Autumn Term Courses
AT 1: 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 course texts, films, debates and discussions, and writing assignments, we will engage in together 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 Aristotle, 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 that process 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 over the next three weeks. Our goal is to build a foundation for a kind of thinking and conversations that will hopefully last a lifetime.
Tony Brunello | Dr. Brunello 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 US elections. He has also published in the area of judicial politics in India and Germany, parliamentary elections, modern dictatorships, and political theory on Lenin and Gramsci. He has received 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 still loves his Oregon Ducks, and also the Sierra Nevada mountains, the city of San Francisco and the San Francisco Giants, but 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 2: Breaking U.S. Oil Addiction
Is the world running out of oil? Is it possible for the U.S. to become "energy independent"? Are the days of cheap gas gone forever? 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 decreasing supply and increasing 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. Throughout this course, we will work together to develop our research, writing, and presentation skills, and become familiar with class preparation and participation expectations at Eckerd.
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 playing the piano, working crosswords, and going to the zoo with her husband Bill and daughter Chloe.
AT 3: Examining the Iraq War
In this course, students will engage with a series of texts that deal with the United States' war in Iraq. Texts will include films, documentaries, novels, memoirs, and poems, among others. The primary objective will be to look at the causes and effects of the war and to ask thoughtful questions about the nature of this conflict and the long term costs and benefits. In class, we will watch films, discuss books, and hold debates on some of the major issues created by the war. This course sets out to ask difficult questions about United States' foreign policy and the nature of war. It is not, however, a class that assumes a position. For that reason, you will be asked to write reviews of books and films, to participate in in-class debates, and complete a final project (incorporating research) related to the war and a major issue that interests them (e.g. the use of torture, drone strikes, and veterans' issues).
Jon Chopan | Jon Chopan is from Rochester, New York, where he spent the better part of his life shoveling snow. He received his M.A. in American History from SUNY Oswego and his MFA in Creative Writing at The Ohio State University. His first collection of short stories, Pulled from the River, was released by Black Lawrence Press in December of 2012. He currently teaches creative writing (fiction & nonfiction) at Eckerd College. He plays hockey (goalie) and is a diehard Buffalo Sabres fan.
AT 4: Marketing Cool
As "cool" sunglasses, phones, clothes, and a multitude of other products inundate our world, it is a wonder how advertisers stay abreast of the newest needs of various generations. We will study what makes a product "cool", how marketers tap our never ending desire to be accepted and to belong, and how the need for empowerment, confidence, and independence serve as a driving force for advertising messages. After learning basic marketing principles and discussing ethical issues of marketing, we will develop TV, radio, and print advertising campaigns to market "cool" products. The material for this class will help students to develop their presentation skills and to become familiar with writing requirements, exam formats, and in-class-participation expectations.
Olivier Debure | Olivier C. Debure is a French native who moved to the United States to study and receive his B.A. in International Culture and Commerce from Christopher Newport University. After working in the field of marketing and import/export he earned his M.B.A. from Old Dominion University in Virginia and an M.A. in French from the University of South Carolina. He currently teaches Human Experience at Eckerd College and serves as the Director of International Student Services as well as Director of the Reflective Service-Learning Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). He plays soccer and tennis and leads international service-learning trips with students when possible.
AT 5: Biology: The Art and the Science
From the botanical paintings of Victorian artist Marianne North to framed photographs of personal DNA fingerprints, biology has had varied influences on art. In this course, we will explore connections between biology and art in various ways, including creating biology-inspired art. We will also explore the science of biology by learning about fields as diverse as molecular biology, bioethics, and ecology. Students planning to major in biology as well as non-science majors will enjoy learning about both the art and science of biology.
Steven H. Denison, Professor of Biology, received his Ph.D. in Cell Biology from Baylor College of Medicine. He carried out post-doctoral research in the Department of Bacteriology at the Imperial College, London. He has taught at Eckerd College since 1999 and teaches courses in Genetics, Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Cell Biology and Histology. He also teaches a Winter Term course, The History of Science in London (in London, of course!). Professor Denison serves as the Pre-medical Advisor and carries out research in the areas of population genetics and molecular genetics of fungi. He is currently using the genetic model organism Aspergillus nidulans to investigate mechanisms of cellular resistance to copper and arsenic. Professor Denison's interests outside of science include poetry and music. His bluegrass band, Hurricane Pass, plays occasionally at events on campus, including at Waterfront Hoedowns.
AT 6: Coming to America: Literature & Film
Thomas J. Di Salvo
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). 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 the major works of novelist and short story writer John Fante as well as directors Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci (Big Night) will enrich the immigrant perspective by presenting the point of view of both transplanted Italians and second and third-generation Italian-Americans. The course also examines the Hispanic immigrant "voice," which has shaped and continues to shape the multi-cultural identity of the United States. To this end we will read plays and short stories by Puerto Rican authors René Marqués, José Rivera, Josefina López, Gary Soto, and Judith Ortiz Cofer. We will also view classic Hispanic Films such as Real Women Have Curves (Patricia Cardoso) The City (David Riker), and The House of Ramón Iglesia (Luis Soto).
