Autumn Term Courses
AT 1: Popular Media in the 1990s
Michael Mario Albrecht
This course is an excursion into U.S. culture in the 1990s and the media environment that characterized the decade. Bookended by the collapse of European Communism and the most controversial presidential election in over a century, the 1990s were a time of technological, political, and social transition. The decade featured a spate of media events that captivated the country while employing the emerging platform of 24-hour news and the burgeoning proliferation of internet culture. The O.J. Simpson Trial, the death of Princess Diana, and the impeachment of a philandering president are among the most remarkable events of a decade characterized by media sensationalism and the cult of the celebrity. In this class, we read these media events through and against the political, historical, and cultural changes that mark the period. Further, we examine the role of cultural memory in understanding the past, and grapple with the phenomenon of “decadization” that proliferates in popular accounts of recent history.
Michael Mario Albrecht, Assistant Professor of Media Communication, began his academic career at Macalester College where he earned a B.A. in 2008 with a double major in Music and History (and a minor in Math). He earned an M.A. in American Culture Studies from Bowling Green State University in 2002, and received his Doctorate in Media and Society in Communication Studies from the University of Iowa in 2008. Before teaching at Eckerd College, he held teaching positions in Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the University of New Hampshire. His teaching and research interests include masculinity, television, popular culture, popular media, popular music, and contemporary politics.
AT 2: Foundations of Finance
So just what is “Finance” anyway, and how did it become such a bad word? Franco Modigliani and Merton Miller won the Nobel Prize in Economics in part for proving that Finance is irrelevant. Other renowned economists like Robert Shiller routinely assert that financial market participants are irrational. Despite the turmoil of the past two decades, the financial services industry is burgeoning globally, and it has never been more important for people to understand basic principles of Finance. Students will be introduced to simple accounting statements, valuation models, and the relation between risk and return. The knowledge and skills acquired will be used to understand and interpret current capital market events and data, and to identify potential concerns about individual companies’ corporate governance policies. Each student will also apply the concepts learned by analyzing the financial performance of a company of their choice from the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and forecasting the future performance of that company.
Thomas Ashman, Associate Professor of Management, has a B.A. in English Literature and Psychology from Williams College, an MBA from Loyola College in Maryland, and a Ph.D. in Finance from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He survived working for the Federal government for 18 years, and enjoys reading, traveling, and hiking. His research interests include sports economics (ice hockey, horse racing, basketball, baseball, and football), corporate governance, and money and banking. He has had studies published recently in the Journal of Sports Economics as well as Applied Economics.
AT 3: Politics and Imagination
In this course, we will confront some of the most serious political issues that challenge human beings in our world. Through a variety of activities, including careful reading of texts, movies, debates, discussion, and writing assignments, we will engage together in what Aristotle believed was the most essential element of human relationships—thinking politically. Human beings do more than just worry about survival; we can think politically. If all that we do is done simply for our private personal benefit or gain, then according to the ancient philosophers, human beings would hardly be better than beasts. Politics empower us as a species but are also fraught with peril, violence, and disaster in the expression of one of its key components. This key component, so full of magic and danger, is the need to create and use power in the political world, and nothing is more pivotal in politics than the human imagination. In our Autumn Term, we will use novels, films, debates, trials, and a political science text book to engage in these subjects. Our goal is to build a foundation for a kind of thinking and conversations that will hopefully last a lifetime.
Tony Brunello, Professor of Political Science, earned his B.A. from the University of California Davis and his Ph.D. from the University of Oregon. His research and teaching is generally in the areas of Comparative Politics and Political Theory, including European Politics, Environmental Politics, cross-national and systems analysis of revolutionary and liberationist events; authoritarian political systems; parties and elections; political ideologies, political propaganda and communications; and religion and politics. Recently published research includes a study of comparative politics and religion and political propaganda. He has also published in the area of judicial politics in India and Germany, parliamentary elections, liberation theology, dictatorships, and political theory on Marx, Lenin and Gramsci. He has received the Grover Wrenn Award for Leadership and Service to General Education, the John M. Bevan Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award and the John Satterfield Outstanding Mentor Award at Eckerd College. Dr. Brunello is from the West, born in Placerville, California, just ten miles from where gold was first discovered in Sutter's mill race. His alma mater is the University of Oregon and he loves his Oregon Ducks, but also the Sierra Nevada mountains, the city of San Francisco and the San Francisco Giants. Along the way he has learned to passionately embrace the EC Tritons, the Tampa Bay Rays and the city of St. Pete. Together with his wife Monica, they raised three children in south St. Petersburg where he indulges his love of baseball and Eckerd College.
