Engage with Fall 2020

L&S Advising believes in the transformative power of education. Knowledge gained through the classroom can enrich the ways we show up for the causes we believe in.

Our students who are enrolled in Fall 2020 will have a unique opportunity to develop their understanding of current events, see familiar things through new lenses, and participate in educational experiences special to this upcoming semester. 

We asked L&S College Advisers and L&S Major Advisers to share some of the courses they are most excited about for Fall 2020. We hope this page of highlighted courses will allow you to find your own way to engage with the world this Fall.

Human Rights & Social Justice

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  • COMPARATIVE LITERATURE (COMLIT) 60AC: (Re)Making American HistoryWhat makes American history, and why would we want to—need to—remake it? This course explores literary and visual materials produced in the post-Civil Rights U.S. by artists and writers who ponder this question and approach history like a raw material that demands to be refashioned and constantly problematized. What versions of American history have they remade, and what new versions and visions of history do they produce in the process? [...] How can we question the redemptive power of re-making history while battling to recuperate ‘minor’ or silenced histories that might otherwise never be told? Approaching history as an ever-changing construction, our course will raise questions about ways to revise and multiply America’s histories, but also explore alternative strategies for making history as well.
  • EDUC 40AC: From Macro to Micro: Experiencing Education (In)equality in and beyond Schools: The goal of equality has long dominated social and political discourse in the United States. This goal has struggled alongside our nation’s professed commitment to diversity – diversity of race, ethnicity, class, language, culture, ability, and religion (among many others). Public schools are arguably the primary arena within which efforts to nurture equality and diversity have been focused and challenged. The schools, and the myriad educational contexts beyond them, play a central role in the organization of inequality. At the same time, they also offer the potential for increased opportunity and equity.

  • ENGLISH 166 (001): Writing as a Social Practice: ...various wide particulars make up each of us—social class, race, ability, gender, place of birth, etc. These particulars endow us with privileges, deficits, blindnesses, insights, and the like. Prompts in this course will encourage students to document these and explore how they qualify us (and how or if they obligate us) to "speak" from various positions. The purpose of writing in this course is to engage public language on the one hand and personal (meaning specific) observations and experiences on the other. 

  • FRENCH 43B: Arts of the Border: Visions of Migration in Fiction, Film and Photography: In this course we will follow the journeys of refugees attempting to cross borders into Europe. Using contemporary film, fiction, photography, the press, virtual reality platforms and other experimental forms of visual art, we will explore the experiences and stories of those on the move.How are people fleeing violence trapped by land and sea borders? How do they confront and challenge these borders? How do their attempts to cross borders invent new ways of thinking about place and belonging? How is our view of the “refugee crisis” and the “immigrant threat” shaped by imagery in the media? How might artworks change these visions? We will also consider border technology, modes of surveillance, encampment and detention, the asylum process, resettlement and sanctuary. 

  • HISTORY 100U (003): Third World Fascisms: ideologies of populist authoritarianism in the Global South: A wave of fascisms is sweeping the globe. While we are familiar with fascism in the early part of the 20th century in Germany, Italy and Spain, it goes less noticed that fascism is currently one of the momentous transformations sweeping the world. Fascism is resurgent in the US, Russia, China, India, Southeast Asia, and Africa. This begs the question of what fascism is in the global South, and how we might trace a history of fascism from its modern day origins in Germany, Italy and Spain to Taiwan, China, Japan, Russia, South America, Southeast Asia and Africa. In this course we will use India as the paradigmatic case of the most successful post-colonial democracy in the world which in a short fifty years after independence has veered towards a distinctive form of fascism which derives from the Nazi paradigm but with important variations drawing from local inspiration. This class will think about the origins of fascism in the third world/Global South in comparative perspective. 

