Honors 400-level Seminars
Our HON 400-level seminar courses are designed and delivered by some of UNLV’s most talented professors. With maximum class size of 16 students, these one-of-a-kind courses create a powerful atmosphere for invigorating class discussions, discovery, and deep learning.
Our menu of HON 400-level seminars changes each semester to keep students (and professors) on their toes. Click below for descriptions of our upcoming seminars.
Monday–Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.–12:45 p.m.
Jane Austen: Her Work, Our World
Dr. Maria Jerinic
Jane Austen — who hasn’t heard of her by now? Her novels have appeared on the big and small screens, her face and words on t-shirts, coffee mugs, calendars. She even has her own action figure! Why the attention? Why the interest? Why the celebrity status? Has she always been so popular? How did her contemporaries respond to her work; how did her work respond to her world?
This seminar will allow us to explore these questions while we read Austen’s fiction. Please be prepared to read six novels and accompanying criticism. Course requirements will include a group presentation, a 3-5 page paper and a longer research paper/project. (Dancing shoes are recommended!)
Wednesdays, 2:30–5:15 p.m.
Dr. Sheila Bock
Illness can bring with it disruption, fear, and uncertainty. Looking at a variety of case studies in both the United States and abroad, this course will explore how individuals, communities, and institutions seek to make sense of illness. Specifically, using tools of analysis from the humanities and the social sciences, we will examine what happens when illness experiences get transformed into stories that travel, and how these stories can work as tools of both empowerment and disempowerment in contexts of stigma. We will look at multiple examples of how illness is represented through personal, community, and institutional narratives, as well as the implications of these representations. We will also consider how health professionals can attend most effectively to these diverse meaning-making processes in their work.
Mondays/Wednesday, 1–2:15 p.m.
Contemporary Moral Issues
Dr. William Ramsey, Ph.D.
This seminar will provide a philosophical analysis of various contemporary moral problems and debates. The main goal will be to provide students with an in-depth understanding of the ethics of such pressing issues as abortion, physician-assisted suicide, terrorism, torture, the death penalty, and extreme poverty. Students will learn about major philosophical positions, arguments, counter- arguments, and analyses of these important topics. Along with acquiring a much deeper understanding of the moral dimensions of these issues, students should also gain the ability to develop and defend their own views on these topics in an intellectually responsible manner.
Fridays, 8:30–11:15 a.m.
Motivation and Leadership
Dr. Daniel McAllister, Ph.D.
As you develop technical and professional skills, remember that because you are competent you will be leading. This class will assist you in your preparation for that reality. Specifically, this class will focus on the concepts, theories and case studies concerning the leadership and motivation of people in modern organizations. The best way to learn about leadership and motivation is to participate in, and observe and analyze that behavior. The class discussions will provide a framework for observation and analysis, and participation in the team assignments will provide additional experience for that observation and analysis. In order to be fully successful in your development of your leadership knowledge and skills, both the framework and the experience are crucial. I will do everything I can to help you increase your knowledge and skills. I need your commitment to prepare and to participate fully in class and team discussions.
Thursdays, 2:30-5:15 p.m.
An Historical Survey of Film Through Acting Professor
Michael Tylo, M.F.A.
This course will introduce students to the concepts, style and execution of acting for Film. Films will be screened to show the progression of the art of acting during the medium’s first 100+ years.
Actors, directors, writers and producers from Film and Theatre will be discussed; especially those who represented the generational changes as reflected in the historical, social and economic influences of the times. Students are expected to leave the course with a better understanding of why acting has grown to the art form it is today and what is its inherent value in the story telling process of Film.
Wednesdays, 2:30–5:15 p.m.
What is Art?
Dr. Jeffrey Koep, Ph.D.
The class will examine art in many forms. The question, "What is Art?" will serve as the core. Art will be examined by determining what has inspired creators of Art in the past and by discussing what motivates artists in the present. Writers, visual artists, performers, filmmakers, composers, and others will visit class to discuss their "Art". Art is examined as a social force as well as entertainment. The dilemma of censorship will be discussed. This course will require candid discussion by all.
Mondays, 2:30-5:15 p.m.
Gandhian Welfare Philosophy & Non-Violent Culture
Dr. Satish Sharma
This course is designed to be an introduction to Gandhian welfare philosophy and nonviolent culture. Gandhian welfare and nonviolent culture conceptions are explored with reference to present human needs, values, orientations, life styles, and cultural practices. The social, moral, and political bases of societies are examined with a view to remove inequality, injustice, and oppression and for coming up with peaceful alternatives to the solution of problems. Self-empowerment, self- development, and just and egalitarian order are the other emphases.
