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Spring 2019 Course Offerings

HONR 053: Life & Teaching of Jesus, 3 credit hrs.

Jesus was the founder of the world's largest religion and one of the most controversial figures in religious history. "Life and Teaching of Jesus" is an analysis of the early Christian writings with the objective of studying the life and message of Jesus. This exploration will use the tools of historical, anthropological, sociological, and literary scholarship to investigate Jesus and the early Christian communities that produced the literature about him within their historical, cultural, and religious contexts.

HONR 054: Apocalyptic America, 
3 credit hrs.

The dramatic end of the current world order remains a fascination in American culture. From the Puritan desire to establish a Christian utopia prompting the return of Jesus and the expansionist mandates of Manifest Destiny to the Left Behind series and 2012, many Americans continue to anticipate an imminent end of the world. Apocalyptic America will examine this trend in popular culture by exploring the ancient religious documents (the biblical books of Daniel and Revelation, along with portions of the Gospels and the Letters of Saint Paul) on which this vision is based. The role of the "Millennial Kingdom" in American history and culture will then enable students to analyze contemporary incarnations of the theme. The course will conclude with student projects and group presentations that examine current cultural productions including apocalyptic religious movements, cultural productions ("The Road" and "2012"), and apocalyptic language in political discourse.

HONR 066: Beatles Popular Music / Society, 
3 credit hrs.

Often referred to as the greatest rock and roll band of all times, The Beatles' influence on popular music and contemporary culture is unquestionable. The societal context of the growth of Rock and Roll will serve as the framework for this course, which will chart the Beatles rapid rise to fame, their careers as a band and solo artists, and their continued impact on popular music and culture in the 21st century. This course will provide an in-depth, record-by-record, look at the music of this extraordinary group and the unique songwriting partnership of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Additionally, the course will explore the development of global cross-promotional marketing, as applied by the Beatles and their corporation, Apple. Designed for non- music majors, this course will help to develop critical listening skills, and demonstrate the progression of musical concepts and themes still being applied in popular music today. Intended audience: Honors Track students who have credit hours that classify them as first-year or sophomore.


HONR 077: Reading Gender, 3 credit hrs.

This course explores literature from the perspective of the cultural work it performs with regard to constructing or challenging gender identities. The course varies but may examine particular literary traditions (e.g., literature by women of color) or particular critical issues (e.g., (de)constructing masculinity in the writings of women). 


HONR 083: Social Context of Urban Schools, 3 credit hrs.

This course provides students with an introduction to urban education. We engage the philosophical, social, economic, and political contexts of urban schooling. We begin by examining the utility and demarcation of space (e.g., urban, suburban, rural, etc.). We then explore historical and contemporary understandings of the notion of "urban," focusing on how "urban" has been constructed and evolves over time. We focus on the impact on schools and communities, in particular, urban educational reform and pedagogical strategies. In addition, we engage the intersections of urban education with questions of political economy, immigration, militarization, and racism. Finally, we discuss how students experience urban schools -- the challenges they may face in urban contexts as well as practices of hope and humanization. 


HONR 087: Haunted Futures, 3 credit hrs.

Haunted Futures: Theories of Horror and Science Fiction and Science Fiction as Cultural Genres This course will explore analysis and theories of film, literature, podcasts, and other forms of cultural production in the genre of Horror and Science Fiction. Methods of analysis will include visual art, film theory, philosophy and post-colonial thought.


HONR 088: Reading and Writing About Class, 3 credit hrs.

This writing-intensive course will focus on American literary representations of class in order to work toward defining and analyzing its role in contemporary U.S. society. We will also examine the intersections of class, race, and gender. Readings include fiction, nonfiction, and theory. 


HONR 091: Critters 101, 3 credit hrs.

This non-traditional course will take a critical and creative look at the lives of animals through the lenses of natural history, the biological sciences, mythology, the fine arts, poetry, fiction, non-fiction and film. It will provide the environment for expression of 'lives' yet to be examined. Sparked by research, 'lives' become evidence through the arts of 2-D, 3-D, video, fiction, poetry and music. As we entangle our lives with the lives of animals, students are encouraged to explore expressive methods of understanding both inside and outside of familiarity. 

HONR 100 - 4173 - Paths to Knowledge, 4 credit hrs.

General Education requirements using Honors courses instead of AOI courses. The course is designed to help you reflect upon your interdisciplinary courses of the past and prepare you to make the most out of your interdisciplinary studies in the future. The focus of our interdisciplinary study this semester is 'pets' with an in class focus on dogs and students choosing another animal as their topic of independent study throughout the semester. We will look at this topic from the perspective of history, biology, politics, business, psychology, philosophy and other disciplines. 


HONR 100 - 8029 - Paths to Knowledge, 4 credit hrs.

Education and Schooling: Why Bother? What is “education”? What is “schooling”, and what’s the difference? Why do we do either? To what extent do education or schooling help us understand the world? To what extent do they limit our understanding of the world? When is education or schooling helpful or unhelpful? Both are assumed to necessary to life, but are they? This course will attempt to answer these, and other, questions about education and schooling, which constitute the perceived dominant method of knowledge transmission and discovery in the contemporary world. Through the disciplinary lenses of Philosophy, Economics, and Sociology, students will explore the origins, key characteristics, and applications of education and schooling. Students will learn more about their own philosophy and ideology of education and learn to deconstruct complex issues surrounding this vital domain of contemporary life through interdisciplinary thinking. 


