Fall 2024 Honors College Signature Seminar

HNRS 401H3-001: Gothic

Professor: Lynda Coon, Kim Sexton

Colloquium Type: Humanities

**The deadline to apply to Honors College Seminars (via this application form) is 11:59 p.m., Sunday, March 10th.

This Signature Seminar takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of Gothic art and architecture as a cultural phenomenon. Starting with Abbot Suger’s renovation of the royal abbey church of St.‐Denis in Paris (1140) and culminating in the architectural extravagance of America’s collegiate Gothic campuses, seminar participants will tackle medieval building and medievalism from a variety of topics, including Gothic and medicine, Gothic and gender, and Gothic and empire.

HNRS 401H3-002: The Geography of Star Trek

Professor:  Fiona Davidson

Colloquium Type: Social Science

**The deadline to apply to Honors College Seminars (via this application form) is 11:59 p.m., Sunday, March 10th.

“Beam me up Scotty” “He’s dead, Jim”. Even if you’ve never seen an episode of Star Trek, the chances are that you’ve encountered one of its signature phrases. In the over fifty years since it first aired, through syndication and the constant creation of new content, the show has become a cultural touchstone not just in the US, but throughout much of the rest of the world. Since 1966, the franchise has gone boldly into the geography of an imaginary frontier, exploring new worlds, contacting new civilizations, and expanding the reach of the United Federation of Planets.

In this class we will examine Star Trek as a source of entertainment, but also as a reflection of our contemporary world, a world that was created by the Enlightenment, 19th century British imperialism and the expansion of the American Empire in the 20th century. The geography of the Federation is the geography of planets, solar systems, and fictional political entities; empires, hegemonies, coalitions, republics and alliances, each of which reflects the geopolitics and political units of a world in which the United States was, and continues to be, a dominant power.

Over the course of the semester, we will use excerpts from all the TV shows and films, with readings from academic work on the importance of Star Trek as a cultural and political text to examine the political and social geography of the messages that are embedded in the text and subtext of the show. Whether deliberately, or through their own unconscious, and conscious, biases, the creators, writers, showrunners, and performers have used Star Trek to both support and subvert the cultural and political norms of the late 20th century and early 21st century. In learning how to critically examine Star Trek, the class will not only gain a greater understanding of contemporary worlds society and politics, but also a greater understanding of how that world is influenced by the media that saturates our lives.

HNRS 401H3-003: Fashion, Identity and Power

Professor: Eric Darnell Pritchard

Colloquium Type: Humanities

**The deadline to apply to Honors College Seminars (via this application form) is 11:59 p.m., Sunday, March 10th.

What we wear and where it comes from tells us much about who we are as individuals and a society. The history of fashion is inextricable from identity and power, as clothing, accessories, and body modification (e.g. tattoos, piercings, cosmetic surgery) illustrate a range of meaning-making and aesthetic decisions that inform how people see the world and, in turn, how they are experienced within it. This course will explore fashion as theory, art, practice, and industry, attentive to the myriad ways it has impact on and is affected by the social, political, and economic terrain in which clothing and accessories function with meaning and consequence. We will cover topics ranging from fashion's design, production, marketing, consumption, the ethical considerations regarding fashion and identity (including race, disability, class, gender, sexuality, age, and size), universal and adaptive design, environmental and climate concerns, sustainability, labor, and the teaching and passing on of culturally informed sewing, beading and other craft practices. We will engage writing and a variety of material objects - archives, visual and performance arts - and seminar discussions will posit the implications of past and current research on fashion and accessories for the present and next steps for fashion as an interdisciplinary field of study cutting across rhetorical studies, art history, apparel design, literary studies, American Studies, Gender, Women's and Sexuality Studies, Disability Studies, Environmental Studies, and Legal Studies, etc. In closing, the course will support the development of each student finding or further developing their own fashion and style studies research, writing, and creative projects, with an eye toward exploring the broad implications of their interests for theory, methodology, and pedagogy of this field.

HNRS 401H3-004: Technology Craft

Professor(s):  Vincent Edwards, Edmund Harris

Colloquium Type: Natural Sciences

**The deadline to apply to Honors College Seminars (via this application form) is 11:59 p.m., Sunday, March 10th.

Note: This is a Summer Intersession class.

