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Seminars for the Spring Term 2013

Butler College

FRS 102 Cancelled Latin American Politics through Film SA
Daniela Campello
Barrett Family Freshman Seminar
 
Latin American society, politics, and economics have undergone dramatic transformations over the last fifty years. In this course, we will study the changing political landscape of the region, leveraging the medium of popular media, including cinema and television. We will watch and discuss films (fictional and documentary) that portray central features of Latin American political life, such as colonialism, guerilla movements, military dictatorships and their aftermath, crime, corruption, poverty, drug trafficking and violence. The films will be combined with weekly readings, and will provide a backdrop to animate our investigation of democracy and development in the region. (Tuesday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)

FRS 104 Light in Artistic Expression LA
Jane Cox

We relate to light from the moment we enter the world until the moment we leave it — but most of us don’t give it much thought. In this seminar, we will be students and explorers of light in our daily lives and in the arts. We will conduct creative experiments into how light (both natural and manipulated) affects emotion, image and storytelling. Simultaneously, we’ll explore how artists throughout the centuries have painted, drawn, written about and manipulated light. We will investigate an eclectic mix of visual arts, performing arts, film, literature, architecture and religion in order to explore the role of light in artistic expression.

Light is sneaky, so we have to come at it sideways, and from many directions — after all, we don’t see light until it strikes an object. In a series of practical experiments with lights, we will ask questions such as: Can light engender emotion? What is the relationship between light and music? What about light and language? What about light and the human body? Can light serve as a storytelling device? How does light reveal an object in space? How does color in light work?

At the same time, we will approach light through the eyes of other artists. Some of the most beautiful writing in the world attempts to capture the human experience of light — from the opening lines of the Bible to the stage directions of Tennessee Williams to the poetry of Louise Gluck. We’ll read and write and talk about it. We will look at the work of master painters of light through the ages — first, Caravaggio and Gentileschi, Vermeer and de Hooch, through Edward Hopper and Maxfield Parrish, and then more contemporary artists such as James Turell, Doug Wheeler, Olafur Eliasson, Andy Goldsworthy and Kyoko Ibe.

We will look at how light reveals space in architecture, inside and out — from light in prehistoric stone structures in Ireland, through Shaker and Japanese architecture, to the more contemporary work of Tadao Ando, Frank Gehry, Rem Koolhass and Jean Nouvel. We will explore how light relates to stylistic choices in performance (film, theater, opera and dance), looking at film noir, Brecht, Robert Wilson, Wagner, contemporary dance and lots of things in between. We will make two field trips to New York City to explore art, architecture and theater.

This seminar will explore the places where lyrical, spiritual and abstract visions of light bump up against the realities of actual surfaces, of electricity and of the human brain — we will engage the left and right sides of your brain! As we wrestle with some very specific questions about light, we will have the opportunity to encounter a broad range of wonderful art, architecture, writing, film and theater. Although we will read, write, sketch and get our hands dirty with lights, no prior artistic skill is needed. This seminar will be most exciting with a mix of scientists, historians, engineers and artists in the room. (Monday 7:30 - 10:20 PM)

FRS 106 Art and Science of Motorcycle Design STL
Michael Littman
Richard L. Smith ’70 Freshman Seminar
 
This is a hands-on seminar and laboratory experience about the engineering design of motorcycles. Students will restore a 1965 Triumph motorcycle and will compare it to the same model motorcycle from earlier years (1958, 1962, 1963 and 1964). No previous experience is needed, and the course is appropriate for liberal arts students as well as engineering students. Littman will be assisted by Glenn Northey, Chris Zrada and Jon Prevost, technical staff members of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

Students will examine, disassemble, model, test and overhaul a motorcycle. All systems will be considered with special focus on the power, structural and control systems. Engineering tools to be used include computer-aided design (CAD) software for the documentation and prototyping of engine parts, engine simulation software for understanding factors affecting engine performance and brake dynamometer evaluation for determination of engine power and torque. Students will assess and restore all components. Precise measurement, repair and redesign (where appropriate) of key components will include restoration of cylinder, piston, head, cam, valves, transmission, brakes, fork, oil system, clutch and chain. Students will also inspect and restore all electrical system components as needed and disassemble, clean, repaint and restore the frame and suspension.

Please note: This seminar has two sessions each week for 3 hours each.  The first 1 hour is in a seminar setting  and the second two hours in the MAE shop.  That is 6 contact hours per week. (Tuesday, Thursday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)

FRS 108 Cancelled Design, Craft and Ethical Value EM
Guy Nordenson

A work of design, as opposed to an artifact that has evolved over a long time — say a modern carbon composite kayak as compared to a native Aleutian kayak, is generally thought of as the work of an individual, not that of a collective or a society. In a similar way, art and craft are opposed as being either the unique, sometimes radical, works of individual genius or the opposed incremental, conservative manifestation of a traditional technique. This difference is, in effect, a version of the social tension of individual expression against material and social continuity and is often argued in strongly moral terms — either explicitly or implicitly.

The idea of buying locally grown food instead of industrialized or imported alternatives, also known as the “locavore” and “slow food” movements, is an example of this tension, as is the “craftavism” movement. The 19th-century Arts and Crafts movement, associated with artist and writer William Morris and writer John Ruskin, has had echoes through the 20th and 21st centuries in the work of important architects and engineers from Frank Lloyd Wright to Renzo Piano and Félix Candela to Peter Rice.

This seminar will cover a wide range of historical periods, movements and fields of practice to explore the value of craft from social and aesthetic perspectives. The broad array of topics has been chosen from the perspective of a practicing structural engineer, clustered around the fields of architecture and engineering. While the emphasis will be on design as a craft as well as an art with high aspirations, elucidating how the tension between art and craft is productive and reflects broader social currents, there will be plenty for those whose interests are not necessarily bound for architecture or engineering. (Wednesday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)

FRS 110 The Arthurian Legend in Literature and Film LA
Sara Poor

Quite literally for centuries, the legend of the once and future king, Arthur of Camelot, has fascinated poets, artists, writers and, most recently, filmmakers. In this course we will first examine, through film and novels, the grip the legend continues to have on the 20th- and 21st-century popular imagination. How do these works “read” Arthur and his milieu, and what do these readings imply about their own contexts? What kinds of ideas or ideals about utopia, charismatic leadership, love and betrayal lurk in these representations and why? We will approach these questions with the tools of film analysis — that is, attention will be given not only to narrative, but also to the formal filmic mechanisms through which the narratives are produced and to the work as a narrative system.

We will then turn to the roots of the Arthurian legend, tracing them back through the Middle Ages to the earliest (fifth century) Latin Chronicle, whose “evidence” for the King Arthur we have come to believe in is sparse to say the least. In investigating this body of material, students will consider the ways in which a myth is created, employed and transmitted over time, and in the process, meet two objectives: to improve their skills in critically thinking about and analyzing texts of all kinds; and to acquire a deeper understanding not only of present-day uses of the legend but also of the medieval contexts from which it emerges. (Thursday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)

FRS 112 Light, Camera, Action STL
Jason Puchalla
Richard L. Smith ’70 Freshman Seminar

How much of the world do we really see? In this seminar we will explore the capabilities and limits of our visual system while learning how to manipulate light to see a very different world.

The seminar will be organized around weekly discussions and a hands-on laboratory.

