Fall 2024 First-Year Seminars

To read more about available courses, select from the list below or scroll to find the full list.

The first grouping of seminars are part of the 
What Now? network of first-year seminars and require a .5 credit co-requisite, Ethics 189


BIOLOGY 89S / ETHICS 89S What Now? Natural History of Civilization
CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY 89S / AFRICAN & AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES 89S / ETHICS 89S What Now? Watching ‘Lovecraft Country’: Racist Terror and Terrifying Monsters in Jim Crow America
ETHICS 89S / DANCE 89S / PUBLIC POLICY 89S What Now? Imagining Social Justice: Artistic and Somatic Strategies
ETHICS 89S / EDUCATION 89S What Now? Finding Yourself, Your Voice and Your Community (While Being Resilient and Well)
ETHICS 89S / GLOBAL HEALTH 89S What Now? "Singing the Same Song": A Global Perspective on the Experience of Illness


BIOLOGY 89S Genetics in The News: How Gene Research Is Changing Our View of The World
BIOLOGY 89S The Quest for a Fountain of Youth: The What, Why and How of Human Aging
BIOLOGY 89S  Reading for Research
CHEMISTRY 89S First-Year Seminar in Chemistry
CLASSICAL STUDIES 89S Who “Owns” the Past?
ENERGY AND SOCIETY 89S History of Energy Use and Power Generation 
ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & POLICY 89S Climate Change: Causes, Consequences, and Solutions
FRENCH 89S Do You Even Care? Solidarity, Dignity, and Human Rights Lessons from the French-Speaking World
GENDER, SEXUALITY & FEMINIST STUDIES 89S Introduction to Critical Animal Studies
GERMAN 89S / ENGLISH 89S / LITERATURE 89S Monsters, Vampires, and Ghosts: Supernatural Horror in Film and Literature
GERMAN 89S / SCIENCE & SOCIETY 89S Our Fictional Selves: Human and Artificial Beings in Science Fiction
HISTORY 89S Black Slavery in the Atlantic World
HISTORY 89S Women Behaving Badly

LITERATURE 89S Virginia Woolf and Consciousness
MATH 89S Game Theory and Democracy
PHYSICAL EDUCATION 89S Hot Topics in Health
PHYSICS 89S Information Theory and Quantum Physics
PSYCHOLOGY 89S Beyond Reason: Empathy and Identity
ROMANCE STUDIES 89S Brazil, Race, Sex, and the Body
VISUAL & MEDIA STUDIES 89S / ART HISTORY 89S / ROMANCE STUDIES 89S  Public Art: Monuments, Murals, Graffiti and More

First-Year Seminars Connected to the

"What Now?" Network of First-Year Seminars

This first grouping of seminars are part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars. What Now? courses contain a shared “wellness lab,” offering opportunities to engage with faculty and students in other participating seminars. Register for this .5-credit component of the program by adding Ethics 189 to your schedule. Scroll down for the full range of first-year seminars offered during Fall 2024.


What Now? Natural History of Civilization (NS, CCI)
Natural History of Civilization follows the example of “Guns Germs and Steel” in applying a natural science perspective to the study of human history. To understand human nature it may be important to recognize those elements of our cultures that are imposed on us by the principles of ecology and our interactions with the natural world. Mark Bertness has famously added cooperation and self-assembly to join the processes of competition and predation in shaping our civilization. Examples include the domestication of olives in regions where humans are lactose intolerant, and cooperation enforced by the once universal practice of public executions. Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.
Professor: Clifford 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. 