Technology is often associated with modernity and the cutting edges of human achievement. We instead consider it as something old, as the continuation of the ancient and universal human traditions of tool use and craft. A central question in that tradition is to start with a tool and ask simply “What can you do?”. In this course we will apply this question to some of the most modern tools, CNC routers, laser cutters and 3d printers. We will think about tools as physical objects, as computer models (which in some cases can control machines) and in the abstract, with the goal of balancing between theory and practice, seeing how each supports the other.

Note: Students who take the August Intersession Signature Seminar on Technology Craft are encouraged to enroll in the Fall 2024 Honors College Research Course, Making Technology Craft (HNRSR 402HV) . Honors Research Courses are variable credit hour courses where students work on a specific research project with supervision from a faculty member. This course will not meet, but rather students will make projects based on the skills that they’ve learned and will present those projects at the end of the Fall semester.

Fall 2024 Honors Colloquia

ENGL 392H3: Creative Nonfiction: Cool Books About Stuff That Really Happened

Professor:  Sidney Burris

Colloquium Type: Humanities

For one semester, we’re going to read some of the coolest—the most important critical term I know—books in English.  And all of these books are about stuff that actually happened: art-fights, culture wars, movies, graduation, music, love, and death. I have chosen books that are, to me at least, fun—the second most important critical term I know—to read.

The class is discussion-based, and the discussions arise from our own close readings of the books. The final assignment will be your own creative non-fiction essay, but this will be preceded by several shorter writing assignments of less than one page. These are designed to help you understand the true nature of the English paragraph.

The reading list changes from semester to semester, but past semesters have included these books:   Reality Hunger, David Shields; This is Water, David Foster Wallace; The Cost of Living, Deborah Levy; The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion; Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates; The Wisdom of Insecurity, Alan W. Watts; The River of Consciousness, Oliver Sacks; If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence, and Spirit, by Brenda Ueland; The Origin of Others, Toni Morrison; Recollections of My Nonexistence, Rebecca Solnit.

HIST 392H3: Artists and Bohemians

Professor: Richard Sonn

Colloquium Type: Humanities or Social Sciences

This honors colloquium and graduate seminar has a dual focus on modern art in the era of modernism, (1870 to 1970), and also on how artists defined a new way of life for themselves in the 19th and 20th centuries.  A bohemian lifestyle emerged among the Romantic generation of French writers and artists in the 1830s, was canonized by Henri Murger in Scenes of Bohemian Life, and later metamorphosed into the even more famous opera La Bohème by Puccini.  Ever since, we assume that unconventional lifestyles are adopted not only by artists and by writers of the avant-garde, but by rock stars and anyone else who wants to live “artistically.”  The course therefore includes the sociology of artists and intellectuals, in order to explore why, in their lives as in their art, artists felt they must renounce bourgeois norms.   We will begin in Paris, then move on to New York, Vienna and London.   This unconventional lifestyle implied the wholesale rejection of Victorian values, including those of sexual propriety.  The values of these small coteries of artists—living creatively without fixed schedules, drug-taking, sexual freedom—lasted from the 1830s to the 1950s, then exploded into a mass movement in the 1960s.

HUMN 392H3: The Universe in a Single Atom

Professor:  Thupten Dorjee

Colloquium Type: Humanities

Following decades of intensive workshops between leading academics and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Universe in a Single Atom is the culmination of the mutual understanding and communication between two traditions that have increasingly found common ground in their pursuit of truth through analysis and reason. The course will follow the main presentations on cosmology, metaphysics, epistemology, and consciousness that are explored in the book while providing a thorough background of the covered information in a format suited for undergraduate coursework. Students will not only learn about the major philosophical tenets of Tibetan Buddhism from an acknowledged authority, but they will also have an opportunity to participate in many activities that enhance their abilities for critical thinking and reasoning in the same way that Tibetan scholars have for nearly a millennia.

JOUR 392H3: Government and the Media

Professor: Joel Reed

Colloquium Type: Humanities or Social Science

This class examines relations between the media and government. In fall 2024, the course will focus specifically on the role of strategic media and reporting during political campaigns. The course investigates foundations and trends in media and politics such as polarization, populism, and partisan issue ownership and then applies those theories to four contexts of campaign communication. We first explore strengths, limitations, and ethical concerns in political reporting. The second unit focuses on political campaign advertising, its intricacies, and effects. We then explore political campaign debates and their importance as focal points for campaign communication. The class concludes with an investigation of public relations as a function of government and political campaigning.