Tuesdays, 2:30-5:15 p.m.
The Morality of Markets
Dr. David Fott
Capitalism emerged victorious from the Cold War, but today complaints about globalization abound. What morality accompanies a commercial society, and is it worthy of our approval? To begin to answer those questions, we need to know the intellectual roots of commercial society. After spending some time on earlier moral and economic thought (excerpts from Aristotle, the Hebrew Bible, and the Christian New Testament), we will read aloud Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, which explores the interplay of religion, morals, and commerce. That play raises questions about what is gained and what is lost when the pursuit of wealth dominates society. Then we will study a founder of modern liberalism, John Locke, and the most famous advocate of commercial society, Adam Smith, to examine the morality that largely rules us today.
Tuesdays/Thursdays, 10–11:15 a.m.
Changing Notions of National Identity: Migration and Multiculturism
Dr. Joanna Kepka
This seminar explores the changing notions of national identity and examines what the term meant prior to the rise of the European nation-state and what it means in the present era of globalization,
migration, and multiculturalism. In this context, the course also examines the rise of the far-right movements, cultural racism and xenophobia associated with immigration in the post 9/11 world. While this seminar focuses on western Europe and North America as recipient societies for the world’s migrants, it also goes to other geographical regions, most notably the Middle East, to seek their perspective on the phenomena studied in this class.
Global Climate Change Impacts on pre-Modern Civilizations
Dr. John Curry
People throughout the modern world have become increasingly aware of the impact of climate change upon human societies. It is much less well-known, however, that we already have a historical example of climate change in the form of the Seventeenth-Century Crisis, which manifested across multiple geographical regions and societies and is comparatively well documented in the historical record. This course will study the ecological, political and social crises that occurred over the course of the seventeenth century from a global perspective. At this time in history, a period of global cooling in many parts of the world led to food insecurity, political instability, and general misery in many parts of the world. By the time warmer climate returned, the process of adaptation had dramatically changed both the overall trajectory of world history and the global balance of power. This course will introduce students to the ways in which they can undertake comparative global and environmental history. A plurality of our case studies will be on issues involving Europe, where the Seventeenth-Century Crisis has been best documented in the historical record. However, we will not limit ourselves to that part of the world alone. Copious evidence for the Seventeenth-Century Crisis also exists for the history of China, the Ottoman Empire, the Americas, and Russia, to name but a few. Therefore, participants may choose.
Thursdays, 2:30–5:15 p.m.
The Courts in American Politics
Dr. Michael Bowers
The U.S. Supreme Court decided the 2000 presidential election, and Americans accepted the result-- some not happily, but they accepted it. Yet the court, as one of its justices says, has no armies, and no one can watch its proceedings on television. How does the court work? What role does it play in our society? How do justices get appointed--and why are there only two women justices but six Catholics, with liberal and moderate justices who once were attacked as conservatives and conservatives who vote with liberals? This course will explore that through reading, lecture, discussion, video, and other sources.
Tuesdays, 2:30-5:15 p.m.
Las Vegas and Organized Crime
Dr. Michael Green, Ph.D.
This class examines the history of Las Vegas from the beginning to the present, with a special focus on the history of organized crime in Las Vegas, how this area shaped the history of organized crime beyond its borders, and the interplay of Las Vegas, organized crime, ethnic diversity, and discrimination. The goal is that your abilities at critical thinking should be enhanced, your oral and written communications skills should be improved, and your ability to research historical and current events should improve. In addition, you will have the opportunity to participate in the early preparations for an exhibit on Prohibition at The Mob Museum as part of original research you will do for the class.
Thursdays, 1–2:15 p.m.
The Superhero in Literature
Dr. Heather Lusty, Ph.D.
This course is designed to explore “heroes” in literature (print media and film). We will read a range of literary and non-literary texts (including more modern “texts” like the graphic novel and movie/television depictions) from the ancient world through the twentieth century and focus on how these texts reflect their relation to literary, historical, cultural, racial, gender, civil, and political contexts.
