Courses

The following list of courses exemplify the range of intellectual experiences we are offering our first-year students during the 2013-14 academic year. For a complete list of course descriptions, instructors, and available seats for current or upcoming semesters, please consult the current Keene State College course listings.

Angels & Fallen Women

This class looks at social, cultural, and sexual expectations for nineteenth century women through selected texts, and examines the implications of those expectations for women today. Have we come a long way, or are we still operating under at least some of those old rules?

Banned! You Can’t Read That!

What forms does censorship take? What materials should be censored? Who is setting the boundaries and deciding what topics are allowed? We will explore examples of banned or challenged materials, discuss changing definitions of obscenity, and define our own values and ideas about intellectual freedom and students’ rights to access information.

Black Music, Blues Nation

This ITW section employs Black music as its field of inquiry. Understanding blues-rooted music as an expressive mode which forms and informs the African American cultural production, class members will consider ways that Jazz, R&B, Rock-n-Roll, Funk and Hip-Hop influence and shape American culture through their original research projects.

Changing American Identities

The complex question raised throughout the course will focus on what it means to be an American. Some of the many ways that”American” has been defined during this time period will be considered. For example, how did the rise of suburbia change the American identity? How did the Civil Rights Movement change the American identity? To understand how identities change overtime, the work of novelists, film makers, singer/songwriters,politicians, historians, and sociologists will be studied;special emphasis will be given to the issues of family, class,and racial/ethnic identities. Students will engage in a writing project which will include the student’s family history and the major American historical and cultural changes from the end of World War II to the present.

Class, Culture, College

In this section of Thinking and Writing, we will be examining the role socioeconomic class plays in our lives. At the heart of our national identity is the American dream – the idea that everyone has the ability to work hard and achieve prosperity. We will examine the truth of this and think about the ways in which our class identity might impact the choices we make in both obvious and hidden ways. Specifically we will look at how class identity shapes the college experience and the role American higher education plays in reinforcing socioeconomic inequalities.

Coming Of Age in War & Peace

All of us have grown up in the shadows of war and peace.  Some of us have fought in wars.  Perhaps some of us carry mental and physical scars of war within and upon us.  We hope and dream for the ideal of world peace.  We live and cope with the specter of a current war and fear of another world war.  The purpose of this course is not provide a plan to achieve peace in our time; rather, through literature, film, music, and art to illuminate how writers and artists imagine how young people have come of age in war and peace; how they and their families have endured, or not endured, war’s wounds; and how, in particular, they have sought and struggled to survive in war’s aftermath.

Ecological & Cultural History of Food

How and why did the foods we eat today get here? Examining the ecological and cultural history of crops we encounter daily,such as corn, chocolate, potatoes and beans, will help us appreciate how the food choices we make today can profoundly influence cultural and ecological sustainability in the future.

Folkways & Regional Identities

In this course, students will examine the folkways, folklife and folklore that shape a particular cultural and regional identity. By investigating and studying the traditions, customs, rituals, dialect, visual and performing arts, architecture, stories, superstitions and more, students will acquire an understanding of the cultural and regional identity of a particular geographic region.

Forgiveness and Reconciliation

We all seek forgiveness, struggle with apologies and confuse amends with “I’m sorry”; but rarely do we examine the social,political, ethical, religious and cultural contexts in which forgiveness arises or amends are made. This course explores how individuals, public figures, families, communities and nations approach forgiveness, reparations and reconciliation.

The Great Hunger

This course will examine through storytelling the causes and conditions of the potato famine in Ireland in the 1840s, which left one million people dead from starvation and fever and another million forced into emigration in “coffin” ships, many going to America. What caused the blight? What economic, social, political, and moral defects of the era contributed to the devastation? Why was relief delayed? What parallels to the Great Hunger? can be seen in different times and in different places?

The Idea of Apocalypse

This course examines the fascination of apocalyptic scenarios from Y2K to 12/12/2012 and beyond. We’ll investigate how theology intersects theories of the individual, society, and environment in 21st-century apocalypse. Students will research and write about how a contemporary movie or television program of their choosing engages specific elements of apocalyptic thinking.

International Language

In the early 21st century, English appears to be the de facto international language, seemingly a great advantage to the US. But does this status lead to our complacency? What threats might a dominant language pose to linguistic diversity? The class will explore these and other questions involving international language.

Interpersonal Communication

Do we know what it really takes to be good at talking and listening? This course aims to examine the assumptions,nonverbal clues, personality differences, and other aspects of communication that affect whether our relationships–of all kinds–thrive or die.

Inventing our Own Way

Explore the human experience through the lens of invention and intentionality from how technology has impacted the natural world to how you make your music, store and play it. Discover your “bliss” and your strategies for working towards a sustainable future.

Landscape, Art, and Land Ethic

What are the connections between representations of the natural world and ecological thought? What kinds of art nurture or enable the development of what Aldo Leopold first called “the land ethic?” Writers in this course will develop complex connections between literature, visual art, and environmental issues, building on the direct study of works of art in the Thorne-Sagendorph gallery, other art galleries, and outdoor excursions.

