Fall 2019 First-Year Seminars

What Now? The Ancient Mind (CZ)

Understanding who we are now demands understanding where we came from; the study of the ancient mind is thus one of the most challenging and fascinating research activities regarding Homo sapiens and human society and requires a multidisciplinary approach. This is possible through dialogue between neurosciences and the humanities, particularly connecting the study of art and material culture with cultural models, cultural patterns and the evolution of the brain. The class aims to open new perspectives in the study of the past and in the intersection of the brain sciences, humanities, archaeology, anthropology, art, philosophy, aesthetics and visual studies. Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.

Professor: Maurizio Forte

Maurizio Forte, Ph.D. (University of Rome), is William and Sue Gross Professor of Classical Studies. His expertise includes digital archaeology, classical archaeology and neuro-archaeology.




What Now? Discovering the Tree of Life (NS)

55 years ago Zukerkandl and Pauling discovered that genes behave much like a ticking clock, with mutations marking the seconds as they pass.  The longer it has been since a species is formed, the larger percent divergence is observed between the DNA in its genes and its closest relatives.  The improvements at sequencing DNA starting in 1980 has allowed Scientists to discover the “family tree” of much of Life’s Diversity, coming close to achieving a “Holy Grail” for Evolutionary Biologists.  In this seminar, we will begin by exploring the amazing story behind confirming the closest relatives to humans — a story which includes data falsification and the destruction of hopes and careers.  We will have regular debates and use as our guide David Quammen’s new book “The Tangled Tree.” Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.

Professor: Cliff Cunningham

Cliff Cunningham, Ph.D. (Yale University), is a Full Professor of Biology, one of the pioneers of using DNA to discover the “Family Tree” of animals.  His interests include the “Trans-Arctic Invasion” of Pacific marine animals into the North Atlantic after the first opening of the Bering Strait.  He likes to promote scientific synthesis and sing 70’s style folk music. 




Think Molecules! How Molecules Produce Life: Discussion and Laboratory for the Unfamiliar (NS)

How do incredibly tiny things like membranes, proteins, RNA, DNA, look, act, and produce life? You will explore through discussion and hands-on experiments how life’s molecules are born, shaped, and work. You will create membranes from their components, unwind and rewind DNA, unfold and re-fold a protein. You will connect molecular structure with self-assembly and function. You will "see" DNA replicate inside cells, DNA make RNA, and RNA make protein, the foundations of all life. The ideas learned are used to discuss origin-of-life scenarios. Grading is based on interest and occasional written tests. Available if you have not yet taken Bio 201/202 and if you don't have Bio 20 or 21 (AP) credit. Click here for more information about Think Molecules.

Professor: Daniele Armaleo

Daniele Armaleo, Ph.D. (Duke University), is an Associate Professor of the Practice of Biology. His teaching and research interests include developmental and molecular biology.




Imperial Women of Rome (ALP, CZ, CCI)

This seminar explores the life and afterlife of Agrippina the Younger (AD 15-59), Rome's most ambitious and powerful woman but who was resented, reviled, and finally killed by her son and emperor Nero. Besides reading and discussing the striking historical accounts of her by Tacitus, Suetonius and others, we will evaluate other sources of her period: coins on which she was depicted (the first living woman to be identified and portrayed on a coin!), inscriptions honoring her, and sculptures representing her. We also delve into Roman laws and customs, those barring Roman women from holding political positions or serving in the military, and others advocating child-bearing and parenthood. We end with knowing the possibilities, restraints, actions, and reputation of this impressive woman - who would have been perfect for "Game of Thrones" - and a deeper understanding of the history of women. Taught in translation.

Professor Tolly Boatwright

Tolly Boatwright, Ph.D. (University of Michigan at Ann Arbor), is a Professor of Classical Studies. Her research and teaching interests are in Roman history, especially the social and political history of the Empire; Roman women; topography of Rome; Rome's northern frontiers; and Latin historiography.




What Now? Activism and Social Change (CZ, SS, CCI, EI)

This class focuses on the challenges of creating a more just world through organizing, protest, and activism both in the US and worldwide. Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.

Professor: Orin Starn

Orin Starn, Ph.D. (Stanford University), is Professor of Cultural Anthropology and History. He has wide-ranging interests including Latin America, Native North America, social movements and indigenous politics, sports and society, and the history of anthropology.  His most recent book, "The Shining Path: Love, Madness, and Revolution in the Andes" (W.W. Norton, 2019, with Miguel La Serna) tells the story of a brutal Peruvian guerrilla insurgency. 




What Now? Hip Hop, Civil Rights, & the Pursuit for Purpose (ALP, CZ, CCI, EI)

This course will investigate Hip Hop’s ascension to the number one musical genre in America, the ensuing societal implications, and its origins in the Civil Rights Movement. Students will also analyze lesser known Civil Rights Movement history and historical figures. Lastly, students will use the medium of Hip Hop and Civil Rights to scrutinize, ascertain, and search for the purpose of life. Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.