Discussions will offer students the opportunity, through class presentation and small group activities, to explore the optics of everyday experiences and challenge students to think about the idea of “seeing is believing.” Examples of discussion topics include: 3-D movies, airport security scanners, invisibility, the beauty of peacock feathers, when not to wear polarized sunglasses and what the world would look like if we had X-ray vision. The labs are designed to give students practical experience using many methods of modern research including: building with lenses, ccd (charge-coupled device) cameras, microscopes and image analysis software. Throughout the course, students will compare measurements of their own visual system to the tools of modern optics. Students will keep a journal of procedures, observations and results of all laboratory experiments. The final two-week lab will integrate various course concepts into a short imaging project to be presented to the class.

This seminar is appropriate for both science and non-science majors and has no science or math prerequisite. Students will learn about modern research microscopes, how to build simple optical instruments and how to carry out basic image processing. There will be two field trips where students will explore light and the visual experience through art and theater. (Tuesday, Thursday 1:30 - 2:50 PM)

FRS 114 Social Contagion SA
Stacey Sinclair

It is commonplace to think of humans as autonomous, bounded individuals. In fact, in countries such as the United States, treasuring one’s individuality is a revered cultural tenet. We are bombarded with admonitions to find yourself, be an original and maintain authenticity, lest you fall prey to the reviled fate of being just one of the crowd. However, emerging work in psychology, sociology and neuroscience paints a very different picture of human nature. Humans are thought to be fundamentally social creatures who are shaped by their interpersonal context in surprisingly powerful ways. People catch the attitudes and emotions of others as easily as they catch a cold. Conversation changes how one remembers the event being spoken about. News of someone’s weight gain or thoughts of suicide spread through social networks. Seeing or reading about someone else engaged in an action instigates the same neurological processes as doing the action yourself.

The goal of this seminar is to explore the ramifications of thinking about people as fundamentally socially embedded. We will begin by examining evidence that being socially connected is critical for success and well-being. We will then spend the bulk of the seminar discussing ways in which this drive for social connection makes individual psyches more porous than commonly assumed; that is, the ways in which others’ thoughts, beliefs and behaviors are contagious, others are integrated into the self, and the self is projected onto others. (Wednesday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)

Forbes College

FRS 116 The Evolution of Human Language EC
Christiane Fellbaum

When, where, why and how did human language originate and evolve? What degree of societal organization was necessary for it to arise? This seminar will explore these old and fascinating questions, drawing upon many different fields of investigation such as paleontology, archaeology, animal communication, neurobiology, genetics and statistics. We will first seek to identify the essential properties of human language that distinguish it from animal communication, giving close attention to the documented birth of languages such as Creoles and Nicaraguan Sign Language. We will also consider non-linguistic behaviors (sobbing, laughing) with communicative functions that involve brain areas dedicated to language processing. And what are we to make of recent evidence that chimps, gorillas and vervet monkeys communicate in sophisticated ways that engage some of the same brain regions involved in human language processing? Our inquiries will ultimately lead us back into an ancient realm of cave paintings, fertility figurines and fossil records as we seek to understand whether human language is a cultural product or an innate cognitive faculty. (Tuesday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)

FRS 118 Atomic Bombing and Firebombing Cities in World War II: Morality, Science and Race HA
Sheldon Garon

This seminar will consider the cultural, scientific, geopolitical and military developments that led to the massive aerial bombardment of cities in World War II — including the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We will address a troubling question of modern times: How was it that nations came to accept the bombing of civilian populations as an unproblematic part of war?

In addition to the atomic bombings, we will consider the broader ethical and historical questions posed by the bombing of cities predating A-bombs. Beginning with aerial bombardment in World War I, we will read about Japanese and German bombing of civilians in the 1930s; the German “blitz” of London and other British cities during World War II; German deployment of long-range missiles (V-1, V-2); and the Allied bombing of Japanese and German cities. Several thought-provoking films will supplement the readings.

Seminar discussions will focus on an array of ethical, historical and political questions. Was Japan singled out for atomic bombs because of American racism? Did the scientists who devised the atomic bomb consider moral questions, and do they bear moral responsibility? Was aerial bombardment effective in bringing about the defeat of Japan and Germany? Did the A-bombs in particular end the war with Japan? Although Americans today condemn acts of terrorism — notably the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York City — how do we judge the Allies’ self-conscious adoption of “terror” to demoralize Japanese and German civilians in World War II? Can the bombing of cities — then or now — be justified if the cause is just? (Tuesday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)

FRS 120 Life on Mars or Maybe Not SA
Michael Lemonick and Edwin Turner
William H. Burchfield, Class of 1902, Freshman Seminar

A few years ago, the headlines screamed with the news that scientists had discovered evidence of fossilized bacteria in a rock that had come from Mars. Over the next several months, independent researchers examined the claims carefully and concluded that the evidence was poor at best. But that negative assessment, which remains the consensus among experts, was barely reported, with the result that most people still think the question of life on other planets has already been settled. More recently, a story in The New York Times in 2006 carried the headline “Cloning May Lead to Healthy Pork.” But a careful reading of the story makes it clear that “may not” would probably have made for a more accurate, though obviously a less enticing, headline. And virtually everyone is familiar with the endless news stories that declare a particular vitamin, food or physical activity to be good for your health, inevitably followed a few years later by a story saying that the very same food or activity is, in fact, bad for you.

Most people learn most of what they know about science through the popular media. Yet as these examples make clear, media reports, even in respected national publications, are frequently confusing, incomplete or even just plain wrong. Moreover, even when they are accurate, they convey an idea of science that Albert Einstein himself skewered a half century ago. From such episodes, he wrote, “the reader gets the [mistaken] impression that every five minutes there is a revolution in science, somewhat like the coups d’etat in some of the smaller unstable republics.”

So how reliable is science news? In this seminar, we will investigate this question from the perspectives of both science and the media, led by one instructor from each camp. We will analyze several major news stories that have dominated the media at various times over the past few years: life on Mars, intelligent design, possible cancer cures, the “discovery” that some stars appear to be older than the universe, global warming and more. We will also address science news as it arises, as it inevitably will, during the semester. In each case, we will work to understand the actual science that led to these reports. Then we will look in detail at the forces at play in shaping media coverage, and how they tend to distort the science. Garbling and oversimplification by reporters is one factor, but this, as we will see, is only part of the story. Other factors include the competition for funding among scientists, the politics that lead universities and government agencies to hype their successes and the competition between scientific journals — all flavored with plenty of ego on all sides.

Students will not only come to understand why you can’t always trust what you read in the newspaper, but also will come to appreciate the satisfactions and pitfalls of communicating science, not only through readings and class discussion, but also by means of visits by and with science journalists, scientists and public information officers. They will also get a taste of what science reporters are up against by producing several pieces of science journalism themselves, which will be critiqued by both instructors. Although we will focus primarily on the print media, we will also consider the treatment of science by the broadcast media. In the end, students will never be able to see the news in quite the same way. (Monday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)

FRS 122 Who Was the Last Samurai? HA
Federico Marcon

Who was the last samurai? Scholarly sources and popular culture agree: it was the charismatic Saigō Takamori, the “last samurai,” who in 1877 rebelled against the rapidly modernizing Japanese nation-state to defend the samurai class from dispossession of its feudal privileges. But is the story really so simple? Were not Takamori’s romantic ideals of samurai loyalty, honor and aristocratic elitism anachronistic and surpassed well before Japan’s industrial modernization of the late 19th century?

