undertaking a funded OSCAR project.

HNRS 411 Thesis
Richard Todd Stafford: Section 001 – F 3-4:20 pm

In this course, you will continue working with faculty, classmates, and mentors on a research or creative project you began in HNRS 410 or in some other similar course. Students who have not previously taken HNRS 410 thinking about taking HNRS 411 should discuss these two options with the instructors.

At the same time you are developing your individual projects, our class will continue to work together to pursue the insights that emerge from a consideration of research or creative practices across multiple disciplines.

The focus of this course is on communicating about a research or creative project that is well underway. 

Spring 2018

HNRS 122 Reading the Arts

Comics as Visual Narrative (temporary title)

Jennifer Stevens, Section 001, TR 1:30pm-2:45pm

What do Neil Gaiman and Archie have in common? (see below for the answer) 
 
Whether you call them comics, sequential art, or graphic novels, comics are everywhere. Once highly restricted in both form and subject, there are now comics about almost everything. Although this isn’t intended to be a survey course, we’ll read all kinds of comics, including memoir, non-fiction, humor, fiction, web, superhero, and wordless. Our focus will be learning how to read comics as visual narratives – what do the images add that you can’t get from the words alone? How do images and words interact with each other? We’ll also discuss the larger context of comics and how they function within broader culture. Assignments will include short analytical papers based on the assigned readings.
(answer: comics!)

20th and 21st Century Poetry from Around the World: Syllabus

Vivek Narayanan, Section 002, MW 10:30am-11:45am

‘World Poetry’ is a mind-boggling and unfathomable thing.  In this course, we’ll imagine and puzzle our way into it by sampling moments of global convergence and mutual influence: modernism and its early love of translation; 'beat' poetry, internationalism, sound and visual art; the transnational political poetry of the 1970s and after; and, today, poetry across the internet as both possibility and limitation.  We’ll look at poetry not only on the printed page but as something that can be performed, listening to audio recordings and other multimedia.  Students in the class will have regular opportunities to write and develop their own poems—in response to the works we encounter—in addition to learning and exploring critical reading and writing. 

Theater and Major Social Shifts: Syllabus

Charles Leonard, Sections 003 & 004, TR 1:30pm-2:45pm & TR 10:30am-11:45am   

This course focuses on the literature and production of theater by studying drama as a mirror of society. The development of drama in most cultures has a distinct relationship to changing social, political, historical, technological, and psychological issues of the time. We will explore theater's role as a banner indicating change, as well as being a vehicle for change. Students will learn to identify central themes of a play as well as central images that provide compelling metaphors to support the themes. By analyzing the elements of drama for a play, students will learn critique of dramatic scripts and productions.

Manipulating Image: Syllabus

Heather Anderson, Section 007, MW 9am-10:15am

In this course we will explore the question “what is a manipulated image?” and practice the manipulation of images. Projects will include the creation of both written and visual products and class time will be devoted to discussion and studio time to practice and develop new visual communication skills. Students who take this course are not expected to have any previous knowledge of Photoshop.

HNRS 122: Visual Culture: Syllabus

Caroline West, Section 008, TR 1:30-2:45pm

This course will examine interdisciplinary scholarship and research on the role of photography and film in society, with particular focus on the documentary mode. The central concerns of this class will be to ask how images derive historical and ahistorical meaning? In what ways does imagery participate in social, cultural, political and economic discourses of power? To understand such questions, this class will look to the field of visual culture and to techniques of visual analysis to consider the evolving technologies of photography and film and the practices of making and looking.
HNRS 130 Conceptions of Self

Developing Self in Childhood

Tanya Tavassolie, Section 002, TR 10:30am-11:45am

In America today, children from across different ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds are experiencing childhood in many ways. What is the impact of different childhood experiences on a child’s sense of self? For example, what is it like to be a five-year-old who lives in South Florida, as part of a migrant farmworker family; and how is that different from being an African-American fifth grade boy living in Chicago. This course will explore these different childhoods and evaluate the ways in which developmental theory is successful and falls short in answering questions about what it is like to be a child in America. Broadly, this course will be answering the following question: in what ways do race, culture, language, and education influence a child’s sense of self? This course will integrate scholarly and popular texts, as well as videos and documentaries from psychology, education, and sociology.