We will begin with the ancient world and the concept of the hero/warrior, discussing the social, familial, and military conceptions of the hero in classic texts from the ancient Greeks’ the demi-god/warrior archetype to the medieval warrior/knight. We will consider the evolution of the hero in light of the advances in society and technology (detectives & rational thinking) from the Industrial Revolution into the modern age, examining concerns like race, civil rights, gender (female independence, trans-gender issues, etc.), social responsibility,, criminal justice, and culture. Texts from the twentieth century will include new mediums like the graphic novel, films, and television series.
Monday–Friday, 9:40–11:10 a.m., Summer Session 2
More than Twitter: The Return of the Essay
Dr. Maria Jerinic, Ph.D.
In a 2013 New York Times op-ed Christy Wampole suggests that “the essay has become a talisman of our times.” Could it be true? Is the essay the form for the early 21st century? If so, what is the essay? Does it differ from those thesis-driven pieces we write for classes? Is it a blog entry or a tweet or something else? Did the form just pop up now, or does it have a tradition from which we can learn?
We will explore these questions by reading many pieces dubbed essays, including those by Montaigne, Bacon, Woolf, White, Fadiman, Didion and Sedaris. We will also read and write critical work on the essay form, and then further develop our response to the questions and texts by writing our own essays. Class requirements will probably include a presentation and two 3-5 page critical analyses in the first half of the semester and a collection of essays (which we will workshop) with a critical introduction in the second half.
The Literature of Nature, Place, and Environment
Dr. William Doyle, PhD
What’s the first image a newcomer has of our city? What ordinary image best represents Las Vegas for you? This class explores how we know, alter, enjoy, and create nature as well as how we think about the places where we live, work, and study. Using texts and resources as varied as Thoreau’s Walden, wildlife documentaries, environmental art, nature blogs, maps, travel sites, and virtual worlds, we will investigate the assumptions we make and language we use to create, understand, and interpret the environments that surround us. Part of this class will involve composing our own place-based writing, and we will also discuss the history of nature and environmental writing. Be prepared to explore our campus, our city, and surrounding area as we reconsider the natural, built, and virtual environments that are an often overlooked part of our everyday experience.
Monday–Friday, 11:20–12:50 p.m., Summer Session 2
The American Experience: 20th Century Immigration Literature
Dr. Heather Lusty, Ph.D.
This course examines an emerging genre of fiction: the American immigrant. Rather than focus on the journeys themselves, this course will explore narratives of both the transition to American culture and the conflicts between generations that ensue as a result of westernization, as well as the struggle to maintain cultural heritage in the west. In this way, students will become familiar with some of the fundamental challenges of “the melting pot” (religion, cuisine, marriage, holiday traditions, literary heritage, political oppression, miscommunication, language) and better understand the wide variety of cultures that make up the great American national. Proposed Crossing Into America: The New Literature Of Immigration by Louis Mendoza, S. Shankar (Editors); American Gypsy by Oksana Marafioti, The Brief, Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot
Diaz, Dreaming in Cuban by Christina Garcia; Desirable Daughters by Bharati Mukherjee, The Cairo House by Samia Serageldin, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan.
Monday–Friday, 9:40–11:10 a.m., Summer Session 3
Poetry, World & Spiritual Thought Professor
Jaclyn Costello, MFA
Like science, logic, and literature--poetry is another way we come to understand the world. In this course, we'll study poetry that expresses an awareness of the human being's placement within a much grander structure than ourselves. You will be immersed in five unique units of poetry: Persian, Hindu, Buddhist, Western European, and poetry of the Americas. Integrated into our learning experience will be music, film clips, and art. You will also be required to participate in discussions relating to philosophy, spirit, and poems. This course offers you the opportunity to see the world from different perspectives--becoming more globally aware, while participating in an in- depth analysis of poetry and, of course, life.
Monday–Friday, 1–2:15 p.m., Summer Session 3
The Rhetoric of Science, Technology, and Medicine
Dr. Joseph Rhodes, Ph.D.
Students will study how scientists use rhetoric to communicate, and how nonscientists use rhetoric to argue about science and its effects, thereby discovering the means of persuasion available to shape science, its products (technology & medicine), and the publics who consume and participate in its goods. This discovery will result from the rhetorical analysis of scientific and medical controversies, such as climate change, labatomy, gender assignment, and paranormal research.
Those who are considering a career in science will learn how to think critically about the internal and external discourse of science, technology, and medicine, improving their use of rhetorical tools in the process. Students who do not intend to become scientists will learn how to critically analyze the claims of science and respond thoughtfully and effectively to its potential influence on them in the modern world.