What Now? How Hospitals Work (ALP, CZ, CCI)
This course examines the everyday work of hospitals as a lens onto society, politics, and culture, from the standpoints of the medical humanities, medical anthropology, history, and literature. Global case studies will ground several key questions: How do different forms of healthcare work -- doctoring, nursing, and others -- reflect and produce social difference? When patients get admitted to the hospital, what power relationships develop? How do hospitals and cities develop symbiotic relationships? How are hospitals sites for the production of race, gender, and other forms of difference? And ultimately, through close attention to the work hospitals do, how might we better understand them as a core social institution? Case studies from different cultural and geographical contexts inform our exploration of the relationships between hospitals and social life, including hospitals operating during the Iraq War, in Southern Africa in the context of HIV/AIDS, in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, and in New York during the first wave of Covid-19. The course will focus on the lives that make up hospitals -- providers, patients, and families -- and the labor that they all do, differently. Assessments are designed to reflect and build specific skills, including: Reading, via Reading notes; Discussing, via Class participation; Writing, via writing assignments; Researching, via a mini-research project, and Translating, via an op-ed that addresses course insights for the public and policymakers. Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.
Professor: Harris Solomon
Harris Solomon, Ph.D. (Brown University) is the Fred W. Shaffer Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology. His teaching and research focus on medical anthropology, including the dynamic relations between medicine and everyday social and political life.



What Now? Watching ‘Lovecraft Country’: Racist Terror and Terrifying Monsters in Jim Crow America (SS, CCI)
In August 2020, HBO premiered Lovecraft Country, a historical drama set in 1950s Jim Crow America. Based on Matt Ruff’s novel of the same name, this show creatively brings together two seemingly disparate forms of horror: racist terror and terrifying monsters. In this course, we’ll analyze all 10 episodes of this series through texts across academic disciplines and artistic media. H.P. Lovecraft’s short stories and Ruff’s novel will provide context to relevant works in anthropology, sociology, Black studies, and gender studies that interrogate Black people’s historical and contemporary experiences in the United States. Students must have their own access to watch the show. Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.
Professor: Tracie Canada
Tracie Canada, Ph.D. (University of Virginia), is an Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology and is affiliated with Duke University’s Sports & Race Project. Her research and teaching interests focus on race, sport, kinship, and the performing body.



What Now? Imagining Social Justice: Artistic and Somatic Strategies (ALP, EI)
This course asks students to work backwards from radical imaginings of new future realities toward their own definitions of social justice and ways they can lead activist lives. How do our conceptions of justice change if we are able to imagine outside the constraints of our current reality? How does our movement in the world change with shifting understandings about where we want to go? What do artistic and somatic strategies offer to create those openings? Through artistic and dialogical processes students will develop personal understandings of the meaning of social justice, identify and deepen their fields of concerns, and design and implement creative direct actions. Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.
Professors: Michael Kliën and Brooks Emanuel

Michael Klien, Ph.D. (University of Edinburgh), is a Professor of the Practice of Dance. His research, teaching, and artistic interests include politically engaged choreography, performance, and dance.

Brooks Emanuel, J.D. (New York University), is the 2022-2023 Graduate Arts Fellow in Social Choreography & Performance and is in the MFA program in Dance: Embodied Interdisciplinary Praxis. His research, teaching, and artistic interests focus on combining dance and racial justice work.



What Now? Finding Yourself, Your Voice and Your Community (While Being Resilient and Well) (SS, CCI, EI)
College students have expressed outrage when their schools have invited controversial speakers to campus. Colleges justify these speakers as contributing to a free exchange of ideas while preparing students for the “real world.” At the same time, colleges encourage students to develop resilience, focusing on well-being, and prioritizing physical and emotional health. Can institutional goals related to speech and well-being be reconciled with your expectations and values? What does it mean to have a voice within a community? This class will provide an opportunity to answer these questions, decide what really matters to you and position you to make better choices while at Duke and beyond. Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.
Professor: Sue Wasiolek
Sue Wasiolek, L.L.M (Duke), Ed.D. (University of Pennsylvania), is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Program in Education.  Although she has an interest in all aspects of higher education, Sue particularly enjoys teaching education law, discussing free speech and intellectual discourse, researching college sports and engaging in practices to promote resilience and well-being.  



What Now? "Singing the Same Song": A Global Perspective on the Experience of Illness (SS, CCI, EI)
When I go to see my diabetes doctor, I feel that he and I are singing the same song.” This comment from a South African man battling chronic illness underlines the wonderful potential of the patient-provider relationship. We will be using the doctor-patient relationship and experience as a lens to understand place of illness and empathy in the human. We will explore concepts of culture and global health. How does culture affect all of us? What is global health, and how do our beliefs affect this entire discipline? Along the way, we will all be learning about ourselves, how it feels to express and receive empathy, and how the simple act of being curious make us better people. Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.
Professor: Neil Prose
Neil Prose, M.D. (New York University), is a Professor of Dermatology, Pediatrics and Global Health, and a Research Professor of Global Health. His research and teaching interests include pediatric dermatology, care for skin disease in developing countries, and provider-patient communication.