AT 4: U.S. & China: Images & Politics
“The relationship between the United States and China will shape the 21st century,” says President Obama (July 27, 2009). This very important and dynamic relationship will be the focus of the course. Students will learn the historical legacies that link the United States and China, their intercultural communications, their mutual images and stereotypes, and how these perceptions shape their relations. Students will learn to think critically about contemporary foreign policy and analyze today’s Sino-US relations in depth through debates and written essays. The course aims to cultivate a thorough understanding of the role played by political leadership in Sino-US relations. Students will be invited to imagine themselves in a prominent leadership role and explain how they might manage Sino-US relations in order to have a positive impact on the world at large.
Jing Chen, Assistant Professor of Political Science, received her Ph.D. in Politics from Princeton University and her B.A. in International Politics from Peking University, China. Her specialties are Comparative Politics and International Relations with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region. She has published scholarly articles on a variety of subjects, including the Chinese trials of Japanese war criminals after World War II, the evolution of China’s policy towards UN peace-keeping operations, collective petitions in rural China, and the role of petitions in Chinese agricultural tax reform. She was born and raised in northeast China. In her spare time, she enjoys reading storybooks to her son Raymond.
AT 5: Breaking U.S. Oil Addiction
Is the world running out of oil? Is it possible for the U.S. to become “energy independent”? What are the costs and benefits to society of fracking? This course invites students to critically assess existing U.S. oil policy and make informed recommendations for the future. Issues to be explored are the supply and demand for this nonrenewable resource, its historical importance to the U.S. economy, and its national security and environmental consequences. We will examine various policy options, including supply-based measures such as increased oil drilling and use of unconventional sources, as well as demand-based measures such as fuel economy standards, oil taxes, conservation incentives, increased public transportation, and alternatives to oil.
Jill Collins, Assistant Professor of Economics received her Ph.D. in Economics from The University of Tennessee at Knoxville, having already completed an M.S. at Arizona State University and a B.A. at Wellesley College. Her research interests include how to value environmental amenities such as clean air and clean water, how to best manage natural resources such as oil and water over time, and the role of cost benefit analysis in public policy. She enjoys yoga, playing the piano, working crosswords, and going to the zoo with her husband Bill and daughters Chloe and Summer.
AT 6: Plants and Civilization
Liza J. Conrad
Although plants are seemingly passive onlookers, they have had powerful influences on human history. They’ve contributed to the downfall of civilizations, caused famines, war, slavery, and driven scientific innovations that have saved millions. There’s the tree from South America that was used as a cure for malaria for over three hundred years, spices that led to the discovery of the new world, domestication of crops that made the first cities possible, and a tree that was used for sport over 2000 years ago and now helps combat the spread of HIV. In this course, we will investigate case studies of plants that have shaped the history of human societies. Students will participate in a field trip to Marie Selby Gardens to explore plant diversity including the largest collection of epiphytes in the world.
Liza J. Conrad, Assistant Professor of Biology, earned a B.S. in Biology in 2000 from the State University of New York College at Cortland. Subsequently, she received a PhD from Cornell University in Plant Breeding and Genetics. Her PhD work focused on transposable elements in maize. Following her time at Cornell, she spent 6 years performing postdoctoral research at the University of California Davis where she shifted her focus to studying the regulation of reproductive development in rice. Her research at Eckerd College is a continuation of this project.
AT 7: Digital Natives: Danger & Hope
Kelly R. Debure
Writer Marc Prensky used the term Digital Native to describe students of today as “native speakers” of all things digital including computers, video games and the Internet. The readings for the course will include a variety of essays and articles on the emergence and establishment of a predominantly digital social culture. Some of the topics to be covered include the impacts of social media and technology on education, information gathering, social discourse, and concept of self. We will debate the advantages and the risks of our knowledge of and dependence on social networking and the importance of technology and social media in our lives.
Kelly R. Debure, Professor of Computer Science, received her Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of South Carolina. She worked at NASA Langley Research Center from 1985 to 1992, first as a flight software programmer on the ATOPS project, then as a consultant in the Data Visualization and Animation Laboratory. Her research interests include image processing, computer vision, and graphics. She currently uses image processing techniques to develop software which automates the recognition of individual bottle nose dolphins. She enjoys traveling, surfing, paddle boarding, camping, and cooking with friends and family.