Professor: Martin Smith

Martin P. Smith, Ph.D. (The University of Texas at Austin), blazed his own path by first fusing his passion for education and sport at the University of California at Berkeley. He earned his bachelor’s (‘06) and master’s (‘07) degrees in education while playing basketball for the Golden Bears. At Berkeley, he won the 2006 Jake Gimbell Award which honors the student most committed to academic and athletic excellence. In pursuit of his passions, Dr. Smith has traveled extensively, directing basketball clinics in China, the Philippines, and Panama. Furthermore, he was the Lead Teacher’s Assistant at the University of Cape Town, South Africa facilitating a course examining the effects of apartheid and American segregation on contemporary Black, urban economic development. He then conducted post-doctoral research in Spanish at the Mesoamerica Center in Antigua, Guatemala, studying the amalgamation of race, culture, education, and athletics before joining the faculty at Duke University. His work has been published in The Journal of Urban Education and The Journal of Race, Gender and Class. Dr. Smith’s research interests include racial, academic, and athletic identity, and he is passionate about examining how identity contributes to and influences social change.




What Now? Education as Liberation: Ethics, Organizing, and Equity (CZ, SS)

How do communities, schools, and neighborhoods organize for social change? How do individuals organize their own commitments and energies to change themselves and the world around them? This course examines education as a component of collective liberation in the contemporary United States through themes of ethics, community organizing, and educational equity. It will introduce central philosophical and practical approaches to political organizing, help students develop skills in understanding and critiquing school segregation and resegregation in the US, and enable students to locate their own commitments, callings, and aptitudes within a variety of liberative accounts of social change. Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.

Professor: Adam Hollowell

Adam Hollowell, Ph.D. (University of Edinburgh) serves as Senior Research Associate at the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity and Faculty Director of the Benjamin N. Duke Memorial Scholarship Program. His teaching and research focus broadly on ethics, religion, race, and public policy. 




Climate Change: Causes, Consequences, and Solutions (NS, STS)

Climate change is one of the defining challenges facing humanity today. The goal of this first-year seminar is to develop a comprehensive and integrated view of contemporary climate change. The first half of the course will examine our current understanding of the science of climate change, and explore the potential societal consequences of a changing climate. The second half of the course will focus on potential solutions, with a focus on technological, political, and social challenges that will have to be overcome to mitigate and adapt to climate change. More broadly, the course seeks to develop intellectual, academic, and learning skills by engaging students in active inquiry, critical analysis, and discussion of competing ideas.

Professor: Prasad S. Kasibhatla

Prasad Kasibhatla, Ph.D. (University of Kentucky), is Professor of Environmental Chemistry. The overarching theme of his research is to develop a fundamental and quantitative understanding of the factors that determine the chemical composition of the atmosphere. He is particularly interested in delineating natural and anthropogenic impacts on the chemical composition of the atmosphere, and in exploring the potential for these impacts to affect natural ecosystems. His research involves the use of numerical models in conjunction with remote and in situ measurements of atmospheric composition.



The Impact of Sound on Marine Mammals (Codes Forthcoming)

To understand the current impacts of anthropogenic sound on marine mammals, we will study the impact of sonar on the movements, behavior, and survival of individual whales around the world. To frame this discussion, we will explore the impact of Navy sonar on a family of cryptic deep-diving whales known as beaked whales. We will investigate the story of a mass stranding of beaked whales in the Bahamas in 2000, and discuss how that incident led to a world-wide research program investigating the impacts of sonar. We will examine how different species are impacted, the techniques that researchers are using to study these impacts, and what these studies mean for other cases of acoustic disturbance in whales and dolphins—like offshore exploration for oil and gas. By studying the stories, the science, and the legal issues surrounding this impact, students will learn what is at stake as humans continue extracting resources from our oceans. We will take advantage of the Duke Marine Lab for a weekend field trip.

Professor: Robert S. Schick
Robert S. Schick, Ph.D. (Duke University), is a Research Scientist with the Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab in the Nicolas School of the Environment at Duke University.



What Now? Telling Time in a Hectic Age (CZ, EI, W)

In this class, we will think critically about time in both our communal and personal lives. Looking at issues such as incarceration, religion, environmental policy, gender and racial inequalities, and public decision-making, as well as time-management, productivity, and work-life balance, we will consider different conceptions of time, what it is for, and how to use it well. Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.

Professor: Mari Jørstad

Mari Joerstad is a research associate at the Kenan Institute for Ethics. A religious studies scholar by training, her research interests include ecological readings of the Bible, environmental justice, and land and migration.



What Now? The Science of a Happy and Meaningful Life (EI, W)

This course will examine recent discoveries in the scientific study of happiness, and place the idea of happiness within historical and cultural context. The course will integrate findings from sociology, psychology, economics, anthropology and the natural sciences (neuroscience, biology, behavioral genetics) to explore questions about happiness. We will discuss how happiness is defined and measured, and whether and why some individuals and cultures experience more happiness than others.  Most importantly, we will try to translate this literature into an understanding that can help class members have more meaningful, happier lives. Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.

Professor: Lynn Smith-Lovin

Lynn Smith-Lovin, Ph.D. (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), is the Robert L. Wilson Professor of Sociology. She studies emotion, identity, and action, and is interested in the question of how identities affect social interaction.




