Special Topics Courses

Term 1, 4-Week Courses (May 15-June 8)

ENGLISH (English) 290S The Social (Media) Novel. With summer fast approaching, it’s time to put down your books and pick up your devices. As you reactivate your Facebook page, log back onto Twitter, start a Tumblr page, or join whatever new site is just emerging ask yourself this: did you ever stop reading or has the novel assumed a new (plat)form? From Dave Egger’s The Circle to Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah to Lauren Beukes’ Zoo City, twenty-first century novelists are telling fictive accounts by way of technology. In fact, some authors including Teju Cole and Jennifer Egan are publishing entire stories on Twitter (see “Hafiz” and “Black Box”). Is a Twitter handl any different from a fictional character? Can a timeline take the place of a table of contents? Does “going viral” constitute a new mode of human connection? These are but a few of the questions we will address together as we consider how writers have retooled the novel in order to contend with a growing culture deeply invested in digital forms of engagement. Apart from discussing how stories are told differently when writers are tasked with capturing life online or how we understand a novel’s setting when plots unfold over the interweb, we will also investigate contemporary conversations around technological innovation to better gauge how the digital is allowing us to reimagine what constitutes identity, community, and belonging. As part of this class, students will try their hands at a digital project that invites them to make a digital booklet, website, or tool that accompanies a story of their own choosing. In addition to the texts aforementioned, possible texts might include: Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story, Claudia Rankine’s Citizen, and Joshua Cohen’s The Book of Numbers, among others. Panaram

Term 1, 6-Week Courses (May 15-June 27)

ENGLISH (English) 110S Intro to Creative Writing: Hybrid Writing Animals.
“Technically, we’re all half centaur.” Nick Offerman
This course is an invitation to the hybrid, bookish-beasts of writing: the journal entry, the prose poem, “flash” fiction/creative non-fiction, and some of the many glittering forms of writing that fall between these mixed genres. In this studio-styled course, we will begin class like an art class: by looking at several models of the form we are considering, followed by a group conversation/discussion centered around those models. Each class will contain one or two in-class writing exercises (approximately 10 minutes each) in response to a writing prompt as well as a workshop period. We will start the term writing journal entries and lists—daily, familiar, comfortable forms of writing. From there, we will turn to the paragraph writing forms of flash fiction/creative nonfiction and prose poetry. After workshopping these building-block genres and developing our recognition of genre and hybrid forms, we will then bring our composition skills and inspiration to shaping a final portfolio of publishable-quality writing. Along the way, we will stretch our understanding of writing by watching performances of slam poetry and visiting the Nasher Museum of Art to write about visual and material art objects. Assignments include weekly Sakai posts (350-500 words) in response to class readings, timely workshop postings, and mandatory attendance. The final project consists of a 15-page writing portfolio of your best journaling, prose poems, and short lyric essays. Our final exam will be a class party and reading. Required texts include: Short: An International Anthology of Five Centuries of Short-Short Stories, Prose Poems, Brief Essays, and Other Short Prose Forms, ed. by Alan Ziegler; and Citizen by Claudia Rankine. VanderHart

ENGLISH (English) 290S Reading & Weathering Storms. In the fall of 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall along the coast of Texas, turning Houston – the fourth most populous city in the nation – into a shallow sea. Hailed as unprecedented by journalists and scientists alike, Hurricane Harvey muddied the waters, blurring distinctions between land and sea, weather and climate, and raising an important question: Is this what climate change looks like? Our class will attempt to answer this question and more as we peer through the eyes of storms—both literary and nonliterary—to consider what these meteorological maelstroms unearth and unsettle about humans and their relationship to the environment. From Shakespeare’s The Tempest to Spike Lee’s When the Levees Broke, our course will track typhoons, tempests, and deluges across works of fiction, science, and science fiction as we consider their imaginative and material power. Along the way, we will explore how perceptions of storms have changed over time and how stories of climatic extremes impact our material and social realities, constructing what we have come to know as the Anthropocene—the current geological age dominated by humans. We will ask such fundamental questions as, what is climate change and how do we understand it? How can we read, and in turn, weather the stormy effects of climate change? Moreover, our course will approach storms as more than mere barometers of climatic shifts. Storms will figure in our course as unique confluences of political, environmental, and social forces as we consider how they are simultaneously intensifiers and products of environmental and structural violence. Throughout the summer, we will read several novels and a number of shorter pieces of literary fiction and nonfiction. We will also engage with scientific reports, articles, and films. Assignments will include a close-reading essay (2-3 pages), an op-ed (4-5 pages) that translates a scientific issue for a larger audience, a research paper (5-7 pages) that tracks the reception of a storm across multiple genres, and a final project that allows students to develop their own persuasive and creative arguments regarding storms. No exams will be given. Burns

