Below you will find examples of the kinds of classes commonly offered in the Humanities and Sciences Department. The curriculum is inquiry-based so course topics may change over time at the discretion of the department.
HS 103 Expository Writing 3 Credits
This composition course is designed to help you improve your critical reading, writing, and thinking skills as you explore the course theme, visible identities. Specifically, in your writing you will consider the various means, forces, and contexts that help shape how you are seen and come to see yourselves as individuals, artists, and community members. In support of your writing, you will read and analyze texts by various contemporary expository writers, including Mim Udovitch, Andrew Sullivan, Queen Latifah, David Berreby, and Gloria Anzaldúa. By entering into conversations with these authors and their ideas, you can expect to develop not only your composition skills, but also your ability to examine the complex issues that shape and inspire artistic response and expression. As the instructor, it is my aim to facilitate the further development of your communication and critical thinking skills in the belief that, as Anne Wysocki says, “writing is one of many operations by which we compose and understand our selves and our identities and our abilities to live and work with others.”
HS 121 & 122 Integrated Studies 6 Credits, Pass/Fail Fall/Spring
Integrated Studies is the Humanities and Sciences Department’s foundation program for first-year students, fulfilling the first twelve credits of their general education requirements for the BFA degree. This two-semester course provides entering students with an introduction to college learning through explorations in the humanities and sciences. Integrated Studies courses fulfill the College writing requirement and create a foundation for future study by assisting students with the development of college-level skills, particularly in reading, writing, research, critical thinking, and communication. The Integrated Studies curriculum offers students the choice of a range of thematic topics which are explored while practicing and developing these skills. First-year students only.
- Seeing Green in the Emerald City
The theme for the fall semester is the relationship between Seattle and the environment. Two of the reasons Seattle is called “the emerald city” are its urban green spaces and its reputation as an environmentally friendly city. In this course, we’ll explore the city and its inhabitants and consider whether Seattle deserves its reputation for being green. We will explore local ecosystems, plants, and wildlife—what most of us think of as “nature.” We’ll dig into questions such as: What is natural about Seattle today? What is Seattle like as a place to live—for humans and for other organisms? How are people changing the environment and ecology of the city? And why does it matter? Discussions, readings, field trips, writing assignments, and projects will provide opportunities for you to reflect on these questions and to pose your own. We’ll seek to understand work about nature and environment written from multiple perspectives. But we’ll also learn to read stories directly from the surrounding landscape. Weekly field trips and a daily practice of observation and journaling will sharpen your observation skills and environmental awareness over time. No background in science is required—but willingness to walk in the rain is essential
- Representations and Counter-Representations of Sexuality in the U.S.
This spring semester Integrated Studies course will examine the nuances of American sexuality. We will not simply address this term as a static set of meanings—we will look closely at how male and female sexuality is perceived in various communities throughout the U.S., both historically and currently. We will also look at how “female”/ “male” and “sexuality” are concepts about whose definitions not everyone agrees. We will first discuss how women and men from different classes, racial and ethnic communities, and Queer-identified communities are constructed—socially and politically—in different ways, both historically and contemporarily, and we will consider the importance of these constructions. We will then turn toward contemporary media, popular culture, performance art, and literature, with an eye on what has changed—and not changed—in these perceptions from the 19th century to the present. Topics covered will include medical history and sexuality in the U.S., Queer-identified sexualities, women in sports, sex workers (both male and female), rape culture and the concept of “consent” in current media, and representations of sexuality in popular culture. Authors and performers to be discussed will include: Mark Doty, Maria Abramovic, Kara Walker, David Mura, Judith “Jack” Halberstam, Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie, Michelle Tea, Brown Girls Burlesque, and the HBO hit show, Girls.”
- Self and Society
The theme for the fall semester is self and society. The nineteenth century philosopher Schopenhauer mused, “Why is it that, in spite of all the mirrors in the world, no one really knows what he looks like?” Interestingly, we come to the clearest understanding of who we are through our engagement with others—our conversations and exchanges and encounters and activities that involve other people. So one of the benefits of living with other people is that they help us in getting to know ourselves. But this knowledge comes at a price. The world we live in is a complex and dependent place. We end up needing others, and they us. All of which raises the question of how we can best go about living and engaging with other people, and remain true to our self. That question is the main focus of this course. The course is built around thematically-based readings and topics. Those themes are: associating, serving, giving, and leading. In addition to the readings, we will be watching and discussing films that complement our readings, class discussions and other in-class activities (such as writing and working on informal logic exercises).
- Spark! Stories of Imagination, Vision and Inspiration
The theme for the spring semester is creation and inspiration stories. Often the best response to a work of art can be another work of art. John Gage, literacy scholar, tells us that we search for own ideas in response to the ideas of others. Images, emotions, thoughts, stories, music, physical movement: when these stir our imaginations, we want to tell our own story and share the stories of others. This course looks at the mutually inciting relationship between imagination, creative processes, and critical thinking across media, writing and the reading of diverse creative texts. The imaginative mind desires learning and sharing, means to express, and investments in identifying and strengthening different kinds of thinkings and intelligences: cognitive, experiential, emotional, and cultural. Exploring creative and critical texts, we will examine how knowledge and understanding as well our imaginations strike a critical balance between the cognitive and the affective. In other words, through our exploration of cultural, social, and historical products and well as processes of imagination, we will investigate questions about relationships between deep feelings and deep thinking. We will analyze the role of imagination in our personal, civic, social and cultural lives. Inquiry and reflection guides our learning. We question, and widen and deepen our understanding through the perspectives of others and our own in experiential, visual, and auditory learning opportunities.