What Now? Happiness and Freedom (CZ, EI)

An examination of three important concepts from moral and political philosophy and the relations between them: (1) the notion of a good life, (2) the notion of being autonomous or self-directing, and (3) the notion of personal freedom. Happiness is considered as one (but not the only) approach to a good life. We will also examine moral dilemmas that can arise when these values conflict. Readings will be both historical (Aristotle, Mill) and contemporary (Berlin, Frankfurt, Feinberg, Nussbaum, Nozick, Haidt) and may include some literary works as well. Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.

Professor: Jennifer Hawkins

Jennifer Hawkins, Ph.D. (Princeton University), is Associate Research Professor in the Department of Philosophy in Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and a core faculty member of the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine. Her research interests in philosophy focus on well-being, happiness, theories of emotion, practical reason, and notions of self. Her interests in medical ethics are focused on disability, the care of patients with dementia, assessment of decision-making capacity, psychiatric illness, and the nature of suffering. In her spare time she reads amazing kids literature with her children.



What Now? Serious Play (ALP, CZ)

The core disciplines in universities have historically devoted themselves to the study of ‘serious’ things: the origins and nature of the physical universe, the structure of the human mind and the explanation of behavior, the history of civilizations and the foundations of law, the regulation of the economy, the question of the existence of deities, and myriad questions about, literally, life and death. Even when scholars enquired about leisure activities, they tended to focus on the serious ones: drama not humor, ballet not sports, classical music not folk or improvised music, harmony not rhythm, games for childhood development not for fun. In short, until very recently, serious enquiry has almost always looked down on anything involving play or playfulness. This course, in contrast, will be a serious enquiry into the nature and value of play, playfulness, games, sports, humor, magic, and the things that make popular culture pop. As a serious enquiry, the course will also serve as an introduction to philosophical analysis, logical argumentation, critical reasoning, and scientific method. Readings will range from the works of Greek and Chinese philosophers in the 4th and 5th centuries BCE, to Netflix stand-up comedy specials, and the latest theories of neuroscientists, cognitive psychologists, and video-game designers. Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.

Professor: Wayne Norman

Wayne Norman is the Mike and Ruth Mackowski Professor of Ethics in the Kenan Institute for Ethics and the Department of Philosophy at Duke University. He specializes in business ethics and political philosophy: his work in business ethics includes critical evaluations of stakeholder theory, corporate citizenship, corporate social responsibility, the so-called “triple bottom line”, and conflicts of interest; and his work in political philosophy includes nationalism, citizenship, constitutionalism, federalism, secession, and multiculturalism.




What Now? Virtuous Thinking in an Age of Political Polarization (EI, W)
Americans today live in a time of political polarization and cultural tribalism. Those with whom we have deep disagreements, assuming we interact with them at all, are often viewed as not just wrong but as irrational and immoral. Is this a good thing? What sort of habits of mind (e.g. intellectual humility and charity) and practices should we cultivate in response to this reality? In her concession speech, Hillary Clinton asked her supporters to keep an “open mind” with respect to the coming Trump presidency, but what exactly does that mean? What shouldn’t it mean? Using social and political science literature, this course will examine the current phenomenon of political “partyism” and cultural segregation in our society. Using moral philosophy, the class will address the question of the proper ethical response to deep political disagreements. Authors may include some of the following: Amy Chua, Cass Sunstein, Kathryn Schulz, Shanto Iyengar, John Stuart Mill, David Brooks, and Alan Jacobs. Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.
Professor: John Schendel Rose
John Rose, Ph.D. (Princeton Seminary), is Associate Director of the Arete Initiative and Instructor at the Kenan Institute for Ethics. His research and teaching interests include the tradition of virtue ethics, particularly Aristotle, and Christian philosophy and theology, with an emphasis on Augustine and Aquinas.




What Now? Composing Oneself: Stress, Identity & Wellness (ALP, SS, EI, W)

How do we find composure amidst countless stressors in our lives? Answering that question well requires inquiry across disciplines as well as hands-on experience. This course offers exploration into the arts and sciences of stress, identity, and wellness: What are structural causes of stress and how do they impact our sense of self and community ethics? What can arts of wellness, including yoga, mindfulness, and art-based therapies tell us about how we experience who we are, how we function, and how we act with others? How does stress impact us physiologically? This course will employ writing both as a method and object of study for the exploration of stress, identity, and wellness. Composing Oneself includes hands-on experience with stress-reducing wellbeing strategies, theoretical and research-based texts, and nonfiction, fiction, poetry, art, and performance. The writing component includes a semester-long blog (visible only to class members) for reflection on wellness practices, a book review about wellness, and a final project about stress, identity, and wellness. Each student chooses their own final project content (i.e., music and wellness; compassion and race; illness and art therapies; Wall Street and mindfulness, etc.) and format (i.e., a musical composition; a visual artifact such as a scrapbook or photographic essay; a research-based essay, etc.). Course includes opportunities to visit relevant art exhibits, attend related performances, and engage in meaningful interactions with other students, staff, and faculty on campus working in associated areas of research and practice. Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.

Professors: Denise Comer and Christian Ferney

Denise Comer, Ph.D. (University of South Carolina), is Associate Professor of the Practice of Writing Studies. Her research and teaching interests include narrative medicine, new media, travel writing, writing pedagogy, and writing transfer. 