Thomas J. Di Salvo, Professor of Spanish, 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 and a summer in Siena, 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, Latin America, and Italy, where he was born, and has also taken Eckerd students to Sicily for winter term study. He enjoys spending time with his family, watching movies and baseball, cooking, riding his bike, and playing the guitar.
Yanira Angulo-Cano, Assistant Professor of Spanish, will be teaching the fall and spring Human Experience course to Professor Di Salvo's Autumn Term section. Professor Angulo-Cano received her Ph.D. in Latin American Literature from the Florida State University, and she came to Eckerd College in 2006, after teaching at USF Saint Petersburg. Her research interests include the autobiographical genre in Latin American literature, and Cuban culture, literature, and film. She has published on Bernal Díaz del Castillo and on Cuban-American autobiographical writing. She has presented research papers in national and international conferences. Professor Angulo-Cano is a Cuban native with extensive study abroad experience in Latin America. She has taken Eckerd students on Winter Terms to Spain, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador and she will lead a group next Winter Term to Havana, Cuba. She enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband and son.
AT 7: Cosmic Views and Humanity
Value and meaning are intimately connected with one's cosmic view. In medieval Europe, for example, human life had meaning because we were the central actors in a dramatic struggle between heavenly forces above and satanic forces below. Until about 500 years ago, the earth held the central position in every culture's view of reality. We now smile at such primitive cosmology. But today's sophisticated scientific description of the universe has troubling implications: humans occupy a tiny part of the cosmos (and have evolved only recently), leading to doubts that humans have any significance at all! Conflict thus arises in our society between science and religious faith. We will examine evidence supporting the latest theories of space and time, cosmological and biological evolution, and the meaning of meaning. We will try to fit humanity into the current picture of reality and consider if humans can have any meaningful role.
Harry W. Ellis, Professor of Physics, obtained his Ph.D. from Georgia Tech in 1974 and spent four years in "pure" research before coming to Eckerd College. His research interests have included optics, solid state physics, and chemical physics, but his real love is teaching. He is proudest of the dozens of students he has taught who have gone on to earn the Ph.D. and are now college faculty and/or researchers themselves! His spouse, Virginia Simmons Ellis, is an ordained Presbyterian minister. He and Ginny are parents of Luke, Rachel, and Seth. Harry walks/runs about 30 miles per week, reads almost anything (especially science fiction), and loves music from classical to rock (his favorites are Bach, Handel, and Pink Floyd).
AT 8: How to Understand China
What does the rise of China mean to the USA? How should America best prepare for these challenges brought about by China's rise? How can America best influence China's future development? These are some of the important questions that the present and future leaders of America must address. However, before we can find the answers, we must first inform ourselves about China. This course aims at exploring some unique and enduring characteristics of China by first looking at several important schools of thought such as Confucianism, Taoism, and Zen Buddhism. Students will discuss the possibility that Chinese wisdom may contribute to the development of Chinese society and world peace in the twentieth-first century. Moreover, students will also gain some basic understanding of Chinese culture, including the Chinese writing system, spoken languages, traditional visual art, music, poetry, and martial art. During the course, students will learn to teamwork in groups on a mini-research project and then share their findings with the class. Overall, students will engage in activities that not only inform them of China, but also help improve their critical thinking, oral communication, as well as reading and writing skills.
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, and his M.A. 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 literature at Northwestern University and Hamilton College. In his spare time, he enjoys classical music and opera and practices Tai Chi and Chinese calligraphy.
AT 9: Florida's Fragile Environment
"O Florida, venereal soil," wrote the poet Wallace Stevens, a frequent visitor to Miami and Key West during the great Land Boom of the 1920s. Stevens was doubtlessly lamenting the onslaught of development that has marked Florida's recent past. But before the rampant building and paving of the last hundred years, Florida was a veritable subtropical paradise, home to a few thousand souls. In this class we will closely examine Florida's fragile environment, using history as our guide. The Sunshine State has a trove of varied habitats, each with a story to tell. We will spend time in the field to gather first-hand evidence of both the natural and the man-made. We will look at plants, birds, fish, roads, parks, and hotels. Be ready to dress for the heat, drink lots of water, and open your mind to the lovely strangeness of this remarkable place.
Lee Irby, Assistant Professor of History, is the author of three novels, 7,000 CLAMS and THE UP AND UP, both set in Florida during the 1920s. 7,000 CLAMS was selected by the St. Petersburg Times as one of the "10 Books Every Floridian Should Read." He is a Fellow at the Florida Studies Program at the University of South Florida--St. Petersburg and has published articles on the rise of "trailer trash" culture and the Cross-Florida Barge Canal. He enjoys playing basketball and table tennis.