This seminar will try to answer these questions by following the rise and fall of the warrior aristocracy of Japan from the 11th to the 19th century. We will utilize a variety of sources, ranging from literary texts, historical and religious documents and historical illustrations, to contemporary manga, novels and films, to follow the transformations of the social, political and cultural role of the samurai in eight centuries of Japanese history. (Tuesday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)

FRS 124 The Everglades Today and Tomorrow: Global Change and the Impact of Human Activities on the Biosphere STL
Anne Morel-Kraepiel
Richard L. Smith ’70 Freshman Seminar

“The Everglades are a test. If we pass the test, we get to keep planet Earth,” stated Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, an American journalist and conservationist who devoted her life’s work to the Everglades.

Twelve years ago the U.S. Congress authorized a $7.8 billion restoration effort to redeem the natural Everglades. Water in South Florida once flowed in a shallow, slow-moving sheet that covered one of the largest wetlands in the world. An exceptional variety of water habitats provided food and shelter to birds and reptiles, and to threatened mammals such as the manatee and the Florida panther. By the early 1900s, however, the drainage effort to make the “river of grass” amenable to agriculture and urban use was underway. Today the remaining fraction of the original Everglades ecosystem is under threat as human activities compete for land and water and affect water quality. In spite of the restoration plan, which is the largest hydrologic restoration project ever undertaken in the United States, progress has been slow, and the Everglades have been back on the UNESCO list of global heritage sites in danger since 2010.

The Everglades are a remarkable example of how our understanding and attitude toward nature have evolved over the last 100 years. They make a powerful case study as we seek to understand the science behind the current threats to the Earth’s ecosystems. In the first half of the course, you will read about the history of Everglades, and you will learn some of the scientific concepts underlying environmental issues in the Everglades and in the Earth’s ecosystems. You will learn to do field work and to conduct scientific research. You will design a research project on water quality for a seven-day excursion to the Everglades during spring break, where you will acquire hands-on experience as you do field work and collect samples for your project. You will also gain direct knowledge of the geology, chemistry and biology of the system. Back in Princeton, you will work in a laboratory setting to carry out the analyses required for your project. Eventually, you will synthesize your data into a final report that will contribute to our existing knowledge of the Everglades. In this course you will also explore the scientific, political and economic complexities of global/environmental change. Students must plan on devoting their spring break to the class trip and must be able to swim. This seminar is intended for both science and non-science majors, but a background in chemistry is recommended. All costs of the field trip are covered by the University. (Monday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)

FRS 126 Imagining Other Worlds QR
David Spergel
Richard L. Smith ’70 Freshman Seminar

Over the last few years, astronomers have discovered more than 1,000 new planets around nearby stars. In this seminar, we will explore how these planets are being discovered, the prospects for characterizing these planets, and the properties of these new worlds. The goal of the course is to introduce students to the new fields of exoplanets and astrobiology. The course will expose the students to “back of the envelope” physics and astronomy, and key ideas in geology, molecular biology and evolutionary biology that are relevant to astrobiology. While the course does not require mathematics beyond high school algebra, the problem sets are quantitative and will build on topics covered in the class. For the final project, each student will invent a new planet and describe its geology and biology. The 2012 syllabus and schedule are available online. (Monday, Wednesday 3:00 - 4:20 PM)

FRS 128 Representing the Holocaust LA
Thomas Trezise

The Holocaust is frequently considered an event whose nature and magnitude are such as to defy representation in any of the modes available to us, including historiography, written and oral testimony, fiction, poetry and film. Generally speaking, however, the very difficulty of representing the Holocaust has not inhibited but rather inspired with special urgency the effort to portray this event and its aftermath. In this seminar, we will consider the contributions of witnesses, creative writers and visual artists in an attempt to understand both the strengths and the weaknesses of their chosen form or medium of representation. In doing so, we will ask such questions as: To what extent and in what way did the Holocaust affect the very modes on which we rely to convey it? (For example, how has traditional storytelling been affected by an event that thoroughly disrupted the continuity and intelligibility of individual and collective life?) Why is there such a tension between the objective, third-person point of view of traditional historiography and the subjective, first-person point of view of individual testimony? To what degree are fiction and poetry ethically “permissible” in relation to the Holocaust, given that the imaginative or figurative language they employ necessarily departs from “the facts themselves”? What are the relative merits of verbal and visual representation? What motivates the adoption, avoidance or combination of certain materials or techniques, such as black-and-white and color film or documentary footage and interviews with survivors? The seminar is thus designed to give students not only the opportunity to learn about the history of the Holocaust but especially to consider both the forms in which we represent it and their ethical implications. (Tuesday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)

FRS 130 Architects in Quest of the Ideal City LA
Ivan Zaknic
Richard L. Smith ’70 Freshman Seminar

The visionary city has preoccupied architects throughout history and no less in our own time — from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre City to Le Corbusier’s Ville Radieuse to Paolo Soleri’s community of tomorrow, Arcosanti. The growth of cities has been the one unchanging factor in the march (if not “progress”) of civilization throughout the world. As people become more alert to environmental and ecological damage, these mega-cities appear to generate more problems than solutions, and, in fact, the new urban settlements now being built might no longer rightly be called cities.

This seminar will examine the architectural and urban principles behind several of the most famous models for the ideal city proposed over the past 1,000 years. By the second half of the semester, we should be able to draw up guidelines for a model city appropriate to our times. Students will be asked to confront questions such as: Can images of an ideal city still serve as a regulative model and inspiration? Can a city be regulated without being regimented? How much does communal living or urban environment depend upon good spatial planning, “inspired design,” and how much upon enlightened personalities? What are the best ways to create enclosures and privacy, even as population density increases? With the advent of cyberspace and Internet communities, and the possible dispersal and isolation of the work force in individual homes, will the urban community of the future any longer require a concentration of people in the workspace, or are we face-to-face only with interface?

The course requires no prior training in the spatial or building arts. Each of the 12 weekly seminars will engage a major city-project or conceptual problem, and by the final weeks of the course, students will be able to discuss, in a spatially literate way, the prerequisites for sensibly organized and responsive urban settlement. (Monday 7:30 - 10:20 PM)

FRS 132 Musical Passions LA
Anna Zayaruznaya

As told in the Gospels, the story of Christ’s final days on Earth is full of sound: Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s denial and subsequent remorse, the yells of angry crowds, Jesus’ defiant responses, the sobs of the three Marys at the foot of the cross. Further, the authoritative evangelists who tell this story weave elements together to create a rich tapestry of voices. Since the 16th century, musical settings of the Passion story have been heightening the drama of these voices.