Christian Ferney, Ph.D. (Duke University), is a program director at the Kenan Institute for Ethics. He oversees university-wide ethics initiatives, ethics curriculum development, and the KIE alumni network. His teaching and research interests include sociology, ethics, globalization, and nationalism. 




The French Difference (ALP, CZ, CCI)

Are cultures and thought in French distinctive in any way? The seminar will debate this question by investigating 3 key models that characterize the arts de vivre across Francophone communities.

  • A Universal Language? Une Langue de partage? We’ll explore the dream to unite people through le français, the myths it spawns, and the creative writing it generates world-wide: Dai Sijie, Balzac et la Petite tailleuse chinoise, Mlle de Graffigny, Lettres d’une péruvienne, Leïla Sebbar and Nancy Huston, Lettres parisiennes.
  • Free Love. A social art? A personal declaration of desire? We’ll study experimental works that shape the idea of love as the ultimate test--and expression--of freedom: the Tristan romance, the scandalous Liaisons Dangereuses of Choderlos de Laclos (extracts of letter-novel and film), and the prize-winning reflection of same-sex eros adn friendship: Ce que aimer veut dire of Mathieu Lindon. 
  • Combat. In the streets, on line, or in print, thousands choose to occupy public space, strike, demonstrate. We'll examine protest in all its forms by studying Zola’s Germinal [extracts of novel],  Sembène’s Le Docker noir [film], as well as songs, poetry, and performance from the long tradition of student movements [Algeria 2019; Paris 1968].

This seminar will initiate students into thinking critically; and helps strengthen both written and spoken expression through the study of major works. Seminar conducted in French.

Professor: Helen Solterer

Helen Solterer, Ph.D. (University of Toronto), is a Professor of French Studies. Her research and teaching focus on pre-modern vernacular literature and culture, and its interplay with twentieth-century and contemporary thought




Girls on Film (ALP, CZ, CCI, W) 

For the last thirty years, the figure of the girl gained a new visibility in global visual culture. Girls are "hypervisible" and this visibility is accompanied by an intense attention to girls' lives and the cultural meanings that move through them. This first-year seminar will explore how the girl appears in contemporary films from around the world. Drawing upon the fields of girls' studies and feminist film theory, we will think about what happens when girls are placed at the visual and narrative center of cinematic representations and chart their connections to the possibilities for and restrictions placed upon girls and young women in the cultural/national contexts upon which the films reflect. How can films such as Crooklyn (1992 U.S.), The Virgin Suicides (1999 U.S.) The Day I Became a Woman (2000 Iran), Whale Rider (2002 New Zealand), The Holy Girl (2004 Argentina), and Wadja (2012 Saudi Arabia) be understood in feminist terms? What do these films tell us about girls' place and participation in a global economy? How do these films--and the girls they represent--negotiate the traditional expectation that the girl serves as visual object that helps create feelings of familial, racial, and national belonging and contemporary emphasis on girls' power and agency in global consumer culture? 

Professor: Kimberly Lamm

Kimberly Lamm, Ph.D. (University of Washington), is an Associate Professor of Women’s Studies.  Her research fields include contemporary feminist art, contemporary poetry, feminist theory, and 19th- and 20th-century US Literature. Increasingly, her research and teaching interests are drawn to the styles, objects, and practices that can be identified by and through the term "femininity," which has led to her interest in girl cultures and fashion.



What Now? Good Advice: Self-Help from the Stoics to Silicon Valley (ALP, CZ, EI)

How do people survive and thrive in challenging, high-risk environments? This seminar seeks answers to this question in the long cultural history of good advice from different societies, such as the Roman Empire, the Viking world, the Renaissance court, modern capitalist economies, and our competitive and uncertain society today. By reading handbooks in the demanding art of living from the Stoics to Silicon Valley, we will consider the shifting strategies used to avert danger, remain calm, overcome loss, and organize a successful, satisfying, and dignified life under difficult and volatile circumstances. What are the premises, aims, and arguments of books of advice for the anxious and the ambitious across periods and countries, from the Ancient world to the age of Amazon.comPart of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.

Professor: Jakob Norberg

Jakob Norberg, Ph.D. (Princeton University), is Associate Professor of Germanic Languages and Literature. His research explores conceptions of community in German and Scandinavian thought and literature.  




Monumental Accounts: Rendering the Past in Concrete Forms (CZ, CCI)

Exploration of the roles that commemoration plays within societies. To what extent, and in what ways, do monuments or memorials help us to access the past? Does the study of commemorative sites tell us more about the persons and events they were intended to represent or about the circumstances and processes surrounding their creation? Through close examination of public landscapes, primarily in divided and united Germany as well as the United States, this seminar will investigate the relationship between history and memory, paying particular attention to the narratives attached to monuments or other memorial forms. Participants will critically interrogate the completeness of these accounts, asking for example, whether they have changed (or been reinterpreted) over time. The seminar will focus on sites constructed during the post-World War II period, including East German antifascist memorials, the Berlin Holocaust memorial and the 9/11 Memorial among others, but will also consider recent debates about US Civil War monuments, placing them in historical context. Readings include works by scholars such as James E. Young, Bill Niven and Erika Doss.

