Freshman Seminars Spring 2000

Sex and Gender in the Traditional Middle East
Everett K. Rowson, Associate Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies

Since the Middle Ages, the West has constructed a variety of stereotypes about gender roles and sexual behavior in the Middle East, picturing on the one hand a society of unbridled sensuality, with multiple wives, well-stocked harems, and rampant homosexuality, and on the other a stern Islamic ethic that keeps women behind veils and frowns on anything but the most restrained expression of sexuality. This course will attempt to get behind the myths to the realities, through careful reading of selected primary sources in English translation, including religious treatises on marriage and proper gender roles, love poetry, stories from the Arabian Nights, and works of erotica, supplemented by some secondary studies. The emphasis throughout will be on evaluating the role of culture—whether Middle Eastern or Western—in shaping fundamental sexual attitudes. (Distribution II: History and Tradition)
AMES (465) 039.301 Tuesday, Thursday 3:00–4:30

Anthropological Perspectives on Social Issues: Comparing Philadelphia with the USA and the World.
Paula Sabloff, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Anthropology

This course is designed to introduce students to anthropological approaches to social issues such as cultural survival, economic survival, socialization into capitalism and sometimes poverty, racism, marginality, and gender relations. We will read social theory (e.g., Karl Marx, Adam Smith, Michel Foucault, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Pierre Bourdieu) relevant to the assigned ethnographic accounts of communities in other parts of the USA and around the world (focus on the USA, Latin America and Asia) and will broaden our understanding of these communities and social issues through various media (film, museum collections, and archival and Web material). As part of the Center for Community Partnerships, the class requires students to combine community service with original anthropological research (students will receive help in finding proper placement in an organization if they want help). Student research will be used to help determine whether or not (and how) the social issues that we read about are occurring in Philadelphia. (Distribution I: Society)
ANTH (025) 115.301 Tuesday 1:30–4:30

Writing Multiculturalism
Peggy Sanday, Professor of Anthropology
Diversity is a fact of life, characteristic not only of the US national culture but of the global culture as well. This course introduces anthropological theories of culture and multiculturalism and the method of ethnography. Students will read and report on selected classic readings. After learning the basic concepts, students will be introduced to the method of ethnography. The core of the course will revolve around “doing ethnography” by writing ethnographic fieldnotes on participant/observation of multiculturalism. Students can use their life experience, home communities, or Penn as their field of observation. The goal of the course is to introduce beginning students to public interest anthropology. No background in anthropology is required. This course is affiliated with Writing Across the University and counts toward 1/2 of the College Writing Requirement. (Distribution I: Society)
ANTH (025) 146.401 or AFAM (009) 146.401 Wednesday 2:00–5:00

Structural Biology Seminar (continued from the fall)
Ponzy Lu, Professor of Chemistry

This is a continuation of the Structural Biology Seminar that began in September. Structural biology is the scientific method of describing, predicting, and changing the properties of living organisms, including humans, based on complete genome structures and detailed 3-dimensional images of proteins. It is a direct outgrowth of the intellectual and technical revolutions that occurred during the last decade. It has become a most powerful approach to understanding biology and solving problems in medicine.

We will discuss how macroscopic biological properties, such as reproduction, locomotion, and viral infection are determined by chemical properties and nucleic acids. Enormous changes in biological function, such as those that accompany hereditary diseases like cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia, result from minute changes in individual proteins. Much larger changes, however, are tolerated without apparent consequence to some other proteins. It is this selectivity that provides opportunities for the biotechnology industry to alter biological functions in ways thought to guarantee profits.