ENGLISH (English) 290S Get Rich or Die Tryin’: Stories About Making It Big in America. What does it mean to achieve the American Dream? Most of us would probably say that it has something to do with attaining financial success—perhaps, as the saying goes, by any means necessary. As the self-proclaimed land of opportunity, America is awash with stories of upward mobility and successful “get rich quick” schemes. Why do stories of people climbing their way to the upper levels of society maintain such a powerful hold on the American imagination? What does this phenomenon tell us about sociopolitical life in America? This course invites students to contemplate these questions and to explore the history of America’s cultural fascination with the pursuit of wealth and status. We will begin by reading two classic narratives from the early days of American big business and work our way up to the twenty-first century, the era of television shows like Billions and Breaking Bad. Along our journey through the collective American psyche we will consider what these narratives have to say not only about the acquisition of wealth but also about the sources of financial failure, the emotional and psychological effects of class mobility, the nature of corruption and criminality, and what it takes to overcome personal hardships. Our source material will include the following: episodes of the critically-acclaimed HBO television series The Wire; excerpts from J.D. Vance’s recent, controversial memoir Hillbilly Elegy; the Academy Award-winning film adaptation of Michael Lewis’s financial exposé The Big Short; Lucy Prebble’s provocative play Enron; music from 50 Cent’s bestselling debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin’; Quentin Tarantino’s neo-Blaxploitation film Jackie Brown; Spike Lee’s basketball drama He Got Game; Oliver Stone’s Wall Street; Brian de Palma’s notorious gangster epic Scarface; the Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe-led musical comedy Gentleman Prefer Blondes; F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz;” Booker T. Washington’s Up from Slavery; and Horatio Alger’s classic short novel Ragged Dick. Students will write short, weekly response papers and one 8-10-page analytical essay, which they will have opportunities to revise based on feedback from the instructor and their classmates. Mitchell

LIT (Literature) 190S Media & Subjectivity. “I is the other” — Rimbaud’s poetic revelation of the constructed nature of the self appeared right at the beginning of the era of the technological doubling of human subjectivity: photography, gramophone, cinematography, computer. This class is an introductory course in media theory from the perspective of subjectivity. Do media simply serve as extensions of human senses, as Marshall McLuhan famously claimed? Or do they radically remodel our understanding of the self by providing new metaphors (Friedrich Kittler), transforming our habits and imposing new logics of behavior (Wendy Chun)? In what sense can we talk about identity today as cybernetic (Donna Haraway) or algorithmic (John Cheney-Lippold)? We will address these questions by reading key media theorists and analyzing films (Dziga Vertov, Harun Farocki, R. M. Fassbinder, David Cronenberg, Laura Poitras). Lukin

LIT (Literature) 190S Networks, Information, Control.  Our complex daily lives are so filled with pieces of technology we sometimes fail to notice them as discrete objects. Instead, they become components in a chain of practices. From washing machines, to headphones, to digital devices, technologies of everyday life modify our experience to the extent that they almost vanish into routine. What does it mean that these objects are part of how we understand everyday life? How are we positioned as speakers and as addressees in heavily mediated environments? Through different modes of engagement, we will explore the practices that make these technologies meaningful. Writing assignments will examine the shifting relations between various forms of technology and our own processes of observation. Along the way, we will read fiction, academic analysis, and popular essays that consider technology's impact on contemporary culture to examine the production and reinforcement of normative conduct in social spaces. We will compare cultural approaches to the study of behavioral categories. This course will include literary texts and films as representations of the social structures and as tools for constructing codes within social structures, thereby positioning cultural artifacts as one means of production and reinforcement observed in ethnographic studies. Power

LIT (Literature) 190S The End of History. In the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, marking the beginning of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the political theorist Francis Fukuyama declared the “End of History.” Capitalism had triumphed over communism, the Cold War had ended, and the only viable political system remaining was liberal democracy. In fact, Fukuyama was only saying what many had intuited for years. For critics like Fredric Jameson on the left, global capitalism had successfully convinced us that it was the only game in town, creating the forceful illusion of our immersion in a “perpetual present.” In this course students will learn how to analyze narrative texts (novels, films, etc.) and to link their analyses to the social and historical contexts in which those texts operate. In particular, this class will think about how narrative shapes our understanding and experience of the passing of historical time. What does a non-linear narrative structure, for example, do to our expectation that time (and history) must pass in a linear fashion? How does cultural memory function as a kind of text, one that is shaped and reshaped by the stories we tell? The course aims to get students to think critically about what the idea of “history” means in different historical periods and why the concept of “history” must itself be historicized. Students will then be able to think of their own period, one of tremendous political and social upheaval, within these longstanding discussions. Soule

LIT (Literature) 290S Race, Tech & Everyday Life. Technology is undoubtedly central to our everyday life. It has extended our ability to communicate, travel, and process information at unprecedented rates. Yet, technology has also further enabled social control. This course examines the development of surveillance practices and their place in everyday life in the United States in the context of race, as well as gender, sexuality, and class, from slavery to the present. The course will also ask us to think critically about the concept of race as technical, a mechanism of scrutiny that is both socially produced and productive of domination in its various forms. We see that both in the way that race acts as a marker of ‘otherness’ when Black and Latino men are regularly stopped and frisked by the police in New York City, and in the way that facial recognition software has been used to profile and track Black Lives Matter activists in Baltimore. To understand these and other issues, we will engage literary, visual, and cultural texts in order to consider a number of questions: how have ideologies and practices of racial surveillance changed the logic of policing over time? Have some modes of surveillance become socially accepted and, perhaps, even taken for granted? What societal anxieties, fears, and fantasies sustain the culture of surveillance? Karklina