Professor: Kristen Dolan

Kristen Dolan, Ph.D. (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) is an Instructor in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literature. Her interests include twentieth-century German history and cultural memory as well as the various processes through which societies seek to come to terms with the past.



Middle Passages (CZ, SS, CCI, R, W)

Middle Passages offers to first-year students the opportunity to conduct original research about the greatest pre-1870 human migration in history: the forced migration of African captives across the Atlantic to the Americas. The instructor will guide students to ask their own questions about the Middle Passage, then to use primary sources to explore and (when possible) answer those questions. Instructor and students will avail themselves of the wealth of newly accessible on-line primary sources, as well as published sources. Although the seminar stresses primary sources, it will also acquaint students with a range of published scholarship about the Middle Passage

Professor: Janet Ewald

Janet Ewald, Ph.D. (University of Wisconsin, Madison), is an Associate Professor of History. Her teaching and research interest is in African history.




U.S. History in Fact and Fiction (CZ, SS, EI, R)

Exploration of the busy intersections of race and politics in US history, with particular focus on the making of white supremacy and the rise of industrial capitalism. Course uses academic monographs, novels, and films to examine how historians and others tell stories of the past. Original research will draw on sources from Rubenstein Library to help students hone their own narratives and perspectives. Authors and directors may include some of the following: Mat Johnson, Jill Lepore, Ralph Ellison, Oliver Stone.

Professor: Adriane Lentz-Smith

Adriane Lentz-Smith, Ph.D. (Yale University), is an Associate Professor of History. Her research and teaching interests lie in African American history, twentieth-century United States History, and the history of the US & the World. She is also interested in how African Americans engaged the world in the age of Cold War civil rights, and how their participation in the project of US state and empire set the horizons of their freedom struggles.



Sounding Latinx: Literature, Listening, and Ethnoracial Othering in the U.S. (ALP, CCI)

In this introductory course, we will explore the intersections between literature and practices of listening to sounds, accents, speech styles, and musics produced about and by Latino/a/x communities in the United States. We will investigate the crucial role that both the aural and the written have had in constructing and measuring race and culture. Similarly, we will delve into Latino/a/x resistance to cultural and ethnoracial othering. We will undertake these critical explorations by reading novels, short stories, and poetry, listening to podcasts and radio shows, watching movies, and going on a field trip to a local radio station. As part of their assignments, students will contribute sound recordings to the Sonic Dictionary, create their own sonic productions using different digital platforms, and compose writings across digital media for a general audience.

Professor: Silvia Serrano
Silvia Serrano, Ph.D. (Duke University), is an instructor of Romance Studies specializing in nineteenth and twentieth century Latin American cultural and literary studies. 




Game Theory and Democracy (QS, STS, R)

What is democracy? More specifically, how does one create rules for elections which have outcomes most consistent with democratic values? The magnitude of the game theory of the single vote ballot in democracies that use it is huge: the two-party system, the need for political primaries, obstacles facing 3rd party candidates, and how voters are “throwing their votes away” when they vote for them. This is not inherent to democracy. This is the game theory of the single vote ballot. Alternatively, using preferential ballots in elections is a natural idea since it allows voters to express a 1st choice, a 2nd choice, a 3rd 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’ll use game theory and mathematics to study these questions.

Professor: Hubert Bray

Hubert L. Bray, Ph.D. (Stanford University), is a Professor of Mathematics and Physics. His teaching and research interests include geometric analysis, general relativity, and theoretical astrophysics. His interests include black holes, dark matter, and the curvature of spacetime.




Composers of Influence (ALP, CCI)

Throughout the history of the arts in Western civilization,  certain individuals stand out whose achievements seem to propel the very nature of their respective art forward.  They are said to stretch its boundaries by manipulating its raw materials in ways not conceived of prior to their time.  These artists end up exerting enormous influence on others - those working in the same field and the culture in general.  This course examines the lives and works of specific composers who have had an unusually powerful influence in the process, informing us a great deal about music's path through the ages.  It may also yield insights into the nature of influence and progress themselves.  Composers to be studied are J.S. Bach, Beethoven, Wagner, and Stravinsky.

Professor: Harry Davidson

Harry Davidson, M.Mus. (Pacific Lutheran University), is a Professor of the Practice of Music and Director of the Duke Symphony Orchestra. He made his major orchestra debut conducting the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. He has guest conducted numerous professional and conservatory ensembles, including the Charlotte Symphony, the Akron Symphony, and the Cleveland Institute of Music and Oberlin College Conservatory orchestras. His teaching and research interests include orchestral conducting, opera conducting, and music history.




Making Music Today (ALP)
You might occasionally go to a concert -- and might know about the wealth of live performances offered at Duke through the activities of a talented friend or roommate.  There is so much going on at Duke, and students’ schedules are so busy, finding out which event to attend, and how to do so intelligently, can be daunting. In signing up for Making Music Today, you are asked to “imagine a class where some sessions were cancelled and replaced with occasional evening attendance at events…” and to “imagine learning something about a world-class performance before you attend, and have the chance to talk about it.” This is precisely what we will be doing in Making Music Today.  The course is intended to offer an enjoyable, introductory forum to explore both a variety of musical styles, and some entrée into the ways musicians are creating music and discussing today’s field, in the context of a pluralistic, global education.  Along the way, you’ll also be gaining writing skills and aesthetic understanding—not to mention facts about musical sound, forms of expression, and cultural movements.  An additional purpose of the course is to introduce you to the rich and civilized concert life at Duke you will hopefully want to explore during your years of study.

