Courses

  • KHC PY 101: Energy
    Ours is an energy intensive society. American energy consumption per capita is now over ten times what it was when our nation was founded, and the rest of the world is rapidly following our example. This is leading to increasingly severe worldwide problems such as the growing competition for scarce resources including fossil fuels (today's principal sources of energy by far) but also fresh water, agricultural land and mineral resources. Many countries face ever more severe problems of pollution, congestion, drought, and the growing effects of global climate change. The goals of this seminar are to examine the physical principles underlying the production, distribution and consumption of energy and to use this knowledge to explore and discuss such issues as energy conservation, public transport, the so-called hydrogen economy, electric and hybrid vehicles, nuclear power and carbon sequestration, as well as to evaluate the feasibility of various alternative sources of energy sources. During the Seminar, we anticipate freewheeling conversations relating to various energy-related issues, such as: Are we running out of oil? What is the evidence for anthropically caused Global Warming? What can be done to prevent (or prepare for) it? Can part or all of the problem be solved by alternative power sources? Is it feasible to capture and sequester the CO2 produced by fossil power plants? How important is it to conserve energy?
  • KHC RH 101: Serious Comics
    This course explores the use of long-form comics (also known as graphic novels and graphic narrative) to represent devastating events in history. Assigned texts include book-length works that use comics to depict the Holocaust, the Iranian Revolution, Hiroshima, the Bosnian War, the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, Hurricane Katrina, and 9/11. In particular, the course investigates the impact of the comics form on our understanding of catastrophic history.
  • KHC RN 103: Islam in the Eyes of the West
    The course begins with a discussion of how religion as a category was defined by Europeans and Christians primarily in the 19th century and applied to the study of non-Europeans cultures at the same time. This discussion of 19th century conceptions of religion is followed by an engagement with the diversity of devotional expressions of Islam, through studies of art, poetry, philosophy, and ethnography. Next, the course will engage the discursive phenomenon of Orientalism and the writings of Orientalists to see when and how these western categories of religion were applied to Muslim beliefs and practices. From there we will examine how Muslims in the modern period responded to modernity and wrote about Islam through similar Orientalist perspectives, which gave rise to political Islamic thought. Finally, we will consider how western political theorists have used these same Orientalist categories of religion to support the theory of an inevitable conflict between the West and Islam in the contemporary period. The course will conclude with criticisms of this "clash of the civilizations" theory and reflections on religion in the aftermath of September 11.
  • KHC RN 104: Moses and Muhammad as Prophets
    As prophets, lawgivers, and Abrahamic philosopher-kings, Moses and Muhammad inspired faith and practice, art and politics. This course examines classical and modern interpretations of their lives, which provided important and contested models for leaders, scholars, and reformers through the ages.
  • KHC RS 103: History and the Novel
    A series of close readings of major modern works of fiction. Focus will be on such topics as the novel's effort to speak the truth of history, its status as unintended historical symptom, its occasional conflictual relation with history, its rivalry with music in the effort to distill an essence of time, and the notion of literary history itself.
  • KHC ST 111: Studio I
    The studio courses sharpen students' writing, oral communication, critical thinking, and research skills. Students explore fundamental ethical, aesthetic, and social issues posed by challenging texts and compose and revise their own writing, with significant individual attention in conferences with the studio instructors. Students register for one section of the studio each semester of the freshman year.
  • KHC ST 112: Studio II
    The studio courses sharpen students' writing, oral communication, critical thinking, and research skills. Students explore fundamental ethical, aesthetic, and social issues posed by challenging texts and compose and revise their own writing, with significant individual attention in conferences with the studio instructors. Students register for one section of the studio each semester of the freshman year.