PSY (Psychology) 390S Working with Others: The Psychology of Groups & Organizations. This course provides a broad overview of social psychology and organizational behavior topics in relation to the individual, groups, and organizational processes. Topics include teams and group dynamics, leadership, negotiations, motivation, and diversity. Class sessions and assignments are intended to help students acquire an understanding of the psychology behind interpersonal dynamics in the workplace. This course will focus on the underlying psychological processes of people in organizational and group contexts in order to better understand how people work together. Specifically, we will explore individual level psychological biases that prevent people from recognizing the value of others, as well as under what conditions individuals can effectively coordinate with one another. We will also consider how organizations can support their employees, as well as organizational failings that leave employees feeling unmotivated and unheard. Psychological, sociological, and organizational behavioral research will ground our discussion of how we can better understand human behavior in organizations and how we can apply this research to practice recommendations for some of the most salient problems in businesses today. Chon

PUBPOL (Public Policy Studies) 290S Writing for Public Policy. This is an online course. Every student of public policy needs to write clearly, succinctly, and with conviction. This course is a writing class designed to teach the basics of the forms of writing that are likely to be used by public policy students when they enter the work world. These include letters to the editor, op-eds, policy briefs, memos, executive summaries, speeches, committee reports, grant proposals, and other relevant documents. Assignments, incorporating editing and rewriting opportunities, include four short (2-5 pages) papers and one long (15 pages) paper. Class members will participate in an online chat room and in online meetings with one another. Everyone will have the opportunity to work on personal strengths and weaknesses and to design a project relevant to work or an internship. Weddington

 

Term 2, 4-Week Courses (July 9-August 1)

BIOLOGY (Biology) 190 Do You Want to Live Forever? Science & Ethics of Stem Cells & Regeneration. Major breakthroughs in stem cell biology were made in the last fifty years, but this short history is full of scientific, ethical, and social complexity. With the global efforts to understand stem cells and regeneration leading to programs like Duke’s Regeneration NEXT Initiative and new stem cell-based therapies being proposed daily, comprehending the work in this field is crucial, not only for future researchers but also to equip future young voters to inform their opinions. In this course we will alternate between two intertwining ideas: (1) the scientific impact of stem cell research and (2) the social and ethical ramifications of this research. In exploring the field of stem cells and regeneration from its nascence to modern cutting-edge research, we will focus upon the basics of cell biology, the cell cycle, and organ maintenance in order to critically evaluate scientific literature. Utilizing hands-on learning activities, we will also practice the scientific method and experimental design in the context of stem cells in order to be able to apply it to our reading of the literature and answering our own scientific questions. Using stem cells and regeneration as a lens, we will examine the ethical issues that have arisen in science over the decades and how they have been resolved. Considering the role media plays in effective science communication nowadays, we will also form opinions and debate potential future legislative and ethical issues that can arise, how the media can exacerbate or alleviate these issues, and how they may be resolved. By the end of the course, you will be better able to discriminate the shades of grey that exist in both scientific discoveries and the ethical and social response to them. Garde

BIOLOGY (Biology) 190 An Interactive World: How Organismal Interactions Shape Nature & Society. When was the last time you thought about how an apple grows or where we grow all the grains we use to make our breads and cereal? While often ignored, the interactions of organisms shape the world around us. Plants rely on other living things to deliver pollen between flowers, while trying to combat other organisms that eat them. Much of the natural world around us is influenced by positive and negative interactions between living things, as one species tries to outcompete, prey on, or infect another, while other reactions of pollination, facilitation, or commensalism determine where organisms can live or how well they can survive and reproduce. Many of these living things are essential for human life, while they can also act as potential causes of harm. This course will explore species interactions and ecology as they shape both natural and urban settings. We will begin by introducing the basic theories of species interactions and ecology. Then, we will examine how these basic concepts affect nature and humans through case studies and specific examples. For instance, timing of flowering for both plants in nature and in agriculture can affect the rate of pollination for individual entities, which in turn affects the number of fruits that can be produced. Class lectures will introduce critical topics followed by a class session with group work and discussion. Each week we will incorporate an on-campus field trip to make observations, collect data, or introduce a topic. Popular press and scientific articles will both be examined for how they present critical scientific lessons. During the first week of class, you will be asked to choose a topic related to species interactions, ecology, or environmental sociology and then to research your topic by researching and analyzing two scientific published articles each successive week. The final class will consist of student presentations, reflecting a synthesis of the articles each individual has discovered and analyzed. The goals of this course include developing the skills to locate, evaluate, and critically read scientific and popular press articles; developing teamwork and cooperation (hallmarks of contemporary scientific investigation and discovery); and synthesizing information into written and oral communications. Morgan

BIOLOGY (Biology) 190 Biodiversity & Evolution. The world is full of surprising, strange, and beautiful species like fungus-farming ants, manipulative orchids, and geometric diatoms. How on earth did these species evolve? In this course, students will learn about biodiversity, where it comes from, and how it is maintained. We will start with a general introduction to the different types of life. Second, we will cover the basics of evolution including mutation, genetic drift, and natural selection with special emphasis on the processes that generate and maintain biodiversity. Finally, we will touch on the topic of speciation by exploring the questions “What is a species?” and “How does one species split into two?" Ostevik