AT 8: Coming to America: Italian and Latin American Perspectives in Literature and Film
Thomas J. DiSalvo
Focusing on key themes such as identity, acceptance, and assimilation, the course will examine the experience of Italian and Spanish‑speaking immigrants as depicted in selected works of literature and film. We will first consider the social, historic, and economic roots of immigration through the work of Italian writer Carlo Levi (Christ Stopped at Eboli, Words are Stones) and French-American J. Hector St. John De Crevecoeur (Letters from an American Farmer). The immigrant experience in the U.S. will be analyzed within the politically rich context of the Sacco and Vanzetti case (1920‑27), considered by many as one of the most important trials of the twentieth century. An examination of works by authors including John Fante and Helen Barolini, and the films Big Night (Scott and Tucci) and Ask the Dust (Robert Towne), will enrich the immigrant perspective by presenting the point of view of both transplanted Italians and second and third-generation Italian-Americans. The course will then consider another important voice that has shaped and continues to shape the multi‑cultural identity of the United States, that of the Spanish‑speaking immigrant. To this end we will read plays by Puerto Rican authors René Marqués (The Oxcart) and Josefina López (Real Women Have Curves), short stories by Judith Ortiz Cofer and Gary Soto, while also viewing Bread and Roses (Ken Loach), and La ciudad (David Riker).
Thomas J. Di Salvo, Professor of Spanish and Italian. He received his Ph.D. in Spanish Literature from the University of Wisconsin‑Madison after completing his M.A. at Middlebury College, and his B.A. at Hillsdale College. He spent two years in Madrid for his junior year abroad and M.A in Spanish, and a summer in Siena, Italy where he completed course work in Italian. He came to Eckerd in 1989, having first taught at Union College, St. Lawrence University, and Skidmore College. Professor Di Salvo's research interests include Spanish Literature and Spanish and Italian Film Studies. He has published on numerous writers and directors including Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, Manuel Puig, José Ángel Valente, Giuseppe Tornatore, Vittorio De Sica, and Carlos Saura. Professor Di Salvo loves to travel, especially to Spain, and to Italy, where he was born and has also taken students from Eckerd for winter term study in Sicily. He enjoys spending time with his family, watching movies and baseball, cooking, riding his bike, and playing the guitar.
AT 9: Children’s Literature and the Environment
What early children’s books had an influence on you, your thinking, your behaviors? How do art and literature work on young minds? Recent studies of metaphor suggest that human encounters with image—in pictures or in language—can imprint the human consciousness and govern subsequent behavior. How, then, can children’s books work to nurture environmental awareness in the young, and guide their relationship to the natural world?
In this class we will study and assess a range of books—for younger and older children, fictional and informational, works of realism and works of fantasy. Students will learn basic criteria for excellence in children’s books, will consider the relative value of concept and information books vs. narratives, and will be introduced to some theories of child development as we try to discern how books can enlighten young “readers” to the precious resources of our natural world. Our work will culminate in each student proposing, planning, creating and defending an original children’s book with a positive environmental objective.
Julie Empric, Professor of Literature, is a graduate of Nazareth College NY (BA), York University, Toronto (MA), and the University of Notre Dame (PhD). She specializes in English Literature (including Shakespeare), drama, children’s literature, and literature and law. She has recently taken students abroad on a spring-into-summer environmentally-related course, “Ireland: Literature and Landscape.” She regularly leads seminars for federal judges’ workshops around the country, and volunteers as a Guardian ad litem for abused and neglected children in Florida’s Sixth Circuit. She and her husband (also a professor of literature) have two grown children. Besides spending time with family she loves reading, baking, needlework, hiking, and seeing plays.
AT 10: Icarus Ascending
Icarus Ascending is focused on the Metamorphoses, Ovid’s mock epic of 8 C.E. Ovid shows how Rome became an empire by cleverly sequencing myths whose characters “morph” as their true natures are revealed. Included here: the impulsive Icarus who accepts his father Daedalus’s challenge to fly with wax wings, inevitably soaring toward the sun, then plunging to form the Icarian Sea. Ovid’s text speaks most poignantly to young adults first venturing into world but is pertinent to anyone living in a self-important, risk-loving culture like our own. Once we have worked through the text and researched modern parallels, you will team up to create original art music videos that relate myths in Ovid to contemporary trends in business, politics, science, technology, social engineering and the arts. Finally, groups will present their creations in comparison to other artists’ treatments of the same myths. Course goals beyond specific content: to prepare students for a varied and challenging first-year curriculum; consolidate us as a Human Experience discussion group for the entire 2015-2016 academic year.