The seminars listed above are part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars. What Now? courses contain a shared “wellness lab,” offering opportunities to engage with faculty and students in other participating seminars. Register for this .5-credit component of the program by adding Ethics 189 to your schedule. Scroll down for the full range of first-year seminars offered Fall 2024. 


Genetics in The News: How Gene Research Is Changing Our View of The World (NS)
Our understanding of life on earth is expanding through new genetic technologies. Breakthroughs in a wide array of life science fields, ranging from medicine to conservation biology, are often featured in news articles. We will assess how accurately the science journalists are representing advances in genetic research by comparing recent news articles with the research papers on which they are based. The class will start with background lectures and reading material to make sure everyone is prepared. Students will have the opportunity to find and present news articles on genome science/genetics/genetic modification topics that interest them, and this effort will culminate in a final project where each student will compare a news article of their choice with its source research paper. Topics discussed will include findings in human evolution, genome-wide association studies, gene therapy and gene editing (CRISPR), and cloning to save endangered species.
Professor: Amy Bejsovec

Amy Bejsovec, Ph.D. (University of Wisconsin-Madison), is an Associate Professor of Biology. Her research and teaching interests include the genetic control of embryonic development, cell to cell signaling pathways that generate body pattern, and the genetics and molecular biology of cancer.



The Quest for a Fountain of Youth: The What, Why and How of Human Aging (NS, STS, EI)
This course will focus on advancements in our understanding of aging and how these insights are changing our perceptions of the inevitability of decline at the end of the human lifespan. Focus on research in cellular and molecular mechanisms of aging in model organisms and applications to human aging. Topics including natural selection and aging, centenarians and longevity genes, calorie restriction, the epigenome and aging. Ethical questions such as the value of doubling human life span and equal access to innovations will be addressed. Class time will be a mix of lectures, student-led presentations and writing assignments.
Professor: Alison Hill
Alison Hill, Ph.D. (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), is a Senior Lecturer of Biology. Her research and teaching interests include scientific literacy, how to help students gain mastery in complex problem solving in biology, and how creative assessments can affect student learning outcomes.



Reading for Research (NS)
This class is appropriate for students who are wanting to build a foundation for reading scientific research articles and is particularly useful for those wanting to get involved in basic science research labs. Cutting edge science discoveries are often covered by journalists and news outlets. These written publications or videos often use language and explanations that a broad audience can understand. But what is the real science behind these stories? The main purpose of this course is to deepen your critical analysis skills in reading the news articles and the scientific journal articles they are based on. We will read news articles or summaries and watch videos to help build background knowledge about the topic. Then we will delve into the scientific literature and learn how to understand the hypothesis, methods, results, and conclusions of a paper. You will also learn how to interview a scientist at Duke about one of their published research articles and present some of their data to the class.  By the end of this course, you will feel more confident in reading the scientific literature and presenting the material to the class. Topics that may be addressed include, but are not limited, to: Resistance to HIV, Covid-19, Cancer Immunotherapy, CRISPR, Breast Cancer and Receptor Signaling
Professor: Jessica Harrell
Jessica Harrell, Ph.D. (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), is the Director of the Duke University Undergraduate Research Support Office. Her research and teaching interests focus on how to support the engagement and persistence of students from underrepresented groups in the biomedical sciences and in pursuit of scientific-research career paths, with the express goal of increasing diversity within the scientific enterprise. 



Sustainable Development of Medicine and Health (89S)
An exploration to sustainable approaches to the development of medical care, medicines, vaccines, and healthful practices will be undergirded by discussion of both historical innovations and current events in public health. Molecules of medicine will be evaluated at a molecular level through in-class activities. The body’s ability to differentiate between even subtle differences in molecular structure, such as the different actions in the human body of a pair of enantiomers, will be explored. Topics will range from finding new medicines to combat resistant pathogens to promotion of good health through the molecules we eat. No prior knowledge of chemistry is required.
Professor: Dorian Canelas
Dorian Canelas, Ph.D. (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), is an Associate Professor of the Practice of Chemistry. Her research and teaching interests include increasing undergraduate retention in science tracks, chemical education research, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and macromolecules for industrial and biological applications, such as microelectronics, coatings, membranes, gene therapy delivery, and blood compatibility.