  • HISTORY C187 / LS C140V: The History and Practice of Human Rights: A required class for students in the human rights minor (but open to others), this course examines the development of human rights. More than a history of origins, it explores the relationships between human rights and other crucial themes in the history of the modern era. As a history of international trends and an examination of specific practices, it will ask students to make comparisons across space and time and to reflect upon the evolution of human rights in both thought and action.
  • SLAVIC 158: "This Machine Kills Fascists"“This machine kills fascists” was the message printed on a World War II-era sticker American machinists affixed to their metalworking lathes and drill presses. As the war intensified, the folksinger and leftwing political activist Woody Guthrie began inscribing these words on his acoustic guitars. A 1943 portrait of Guthrie holding his “lethal” instrument has since become one of the most recognizable images of a rare historical moment when even societies long vested in the separation of art and politics appear willing to accept what the German cultural critic Walter Benjamin saw as the necessary “politicization of art” in the face of fascist “aestheticizing of politics.” This class is designed as a comparative examination of antifascism as a political aesthetic in its own right, rather than a momentary wartime exigency. Our focus will mostly be on literary works
  • Freshmen seminars (Freshmen Only)

Race, Ethnic Identities, & Gender

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  • AFRICAM 5A: African American Life and Culture in the United States: A study of the genesis, development, and scope of African American culture, approached through an examination of selected art forms, historical themes, and intellectual currents.
  • AFRICAM 111: Race, Class, and Gender in the United States: Emphasis on social history and comparative analysis of race, class, and gender relations in American society. Examines both similarities and differences, and highlights gender politics. 
  • ASAMST W20AC: Asian American Communities and Race Relations: This course will be a survey of contemporary issues affecting the Asian American community. We will look at the different theories that explain the current status of Asian Americans and the interrelationship between the Asian American community, nation, and world. The course will focus on the issue of race relations, the commonalities and differences between Asian Americans and other race and ethnic groups. 
  • CHICANO 50: Introduction to Chicano History: A general overview of the Chicano historical experience in the U.S.

  • GEOG 159AC: The Southern BorderThe southern border--from California to Florida--is the longest physical divide between the First and Third Worlds. This course will examine the border as a distinct landscape where North-South relations take on a specific spatial and cultural dimension, and as a region which has been the testing ground for such issues as free trade, immigration, and ethnic politics.
  • GWS 10: Introduction to Gender and Women's StudiesIntroduction to questions and concepts in gender and women's studies. Critical study of the formation of gender and its intersections with other relations of power, such as sexuality, racialization, class, religion, and age. Questions will be addressed within the context of a transnational world.
  • GWS 129: Bodies and Boundaries: Examines gender and embodiment in interdisciplinary transnational perspective. The human body as both a source of pleasure and as a site of coercion, which expresses individuality and reflects social worlds. Looks at bodies as gendered, raced, disabled/able-bodied, young or old, rich or poor, fat or thin, commodity or inalienable. Considers masculinity, women's bodies, sexuality, sports, clothing, bodies constrained, in leisure, at work, in nation-building, at war, and as feminist theory.
  • GWS C180Y: Gender, Sex and Power: Gender, sex, and power shape and influence our cultural and social world in obvious and in hidden ways. Bay Area artists and activists focus on illuminating, shifting, redefining, and making use of the juncture of gender, sex, and power to bring about new opportunities and new futures. We will first explore the terrain of academic definitions of gender, sex, power and the connections among them, emphasizing how gender/sex/power is interlinked with racism, classism,  colonialism, and dis/ablism. Topics addressed will include: labor, migration and belonging; food, shelter, and land; health and health care; sexuality and love; and politics and political action.
  • History 136C: Defiant Women: Gender, Power and Violence in American HistoryTaking as its focus diverse groups of women who have shaped the course of North American history, this class will explore the relationship between gender, power and violence from the colonial period to the modern era. We will discuss how women have challenged conventional notions of “womanhood” through their words and their deeds, how their respective communities understood their behavior, and we will contemplate the ways in which these women simultaneously constructed narratives of power that do not conform to contemporary conceptualizations of their lives.

Other Great Recommendations from L&S Advising

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  • AFRICAM / PUBPOL C20AC: The 2020 Election: During the fall 2020 semester we will have the quadrennial opportunity to study American politics during a presidential campaign. Combining real-time analysis of the election, an in-depth study of the relevant historical and sociological trends that are shaping this moment, and a lively roster of guest speakers from across the Berkeley campus and community, this class will provide students with a comprehensive and interdisciplinary introduction to American politics in a time of unprecedented crisis and possibility.