Joan O. Epstein, Professor of Music, has taught music and interdisciplinary humanities at Eckerd College since 1981. A trumpeter, composer and American music scholar, she teaches courses in music history and theory (including World Music and American Musical Landscapes) and courses in the Interdisciplinary Arts major (including Intro to IA and Sound Design.) A generalist at heart who loves working with new college students, she has taught the first-year general education sequence more than any living faculty member. A native of St. Petersburg, Epstein earned degrees from Smith College, the Yale U. School of Music and USF-Tampa. When she’s not working with Eckerd students, she enjoys cooking, traveling, swimming, dancing and hanging out with her three grown daughters and her two young grandchildren.
AT 11: Anthropology of Eating
What, where, and how do people eat? By the end of Autumn Term, students should be able to answer these questions from an anthropological perspective, understanding the diversity of food preferences and eating behaviors through time and across space. Giving special attention to the intersection of biology and culture, we will discuss a variety of topics, including fad diets, why some people have more than enough food and some have too little, food as medicine, table manners, and how relationships are established and maintained through the act of eating. In addition to lectures and class discussion, students will collaborate to conduct a mini-ethnographic study of the Eckerd College cafeteria, compile a class cookbook, and design a food system and the foodways of a fictional society. We will explore food and eating off campus by surveying dietary diversity at international grocery stores in St. Petersburg and experiencing an unfamiliar way of sharing a meal at a Vietnamese restaurant.
Jessie Fly, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, earned a B.A. in Biology at Hendrix College (another “college that changes lives”). After working for a year at a botanical garden in northern California and getting excited about studying the cultural use of plants, she began a graduate program in Environmental Anthropology at the University of Georgia and earned her Ph.D. there. She has conducted research in Southern Appalachia and Uganda, but Vietnam is her main research site, where she studies food security and mangrove forest restoration. When not working and traveling, she loves to cook complicated feasts, try out new restaurants, and relax in front of her fireplace during the one cold week in St. Petersburg.
AT 12: Philosophies of the Buddha
James R. Goetsch, Jr.
Join me in a philosophical exploration of some of the ways of life and thought that are centered on the figure of Siddharta Gautama (otherwise known as the Buddha). We'll examine together both the metaphysics (or views of what is most real) and the ethics (or views of how to live in the light of what is most real) found in the Buddhadharma (as those internal to the tradition call it). And we'll read, write, and talk about these things philosophically--which means we will always appeal to reason and wonder, based on careful questioning and thought.
James R. Goetsch, Jr., M.A., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Philosophy, is interested in how philosophy can help us make sense of ourselves and the world we live in through disciplined reasoning and wondering thought. He finds resources for teaching and thinking about this in Ancient Western Philosophy, East Asian Philosophy, and the thought of the Eighteenth Century Italian thinker, Giambattista Vico. He is the author of a book on Vico, entitled Vico’s Axioms: The Geometry Of The Human World. When not teaching, or preparing to teach, he likes to attend concerts with his children (last three: Bruce Springsteen, The Indigo Girls, and Leonard Cohen), read fantasy and science fiction, and play online games (MMORPGs, for those who know what that means).
AT 13: “My Parents Did It To Me and I Turned Out Ok”: Parents, Children, and Society
At the beginning of the 2014 football season, the NFL was rocked by controversy when Minnesota Vikings player Adrian Peterson was charged with reckless injury to a child. Peterson, who admitted to repeatedly hitting his four-year-old son with a tree branch, claimed that he was just disciplining his son in the same way that he had been punished as a child. Several months later, an outbreak of measles hit visitors to Disneyland as a result of parents choosing not to vaccinate their children against this preventable illness. What do these two issues have in common? Both have to do with the intersection between the personal choices parents make on behalf of their children and broader societal values. This course will focus on this tension, examining many controversial issues through the lens of cross-cultural comparison, history, and psychology as we go. We will think about how historical era, culture of origin, and personal experience helps to shape our views of what is and is not acceptable. Using a variety of sources, from Dickens to Modern Family, we will try to figure out what control parents should be allowed to have over their children and what control society should have over parents.