Who “Owns” the Past? (CZ, CCI)
This course explores how we create official and unofficial stories about the past through archaeology and museums. It discusses how different voices in the present and past have been heard, covering such topics as indigeneity, nationalism, repatriation, and pseudoarchaeology. The course develops critical thinking and writing skills about academic and popular narratives about life in the past and the various political uses to which these narratives have been put. Work for the course includes class discussions of academic and popular writing, short research projects, in-class presentations, and visits to the Nasher to learn about museum collection and display practices.
Professor: Catharine Judson
Catharine Judson, Ph.D. (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), is an Instructor of Classical Studies. Her research and teaching interests focus on Cretan archaeology.



Media, Technology and Politics (SS, EI, CCI)
Seminar that studies the interplay between media, technology, and politics. Begins in 19th century, with the colonial context, and concludes in the digital age, with emphasis on the role of social media and artificial intelligence in political theaters of the current moment. Readings in a range of scholarly fields including history, science and technology studies, anthropology, media and visual studies, political science. Close work with a set of diverse global case studies – including the 19th century colonial period, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, Syrian Civil War, Israel/Gaza War, Black Lives Matter movement—and primary materials including documentary and feature film, radio transmissions, photographic archives (19th century to present) and digital media archives.
Professor: Rebecca Stein
Rebecca Stein, Ph.D. (Stanford University), is an Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology. Her research and teaching interests include linkages between cultural and political processes in Israel in relation to its military occupation and the history of Palestinian dispossession.



History of Energy Use and Power Generation (CZ, SS, STS)
Tackling anthropogenic climate change requires intimate, interdisciplinary knowledge of the energy supply sector. To that end, this course provides a comprehensive introduction to the millennia-long evolution of human energy use and power generation focused on foundational concepts, hands-on experimentation, and independent research. Broadly speaking, you will learn 1) to chart the development of human energy use from the Paleolithic to the present in terms of source and technology substitution; 2) to contextualize the emergence of technologies undergirding modern energy systems, and; 3) to apply historical knowledge to contemporary policy debates as part of a small team. Collaborative, case-based, as well as global in scope, this course will ultimately impart to you a deeper understanding of the past along with greater confidence to grapple with the most pressing issues of our own time.
Professor: Tom Cinq-Mars
Tom Cinq-Mars, Ph.D. (Duke University), is the Administrative Manager / Assistant Director of Research Development for the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability. His research and teaching interests focus on the intersections of business, energy, and the environment, particularly in modern (Soviet) Russia, and, more broadly, on varieties of industrial organization as well as energy and environmental policymaking in that space.



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 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.



Do You Even Care? Solidarity, Dignity, and Human Rights Lessons from the French-Speaking World (Codes Forthcoming)
Do you care, or don’t you? This becomes one of the most pivotal questions of our time in a world that seems bombarded by multiple crises. In this first-year seminar, students will engage with the process of how care work transforms into socio-political change. Beginning with questions like “what constitutes good care?”, “what produces apathy (the lack of care)?”, and “who is doing the work of care?”, students will look to case studies from the French-speaking world (in English translation) to discuss these elements in specific geo-political and ethical contexts. Topics to be explored will likely include radical care and health, militarization and the nuclear arms race, Indigenous land rights, climate and environmental activism, sexual health and education, LGBTQIA+ oppression, racism, and forced migration. In addition, this course offers a truly global approach with case studies from France, Morocco, Iran, Mauritius, Haiti, Canada, and French Polynesia among others. All course materials and discussions will be in English, no prior knowledge of French is required.
Professor: Eric Disbro
Eric Disbro, Ph.D. (Pennsylvania State University), is an Assistant Professor of Romance Studies. His research and teaching interests include comparative approaches to francophone literatures, especially literatures of the Indian Ocean and French Polynesia, as well as queer/trans*-inclusive methods and pedagogies. 