A few topics we’ll be discussing: How do musical artists live in the world of today, and yet also come fromsomewhere? How does a wonderful jazz singer remain rooted in tradition, and address an audience who has grown up on Hip-hop? If s/he creates hybrid music, how long does it remain so? What is does it mean for music to be classical in India, or in Western Europe? And what is the importance of the classical arts, anyway? If arts are fundamentally important to humanity, why? How is chamber music collaborative? And is it really true that classical music has little improvisation, whereas jazz is all improvised How is technology changing the way we create music? No previous background in music is required.  By the time you complete Making Music Today, you’ll know something about music, and become an informed listener.
Professor: Stephen Jaffe
Stephen Jaffe, M.A. (University of Pennsylvania), is Mary and James H. Semans Professor of Composition in the Department of Music at Duke. An active composer, his music is performed and recorded all over the world. Professor Jaffe loves to teach “Making Music Today” with the involved assistance of one of Duke’s graduate fellows, in effect bringing together three generations of students around the bounty of musical study.



The Sounds and Music of the Blockbuster (ALP, CZ, W)
A most successful and popular genre in cinema, the blockbuster has a long history that goes back well before the invention of cinema at the end of the nineteenth century. This class will introduce students to the many facets of the blockbuster. Among these, epic movies with mythical/historical background (Lord of the RingsTroy, Gladiator…), the “big disaster” movies that rose during the 1970s (The Towering InfernoEarthquake…) and are still thriving nowadays through the themes of contagion and zombie invasions (I Am LegendWorld War Z…), the sci-fi/superhero(es)-themed movies (BatmanDead PoolPacific Rim…), to name only these. Characterized by utter visual extravaganza—from colossal recreations of Antique sites to overwhelming feasts of explosions—blockbusters wouldn’t reach all of their effects without the help of their soundtracks. We will approach these movies more specifically through their aural facet, and identify the diversity of their musical genres, including the use of pre-existing music (from rock to opera). In so doing, we will learn how much the blockbuster, often derided as mere “popcorn” cinema, offers a privileged access for discussing the anxieties of our modern societies, from AIDS epidemics to global warming.

Professor: Jacqueline Waeber

Jacqueline Waeber, Ph.D. (University of Geneva), is an Associate Professor of Music. She has research and teaching interests in melodrama and related genres, from opera to film; theatrical practices and visual cultures; French musical aesthetics, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, music and philosophy of the arts; the 'chanson populaire'.




Freebird! Pigeonholing and Prejudice in Music History (ALP, EI, W)

Much of what we think we know about anything is shaped by the categories into which blocks of information are crammed. The process of stereotyping whole expanses of human activity by means of convenient categorization, both in musical and, more generally, cultural history (what we sometimes call “pigeonholing”), can bring about a clouded, even wildly distorted perception of the work of an individual composer; a specific genre; an entire style; or an entire group of people. Once these perceptions are sanctified by official acceptance and repetition over time they prove almost entirely resistant to reconsideration, spreading and self-perpetuating like some stubborn invasive species. Learn how it works and how to resist! We’ll examine four such long-standing misperceptions in music history over the course of the semester. Along the way we’ll learn to hear past them, and develop a flexible, musically sensitive and evidence-based approach to the understanding of musical style and practice. Our four areas of study will be: The old-school "Classical" style; Impressionism; Stravinsky, Riots and Modernism; and the Soul of Hip-Hop. Weekly listening, reading, and viewing assignments along with wide-ranging class discussion will inform both a midterm paper and a final paper or creative/analytical project. While each topic will be treated in analytical depth, methods and terminology will be accessible to first-year students with no prior training in musical analysis. 

Professor: Andrew Waggoner

Andrew Waggoner, D.M.A. (Cornell University), is an Instructor of Music. Called “the gifted practitioner of a complex but dramatic and vividly colored style” by the New Yorker, his music has been commissioned and performed by such organizations as the Academy of St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields; the Los Angeles Philharmonic; the Saint Louis, Denver, Syracuse, and Winnipeg Symphonies; the Corigliano, Miro, and Villiers, and JACK Quartets; the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble; and the California EAR Unit.




Hot Topics in Health

Overview of the components of health and wellness (e.g., nutrition, exercise, sexual health, etc.), with more specific topics/current trends or issues being explored within each component.  Emphasis will be on information, resources, and skills to help students achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle, as well as an understanding of the broader health issues facing our current society.

Professor: Janis Hampton

Janis Hampton, M.A. (UNC–Greensboro), is Assistant Professor in the Practice of Health, Wellness and Physical Education. Her fields of teaching and research interest center on developing awareness of health and fitness issues for the general population as well as young adults.