  • AFRICAM 164: Spoken Word: Oral Tradition & Transformation from Poetry to Hip Hop, Standup & BeyondThis course is designed to give students four vantage points on contemporary spoken word: 1) as a diverse, layered, and multicultural young adult arts movement 2) as an art form with African American roots, including Black church, Black power and hip hop traditions 3) as an opportunity to practice using spoken word as a tool for social commentary and to communicate personal experience, and 4) as an opportunity to utilize the process of creativity for self-exploration and community building.
  • HUM 10: World Cities: Shanghai - St. Petersburg - Berlin: This course explores three world cities located across the breadth of Asia and Europe, retracing the stories, myths, symbols and fantasies which Shanghai, St. Petersburg and Berlin have inspired. Over the semester we will examine representations of each city and the cultural production of its inhabitants, across two centuries, in multiple genres ranging from literature and cinema to architecture, monuments, and memoirs. "New" cities on "old" continents, Shanghai, St. Petersburg and Berlin speak to us of our modern times, from the everyday life of ordinary citizens of the metropolis to the extremities of war and revolution.
  • HUM 20: Explorations in Arts + Design at BerkeleyA+D Mondays @ BAMPFA is a weekly public lecture series organized by the Arts + Design Initiative and co-curated by departments throughout the campus and local and national arts organizations. Through lectures by leading scholars, artists, and public figures, students are introduced to vocabularies, forms, and histories from the many arts, design, humanities, and media disciplines represented at UC Berkeley. Explore cutting-edge thinking and making on topics of current interest to UC Berkeley's creative faculty and national leaders in the cultural and creative arts.
  • LS 40E: Learning from DisneyThe word “Disney” refers to a man who died in 1966, a film studio that became a global media corporation, six amusement parks/resorts, an oeuvre of audio-visual texts with hundreds of characters and millions of associated products, and a theory of space and landscape design. The word also suggests a set of ideological messages about gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality and nationhood. This course will focus on all things “Disney” to introduce students to the study of American history, Hollywood films as cultural representations, and the American built environment.
  • LS 1W: Exploring the Liberal ArtsA course for entering students, particularly those who are undecided about the major they would like to pursue. It provides an introduction to the intellectual landscape of the College of Letters and Science, revealing the underlying assumptions, goals, and structure of a liberal arts education. Topics include the rationale behind the breadth requirement, the approaches and methodologies of each of the divisions in the college, and the benefits of engaging in research as an undergraduate. The ultimate goal of the course is to transform the students into informed participants in their own educational experiences, so that they can make the most of their years at Cal.
  • LS C5 / UGBA C5: Introduction to Entrepreneurship:This course offers students a taste of what it’s really like to start a business. In addition to learning key foundational entrepreneurial concepts such as idea generation & evaluation, customer & product development, creating a business model, fundraising, marketing, and scaling & exiting a business, students will also hear from successful entrepreneurs who share their perspectives and best practices. Students will apply core concepts by working in teams to evaluate and select a venture idea that they will then develop throughout the semester.
  • SLAVIC 49AC: Children's Literature in the Context of American CulturesBooks written for children emerge from specific and complicated social and historical contexts, as do the children (and adults) who read these books. In recent years, the world of children's books has been rocked by productive debates about the kinds of stories told and the identities of the voices telling those stories. In this class, we will read a wide assortment of books written (both long ago and very recently) for children, with particular attention paid to books addressing the experiences of Native, Latinx and African American children in the United States. We will also read scholarly, critical, and theoretical articles as we engage with our texts. Assessment will be based on class participation, written papers, and exams.
  • UGIS 98: College Success in L&SThis course is designed to help first-year students transition to university life at Cal. This course will provide an essential foundation for success in education, as well as personal, social, and professional development. Students will be exposed to a variety of tools designed to assist with the transition to and success in their first year and beyond. [...] As they learn to navigate the many resources at UC Berkeley, first-semester students will learn skills to make smooth transitions into Cal, empower themselves through personal, academic, and professional development, gain familiarity with campus and community resources and culture(s), and learn the skills necessary for self-advocacy and success.
  • Freshmen Seminars (Freshmen Only):

Pandemics & Health

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  • ENGLISH 20: Pandemic Fiction: Through the centuries, pandemics have supplied storytellers with fodder for reflections on community and isolation, humanity and inhumanity, hope and despair, and how the future might be imagined in the face of widespread disease and death. In 2020, the world of pandemic is too much with us, but reading pandemic narratives may allow us to reconnect, not blindly but with care and thought, to the world of the living. 