HIV, the retrovirus that is the causative agent of AIDS, will be used as an example to demonstrate the enormous influence of research and communication in structural biology. The broad range of medical, social, and political problems associated with AIDS can only be understood and solved through structural biology. We will also discuss how research results, especially those of structural biology, are presented to its various audiences. The entire dissemination process will be discussed. Required of Vagelos Scholars (0.5 c.u./semester). (General Requirement VI: Physical World)
CHEM (081) 022.301

Tragedy and Human Civilization
Jacqueline Sadashige, Assistant Professor of Classical Studies

Tragedy, one might argue, forms the bedrock of human experience. Our novels, films, and news stories abound with tragic circumstances, events, and individuals. Yet despite our familiarity with all things tragic, most of us would be hard-pressed to come up with a definition of tragedy. In this course, we will be exploring the definitions and functions of tragedy in Western and non-Western literary and intellectual history. In particular, we will focus on the subject of the individual in tragedy: representations of the rational and irrational mind and the relationship between violence and the tragic body. We will see how ancient Greek tragedy formulated these notions and examine the place of tragedy in later theories of the self and civilization. Students will read a number of “classic” tragedies by authors such as Sophocles and Euripides, works by later (philosopher-) thinkers such as Aristotle, Hegel, and Nietzsche, and works by non-Western artists such as the playwright Wole Soyinka and the filmmaker Akira Kurasawa. (Distribution III: Arts and Letters)
CLST (101) 122.301 Tuesday, Thursday 1:30–3:00

Prison Writings in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds
Rita Copeland, Professor of Classical Studies

Writing about the experience of being in prison, whether during one’s imprisonment or afterwards, presents unusual challenges to the writer. While the memoir or account may be an opportunity to record personal and individual suffering, many prison writers convert their experiences into narratives of broad social, historical, and philosophical importance. This class will explore how writing about prison developed in ancient and medieval Europe, from ancient Greece to Christian Rome and then to the social and religious scenes of the Middle Ages. In what ways did ancient and medieval prison writers speak to the social and philosophical implications of imprisonment? How do prison writings establish an idea of community with other prisoners and with a public outside the prison? As in modernity, so in earlier periods there were many reasons for imprisonment: imprisonment on charges of treason, for political or religious dissent, for crime, and as a prisoner of war. We will begin the course with writings by two well known modern political prisoners, Nelson Mandela (South Africa) and Ngugi wa Thiongo (Kenya), because their works are among the definitive recent examples of prison memoir. Then we will turn to ancient and medieval writings, where our readings will include: Plato’s account of Socrates’ imprisonment, trial, and execution; writings by early Christians imprisoned for religious beliefs; the philosopher Boethius who was imprisoned for treason; accounts of war captivity from the medieval Crusades; letters from imprisoned heretics; and narratives and transcripts from the trial of Joan of Arc. (Distribution III: Arts and Letters)
CLST (101) 130.301 Monday, Wednesday 9:00–10:30

Amsterdam: Venice of the North, or a Modern Sodom and Gomorrah?
Robert Naborn, Lecturer in Dutch

This seminar will take you on a virtual canal boat trip through Amsterdam, guided by a Dutch native. Stops along the way include:
• a peek into the Cum Laude Coffee shop near the Red Light District, looking into how Dutch society tries to cope with drugs and prostitution,
• the Rijksmuseumand the Van Gogh Museum, witness to Holland’s art history, the Nederlandsche Bank, the Dutch central bank, also providing insight into European central banking, and
• the Universiteit van Amsterdam, evidencing the differences between the American and the Dutch educational systems.
In-class discussions will include Dutch policies on finance, education, art, health and crime. Through slides, film, texts and the Internet you will gather information to engage in these discussions, which will culminate in an essay answering the question in the course title. (Distribution I: Society)
DTCH (449) 008.301 Monday, Wednesday, Friday 2:00–3:00

Love Among the Ruins: Denaturalizing the Marriage Plot
Elizabeth Freeman, Mellon Fellow in the Humanities Forum