Miranda Goodman-Wilson, Assistant Professor of Psychology, received her B.A. in Psychology (with a minor in Applied Developmental Psychology) from the University of California, Los Angeles and her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of California, Davis. Her research interests include the early parent-child relationship, developmental psychopathology, and factors that impact the college student experience. A southern California native who somehow hates sunny weather and the beach, but loves Eckerd, she has two young sons, a menagerie of pets, and unhealthy obsession with Mad Men, The X-Files, and the Jurassic Park film franchise.
AT 14: How to Understand China
What does the rise of China mean to the world, especially the USA? How can America best influence China’s future development? Is China poised to dominate the global economy in the 21st century? Or Is China already on the brink of collapsing due to its political system and environmental disasters? The list of questions can go on, but the enormity of these few questions makes it clear that the present and future leaders of America must study and address the issues raised by these questions. This is why a quick introduction course like this can help us gain a better understanding of China, its culture, history, and traditions as well as the major problems and challenges she is faced with. This course aims at exploring some unique and enduring cultural characteristics of China. We will look at how the traditional teachings of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism mixed with the influence of Western democracy, capitalism and commercialism, as well as Marxist socialism, can contribute to China’s future development. One of the major phenomena that we will study is the rise of the largest Chinese middle class in the world in the past few decades, for its consequences and ramifications are important both to China and the rest of the world. Moreover, students will learn to study and grow intellectually and emotionally in a student-centered learning environment through team work and group discussion.
Hong Gu, Assistant Professor of Chinese, was born and brought up in Shanghai, China. He received his B.A. Degree in English Language and Literature from East China Normal University in Shanghai, his A.M. in English Literature from Southeast Missouri State University. He did his graduate studies at Purdue University and is a Ph.D. candidate in Modern British Literature and Literary Theory. He has taught English composition at Ive Tech College, and Chinese language and Modern Chinese fiction in Northwestern University and Hamilton College. In his spare time, he enjoys practicing Tai Chi and Qigong, listening to classical Western music, and studying Chinese calligraphy.
AT 15: Sex, Violence and Hip-Hop
Global hip hop is arguably the most dynamic cultural form to emerge in the twentieth century: artistic appropriation, improvisational performance, guerilla styles and hybrid identities come together in a range of cultural practices that are, in essence, forms of daily-life revolt against the status quo. Yet this powerful cultural phenomenon is beset by innumerable paradoxes. On the one hand, hip hop is organic, emerging from the ground up, a product of the people. On the other hand, hip hop has always been packaged as a consumer product and sold as a mass phenomenon that claims to speak to a common denominator. For some, hip hop gives voice to the voiceless, it empowers the marginalized, it is “real.” For others, it is misogynistic, gratuitously violent and seen as a danger to the established order. This course unravels the complex knot of sexuality, gender, resistance and social critique that inheres in modern hip hop. Through an investigation (and production) of poetry, art, music and film, we seek to understand our role as practitioners and consumers of this pervasive, fascinating and paradoxical cultural form.
Adam Guerin, Assistant Professor of History, received his B.A. from the University of Idaho; received his M.A. and Ph.D. in French colonial history at the University of California, Irvine; before joining the faculty at Eckerd College he held teaching positions at Occidental College and Claremont Graduate University in Los Angeles; his major fields of research and teaching include modern French colonial/North African history, environmental history and world history; he also teaches winter term courses on French-Algerian film and American boxing.
AT 16: Florida’s Fragile Environment
In this course we will examine the unique ecosystem of Florida using history as our guide. We will explore the ways that humans have interacted with this landscape through time, from the earliest inhabitants to the latest golf course communities. Much about Florida’s environment is unlike any other on earth, and great changes have altered the land. We will examine large ecosystems (the Everglades) and large developments (Disney World) by asking the same types of questions. How did this come to be? What does it tell us about man’s place in nature? We will focus on issues like sustainability, growth management, and endangered species. Using field trips, texts, film, poetry, and primary-source research, we will enrich our understanding of the Sunshine State. (The ability to swim is required for this course.)
