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.
HONR 300S Bosnia-Hercegovina: An Interdisciplinary Study
One over-looked causality of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the 1990's was her society's collective commitment to a pluralistic, tolerant, integrated society. Unconscionable violence and vicious propaganda were brought to bear against her heritage, cultural convictions, social practices, and civic order--making it next to impossible for Bosnia to sustain her multi-confessional and syncretistic-informed traditions. In Bosnia, there were not multiple cultures co-residing in the same vicinity. Nor were there multiple cultures simply co-existing independently. There was a singular, trans-ethnic culture that encompassed each ethnicity and made different faiths, including Christianity and Islam, synergistically
interdependent. Lessons from the destructiveness of this war can now be extended to violent conflicts in other areas.
Drawing upon different disciplines (anthropology, history, literary criticism, political science, and sociology), the course examines Bosnia's historical and cultural heritage. The goal is to address what it is about the Jerusalem-like configuration of faiths in Bosnia -- Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Judaism, and Islam -- that made her so vulnerable to the nationalism of her neighbors. Another goal is to understand what is it about Bosnia's enigmatic mixture of epochs, including a distinctive medieval period from the 13th to 15th centuries, the Ottoman Empire starting in the 15th century, the Austro-Hungarian Empire during the 19th century, and communist Yugoslavia during the 20th century, that made her
defenseless in the face of national-state building based on a monolithic ethnicity. When one recognizes the progressive character of Bosnia's tradition, recounted eloquently in the leading scholarly works on
Bosnia, one would predict that Bosnia would be the last place where ethnic cleansing could have occurred with such viciousness and sadism.
Examples of course readings are Tone Bringa's study, "Being Muslim the Bosnian Way," Noel Malcolm's "Bosnia: A Short History," Ivo Andric's "Bridge on the Drina", and Mesa Selimovic's "Death and the Dervish." Videos and films from Bosnia will be shown to demonstrate concepts.
This course is an interdisciplinary course, involving upper-level undergraduate work in the sociology of war, the philosophy of evil, political science, the anthropology of courtship, comparative history, and
literary criticism. WRITING INTENSIVE.
HONR 300 Directed Reading
This course is intended to help students explore topics in preparation for the Senior Honors Thesis. Readings for the course will include theses written by former Wittenberg Honors students as well as books and articles selected by individual students, in consultation with the course instructor, as they develop a bibliography for a thesis. WRITING INTENSIVE.