This course will examine two related problems: love and narrative. We will consider a range of important historical forms through which bodies and feelings have been socialized into Western culture's vision of “love,” exploring theories and representation of platonic, courtly, companionate, romantic, and marital love. We will also consider “singularity” and homosexuality as social forms in dialogue with love and marriage, and cousinship, adoption, avuncularity, and other queer forms of kinship in dialogue with the nuclear family. Concurrently, we will examine the kinds of narrative that cluster around each of these forms: we will work through essays and dialogues, short stories, a Shakespearean comedy, “plotless” and plot-centered novels, and prose poetry. In part, we will continually be asking how narrative form represents, reflects, and contests the energies of different ideologies of “love.” Authors may include Margaret Atwood, Plato, Aristotle, Carson McCullers, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Madame de Lafayette, Sarah Orne Jewett, Kate Chopin, Mark Twain, Toni Morrison, Henry James, and Gertrude Stein, as well as a number of films and material on the gay marriage debate. Secondary readings will include such theorists and historians as Lawrence Stone, John Boswell, John Gillis, Fredrich Engels, Nancy Miller, Stanley Cavell, D.A. Miller, Roland Barthes, Eve Sedgwick, Michael Moon, Hortense Spillers, and others. (Distribution III: Arts and Letters)
ENGL (197) 016.301 Wednesday 2:00–5:00

The Next Millennium: Would Technology Help us Resolve the Environmental Dilemma?
Professor Jorge Santiago-Aviles, Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering
M’Hamed Krimo Bokreta, House Dean of Kings Court/English College House

Over the last century we have witnessed the dominance of man over nature. Technology, our understanding of our environment and our consumption habits have been the principal weapons used to achieve this conquest. Now, at the eve of a new millennium, many questions and concerns about our actions and perceptions are being raised. Can today’s technology and the new knowledge about our environment and human nature assure our survival? How can we use the next one hundred years to reconstruct and restore our future? These are the fundamental questions that the class will investigate. The course will rely on evidence, the use of hypothesis and theories, logic as well as the students’ scientific inquiry and creativity. We will discuss systems, models and simulations, constancy, patterns of change. (Distribution I: Society)

A limited number of sophomores may be admitted if space is available. Also, non-residents of Kings Court/English College House will need a permit. Send inquiries to Dr. Bokreta at (Seminar Room, Kings Court/English College House)
ENVS (201) 098.301 Tuesday 7:00–9:30 pm

Literature into Film
Millicent Marcus, Professor of Romance Languages

We will be studying six literary works and their cinematic adaptations, focusing on the
differences between written and audio-visual expressions of the same story. In most cases
we will devote a week to developing a literary reading of the work, and then a week to comparative study of text and film, after the Monday screening, making extensive use of video clips to do close visual analysis of scenes in the light of their corresponding textual sources. We will not judge the film versions on a scale of “better” or “worse” in relation to their literary sources, but will ask why the filmmaker chose to make the changes that he or she deemed necessary to tell the story in cinematic terms. Sense and Sensibility, Apocalypse Now, Short Cuts, and Romeo and Juliet will be among the films included in our study. (Distribution III: Arts and Letters)
FILM (215) 249.401 or ITAL (349) 280.401 Tuesday, Thursday 10:30–12:00 (class meetings)
Monday 4:00–7:00 (screening times)

Cities on the Edge
Dr. Robert Hill, Lecturer in French

In the first year of the twenty first century it seems appropriate to look back at several great cities, which have been the crucibles of the modern world, where cultures and ideologies have been forged. Our itinerary will include New York as the ambiguous focus of immigrants’ hopes and fears, Los Angeles as the example par excellence of the hyper-reality of modern life; we will plunge into the feverish atmosphere of Paris, Berlin, St. Petersburg, and Shanghai in political crisis, in the midst of civil war, and on the verge of revolution, and finally we will consider the modern city as an allegory of alienation. (taught in English; does not count for French major or minor). Readings: Henry Roth, Call It Sleep; Nathanael West, The Day of the Locust; Anatole France, The Gods are Athirst; Alfred Döblin, Berlin Alexanderplatz; Andrey Biely, St. Petersburg; André Malraux, The Human Condition; Albert Camus, The Plague. (Distribution III: Arts and Letters)
FREN (229) 201.301 Monday, Wednesday, Friday 11:00–12:00

The Arthurian Legend in Literature and Film
Sara Poor, Mellon Fellow in the Humanities Forum