Lee Irby, Assistant Professor of History, is a novelist and historian who has taught at Eckerd College since 2001. He is the author of 7,000 Clams, a novel set in St. Petersburg in 1925 and published by Doubleday in 2005. The sequel, The Up and Up, appeared in 2006. His short fiction has appeared in the North American Review and the Tampa Review. He has also published many articles on Florida’s history and environment, including work on the Cross-Florida Barge Canal and “trailer trash” as a cultural force. His play, Congratulations, Joe, premiered in August 2012 at Studio 620. He is married with two children. In his spare time he enjoys paddle-boarding, basketball, and hiking.
AT 17: Through the Looking Glass: Celebrities As Themselves
Antonia S. Krueger
In the 2013 film This is the End, Seth Rogan, James Franco, and Emma Watson play fictionalized versions of themselves. Why did they choose to play these roles, and what does it mean in the context of the story? This self-representation is an example of an increasingly common trope in performance media, where celebrities appear As Themselves in fictional or fictionalized narratives. Within the world of the performance, these representations serve purposes that both rely on and are at cross-purposes with each other: to reinforce the verisimilitude of the story and to provide metatheatrical commentary on ways in which representations of celebrity are inherently fictional.
In this course we will view examples of performances from film, television, and other media where celebrities play themselves, read short articles from critical theory, and have an opportunity to script and perform versions of ourselves and each other.
Antonia S. Krueger, Assistant Professor, has a PhD in theatre from The Ohio State University, an MA in Communication from Indiana State University, a BA in Theatre (minors in Philosophy & Religion and English) from Truman State University, and an MA in ESL (minor in Psychology) from the University of Minnesota. As a scholar she studies life narratives, how people tell their own stories and the stories of others, and how those stories themselves impact people’s sense of who they are. Her research draws on several disciplines: performance history, philosophy, psychology, and language studies.
Tonia also explores these themes as a writer and performer. Her auto/biographical play Pucelle was produced by the Expanded Arts Theatre Company in New York City. She appeared As Herself in Strange Sisters at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in Toronto, Canada (also featured on the Canadian television show Zed: Just Say Yes), and she played the role of Alice in the award-winning film adaptation of May Sarton’s autobiographical novel Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing.
Dr. Krueger has an interest in dialects and accents in English. You might also see her perform, dramaturg, or costume design at one of the professional theatres in the area.
AT 18: Buddhism and Human Rights
Amy Paris Langenberg
Are “human rights” universally applicable across time and cultures? In this course, we will critically examine the deployment of human rights as a concept in contemporary Buddhist contexts. The human rights concept is based on a notion of the human person as autonomous and intrinsically valuable that differs significantly from Buddhist formulations of ethical personhood. Nonetheless, Buddhist activists such as Thich Nhat Hanh, Aung Sang Suu Kyi, Tenzin Gyatso (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama), and Karma Lekshe Tsomo (a leading Buddhist feminist) frequently make use of human rights language in their writings and activism. We will explore this fascinating contradiction by examining and debating a series of case studies in which Buddhists engage human rights issues, including but not limited to Thich Nhat Hanh’s resistance to the Vietnam war, violence against Muslim minorities by Buddhist monastics in Burma, self-immolations in Chinese-occupied Tibet, and contemporary Buddhist feminism. As part of our experience in this class we will also visit with Buddhist monastics via Skype and visit a local Thai Buddhist temple that happens to be one of the most vibrant in the United States.
Amy Paris Langenberg, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, earned her B.A. in the Study of Religion from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts and her Ph.D. in Religion from Columbia University in New York City. She specializes in pre-modern Indian Buddhism, with secondary interests in Tibetan Buddhism, contemporary Buddhism, classical and medieval Hinduism, and Buddhist medicine. Professor Langenberg has published scholarly articles on female impurity, fertility rituals, and female monastic healers in ancient Indian Buddhism, and has recently completed a monograph entitled Birth in Buddhism: Fertility, the Fetus, and the Female in Indian Buddhist Texts from the Middle Period. Before coming to Eckerd College, she taught Religious Studies and Sanskrit at Auburn University and Brown University. Her courses at Eckerd explore topics such as contemporary Buddhist feminism, the intersection of feminism and religion, Asian religions and the environment, and the history and politics of yoga. Professor Langenberg doesn’t seem to have much spare time, but when she does, she spends it walking, cooking, playing, sampling Netflix, and talking with her partner (Matthew), daughter (Isabel), son (William), two dogs (Hunter and Bob), one cat (Coconut), and valued friends.
