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College Courses

College Courses, introduced in 1968-1969, are interdisciplinary in nature and are intended to appeal to students of widely differing backgrounds and interests. All of these courses serve in satisfaction of the Interdisciplinary requirement for members of the Classes of 1998 through 2004. Courses scheduled to be offered from 2005 Fall through 2006 Spring are listed below; courses for later terms will be announced during 2006 winter term.

1. 3D Computer Animation and the Math that Drives It (Identical to Computer Science 3 and Mathematics 5)

05F: 10A

This introductory, interdisciplinary course will focus on the relationship between math and computer animation. Students will get an overview of the history of computer animation along with the theory, practice and technology behind it. Students will come away with a well-rounded understanding of computer animation, 3D computer animation concepts and the math behind Maya and other 3D computer animation software programs.

This course will provide an artistic perspective for math students and a math perspective for art students. It will be hands on, in that students will complete computer-animated exercises using Maya 3D animation software while learning how to create custom features in Maya using the Maya Embedded Programming Language (MEL). Classes will consist of lectures, discussions, technical demonstrations, and animation screenings.

There are no prerequisites for this course. A math or animation background is not needed to successfully complete the course. Students will be evaluated on weekly readings, hands-on projects, quizzes, presentation of one of the readings and attendance. Dist: TAS. Satisfies the Interdisciplinary requirement (Class of 2004 and earlier). Loeb, Rockmore.

2. Avant-Garde, Totalitarian and Dissident Art in Russia and Central Europe

05F: 10A

The focus of the course will be on the three distinctive political and cultural periods of the 20th century in Soviet Russia that also in many ways greatly influenced the development of the arts and literary scene of other countries. The course will examine the mutual cross-fertilization between nations and cultures by drawing comparisons to the art scene of the former Czechoslovakia during the same time periods. The influence was especially strong after WWII when the countries of Central Europe fell under the sphere of the Russian dominance.

The course will at first explore the post-revolutionary avant-garde period during the 20’s and 30’s which then was followed by the party doctrine of socialist realism. Both the avant-garde and socialist realism embraced all the forms of the visual arts, film, theater, literature, architecture and music. In the course the students will get acquainted with the typical examples from all these different art forms. As a reaction to the party enforced guidelines there flourished an underground dissident movement that also will be examined. Dist: ART. Class of 2007 and earlier WCult: EU. Class of 2008 and later WCult: W. Gronas, Rydlova-Ehrlich.

4. Crusades and Jihad: The Mediterranean Experience (1095-1350)

06W: 2

The Crusades, launched in 1095 by European Christians who sought to secure military control over Jerusalem and the Holy Land, led to a period of sustained and largely hostile contact between Christian and Muslim cultures. The result engendered important and often unintended changes in religion, politics, economies, and cultural life of both Christendom and Islamdom, and this encounter defined Muslim-Christian relations for centuries. Through initial successes and then repeated failures in crusading, Europeans reshaped Western ideas about Christianity, a theology of sacrifice, themselves as Christian Europeans, and Islam and Islamicate culture. For Muslims, the Crusade period witnessed the formation and consolidation of Sunni Islam, its theology, its architecture, its educational institutions, and its political philosophy. The Crusades had important implications for Judaism as well, beginning with the Mainz massacres during the first crusade and marking the beginning of what one scholar has termed the “formation of a persecuting society” in the west. This course takes a comparative perspective, approaching the crusading experience from the European and the Islamic viewpoints. It will also explore the constructive and destructive impact of contact between peoples and the mutual influence of differing cultures, including current reference to the Crusades by contemporary Muslims and Christians. Dist: SOC or INT. Class of 2008 and later: WCult: CI. Satisfies the Interdisciplinary requirement (Class of 2004 and earlier). Gaposchkin, Reinhart.

5. Introduction to Computational Linguistics

06W: Arrange

This course serves as an introduction to computational linguistics and related human language technologies. Topics covered include speech recognition; parsing, semantic interpretation, and pragmatics of natural languages; computational morphology and phonology; and cognitive modeling. The fundamental algorithms, both logical and statistical, of these fields are introduced. Prerequisites: None. Dist: TAS. Thompson.