Gender and Science (Codes Forthcoming)
This seminar provides an overview of research that puts science and scientists themselves under the lens to be studied in relation to gender, sexuality, race, and colonialism. We consider questions such as: How does inequality affect scientific practice and knowledge? Do colonial, racist, or sexist contexts matter for the science produced? Does the identity of the scientist matter? In addition to scientific papers, our readings center on an interdisciplinary field known as Feminist Science Studies, that draws on sociological, ethnographic, historical and literary approaches to science. We also consider how scientists themselves are creating feminist and decolonial approaches to their research. This course is designed for those interested in combining feminist and other social justice perspectives with careers in STEM as well as students curious about feminist humanities and social-science approaches in general. As a seminar, classes will focus on discussions of readings and participation is required as well as some regular written work.
Professor: Ara Wilson
Ara Wilson, Ph.D. (City University of New York), is an Associate Professor of Gender, Sexuality & Feminist Studies. Her research and teaching interests include the feminist study of globalization and queer political economy (QPE), Science & Technology Studies (STS) approaches with materialist theories, and empirical research, especially ethnographically informed depictions of life under global capitalism.



Introduction to Critical Animal Studies (Codes Forthcoming)
Some scientists contend that the Earth has entered a new geological age in which human actions and effects are the dominant force shaping the planet, a so-called “nthropocene.” Such a planet offers diminishing possibilities for other creatures to live beyond the influence of Homo sapiens. How do animals fit into human societies when human society is now so inescapable? Do animals still exert agency and shape how we live? And how can humans maintain ethical relationships to nonhuman critters? Can we share landscapes and ecosystems, much less an entire planet? This course explores these questions, surveying different approaches to the critical study of animals from the humanities as well as the natural, environmental, and social sciences. We will pursue these questions through scientific papers, philosophical essays, literature, films, and experiential learning activities.
Professor: Gabriel Rosenberg
Gabriel N. Rosenberg, Ph.D. (Brown University), is an Associate Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies and History. His research and teaching interests include the historical and contemporary linkages among gender, sexuality, and the global food system and spaces of agricultural production as important sites for the constitution and governance of intimacy – intimacy both between and among humans, animals, and plants. 



Monsters, Vampires, and Ghosts: Supernatural Horror in Film and Literature (ALP, CCI)
Why do we experience pleasure in reading horror stories? How can we interpret these fantasies of terror? Why do we keep dreaming about unexpected and incomprehensible threats to our lives? In this course, we will examine a wide array of texts and films that combine elements of the supernatural with the feelings of dread and anxiety in order to investigate what tales about monsters, ghosts, doubles and imaginary enemies within our very selves can teach us about the human psyche, history and aesthetics. We will interpret the readings and the films in their historical context and will compare diverse approaches including genre theory, biographical, media-historical, political, and psychoanalytic perspectives. Readings include Stoker, Hoffmann, Lovecraft, Kafka, Wilde, and others.
Professor: Mert Reisoğlu
Mert Bahadır Reisoğlu, Ph.D. (New York University), is an Assistant Professor of German Studies. His research and teaching interests include Turkish German Studies, media theory and history, and 20th- and 21st-century literature, film and theater.



Our Fictional Selves: Human and Artificial Beings in Science Fiction (ALP, CCI, EI)
Is it human or is it a machine? This course analyzes the representations of artificial beings (cyborgs, androids, automata) in science fiction. In investigating literature, film, television, video games from ancient times to today, this course will consider the following: What impact do artificial beings have on society within both the imaginary and real worlds?  What are the ethical implications of the integration of artificial intelligence into our society? Are there ethical dilemmas posed by the creation, use, and coexistence of artificial beings? If a machine can become a self-aware being, should it have autonomy?  No prerequisites. All readings in English.
Professor: April Henry
April Henry, Ph.D. (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), is a Lecturer of German Studies. Her research and teaching interests include language pedagogy, gender studies, and the exploration of emotions in German medieval literature.