- How Language Works
The theme for this section of Integrated Studies is language. Our year-long tour of human communication will start with a simple question: What is language? As we look for answers we will explore how our brains and bodies make and process sound, how spelling and writing systems work, why linguists say that everyone has an accent (even you!), how our social identities affect the way we talk, why some languages are dying, why texting and slang might not be ruining language, and why swearing and wordplay are important. We will use tools from linguistics, anthropology, sociology, cognitive science, and philosophy to help us consider these issues and to show us the many ways that language shapes and impacts our lives. Our exploration will include the study and interpretation of texts, interactive and hands-on activities, and films.
- Modern Times Modern Times is a year-long exploration of the cultural moment known as Modernism. It would be difficult to identify a more dominant theme in the arts. Impressionism, Jazz, Free Form, Tonalism are all iterations of the modern aesthetic. And these coincide with some powerful ideas—fascism, feminism, immigration, mechanization, and global war. We’ll dive into the artistic, intellectual, and social environment of the early 20th century. This is not a history class about names and dates, but rather, a space for far reaching discussions about the meaning of creativity, storytelling, identity, and politics. The first semester traces the historical development of the modern age, while the second considers its legacy in the contemporary moment.
- Seeing Artists in Ourselves/Others
The theme for the fall semester is the representation of the artist in diverse media. The semester-long section explores social, cultural, historical, and personal images of “The Artist” and how they may shape personal and cultural identities, social and creative lives. How have perceptions of being “an Artist” impacted you? We will explore artists’ representations in literature, film, music, performance, and theoretical texts. What’s the relationship between the personal and public purposes of art(ist): Is s/he a participant, observer, or recorder of social justice or cultural change? How are assumptions about art(ist)—rebellion, iconoclasm, genius, independence, sacrifice, divine inspiration, material or emotional strife, alienation—real, mythologized or romanticized? The images of Artist are perceived by and move among public life and society: school, family, profession, culture. Sometimes personal intent conflicts with public perception. Inquiry and reflection guides our learning.
- Insiders and Outsiders
The theme for the spring semester section of Integrated Studies is insiders and outsiders. We have all experienced what it is like to be both insiders and outsiders. We can recall the feelings of being a member of the family, the club, or the class vs. being a stranger, a visitor, or the new kid in school. In this class, we will reflect on these everyday experiences more closely and consider how they shape the ways we see ourselves and the world around us. How do we behave with people close to us, in places we consider familiar? How do our behaviors and observations change when we enter unfamiliar realms? This course will begin with a series of observational exercises and readings that will help us better understand how we are influenced by the contexts in which we live. We will then delve into an autoethnographic research project that will allow us to investigate one aspect of our experience as insiders and/or outsiders more closely by placing it in cultural and social perspective.”
- Oracles and Our Future
The theme for this section of Integrated Studies is humanity’s perennial desire to gaze into the future. We humans have pursued all manner of future studies—from ancient prophecy to contemporary research in science and technology. In the Fall Semester, we will explore some of these attempts at prophecy—from ancient biblical and Greek texts, enlightenment scholars, science fiction of the 19th and 20th centuries, to 20th century dystopian writers. What did they have to say about what the future looked like from their perspectives? How accurate were they? What did they reveal about human nature in their prophetic visions? In the Spring Semester, we will turn to contemporary predictions of the future from the natural sciences, medicine, neuroscience, information technology, artificial intelligence, social science and the arts. Will technology continue apace and will it be our friend or our foe? Is it possible to have a reasonably clear picture of what the world will look like in the next generation, or are we flying blind? Will human life spans increase dramatically in our lifetimes? How are we to know whose predictions, if any, are valid? And after all, why should we care? Does it really matter that we know what’s coming?
- Arts & Ideas: 19th & 20th Centuries
Arts & Ideas: 19th and 20th Centuries explores the major artistic and intellectual events and themes in Modern European and American history since 1. (The first semester covers the 19th century, and the second semester the 20th century.) The course will focus on the arts, music and literature and use these disciplines as guides to the people, events, and artistic productions which are important in understanding the modern world. The learning goals involve exploring these aspects of the modern world for keys to our own lives, and our own vision of the world.
- Cornish: A Cultural History
This two-semester course fulfills the College writing requirement and creates a foundation for future study by assisting students with the development of college-level skills, particularly in reading, writing, research, critical thinking, and communication. Cornish was founded years ago by Nellie Cornish, a woman who wanted to promote collaborative practice and exchange across the arts and amongst artists. When the school was started, Seattle was still basically a frontier town and the history of Cornish is very much tied to the development of the arts and culture in Seattle. In this class, we will explore how Nellie’s story is the story of Seattle, of the arts and their integral role in Pacific Northwest history. How did the school that a piano teacher started in 1914 become an arts college and how is the story of the arts in Seattle inextricably tied to the history of the Pacific Northwest and Seattle’s position in the region? What does that history and Nellie’s philosophy about the arts have to do with you as a student of the arts? How might history, environment, and interactions with artists in different fields affect your own sense of your work as an artist? We will explore how this place, these times and the people you will be working with play into your own creative and educational development.
- Artist and the City
Artist and the City is a year-long exploration of the diverse and interconnected communities of artists in the Seattle area, and of the cultural, physical and historical backdrop of the city itself. With the City of Seattle as our extended classroom, we will visit local art venues and artists in their studios, and tour the many artistic venues in the city. Tours in the past have included an engineer’s tour of Benaroya Hall, a visit to The Vera Project—Seattle’s only all ages music club, a studio visit with artist Trimpin, ACT, These Streets, a visit by former Cornish poet-musician, Mary Lambert, as well as opportunities to learn about the artistic work of their own classroom community. Based on this close examination and interviews with artists in many mediums, students will come away from this course with an enriched understanding of what it means to develop, sustain and support a life in the arts.
