Mimi Czarnik  
Associate Professor of English


Excerpts from Course Syllabi


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 AH 410 – Senior Humanities Seminar
Instructional Syllabus
“From childhood men have an instinct for representation, and in this respect man differs from the other animals that he is far more imitative and learns his first lessons by representing things.”  Aristotle

“Representation” is a concept that permeates the heart of all of the humanities and fine arts.  What does it mean to represent someone in literature or the arts?  To have a representative government?  To be created in another’s image?  What is the relationship between representation and reality?  These are some of the literary, historical, religious, and philosophical questions that will concern us in the Senior Humanities Seminar this Spring.

Of particular interest will be representations of the male and female body. As you can see from the Aristotle reference above, theories of representation have masculine origins.  In the 1990s,  feminist critics have complicated theories of representation by introducing into the discourse issues of subjectivity/objectivity, spectatorship and voyeurism, and by challenging traditional definitions of realism.  We will enter into this discourse by reading critical essays on representation and by analyzing representations of women in art, fiction, film, and historical moments in time.  You also will attempt to “represent” yourself in a factual/fictional memoir.

This is a senior-level course and will be taught on an advanced level.  It will assume expertise in one of the humanities—English, history, philosophy, religious studies—and familiarity with all of them.  Because of this assumption, students will be expected to take responsibility for much of their own learning:  personalizing and refining course goals, planning activities, leading seminar sessions, and raising questions.  Students will be responsible for representing their own disciplines’ perspectives and for teaching them to others.

Because the course represents a capstone for the entire integrated arts and humanities major, you will be asked to look both backwards and forwards. You will draw on previous arts an humanities course experiences, returning, for instance, to some of the issues about self and identity raised in AH 150.  At the same time, you will look forward to your future and how you will ensure the arts and humanities maintain a continuing place in your daily life.

Course goals:

1. The student will reflect on her own learning in the humanities and assess the impact of that learning on her own personal and professional development.

2. The student will develop and share with her classmates and instructor her understanding of the processes and epistemological assumptions of her discipline as a way of coming to know the world.

3. The student will make judgments about the appropriateness of the various humanities disciplines to the exploration of given issues, and demonstrate her ability to employ discipline frameworks in making cognitive and moral judgments.

Course texts:

John Berger, Ways of Seeing
Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo
Edwidge Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory
Lorrie Moore, Anagrams

Texts will be supplemented with theoretical articles and films.

Course requirements:

1. Attendance is required.  If you must miss a class because of illness or serious reasons, you must notify the instructor and make arrangements to obtain notes, handouts, and assignments.  Students with excessive absences will be asked to withdraw from the course.

2. Preparation for and participation in class discussion is required.

3. Each student will be responsible for designing and leading a seminar session.