Black Slavery in the Atlantic World (CZ, CCI)
Focus will be on the history of slavery in the English-, Spanish-, French- and Dutch-speaking Atlantic worlds, from the 16th to the mid-19th century. During this period, over ten million African captives were taken to the Americas by the Europeans. This was the largest forced transoceanic migration in human history. We will discuss the expansion of African slavery in the context of broader trends in Atlantic World Studies. This field has grown considerably in recent decades, providing new ways of understanding historical developments across national boundaries. The course will embrace a transnational comparative approach to the history of Atlantic, as it developed in the Caribbean, Latin America, North America, West Africa, and Europe. We will seek to identify commonalities and differences across time periods, regions and nations, and the reasons for those differences. The main focus will be on the experiences of Africans and their descendants. Drawing on methodologies used by historians, literary scholars, and archeologists, the course will reconstruct their social, economic, cultural, and political lives. Through a broad array of visual, manuscript and printed sources, we will attempt to hear the voices of the enslaved. Old and recent historiographical debates will also be considered. The topics covered will include the middle passage, race and identity formation, labor, social lives, gender and family relations, resistance, and abolition, as well as memory and legacies.
Professor: Mélanie Lamotte
Mélanie Lamotte, Ph.D. (University of Cambridge), is an Assistant Professor of History. Her research and teaching interests include the history of race, colonialism, and slavery in the early modern period, focusing on the French colonial world, with an emphasis on Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, French Louisiana, Senegal, and Isle Bourbon, in the South-West Indian Ocean. 



Women Behaving Badly (CZ)
What does it mean for a woman to “behave badly”? This course will ask questions about how and why women in the United States violated social norms and laws from the late eighteenth century to the twentieth century.  The women discussed in the course were identified as “behaving badly” for a variety of reasons that help us grasp how ideas about gender, race, and sexuality evolved in America.  As a First-Year Seminar, this course is designed to introduce students to an interdisciplinary and creative approach to critical thinking and writing about the past.  We will interrogate histories that engage themes such as respectability, love, activism, sex, pleasure, and violence. The course will feature key primary and secondary sources that foreground seminar discussions, and a series of focused writing assignments.
Professor: Tamika Y. Nunley
Tamika Nunley, Ph.D. (University of Virginia), is a Research Professor in the Department of History. Her research and teaching interests include the history of slavery, African American women's and gender history, the early Republic, and the American Civil War.



U.S. History in Fact and Fiction (EI, R, CZ)
Through works of history, fiction, film, and memoir, this course will explore themes—family, displacement, violence, and memory that cut across US history and human experience more broadly. We will try to tease out the various strands of culture, class, geography, and identity that shape US history. Even more, we will analyze how writers—historians and otherwise—draw on the entangled past to make sense of the world. As a final assignment, students will produce their own piece of historical writing, rooted in original research.
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.



Virginia Woolf and Consciousness (ALP)
Woolf is both one of the central practitioners of the experimental literary style known as “stream of consciousness” fiction, and one of the authors to most daringly revise and even repudiate its terms. We will look at the philosophical and transnational literary history of stream of consciousness, and pair Woolf’s literary impressionism and post-impressionism with examples of similar trends in the visual arts (Monet, Cézanne) as well as music (Debussy, Ravel). We will inquire together whether Woolf’s narration of consciousness in fiction can prompt us to redraw our existing categories for the mind, or help us think about what we know, and about the conditions under which we know it. Each work by Woolf (Orlando, To the Lighthouse, A Room of One’s Own, Mrs. Dalloway, The Waves) will be paired with a philosophical text and excerpts from other transnational literary texts, as well as Woolf’s own literary criticism. Intertexts include: Erich Auerbach, Barbara Christian, Dorrit Cohn, Edouard Dujardin, W.E.B. Du Bois, Fyodor Dostoevsky, William Faulkner, James Joyce, Toni Morrison, Edgar Allan Poe, Marcel Proust, Gayatri Spivak, Richard Wright.
Professor: Maya Kronfeld
Maya Kronfeld, Ph.D. (University of California, Berkeley), is an Assistant Professor of Literature. Her research and teaching interests include literature and philosophy, aesthetics and literary theory, Kant, Hume, English and French Romanticism and Modernism, jazz and Black music studies, African-American literature, philosophy of mind, critical epistemology, and cognitive metaphor theory. 