8. Sexuality and Science

06S: 2A

This course will investigate the scientific study of sexuality from the perspectives of history, cultural studies, and contemporary science. We will consider (1) the emergence of sexual science as a scientific discipline in the 19th and 20th centuries, (2) critical perspectives on sexuality and science offered by cultural theorists, such as Michael Foucault and Judith Butler, and 3) contemporary advocacy and criticism of scientific theories of neurological and genetic bases for sexuality and their evolution. Open to all students.

Dist: SOC. Class of 2008 and later WCult: W. Satisfies the Interdisciplinary requirement (Class of 2004 and earlier). Dietrich, Fuechtner.

9. The Challenge of Psychoanalysis

05F: 2

This course will foreground the challenge that psychoanalysis, a critical practice too often consigned to the realm of mere “literary” theory, presents to the field of political studies. The traditional methodology of political philosophy, exemplified by the work of Plato, Kant, Habermas, and Rawls, is to explore the conditions under which a more just and effective political bond can be achieved. Its central questions are motivated by a concern for the Good: What is the ideal political form for social life? What is the essence of liberty? How can it be negotiated with the demands of society and what can be done to strengthen the social bond? Psychoanalysis, by contrast, approaches the political from a radically different set of queries: What blocks access to and yet allows for a communal thought? What are the roles of aggression, drive and desire in social bonding? How can a highly conflicted human subject be part of political entities without betraying its own innermost kernel of desire? The challenge of psychoanalysis for politics is thus a double one. It questions the central premises of political philosophy through a quasi-literary interrogation; and in doing so, it assumes the right to generate new answers and solutions of its own. To understand just how radically daring and original these interventions can be, we will read some key texts of psychoanalysis - Freud’s Totem and Taboo and The Ego and the Id; selected chapters from Lacan’s The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, Zizek’s The Ticklish Subject, and Badiou’s Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil - alongside excerpts from selected treatises by Aristotle, St. Paul, Kant, Rawls, and Habermas. We will also screen films by Passolini, Lang, and Hitchcock, not only in order to illuminate crucial insights by Freud and Lacan (repetition compulsion, psychosis, death drive), but also to make visible the workings of a political unconscious. Class of 2007 and earlier WCult: EU, Class of 2008 and later WCult: W. Satisfies the Interdisciplinary requirement (Class of 2004 and earlier). Edmondson, Mladek.

10. The Wages of Empire: The Russo-Japanese War and National Identity

05F: 12

One hundred years ago Japan and Russia clashed in a war that had cataclysmic effects for both. The catastrophe of Russian defeat and the stunning success of Japan’s war effort inspired debates in both countries about ethnicity and nationhood, and the relationship of these concepts to ideas of the state and citizenship. These questions were framed against the backdrop of European civilization, whose values and technology offered the Russians and Japanese an easy path to modernization but threatened their sense of cultural purity. Looking at the crisis of 1905 through literature, film, and original documents, we will study the events leading to the emergence of two of the century’s greatest imperial powers. Dist: INT. Class of 2008 and later WCult: CI. Kopper, Washburn.

12. Water and the Environment

05F: 10A

The purpose of this course is to explore both the physical and human dimensions of water and water management and to demonstrate that the environmental aspects of water management are both physically based and socially constructed. Topics include urban water supply, dams and dam removal, habitat degradation, floods, droughts, groundwater mining, hazardous waste management, snowmaking, and climate change. For each topic, water supply problems are discussed both in terms of their physical and social characteristics and in terms of how their definitions may serve to selectively benefit individual stakeholders. Relevant case studies with problem sets and discussions are used to demonstrate the social and physical dialectic associated with mitigating the environmental consequences of water-related problems. Dist: TAS. Satisfies the Interdisciplinary Requirement (Class of 2004 and earlier). Magilligan, Renshaw.