HONR 116: Community Writing, 3 credit hrs.

The goal of Community Writing is to provide students with an engaged-learning experience that utilizes their interest in workplace- and socially-engaged writing within a mutually beneficial and jointly negotiated partnership with a campus or community organization. In this version of the course, students will work with the Drake Community Press and Above+Beyond Cancer to help produce the written content for an illustrated book featuring high-quality original photography to be published in spring 2020. The 4th title from the Drake Community Press, this book is intended to inspire readers to “live lives of passion and purpose” by highlighting cancer survivor and caregiver stories from interviews conducted by students from the Fall 2018 course in Oral Histories taught by Professor Madden (ENG) and Patton-Imani (SCS). Students will spend time learning about the mission of Above + Beyond Cancer and the social needs it addresses through direct engagement with our community partners and those whom they serve, with the goal of producing written & digital media content that support the partner’s mission.The academic portion of the course asks students to consider service and writing as a form of engaged rhetorical practice. Through readings & activities, personal reflection site visits, and group discussion students will gain professional writing experience and build critical competence and self/communal esteem through literacy practices that support both personal and public discovery. Course participants will be named as co-producers in the book credits. 


HONR 117: Transatlantic Landscapes, 3 credit hrs.

This new course focuses on an interdisciplinary understanding of “landscape” conventions within a transatlantic context. We will read theories about art history and aesthetics (particularly in history and landscape painting) by Sir Joshua Reynolds, John Ruskin, Thomas Cole, Asher Durand and others. We will examine paintings, prints and drawings by John Constable, J.M.W. Turner, Frederic Church, 19th century American women painters and amateur travelers. Our focus will be on how different aesthetic modes reflect and produce different understandings of "nature" and the human presence in the landscape. We will look at art/writing in the context of colonialism, economic change, the rise of the middle class, travel/tourism and other contexts that shape 19th century identity (both national and individual) in Anglo-American contexts. We will also consider ways that writing and the visual arts share certain concerns--but also represent nature, humanity, history and divinity in different ways.


HONR 121: Comparative Religion, 3 credit hrs.

This course serves as both an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of comparative religion and an exercise in the interdisciplinary practice of comparative religion. (Note that comparative religion does not rate and rank religions but rather identifies and explains the similarities and differences between religions.) The introductory component of the class considers the strengths and weaknesses of several different models and methods of comparing religions, while the practical component takes up the actual comparison of a number of different religions with respect to the theme of "ineffability," the class will also produce multidisciplinary notion that divine beings or mystical experiences transcend our ability to speak about them. (Optimally, the class will also produce multidisciplinary explanations of these comparisons.) The class is designed to accompany The Comparison Project, Drake University's public program in comparative religion. This means that the religions the class compares and the writings the class reads will be determined by the programming of TCP, and that the scholars who participate in TCP will visit our classroom. Assignments include frequent reading responses and four five-page papers. 


HONR 122: Framing Race, 3 credit hrs.

What are the necessary individual and institutional ethical responses to long legacies of systemic racial injustice and hierarchy? This course will explore what it would mean and what it would take to move the framework for discussing race away from diversity and inclusion and towards a focus on structural change and repair of harm done. The class will explore political, educational, corporate and ecclesial approaches to reparations, while paying careful attention to the current national racial climate out of which such calls emerge, especially arguments being made by activists such as those affiliated with Black Lives Matter. This course is affiliated with the 2016-2019 Baum Chair for Ethics in the Professions.


HONR 132: Victorian Secrets, 3 credit hrs.

This course focuses on the Victorian era in Britain, when the novel was a dominant and dynamic literary form, and the topic of secrets. Why are secrets exciting, thrilling, or frightening to the Victorians? What purposes do secrets serve? What types of secrets seem most important to keep (or to tell)? How much do Victorian literary forms, especially novels, rely on the concept of the secret? And how can pondering these questions help us understand why we still find the Victorians interesting and/or our own relationships with secrets? Course readings include nineteenth-century Victorian sensation fiction, early detective or “mystery” novels, Gothic plots and settings, and “New Woman” fiction. As we investigate Victorian secrets, we will consider a broad range of topics, including definitions of privacy; sex (surprise - the Victorians loved it!); racial identifications; what it means to be "English;" marriage conventions; social class divisions; imperial secrets; the importance of domestic servants; changing gender roles; and textual serialization (publishing in short installments).


HONR 134: Hope and Optimism, 3 credit hrs.