- Truth & Fiction
The theme for this section of Integrated Studies is “Truth & Fiction.” We will read a variety of contemporary short stories, essays, and memoirs that seek to “tell the truth,” and study the means by which writers take readers into their worlds. We will explore the roles of observation and memory in the writing process by engaging in memory and sensory exercises, mind-mapping, and freewriting. We will visit evocative locales and explore their potential to inspire. Through seminars, workshops, and peer review sessions, we will develop skills in shaping and refining your writing so that it tells the truth you want it to tell.
- The Body in Context
This course examines bodies, body images and concepts associated with the body (like race, gender identity, beauty and desire), and how they are shaped by historical, social and imaginative contexts. Our bodies are both yolk and shell: the core of how we experience our “natural selves” and that which is most visible to others, from which we feel and move and by which we are judged or desired. Reading diverse personal reflections on bodies along with articles from a variety of disciplines, you’ll explore how the body is experienced and how it is socially constructed, and get historical perspective on shifting popular beliefs about things like beauty ideals, eating behaviors, skin color, hair texture, sexual attraction and gender identity. You will be encouraged to reflect, both in writing and through your art, on your own body and body image.
- Art in Place/The Place of Art
The theme for this section of Integrated Studies is the relationship between art, artists, art-making, and place. Artists come from, live and make their work someplace, and the art made exists in place, too. But what does place mean, and how do artists engage in and respond to places? What does it mean to be “in place”? In the first semester, we will consider art works in Seattle, art about Seattle and the Northwest, and artists who live and work here. We will observe, describe, and reflect on work we encounter—from graffiti to street art to public art; from music videos to films; from poetry to short fiction, perhaps to novels and plays. We’ll explore place as an idea and our relationships to actual places. We’ll reflect on places we’ve lived, places that are important to us, places imagined and real. Our extended classroom will be Seattle and its arts and artists, and we will explore what it means to be in place as makers and observers of art and as human beings living in the real world.
- Consciousness and Reality
The theme for this section of Integrated Studies is consciousness, in particular, the role of habit in the development of human experience. Are we conscious? Conventional models argue yes while alternative theories question the degree of control that humans have over their attention, actions, and reactions. Can we deliberately change? What exactly is changing? We will draw from the disciplines of evolutionary biology, neuroscience, psychology, literature, Eastern and ancient Greek philosophy to delve into topics related to our exploration of consciousness, including free will, dreaming/waking states, neuroplasticity, types of memory, the difference between animals, machines, and humans. In the second semester, we will consider how this capacity for consciousness manifests in the world. Focusing on the themes of survival, justice, and discipline, we will explore how consciousness can relate to action and revolutionary change in life. Our course meetings will consist of the critical study and discussion of texts, various individual and group exercises /experiments, and a handful of film viewings/analyses.
HS 201 Writing Center Theory and Pedagogy 3 Credits
Designed for those hired as Peer Consultants in the Writing Center, students will learn about, analyze and apply multiple theories of one-to-one writing consultation. Themes will include history and theories of Writing Centers and writing acquisition, collaborative learning, peer-to-peer education, and issues of race, class, and gender in education. Projects will include assigned reading and writing as well as a self-directed research and Writing Center curriculum design project. In addition to preparing students to be effective consultants in the Cornish Writing Center, the course will enrich students’ abilities to participate in collaborative projects and provide a foundation for future work as teachers. Can be repeated for credit with a different emphasis. Meeting times to be determined with instructor. Enrollment by permission of HS Department Chair.
HS 203 Intro Creative Writing 3 Credits
What distinguishes poetry from prose? Prose fiction from nonfiction? How do the genres intersect, overlap? In this class, we’ll engage in ways of generating, working with, and thinking about writing in these genres, experimenting with each and exploring the boundaries that separate and connect them. Plan on writing a lot and reading maybe more (examples of the genres and writing about them).
NOTE: This course does not satisfy English Composition/Writing requirements.
HS 203 Experiments in Writing 3 Credits
We will investigate a number of questions: What distinguishes poetry from prose? Prose fiction from nonfiction? How do the genres intersect, overlap? Are the distinctions helpful? (Having a sense of where you’re going can, often, help you determine the best way to get there.) But can the distinctions also be impediments? (Becoming too fixed on the destination sometimes means missing what occurs along the way.) We’ll engage in ways of generating, working with, and thinking about writing. We’ll explore language as material and its relationship to meaning, how language sometimes comes before or leads to rather than only being a ‘container’ or ‘vehicle’ for meaning. Possible directions include interdisciplinary collaborations, both within and outside of the class. We will also read and consider works that play with language in various ways, from the conventional to the ‘experimental.’
HS 204 Writing Short Fiction 3 Credits
This class is an introduction to short story writing and is intended to help students become more aware of their creative process, to develop their understanding of the elements of fiction and effective technique, and to establish a sense of audience and voice through small- and large-group critiques of writing produced for the class. The class covers both the theory and practice of fiction writing, and each week we will discuss and analyze assigned readings, engage in some in-class writing, and “workshop” exercises and stories that you have written outside of class. No prior experience in fiction writing is necessary—just a willingness to have fun and apply some elbow grease.
HS 208 Digital Writing 3 Credits
In Digital Writing we’ll explore the intersection between digital environments and the professional writing life of an artist. Digital culture has altered how artists may publicly express and promote themselves. But the choices represented by online self-publishing via Tumblr, Facebook, or Kickstarter present new challenges for writers. How can we use brief posts to create polished prose rather than perfunctory leetspeak? How do we use video, visual, and textual content to promote our work to potential audiences who we’ve never met? This course is designed for all skill levels from students who are adept in digital mediums to those who are new to digital writing and software. Writers can expect to dabble in a variety of online writing environments and to engage in a substantive self-directed online writing project. Students should expect to not only write but also read and discuss how digital mediums affect our relationships, communication, and culture.
