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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.

Summer 2015

HON 440-1001

Monday-Friday, 11:20-12:50 p.m., Summer Session 2
Gender, Sex, & Sexuality
Dr. Lisa Menegatos

This interpersonal communication seminar explores the impact of gender roles, biological sex, and sexual orientation on our personal and professional relationships. We will examine biological, social, and cultural influences on gender, as well as how gender roles are socially constructed and performed. Additionally, we will delve into the similarities and differences in the ways men and women communicate, as well as the similarities and differences between heterosexual relationships and gay and lesbian relationships. Through studying the theories and research related to the influence of gender, biological sex, and sexual orientation on our interpersonal interactions, students should be able to develop their own interpersonal communication skills and competence.

HON 410-1001

Monday-Friday, 11:20-12:50 p.m., Summer Session 3
Ways to Think, Ways to See
Jaclyn Costello, MFA

This course is designed for the philosophically inclined, with the intention of challenging our existing interpretations of the nature & structure of this world. How do varying concepts such as ‘zero’ and ‘time’ and ‘the spirituality of a tree’ fit together? How do YOU, observing it all, transform & evolve as you gain deeper understanding? We will explore four distinct units using the following texts: Returning to the Essential, poetic essays by Jean Biès; Jealousy,a novel by Robbe-Grillet; Man and Time, essays by collected authors; and Zero: the Biography of a Dangerous Idea, a non-fiction work by Charles Seife.

HON 410-1002

Monday-Friday, 1:00-2:15 p.m., Summer Session 3
Communication Ethics in the Electric Age
Dr. Joe Rhodes

As the internet, smart phones, and military drones change our world, it is important that we return to some classical questions about communication and ethics. Is it okay to do a little evil for a greater good? Should political judgments be made based on timeless principles (freedom, equality, justice) or on circumstances (costs, benefits, resources)? When does exercising free speech impede upon rules of civility? Can communication be violent, and if so, when, if ever, should it be regulated? Is war ever just? This course will prepare students to answer some of these vexing questions in two ways. First, students will examine the relationship between public communication and ethics by reading classical rhetorical and political theories. Second, students will apply the knowledge gained from these texts to contemporary ethical dilemmas brought about due to the changing nature of hi-speed medias and global technologies.

Fall 2015

HON 410-1001

Thursdays, 2:30-5:15 p.m.
Instructional Leadership
Dr. Maria Jerinic

This seminar is substantive introduction to peer techniques effective in leading university-level students in self-motivated exploration of the world of knowledge. Restricted to Honors College students accepted as peer instructors for HON 105.

HON 410-1002

Tuesdays/Thursdays, 10-11:15 a.m.
Banned Books
Professor Stephen Bates, J.D.

Incorporating the perspectives of literature, law, sociology, and theology, this class looks at forbidden texts, words, and ideas, from Fanny Hill to Charlie Hebdo. Topics include: the evolution of obscenity and blasphemy law in the United States, the rise and fall of movie censorship, Holocaust denial and other forms of hate speech, banned in much of the world but protected by the First amendment, parents as censors, calls for book banning in public schools, and the difficulties of fathoming the offensiveness of words and images across cultures and religions

Texts include selections of banned books; Stanley Fish’s essay “There’s No Such Thing as Free Speech … And It’s a Good Thing Too”; and excerpts of books on censorship, including Leonard Levy’s Blasphemy: Verbal Offense Against the Sacred, Jeremy Waldron’s The Harm in Hate Speech, Edward de Grazia’s Girls Lean Back Everywhere: The Law of Obscenity and the Assault on Genius, and Marjorie Heins’s Not in Front of the Children: “Indecency,” Censorship, and the Innocence of Youth.

HON 410-1003

Fridays, 8:30-11:15 a.m.
Forensic Psychology
Dr. Shera Bradley

In this course, students will learn about a variety of topics within forensic psychology, including how psychology and the criminal justice system interact. Students will understand and appreciate the differences between adjudicative competency and Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity. Students will learn how social science research impacts issues in the criminal justice system, including eyewitness testimony, confessions, lie detection, and risk assessment. Students will learn about Human Trafficking, child maltreatment, and domestic violence and the issues that may arise in the criminal justice system for survivors. Students will understand how psychologists are involved in child custody disputes and in death penalty cases. Finally, the course will cover juries and include topics such as how juries make decisions, and how they are selected.

HON 410-1004

Mondays/Wednesdays, 10-11:15 a.m.
True Confessions: The Contemporary Memoir
Dr. Beth Rosenberg

In what ways do we tell our life stories? How do we express those moments that have defined us the most? This course will focus on the genre of memoir, a form of writing that is based on memory and that, unlike autobiography, focuses on portions or snapshots of our lives rather than the whole story. We will read a range of memoirs including those of the modernist writer Virginia Woolf, the musical icon Patty Smith, provocative graphic memoirs by visual artists, and others. We will also read some theories of memoir and take what we've learned to write our own life story.

HON 410-1006

Tuesdays/Thursdays, 11:30-12:45 p.m.
The Psychology of Aging
Dr. Diane Villa, Ph.D.

This class is intended as a survey course covering important topics within the field of Psychology of Aging. This course is also designed to promote critical thinking, writing, and presentation skills. Students will gain important knowledge involving the history and scholarly works associated with the field of aging and how current research impacts the quality of life of older adults. By the end of the course a students should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the theories of the biology, psychology, social, and intellectual functioning of older adults.