BIOLOGY (Biology) 190 Seeking Sustainability. The term “sustainability” is a common buzzword heard in politics, the media, and product marketing, but what does sustainability mean in a biological context, and is it achievable within our current social and economic framework? This course will examine different facets of sustainability from scientific and societal perspectives. We will begin with an overview of the biodiversity crisis and what sustainability means to the biologist. You will learn fundamental principles from population and ecosystem ecology, and how those concepts apply to human population dynamics and growth. We will then proceed to examine how we obtain the necessities of life – energy, food, and water – to support a growing human population. The course will conclude by looking at sustainability as an issue of human rights and social justice. By the end of the course, you will be better equipped to think critically about claims of sustainability and make informed decisions in your daily life. Classes will be a mix of traditional lecture, discussion, and interactive in-class activities. In-class work will be structured on the collaborative learning model. You will use publicly available datasets from national and international governmental organizations to examine energy generation, food production, and water use on global and regional scales. Discussions of individual impacts will require you to utilize various calculators and modeling tools to analyze your own consumption habits. Finally, we will consider possible ways to mitigate some of the issues discussed and look at how Duke is tackling them through its campus sustainability programs. Concepts from biological sciences to be covered in the course:

  • Population demographics (life tables, survivorship models, fecundity/fitness tradeoffs, age structure), metapopulations/population fragmentation, population growth models and carrying capacity, natural selection and life history, ecological footprint.
  • Community structure and dynamics (keystone species, disturbance and succession), species richness, species interactions, energy flow through ecosystems (primary productivity and trophic structure).
  • Biodiversity measures, endemics, diversity hotspots, biomes and aquatic ecosystems, biogeography (species distributions), biological magnification, nutrient cycling and biogeochemical cycles, climate change/destabilization, eutrophication. McMillan

BIOLOGY (Biology) 190 Environmentally-cued Behaviors in Animals & Plants. How do sea turtles and monarch butterflies know where to migrate after spending years (or entire lifetimes) away from mating grounds? How do plants know to flower in the spring and summer, and not in the winter? How do cicada insects all emerge at the same time after years underground? In this course, we will learn about the fascinating ways in which organisms can sense and respond to changes in their environment. We will first cover the most common environmental cues detected by organisms including temperature, sunlight, nutrients, magnetic fields, and more. We will then learn about the diverse sensory and response systems used by animals and plants to react to these cues. We will cover in-depth a number of fascinating examples of individual organisms synchronizing behaviors in response to cues, such as the mass spawning of coral larvae once per year, and we will discuss how changes in climate may affect the ability of organisms to respond appropriately to cues in the future. Lastly, we will spend time discussing how these organismal sensory systems are applicable to broad-scale engineering problems and can potentially be used to improve the lives of humans. By the end of the course, you will have developed the ability to read scientific literature and communicate scientific ideas both orally and in writing, an appreciation and understanding of the complex and diverse ways in which organisms respond to their environments, and an ability to make predictions about the environmental cues causing a change in behavior. D’Aguilio

BIOLOGY (Biology) 190 Genetics in the News.  The ultimate goal of this course is to gain an appreciation for the relevance of genetics and biology to many aspects of daily life, while empowering students to be critical and informed consumers of popular media. This will be achieved through “just-in-time” learning of biology foundational concepts presented within the contexts of current society, recent history, and various professional applications, such as law and medicine. There will also be an emphasis on developing students as scholars and professionals, focusing both on oral presentation skills and on study methods for sciences, which can differ substantially from other disciplines. Proposed topics break down roughly into five main areas, which are interrelated and complementary. Some of these may ultimately be deemed outside the scope of the course; however, all of them are important to keep in mind. 

  1. Foundations in Biology, including scientific approach: correlation vs. causation, proof vs. disproof, hypothesis vs. theory; evolution: non-directional, selective pressures, populations scale; inheritance: DNA, haplotype blocks, allele frequencies; central dogma, cellular players and mechanisms; genetic and phenotypic variation (SNPs, CNVs, haplotype blocks); and cell lineage: stem cells, differentiation, tissue types.
  2. Research Technologies including induced pluripotent stem cells; high-through put sequencing; and CRISPR-Cas.
  3. Applications of Genetics including medicine: genetics of the individual (genetic testing, forensics); medicine: reproductive technologies (IVF, non-invasive prenatal testing, preimplantation genetic diagnosis); medicine: gene editing and gene therapies; law: wrongful birth suits, gene patents, military ethics, genetic discrimination, etc.; and other, including genetic intersections with disparate disciplines and professions.
  4. Genetics in Society including genealogical research and personal identity; genetics in the media – cultural perceptions/fears/hopes for genetic technologies; and current and historical controversies in genetic technologies.
  5. Students as Professionals including how to learn and study basic sciences; and presentation skills. 

Prerequisite:  One year or more of high school biology highly recommended. Zwemer

BIOLOGY (Biology) 190 The Hard Truth of Evolution. Through selected readings, short lectures, and class discussions, we will investigate some of the fundamental truths of biological evolution, the consequences of evolutionary biology for society, and the potential conflicts that emerge when evolutionary biology and (American) religion seek to co-exist. Building on Theodosius Dobzhansky’s famous statement that “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution,” we will explore why some areas of evolution are easy to accept as factually true and why some areas are much harder to grasp. The course also seeks to broaden the discussion of evolutionary biology to include how societies have historically used and abused evolutionary theory (ancient crop breeding, eugenics, GMOs, etc.). Finally, we will discuss the modes of interaction between modern Western science and traditional Western (Abrahamic) religions, focusing on the rise of Creationism and Intelligent Design in contemporary American culture. This course will present various aspects of evolutionary biology, including phylogenetics, adaptations, natural selection, and genetics, while drawing on diverse elements of cultural anthropology and theology to address the complexity of societal issues relating to evolution. Students from a variety of backgrounds, scientific and not, religious and not, are invited to engage in a collaborative discourse of one the thorniest scientific topics in modern society. Shreve