Messages of hope and optimism imbue the popular literature on cancer survival and recovery, and in this course students will engage in a philosophical exploration of the nature of hope and optimism. We will begin by reading classical and contemporary works on these topics, and among the questions we will consider include: What is it to be hopeful? How does hope differ from optimism, if at all? Are there ever rational grounds for hope or optimism? Can a case be made for pessimism (the contrary of optimism)? Our discussions of these readings and questions will provide the basis for a critical examination of assumptions about hope and optimism that inform much of the popular literature on cancer survival and recovery. This course is being offered in conjunction with The Drake Community Press' current project on cancer recovery and survival (in partnership with Above and Beyond Cancer), and students who enroll in this course will be expected to make contributions to this project. 


HONR 144: Health & Development, 3 credit hrs.

Certainly, a desire to "give back" and help make the world a better place is a noble ambition. Unfortunately, the road to perdition is paved with such good intentions. The data is clear that health development aid can do harm as well as good. In this course, we will explore why countries are poor, what can be done to alleviate their poverty, and some of the results of health and development aid schemes. This is a reading and discussion intensive type course that will familiarize students with current theories, and controversies in health and development. Working in this area is not easy. Idealists and do-gooders burn out quickly. Having an awareness of the major issues in development will assist you in being as effective as possible in your volunteer work or career as an aid worker. It will also make you a better informed citizen and voter. If you finish the course more confused than when you started it, that simply means you now understand how complex health and development aid actually is. Prerequisite: HSCI 144 OR POLS 127 OR Instructor Permission.


HONR 146: Restorative Justice, 3 credit hrs.

Restorative justice is a perspective that views crime as a harm against people and the community, which needs to be addressed through the involvement of offenders, victims, and the community. This course provides an introduction to the principles and practices behind restorative justice. A restorative justice movement has been growing dramatically globally in the past couple of decades. Along with this growth come many challenges, pitfalls, and critics. The course is designed to allow students to struggle along with the experts in trying to navigate the opportunities and challenges, the success stories and the pitfalls that accompany restorative justice programs. In the process, students will explore questions about justice, crime, imprisonment, punishment, rehabilitation, forgiveness, and the purpose of a legal system. The course relies heavily on international perspectives to learn about these issues. Prereq. one Sociology course or consent of instructor.


HONR 148: Religions of Beijing, 3 credit hrs.

This course serves both as a stand-alone course and as preparation for a May 2019 travel-seminar to Beijing, where students at Minzu University of China (one of Drake's international partners) are producing a photo-narrative about religion in Beijing. We will read these students' fieldwork reports (in translation) -- as well as monographs and articles -- about the teeming diversity of religion of Beijing, focusing on how religion is lived in communities across the city. Beyond that, each Drake student will be paired with one Minzu student, giving students at both universities the opportunity to learn from each other about how religion is lived in their respective cities. (Students going on the May 2019 travel seminar will continue this learning in person; select students from Minzu will later come to Drake in January 2020 to learn in person about religion in Des Moines.) 


HONR 160: Gender, Technology, Embodiment3 credit hrs.

In this course we will study the social and ethical implications of new technologies that alter the understanding and experience of embodiment and that challenge the boundaries and meaning of gender and race-ethnicity. We will read critical feminist and social analyses of topics such as genetic testing, new imaging technologies, reproductive technologies such as ultra-sonography, transnational surrogate motherhood, posthumanism, and affect and biotechnologies of control. We will study theoretical concepts through which to analyze the changing relations between biotechnologies and social relations. Prerequisite: One entry-level sociology or anthropology course. 


HONR 161: Africa/Africans/Atlantic/Slavery, 3 credit hrs.

The immense growth of slavery and slave trade research in the last quarter century has made examinations of unfree labor a major issue for world research. Studies of Atlantic slavery have generated the bulk of that research, and as a result have challenged many traditional perceptions of that trade and its associated system of slavery. However, despite the unquestioned value of these recent analyses, most of these studies have looked at Atlantic slavery from the American side of the ocean. Consequently, the African nature of Atlantic slavery has often lacked close scrutiny. This course has two goals: 1) to root Atlantic slavery and its trade in its African context, and 2) to help incorporate recent research findings into popular understandings of the Atlantic trade. The major argument of this course is that one cannot know why the Atlantic trade happened as it did nor how Atlantic slavery developed as it did without understanding the context which produced the people who were sold into slavery. Therefore, the course looks at the influence political, social, economic, and cultural factors in Africa had on the making of slavery and the slave trade both in Africa and the Americas. In doing so, the course will challenge students to rethink their own notions of Atlantic slavery as they analyze and critique the ideas encountered in this course.


HONR 164: Existentialism and Film, 3 credit hrs.

Explore the meaning of life through films as well as readings in existential philosophy. This class will investigate questions about personal identity, fate and human freedom, moral relativism and universal truth, and finding fulfillment in life through readings by philosophers from a variety of world cultures. These readings will be paired with a selection of films all providing a different perspective on existential themes. All films will be available on reserve at the library, and students should plan on watching movies outside of class as part of weekly homework assignments.


HONR 191: Women & Hebrew Scriptures, 3 credit hrs.

The basics of the course include reading Biblical accounts involving women and various commentaries on those Biblical accounts with a critical eye. These accounts will include "Genesis", "The Red Tent", and "The Five Books of Miriam". The goal is to come to an understanding of how the Jewish Bible deals with issues involving women and how such an understanding can help us understand issues today.

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