AT 19: Youth Culture and Visual Media
What is ideology? What is hegemony? How does the media we consume determine our identities without our conscious consent? From the advent of cinema through the recent development of online social networking, visual media in the United States and around the world have targeted youthful consumers who are encouraged to imitate what they see, often without question. This course will look at the development of youth culture in the United States and its unique relationship to visual media, including film, television, comic books, video games, and the Internet, in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We will examine youth culture as a social phenomenon generated by the young, a means of representing the experience of being youthful, and as part of the ongoing debates over the effects of media on the young. As alternately mass culture, popular culture, subculture, and participatory culture, youth culture holds a privileged place in the history of American visual media and how we understand our individual identities, no matter our age.
Christina Petersen, Assistant Professor of Film Studies, received her Ph.D. in Cinema and Media Studies from the University of Chicago and an M.A. in Cinema Studies from New York University. Her teaching and research interests include youth and cinema, film spectatorship and reception studies (especially the role of the space and place of the movie theater), race and ethnicity in American cinema, gender studies, international film history and historiography, the international silent film era, and melodrama and the Gothic in American cinema. She serves as co-director of Eckerd College’s International Cinema series. Besides watching films, she can be found cheering on her alma mater, the Duke Blue Devils, and listening to the newest form of mass media, the podcast.
AT 20: Narratives of Sail: Who's Charting the Course?
Kathleen “Kat” Robinson
Yarns. Shanties. Scuttlebutt. All are terms referencing the constructing of story within the context of sail. The relationship between the sharing of stories and a journey on water appears throughout the cultural landscape in narrative form. But why is the link between taking to the sea and telling the story of journeying by water so strongly related? This course encourages students to explore various narrative structures, stories, and experiences related to this link as the focus of our examination. Examples will range from ancient stories of the earliest seafarers to the reflective narratives of the early Americas to various fictions (and facts) of contemporary sailors. We will consider the ways in which narrative functions in these various stories, fictions, and tales. We will comparatively analyze and explore various narrative devices and structures, texts and stories, and experiences on the water. Sources include various poems, short stories, one novel, documentary films, websites, and, of course, our experiences with the water surrounding Eckerd College. We will “take to the water” at one point, for as Mark Twain asserts, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Everyone must be able to pass the swimming test from the water front.
Kathleen “Kat” Robinson, Assistant Professor of Literature, received her Ph.D. in Literature from the University of South Florida, after having completed her Master’s and Bachelor’s in Literature. She came to Eckerd College in 2008, after teaching at the University of South Florida. At Eckerd, Kat Robinson also serves as the Scholarship and Fellowship Advisor. Her research interests include the study of trauma and narrative in modern American and British Literature and the presentation and representation of war in narrative. She has published and presented on Ernest Hemingway, on treasure and treasure-hunting in Florida, and on the effect of war on the narrative structure of Ernest Hemingway and Norman Mailer. She is involved with the local sailing community. She enjoys traveling and sailing (especially when the two coalesce).
AT 21: Science in Sci-Fi Films
R. Chris Schnabel
We will explore modern science fiction film and literature. Many of the earlier science fiction films and literature predicted laptop computers, wireless communication, social equality among sexes, no discrimination, no money, huge advances in the medical field, basically a utopian society. Many of these things have come true and some have not. Other science fiction works predict social stratification, huge money problems, a third world war, a comet smashing into the earth and destroying all of mankind expect for a select few, a darker picture. We will discuss through literature and film, which one of these visions has come true and what will come true. We will analyze critically acclaimed science fiction films and ask ourselves, can this really happen within the known laws of the universe, and then discuss why or why not.
R. Chris Schnabel, Associate Professor of Chemistry, received his B.S. and Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Wyoming. Before coming to Eckerd, he worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory where his work focused on the environmental remediation of nuclear materials. His latest research project involves the synthesis of transition metal complexes that mimic the active site of many of the zinc containing enzymes in the human body. He also as just completed writing an inorganic chemistry textbook. While at Eckerd, you can generally find him in the chemistry research labs working with undergraduate students. He enjoys all kinds of music, good food, and hanging out with friends and his three pug dogs, Bucky, Impy, and Yoda.
