First-year students may choose to take one of three Learning and Living seminars offered this Fall semester and described below. More details about each seminar can be found on Wesmaps, Wesleyan's on-line course catalog.
Classic Studies in Animal Behavior
Professor Joyce Powzyk
This course will focus on the major concepts in the field of animal behavior. We will discuss the selection pressures that shape animal behavior and whether the study of primate social and mating systems can provide insight into human behavior. Other questions include, Why do certain animal species exhibit altruistic behavior and others do not? What are the limiting resources for male and female animals, and why do they behave so differently? This is but a sampling of the subjects to be covered in a course that is specifically designed for students to gain a clearer understanding of the mechanisms that drive the natural world around them. We will commence with the early pioneers in ethology who were the first to describe the behavioral repertoire of a single species and progress onto the more current, comparative approach, in which two animals are compared for a more fine-tuned analysis. Biological jargon will be defined as original research is discussed.
The Armchair Adventurer
Professor Stephanie Weiner
At the turn of the twentieth century, stories of travel, action, and adventure enjoyed enormous market success and cultural prominence. This course examines the interaction between the adventure stories told in popular genre fiction--science fiction, seafaring tales, historical fiction, adventure stories, detective novels, romance, children's literature, etc.--and their "high" literary cousins. In the first half of the course, we will read classic works of genre fiction in order to understand the appeal of these stories and storytelling modes, for both writers and readers, and to identify their generic structures, plots, and premises. In the second half of the course, we will turn to three works of literary fiction that emerged in a close conversation with these popular forms: Henry James's THE AMBASSADORS, E. M. Forster's A ROOM WITH A VIEW, and Joseph Conrad's LORD JIM.
Muslim/Western Engagements in Film and Performance
Professor Peter Gottschalk
Examining contemporary films and performances by Americans, Britons, Egyptians, Indians, Pakistanis, and Afghans offers the opportunity to challenge the simplistic binaries of"West versus Islam" upon which popular representations often rely. Themes that will be explored include Muslim emigration, European imperialism and colonialism, religion and secularism in the formation of national identity, terrorism and state violence, representation of gender differences, and the problem of multiple identities. Performances will include a one-woman play, Hip Hop, sufi "qawwali" music. Films will include "The Kingdom of God," "Battle for Algiers," "Of Gods and Men," "Baby Doll Night," "The Beauty Shop of Kabul," "Restrepo," "Khuda ke Liye," "My Name is Khan," "Babel," "AmericanEast," and "Brick Lane," plus episodes of "Battlestar Galactica."