HS 210 Life & Art by the Numbers 3 Credits
Our subject is the quantification of reality and its language: numbers. We will survey the history, from the Pythagorean Theorem in ancient Greece, to double-entry bookkeeping in the Renaissance, to today’s string theory. We will also learn about the practical meaning of numbers in your life, and their role in paying off loans, improving your credit rating, or staying healthy. Together we will discuss relevant books, articles, and videos, share some fun and timeless problems and puzzles, and experience the satisfaction and wisdom derived from recording numbers over time and discovering their patterns. No math tests.
HS 212 Physics of Light and Sound 3 Credits
This is an introductory physics course in the physics of light and sound, and is primarily designed for the students in the visual and performing arts. This course does not have a prerequisite and will be mostly qualitative and conceptual. Any rudimentary high school level mathematics (arithmetic, trigonometry and geometry) refresher that is necessary will be supplemented in the lectures. We will first study geometric optics, laws of reflection and refraction, constructing ray diagrams, colors and color mixing, and lighting instruments relevant to students pursuing performance production. Then we will study physical optics highlighting the wave behavior of light concluding with an introduction to lasers and holography. With regards to the aspect of sound, we will study about the properties of sound waves, sound propagation through different media, mechanism of hearing, concert hall acoustics, the sound spectrum and musical instruments. A brief introduction to psychoacoustics will conclude the sound and acoustics part of the course.
HS 219 Humans & the Changing Biosphere 3 Credits
In ways that matter to our species, the world is changing more rapidly than ever before. Population growth, technological change, resource consumption, and pollution are causing unprecedented planetary-scale changes; at the same time, natural factors continue to exert their own influence. Our ability to understand how Earth’s biosphere functions and what drives global environmental change will affect humanity’s future: whether we survive, whether we thrive, and what kind of world we will inhabit. In this course, we’ll survey what is known about the biosphere and its role within an interconnected Earth system. Then, using case studies, we’ll examine how the biosphere and human civilization are affecting one another via climate change, land-use change, and ecosystem degradation. Interactive lectures, readings, discussions, and computer activities will help you learn relevant concepts and information. You’ll also be exposed to “systems thinking” principles, which can help in understanding ideas that seem illogical (e.g., “Why do we think we can predict climate change when we can’t accurately forecast next week’s weather?”) Desired student outcomes include increased awareness of global-scale consequences of human activities and ability to make informed decisions about environmental problems confronting citizens of the planet.
HS 219 Science of Water 3 Credits
Students will explore their connection to water and discover how their choices impact local and global ecosystems. This course lays a strong foundation in ecological principles and provides opportunities for students to apply their learning to a community outreach project. The composition of this class will include readings, lectures, discussion, field trips, and scientific inquiry. Small group discussion will enable students to work together to answer the questions posed in the course. Short writing assignments, student presentations, field experience, and reflective essays will be used to evaluate student learning.
HS 225 Physics: Bodies in Motion 3 Credits
This course will cover physical laws and principles that govern motion in application to the motion of a human body. It will cover mechanics of accelerated linear and rotational motion; it will look at how forces act to change a body’s equilibrium, and at the nature of these forces. Additional topics include basic anatomy and neural control of motion. Satisfies Science Requirement.
HS 227 Greco-Roman Thought 3 Credits
An introduction to the historical and cultural context in which the Greco-Roman philosophers lived. We will develop a clear understanding of some of the larger issues and themes they focused on by studying the ideas and writings of philosophers such as Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius.
HS 228 Origins of Modern Thought 3 Credits
In the vacuum left as a result of Christianity’s dominance, reason supplanted revelation as the best method for understanding the world. Today, the role of reason in our everyday lives is largely a presumed, and as result, an unquestioned method of understanding the world around us. This course traces the triumphal rise of reason in Western thought, with its heady promise of reason bringing boundless progress, transformative education, and harnessing nature to the benefit of humanity. However, for all that reason seemed to promise, some things fell beyond the purview of reason. Passion lurked in the shadows.
HS 229 Passion and Reason 3 Credits
An introduction to some of the philosophical and psychological theories about the nature and interrelationship of emotions and reason. We will examine how both reason and emotions fill out our lives, and what we can learn about ourselves from our emotional lives.
HS 235 Medicine, Illness, and Culture 3 Credits
Medical anthropology is a focus within the field of cultural anthropology that is concerned with the comparative study of culture, health, illness, and healing practices. Throughout the semester, we will explore a variety of ways in which people perceive and interpret health and illness, as well as seek and deliver care within the United States. By examining medicine and illness through an interdisciplinary perspective, we will begin to understand the perspective that medicine, illness, wellness, and healing are inextricably bound up with cultural norms, beliefs and values. The goal of the course is to understand the basic framework of medicine, illness and healing (both mainstream and alternative systems) and provide an introduction to the variety of work accomplished in this field.
HS 244 American Novels 3 Credits
Reading American Novels from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries will be at the center of this class. We’ll consider if and how the novel has changed and whether or how those changes reflect changes in American culture. Emphasis will be on ways of engaging with the work—reading closely, discussing with others, exploring ways of responding critically (and exploring what ‘critical’ response means), writing regularly as we go. Plan to read four to five novels over the course of the semester, writing in a variety of ways in response to each in a seminar-based class.
HS 248 Engaging Literature 3 Credits
We will study the ways that diverse writers portray human experience in their fiction, poetry, and literary non-fiction. Through discussion, writing, lectures, and creative processes, we will explore the ways in which language shapes and reflects socio-economic, cultural, philosophical and historical experiences and values, as well as aesthetic ones. We will explore how readers read, enjoy, understand, analyze, and grapple with literature’s themes, forms, structures, and images. Readings engage diverse perspectives on race, class, gender, nationality, and sexuality. You will practice responding to literature in diverse ways: speaking, listening, writing, and multimedia creative responses. You will practice giving and receiving constructive feedback to writing-in-process and in conference with the instructor. Satisfies Humanities Requirement.