The once and future king, Arthur of Camelot, has fascinated poets, artists, writers and most recently filmmakers quite literally for centuries. Like Merlin in T. H. White’s now classic account, we will progress backwards through time, engaging first with contemporary film and novels, and proceeding to the “roots” of the legend in the early Middle Ages. Students will consider how these works “read” Arthur and his milieu and what these readings imply about each context. In confronting the persistent “medievalism” of our age, students will thus be introduced to the complex literature and history of the medieval period. Films: Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Lancelot du Lac, Excalibur, The Fisher King. Readings: Bradley, T. H. White, Malamud, Malory, Hartmann von Aue, Chrétien de Troyes, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Gildas and others. (Distribution III: Arts and Letters)
GRMN (293) 003.301 Tuesday, Thursday 10:30–12:00

Earth and Life Through Time Freshman Recitation
Charles Thayer, Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Science

Origin of Earth, continents, and life. Continental movements, changing climates, and evolving life. Students must register for both the lecture and a recitation. The recitation listed below is restricted to freshmen and is led by Professor Thayer. (General Requirement VI: The Physical World)
GEOL (289) 125.001 (lec) Monday, Wednesday 11:00–12:00
GEOL (289) 125.201 (rec) Monday 1:00–2:00

Oceanography Freshman Recitation
Hermann Pfefferkorn, Professor of Earth and Environmental Science

A study of the two-thirds of the earth covered by water. Composition, structure, motions, and effects of ocean water. The ocean bottom, including seafloor spreading and continental drift. Marine biology and geology. Ocean resources. Web-based recitations use real-time data to solve contemporary quantitative problems. Students must register for both the lecture and a recitation. The recitation listed below is restricted to freshmen and is led by Professor Pfefferkorn. (General Requirement VI: The Physical World)
GEOL (289) 130.001 (lec) Monday, Wednesday 2:00–3:00
GEOL (289) 130.201 (rec) Monday 10:00 - 11:00

Feminism in the Americas
Ann Farnsworth-Alvear, Assistant Professor of History

A comparative survey of feminism in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States, with some attention to Canada. Using poetry, testimonial writing, polemical tracts, and accounts by feminists who are also historians, participants will consider various questions: Are “women” a group? Whose history is the history of feminism and who decides? Are the actions of black women, working-class women, indigenous women present in that history? What’s a feminist anyway? Readings trace the roots of the diverse movements of the 1970s-80s; we begin in the colonial period and then examine the nineteenth century struggles for abolition and female suffrage, socialist feminism in the 1930s, women’s experiences with the liberation struggles (North and South) of the 1960s, and the cross-cutting discussions of more recent decades. For the twentieth century the focus is Marxist-feminist in Latin America and the long legacy of black feminism in the United States. (Distribution II: History and Tradition)
HIST (317) 106.301 Tuesday 2:00–5:00

Historical Perspectives on Mental Illness
James Moran, Mellon Fellow in the Humanities Forum

Mental illness has long been a source of fascination in Western society. But perceptions of and responses to mental illness have varied widely from one era and social context to the next. This course explores major themes in mental illness from the pre-asylum era to the present. Included in weekly discussions and readings will be an examination of non-institutional customary responses to insanity; religious and secular outlooks on mental illness; the rise to prominence of the asylum as a social and medical institution; the development of professional psychiatry; psychoanalysis and the “Freudian” revolution; the challenge of the bio-medical approach to mental illness; deinstitutionalization; and the role of the anti-psychiatric or “survivors” movement. We will explore these themes through weekly readings, fiction, visual materials including slides and films, and assignments. (Distribution II: History and Tradition)
HSSC (321) 050.301 Thursday 1:30–4:30

Science and the Body
Susan Lindee, Associate Professor of the History and Sociology of Science

This course will explore how scientific interpretations of the body have reflected culture. Topics include biology of sex, 1700 to present, racialized bodies, craniometry, eugenics and the social meaning of DNA. (Distribution II: History and Tradition)
HSSC (321) 130.301 Tuesday 1:30–4:30