HON 410-1007

Tuesdays/Thursdays, 1:00-2:15 p.m.
The Powers and Limits of Courts
Professor Thom Main, J.D.

Do we have too much litigation in america? This class examines the ideals and objectives of our system of civil litigation. “Civil litigation” refers to the resolution of disputes that are not crimes; civil disputes thus include everything from breaches of contract, malpractice, and product liability to environmental disasters, infringement of intellectual property rights, and employment discrimination. Our country relies on this system of civil litigation to enforce shared public norms, and this course explores how the courts handle this profound responsibility. We will evaluate the benefits and the costs of litigation, and examine what we know about this important social institution. In undertaking this review, we will examine the available statistics, engage the dominant narratives, and debunk prevalent myths.

HON 410-1008

Mondays/Wednesdays, 10-11:15 a.m.
Science in American Culture
Dr. Steve Rowland, Ph.D.

Analysis of the relationship between science and american culture from colonial times to the present. Key themes include 1) evolving relationships between science, religion, and art, 2) influence of the maturation of the historical sciences on american culture in the nineteenth century, and 3) role of science in american public policy today.

HON 420-1001

Mondays/Wednesdays, 11:30-12:45 p.m.
Dirty, Pretty, Ugly…Art? Theories of Subversive and Transgressive Art
Dr. Ian Dove, Ph.D.

In this course, we will examine and try to answer questions about how art pushes, tests, extends, reflects and obliterates boundaries (cultural, societal, norms of taste, or what-have-you). We will consider (some) classical and contemporary theories and concepts of aesthetics, art and artistic endeavor by examining artworks, artists and movements – some of these artworks (etc.) exemplify the conceptions, and others of which subvert, transgress or otherwise undermine such theories. These considerations will allow us to start to make sense of (recent) art including: (1) The apparent failure of authenticity as an artistic virtue or goal (wherein many recentartists seem to have selling out as their goal—Kanye/Kardashian?). (2) The recuperation of transgression/subversion in pop art (e.g., Lady Gaga singing jazz standards with Tony Bennett). (3) The generic acceptance of ironic distance as an aesthetic attitude (e.g., donning ugly fashion because of its ugliness). And, (4) the politicization of public art and its funding.

Here is a sample of authors and ideas we’ll cover: Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Nietzsche, Tolstoy, Benjamin, Foucault, Danto, and Goodman; art as mimesis, beauty-based theories, (emotion) expression theories, political art, anti-art art, détournement, culture jamming, cultural/artistic hegemony, and recuperation (co-option).

HON 420-1002

Fridays, 11:30-2:15 p.m.
Got Story? The Importance of Narrative in a Digital Age
Professor Sean Clark, M.F.A.

Using feature movies and select television series, we will examine the elements of narrative and the relationship between our creative media and mythology and classical Greek thought. As we examine the strongest aspects of “story” we will realize the literary applications as well as how to form creative critical response. Part of this examine photography, music, sound, editing and dialogue are all essential elements of visual storytelling. As the course progresses we will see how the importance of story reaches beyond literature and entertainment into such areas as business, research, belief systems and, even, food.

HON 420-1003

Mondays, 2:30-5:15 p.m.
Acting for a Living
Professor Clarence Gilyard, M.F.A.

What does acting have to do with where I'm going? Quo Vadis? And since we’re on the subject, let’s just be HONEST about what we want out of life. Once you leave UNLV you are going to do and be whatever and whomever you like. Right? Are you able to articulate those two? How do you project yourself manifesting the two? The road to where you want to go in your life seems to lie in the arena of your chosen field of study. Yet you may have questions about such matters as goals, obstacles, excellence, integrity, values, happiness, relevance...This course will use the rubrics of classic Stanislavski actors training, and draw striking relationships between how the acting artist's process creates an effective character and how the artist in you creates an effective future master of the universe. In the words of the great now deceased Shakespeare, creator of Polonius, "All the worlds a stage..."

HON 430-1001

Tuesdays/Thursdays, 10-11:15 a.m.
Pirates, Gangsters, and the Popular Imagination
Dr. Cian McMahon, Ph.D.

The 21st century success of Hollywood blockbusters such as The Pirates of the Caribbean reminds us of an important fact: modern society is fascinated with pirates, outlaws, and gangsters. Nor is their allure a recent phenomenon. Throughout history, people have sung the praises of anti-social rogues.

In this course, we will explore how and why societies have used a range of outlaws—from the 17th century to today—to construct and express broader values and beliefs. We will investigate the historical record before delving into popular culture including fiction, art, and film. In what ways have we used these bad guys to challenge and/or legitimate our customs and beliefs? Each student will choose an outlaw group and analyze what its portrayal in popular culture tells us about modern society at large. You will hone your critical thinking and effective communication skills via essay-writing assignments and group discussion. An interdisciplinary collection of readings and source materials will include monographs and primary sources along with some films.

HON 440-100

Thursdays, 2:30-5:15 p.m.
Deconstructing Sex Trafficking in the U.S.
Dr. Kathleen Bergquist

This course will examine the positioning of "sex trafficking" and "modern day slavery" in popular discourse. Students will explore the political and moral framing of sex trafficking, the history of anti-trafficking legislation, and the costs and incentives for traffickers, victims, and society. The objective of this course is to encourage students to think critically about the economies of victimization vis-a-vis the context of technology, popular culture, racial politics, poverty, legal and judicial priorities, and family and community disengagement.