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Past Course Descriptions

Course Listings - Fall 2009


HONR 300    Directed Reading                                      
4 credits
Wilson, Josephine

Prerequisite:  Junior Honors students only
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.


HONR 300A  The Aesthetics and Psychology of Music                
4 credits
Siek, Stephen

In 1824, the French writer Henri-Marie Beyle (better known as “Stendhal”) wrote: “The only reality in music is the state of mind which it induces in the listener.” Although Stendhal believed that our reactions to music were all in the mind, his view is only one among many. Through the ages, numerous explanations have been advanced to explain the emotional impact of music, and by the mid-nineteenth century, many believed that its power rested far more with scientific facts than subjective preference. The German physicist Herman Helmholtz even offered a compelling psycho-acoustical explanation as to why major keys sounded “happier” than minor keys—a theory that grew controversial as twentieth-century music became increasingly dissonant.

This seminar will examine the major historical and psychological explanations for music’s expressive power, beginning with the ancient Greeks—who had much to say on the subject. We will also listen to selected pieces of music and try to analyze some of the causal factors for our own emotional reactions, and we will discuss the science of musical interpretation by comparing various performances of the same composition. No specific musical background is required, but since everyone will be asked to discuss a few favorite musical works, some experience in listening to music is highly recommended. The text is Emotion and Meaning in Music by Leonard Meyer (U. of Chicago Press), plus selected essays. Course requirements include a midterm, two oral presentations, two short papers, and one longer paper in lieu of a final. WRITING INTENSIVE.


HONR 300N  Molecular Medicine
4 credits
Goodman, Margaret
The human genome contains about 35,000 genes, information found in every cell in the body. Development and proper functioning of the human body relies on coordinated expression of these genes. As we learn more about the anatomy of genes and how they are regulated, we have identified genes that are associated with diseases and developed diagnostic tests and therapeutic strategies.  In this class, we will explore the biological basis for these strategies, exploring both infectious diseases such as HIV and influenza and diseases with a genetic component such as breast cancer and diabetes.  We’ll also consider molecular treatment strategies, including targeted drug delivery, gene therapy, and “smart” drugs. As we investigate, we’ll also consider some of the social and human questions:  Should I be tested for genetic diseases?  Do I have to let the insurance company know if I test positive?  Are these drugs safe?  WRITING INTENSIVE.


HONR 300S   Society and Animals
4 credits
Nibert, David

The topic of this course is animal oppression and how that oppression is deeply entangled with human suffering. This linkage of exploitation and violence against humans and other animals is related to, and in most cases directly caused by, institutional policies and practices and promoted by the self-interested practices of large corporations. This entangled oppression takes numerous forms – from factory farming, to the displacement of indigenous peoples by the expansion of commercial ranching operations, to accelerating global warming.  Such practices have expanded enormously with the creation and expansion of capitalism.  This course will explore the historical basis for this entangled oppression and its contemporary manifestations.  WRITING INTENSIVE.

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