From Quarks to the Cosmos (NS)

The quest to understand the ultimate laws of nature is an ancient one. The roots of our investigations reach back to the first philosophers. At its heart, we seek to answer the questions: what are the most basic building blocks of the observed universe, how do they interact with each other and what is the nature of the space that contains them? Remarkably, the physics of the smallest things we know about is also tied to the cosmology of the universe and the largest distances and structures we can measure. The beautiful theories that describe this physics are the culmination of the work of generations of scientists and are strikingly predictive. However, the picture we have before us today is far from complete. Over 95% of the universe seems to be made of matter or energy we cannot explain. The universe is expanding at a faster and faster rate, creating even more of itself as a function of time. On top of all of this, our world unaccountably seems to exist solely of matter and not anti-matter. How did we come to understand these things about the universe and how are we addressing remaining questions? In this class, we will use lectures, discussions, readings outside of class, quantitative mathematical problem solving, frequent presentations by students, problem sets and projects to learn some of the history and basics of astronomy, modern particle physics and cosmology. We will pay particular attention to the instruments and measurements people have used over time to infer what we know and how and why people finally came to accept results. Students will have the opportunity to study a topic of their choice in further depth with a final project and presentation.

Professor: Christopher Walter

Christopher Walter, Ph.D. (California Institute of Technology), is a Professor of Physics. His research and teaching interests involve particle physics and cosmology. He works to understand both the nature of the neutrino in giant detectors deep underground, and why the expansion of the universe is accelerating using telescopes on top of mountains.




Environmental Journalism (R, W)

In this writing-intensive course, students will learn to deploy journalistic tools and scientific literacy to write well and accurately about environmental issues. This course will coach students on how to craft fact-based, fair and engaging articles. It will also give students tools for judging the credibility of scientific claims in environmental debates, including disputes over gentically modified food crops and climate change. Students will receive coaching on how to detect manipulation and distortion from corporations, governments and political activists. These are skills vital to good non-fiction storytelling published on any platform.

Professor: Catherine Clabby

Catherine Clabby, M.A. (University of Iowa), is an Adjunct Instructor in the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy. She is a writer and editor specialized in stories about the environment and science. She was senior editor of E.O. Wilson Life on Earth digital book series and at American Scientist magazine. At Sanford, she's an instructor and research and communications manager at Duke Reporters’ Lab. She has reported for multiple news outlets, including North Carolina Health News and the News & Observer. She is an alum fellow of the MIT Knight Science Journalism Program.




Brazil, Race, Sex, The Body (ALP, CCI)

Brazil is commonly understood as an example of a “racially democratic” nation, but as scholars have recently shown, racism permeates all aspects of Brazilian society. This course examines the development of the theorization of race, racial identity and race relations in contemporary Brazil, and will explore very closely the role of sex, and sexuality in the construction of race relations. We will attend to questions such as: how is desire racialized? How is racial difference produced through sex as a material practice and what is the function of sex in racial (self)formation? How do we reconcile questions of pleasure and desire and the structures of power and national identity? The approach of the course will be interdisciplinary, drawing upon works from literature, music, film, anthropology and history. Topics will include colonialism and enslavement, abolition, nationalism, social activism, and popular culture. We will also consider how Brazilian social relations differ from or conform to other racialized patterns in other nation-states in the Americas. Particular attention will be placed on the impact of the interrelationship between race, gender, class, and nation on the lives of black Brazilians. Conducted in English.

Professor: Lamonte Aidoo

Lamonte Aidoo, Ph.D. (Brown University), is an Assistant Professor of Portuguese Studies. He teaches courses on 19th-20th century Brazilian literature, Afro-Brazilian cultural studies, comparative Brazilian and inter-American racial formations, the confluence of sexuality and national identity. His research interests include slavery and abolition in the Americas, miscegenation, comparative trans-Atlantic studies (Anglophone, Francophone, Hispanic, Lusophone).




Beyond Reason: Empathy and Identity (SS, R, W)

Leadership in the knowledge-based economy and globally interconnected world of the 21st century requires that students develop their abilities to constructively engage ethnic, religious, and political differences and generate and apply knowledge in the service of society. The premise is that developing the capacity for critical reasoning is necessary but not sufficient. It is also necessary to develop a personal epistemology that is, beliefs about knowledge and its justification, and the capacities of empathy that is, the ability to understand and share the feelings, perspectives, intentions, and mental states of another person, and identity, the integrated experience of oneself as a unique individual that includes one's goals, values, and commitments. This seminar takes a developmental science approach to synthesizing and applying the knowledge and understandings generated across the biological and social sciences and humanities about the nature, development, and enhancement of personal epistemology, empathy, and identity.  Selected readings are provided for each session.  Clinical cases, in the form of videotape, and narratives from literature are utilized to reflect salient issues and processes.  Students write three, 3-8 page, synopsis/application papers based on the assigned readings and a 15-20 page research review paper on a topic of their choice. Students read and respond to each other's work.  In individual meetings with the instructor, feedback is provided on the rough drafts of each paper and students submit revised papers as their final product. Grade is based on the quality of papers and participation in class discussion. Each synopsis paper accounts for 15% of the grade, the research paper accounts for 40%; and class participation accounts for 15%.

Professor: Robert J. Thompson, Jr.