The two most famous Passion settings by Johann Sebastian Bach — his “St. John Passion” and “St. Matthew Passion” — will form the core of the course. In order to understand Bach’s works, we will need to learn about the musical textures and instruments of his time, the performing forces for which he wrote and the key musical genres involved: chorus, aria and chorale. Through listening, reading and discussion, we will get to know these two Passions in detail. On the way, we will compare them to each other, situate them within the musical Passions of Bach’s predecessors and contemporaries, and explore their emotional impact and dramatic potential. We will then move from the 18th century to the 20th century, where we will ask how musical Passions can help us understand the two Broadway hits of 1971, “Godspell” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Finally, we will look at a quartet of Passions commissioned in 2000 to mark the 250th anniversary of Bach’s death. (Wednesday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)

Mathey College

FRS 134 What Makes for a Meaningful Life? A Search EM
Ellen Chances

With the pressures and frenzied pace of contemporary American life, it might sometimes feel as if there is little time to contemplate the question of what makes for a meaningful life. How does each individual find deeper meaning for him/herself? What is the purpose of my life? What is the relationship of the meaning of my life to some kind of larger purpose? How do our lives fit into the larger world around us? Throughout the ages, writers, thinkers and religious figures; wise ordinary folks — the person next door, one’s parents and grandparents — have grappled with these questions. The course explores, from a variety of perspectives, some of the responses to the “big questions” of life. The readings and films are taken from different cultures, different time periods and different spheres of human endeavor and experience — for example, from Dostoevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov” to Kurosawa’s “Ikiru (To Live)”; from “The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi” to “Forrest Gump”; from Marcus Aurelius’ “Meditations” to A.A. Milne’s “Winnie-the-Pooh”; from Taoism to Tolstoy; from Martin Buber’s “I and Thou” to Albert Camus’ “The Myth of Sisyphus” to Albert Schweitzer’s “reverence for life.” The goals of the seminar will be: (1) to investigate the thoughts that others have had; and (2) to examine the students’ own questions and responses to the issues raised. (Tuesday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)

FRS 138 Life Is Short, Art Is Really Short LA
James Richardson

All literature is short — compared to our lives, anyway, or to the age of the universe. Even the longest novel is a brief parenthesis within our days. It’s the task of stories and plays and poems and even one-liners to create an alternate time, a distilled experience, in which we are brought to see and know and feel things that our lives might teach us much more slowly or might never teach us.

This course will concentrate on our shortest forms, such as proverbs, aphorisms, riddles, jokes, flash fiction and poems ranging from free-standing haiku and microlyrics and sonnets, to the lyric moments within long poems, to sequences composed of short poems or fragments. These very short forms may not quite provide the extended escape of a great four-volume Beach Read or the grueling and exhilarating catharsis of “King Lear,” but they can bring us radiant moments and images, the sudden recognition of “what oft was thought, but ne’er so well expressed” (Alexander Pope), the surprise of a thought we’ve never encountered, a quick trip to strangeness, a change of mind and heart and vision. They can, as Emily Dickinson says, take the top of our heads off. And because short forms depend more sensitively than their larger siblings on absolutely the best words in absolutely the best order, they are a perfect laboratory for the study of rhythm and form, syntax and sound, metaphor and image: how language and literature work and move and move us. (Monday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)

FRS 140 Does Poverty Have a History? HA
Daniel Rodgers
Agnew Family Freshman Seminar

In most societies, some people are rich and many more people are poor. At times, this has been accepted as an unfortunate historical fact; at other times it has been called a natural law. In either case, poverty and economic inequality have been stripped of their history and transformations.

The aim of this seminar will be to write the rich and poor back into history. We will look at the experiences of being poor and the processes of falling into or climbing out of poverty. We will look at historical changes in the economic organization of cities and the countryside and changes in the general distribution of wealth. We will look at ideas of wealth and poverty, from charity to modern welfare politics, and at global consciousness of poverty. We will interview contemporary workers in the field. We will, in short, try to give poverty and economic inequality a history as vivid as the more visible histories of war and party politics. (Wednesday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)

FRS 142 From the Arabian Nights to the Prince of Persia: Orientalism in Literature and Film HA
Daniel Sheffield

American news media, movies, video games and novels are filled with images of the Islamic world. All too often these images perpetuate stereotypes of, or “essentialize,” this diverse and complex world, which spans the Middle East, North Africa and Central and South Asia, as both a fantastical realm of Arabian Nights and a hotbed of fanatical, misogynistic and despotic Muslims. In a time in which engagement with the Islamic world is of pressing importance, this seminar attempts to scrutinize the origins of commonly held notions about the Islamic Orient by those who have represented it in scholarship, literature, art and film — the “Orientalists” — and to prepare students to critique connections among popular media, foreign policy and the ethics of identity and representation in the modern world.

Our seminar will be divided into three units. In the first unit, we will examine the roots of Orientalism, paying particular attention to how the areas of the world that we have come to refer to as “the West” and “the East” were construed in Classical and medieval times. Reading works by authors ranging from the Greek historian Herodotus to the chroniclers of the Crusades, we will delve into issues of ethnic and religious identity in Antiquity and the Middle Ages. In the second unit, we will chart the rise of interest in Orientalist literature and art in early modern Europe, and its connections to burgeoning European mercantile, imperial and colonial pursuits in the Islamic world. In early translations of “The Arabian Nights” and the “Qurʼān,” as well as the works of Rudyard Kipling, we will also see how the Orient was imagined during an age of empire. Finally, in the third unit, we will examine depictions of the Middle East and Islam in the American psyche from the time of World War I to the present, focusing on film (such as “Aladdin”), television (such as “24”) and news media. (Tuesday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)

FRS 144 Knowledge, Holiness and Pleasure: The Illustrated Book in the Medieval World LA
Nino Zchomelidse
William H. Burchfield, Class of 1902, Freshman Seminar

The book was the primary source for the collection of knowledge in the Middle Ages. It also was the medium for the preservation and proliferation of the texts that underlay the three monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam). Finally, the book served as a source for elite entertainment, perhaps most importantly in Late Antiquity and the later Middle Ages. This seminar investigates the role of the illustrated book within the political, religious and artistic developments that took place after the rise of Christianity — from the end of the Roman Empire until the early modern period in the medieval West and in Byzantium — permeating Jewish and Islamic traditions. We will examine how the different types of books, such as horizontal and vertical scrolls, large and miniature size codices — influenced the placement, conception and style of the illustrations. The seminar also will address processes of manufacture, issues of materiality (i.e., precious multimedia book covers, papyrus, parchment, paper), and the relationship between text and image. A major aspect of the seminar will focus on the performative aspect of the book in its wide range of functions: secular and liturgical, public and private.

Students will be able to work firsthand with manuscripts from the rare book collection at Firestone Library and the Marquand Library of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University Art Museum. Several mandatory field trips are planned to visit manuscript collections off campus, for example in New York City (Morgan Library and Museum) and in Baltimore (Walters Art Museum). (Wednesday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)

FRS 146 Science and Buddhism EC
Robert Wright
University Center for Human Values Freshman Seminar by an Anonymous Donor
 
Are some spiritual traditions more compatible with modern science than others? Might some spiritual traditions even draw a kind of support—a measure of validation—from science?  
Some people think Buddhism is a case in point. The Dalai Lama has said that Buddhism and science are deeply compatible and has encouraged western scholars to critically examine both the meditative practice and Buddhist ideas about the human mind. A number of scientists and philosophers have taken up this challenge. There have been brain scans of meditators and philosophical examinations of Buddhist doctrines. There have even been discussions of Darwin and the Buddha: Do early Buddhist descriptions of the mind, and of the human condition, make particular sense in light of evolutionary psychology? 
This seminar will examine how Buddhism is faring under this scrutiny. Are neuroscientists starting to understand how meditation “works”? And would such an understanding validate meditation—or might physical explanations of meditation undermine the spiritual significance attributed to it? And, leaving meditation aside, how are basic Buddhist doctrines holding up? We’ll pay special attention to two highly counterintuitive doctrines: that the self doesn’t exist and that reality is in some sense an illusion. Do these claims, radical as they sound, acquire a certain kind of plausibility in light of modern psychology?
And what are the implications of all this for how we should live our lives? Does science suggest that Buddhist practice offers a path to a happier life? Does it say anything about whether Buddhist doctrines point us toward a morally sound life?
Reading materials will range from Buddhist scriptures to recent scientific papers to classic writings in psychology and philosophy.  (Tuesday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)

Rockefeller College

FRS 148 Capitalism, Utopia and Social Justice SA
Marc Fleurbaey
Kurt and Beatrice Gutmann Freshman Seminar in Human Values

Financial breakdown, social protests, climate threat, political revolution — history has not ended and may even seem to accelerate. In this context, it is interesting, perhaps even a duty, for conscientious citizens to reflect on the basic tenets of social organization in the United States as well as on the basic principles guiding those who want to preserve or to change “the system.” Is capitalism fundamentally just, or does social justice require another form of society? But what is social justice?