  • KHC TH 102: Aesthetics and Dance: Form and Structure
    Welcoming the uninitiated and dance enthusiast alike, this course looks at three major theories of art and applies them to dance. How do we view and perceive dance? The theories that provide us the most insight are the mimetic/representation, formal, and expression theories. While these theories have been in existence for centuries, we will use them to consider visual art, theater, and music, and then focus on dance. How is movement and gesture organized to tell a story, convey an idea and/or create an aesthetic experience? How do we make sense of this nonverbal form of communication and increase our appreciation for dance's power to engage an audience? In a seminar format, we will read and discuss articles by theorists and critics. Videos and workshops will provide historical context for four excursions to dance performances. With the premise of learning from doing, some class time will be spent in the studio, using it as our laboratory for experimentation and exploration of principles and ideas from the lectures and discussions. Coursework includes: attendance and participation in class; experiential time in the studio; readings and written responses; a final group project; and four written dance reviews.
  • KHC UC 103: Anger and Related Emotions
    If Homer's Iliad is the first work of Western literature, as it well may be, then the first word of Western literature is "anger." Homer begins his epic with a particular word for anger, "menis." It is but one of several ancient Greek words for this emotion, and means something like wrath, righteous and vengeful fury. Consideration of Homer's famous portrayal of anger's meaning and effects will lead us to these questions, among others: what is anger and what shapes does it take? What leads us to feel it? Is it a good thing to feel, or is it to be suppressed on grounds of its irrationality, destructiveness, or its connection with possibly flawed quasi-moral notions such as honor? Are there ever good reasons to give it up (for example, a duty to forgive), and if so how should we understand forgiveness, reconciliation, and the like? Anger and its modulations (resentment, vengefulness, righteousness, indignation, malice, among others) certainly seem to be extraordinarily prevalent and influential at multiple levels-- social, interpersonal, and personal. In Homer and the Bible, even the relation between humans and the divine is fraught with anger. In exploring what anger is, we will delve into the philosophy of emotion, and therefore into the relation of emotion to reason as well as to feeling and mood. In discussing why we feel anger, we will examine its relation to self-esteem, honor, and more broadly our nature as social beings. We will also consider several emotions that are related to anger, such as envy, jealousy, and love. Our readings will extend from Homer through the Bible, Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics (in particular, Seneca's On Anger), Shakespeare, to contemporary philosophers (some of whom approach the topic with issues of gender, race, and social standing in view).
  • KHC VA 101: Art for the City
    Visual Art is a universal language where diverse areas of professional specialization can intersect and find a new voice and way of speaking to many people instead of an esoteric and isolated few. Significant social, political, and moral issues of our time require the ability to think from multiple points of view. This ability can be developed into a visionary skill, which in turn can be embodied in enduring and powerful forms of artistic communication. In this course students will examine the ways that visual art embodies contemporary issues and how these issues relate to content found in the liberal arts study disciplines including The Social Sciences, The Natural Sciences, and Life Sciences. This course will include a diverse range of contemporary practices in many art forms that we will discuss as a group through frank discourse. We will investigate the impact of visual arts on diverse domains of 'real world' industries and communities locally in the Boston Area and compare these with projects made worldwide. We will do this through lecture presentations, peer to peer dialogue, student to professional dialogue and research. The course will culminate with individual illustrated reports in the form of online portfolios.
  • KHC XL 103: Problems in Propaganda and Persuasion
    In 1928, Edward Bernays -- an American nephew of Sigmund Freud, and a man widely recognized as one of the founders of modern advertising and propaganda practice -- opened his seminal work Propaganda with this observation: "The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country." Further, he reasoned that because "many of man's thoughts and actions are compensatory substitutes for desires which he has been obliged to suppress," it is the task of the propagandist to move people to action by appealing not to their reason but to their emotions. In this course, we will investigate how such appeals work, or have worked, in the recent history of Germany, Russia, Poland, Italy, China, Japan, the United States, and the Middle East. Beginning with classic theories of mass propaganda and persuasion, we will move through case studies of propagandistic mobilization by appeal to moral outrage at wartime atrocity reports, to fear of exclusion from dominant power structures ("The Emperor's New Clothes"), to intergenerational resentments, and to sexual, racial and class insecurities and the fear of death. We will also inspect the dynamics and iconography of totalitarian ruler--‐cult (Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler, Mao), compare strategies of mobilization for total war and techniques of military recruitment, and look at the ways in which changing media technologies inform propaganda techniques.