  • HISTORY 155B: Medieval Europe: From the Investiture Conflict to the Fifteenth CenturyWe will discuss the causes of the plague, its global context, contemporary attempts to understand it, and its effects on (or reflections in) religion and the economy. We will also discuss the political turmoil of the 14th c., which was probably not linked to the plague but which seems, in historical memory, to be inseparable from it, including the noticeable surge in civil wars and rebellions.

  • MCELLBI 55: Plagues and PandemicsDiscussion of how infectious agents cause disease and impact society at large. We will examine historical and current examples of plagues and pandemics and consider the question of what we should do to ameliorate the impact of infectious disease in the future. The course is intended for non-majors and will begin by briefly providing necessary background in microbiology and immunology.
  • NATAMST 178: Disease, Demography, and Politics in Native America: The politics of disease that were forced on Native Americans during the U. S. era in North America explain the Imperial Medical Model that was put in place by the U. S. following 1797, and, Contemporary health problems such as FASD, recently limited reproductive rights in Indian Health Service Institutions, the eugenics programs of the mid-20th century, and the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic, solutions, and plans for the future of the Indian Health Service conclude the course.

  • NESTUD 190A: Pandemics and Disease in the Ancient World: Pandemics are not new, and COVID-19 is only the most recent of a long line of sporadically occurring epidemics that stretches back into antiquity. In this seminar, we will look at the evidence for ancient pandemics in Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean from prehistoric times through Late Antiquity. At the same time, we will examine approaches to and understandings of disease in general in these areas and time periods.

  • PUBLIC HEALTH (PBHLTH) 116: Seminar on Social, Political, and Ethical Issues in Health and MedicineThis course offers an introduction to issues and perspectives related to health and medicine. Guest lecturers speak about the week’s topic, which can include a variety of topics such as public health, violence, chronic illnesses, environmental health, and health care economics. Speakers share their first-hand experiences in their fields, discuss current issues, debate ethical dilemmas, and pose and answer questions. During the weekly discussion sections, students delve deeper into the issues, not only exploring and perhaps questioning their own thoughts and beliefs, but also learning from the experiences and perspectives of their fellow students.
  • SOCIOL 139H (001): HEALTH & WEALTHThe underlying principle of meritocracy is that everyone should have an equal opportunity to put their life plans in action. When structural barriers get in the way of such human flourishing, we think of them as unjust. Being in good health and of sound mind are two core requirements of a life well-lived. Without them, all other attempts at fair play (such as those in the distribution of income and other valued resources) are likely to fail. It makes good sense, therefore, to pay close attention to the relationship between health and wealth. Such a study has important scholarly and policy implications. We will participate in precisely this kind of inquiry during the semester. We will ask: What are the social determinants of health?
  • Freshmen Seminars (Freshmen Only):

Environment

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  • EPS 7: Introduction to Climate Change: This course covers the physical processes that determine Earth's past, present, and future climate, with a particular focus on the essentially irreversible climate change (a.k.a., global warming) caused by the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas. Topics will also include the estimation of future warming and impacts, the Earth resources that can be used to combat climate change, and the policies being used to shift towards the use of those resources.

  • EPS C20: Earthquakes in Your Backyard: Introduction to earthquakes, their causes and effects. General discussion of basic principles and methods of seismology and geological tectonics, distribution of earthquakes in space and time, effects of earthquakes, and earthquake hazard and risk, with particular emphasis on the situation in California.

  • ESPM C22AC / ANTHRO C12AC: Fire: Past, Present and Future Interactions with the People and Ecosystems of California: The course presents a diachronic perspective on human-fire interactions with local ecosystems in California that spans over 10,000 years. The course will provide an historical perspective on human-fire interactions at the landscape scale using a diverse range of data sources drawn from the fields of fire ecology, biology, history, anthropology, and archaeology. An important component includes examining how diverse cultures and ethnicity influenced how people perceived and used fire at the landscape scale in ancient, historical and modern times. The implications of these diverse fire practices and policies will be analyzed and the consequences they have had for transforming habitats and propagating catastrophic fires will be explored.