The objective of the seminar is obviously not to hammer out answers to these questions, but instead to introduce students to a variety of readings, primarily in philosophy and economics (John Rawls, Amartya Sen, Robert Nozick, Milton Friedman, Thomas Pogge), so that they can begin to develop informed opinions about these questions and the basic structures of society. In particular, we will engage in ongoing debates about social justice and the remedies to societal problems; look beyond the implementation of their remedies to consider the underlying definitions of the objectives, which will raise important ethical debates and dilemmas; and finally examine normative theories and discourses about capitalism and social justice. The seminar requires no prior background and will introduce basic concepts from the relevant disciplines. (Tuesday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)

FRS 150 Walden in Our Time LA
William Howarth
Henry David Thoreau Freshman Seminar in Environmental Studies

In the spring of 1845, an unknown writer built a one-room house on the shore of Walden Pond, near his hometown of Concord, Mass. To furnish the house, he bought three chairs: “one for solitude, two for friendship and three for society.” Most weeks at Walden were three-chair weeks, and many visitors still used his boyhood name, David Henry. In private, the young man signed his work “Henry David Thoreau.” A new name for a new life, he hoped.

He was seven years out of Harvard, still kept a room at his parents’ home and worked odd jobs in a bad economy: surveyor, lecturer, tutor, gardener, handyman. No one in Concord, not even his famous mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson, saw that Thoreau’s real work was his daily walk through town and field, and the epic private journal where he wrote his observations of acorns and raindrops, philosophy and politics, the aims of science and the purpose of art. In time, Thoreau’s journal would reach 2 million words, evolving from a literary workshop into an environmental history of a singular American town.

But first the journal gave us “Walden, or, Life in the Woods,” one of the greatest books in world literature. All of Thoreau’s works emerged from his journal pages, asking about issues and ideas far ahead of their day: our duty to conscience and the state, our right to protect wilderness, our need for values that are not just material. Who are we, and where are we bound? What is our best relation to nature? Where lie true power, happiness, freedom and love? And how do we know?

In our seminar, we will read “Walden” and excerpts from Thoreau’s journal slowly and closely, a process enriched by related essays from recent authors. Like Thoreau, you will write your own journal entries on objects, places, people and journeys. We will also consider writing as a way of life, explore the use of e-texts and digital resources, and investigate another important American town: Princeton, N.J. As a final project, you will create an intensive study of a place that is your own Walden, wherever that may be. (Thursday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)

FRS 152 How Not to Go to Africa SA
Mahiri Mwita

In “How to Write about Africa,” Binyavanga Wainaina sums up the default view with which Africa is portrayed, especially through a Western-oriented critique: “Always use the word ‘Africa’ or ‘Darkness’ or ‘Safari’ in your title. Subtitles may include the words ‘Zanzibar,’ ‘Masai,’ ‘Zulu,’ ‘Zambezi,’ ‘Congo,’ ‘Nile,’ ‘Big,’ ‘Sky,’ ‘Shadow,’ ‘Drum,’ ‘Sun’ or ‘Bygone.’ Also useful are words such as ‘Guerrillas,’ ‘Timeless,’ ‘Primordial’ and ‘Tribal.’ Note that ‘People’ means Africans who are not black, while ‘The People’ means black Africans...”

As provocative as it is, this voice captures the “default narrative” that continues to define what Africa means to a Western mediated reality. Rudyard Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden” still defines the North/South sociocultural relationship. Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” theory still informs the discourse on the failure of the post-colonial state, bedeviled by corruption and deadly tribal clashes. This narrative also views African “native cultures” as a barrier to modern development, and is used to explain the intransigence of the HIV/AIDS tragedy when contextualized to African cultural practices, and so on.

This course does not dismiss this narrative; it provokes students to explore why the narrative remains not only popular in the discourse of Africa’s past and present dispensation, but also why students themselves are likely to be shaped by its implications, especially if they are interested in dealing with Africa in the course of their studies and future careers. Selected readings on East Africa are used to explore burgeoning counter-narratives. Alternative voices are redefining how indigenous and locally inspired efforts are dealing with the myriad challenges in African cities and villages. This generates many challenging questions: Why are community theater-based outreaches proving to be a more effective tool for fighting against the spread of HIV/AIDS than well-equipped hospitals and voluntary counseling and testing clinics? Why is the American-influenced hip-hop revolution in East Africa a tool for youth empowerment rather than a gangster art form? Will an African technological revolution wait for Africans to afford computers when they are already doing M-Pesa (mobile banking) from their cellphones? Why does the post-colonial state tend to succeed especially after it resurrects from deadly political crises, such as Rwanda and Uganda (before it collapses again)? (Tuesday, Thursday 3:00 - 4:20 PM)

FRS 154 Contemporary African Art Since 1980 LA
Chika Okeke-Agulu

This seminar takes us on a journey into contemporary African art as it took shape after 1980. We will examine the impact of the International Monetary Fund’s Structural Adjustment Program on artistic production in the 1980s, and the dramatic movement of African artists from the margins of the international art world to its very center since the 1990s. In the process we shall confront questions such as: how familiar or different are the works and concerns of African artists? Africa may be the exemplary “distant” or exotic place, but is the art as well? What are the consequences, in Africa and the West, of the international stardom of a few African artists? And what does the work of these Africans at home and in the West tell us about the sociopolitical conditions of our world today? To address these and other burning questions, we shall combine analyses of key art works, exhibitions and relevant texts in the classroom, with trips to art exhibitions and collections in New York City and Washington, D.C.-area art museums and galleries. Three well-known artists will visit the class to speak about their work. This seminar, in sum, is an opportunity to encounter politically astute, sophisticated, awesome and sassy works of art that have come out of Africans in recent years. (Tuesday 7:30 - 10:20 PM))

FRS 156 Islam in the West SA
Lawrence Rosen

Recent years have seen a fluorescence of studies about the history and circumstances of Muslims in the West. From the Muslim slaves brought to the United States, through immigration as guest workers and residents in Europe, to the changing attitudes that followed in the wake of 9/11, the situation of Muslims in the United States and Europe provides a site for asking questions about religious integration and accommodation, the role of religious law and practices in the jurisprudence of a foreign culture, the representations of Islam in literature and film, and the relationship between the generation of initial migrants and their Western-raised progeny. Particular attention will be given to the insights from studies in religion and anthropology to the understanding of religious conversion, reform and revitalization; the formation of transnational charitable organizations as mechanisms of migrant-homeland continuity; the religious renewal of a younger generation; and the internal conflicts over proper rituals and prayer forms when people from diverse countries are brought together in a single place of worship. Building on my own experiences speaking to Muslim organizations in the United States, we will also arrange a meeting with Muslim student organizations on campus and make a trip to the nearby Islamic Center of Central Jersey in Monmouth Junction, N.J. (and possibly the Cordoba Center near Ground Zero in New York City) to talk with Muslim leaders about the current concerns of their congregants. (Wednesday 7:30 - 10:20 PM)

FRS 158 Into the Woods! What Disney Didn’t Tell You About Fairy Tales LA
Volker Schröder
Class of 1975 Freshman Seminar

There is much more to fairy tales than the simplified and sanitized versions for children that we’ve all grown up with. This seminar will attempt to explore the complex history of the fairy tale genre and to address the many critical questions it raises: What exactly is a fairy tale? How does it differ from other types of folk tales and, more generally, from myth and legend? Who used to tell those enchanting stories, and to whom? When did they come to be written down and printed, and for what audience? How have their forms, meanings and functions evolved over time and across cultures?