PHIL 392H3: Philosophy of Friendship, Morality, and Loyalty

Professor: Ashley Purdy

Colloquium Type: Humanities

Nearly everyone has friends, and nearly everyone thinks having friends is a good thing. But what is friendship, and what is the value of good friendship in particular? Do good friends also have to be good people, or do friendship and morality come apart? Furthermore, it is widely supposed that good friends are loyal. But what does this loyalty amount to? In this course, we will consider what the value of friendship is, what relation it has to the value of morality, what role loyalty plays in friendship, and whether loyalty in friendship is a good thing. We will begin the course by considering the merits of different philosophical accounts of friendship and friendship’s relation to morality before turning our attention to what loyalty is, whether it is good, and what role it plays in friendship. 

PLSC 392H3: Authoritarianism 

Professor: Jeffrey Ryan

Colloquium Type: Humanities or Social Science

**By permission only. Send requests for enrollment to jeffr@uark.edu. 

When Louis XIV uttered his infamous proto-hashtag “L'etat c'est moi,” it seems unlikely he was deliberately trying to capture in a pithy phrase part of the very lifeblood of autocracy as a political species, but he did. That vital essence is absolutism; a Manichaeistic belief that everything is black or white, right or wrong, good or evil, which courses through the veins of all the many variants of authoritarianism. It shows up in the way both aspiring and actual autocrats construct their worldviews; how they define the political realm; who they love and especially, who they hate. It defines how they govern if they are in power and if not, what they will do to capture power. 

In ‘Authoritarianism,’ we’ll explore basic human nature by interrogating the idea of an ‘authoritarian personality’ that primes some to become autocrats and others to blindly obey. We then turn to the state itself, covering the sort of ‘classic’ authoritarian regimes that tend to come to mind when people think of a dictatorship: the suffocating terror of totalitarianism; the primal atavism of a state constructed on ethnonationalism; the systematic savagery designed to atomize society of the bureaucratic-authoritarian state; and more. 

We will also probe the various roles that individuals or groups occupy during authoritarian episodes: the leaders, apparatchiks, followers, torturers, rebels, victims and bystanders. We even explore the co-optation of artistic expression to serve as state-reinforcing propaganda, from music to film to architecture. At the end of the day, the course is designed to provide a ‘full spectrum’ investigation of the multi-faceted phenomenon of political authoritarianism. In ‘Authoritarianism,’ there is no black and white…just different shadows of gray. 

PLSC 392H3: Eugenics in Global Perspective

Professor: Thomas Adam

Colloquium Type: Humanities or Social Science

This seminar offers students an introduction into the phenomenon of Socialdarwinism and eugenics as global phenomena of the nineteenth and twentieth century. We will explore the origins and foundations of eugenic thought, its spread across North America and Europa, the creation and introduction of eugenic legislation in the United States and Germany and the sterilization and killing of those deemed “feebleminded.” In this context, we will also analyze movies such as The Black Stork and I Accuse that sought to propagandize eugenic measures. This class will, further, explore the impact of eugenics on the development of the concept of “reproductive rights” in the second half of the twentieth century. 

PSYC 392H3: Alcohol and Other Substances

Professor: Byron Zamboanga

Colloquium Type: Natural Science or Social Science

The goal of this course is to provide students with a general understanding of young people’s risk for initiating or misusing the following substances: caffeine, cigarette, marijuana, and alcohol. In this class, students will gain knowledge about the prevalence of these substances, who’s at risk and why, and what motivates young people to use them. This course will focus primarily on (a) alcohol use, (b) the general young adult population, (c) mainstream cognitive psychology theories (e.g., expectancy and motivational theories), and (d) quantitative and meta-analytic studies on substance use published in peer-reviewed academic journals. 

WLLC 392H3: Intro to Game Design I

Professor: David Fredrick

Colloquium Type: Humanities or Social Science

This course provides an introduction to the theory and practice of creating video games. Over the course of the semester we will explore the fundamental role of rules, play, art, and narrative in games, examine and critique representative video games in depth, and contemplate the decisions designers must make using the principles of game design. We will also put these principles into practice by building a series of basic 3D games!   Students will acquire an understanding of the production pipeline used for contemporary video games, including level design, modeling and texturing 3D assets, lighting, scripting the most common forms of interactivity, and creating a user interface; students will then see how these elements come together in a game engine to create the experience we all know.