The History of Our Selves

Michael O’Malley, Section 004, TR 12pm-1:15pm

Self, Other, and Identity: Syllabus

Kurt Brandhorst, Section 005, MW 1:30pm-2:45pm

This course explores the question of the ‘Self’ as a philosophical and cultural issue via an examination of modern subjectivity and its limitations through theoretical, literary and filmic texts. We establish the background for this course by identifying the modern roots of the self and identity in the works of Descartes and Locke.  Thinkers and writers such as Nietzsche, Freud, Kafka, Foucault, Nolan and Lispector will provide the framework for our investigations of the question of selfhood as it was challenged and reshaped in the 20th Century.

Social Inequality and the Self: Syllabus

Blake Silver, Sections 006 & 008, MW 10:30am-11:45am and MW 12pm-1:15pm  

How do we conceive of ourselves and how do we understand ourselves in relation to others in an unequal society? In responding to this question, we will consider how inequality impacts the social construction of the self in the contemporary United States. Inequality takes a variety of forms that manifest in disparities in lived experiences. Students will explore how culture is used to make sense of, combat, and reinforce these disparities. Throughout the semester, we will examine the ways social location – understood through the lens of race, class, and gender theory – influences our conceptions of self and our conceptions of what it means to be “other.” We will also look at perceptions of similarity, difference, identity, and status as well as processes of inclusion and exclusion. To do this, the course will employ an interdisciplinary perspective at the intersections of sociology, psychology, and philosophy.

Selves/Others, Human/Non-Human: Syllabus

Rachel Jones, Section 007, TR 3pm-4:15pm

In this section of HNRS130, we will use philosophy, literature and a variety of texts drawn from across the critical humanities to explore the formation of the modern western conception of self and its existential, social, and political implications. A key theme of the course will be the extent to which the western ideal of selfhood has been thought on an individualistic model that opposes self to other(s), in ways that connect across to questions of race, gender and colonization. We will question the limits of such models of the self for conceptions of responsibility and explore the work of recent authors who have argued that we should shift our thinking towards a more relational model of the self, for political, ethical and environmental reasons. To that end, as the course progresses we will expand our focus from human selves and others to also include our ecological relationships with non-human others.

The Ecology of Self: Syllabus

Kevin York-Simmons, Sections 009 & 011, (G01119173) MW 10:30am-11:45am and MW 12pm-1:15pm

This course explores the impact of environmental awareness on our understandings of the self. We will read works in environmental philosophy and ethics that radically challenge traditional Western assumptions about the self. We will focus on “deep ecology,” and readings may include works by Aldo Leopold, Thomas Berry, Arne Naess, and Freya Mathews.

HNRS 131 Contemporary Society in Multiple Perspectives

Wealth and Poverty: Syllabus

Steven Pearlstein, Section 001, TR 10:30am-11:45am

In this seminar, we will explore wealth and poverty through different disciplines (economics, politics, sociology, history and literature) different media (biography, non-fiction essays, journalism, novels, plays, movies) and the experience of different countries (England, Russia, India and the United States). How are the wealthy different from the rest of us? Why are the poor poor? How do we explain the persistence of poverty even in wealthy societies? How have the poor viewed the rich and the rich view the poor? What is the moral justification for great differences in wealth? How have views of social class changed? Students will be required to write an essay drawing on the course readings as well as their own research and experiences. Readings include Brideshead Revisited (Waugh), Behind the Beautiful Forevers (Boo), Andrew Carnegie (Nasaw), Hillbilly Elegy (J.D. Vance) and Bonfire of the Vanities (Wolfe). Movies include “Remains of the Day, “The Cherry Orchard,” “There Will Be Blood,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” and “Wall Street.”

Eliminating Global Hunger: Syllabus

Phillip Thomas, Section 002, MW 9am-10:15am

In this class we will identify and examine the many causes of global hunger, its effects, progress, and challenges. This course will: 1) address the nature and scope of global food insecurity from a cross-cutting multidisciplinary perspective ( human rights, gender, age, health, nutrition, land rights , water access, governance, finance, agricultural policy , and conflict) ; 2) assess hunger’s impact on people, nation states, and the entire international community; 3) analyze the interrelationship between food assistance, food security, and national security; 4) review U.S. Government anti-hunger policies and programs designed to achieve global food security; and 5) examine challenges confronting the attainment of global food security ( lack of political will, climate change, urbanization, inadequate agricultural production, and post-harvest food losses). This course is a broad based interdisciplinary review of global hunger and food insecurity. It is designed to provide a comprehensive perspective on food insecurity as a multi-dimensional challenge to the global community. We will assess why global hunger is so difficult to resolve despite the multitude of resources available to society.