Fire: The Storyteller (ALP, CCI)
The seminar provides an introductory approach to the figure of the storyteller and the temporal and spatial forms associated with this figure in different cultures including those of Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. The course considers collective practices of storytelling from indigenous and shamanic traditions in which the element of fire is considered the first storyteller; artisanal cultures in which craftsmen and travelers figure as carriers of the story; and the story’s modern and current media: the radio, WoW, Tumblr and TikTok. The seminar engages in close readings of the work of Walter Benjamin (translated from the French and German); Edgar Allan Poe, Johann Peter Hebel, Nikolai Leskov, Herodotus and others as well as films from various national cinemas with the character of the storyteller as the central figure.
Professor: Negar Mottahedeh
Negar Mottahedeh, Ph.D. (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities), is a Professor of Literature. Her research and teaching interests include cultural criticism and theory, specializing in interdisciplinary and feminist contributions to the fields of Middle Eastern Studies and Film and Media Studies.



Game Theory and Democracy (QS, STS)
What is democracy? 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. 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.



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. (University of North Carolina, Greensboro), is an 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.



Information Theory and Quantum Physics (NS)
The field of “Quantum Information” combines two of the (arguably) most far-reaching technical endeavors of the 20th century: Information Theory and Quantum Physics. This seminar course will explore both topics, separately at first, with an emphasis on foundational aspects. The concept of “bits” will be central to the entire course, in addition to Entropy, in both its thermodynamic and informational meanings. We will discuss at length the fundamental principles of Quantum Physics -- not by solving differential equations, but by approaching the weirdest aspects of Quantum from an information theory and even philosophical point of view. Central to this background will be the concepts of quantum measurement and quantum entanglement. We will learn about conventional (non-quantum) computing, from Turing machines to aspects of modern computers.  Finally we will talk about quantum computers, quantum communication, and quantum teleportation, also with deep dives into the physical technology currently being deployed to behave as quantum information processors.
Professor: Christopher Monroe
Christopher Monroe, Ph.D. (University of Colorado, Boulder) is the Gilhuly Family Presidential Distinguished Professor or Electrical and Computer Engineering. His research and teaching interests include quantum physics and applications in quantum information science.



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. Seminar discussions focus on selected readings and Ted Talks. Students continue the discussion and dialogue between sessions through postings to the seminar discussion board. As a writing course, the focus is on both learning-to-write and writing-to-learn through feedback and revision. Students write three, 3-8 page, synthesis/reflection papers based on the assigned readings and a 15-20 page research review paper on a topic of their choice. 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 synthesis/reflection 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 an 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.



Brazil, Race, Sex, and the Body (CZ, 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).



Public Art: Monuments, Murals, Graffiti and More (ALP, CCI, CZ)
Monuments, murals, posters, sculptures, and graffiti. Street performances, gardens, and new media platforms. These artistic expressions happen outside museums and galleries. This course invites students to debate them in the context of the shared history of public art across the Americas. How and why do artists venture out of the safe spaces of art institutions like museums? Who funds that art? Who permits or censors it? In this seminar, students explore the role of public art in political and grassroots movements, and in the stories told about our past. They evaluate radically different responses to public art, from uproar and scandal to its disappearance into the background of everyday life. What communities invite art into their shared spaces? What kind of communities might it produce? In addition to landmark works from across the American continent (North, Central, and South), we look closely at those nearby: on campus and in Durham. Local murals and monuments give texture to these big ideas, and area leaders in the arts offer their hands-on experiences. In order to think about the 2020 global pandemic and economic crisis, the course begins with the 1929 stock market crash and the landmark public art projects during the Great Depression that followed; it concludes with a joint investigation into current public art projects in response to the COVID-19 crises.
Professor: Esther Gabara
Esther Gabara, Ph.D. (Stanford University), is an Associate Professor of Romance Studies. Her teaching and research interests include art, literature, and visual culture from modern and contemporary Latin America, especially the relationship between ethics and aesthetics, theories and practices of non-mainstream modernisms, and representations of race and gender.