(Economics/ECON) 190 Game Theory. The interactions of human beings with other individuals, within groups, and with the earth lead us to ponder many questions concerning the ways in which people coordinate and structure their actions. It is to these questions that we turn, in trying to understand the strategic decisions that people make on a daily basis. Will it make a difference if I throw my candy wrapper in the street instead of waiting to find a trash can? How much should I pay for a used car? How will our family decide who cooks dinner? Is it feasible for a firm to enter the market for a new product? Under what conditions would a union go on strike during labor contract negotiations? In this course students learn the basic tools of game theory in order to analyze these various economic and social situations. We start by providing a background and introduction to both game theory and economics. We then proceed to define the terminology used in both fields. Our section on games begins with an analysis of normal form (strategic form) games in which we have a static setting and players move simultaneously. Concepts such as a player’s best response, dominant strategies, and the Nash equilibrium are presented, along with various examples of applications. The three classic games of chicken (hawk-dove), coordination (battle of preferences), and the prisoners’ dilemma are introduced, with an extension to the mixed strategy Nash equilibrium. Next we turn to extensive form games in order to analyze dynamic games in which players move sequentially. The notion of a sub-game perfect Nash equilibrium is discussed, and the technique of backward induction is taught. Repeated interactions between players are then considered as we discuss both infinitely repeated games and finitely repeated games. Topics in public and environmental economics are introduced in order to apply these game theory concepts to situations pervaded by free-riding and collective action problems. Evolutionarily stable strategies are also discussed, allowing us to understand how repeated games can lead to the stability of social inequalities by class, gender, race, and ethnicity. The role of institutions (such as norms, customs, traditions, beliefs, and property rights) in maintaining these inequalities is discussed from a game theoretic standpoint. Lastly, we study situations of asymmetric information between players. We give specific references to issues of principal-agent problems, moral hazard, and adverse selection as applied to monitoring, signaling, and “lemons” markets. We will also discuss bargaining models. The course concludes with a critical analysis of the theories and assumptions used in game theory. In particular, students debate the usefulness of concepts of “rationality.”

ENGLISH (English) 290S Cyborgs in Literature & Beyond. The term “cyborg” was first coined in 1960 to refer to an organism with both biological and technological parts. In this class, we will trace the development of the idea of the cyborg, reaching back to before the term itself even emerged (including the work of Edgar Allen Poe and early science-fiction), through Donna Haraway’s seminal essay The Cyborg Manifesto (1984) and on to massive cultural phenomena such as Westworld and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Along the way, we will consider how cyborgs can help us think about our definitions of self. Where do our biological boundaries end and our technological selves begin, especially today? We will extend these same questions to the idea of literature – can the category itself be “expanded beyond normal human limitations” (to borrow from another dictionary definition) as science-fiction and digital forms of writing become mainstream? What can these new questions teach us? Later in the term, we will look beyond fictional depictions of cyborgs to the realm of real science, as new technological augmentation to humans emerges every day. We will examine the ways in which science fiction informs the way we talk about, and thus how we think about, both scientific research and science journalism, and their purposes. Texts will include short fiction, non-fiction, television, film, music, and a handful of novels. Assessment will be based upon weekly blog posts (included in participation, 200-250 words), one short paper (2-3 pages), one longer final paper (5-7 pages, with time dedicated to work on both in class), and an ongoing project of cataloguing cyborgs in pop culture and media. Gallin

ENGLISH (English) 490 Language and Social Identity. Whenever we hear someone speak, we inevitably make guesses about his or her gender, age, occupation, place or origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religion. We also often refer explicitly to the language and identity connection. For example, we talk of expressing our identity through our choice of vocabulary, or ‘losing’ our identity along with our regional accent when we enter a new environment such as college. In this course, we will draw on examples from the media, literature, the internet, pop culture, and politics to explore how speakers portray themselves to others through the use of language. We will also consider how language is talked about, and what assumptions people make about others based on how they speak. Students will be encouraged to bring their own examples to class for discussion. Baran

ENGLISH (English) 490 Intercultural Communication. This course introduces students to the theoretical and practical aspects of analyzing intercultural communication, which can be defined as any interaction between individuals or groups coming from different cultural backgrounds or contexts. Often, even when participants in an interaction are able to speak the same language fluently, culturally-specific cues and messages may be misread and misinterpreted by the speaker’s interlocutors. In this course, we will examine how such cultural misunderstandings come about and how people go about resolving and repairing them. We will do this by examining current approaches to the study of culture, communication, and identity, and by applying these to specific examples from existing research, media, and real-life situations. The course is intended to include student input, in that the students’ particular cultural backgrounds will be taken into account in the choice of contexts we will look at, and students will be invited to bring personal examples to the discussion table. In analyzing intercultural encounters, we will also study and apply sociolinguistic methods of discourse analysis, in particular conversation analysis (or CA), which has been developed to record, transcribe, and examine talk-in-interaction. Baran