We will examine issues such as gender roles, family dynamics, social structure and the relations between humans and animals. While we will have to courageously confront the disturbing “darker side” of fairy tales — sadism and cannibalism, incest and infanticide — we will not neglect their humorous, playful, subversive and utopian dimensions.

The readings for this seminar will revolve around the most famous “tale types” such as “Cinderella,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Little Red Riding Hood, “Snow White” and “Sleeping Beauty,” but also will include slightly lesser-known but no less intriguing narratives such as “Bluebeard,” “Rumpelstiltskin” and “Puss-in-Boots.” We will study the canonical texts by the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault and discover a number of other versions originating from Ancient Rome to the Italian Renaissance and the French 18th century. We will also read a selection of diverse and often conflicting interpretations of these stories by historians, folklorists, psychoanalysts and literary critics. Although the primary focus will be on the European fairy tale tradition, attention will also be paid to its counterparts in non-Western cultures.

The second half of the course will examine the literary fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen and Oscar Wilde and conclude with contemporary Anglo-American retellings of the classical narratives (by Anne Sexton, Angela Carter, Robert Coover and others). Throughout the semester, we will consider the ways fairy tales have been illustrated over the centuries, as well as their presence in opera, ballet and musicals, and watch various video clips and feature films such as Jean Cocteau’s “La Belle et la Bête” and Neil Jordan’s “Company of Wolves.”

Participants in this seminar will be expected to read thoroughly and critically the texts assigned for each meeting (approximately 100 pages per week), to participate actively in class discussion and to prepare one oral presentation followed by discussion. Written assignments will consist of weekly responses to the readings (online discussion board), a short midterm paper and a longer (critical or creative) final paper. The seminar requires the willingness to engage with “strange,” non-Disneyfied stories and to question one’s notions about the nature and purpose of fairy tales. (Monday 7:30 - 10:20 PM)

Whitman College

FRS 160  Water and the Environment STN
Catherine Riihimaki
Shelly and Michael Kassen ’76 Freshman Seminar in the Life Sciences
  
Water is arguably our most precious resource and also one of the most difficult to manage. Dry regions like the Western U.S. obsess over how to get more water, while wet areas like the Eastern U.S. must sometimes deal with excess water during events like Hurricane Sandy. Some of our most fertile lands are also among the driest. In developing countries, finding clean water for drinking, bathing, and irrigation can take hours each day, and can form the basis for female oppression where women have the primary task of finding water. Globally, our future will be occupied with finding enough water for the needs of growing populations, a particular challenge as climate change alters rain and snowfall patterns.
In this course, we will discuss the complicated ways in which our lives are impacted by water, from the location of cities and towns—built around waterways for transportation, energy, irrigation, and consumption—to the types of food that we eat—often made possible only through extensive irrigation—to our deep ties with our uphill and downhill neighbors—who supply water to us or receive water from us. We will delve into the science and politics of water through readings from popular media, technical journals, and recent nonfiction bestsellers; documentaries on policy issues related to water; and interactive websites that provide real-time data on the state of water locally and globally.
(Thursday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)
 

FRS 162 Controversies in Science: Past and Present EM
Samuel Philander

This seminar explores how past scientific controversies — Is the world flat or round? Is the Earth at the center of the universe, or is it one of several planets orbiting the Sun? — can help us cope with current controversies that range from an innocent demonstration of the beguiling Coriolis force at the equator in Africa, to the unfortunately polarized issue of global warming. The disputes that have been resolved, after centuries of debate in some cases, exemplify the complexity of interactions between scientists and laymen, and display the curious methods of science, especially the firm commitment to skepticism demanded of its practitioners. Those methods are powerful, but also have severe limitations. They can answer certain questions precisely — those listed above, for example — but provide no guidance on how we should live our lives. Consider the demonstration at the equator to the north of Nairobi in Kenya, where several times a day, every day of the year, wealthy, highly educated tourists watch a young African demonstrate how the Coriolis force causes water draining out of a bowl to swirl clockwise in one hemisphere, counter-clockwise in the other. The demonstration mesmerizes tourists, but angers some scientists who, on the Internet, explain why it is a hoax, denounce the African as a cheat and charlatan who takes advantage of gullible tourists, and demand that the demonstrations be stopped. The scientists, unaware of the limitations of science, fail to see the African as a clever entrepreneur with a disturbing message for them: their students — the tourists who are so interested in science that something as dull as water swirling out of a bowl entertains them — have been taught poorly. Can the demonstration be modified to increase the natural curiosity of the tourists in science, thus helping improve communication between scientists and laymen? This is an urgent matter because, over the past few years, the evidence that human activities are causing global warming has become convincing to more and more scientists, but to fewer and fewer laymen.

This seminar is organized around weekly discussions, first of past scientific controversies and the way they were resolved, then of possible solutions to current controversies, solutions based on the assumption that laymen are naturally curious about the environment. Laymen somehow know that the equator is a special line, but do not appreciate that every place on Earth is special, and that this is a most unusual moment in the long and eventful history of a most unusual planet, the only one known to be habitable. Why is the Earth habitable? Why, in a global context, are Princeton, and your hometown, special places? If everyone can answer such questions, we will be moving towards resolution of the global warming controversies. (Tuesday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)

FRS 164 Cancelled Liberalism and Religion: Culture War or Mutual Support? EM
Paul Sigmund
 
During the 2012 presidential campaign the press has often described the debates over the so-called social issues — abortion, same-sex marriage, contraception and church-state relations — as a culture war between secular liberals and religious conservatives. Does liberalism undermine religious values, as some religious leaders in this country and many in the Islamic world believe? Or does religion provide the soundest foundation of freedom and human rights, as the Founding Fathers held?
The first part of the seminar will study the role of religion in the development of liberal ideas in writers such as John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and John Stuart Mill. This will be followed by an examination of the responses of the major religions — Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism and Islam — to the challenge of liberalism. The seminar concludes with an analysis of the current debates on moral and political issues — identifying and evaluating the divergent views and attitudes of religious and secular actors. We will examine questions including theories of interpretation of religious texts, whether or how religious insights can contribute to policy discussions in a liberal democracy, the role of religious believers who reject the assumptions of religious freedom and political equality on which liberal democracy is based, and the varying views on the relation of church and state in constitutional regimes. Seminar participants will develop analytic skills in the evaluation of ethical and religious arguments, as well as deepened knowledge of significant historical and contemporary religious and political thought. (Tuesday, Thursday 3:00 - 4:20 PM)

FRS 166 The Chemistry of Magic STL
Kathryn Wagner

Have you ever been fascinated by fire or mesmerized by a magic effect? Throughout history, fire, fog, phosphorescence and color changes have evoked fear, amazement, wonder, delight and curiosity. In this seminar, we will explore the chemical basis of phenomena associated with magic while preparing magic programs for teachers and middle school students. This seminar will also briefly explore the concepts of magic and science. What is magic, and how is it perceived? What is science, and how is it practiced? What is the relationship between the two?