AT 22: Ethics and Animal Welfare
Are animals valuable only insofar as they are useful to us? Is it ethical to use them for scientific experimentation or as a source of food? Should we be allowed to hunt them for sport or have them entertain us? Animal rights activists seek to abolish the use of animals in science and entertainment, eliminate hunting, and disband all forms of animal consumption and agriculture. We will consider the practicability of these goals by visiting local research labs, animal rescue leagues, zoos and aquariums. We will focus on the ethical theories that are foundational to animal activism and investigate the historical roots of our domination of the natural world.
Jason Sears, Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy specializes in ancient Greek philosophy and environmental ethics. His research focuses on Aristotelian theories of character and nature. He is a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy from the University of South Florida where he served as an instructor for the Honors College. He misses Greece, where he spent a year doing research at the American School of Classical
Studies, and enjoys martial arts and playing guitar in his limited free time.
AT 23: Yoga and the Limits of Language
For many today, yoga is a fitness craze found as often in gyms and aerobics rooms as in sacred spaces. But hatha yoga—the yoga of postures we most often see – is only one (very small) part of a vast and varied philosophy whose ultimate goal is transcendence. In our Autumn Term project, we will deepen our understanding of yoga by learning about this mind-body philosophy, reading texts both ancient and modern. Our course will also consist of an experiential component: we will unroll our yoga mats daily. The interplay of these two ways of understanding yoga – through language and through the body – is at the heart of our course, asking us to consider the dynamic relationships between experience and language about experience. Each class session will include a discussion of reading assignments followed by hatha yoga practice.
Erika Spohrer, Associate Professor of Rhetoric, received her B.A. in English from the University of Florida and her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from Penn State University. At Eckerd, she teaches writing (including “Writing the Environment,” “Writing in the Garden,” and “Writing Processes”) and serves as the director of Eckerd’s Writing Center. Her current research focuses on the rhetoric (the art of persuasion) used by the Church of Scientology (no, she’s not a Scientologist). Her loves include her family and Virginia Woolf; she also loves doing yoga (of course), camping, surfing, reading, gardening, and practicing Zen. The most flattering compliment she received this week: a student asked her if she was from Berkeley.
AT 25: Latin American Children in Film
Latin American Children in Film explores the way filmmakers use child protagonists as a powerful technique to address complex political, cultural, and economic issues within the region’s history, present, and imagined future. Students will “travel” to Latin America through its cinema and study a variety of experiences, both joyful and painful, from the perspective of children. Thus, we will view and analyze how the representation of children in Latin American films, especially those produced during the last two decades, often function as collective and cathartic means to deal with traumatic experiences affecting the continent’s people: (memories of) repressive regimes, economic hardship, violence, gender discrimination, and immigration. This discussion-based course will require students to complete extensive readings about introductory film theory and concepts, Latin American cinema, and film criticism about each of the works screened.
Adriana Tolentino, Assistant Professor of Spanish, received her Ph.D. in Spanish from the University of Kansas. She has taught an array of Spanish language, culture, and literature classes, as well as Latin American humanities courses. Her research and teaching interests include colonial Latin American Literature, Latin American women's poetry, gender studies, and emerging trends in Latin American and Mexican theater and film. More specifically, she is interested in the use of orphan figures in literature and film as a metaphor for identity crisis and as means to creating “empathic communities.” Besides her teaching duties, Dr. Tolentino works and volunteers as a freelance translator on a variety of both academic and non-academic topics. Her spare time is spent running around after her busy toddler, and training for at least one marathon per year.
AT 26: Narratives of the Road
Why has the form of the road or journey narrative persisted through literary and popular works as diverse as The Odyssey, Exodus, Lolita, Tommy Boy, Toy Story and Wild? This course will explore the ubiquity, universality and symbolism of the road narrative in all of its sundry forms, covering texts ranging from Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with A Thousand Faces, and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Taking critical engagement with the structure as their focus, students will analyze and evaluate both primary and secondary texts of the road narrative, develop methods of critical inquiry, and compose their own creative narrative works. All of this effort will be in service of grappling with two major questions: (1) What is the significance of the road narrative to literature and human experience? and (2) Why does it matter?
K.C. Wolfe, Assistant Professor of Creative Writing, received his MFA in Creative Writing from The Ohio State University and his B.A. in English Writing Arts from The State University of New York at Oswego. His specialties include fiction, journalism and literary nonfiction. His essays and short stories have been published in a variety of national and international journals and magazines. He is the nonfiction editor and co-founding editor for the journal Sweet: A Literary Confection, and has worked in the past in editorial management, freelance writing, digital video production and commercial fishing.