Robert J. Thompson, Jr., Ph.D. (University of North Dakota), is Emeritus Professor of Psychology. His research interests include how biological and psychosocial processes act together in human development; the adaptation of children and their families to developmental problems and chronic illnesses, including sickle cell disease and cystic fibrosis; and the assessment of teaching and learning in higher education.



Latin American Cinema (ALP, CCI)

This course offers an overview of key moments of Latin American cinema from the 1960s to the present. The examples are drawn from Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, and Cuba. We will examine landmark films and explore the relationship between socio-historic contexts of production and cinematic genres, styles, modes of production, and aesthetics. The first part of the course focuses on the “New Cinemas” of the 1960s and 1970s and the way in which filmmakers of that period attempted to address the lingering effects of colonialism and major problems of social justice through a cinema that was at once politically committed and experimental in form. In another section of the course, we will examine the cinema of Cuba and its evolving relationship with the Cuban Revolution—including the quest for a revolutionary cinema that followed from the 1959 overthrowing of the Batista regime. The final section of the course will look into the “New Cinemas” of the present, the wave of film production that started in 1990s in several countries and continues today. This recent wave includes transnational filmmakers like Alejandro González Iñarritu (Mexico) and Walter Salles (Brazil) and works that have garnered attention in the mainstream circuit as well as in international film festivals and the arthouse circuit.

Professor: Gustavo Furtado

Gustavo Furtado, Ph.D. (Cornell University), is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Romance Studies. He teaches courses on film studies, Latin American culture, and Caribbean Studies. His research interests include cultural studies, Latin American studies, and cinema.




Censored, Forbidden, Banned (ALP, CZ, EI)

Redacted, prohibited, expurgated, Bowdlerized, Disneyfied, suppressed, the list goes on…So many ways to say that something should not be read. This course examines how works from the past have offended, scandalized, and alarmed readers separated by hundreds (even thousands) of years. We will investigate this nexus of art and social control by reading works and analyzing the materiality of these interventions in visits to Rare Books. Students will develop their own research projects for a final exhibition. Readings from Plato’s Republic, Boccaccio’s Decameron, The Arabian Nights, and Italo Calvino, among others.

Professor: Martin Eisner

Martin Eisner, Ph.D. (Columbia University), is Associate Professor of Romance Studies. He regularly teaches courses on tDante, Machiavelli, literary criticism, and the history of the book. His research investigates the many literary masterpieces produced in fourteenth-century Italy through the lens of their material transmission. 




Tolstoy and Dostoevsky (ALP, CCI, EI)

The Russians go deep into your soul and discover strange and scary things lurking there. In a year of political upheavals, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky are more relevant than ever. They wrote in a time when personal freedoms were under threat; when saying the wrong word could send you straight to prison; when social classes were in conflict and revolution was in the air. They ask: how can God be all-powerful and yet allow suffering? Why do I do evil though I want to do good? Can I understand the soul of another? Above all, Dostoevsky and Tolstoy are great storytellers. Taught in English, but you may choose to read the assignments in any language--English, Russian, or any other.

Professor: TBA




Educational Inequality within the United States (Codes Forthcoming)

Education is becoming increasingly important for upward social mobility in the U.S. and abroad. Education has been linked to societal inequalities in health, income, and other life-chance measures. Thus, schools play a central role in social and economic well-being, particularly for women and minority groups. Given that the minority population within the U.S. has been steadily increasing and is projected to comprise 40 percent of the U.S. population within the next 20 years, understanding racial differences in achievement is important for scholars, educators, and policy makers. This course will engage both quantitative and qualitative studies to help you gain 1) knowledge of the historical trends and understanding of racial differences in achievement, and 2) a broad understanding of the current issues/debates in the literature. 

Professor: Angel Harris

Angel Harris, Ph.D. (University of Michigan), is a Professor of Sociology and Director of the program for Research on Education and Development of Youth. His research interests include social inequality, policy, and education, focusing on the social psychological determinants of the racial achievement gap. 




Collaboration & Improvisation (ALP, CCI)

Emphasis on team building and communication, confidence, connecting, being present in the moment, listening, adaptability, presentation skills, emotion, expressivity, and vulnerability.   Invent new ways to disrupt the recognized systems of making work and our ways of looking at the world. Blur or disappear the lines between performer, writer, director, dramaturg, and designer.  Our aim, first and foremost, is to investigate and explore ways to genuinely investigate and give theatrical expression to our own personal, political, and spiritual interior lives, values, observations, and beliefs. Students will create their own piece from the ground up using improvisational games, teasing out a story they want to tell and how they want to tell it.   We might tell the story of an idea, an individual, or event. Our investigation may include interviews and documentary source material. A text will emerge in democratic fashion and we will examine the most effective manner of communicating our experiment to an audience.  We will include multimedia presentations as part of the scripted onstage play or performance.  Strong emphasis on the tracking and documenting of process.

Professor: Jody McAuliffe

Jody McAuliffe (MFA, Yale University), is a Professor of the Practice of Theater Studies and Slavic and Eurasian Studies. Her research and teaching interests include directing, adaptation, dramaturgy, performance and integrated media, documentary, and development of new work. Most recently, as Resident Artist at Abrons Arts Center in New York, she adapted and directed Don DeLillo’s The Body Artist.