  • INTEGBI 11: California Natural HistoryAn introduction to the biomes, plants, and animals of California. The lectures will introduce natural history as the foundation of the sciences, with an overview of geology, paleontology, historical biology, botany, zoology, ecosystem ecology, and conservation biology. The field labs will include activities on the UC Berkeley campus and around the Bay Area. Course is open to all students without prerequisite and will provide a foundation for advanced study in biology and field biology.
  • PBHLTH 101: A Sustainable World: Challenges and Opportunities:Human activity and human numbers threaten the possibility of irreversible damage to the fragile biosphere on which all life depends. The current generation of students is the first one to face this existential problem and it may be the last one that can solve it. The goal of this course is for faculty with expertise in the many variables involved-energy consumption, food security, population growth and family planning, climate change, governance, migration, resource consumption, etc.-to give one-hour presentations on their specific topic. Teacher Scholars supervised by a GSI will facilitate student discussion groups, who will then prepare brief statements responding to the challenge presented, and suggest ways of ameliorating the problems.
  • Freshmen Seminars (Freshmen Only)

Other Great Recommendations from Major Advisers

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  • CELTIC 16: Introduction to Modern WelshThough a minority language, Welsh is today spoken by over 582,000 people, with thousands of learners worldwide. This class will serve as an introduction both to Modern Welsh and to the culture of Wales. Students will be introduced to the basics of Welsh grammar and pronunciation, and special attention will be paid to features that make Welsh distinctive. For example, you will learn why Wales is “Cymru” but to come from Wales is to come “o Gymru”.
  • English 161: Intro to Literary Theory: Free Speech, in Theory: This course will interrogate the way in which "free" speech informs and complicates our understanding of literature and the literary. We will trace the conceptual intersection of freedom and speech both historically and across several disciplines, beginning with Plato and Aristotle, then proceeding to to consider the effect of general literacy on the conception and regulation of free "speech," reading Milton's Areopagitica and Marx's "On the Freedom of the Press." Turning from "public" to "private" speech, we will also examine psycholoanalytic and linguistic accounts of psychic and physiological disfluency. Throughout, we will consider the "freedom" of speech in relation to questions of both form and content. We will end by considering the current situation of free speech in the U.S., reading materials related to the "Citizens United" decision, current discussions of "campus climate," and earlier Supreme Court cases related to free speech.
  • French 80: The Cultural History of Paris: This class will offer students an in-depth exploration of the urban artifact that is Paris. That is, rather than attending to a selection of events having transpired in Paris over its history, we will be proceeding “forensically,” peeling back what is visible to today’s observer in order to uncover the competing ambitions, economic pressures, and ideologies that have produced one of the most visited cities in the world. Thus, students can expect to gain knowledge of the city’s built environment and how and why it looks like it does. We will be reading a variety of texts (novels, plays, and memoirs or parts thereof; poems; ephemeral pieces; selections from architectural, historical and sociological studies), viewing a number of films, and looking at a lot of visual works (paintings, engravings, maps).
  • GLOBAL 153P: Religion and Human Security: Religion and Human Security – The field of global studies encompasses conflict resolution approaches and strategies that are both theoretical and practical. The nature of the relationship between religion, peace and security is often contentious, some arguing that religion has little to do with violence while others have argued we pay attention to nuanced role religion can play as a resource for peace and reconciliation. This course provides an overview of the current challenges of religious, ethnic and sectarian conflict and explores how scholars have evaluated the connection of religion to peace and security. We will analyze the role of various religions and investigate how fundamentalism, secularity and religious freedom relate to human welfare and explore religion’s role in promoting human security. Using various case studies from around the world ranging from South Asia, Middle East, North America and Indonesia, the second half of the course will critically analyze the role mediation and negotiation can play in conflicts that have a religious dimension. Accordingly, students will gain experiential and practical insights about how policy makers and practitioners can develop tools and strategies to address the salience of religion in improving human security in global affairs.