Hands-on experiences in seminar and laboratory will be a vital part of the course. Each student will learn to prepare and perform chemical effects selected by the instructor, including production of fog and smoke, reactions that result in color changes, flames and flame effects, and materials that emit light. The chemical principles that govern those effects, including thermodynamics, kinetics, chemical equilibrium, chemical reactivity and electronic structure and bonding, will be explored through observation and experiment as well as reading, lecture and discussion. Each student will also select or invent an additional chemical effect, optimize or develop it and (when appropriate) perform it as part of an end-of-semester program. A short written report on the project, with a discussion of the chemical principles underlying the results of the work, will be due at the end of the semester.

Near the end of the semester, each student will design one “Chemical Magic” program for entertainment and one for instruction. The class will choose effects and activities from the individual programs to use in the programs presented by the class. Participation in both presentations is required. The class will write a handbook to accompany the instructional program that includes detailed instructions on how to perform each effect, information on chemical safety and disposal, an appropriate explanation of the science, and references.

This seminar is intended primarily for non-science majors and has no science or math prerequisite. We will spend most of our time exploring relationships between the seen (magic effects) and the unseen (electronic, atomic and molecular interactions) in an effort to gain a deeper understanding of both. In the process, we will explore the nature of magic and science, and we will learn about the acquisition of scientific knowledge. Then we’ll share both magic and science. (Tuesday, Thursday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)

FRS 168 Cancelled Joan of Arc HA
Rob Wegman

Joan of Arc was a young woman born around 1412 near the eastern border of France. She was of humble origin, illiterate and uneducated, and spent her youth doing menial duties and housework. Her life took a dramatic turn when, around 1424, she began to experience a series of visions in which she was personally charged to come to the aid of the kingdom of France — large parts of which were then being occupied by English troops. In a chain of extraordinary events, Joan not only managed to gain the trust of Dauphin Charles, the uncrowned heir to the French throne, but to lead his struggling armies to decisive victories that turned the tide of the war. Just how a mere commoner, and an illiterate young woman at that, was able single-handedly to change the course of history — equipped with nothing but the force of her conviction — remains a mystery today no less than it was to people in the 15th century. Medieval society was unprepared for the challenge posed by Joan of Arc, that of entrusting its military and political fortunes to a woman who not only was not of royal descent, but spectacularly unqualified for the responsibilities she took on. To make sense of her historic intervention, commentators have sought recourse to a number of archetypal images. To some she was a visionary, even a saint; to others she was a witch, a heretic an instrument in the hands of powerful manipulators, or perhaps just an imposter.

In this seminar we will consider the historical phenomenon of Joan of Arc, tracing the events as they were recorded by contemporaries, and analyzing the discourses in which her image was shaped and contested, from her own time to the present. (Tuesday, Thursday 1:30 - 2:50 PM)

FRS 170 Exotic Quantum States of Matter STN
Ali Yazdani
Richard L. Smith ’70 Freshman Seminar

All around us, matter obeys the laws of quantum mechanics at the microscopic level, but such manifestations are difficult to detect at the macroscopic scale. Under some special circumstances, such as very low temperatures or in extremely high magnetic fields, quantum mechanics can give rise to some exotic states of matter. These states, such as superfluids and superconductors, are perhaps the best manifestations of quantum mechanics at a macroscopic scale. There are conductors that can carry electricity without resistance or fluids that flow without viscosity through narrow orifices.

In this seminar, we will introduce students to these and other exotic quantum states of matter by describing the scientific experiments that manifest the special properties of these macroscopic quantum states. We will cover the history of discoveries in this subject following the development of various experimental techniques covering about 100 years worth of advances — from the development of cryogenic technology around the turn of the 20th century to the most advanced laser cooling methods used today to realized artificial quantum states with ultracold atoms in so-called optical lattices.

The course’s approach will be to develop an understanding of the significance of these macroscopic quantum states through phenomenological description of their special properties. Many of these novel properties are discovered and confirmed through clever experiments, the study of which is an opportunity for the students to develop an appreciation for how discoveries are made in small laboratory settings. Understanding the basic premises of such experiments can be used to develop concepts for a term paper for the course. Background required: interest in physics and chemistry, high-school level physics and calculus. (Monday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)

Wilson College

FRS 174 The Mathematics of Magic Tricks and Games QR
Manjul Bhargava
Richard L. Smith ’70 Freshman Seminar

Some of the very best magic tricks and games invented over the years have involved an ingenious use of mathematics, including concepts from number theory, group theory, topology, coding theory and cryptography. Examples include the magic tricks of Norman Gilbreath, Charles Jordan and Bob Hummer, and the games and puzzles of Noyes Chapman, Erno Rubik and Martin Gardner.

Conversely, and somewhat more surprisingly, a great deal of nontrivial and important mathematics has been discovered due to corresponding developments in the theory of magic and games, such as in the works of Persi Diaconis, Ron Graham and John Conway.

In this seminar, we will explore some of these very beautiful mathematical ideas that underlie magic and games, with an emphasis on both theory and performance/play. (Monday 7:30 - 10:20 PM)

FRS 176 Cancelled The Literature and Politics of Encounter LA
Natasha Lee
 
This course will examine how our encounters with other human beings — through love, travel, commerce or conflict — prompt us to reflect upon who we are and how our identity is always part and parcel of our relations to others. Why, and how, do individuals form communities? How do literary texts stage different modes of sociability — from appeals to a democratic compact to the Early Modern defense of the polite ideal? How do historical circumstances and material conditions, such as European explorations of the New World or the rise of a global economy, shape the ties that bind people together? Lastly, what notions of the individual do different models of community presuppose, and how does fiction, in staging relations between persons, invite us to question such foundations? Grounded in canonical texts from Plato, Ovid, Proust and others, this course ultimately will explore how literary and theoretical tools can be brought to bear on social questions. In so doing, the course aims to develop skills for forming critical arguments as we encounter fiction, as well as other cultural objects, such as Jean-Luc Godard’s recent film, “Notre Musique,” and the current exhibit at the Princeton University Art Museum, “Encounters: Conflict, Dialogue, Discovery” (on view through Sept. 23). (Wednesday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)
FRS 178 Divided We Stand: Economic Inequality and Its Discontents SA
Thomas Leonard
Professor Burton G. Malkiel *64 Freshman Seminar

Economic inequality is today a topic of vital debate in American political life, as exemplified by the Occupy movement. This course aims to help students better understand the causes, nature and consequences of economic inequality. We take up six big questions: who is unequal; how does inequality change over time; what is unequal; what are the causes of inequality; what are the consequences of inequality; and how does inequality affect justice?

Who is unequal? Discussion of economic inequality conventionally focuses on income inequality among families or households within a nation. We also want to consider economic differences across nations, among families worldwide, and inside families — income inequality among siblings is surprisingly high. To whom we compare ourselves is not merely a definitional choice; it also embeds our view of the appropriate moral community.

How does inequality change over time? Inequality trends allow us to interrogate the relationship between inequality and economic growth, and to consider an important concomitant: income mobility.

What is unequal? The technical issue concerns how best to measure inequality. The conceptual issue concerns what is unequally distributed. Some alternatives, such as wealth, are even more unequally distributed than is income, while other measures, such as happiness, are less unequally distributed. Are all gaps with economic consequences — for example, the very unequal distribution of status, height, beauty or life expectancy — morally significant, and if so, when should policy aim to shrink them?

