Spring HSA 10 Sections

01. Minimalism (Alves)

The idea that less is more swept the art world in the 1960s. Since then the term minimalism has become attached to styles of painting, sculpture, music, and fiction among other fields. This art challenged preconceptions of what art is and should do, and these styles are a nearly maximal influence even today. No background in music or art is required, only a willingness to critically engage artwork that is possibly more than it appears.

02. English with an Accent: Voyage and Recreation in Language (Balseiro)

This course samples literary varieties of English from Europe, Africa, India and the Americas. Thematically, many of the works we will read – from Shakespeare’s The Tempest to Nourbese Philip’s She Tries Her Tongue – concern voyages and the centrality of language in cultural transformation. Most of the texts we will study were written by masters of English prose such as Joseph Conrad and Chinua Achebe, for whom English is a second or third language. In a world increasingly divided by a common language, this course consists in an examination of the varieties of English and of the meanings and forms of its use in literature.

03. Natural Religion/Religious Naturalism (Dyson)

Can we access the sacred through science? Can we find the Divine in Nature? Why might we want to or not? In this course, we will explore these questions, starting with a critical reading of The Sacred Depths of Nature by cell biologist and author Ursula Goodenough, and moving through both contemporary and historical treatments of the questions offered by scientists, theologians, and philosophers. We will examine our preconceptions about what counts as religion, nature, and science, and consider how relationships between these three categories have shifted at particular historical moments.

04. Seeing (Fandell)

Seeing comes before words. We are born into a sea of images. The illiterate of the future will be ignorant of the meanings of images and words alike. But many of us take images at face value, as naturalized occurring phenomenon that need no interpretation. This course focuses on how meaning is constructed in our visual world, how to make sense of it and how to use this knowledge in our everyday experience. We will be analyzing everything from 15th century paintings to selfies to NASA images of our world and beyond to figure out how they shape our seeing and, in turn, our thinking.

05. Tides of Resistance: Militarization in Asia, Oceania, and the United States (Flores)

While most people understand how war has impacted societies around the world, militarization and militarism are two important components of warfare that are less visible. This is especially true for people who do not live in close proximity to military bases. However, for communities located near military sites, militarization is part of their everyday experience in obvious and not so obvious ways. Using an interdisciplinary historical approach, this course will examine historical and contemporary moments of militarization in Asia, Oceania, and the United States. At the center of this exploration will be movements of resistance and decolonization that have included grassroots organizing, politics, protest, and war. Additional focus will be given to the themes of class, ethnicity, gender, indigeneity, labor, race, sexuality, and technology.

06. History of the Book (Groves)

As a label, “the history of the book” does not adequately suggest the range of the discipline it represents. Book historians study much more than books. One way of describing what they do is that they analyze the effects of literacy technologies. These effects can be aesthetic, informational, bibliographical, social, political, economic, legal, mythical; they are woven deeply into our sense of the world around us, even into our sense of ourselves. We are products of literacy technologies, and in this course we will study that claim in our readings, in our class discussions, and during several visits to Special Collections at the Claremont Colleges Library.

07. Science, Gender and Sex (Hamilton)

In this section, we will investigate the many ways in which scientists have made sense of sex differences over the past two centuries. From 19th century theories of hysteria and Darwin’s arguments about sexual selection to later 20th century investigations into sexuality, genetics, brain function and the role of sex hormones, we will ask how and where scientists have drawn the boundary between male and female, and how they have dealt with bodies and behaviors that don’t conform. We will trace the political and social impact of particular scientific ideas, and we will attempt to tackle the big question: how have cultural beliefs about gender helped to shape scientific models of sex difference?

08. Global Poverty and Inequality (Johannsen)

This course will explore the reasons behind persistent poverty and growing inequality in rich and poor countries. A central question of this course is how do poverty and inequality affect social outcomes, not just for the poorest groups but for society as a whole? These issues can impact crime, social mobility, life expectancy, education, health, happiness, and economic growth, making them key concerns for all societies. You will learn how to critically analyze a major social issue and communicate your insights through writing and public presentation.

09. People and Other Animals (Mayeri)

People and Other Animals introduces the contemporary interdisciplinary field of animal studies. Animals as images and metaphors abound in literature, art,, animated films and documentaries. What do animals represent to us? Pig, dog, or monkey’s uncle; What does it mean to equate a person with an animal? From penguins to primates, we will ask what, if anything, animals can tell us about human nature. Conversely, what can we know about the subjective lives of animals? Animals, after all, are not merely metaphors; they are living beings. We will think about our relationship to animals as pets, meat, spectacle, and scientific specimen. Combining media studies, science studies, biology, and literary analysis, animal studies critically explores a number of important questions about human nature and our relation in animals.

10. From Hydrid Degeneracy to Hybrid Vigor: Perceptions of Racial Mixing (Newman)

This course will explore the evolution of perceptions of racial mixing. It will examine the scientific and popular understandings of race that contributed to two contradictory paradigms for thinking about multiraciality; notions of hybrid degeneracy and notions of hybrid vigor. We will revisit scientific theories of human difference and examine shifting portrayals of multiraciality throughout time, including debates over polygenism versus monogenism; representations in popular culture of the mixed race experience such as the tragic mulatta trope; collaborations between biologists, geneticists, and social scientists to clarify scientific knowledge on race such as the UNESCO statement; and more contemporary celebratory portrayals of multiraciality. Understanding these shifts and moments will help us trace the framework and context within which perceptions of racial mixing are continually constructed.

11. Adaptation (Plascencia)

In this section, we will explore the mutability of stories as they migrate across mediums and genres. What happens to Edgard Allan Poe characters as they fall from the page onto a world of celluloid? What degree of fidelity do we expect of a blockbuster movie based on an ’80s arcade game? How do “essential” story elements endure as they transition from one environment to another? By carefully considering series of adaptations and their respective sources – our course readings will run the gamut from nineteenth-century prose to game emulators – we’ll examine issues of form, intertextuality, and questions of originality.

12. Star Trek and Social Theory (Seitz)

The Star Trek franchise has garnered both considerable praise for its at times quite thoughtful social critique, and formidable mainstream cultural and economic success. This course will use Star Trek as point of departure and return for engaging important introductory texts in critical social theory, with a focus on issues including economic exploitation, cultural domination, geopolitical conflict, ecological devastation, and the relationship between history and memory. Familiarity with the Star Trek franchise is not a prerequisite.

13. Political Analysis (Steinberg)

Politics has a profound influence on our daily lives. This course provides an opportunity to analyze complex political problems, to debate the merits of competing worldviews and policy proposals, and to communicate your views through high-impact writing and public speaking. Drawing on insights from political science and related fields, we will consider contemporary controversies as well as long-standing debates and will explore the links between the two.