LINGUIST (Linguistics) 490S Language and the Media: The NY Times to Twitter. The focus of this course is upon the linguistic analysis of texts – from the past and the present, including social media – with a view to understanding how they create, sustain, or challenge "common-sense" understandings of society and politics. English first-language speakers will be equipped with the tools to understand how *their own* language works in the media; second-language (L2) speakers will learn invaluable skills in identifying and understanding idiom, nuance, and rhetoric in both academic and media texts, thus offering preparation for undergraduate classes in a range of disciplines. If possible, writers from the Duke Office of News and Communications will visit class to engage students in a few intensive writing and analysis workshops. The instructor of this course has written for news outlets such as The Huffington Post, The London Guardian, The Seattle Times, The Taipei Times, and The News and Observer (of Raleigh, North Carolina). Price

LIT (Literature) 290S Contemporary Science Fiction. This course explores recent novels, short stories, and films in the robust genre of science fiction. We begin by surveying the history of science fiction and its relationship to scientific practice, enabling us to discuss and interpret contemporary examples through the genre’s traditional preoccupations, themes, and narrative strategies. We then concentrate on works that, exemplifying the major occupations of recent science fiction, will allow us to discuss how contemporary human civilizations might be impacted by scientific and technological developments, including interplanetary exploration and settlement, ecological apocalypse, alien encounters, and the consequences of artificial intelligence (AI). Throughout the course, we will consider what the value of science fiction is today, and what it tells us about our own time, even as it imagines the future. We will think about the many different aesthetic and intellectual choices contained within each work, and we will discuss how these narrative objects respond to their historical circumstances and imagine future ones. This course will consider the particularity of current human societies by comparing them to both alien and future human civilizations; by confronting a plethora of imagined civilizations, students will gain a better sense of what distinguishes contemporary life. We will discuss throughout this course the ethical questions raised by science fiction; indeed, a primary question in this class is how science fiction helps us reimagine and think through the political and ethical problems of our time. We will, for example, encounter the ethical dilemma we might face with the construction of AI (what counts as human?), and we will also discuss the ethics of bioengineering new organisms (to what extent should humans interfere with genetics?). Gaffney

LIT (Literature) 290S Theorizing Chaos. This course will examine how scientific paradigms shape our conceptions of reality and the terms we use to represent and understand that reality. Specifically, we will focus upon an evolving trajectory of cultural significations around the concept “chaos” in the wake of the emergence of “chaos theory” in the sciences. The emergence of chaos theory in the latter half of the twentieth century is a very significant cultural event because it marks a major scientific turning point. Prior to the insights derived from “chaos theory,” science understood the reality of the world according to mechanistic and immutable laws of nature according to the philosophies of Euclidean-space and Newtonian-movement. In order to assess how the emergence of chaos theory revolutionizes contemporary civilization’s understanding of chaos as positive, we consider it in the context of earlier civilizations that relegate “chaos” to the absence of coherence or meaning. Chaos theory radically complicates this paradigm by suggesting that dynamic systems are not incoherent aberrations from the laws of nature but are instead dynamically complex and highly ordered systems. In fact, this revolution in chaos theory echoes to other fields including technology and information sciences, literature, the arts, philosophy, politics, and religion as well. Some thinkers argue that chaos theory has ushered in “third wave civilization” which refers to a scientific paradigm invested in thinking through concepts including non-equilibrium, irreversible temporality, self-organization, spontaneous emergence, and process – in other words, that which has been entirely unknown in earlier civilizations until very recently. We will explore a range of cultural objects including novels, short stories, films, musical compositions, and architectural theory to assess the ways various disciplines theorize “chaos” in contemporary culture. We will focus on the social and political implications of how “chaos” functions as both theme and guiding structure across different mediums in different ways. This course does not focus on interpretations of the mathematical models and formulas that designate nonlinear dynamics. Instead, it expands its scope to interpret the cultural context which allows for the possibility of this kind of new scientific and epistemological framework to emerge. Chaos theory calls for new transdisciplinary assessments and interpretative frameworks for such phenomena as hurricanes, political movements, intracellular processes, economic cycles, fetal development, chemical reactions, internet sensations, geological formations, phase transitions, plant growth, the spread of disease, and more. Murtagh

MATH (Mathematics) 190S Mathematics of the Universe. This course will survey, in precise mathematical terms, what is known and not known about the universe, from special relativity, the big bang, and black holes to dark matter and theoretical astrophysics. Einstein's idea that "matter curves spacetime," which is the fundamental principle behind general relativity, requires a field of mathematics called differential geometry, for example. Students will learn special relativity and gain an introduction to general relativity. We will also study and discuss theories of dark matter, which makes up most of the mass of galaxies. Students will work problems in class and for homework, from calculus problems to performing boosts in special relativity. Boosts are linear transformations of the t-x spacetime. Students will relate the information presented in one person's frame of reference to another observer's frame of reference, and understand how to interpret both sets of information. All of the problems that we solve, in class and on homework, will be related to facts about the universe. Students will be able to explain the relationship between what is observed in the universe and the results of computations that they do. The pace and emphasis of the class will be highly influenced by the questions asked by the students. Mastery of single variable calculus is highly recommended. Bray

MATH (Mathematics) 190S Democracy and Game Theory. What is democracy? Using preferential ballots in elections is a natural idea since it allows voters to express a first choice, a second choice, a third choice, etc., on each ballot, thereby collecting more information from each voter and creating the potential for an outcome which better represents the voters. However, there are many ways to determine the winner of a preferential ballot election, and each “preferential ballot vote counting method” has its own game theory, both for the candidates and the voters, some better and some worse, and often very different from the game theory of the single vote ballot. So which preferential ballot vote counting method is the best? Does there exist a vote counting method which incentivizes politicians to seek out centrist, consensus building positions and to focus on issues important to voters, more than game theoretic tactics meant to manipulate the electorate? Or is there another goal we should be pursuing? In this course, we will use game theory and mathematics to study these questions. Bray