What are the causes of inequality? We will investigate some leading accounts of the causes of growth in inequality: increased globalization, polarized politics, increasing returns to skilled labor, the rise of “superstar” labor markets, growth of the financial industry and its notoriously outsized compensation, and an aging and better-educated population.

What are the consequences of inequality? Some economic inequality is desirable: it spurs innovation, hard work and investment in human capital, all of which create more wealth and the good things wealth affords. But greater economic inequality is also associated with adverse health outcomes, political capture, slower economic growth, and, if people want to keep up with the Joneses, increased inefficiency. How much inequality is too much inequality?

How does inequality affect justice? Is inequality intrinsically bad, or bad chiefly in its consequences? Is distributive justice solely a matter of the structure of a distribution or is it a matter of the process that leads to that distribution? Is Wall Street occupied because bankers are too rich or because bankers became rich unfairly, for example, by luck, fraud or harm? And, do obligations to the poor cross national borders or stop at the water’s edge? (Tuesday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)

FRS 180 Race and the History of Racism in Brazil: An Alternative to the United States? HA
Pedro Meira Monteiro and Lilia Schwarcz

In his memoirs, President Barack Obama refers to the day his mother took him to the movies to see a Brazilian film from the 1950s that depicted “black and brown” Brazilians singing and dancing in carnival-like manner in the streets of Rio de Janeiro. Obama’s description of the moment he looked at his mother’s face is poignant, and can make us think about the role Brazil has played in the imagination of those who, in the United States, think about race and the history of racism throughout the world. Obama writes: “Her face, lit by the blue glow of the screen, was set in a wistful gaze. At that moment, I felt as if I were being given a window into her heart, the unreflective heart of her youth. I suddenly realized that the depiction of childlike blacks I was now seeing on the screen, the reverse image of Conrad’s dark savages, was what my mother had carried with her to Hawaii all those years before, a reflection of the simple fantasies that had been forbidden to a white middle-class girl from Kansas, the promise of another life: warm, sensual, exotic, different.”

Like the United States, Brazil has a long history of slavery and racism, but differently from the United States, Brazil has not postulated any “one-drop rule” to establish color lines in a segregationist manner. This may explain profound differences between the two nations and their histories and cultures, but at the same time it reveals a common fascination by a racially mixed and hybrid society, one in which differences between individuals would be less clear, be they based in color or phenotypical traces, or linked to biology or economic and social status. Obama’s passage is key for the discussions we will be holding during this seminar. We will explore questions such as: Why is it that Brazil so often seduces the rest of the world as being a colorful and supposedly less racialized society? How is it possible that, in the 1930s, Brazil was just one step from racial apartheid, at the same time that it was seen as a “melting pot”? Is “racial democracy” as a concept just an infamous invention that hides oblique and nonetheless cruel forms of racism in Brazil? Is racial democracy just a myth? But if it is a myth, what does a myth tell about the society that invented it? If “race matters,” as per Cornel West’s witty expression, does it matter equally in different countries? Is “affirmative action” something that only makes sense in the United States, but not in Brazil? How do we understand a society that is democratic on its surface, with mixed and hybrid cultural demonstrations (such as in music, arts and sports), but which at the same time discriminates between its people socially — in the work environment, in terms of justice — as can be seen throughout its history?

Addressing these and other questions, we’ll analyze a variety of sources (literature, painting, newspaper articles, film, music and demographic data) in order to understand how race has been conceived in Brazil in different and rich ways, and how Brazilians often think of themselves as an “alternative” to the United States. Finally, we will understand how Brazil can be so deeply paradoxical, and how, despite being the last country to abolish slavery in the Western world (1888), it was long considered the “country of the future,” at once the cradle of racial democracy and a repository of urban violence, as exposed in the media through the typical drug lords in the “favelas,” most of them “black and brown” young people.

While students who take this seminar don’t need to know Portuguese necessarily, they are strongly encouraged to start learning Portuguese, either in the fall or the spring semester of their freshman year. (Thursday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)

FRS 182 The Dreamkeepers: Education Reform and the Urban Teaching Experience SA
Kathleen Nolan
L. Richardson Preyer ’41 Freshman Seminar in Public Service

Currently, urban education reform is one of the most heated and divisive issues in the United States. Debates center on such questions as how to close the so-called racial achievement gap, how effective the “business model” of education has been and how to best train and motivate teachers. The debates also bring attention to urban poverty and social inequality and call into question the impact of macro-structural forces on classroom life. Michelle Rhee, CEO of the political advocacy group Students First, for example, has said, “We will no longer describe failure as the result of vast impersonal forces like poverty or a broken bureaucracy.” Yet, on the other side of the divide, Diane Ravitch, an educational historian, policy analyst and research professor at New York University, has argued that it would be good if our nation’s education leaders recognized that teachers are not solely responsible for student test scores. Poverty matters and needs to be addressed as part of our educational agenda. And then there is Wendy Kopp, a 1989 graduate and founder of Teach for America, who has kept the focus on teacher quality and school leadership. She argues, “By deepening our understanding of what differentiates the most successful teachers and feeding those lessons into strategies for selection, training and professional development, we can increase the number of highly successful teachers.”

In the midst of the maelstrom of political rhetoric, we find the “Dreamkeepers” (borrowed from Gloria Ladson-Billings, a pedagogical theorist and teacher educator) — hardworking urban public school teachers who are often left feeling discouraged and unsupported. Yet, some have provided inspiring examples of “what works” in the classroom. And still others have emerged as dynamic and innovative school leaders and beacons of hope.

With a critically analytical and empathetic eye on the dreamkeeper, or the urban teacher, this seminar will explore the daunting challenges and possibilities of urban teaching in the context of current debates, placing the experience of the urban classroom teacher at the center of our inquiry into the problems of urban education. Some of the central questions students will explore are: What is it really like to work in an urban public school? How do the political economy and current educational policies shape those experiences? What key policy initiatives appear to be most promising, and what makes for a successful teacher in an urban school? Readings will include an overview of several of the most timely educational trends and debates within urban education; foundational studies exploring the tensions between teachers’ actions and social and institutional constraints; current research documenting the perspectives, attitudes and experiences of teachers working in low-income urban schools; and research on effective urban teachers.

This seminar is designed for any student considering making a short- or long-term commitment to urban teaching and/or students interested in the study of urban inequality and urban schooling as a major contemporary social problem. (Tuesday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)

FRS 184 The Chemistry of Color STL
Susan VanderKam

“Only those who love color are admitted to its beauty and immanent presence. It affords utility to all, but unveils its deeper mysteries only to its devotees,” wrote the Bauhaus painter Johannes Itten, who is recognized as a master of color theory and how individuals react to color.

Since the dawn of time humans have used color to distinguish themselves in a crowd. Specific colors became synonymous with royalty and rank (royal purple, blue-collar), as well as opposing teams or armies (Princeton Orange, Prussian Blue). Rooms are painted specific colors to evoke particular emotions. The science of color is a complex mixture of physics and chemistry.

This course will explore the basic tenets of color from the context of chemistry. Fireworks, dyes, gemstones, blueprints, pigments, flat-screen technology and the colors of nature can all be explained using basic chemical principles. During the seminar portion of this course, we will address the fundamentals of color science. During the laboratory section, we will apply the fundamentals and explore how to make purple fire, separate colors into components, synthesize industrially important dyes and pigments, make blueprints, explore “natural” food colors, create a light-emitting diode, and produce glow sticks. (Tuesday, Thursday 11:00 - 12:20 PM and Wednesday 1:30 - 4:20 PM)