HS 248 Literature: The Gothic Imagination 3 Credits
The dark, mysterious “Gothic” has been influential across the arts and continues to stir curiosity about the macabre, horrifying, sublime and supernatural. We’ll explore Gothic literature as a psychic landscape of horror and terror, turmoil and anxiety that permits both escape from and connections to the culture that creates it. How does the Gothic reflect or subvert conventions of identity, power, and agency in a changing world? We’ll practice responding to literature in diverse ways: speaking, listening, writing, and multimedia creative responses. We will explore ways to read, enjoy, understand, and grapple with literary themes, forms, structures, and images. Readings include: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, short stories by Flannery O’Connor, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Edgar Allen Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Joyce Carol Oates, and poetry by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Anne Radcliffe, Emily Dickinson, and others.
HS 248 Unsettling Literature 3 Credits
The title of this course is meant to describe both our task (to “unsettle” our assumptions about literature) and our object of study (literature that “unsettles” us and makes us uncomfortable). We’ll engage texts from the twentieth century, which often seem difficult to read because writers and artists were wrestling with what literature really is and who gets to say so. While we may be tempted to hunt for “the moral of the story,” it’s very likely missing. If we search for “deeper meaning,” we’ll likely be disappointed. If we’re after a surefooted conclusion or a resolution, we’d best turn back now. But the experience can help us ask questions about what literature does: it can help us think, or it can itself become a way of thinking. Writers may include William Carlos Williams, A. R. Ammons, Leslie Marmon Silko, David Treuer, filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, and others.
HS 250 Performance Art: History & Theory 3 Credits
This course is based on lectures and readings in the history and theory of performance art. The objective of the course is to acquaint the student with the historical record of production and theory in such a way that he or she will not only be informed of the fundamental principles with which to both produce and evaluate performance art, but also be conversant with contemporary issues and intellectual foundations which are developing toward a comprehensive theory of performance art. During the last three weeks of the course students will present brief performances.
Satisfies Humanities Requirement.
HS 260 Comparative Religions 3 Credits
What is religion? Most of us assume we know the answer. This course will challenge our views of world religions by taking the “insider’s perspective”—that is, seeing others as they see themselves; we will explore religious worldviews from the framework of a “plurality of truths” existing side by side. The class will discuss the historical development of major world religions, emphasizing the cultural context within which they emerge and change. Topics will also include the interconnectedness of art and religion, (Bharata Natyam dance in Hinduism, Koan and Haiku in Zen Buddhism, and Shaker architecture and interior design in 19th century America), the emergence of crisis religions (Native American Ghost Dance religion), the question of cults, as well as the role of religion in current world issues. We will ultimately attempt to discover the worldviews that shape ourselves—as individuals, artists and members of a global community.
HS 260 The New World Border 3 Credits
This is an introductory interdisciplinary course (arts, humanities, and social sciences) that will teach you strategies for doing close readings of literary texts and for analyzing them via class discussion and short written pieces. Our readings will focus on the concept of the frontier or border, and specifically of the U.S.-Mexican border, as a determining factor in American culture, through a close reading and written analysis of short stories, novels, poetry, performance pieces, film and political comics about cross-cultural encounters. Authors to be read will include Gloria Anzaldúa, Sandra Cisneros, Américo Paredes, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Luis Alberto Urrea, and Lalo Alcaraz.
HS 260 War and the Politics of Memory 3 Credits
How have modern wars been remembered? Was World War I simply a grievous waste of life? Was World War II a “good” war? This class ponders such questions and delves into the politics of commemorating modern global conflicts from a cultural, political, and transnational perspective. We will look at a wide variety of sources including architecture, statuary, texts, photographs, graphic narrative, posters, music and film. The course moves chronologically, opening with a study of World War I and closing with the current “war on terror.” As a capstone to the course, students will design a war memorial that allows them to express civic responsibility as well as to demonstrate a strong understanding of course materials and themes.
HS 260 A Critical History of the U.S. 3 Credits
This course will examine the constantly changing dynamic between the mainstream and the margins of modern American culture. Various themes give shape to this dynamic—political violence and war, race relations and racism, utopian/dystopian thought, nationalism, consumerism and mass culture, authenticity, individualism, and dissent. In historical context, we will look at these themes through aesthetic practices, namely film and music, to see how cultural products conceptualize America. What mythologies and ideologies about America do cultural products shape and react against? What history is told and how are perspectives on Americanism crafted? What has it meant to be mainstream or to be countercultural at different points in American history?
HS 260 Hollywood, History & Literature 3 Credits
If we learn history from movies, what are we learning? Is our understanding of the past different or deeper when we read books and enroll in history courses? And what is the difference between reading Moby Dick and watching Gregory Peck portray Captain Ahab? Are we more or less enlightened by reading “The Three Hundred,” Gates of Fire, or Herodotus? This course is a study of our learning experiences with print and film. What are the powers and limits of these media when the subject is history? How and what do we learn from historical narratives, historical novels, and historical documentaries? In this course we will experience together how each of these presents the same time and place in history, and we will discuss what and how we have learned. We will share the ideas of authors and actors who examine the same topics and the same questions. Each student will chose a historical subject to experience through film and print, and we will share what we learn and conclude.
HS 260 Loss of Modern Self 3 Credits
This course is an examination of post-modernism and the late twentieth century, a juncture at which the self is increasingly overcome by social and technological complexity, to the point where there is uncertainty about whether an authentic sense of self is even possible.