SCISOC (Science and Society) 290S Science, Media & Perception. We are constantly bombarded with science coverage in our media – through flashy videos on YouTube, articles on Slate, or even debates in friends’ comment threads on Facebook. There are major pushes to close the “gap” between scientists and the public, which should improve science perception—yet we see many accounts of science denial or warped views. Why with more communication do we get more pushback? What accounts for this disconnect? 
From GMOs to climate change, AI to precision medicine, the way science is presented to the world has a strong role in how people interpret it and construct their own views. In this course, students will examine how media and science communication participate in the way people consume scientific content and develop their perception of scientific information, which contributes to choices we make and beliefs we hold. We will discuss different forms of science communication and media, analyze examples of current coverage of breaking scientific topics, and evaluate the effects they have on people’s perception of science, ultimately proposing guidelines to reduce some of the issues we see in media coverage of science. At the end of this course, students will have a thorough understanding of how science media coverage impacts our perception of science, the choices we make, and how we construct our scientific worldview based on values. They will also be able to distinguish between informative and manipulative media coverage and identify ways to judge the effect certain media coverage could have in regard to public perception of science. Students will be able to see how science media and the perception it creates have a strong effect on the relationship between science and society. This will empower students to think critically about information they encounter in the world, evaluate its merit, and make informed decisions. A combination of online articles and book passages will be used to guide this course, including “The Science People See on Social Media” by Peter Hitlin from the Pew Research Center; “How the news media activate public expression and influence national agendas” by Gary King, Benjamin Schneer, and Ariel White; and passages from The Age of Propaganda by Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson, Worldviews by Richard DeWitt, and one or more selections from bestsellers by Daniel Levitin. A combination of news articles on current scientific events will also be used to attach the concepts we learn to the world. Eily

THEATRST (Theater Studies) 290S Creating Arts Access. This course will focus attention on the opportunities for the arts (theaters, museums, galleries, concert venues, school programs, etc.) to increase the participation of persons with disabilities and to include persons with disabilities as part of the discussions for increasing diversity. The course will explore the changing societal values with regards to including access for persons with disabilities and examine arts access as both an ethical/societal obligation as well as an opportunity. The course will study the various ways in which arts presenters have improved arts access since the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990; similar to the concept of "universal design," the course will explore concepts and means of providing universal arts access. The service learning component of the course will include working with local arts organizations or venues (or arts components of broader organizations) to assess their accessibility and assist with developing programs to improve their accessibility. The course is a service-learning course. Students will work with the DADA project – Durham Audio Described Art – a project designed to provide some arts accessibility for people who are blind or with very low vision. Students will learn audio description skills and draft and then record audio descriptions of visual art In Durham.  http://acb.org/adp/dadaproject.html. Ellison

Term 2, 6-week Courses (July 1-August 11)

CULANTH (Cultural Anthropology) 290 Anthropological Perspectives on Activism & Social Justice. What does it mean to be an activist or to work for social justice? This course investigates the social movements of our day in order to understand the work of activists and the social worlds they advocate to change. The kinds of activism and social movements that will be discussed put cultural and social worlds in comparative perspective. For example, we will explore activism as a social construct and look at how people organize to change their communities or arbitrate between different community values that are at odds. This course draws heavily from methodologies of critique developed in the disciplines of Cultural Anthropology and Cultural Studies. This course will encourage students to explore their own social commitments and what it means for them to be engaged and active participants in the world. In addition to critical engagement with writing about social movements, there will also be a service-learning component of this course. Students will learn how to use the ethnographic research method of participant observation in a Triangle-based community activist organization to produce a community-based research project. Course readings and activities are designed to help students critically reflect on dimensions of their community-based research project within the broader ethical, cultural, and theoretical questions of social justice. Hung

CULANTH (Cultural Anthropology) 290S Kinship, Bodies & Relatedness. Kinship has been central to anthropological inquiry since the origins of the discipline and has been viewed as key to understanding questions of personhood and power in society. For many, kinship can evoke warm feelings of intimacy, caring, and love. However, kinship—and the family—are also ideological sites that naturalize gendered forms of domination. This course will examine the role of relatedness as a fundamental aspect of social organization. Beginning with foundational anthropological theories on kinship, we will consider how these ideas were altered by the feminist challenge of the 1970s. We will then look at how kinship has been reconfigured by changes in modern technology, the emergence of queer identities, and the increasing importance of non-human intimacies in our lives. Finally, in an age when the earth's destruction looms ever closer on the horizon, we will ask what forms of relatedness we might practice to honor humans' indebtedness to diverse non-human kin. Miller

