For Students: Seminars
Student Seminars are interdisciplinary not-for-credit classes designed and run by students, with topics ranging from same-sex marriage to the relationship between poetry and polynomials. Students are invited each spring to propose (individually or with a partner) a theme or subject of interest that they would like to explore in a group setting (six or seven participants) the following fall. The Student Seminar organizer(s) recruit(s) a faculty advisor, who helps develop the students' syllabus, sitting in on one of the sessions in the fall. All books, materials, and refreshments are funded by the Center, and each student receives a generous book stipend to purchase other materials related to the seminar topic. The Center also funds a visiting speaker if desired. Each year HCAH holds workshops for those interested in leading a Student Seminar.
Seminars draw students from across the academic disciplines. In 2012-13, participants joined from the following areas of study: Biology, Classics, Computer Science, English, Environmental Studies, History, Mathematics, Music, Neural and Behavioral Sciences, Philosophy, Physics, Psychology, Religion, and Spanish.
Contact Associate Director James Weissinger for more information.
In Fall 2013, the Hurford Center will offer three student-led seminars.
Text, Image and Beyond: the Architecture of Book Space
Seminar Leader: Honglan Huang '16 (Comparative Literature)
Faculty Advisor: Deborah Roberts (Classics and Comparative Literature)
Participants: Jon Dewitt '16 (Mathematic & Economics); Cora Johnson-Grau '16 (Undeclared); Evangeline Krajewski '14 (Philosophy); Shahzeen Nasim '15 (English); Jon Sweitzer-Lamme '14 (History Major; Fine Art, History of Art Minors); Tom Zhuang '16 (History)
Even before you open the door of a book, the front cover already may have started the story: heading through the corridor of endpapers, you travel into the scene where the story takes place. But before the curved lines of the words direct you into what is happening, carpets of colors rush out to your eyes, and the large surface of the page closes you into a room that leads to another. What if there lies a narrative beneath what text or image represents in a book, one within the very materiality of the book itself? How do elements like title, format, typography, cover, and the texture of the page affect our experience of reading? This seminar will introduce linguistic and philosophical concepts of "signifier and signified,” “expression and content” and “substance and style” into the anatomy of the architecture of book space. By unveiling layers of meaning that the books present, from the content of narrative, the form of narrative, the style of language and alignment and typography of the text, the seminar tries to reveal how the literal presentation of elements like text contributes to the whole construction of the story.
How We Talk About The Holocaust
Seminar Co-Leaders: Joshua Bucheister '14 (English) and Aaron Madow '14 (History)
Faculty Advisor: Kimberly Benston (English)
Participants: Connor Bralla '14 (Anthropology Major; Russian Minor); Alec De Vivo '14 (Chemistry Major; Concentration in Biochemistry; Economics Minor); Ian Gavigan '14 (Religion & History Major; German Minor); Caroline Nightingale '14 (History); Lee Rosenthal '15 (Physics & Astronomy Major; Philosophy Minor)
"Those who were not there will never know what really happened. And those who were there somehow don't speak. Even those of us who try to speak do not speak." -Elie Wiesel, from The Algemeiner Journal
For decades, thinkers have struggled to explain that which, according to Wiesel, cannot be explained. Leaving behind a corpus of texts that has historicized, fictionalized, and theorized the Holocaust, scholars, novelists, and artists alike have challenged, complicated, and reified Wiesel's assertion. In popular discourse, the phrases “The Six Million” and “Never Again,” have been so canonized as to obfuscate the ambiguous ground on which they stand; “six million” no longer provides an estimation, but rather, an emotionally charged incomparability. And yet, what would it mean to contextualize the Holocaust? What might be at stake in critically approaching its rhetorical afterlife? Though critical theory suggests that language can do no more than translate, displace and, in some way, mediate the real, how does one critically approach the textual representations of an event whose death toll exceeds knowledge–whose name evokes an unmediated reality? Can one speak critically, yet sensitively on a topic that–for some–collapses the boundary between critical and emotional investment; collapsing disciplinary boundaries, can we approach a topic that neither criticism nor emotion alone can diagnose? Moving between history, literature, film, and critical theory, this seminar will bring together an interdisciplinary group of students, all of whom will collectively establish the critical vocabulary with which to approach the Holocaust in its varied representations.
The Depths of Fear: Cross-Cultural Consciousness of Sea Monsters in Folklore, Mythology, and Popular Culture
Seminar Co-Leaders: Dan Wriggins '14 (English) and Alex Jacobs '14 (History)
Faculty Advisor: Maud McInerney (English)
Participants: Marielle Boudreau '15/16 (Classical Culture & Society); Charles Espinosa '14 (Anthropology Major; Film Studies and Environmental Studies Minor); Brandon Henken '16 (Linguistics and Cognitive Science); Nicholas Kahn '14 (English and French); Alison Marqusee '16, (Undeclared)
"I can call spirits from the vasty deep" -Shakespeare, Henry IV
From medieval hagiographic accounts of maneating seals to the contemporary scientific hunt for the giant squid, sea monsters and their undersea ilk have captivated and terrified societies for as long as we have looked to the sea and wondered what lay beneath its surface. Sea monsters allow us to explore how we give imaginative form to our fears, how we relate to and set ourselves apart from the natural world, how terror and wonder inform our understanding of the unknown. In part an attempt to understand the ocean's unknown depths, our perennial fascination with sea monsters is also a way for us to plumb the subconscious and primitive architecture of our imagination. From ancient Greece to medieval Europe to shogunal Japan and the great age of Norse expansion, sea monsters are a globally and temporally universal fiction, and thus provide varied points of entry into the study of diverse understandings of culture, science, and epistemology. In this seminar, we will navigate a broad collection of texts, images, films, stories, and art that probe the crux of the question of sea monsters. The study of sea monsters and imaginative sea creatures in general has broad applications in the fields of literature, psychology (e.g. Jung's analysis of embodied fear and the unknown), the history of science (e.g. the famous scientific battle over the molecular composition of the “St. Augustine monster”), cultural history, religion (e.g. Jonah and the whale), folklore, and music (e.g. the Rhinemaidens in Wagner's Ring Cycle). Students with interests in the theoretical underpinnings of environmental studies and marine biology will also be interested in our exploration of subaqueous monsterdom, for the questions that motivate the creation of these beasts are the same questions that drive scientific and environmental exploration: how do we attempt to understand the sea and our relation to it?
Rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors from all majors are encouraged to apply. Applications should take the form of a MS Word document including the following information:
- Student name, email address, year, and major/minor/concentration
- Name of your faculty advisor
- At least two thoughtful, substantive paragraphs that explain your interest in the seminar, what perspectives you would contribute, any suggested texts or documents you might hope to bring, and what you hope to take from participating.
Please email your application to email@example.com – Deadline Extended to 5 p.m., Monday April 22nd – with "Seminar Participant (your name)" in the subject line.