HS 270 Ecology of the Pacific Northwest 3 Credits
This course will survey principles of modern ecology: the study of how organisms interact with each other and with their physical environments. We’ll focus on the Pacific Northwest with special attention to Puget Sound. Ecology is distinct from environmentalism, but it informs our decisions regarding environmental protection, natural resource management, and environmental justice, as well as related societal issues such as food and water security, health, land use planning, and government spending. Through lecture, reading, discussion, and field study, we will explore ecological patterns, processes, and functions, considering the influence of factors such as physical environment, competition and cooperation, evolution and adaptation, people, and time. Along the way, you’ll become more familiar with iconic Pacific Northwest species and ecosystems such as temperate rain forests, the Pacific coast, mountain forests, and salmon streams. While some classes will meet on campus, on several occasions students should be prepared to meet 30 minutes before class in order to travel via van to our field site at a Seattle park; we will return by the end of the scheduled class time. Also, students will be required to participate in approximately eight hours of field trips outside of class time. Several half- and full-day weekend options will be offered. Satisfies Science Requirement.
HS 270 This is Your Art on Drugs 3 Credits
Cigarettes, alcohol, pot… all the famous artists use them, right? (Not to mention harder drugs.) Do artists need drugs for inspiration? In this class we’ll look at what happens to your art, and your brain, on drugs. Do they hurt, help, or do a little of both? We’ll find out, once we examine biological pathways, genetics, pharmacology, psychological theories of addiction, and profiles and work of famous artists. Since we just banned smoking at Cornish, our questions will be particularly applicable, and we’ll practice some anthropological fieldwork principles to see how the smoking restrictions work on campus. Our texts will be essays, research papers, works of art, films, and exhibit notes like Under the Volcano, Bodyworlds, and the Johns Hopkins backlogs.
HS 270 Climate Change and Biodiveristy 3 Credits
Climate change is one of the most serious threats of this century. Extreme temperatures, precipitation changes, and natural disasters will be a threat to all of earth’s life. Most species will not be able to adapt quickly enough. Despite these concerns many people may be largely uniformed about the effects of climate change on biodiversity and may view climate change as a distant threat that will have a limited effect on their well being.
This course will cover the science of climate change and the impact on biodiversity. We will discuss some of the philosophical, political and social aspects of climate change. In course assignments you will explore how both visual and performing arts have been used to communicate the impacts of climate change. Upon completion of the course you should have the skills to evaluate climate change and other environmental problems in order to make informed decisions.
HS 270 Food, Environment & Public Health 3 Credits
Where does our food come from? Why do we eat what we eat? This course will explore physical and biological factors affecting human diet choices, concentrating on “big-picture” influences on food supply. Using this information, students will become better able to make decisions about food in line with their own values and biological needs by considering not just personal nutrition, but also the impacts of food production on public health and environment. We will look at environmental histories of food plants and animals from an ecological perspective, drawing to a lesser extent on evolutionary biology, genetics, and geography. We will also survey ideas from nutrition, public health, demography, toxicology, and biotechnology in order to explore connections between the modern food system, human health, and population. Throughout the course, we will consider impacts of humankind’s food systems on other organisms and on life-support functions provided by Earth’s environment and ecosystems.
HS 270 Genomic Revolution: Hope or Harm? 3 Credits
We have mapped the human genome and it is increasingly inexpensive to sequence an individual’s genome. Companies offer genetic tests for health and ancestry, and promise personalized medicine based on genes, however the genome has also been used to support prejudices. For example, a prominent geneticist made claims about intelligence and athleticism based on comparisons of genomes of different ethnic populations. This course will explore the potential benefits and risks of the knowledge derived from individual and population genomes, and will help the student critically evaluate the ways the genomic revolution is presented in society. It will develop an understanding of population genetics (including the idea of “race” biologically), evolutionary arguments, and how genes are related to health and ancestry through Socratic discussions, media evaluation, and a research project. Students will increase their scientific literacy to become more adept at analyzing genomic promises and perils.
HS 270 Mathematical Mysteries 3 Credits
This course explores ways that mathematics is interrelated with fields of human knowledge and realms of human questioning that we grapple and intrigue ourselves with every day. For example, humans have always had a predilection for measurement. What do we measure, how do we measure? How do we wrap our minds around the concept of infinity? How are choices made in such areas as games, gambling, and the stock market? What is special about geometrical objects such as the sphere and the cube? Why did the Greeks attach mystical significance to certain of these and how did their proportions form the foundation of Western musical tuning systems for millennia? Are there different ways to conceive of nature and the universe other than through this geometry that stems back to Plato? This course investigates these questions by developing mathematical thinking and critical analysis skills and by learning the algebraic and geometric tools that form the core of mathematics. Possible topics include: measurement /number theory—from the atomic level to transfinite numbers, numeration systems from the Egyptians to the Greeks, problem solving and set theory, Euclidian geometry and non-Euclidian geometry, patterns in nature such as the Golden Mean, music theory, probability and game theory, consumer mathematics, graphs and illustrating data, deciphering codes, and voting systems.
HS 270 Visualizing the Natural World 3 Credits
Illustrations, be they graphs, drawings or 3-D visualizations, are windows into science. Scientists observe the natural world, collect data, and create these visual representations- the scientific illustration. “How we know what we know” can be approached by examining these visual data. In this course we will explore how scientific information is obtained, and how it is represented—beginning with the hand drawings of deep sea life obtained from samples dredged from the seafloor during the Challenger Expeditions of the 1’s, the microscopic world revealed by electron microscopy, and changes in atmospheric temperature and CO2 content through time. We will read and discuss current news media and science writing, and explore the intersection of science and policy, particularly as it pertains to climate change. The course will include short, daily problems, weekly discussions, biweekly quizzes, homework, guest speakers and projects.
HS 272 The Psychology of the Artistic Self 3 Credits
As the world around us becomes more connected through technology and at the same time more diverse, we often find ourselves reflecting on what it means to simply “be” in a pluralistic society. This course will examine how we develop as individuals and artists in today’s global and diverse society. Through a survey of developmental theories we will examine cognitive, moral and racial identity development and how art intersects and influences developmental stages. Readings will include chapters from The Creative Soul: Art and the Quest for Wholeness (Staples) and Racial & Ethnic Identity: Psychological Development & Creative Expression (Griffith), as well as Piaget, Erikson, Sue & Sue, and Cross. Through in-class discussions, journaling, and a final reflection project, this class will contemplate how one as an artist and an individual develops and contributes to the various communities s/he lives in and moves through. Satisfies Social Science Requirement.
