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Honors Courses

Honors courses are small, often team-taught from scholars in different disciplines, and fit easily into students' course schedules by fulfilling the university's core requirements.

Recent honors courses include the following:

Art and the Science of Art A forensic scientist and an art conservator teach students how artworks can be understood physically and how science can help guide the preservation of priceless works of art.

Book Design and Production An application of lessons in the history of book making and design to market, edit, graphically design, and produce a new literary journal, The New Sound: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Literature and Art.

Contexts and Images: African-Americans in Literature and Film This course provided an opportunity to examine literature and film as integral elements of African-American experience, heritage, and culture from the Civil War to the present.

Criminal Investigations and Society A detailed analysis of several major criminal investigations and how societies' opinions and expectations influenced the investigation and outcome of each case.  We discuss how these cases influenced citizens' feelings about their country and the criminal justice system that either served or failed them during each of these historic events.  The course focuses on four cases: the Sacco-Vanzetti murder trial of 1921, the Boston Strangler case in the early 1960s, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, and the Michael Peterson murder trial in 2003.

Cultural Entrepreneurialism In this course the relationship between the cultural importance and interpretation of the artifacts of Connecticut and their potential as sites for tourism and economic development is explored. Historical, cultural, literary, and economic impact are assessed in relation to geography, population, education, cultural expectations and funding and long-range planning resources.

Emerging Infectious Diseases: History, Science and Medicine One accepted definition of emerging infectious diseases is infections that have newly appeared in a population or have existed but are rapidly increasing in incidence or geographic range. This course provides an overview of the nature of human and animal pathogens and the diseases they cause that are associated with emerging infections. The course also gives a global perspective on how emerging infectious diseases have influenced history.  

The Ethics of Sport This course examines some controversial issues in contemporary sport within the context of several major ethical frameworks. This course draws heavily on both philosophy and sociology.

Global Solutions for Sustainability An examination of engineered systems and their effects on the global environment, the use of global resources for sustainable living, design protocols for sustainable engineered systems, and life cycle economics.

Language and Thought An exploration of the nature of language, including both psychological theories about the social and emotional uses of language and the ways in which playwrights, poets, novelists, and other artists explore language in their work.

The President and the Media An investigation into how the President uses the media to govern and how the media (including comedians, popular music, TV sitcoms, and films) affects how the public views the office of President and the person occupying that office.

Punk Rock and Society An exploration of the music and the subculture called ‘punk,’ its practices and values, its relationship to mainstream society, and its role in social change. Invited speakers included Penny Rimbaud, Billy Altman, "Handsome Dick" Manitoba, Lenny Kaye, and Bob Gruen.

Irish Emigrants and Exiles: Writing the Nation A study of the relationship between Irish literature, Irish ethnic identity, and Irish nationalism. The course will cover a selection of Irish and Irish-American writers including Jonathan Swift, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats, J.M. Synge, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Eugene O’Neill, Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, and Flann O’Brien. Particular attention will be given to the impact of Irish emigration after the Great Famine and the impact that this had on Irish identity and culture in Ireland and abroad.

Twilight of the Gods: The Music and Lyrics of the Beatles An examination the Beatles' music and lyrics: their origins, musical background, struggle for fame and success, their musical influences, their unparalleled success as performers and writers, their effect on Western popular culture beyond their music, and most of all their songs written and performed by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr.

Poetry in Motion Contemporary technologies and approaches to both creative writing and digital arts have both
opened new avenues of collaboration for artists and writers and eroded the boundaries between the written word and new media arts.

Beyond Moonlight and Magnolias: The American South Sitting in his Harvard dorm room, Canadian Shreve, a character in William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! , asks his roommate Quentin, "Tell me about the South.  What is it like down there?"  Although Quentin maintains that "You have to be born there" to understand the South, the course will prove Quentin wrong.  Through literature and history, this course will explore the culture of this fascinating region.

The Politics of Music This course focuses on the many ways music from around the world can be understood as political. The goal of the course is to study the relationships between music and politics through an examination of anthropological and ethnomusicological theories about the politics of music and culture. Topics addressed in the course include: music and nationalism; music and revolution; music and conflict; sound as weapon and music censorship. We will concentrate on these topics through recent case Ustudies taken from South Africa, Appalachia, the Balkans, Tanzania, China and Afghanistan, among others.

Odysseus to Captain Kirk: The Mythic Hero in Film This course traces the original, godlike heroes of tradition, history, and fiction, the epic personalities who roam a dangerous and extraordinary world, performing the legendary deeds that have come to define them:  from Odysseus, Samson, Jesus, and King Arthur to Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan of the Apes, James Bond, and Captain James T. Kirk (and others in between); from  the 9th century B.C.E. to the 23rd century of our imagination.   Literary excerpts from their exploits will be studied so we can assess how the movies have translated these heroes' lives to the screen.   Every age needs--and has had--its heroes, and the movies have given us  access to them all!

Finishing the Hat: The Art of Stephen Sondheim This course examines the work of Stephen Sondheim and his collaborators, investigating the connection between musical composition and lyric writing, the structure of thematic musical and literary writing, and the development of characters in musical theater. 

The Western World in Modern Times What do we mean when we refer to ‘the West’ or ‘Western Civilization’? Are there common features that bind the different nations and peoples of the West together? If so, how did those common features develop? This course will explore each of these questions by examining major political, social, intellectual, and cultural trends in the lands commonly known as the West from the mid-17th century to the present. A portion of the course will be dedicated to a Reacting to the Past module, which will transform the class into a historically rich role-playing game.

Symbiosis: Connecting Art and Biology in Contemporary Culture This course explores the connection of Art and Biology from the rise of the Renaissance to contemporary times and examine Senescence, Human Consumption and Waste, Evolution and Mutation, and Biotechnology through the lens of Biology and Contemporary Art.