Introduction to Mathematical Analysis
Robert Powers, Professor of Mathematics

This freshman seminar is a continuation of Math 200. It will provide an introduction to mathematical reasoning and discuss the basic theorems of calculus. It is intended for those students who think they might like to study more advanced mathematics. The course provides an introduction to the basic 300-level courses in mathematical analysis. It carries half of a credit and does not satisfy the General Requirement. Two alternative sections of this course are available.
MATH (409) 201.301 Tuesday 3:00–4:30
MATH (409) 201.302 Thursday 3:00–4:30

Introduction to Modern Algebra
Peter Freyd, Professor of Mathematics

This freshman seminar is a continuation of Math 204. It will provide an introduction to mathematical reasoning. Topics include the principle of mathematical induction, the notion of an equivalence relation, and properties of the ring of integers. It is intended for those students who think they might like to study more advanced mathematics. The course provides an introduction to the basic 300 level courses in algebra. It carries half of a credit and does not satisfy the General Requirement. Two alternative sections are available.
MATH (409) 205.301 Tuesday 12:00–1:30
MATH (409) 205.302 Thursday 12:00–1:30

European Music in Culture
Jeffrey Kallberg, Professor of Music

This course will introduce students to the study of European and American music as a cultural phenomenon. We will consider a number of basic and important questions: What is music? What kinds of functions has it served in the past, and what kinds does it serve today? What is the nature and significance of musical value? How does music inform notions of society and personal identity? Students will listen to a variety of musics (“classical” music will be in the forefront of our investigations, but we will also explore various popular and ethnic musics), and will read selected critical texts about these musics. The course will combine lecture and discussion; students will write a series of interpretive papers. (Distribution III: Arts and Letters)
MUSC (441) 015.301 Tuesday, Thursday 1:30–3:00

Introduction to Philosophy

An introduction to such topics as our knowledge of the material world, the relation of mind and body, the existence of God, the nature of morality. (General Requirement II: History and Tradition)
PHIL (493) 001.301 Tuesday, Thursday 9:00–10:30
PHIL (493) 001.302 Tuesday, Thursday 10:30–12:00
PHIL (493) 001.303 Tuesday, Thursday 1:30–3:00

Honors Physics II: Electromagnetism and Radiation
Fay Ajzenberg-Selove, Professor of Physics

This course parallels and extends the content of Physics 151 at a somewhat higher mathematical level. It is the second semester of a small-section two-semester sequence for well-prepared students in engineering and the physical sciences, and particularly for those planning to major in physics. Topics will include electric and magnetic fields; Coulomb’s, Ampere’s, and Faraday’s laws; Maxwell’s equation; emission, propagation and absorption of electromagnetic radiation; and geometrical and physical optics. Prerequisite: Successful completion of Physics 170 or permission of the instructor. Students must register for the lecture and the lab. Non-honors students need permission. (General Requirement VI: Physical World)
PHYS (497) 171.301 (lec) Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10:00–11:00
Monday 2:00–3:00 Thursday 11:00–12:00
PHYS (497) 171.302 (lab) Wednesday 1:00–3:00

Democracy and International Relations
Scott A. Silverstone, Lecturer in Political Science

This course examines what has become a prominent and controversial question in international relations: how do democratic institutions and practices within particular states in the international system affect international politics? More specifically, the course explores such issues as whether democracies are less war-prone than non-democracies, how liberal political values shape foreign policy, and how illiberal democracies might differ in their foreign policies from liberal democracies. Conversely, we will also consider how a competitive international system affects the organization of democratic institutions and practices within states. The course examines issues ranging from the democratic imperialism of Ancient Athens and the connection between democracy and a market-oriented international economic system, to the contemporary debate over whether the global democratization trend will continue and the pros and cons of interventionist foreign policies in support of democratization. (Distribution I: Society)
PSCI (505) 009.301 Monday, Wednesday 3:00–4:30

Types of Interpretation. Topic : Creation and Evolution
Stephen Dunning, Professor of Religious Studies