HS 280 Citizenship and Politics Today 3 Credits
This course will examine current political events through the lens of citizenship. What does it mean to be a citizen in the United States today? How is this similar to or different from what it means to be a citizen in other parts of the world? What is the difference between being a citizen and not being a citizen? We will consider different approaches to citizenship social scientists have developed and discuss how they relate to current events ranging from the U.S. presidential election to international politics. We will also examine how our own daily lives are affected by concepts of citizenship and by the changing political context in which we live.
HS 280 Environment, Consumption & Culture 3 Credits
The impacts of American consumption are linked to environmental problems and increased social inequality on a global scale. At the 1992 Earth Summit, countries of the global South gained enough political power to bring Northern over-consumption to the forefront of the global environmental agenda. However, in the United States and other Northern countries, sustainable consumption initiatives have not lived up to the expectations of the 1992 Earth Summit. This course will examine some of the reasons why issues of consumption have been difficult to address. As a class, we will investigate why we consume the way we do, the environmental and social impacts of consumption, and examine possibilities for change. This course will be a holistic and interdisciplinary survey of the study of consumption. At the end of this course you will have an understanding of consumption theory, issues, and practices.
HS 280 Narcoculture in Mexico and Beyond 3 Credits
The spread of narcocultura (socio-cultural phenomena with origins in the drug-trafficking industry) has revealed its growing legitimacy as an alternative source of income in the context of shrinking economic opportunities and the proliferation of government corruption and complicity with the illicit trade. This course will also reveal the socio-cultural, systemic, and global nature of the trade. The myriad themes will be explored via its literary and cinematic manifestations, supplemented with scholarly articles and readings from the humanities and social sciences. At the end of the class students will be able to analytically discuss various elements of narcocultura. Satisfies Social Science or Humanities Requirement
HS 280 Racial Identity Development 3 Credits
Race is a topic some would prefer not to discuss; it can be a constant source of discomfort if not outright conflict. Some would argue that race is merely an imposed construct that is obsolete in our post-racial society. Others would say that although we’ve come a long way, we have much further to go. Either way, we would be hard pressed to ignore how racial identity impacts the way we see and experience our world and how others perceive us. This class will explore the concept of race in America, its history, the impact that race has on our society, and how each of us begin to develop a racial identity. Through readings on the topic and through exploring our own lived experiences we will examine the impact that race has on each us and how we live with others.
HS 280 Taboo! Manners Morals and Civility 3 Credits
What does it mean to be polite? What does it mean to be rude? Who decides what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior? How do we interpret and internalize these social norms? How do we, as citizens, students and artists, critique them? This course will consider cross-cultural perspectives on expectations for everyday social conduct. We will investigate topics such as how we eat, what we talk about, how close we stand to each other, which rules we follow and which rules we don’t. How are manners and morals related to culture, politics and society? How are they connected to notions of what it means to be civilized? How do manners and morals differ by country? How have they changed over the course of history? Most importantly, perhaps, what can we learn about ourselves by taking a second look at our own taboos?
HS 280 The Politics of Silence 3 Credits
In our daily lives we tend to focus on what is said and what we hear. We pay less attention to the significance of silence. This course will investigate the multiple meanings of silence in contemporary societies. When is silence privileged and when is it denigrated? What do we tend to be silent about? What does it mean to silence others or to be silenced? How do we evaluate being silent in relation to speaking out or being loud? We will consider these questions in relation to topics ranging from communication styles to domination and resistance to forms of artistic expression. Our cross-cultural investigation of silence will aim to enrich our own understandings of silence and the roles it plays in our lives.
HS 280 Where in the World is the U.S.A.? 3 Credits
Manifest Destiny, the Peace Corps, Guantanamo Bay, even a can of Coca-Cola illustrate how the United States has extended well beyond its borders. This course considers the past and present relationship between the United States and the rest of the world. We will take up questions of empire, ex-patriot artists, immigration, and globalization. In addition to considering the projection of American power abroad, with the help of literature, the arts, and politics we will discuss how this changing place in the globe effects the domestic nation. Satisfies Social Science Requirement.
HS 280 In Disguise? 3 Credits
Jews have converted to Christianity to avoid persecution. Men have dressed as women; women have dressed as men. Blacks have passed as white; gays have passed as straight. Many of us have altered our accents or wardrobes, revised our biographies, straightened our hair or changed its color. Why do we sometimes mask or hide aspects of our identities? Are these acts of disguising ourselves efforts to subvert power or avoid oppression? Are they acts of resistance? When we take on altered identities, are we truly in disguise? This course will address these questions through perspectives drawn from political science, sociology, law and other fields. We will consider topics such as hidden transcripts, conversion, passing and covering. James Scott, Erving Goffman and Kenji Yoshino are among the scholars whose work we will investigate.
HS 280 Language, Culture and Life Stories 3 Credits
This course will look at language and story-telling, connecting both to culture, history, and the construction of identity. You will be introduced to theories of language and culture and to oral history research. We will collect personal life histories and explore the lives of Seattle residents of diverse cultural, ethnic and professional groups. We will ask questions: What exactly is a language and how do languages and cultures shape our worldview? What role does the life story play? And how can we connect life stories to the (recorded or unrecorded) history of Seattle? We will also seek to connect immigrant life stories to the national and historical narrative of contemporary America.