Humor & Global Politics

Jennifer Ashley, Section 004, TR 1:30pm-2:45pm

This course explores the role of satire television in global political discourse. We begin the course with an examination of the work of Habermas on the public sphere. This discussion will be followed by a consideration of humor and satire as a form of political communication, drawing on Bakhtin’s discussion of the carnivalesque. We will consider how scholars have taken up these theoretical frameworks to analyze the use of entertainment television (such as The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live in the US, Les Guignols de l'info in France, and Heti hetes in Hungary) to promote public debate. Students will be asked to critically evaluate the concept of the public sphere in relation to media as they consider whether, why, and how television allows for (or fails to allow for) critical engagement with issues of public concern. They will also be asked to consider the potential and limits of dissident laughter in effecting political change.

Rising Powers, Changing Trends

Susana Carrillo, Section 005, R 4:30pm-7:10pm

The world is going through unprecedented changes with important impacts on the global economic and financial architecture. Demographic trends, financial and trade flows are shaping the emergence of economic growth poles. China India, Indonesia and South Korea are examples of emerging economies that will play a strong role on global governance. Along these emerging economies, new global institutions are contributing to change the world balance of power. In addition, priorities of a growing middle class will define economic consumption patterns and global connections.

In this class, we will examine and analyze these changing trends and global interactions. We will discuss questions such as: In today’s interconnected world, how will our own society be impacted by these shifting dynamics? How are emerging economies contributing to a different global landscape? Are new global governance institutions defining new models of cooperation to solve emerging global challenges? Be prepared to learn about new concepts and participate in engaging group discussions.

Overseas Chinese Diaspora: Identity, Assimilation, and Globalization: Syllabus

Elisa Autry, Section 006, W 10:30-1:20pm

In this course we will explore the origins, trends, and experiences of global Chinese immigrants by utilizing comparative and sociological perspectives. We will learn how Chinese migrants spread worldwide and established global diasporas. Instead of treating each diasporic community as an independent entity, we will comprehensively survey these communities– through exploration of their similarities, differences, unique social, historical, cultural, or economic characteristics, and their transnational connections. Through the stories of the Chinese immigrants, we will investigate how the social context of a local society uniquely shapes immigrants’ lives. In the meantime, these immigrants build, sustain, and recreate their respective racial, ethnic and cultural identities in the host societies.

HNRS 211 Mentorship in Undergraduate Research

John Woolsey, Sections 001, T 10:30am-11:45am

Working in small, multi-disciplinary teams, students will help develop the Honors curriculum with the goal of expanding and improving peer mentoring practices. Students will work with faculty to revise HNRS 110 assignments, create the HNRS 110 Evidence Assignment for Fall 2018, and participate in a long-term study of inquiry-based learning at Mason. Students will also help plan and execute the Honors College Spring Research Exhibition and Awards Ceremony.

HNRS 230 Cross Cultural Perspectives

The Crusades

Samuel Collins, Section 001, MW 9am-10:15am

The guardianship of Jerusalem, a city sacred to all three of the great monotheisms, lay at the heart of a series of movements in the Middle Ages known today as the Crusades. In its strictest sense, a crusade was a holy war called by the medieval papacy with the aim of taking the Holy Land, and, in particular, the city of Jerusalem, into western and Christian hands. Thorough close reading of a series of primary sources, this class will examine the development, elaboration, and consequences of the crusading ideal between the eleventh century origins of the movement and the thirteenth-century collapse and capture of the final crusader states. Within this chronological scope we will consider evidence from Christian, Muslim, and Jewish witnesses, theorists, and participants in the Crusades and resistance to the crusaders in order to gain a fuller understanding of what drove these wars of religion, how societies and institutions were altered, destroyed, and created by the Crusades, and the legacy the Crusades have left to both Europe and the Middle East.