ENGLISH (English) 110S Intro to Creative Writing: Nonfiction Hybrid Form.
“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”  Anaïs Nin
Some of the most exciting artistic creations in the twenty-first century involve experimental work that crosses definitional boundaries and explores multiple literary genres. Prose and lyric (the personal essay), poetry and performance (spoken word, the music video), visual media with text (film, graphic narratives, pictorial poetry) are just some of the ways that artists today are using innovative, hybrid forms. The word hybrid comes from the Latin term hybrida, meaning mongrel or the “offspring of a tame sow and a wild boar.” This course invites you to explore the ways you might tell stories (your own or those that compel you) in wild and imaginative ways, using multiple artistic genres. In order to become familiar with contemporary artists that effectively employ hybrid forms, we will explore cross-disciplinary nonfiction by writers like Maggie Nelson, Agnes Varda, Teju Cole, Claudia Rankine, Joe Sacco, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Joe Brainard, Eve L. Ewing, Julie Doucet, and others. Throughout the course, we will discuss a number of techniques and skills involved in the process of creative writing—from generating inspiration to fine-tuning the craft of self-editing and publication. Throughout our journey we will also acknowledge the tenuous dialogue between standard “rules” for artistry and how or when to break them. Most importantly, we will develop insight together for understanding a wild, untamable definition of the literary in order to cultivate a deeper capacity for human expression and its radical possibilities. There will be a number of in-class writing exercises and short, creative writing assignments that will lead up to and compose the majority of a final portfolio and an end-of-term class reading. No prior experience necessary. Stark

ENGLISH (English) 290S Summer Chillers. Ghost stories, murder mysteries, love stories with dark twists, noirs—the typical summer reading list contains some pretty grim stuff. Why do we have such fun reading scary, bloody books? In this course we will read four short Summer Chillers, each of which has considerable literary merit: Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon, Sarah Waters’s The Little Stranger, and John Le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. We will investigate the qualities that make these books both thrilling and deserving of literary study. Without good reading there can be no good writing; but good reading is not enough to guarantee the quality of your written work. And so, besides reading and talking about the books and movies on the syllabus, you will be asked to write about them. In addition to a certain amount of informal writing done in class, you will be asked to compose three essays, the longest of which will be 10 pages, double-spaced. All of your essays will be revised at least once, in consultation with me and your classmates. When this course ends you will be a better reader and a better writer—and that is its own reward. Striker

LIT (Literature) 190S CIA, Spies, Russiagate. The sleeper agent, the double agent, the mole, the handler, the asset, the cover, the agent provocateur – these terms and others are common lexicon in reference to espionage. Once MAD (mutual assured destruction) ensured that the U.S. and the Soviet Union could not engage in direct military warfare, the spy became a central point of “cold” contact between enemies. Yet if the “cold” conflict ended in 1991, why was the former double agent Sergei Skripkal poisoned with Novichok nerve agent in March 2018? This course will examine how the spy figure indexes the cultural sentiments of the Cold War from the 1940s to the present day. We will maneuver through the most spectacularized—yet invisible—metaphor of undeclared, cold conflict. By the end of the course, students will be able to examine the most recent manifestation of U.S.-Russian conflict: #Russiagate. This course will discuss the relationship between the social and political histories of Cold War and post-Cold War cultural production and exchange between genres in the U.S., and also the articulation of citizenship identities. This course will closely compare various cultural objects and forms across these two historico-political epochs to track Cold War legacies. Specifically, this course will examine differences in culture and cultural exchange that create, regulate, rationalize, and resist past and contemporary narratives of citizenship and enmity. Further, this course examines the ethical questions at the center of nationalist narratives represented in cultural and scholarly texts from hegemonic and marginalized U.S. communities, comparing such narratives from the twentieth century with those of the twenty-first century. Gokhberg

PUBPOL (Public Policy Studies) 290S Writing for Public Policy. This is an online course. Every student of public policy needs to write clearly, succinctly, and with conviction. This course is a writing class designed to teach the basics of the forms of writing that are likely to be used by public policy students when they enter the work world. These include letters to the editor, op-eds, policy briefs, memos, executive summaries, speeches, committee reports, grant proposals, and other relevant documents. Assignments, incorporating editing and rewriting opportunities, include four short (2-5 pages) papers and one long (15 pages) paper. Class members will participate in an online chat room and in online meetings with one another. Everyone will have the opportunity to work on personal strengths and weaknesses and to design a project relevant to work or an internship. Weddington

PUBPOL (Public Policy Studies) 290S Free Speech, Hate Speech, No Speech: The First Amendment in a Changing Society. This is an online course. Centered upon the fundamentals of understanding the First Amendment in relation to speech, this course utilizes case histories focusing on the evolution of control of speech in American culture. Students will learn what hate speech is and when it is legal and when not.  Students will discuss political correctness in speech especially on college campuses. Students will identify and understand both classic and contemporary examples of free speech through case studies and current literature. Organized around extensive readings, this class will be conducted through online lectures, scheduled chat room, and peer group meetings through a Sakai site. Graded work will include one op-ed (3 pages) and one in-depth analysis of a historical case about free speech (20 pages). Weddington

PUBPOL (Public Policy Studies) 290S Whistleblowing & Anonymity. This is an online course. Whistleblowing, a phenomenon practiced throughout American political history, is an established and legally protected way for employees or other concerned parties to bring social injustices and disparities to public light. The course explains this aspect of the legal system and its relationship to labor, economics, and politics. Attention will be given to investigating the history of whistleblowing by examining key cases, particularly those that have resulted in political change. We will also examine whistleblowing in different cultures and why it is not always in the context of white corporate America. We will also examine and ponder why whistleblowing is increasingly anonymous. By the end of the class, students will identify and understand what whistleblowing is and is not by reading case studies and current literature. The question of whether and when to be a whistleblower is an ethical issue that will also be given consideration. This course is set in professional, historical, and policy contexts. Graded work will include papers, journals, and participation in a chat room; no final exam will be given. Weddington

 

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