Literature of Social Justice

Are you a skateboarder whose sport makes people look at you like a criminal? Do you listen to a style of music that causes people to assume your political, religious, or ethical beliefs?  Is your family part of a religion that people think is “strange”?  Are you a “white” male attending college on financial aid because your family cannot afford to help you with tuition? Because of the perceived “automatic” privilege that comes from living in America, we often disconnect ourselves from not only the world as a whole, but also the very people who sit next to us in class.  Marginalization causes things like Jim Crow laws, but it also causes events like the Virginia Tech shootings. The intent of this course is to help students see how they fit into these issues, form opinions, and express them in an academic essay.

National Language

We confront various U.S. language issues: the importance of Spanish, bilingual education, Black English, Asian immigrants, English, gender and language, second language education, technology, taboo words, storytelling, etc. Readings by Gloria Anzaldua, James Baldwin, Amy Tan, and others. Students write a15-20-page paper on a language issue of their choice.

The Networked Life

We will explore the impact of an increasingly networked world from an individual perspective. Complex questions of privacy,the changed roles of producers and consumers of media, the effects of personal mobile technology, thinking critically in a surplus of information, and global issues raised by the “digital divide” will be examined by means of reading, viewing,reflecting, discussing, and writing.

No Child Left Behind: Educational Reform

This course will allow the students to explore, to analyze, and to examine the educational law, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) through readings and discussions. The students will explore and choose their own topic of interest connected with NCLB for their sustained writing project.

A Photographic Identity

This course looks at the images we choose to represent ourselves as a nation and as individuals and how photographs serve as our collective memory of historical events. Students will explore the implications of photography in mass media, advertising, and social media.

The Role of Companion Animals

There are 78 million pet dogs and 86 million pet cats in America. These numbers reveal the strength of the human-animal bond. In this course, you will be introduced to the emerging field of animal studies as we consider the role that pets,primarily cats and dogs, play in society.

Searching for Wildness

The poet Gary Snyder defines the search for wildness as a practice: a deliberate sustained and conscious effort to become more aware of yourself and the world. Who am I? What am I doing here? What is going on? From the pursuit of a more “authentic”life by Chris McCandless to scientists building our understanding of the human biome, the search for wildness is the conversation of our time. Whether you are considering an academic major in the humanities, sciences, or professional studies, this course will invite you to join the conversation by reading a book and then building a semester-long thinking and writing project around the issues and dilemmas you discover in your reading.

Subculture and the Meaning of Style

This course will focus on analyzing contemporary popular culture from about 1960 to the present through research and writing. In particular, we will consider groups that have broken from the mainstream, especially countercultures and subcultures that coalesced around artistic and political movements. We will examine the social and historical context of innovative music,film, fashion, literature, and art by Beats, Hippies, Black Panthers, Rastafarians, Punks, B-Boys, and Riot Grrls. The major research assignment for the course asks students to interrogate the function of race, class, and gender identities using specific examples drawn from discussions and individual research.

Technology & Behavior

Since the concept of staying connected is one of the hallmarks of our decade, this course will focus on exploring the costs and benefits of technology on our personality, cognition, social interactions, and overall sense of well-being. Students will focus intensively on one sub-set of complex questions around technology.

Thinking & Writing about Race & Gender

Racism, sexism, and classism continue to be in the forefront of the dilemmas concerning people in the U.S.  This course will focus on issues of gender and sexuality, class, and race from a critical perspective based on feminist and “queer theory” and cultural and multicultural studies. Students will then analyze how media texts, such as advertisements, movies, songs, and sitcoms, may either contribute to or undermine the inequalities that still exist today.  Students will be responsible for several interconnected reading and writing assignments on specific issues in race and gender.  The culmination of this exploration will be the semester-long writing assignment.

Thinking & Writing in the Real World

This course is designed to help you get ideas you care about out of your own head and into someone else’s while losing as little in the translation as possible. You will study samples of non-fiction, fiction, poetry, oratory, art, music, and other forms of expression such as film, theater, radio, television and the internet that serve as models of how (and how NOT) to face the challenge of thinking and writing in the real world. You will learn how to conduct an effective intellectual inquiry by investigating a real-world topic of personal interest through in-depth reading, researching, and writing. Along the way you’ll discover that, even in today’s world of instant messaging, blogs, MySpace profiles, and YouTube videos, in order for writing to work it has to be based on a healthy respect for words and especially for the meanings words imply.

Thinking, Writing & Belonging

While Groucho Marx claimed, “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member,” our lives are unavoidably affected by the groups to which we belong, whether national or local, political or familial. In this course, we will consider what it means to belong-to be an insider or an outsider. Where,when, and with whom do we feel affiliated? What distinguishes chosen affiliations from those we are born into? We will think,read and write critically about the social importance of inclusion and exclusion.

Thinking, Writing & Citizenship

From deciphering the latest health news to decoding foreign policy, today’s citizens face an ever more complex world. While widespread internet access and portable technology provide opportunities for following current events, few attend critically to the daily news. This course establishes the critical reading and writing foundations of engaged citizenship.

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