Human Behavior: Syllabus

Adam Winsler, Section 002, MW 9am-10:15am

Living in an increasingly diverse United States within an increasingly connected global world requires us all to have a good understanding of culture, ethnicity, multiculturalism, and human diversity in all of its forms (race, ethnicity, language, gender, class, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, etc…). We will take an interdisciplinary cross-cultural approach (psychology, education, family studies, sociology, anthropology) as we explore universals and cultural variation in some of the most interesting topics in human behavior (sexuality, gender, sleep, parenting, child development, language, bilingualism, emotions, cognition, mental illness, death). Problems/issues we will try to understand and wrestle with together include, privilege, inequality, discrimination, racism, the immigrant experience, and cross-cultural research methods. Students will learn to appreciate the many ways in which their thoughts, values, behaviors, emotions, languages and social interactions are all cultural products, not necessarily universal, and hopefully apply such understandings to their own lives.

Community Engagement for Social Change

Lauren Cattaneo, Section 003, TR 9am-10:15am

This class will explore influences on social problems and approaches to addressing them by drawing from student experience and the perspectives of multiple disciplines. As a case example, we will focus on the social problem of poverty through students’ service to community organizations (a minimum of 20 hours over the course of the semester, arranged by the instructor), readings, class exercises and both written and oral projects. The class is meant to be relevant across majors, for those who have an interest in social justice and a willingness to dive into the complexity of social problems and solutions

Cross Cultural Communication

Megan Patrick, Section 007, TR 10:30am-11:45am

The course will explore how professional language, behavior, work practices, and organizations are shaped by culture and interpreted through one’s own cultural locus. By establishing mindfulness of our own cultural programming, as well as an understanding of the obstacles to cross-cultural engagement, participants will build the necessary skill set to navigate the contemporary workplace.

Adapting to Climate Change: Syllabus

Dana Dolan, Section 009, R 4:30pm-7:10pm

This course examines climate change adaptation as a long-term governance challenge for advanced democracies. Since at least 2007, the public debate has focused on mitigation – efforts to reduce the amount of heat-trapping gases emitted globally. Adaptation – efforts to prepare society for the anticipated impacts of climate change – is a necessary, if not an essential, response that has received far less attention. This course explores an Australian case where adaptation was incorporated into legislation, seemingly against the odds, and draws implications for the U.S. and other democracies around the world. Following a brief introduction to the science of climate change, its impacts, and opportunities for adaptation, we turn our attention to the dilemma of long-term governance and policymaking in advanced democracies. We investigate adaptation as a public policy problem, examine actual policies as potential solutions to the problem, and analyze the politics that surround efforts to adopt these policies. What makes policymaking for the future so difficult? How have these challenges been overcome in some cases? Students will examine questions like these through reading both scholarly studies and primary sources, and develop their own case study research projects.

Social Justice and Contemporary American Education

Maoria Kirker, Section 010, TR 3pm-4:15pm

The course will explore issues related to access in U.S. education. Some themes related to access of education likely to be discussed include race, economic inequality, and ableism. The first half of the class will focus on K-12 education while the second half will focus on post-secondary education. The class is meant to be relevant to students in any major as there will be space to explore a topic of their own interest related to social justice and U.S. education.

Ways of Eating, Ways of Being: Syllabus

Carmelita Hinton, Section 011, M 4:30pm-7:10pm

Immigration, Identity, and Difference: The Concept of Otherness in Literature: Syllabus

Mark Rudnicki, Section 012, TR 12:00-1:15pm

HNRS 240 Reading the Past

Commodities in Latin America: Syllabus

Joan Bristol, Section 001, MW 10:30am-11:45am

This course examines the role of commodities such as chocolate, sugar, tobacco, bananas, and cocaine in constructing the modern world system from the sixteenth through the twentieth centuries. We will examine how these commodities were produced, consumed, and traded, and how ideas about these goods and their effects developed through time and over space. The desire for commodities justified colonialism, created significant trade imbalances, affected global political and economic systems, and led to the exploitation of land and labor in many parts of the world.

Women in Islam: Syllabus

Sumaiya Hamdani, Section 002, TR 1:30pm-2:45pm

This course surveys the history of women in Islamic society from the rise of Islam in the 7th century to the present-day.  The first half of the course will examine the historical processes that impacted women’s roles, and the ways in which women reacted to, negotiated and subverted them in their own interest.  The second half of the course will focus on specific topics such as work, war, the veil, etc., around which issues of gender status and identity have come into play, especially in the modern period.

Violence, Religion, and Slavery in the Atlantic World

Royce Gildersleeve, Section 004, TR 3pm-4:15pm

HNRS 312 Research in the Public Sphere

Kevin Stoy, Section 001, T 1:30pm-4:10pm

Building on projects begun in HNRS 310, students use research/scholarship skills to address community problems presented by nonprofit organizations. Designated as a research and scholarship intensive course.