One debate that has raged since the late 19th century pits those who believe that the universe was created by God against those who subscribe to the scientific theory that all life has evolved from micro-organisms. This seminar uses that debate in order to explore different ways in which people interpret their lives and world. Our emphasis will be upon understanding the conceptual foundations of different positions in this debate rather than upon the history of the debate or the scientific details of theories of evolution. (BIOL 230 is not a prerequisite!) Likewise, students will not be expected to take a side in the debate, but simply to dig out the presuppositions and ramifications in the various positions. Again, the course is about interpretation, and the test case for this semester is conflicting interpretations of creation and the theory of evolution. Requirements: one 7 page paper and one 10 page paper. (General Requirement III: Arts and Letters)
RELS (541) 004.401 or COML (113) 004.401 Tuesday, Thursday 1:30–3:00

“Reel” Religion
Dr. Ross Kraemer, Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies

Religious systems, beliefs, practices and experiences are given diverse representations in film. In this seminar, we will study some of these representations, with particular attention to critical issues in the interpretation of both religion and film, and references to major themes in the relevant religious traditions and literatures. Among the films we may consider for Spring 2000, are The Name of the Rose, The Education of Duddy Kravitz, Agnes of God, The Seventh Seal, The Last Temptation of Christ, Hester Street, Little Buddha, The Handmaid's Tale, Witness, The Mission, and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. (Distribution III: Arts and Letters)
RELS (541) 105.401 or FILM (215) 206.401 Tuesday, Thursday 3:00–4:30

India Through Western Eyes
Dr. U. R. Anantha Murthy, Visiting Professor of South Asia Regional Studies

Historically, India has held a prominent yet paradoxical place in the Western imagination—as a land of ancient glories, a land of spiritual profundity, a land of poverty, social injustice and unreason. In this course, we examine these and other images of India as presented in European and American fiction, travel literature, new reportage, and film. We will consider the power and resonance of these images, how they have served Western interests, and how they may have affected Indian self-understanding. (Distribution II: History and Tradition)
SARS 010.301 Tuesday, Thursday 12:00–1:30

Indians Overseas: A Global View
Dr. Surendra Gambhir, Senior Lecturer of South Asia Regional Studies

This course is about the history of Indian immigration into different parts of the world. The course will consist of readings, discussions, observations, data collection and analysis. The topics will include cultural preservation and cultural change through generations, especially in North America, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, and the African continent. The course will encourage organized thinking, observations and analysis of components of culture that immigrant communities are able to preserve in the long run and cultural components that undergo change or get reinterpreted. In this context, we will look at entities such as religion, food, language and family. The course will include immigrants’ success stories, their contributions, their relationship with other groups in the new society and the nature and extent of their links with India. The course will also address conflict with other sections of the host society, including discrimination against and victimization of immigrants. Other issues will include new social and cultural concerns of immigrants and the rise of new community organizations such as temples and cultural organizations to address those issues. (Distribution II: History and Tradition)
SARS (593) 012.301 Monday, Wednesday 3:00–4:30

Scandinavia Past and Present
Anne Jenner, Lecturer in Swedish
This seminar will delve into topics relating to the cultural history of the Scandinavian countries—Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland; from the Viking Age to the present time. Subjects may include runes and runic inscriptions, Nordic mythology, Nordic folklore, literature, the modern welfare state, and social and economic trends. (Distribution II: History and Tradition)
SCND (565) 110.301 Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10:00–11:00

Introduction to Sociology - General Honors
Ivar Berg, Professor of Sociology

In this course we will explore, in the fashion of ‘the history of ideas’, the most established constructs and perspectives from most of Sociology’s specialties and apply them to an examination of American society: its structures, its institutions and the forces and sources of stability and change that shape our social system. We will examine the recent histories and current states of our religious, educational, political, communal, familial and cultural adaptations to evolving circumstances. The new and serious literature on “The Sixties” permits us, meanwhile, to consider the pre-’60 forces that gave us that remarkable era and then its legacies. An intensive analysis of political, social, economic, cultural and psychological conflicts offers an opportunity to put social science perspectives to applied analytical purpose. Our students’ autobiographical interests, as Baby Boomers’ offspring, can be well served by this experience: the multiple issues joined in the Sixties work as a “critical” or “natural” experiment regarding social change. (General Requirement I: Society)
SOCI (589) 001.301 Tuesday 2:00–5:00

In This Section

College Events
More Events