HS 280 Mixed Identities 3 Credits
Many of us know the feeling of not quite fitting in. We may identify ourselves one way but sense we are perceived differently by others. Or we may feel that none of the available options to describe ourselves accurately represent who we are. These experiences may be fleeting or they may profoundly affect our lives, depending on our positions in relation to the political, social and cultural circumstances in which we live. What does it mean to identify (or be identified) as “mixed” or in between other categories? To explore this question, we will discuss how we identify ourselves as individuals and as members of groups. We will consider topics such as social boundaries and liminality, immigration and identity, racial mixture, religion, and transnationalism. Based on social science and literary texts, we will engage in a discussion of identity that will expand our understanding of other people and ourselves.
HS 280 Past, Present & Future of Work 3 Credits
In mineshafts, studio spaces, homes, and fast food restaurants, many people work for a living. But the conditions and meaning of that labor have changed over time. This course examines labor and work from the advent of the industrial revolution to what many consider to be our post-industrial future. Along the way, we will consider a variety of topics, including work as a lived-experience and cultural concept, workers’ attempts to control their labor power, and intellectuals’ comments about the working class. We will take a broad perspective that includes leisure, non-wage work, and artistic production in our analysis. A wide range of materials, drawn from the like of Karl Marx, Charlie Chaplin, feminism, and the workers themselves, will provide context for your own explorations of the working world.
HS 280 Us and Them 3 Credits
Who are we? How do we think about them? Drawing on anthropology, sociology, psychology and political science, this course will investigate questions about how we identify ourselves in relation to others. How do political, social and cultural influences contribute to the categories we use to define ourselves and our world? We will consider the importance of context in shaping our understanding of social divisions on local, national and international levels. Concepts we will discuss include social mapping, stigma, stereotypes, race and racism, and privilege. Through our reading and discussion of both social science and literary texts, we will aim to better understand processes of inclusion and exclusion that affect us all.
HS 280 Work in Contemporary Society 3 Credits
People spend many of their waking hours working, and the work they do significantly influences their social experiences and quality of life. This course examines the ways in which social, economic, and political structures impact the organization and experience of work. Drawing from case studies, firsthand accounts, and our own stories, we will examine many kinds of work, including artistic work. We will review the historical trajectory of contemporary work structures and discuss the very nature of work, assessing distinctions between paid and unpaid work. We will ask how race, ethnicity, class, gender, and citizenship impact the work experience as well as explore relationships between work and family and work and personal identity. Emphasis will be on the United States, though many of our discussions, such as those dealing with globalization and technological innovations, will necessitate a wider lens.
HS 280 Working Together 3 Credits
Success stories in our society usually depict an individual acting alone who is able to make a fortune for themselves or enact social change. However, the success stories of people and communities coming together to build something substantial (collective action) are arguably more important, but less understood. This class will focus on the second story—people working together. We will examine the role of groups of people creating and managing sustainable businesses, organizations, and resources drawing from fields such as anthropology, geography, political science, sociology, and business. We will ask the following questions: Under what conditions do people work successfully together to reach a common goal? What are the differences between private businesses, public corporations, collectives and cooperatives? What are the opportunities for increased equity and environmental sustainability? What are the challenges to success? How are collective and cooperative organizing both enabled and challenged by our current social and economic structures?
HS 290 Art & Social Justice 3 Credits
Around the world, contemporary artists are creating dynamic, effective strategies that embody a renewed understanding of civic and community engagement. Art & Social Justice takes an interdisciplinary, cross-cultural approach to survey major international trends. We will consider how artists reflect on their relationships to self, society and the natural world to become civically engaged in manifesting social change. Students will investigate artists’ practices in their historical, critical, ethical and social/political contexts; generate plans for their own community projects; and interrogate the ethical implications of art initiatives in the realm of social justice.
HS 295 Forever Jung: Art & Archetypes 3 Credits
Who was Carl Jung, what are archetypes, and what do they have to do with art? These questions and more will guide this class as we examine the life and works of Carl Jung. We will examine the concept of archetypes, how they appear in art, and how they appear in the developing artist. We will study archetypes such as the Shadow, Anima/Animus, The Great Mother, The Great Father, The Trickster, The Hero, and more. Students will research and identify examples from known works of art, as well as from their own artistic endeavors. Through readings, in-class discussions, assignments, and reflection papers, students will develop a basic understanding of the influence of the collective unconsciousness.
HS 295 Gender, Sex and Society 3 Credits
This course will develop an understanding of the ways in which gender and sexuality is formed and performed within the context of biological and cultural identity. We will examine the relationship between personal identity and biological identity within and outside of categories such as feminine/masculine, gay/straight, and male/female. Specifically, we will look at the performance and production of gender and sexuality within science and culture to form an historical context by which to situate the current progress of queer politics and gender identity. Additionally, we will examine the role of new technology in relation to forming and reforming gender, such as cyberfeminism and reproductive and transgender science.
HS 296 – 299 Independent Study 1–4 Credits Fall/Spring
Focuses on a special project of the student’s choice and design that is unavailable within the regular curriculum. Sophomore standing and permission from Department Chair required.
HS 360 18th Century Intellectual History 3 Credits
An examination of the transition from dogmatic learning to that of empirical investigation, this course focuses on the period that was dominated by the “scientific revolution” and the reintroduction of skepticism. Thinkers such as Descartes, Pascal, Newton, and Rousseau, as well as concepts of materialism and naturalism, will be introduced. Satisfies Humanities Requirement.
HS 360 Applied Ethics 3 Credits
In this course we will seek to both understand who we are as human beings, as well as how we might best organize our lives to live a life that is meaningful. We will start with Socrates’ adage that “the unexamined life is not worth living” so that we may evaluate our individual lives, as well as see how our life fits within the context of the world around us.
HS 360 Creation of Self 3 Credits
This course explores evolving understanding of the psychological experience from the 17th and 18th centuries. The role of empiricist philosophy, the rise of a skeptical view of psychological self-understanding, the possibility of a coherent, harmonious, and integrated self, and the seemingly limitless reservoir of ambiguity that li