HNRS 330 Research, Technology, and Online Community
Richard Stafford, Section 001, F 9am-11:20am: Syllabus 001 & Syllabus 002
 
Some students find accessing a college education more difficult than others, often because of socioeconomic, cultural, or familial barriers. Because some studies have found that college education is correlated with subsequent job satisfaction, social mobility, civic engagement, or even happiness later in life, improving accessibility of college is a priority for several offices and initiatives at Mason. Working with one of these offices or initiatives, students will work as a multidisciplinary group to undertake a research or design project dealing with access to college education. The class will work together as a group to define a specific research or design problem, propose a research or design project to address the problem, then carry out this project.  Students taking this class will collaborate to define both group learning objectives to use appropriate digital tools or platforms to conduct, manage, and/or carry out the project. Each student will also pursue an individualized skill development plan in order to make sure we collectively have the capacity to effectively undertake the project. This is a multidisciplinary course: students from all majors are encouraged to apply. HNRS 330 counts towards Honors College Requirement 3 and is offered on a pass/fail basis for variable credit. Enrollment is by application.
HNRS 353 Technology in the Contemporary World

Cybernetics: Syllabus

Dean Taciuch, Section 001, MW 3pm-4:15pm

The course will begin with the concept of Cybernetics, popularized by Norbert Wiener's Human Use of Human Beings, a book he wrote (in 1950) specifically to explain cybernetics to the interested non-expert. Cybernetics, as Wiener and the first generation of computer engineers defined it, is the science of control and communication in machines, animals, and human beings. Cybernetics gave us the concepts of "cyberspace" and the "cybernetic organism"—the cyborg. The cybernetic concept of the transhuman (or posthuman) raises questions about what it means to be human. We will explore these concepts by studying later technological advances in computer science, biology, sociology, philosophy, and the arts.

Technology and Changing Society: Syllabus

Charles Leonard, Section 002 & 007, MW 1:30pm-2:45pm and MW 10:30am-11:45am  

Theater has pushed the envelope of technology in many directions. Students will examine new developments of tech designed for use in theater and new uses of existing tech, focusing on the cutting- edge. We will also look at bleed-over tech moving from one area into use in other areas, including theatre.

Infrastructure Past, Present, and Future: Syllabus

Jonathan Gifford, Section 003, W 1:30pm-4:10pm

This course will focus on innovation in infrastructure. The infrastructure we use every day has huge impact on our quality of life – where we live, shop, study, worship, and have fun. Innovations are coming on strong: Uber and Lyft, Car2Go, Zipcar, Hyperloop, high speed rail, E‑ZPass, drones for land, air and water, Apple Pay, Android Pay, location tracking, blockchain – the list goes on.

Infrastructure has physical and digital dimensions. Physical infrastructure includes roads, streets, airports, water systems, electric power plants and distribution networks. Digital infrastructure includes systems for communications, payment, identification, and location.

The class will focus on where innovation in infrastructure comes from. When is it good? Bad? How do we judge? How to we encourage it? Block it? Who decides? How do we deal with legacy systems? How do we pay for it? What are the new industries and careers being created?

The course will emphasize individual research and the development of communication skills. You will have a chance to (a) present your work as part of a group, (b) publish your work online, (c) write short essays, and (d) write a longer report. Students will meet individually and in small groups with the instructor.

The instructor is Jonathan Gifford, who returns to HNRS 353 after a break of several years. He studies and teaches transportation and i

nfrastructure policy, particularly public-private partnerships and technology innovation. He’s a professor in the Schar School of Policy and Government at Mason.

Science of Cities: Syllabus

James Trefil, Section 004, M 4:30pm-7:10pm

What will the Washington area look like in 50 years? This course will focus on the technology and development of cities, using the capitol area as an example. Students will look at present-day Washington from a historical standpoint and learn what we can predict for its future in light of robotics, nanotechnology, and genetic engineering.

Scientific Revolutions: Syllabus

James Trefil, Section 005, T 4:30pm-7:10pm

Staring in the early twentieth century, our fundamental views about the universe underwent revolutionary changes, and that will be the focus of this course.  We will examine the theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, modern molecular biology and Big Bang cosmology, among other topics. No mathematical or scientific background on the part of the students will be assumed, and all subjects will be approached at the conceptual level.

