HONR 300A In Search of the Holy Grail: Sex and Violence in Medieval Europe
In this course, students will study, discuss, and write about a variety of literary works chosen first from the three “branches” of the tradition from which the Grail legends are drawn (Celtic, Christian, and Chymical), then from more modern sources, such as Tennyson’s The Idylls of the King, T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland”, and T.H. White’s The Once and Future King. We will focus specifically on how literary tradition operates over vast spans of time and how, in this case, it is transmitted to, given meaning and shared by peoples of diverse regions, epochs, and faiths (pagan and Christian, Catholic and Protestant, medieval and modern). WRITING INTENSIVE.
HONR 300B Psychophysiology
In this course, we will look at the ways in which physiological measurements (such as heart rate, blood pressure, electrical activity of the brain, muscle tension, and skin resistance) can be used to assess underlying psychological variables (e.g., learning, attention, arousal). This course will meet for two hours per week in lecture and four hours in lab. Readings in the course will include a textbook in psychophysiology and numerous journal articles. Students will be expected to collect physiological data during the laboratory sessions, analyze this data, and write up the results in lab reports. WRITING INTENSIVE.
HONR 300A The Darkness Within
Swamps, closets, the occasional summer camp, that’s where monsters live. But during times of cultural disruption and political change, monsters can live far closer to home. We may find them in our own mirror, the self and our own identity made strange through the prism of a world in flux.
This course will examine the literary representation of this darkness within, and the broader historical and cultural contexts coloring it. We will begin with Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, move on to Charles Brockden Brown’s Weiland, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, all works which produce monsters out of the revolutions of the eighteenth century. We will then look at the effects of twentieth-century totalitarian states on the individual psyche, through works such as George Orwell’s 1984 and Milan Kundera’s The Joke. The darkness within women has proved particularly problematic for both male and female writers, and we will examine nineteenth-century and contemporary representations of monstrous women. Finally, we will look at the crime story, and how in American culture its villains often become its heroes, the darkness within our culture shedding a light on the complexities of our most deeply-held values. Both Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood will attest to this phenomenon.
The course will be WRITING INTENSIVE, and will include three analytical papers, a comprehensive take-home exam, and a researched report. Students will also participate in formal oral presentations.