  • HIST 100S (001): Biology, Ecology, and the making of U.S. Imperialism: In our current moment of catastrophic climate change, biodiversity loss, and environmental injustice, what we “know” about “nature” matters. Biologists and ecologists in the U.S. play a crucial role in debates on how to respond to rising sea levels, mass-extinction, and environmental health crises. The political and social stakes of scientific knowledge are increasingly brought to bear on questions about access to healthy foods, clean water, and the right of Indigenous peoples to their ancestral lands and resources. Yet scientific knowledge about plants, animals, and peoples has always been deeply political and social, often in ways that are not always obvious to the experts and students in those fields. In fact, the study of plants and animals has a long history of material and cultural violence—in the “discovery” and colonization of Indigenous territories, the justification of racist and transphobic health policies, and the commodification of resources for profit over sustenance. How do these histories shape the way that natural sciences are taught today? What can a critical approach to the historical development of biology and ecology teach us so that we can better leverage science for social justice in the present?
  • HIST 139A: American Labor History. This course is a one time offering and will satisfy American Cultures.This course surveys United States labor and working-class history from the early nineteenth century to the present. Themes and topics include the changing characteristics of work itself; the formation and definition of an American "working class"; the economic impact and social experience of mass immigration and migration; unionism, socialism, anarchism and other forms of working-class organization; and working peoples' evolving relations with their employers and with the state. In addition, this class explores the impact of gender, race, and ethnicity upon the structure of the workplace, working-class communities, families, and cultures, and the larger economy.
  • INTEGBI 35AC: Human Biological Variation: This course addresses modern human biological variation from historical, comparative, evolutionary, biomedical, and cultural perspectives. It is designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of comparative biology, evolutionary theory, and genetics.
  • ITALIAN 120 (002): Remote Triumphs: A Virtual-Sensorial Anthropology of Literature and Art, from Ancient Rome to Present DayThis class engages with the long history of triumphs in art, architecture, music, ritual, theory, religious studies, and general political iconography. Responding to the distribution of students’ interests, the class will focus on the late medieval / early modern, nineteenth and early twentieth century, and present-day components of triumphs. We will discuss historical triumphal gestures in the form of monuments, processions, and iconographies from ancient Roman triumphs to the present day in a global framework.
  • ITALIAN 170: The Italian Cinema: Global Neorealism: On-location shooting, shoestring budget, non-professional actors, and social commentary on the everyday struggles of the so-called ‘common man.’ These are among the hallmark elements of Italian neorealism—a body of films that emerged out of the literal and figurative rubble of fascism and World War II, and gave a nation recovering from a bombastic dictatorship a humble new self-image. Few national film movements have been as revered, mythologized, and seemingly self-evident as neorealism. And yet, since its inception, its very status—as a tradition, a school, a genre, and/or as a distinctively Italian set of films—has been fiercely contested. This course explores neorealism itself as a site of numerous transnational transactions, from its origins—in dialogue with Soviet realism and 'escapist' Hollywood—to its resonance in China, Senegal, Colombia, India, and beyond.
  • POLECON 156: Silicon Valley and Global EconomyThis course investigates the historical origins and institutional ecosystem of Silicon Valley by identifying key factors in the development of Silicon Valley, as well as political circumstances and cultural conditions that have sustained its important role in the global economy. Questions like these will be addressed: Will Silicon Valley and artificial intelligence render workers irrelevant?Have the region's tech giants like Google, Apple, and Facebook become the monopolists of the new Gilded Age, and should they be broken up? Has Silicon Valley peaked? Is the "Silicon Valley model" unique or can it be replicated elsewhere?
  • SCANDIN 165: Scandinavian FolkloreThis course introduces you to the fairy tales, legends and, to a lesser extent, ballads of Nordic tradition. It will also introduce you to interpretive methodologies that strive to answer the question, “Why do people tell the stories that they tell?” For the purposes of this class, the Nordic area is taken to comprise all of the Nordic countries: Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, as well as Finland. We will, however, emphasize the three Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Sweden and Norway) in our readings and will, in fact, be focusing primarily on the story repertoires of five exceptional storytellers from rural Jutland in Denmark, who lived during the late 19th century.
  • SLAVIC 45: Nineteenth-Century Russian LiteratureIn this course, we will read short works of Russian fiction of the 19th century.  Our discussions will investigate major issues of the day, such as the nature of the workings of the brain and the unconscious, sex, sexuality, gender, war, Darwinian evolution, the concept of free will, the possibilities social change and progress, religion, and the existence of the afterlife. We will consider major debates discussed by philosophers, scientists, theologians, and others.
  • Freshmen Seminars (Freshmen Only):