Clean Coal and Culture: Syllabus

Richard Stafford, Section 008, TR 10:30am-11:45am

Students in this research seminar will work in small groups to develop an understanding of the relationships between “clean coal” and broader cultural and sociopolitical contexts. Each research group will focus on a different aspect of “clean coal,” including but not limited to,

  • Political rhetoric concerning “clean coal” technologies

  • Industry and activist groups' representations of “clean coal” technologies

  • News media representations of “clean coal” technologies

  • Legal and regulatory context for “clean coal” technologies

  • Ethics of implementing “clean coal” technologies

  • Economics of “clean coal” technologies

  • Risk perceptions and risk communication concerning “clean coal” technologies

While this class requires group work, student group meetings occur during regularly scheduled class times. In consultation with the instructor, groups will investigate some of the most important perspectives and methods used in an ongoing scholarly conversation about “clean coal.” Building off of this secondary research, individual students will propose and/or pursue a project that calls on them to conduct some form of original analysis or primary research. The final deliverables in this class include: class presentations, in-class discussions of our research findings, and written investigations to be included on a public-facing website.

Life in the Universe: Syllabus

Harold Geller: Section 010, TR 3:00p-4:15p

In this course we will critically analyze emergent technologies and their impact on contemporary culture as our species seeks to understand its place in the universe. The core concepts surrounding the technologies and their legal, social, and ethical issues will be considered. Students will develop a significant research project related to the search for life in the universe which, communicated through written, oral and digital means, demonstrates a critical understanding of the technologies and their impact via multiple disciplinary perspectives. Students will communicate their findings, both verbally and non-verbally, through ethically and culturally aware critical thinking and scientific reasoning.

Legacies of George Mason: Exploring the Geographies of Northern Virginia: Syllabus

George Oberle, Section 011, W 4:30pm-7:10pm

What are the enduring consequences of slavery in Virginia, and by extension, the United States? We will examine the era of American founders and early decades of the United States. The required readings include several core texts from the age of Jefferson, Washington, and Mason.  Each student will be asked to develop an original research project that incorporates ideas from different disciplines, for example, History, Psychology, Politics, Law, Economics, Math, Engineering, and Health. Your final project will be disseminated via an online exhibit tool and institutional archive called Omeka, with the hope that your particular study of slavery in Virginia and the United States will help promote broader conversations in the university, our region and the country as a whole.

Technology of Elections: Syllabus

Isidore Dorpenyo, Section 012, M 4:30pm-7:10pm

Electoral systems, the very foundation that hold the possibility for sustaining democratic principles, are under attack, in part because the technologies that have been adopted to enhance electoral processes have become tools for fraud and discrimination. As a result, election technologies have received much scrutiny in recent years. Specific examples include hacking of election technologies in Kenya, Ghana, Venezuela and the controversy over whether or not Russia hacked into the US’s 2016 elections. These mass controversies undercut conversations about the need to maintain electoral integrity. There is, therefore, the need to discuss how election technologies either maintain or destroy free, fair and incontrovertible elections.
HNRS 410 Thesis Preparation

Richard Stafford and Dean Zofia Burr, Section 001, F 1:30pm-2:50pm: Syllabus 001 & Syllabus 002

Provides guidance in research methods to students writing an honors thesis proposal as well as workshop to critique research in progress and to understand the research process in multiple disciplines.

HNRS 411 Thesis

Zofia Burr and Richard Stafford, Section 001, F 3pm-4:20pm

Directed research on topic agreed on by student, advisor, and the Honors College.

HNRS 430: Multidisciplinary Challenges in Professional Environments

Anthony Hoefer, Section 001, W 4:30-7:10 pm

Students in this course will work in multidisciplinary teams to design a solution to a challenge or problem offered by two of Mason’s partners from the Northern Virginia business community: Northrup Grumman Corporation and the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. Students will be supported in this project by a faculty instructor and a mentor from the participating partner. They will have opportunities to synthesize the knowledge and practices they have developed over the course of their undergraduate experience; to develop the skills and strategies necessary for working effectively in multidisciplinary teams; and to apply all of this as they work to solve a problem or challenge in professional environment. Work on the project will culminate with the public presentation of the team’s proposed solution, as well as a final report to be delivered to the participating business partner.