AT 10: Gender in Film
While we might debate the exact nature of its influence, no one will deny that Hollywood has touched the lives of most of us. In response to that observation, consider the following hypothesis: as a society and as individuals, we get many of our ideas of what we consider "natural" from the films we see. If this is true, then we might conclude that one important area of study is the depiction of gender in those films, and in this course we will trace the history of Hollywood's presentation of "Woman" and "Man." By defining and using gender-centered practices of viewing movies, we will explore the societal roles offered to men and women in film and the way men and women are treated by the camera.
William B. Kelly, Associate Professor of Rhetoric, attended Eckerd College, where he majored in chemistry, earning a B.S. degree. A stint in an analytical chemistry lab, one year bartending, and eight months as a head chef propelled Kelly back into the academy, this time for graduate study in English at the University of South Florida, where he wrote his doctoral dissertation on the English renaissance dramatist Christopher Marlowe. A frequent participant in Autumn Term and Human Experience, Kelly also teaches courses in composition and propaganda. Professor Kelly's scholarly interests are in medieval and early modern British literature, drama, contemporary culture, and the teaching of writing. He has published articles on both Marlowe and fire ants, and has presented conference papers at Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
AT 12: The American West: Myth and Reality
Gregory B. Padgett
What is your favorite western movie?
This course will explore the evolution of the western film. The first western movie and first narrative film, "The Great Train Robbery" is over 100 years old and was directed and filmed by Edward S. Porter in 1903. Early western films did not offer a realistic portrayal of life in the "old West" since most were based on fictional novels. This course will separate historical fact from romantic western myths through a comparative study of texts, documents, film documentaries, and classical western films.
Gregory B. Padgett, Associate Professor of American history, received his M.A. and Ph.D. from Florida State University in American History. His scholarly and research interests vary from history to biblical archaeology. Community service is also a significant aspect of Professor Padgett's life; since 1991, he and his wife have owned and maintained Cultural Horizons Productions, a non-profit drama company which has the mission of introducing disadvantaged youth to the arts. Professor Padgett has taught at Eckerd College for 20 years.
AT 13: Narratives of Sail
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." Throughout our experiences in this course, we will work together to engage in academic inquiry, as well as to craft familiarity with class preparation and expectations at Eckerd College. Everyone must be able to pass the swimming test from the waterfront.
Kathleen "Kat" Robinson, Assistant Professor of Rhetoric, received her Ph.D. in Literature from the University of South Florida, after having completed her M.A. and B.A. in Literature. She came to Eckerd College in 2008, after teaching at the University of South Florida. 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 14: Diversity in Global Business
Being prepared to manage in the diverse, international business community of the 21st century is a perennial challenge. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy as there may have been decades ago. Employees of multinational organizations are, nevertheless, expected to adapt to corporate norms. Regardless of national culture, members of the corporate team must understand and practice the organization's culture to be successful. Associates of Marriott International, for example, are expected to be prompt decision-makers who can solve problems immediately without consulting their supervisors. This course will introduce students to the interaction of organizational cultures of multinational firms and the national cultures that employees bring into that workplace. Readings, case studies and research projects, will encourage students to reflect upon and practice the communication and management skills needed in today's global business environment. By exploring both effective and failed management strategies, students will come away with a more profound understanding of the dynamics that shape multinational organizations and businesses.
Morris Shapero | Morris Shapero is currently an Assistant Professor of International Business at Eckerd College. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Southern California, School of Business. He came to Eckerd in 2002 after nearly 30 years of corporate marketing and management experience both domestically and internationally. He was also Principal of Morris Alan Marketing, a marketing consulting service in St. Petersburg, Florida, prior to joining Eckerd College. He specializes in international management, global tourism & hospitality, cross-cultural communications and workplace adaptation in China in his teaching and research efforts at Eckerd.
AT 15: Exploring Entrepreneurship
Starting an enterprise is always risky, but today's worldwide social and environmental challenges demand innovation and reinvention of economic activity as never before, increasing the importance of effective entrepreneurship. Though recessionary times have reduced business start-ups in the U.S., surveys continue to show that as many as 40% of people aged 18 to 24 hope to start their own business one day or have already done so. Entrepreneurship can offer greater career autonomy, the creation of a legacy for yourself or your family, or simply the reward of making an impact and creating jobs through bringing new ideas into action. This course will explore the basics of the entrepreneurial process through both theoretical readings and case studies of historical and contemporary entrepreneurs, likely including guest speakers or a field trip to a local business or related site. Students will learn initial steps for identifying, evaluating and developing ideas for prospective businesses and will do research on entrepreneurs to identify critical factors enabling success.
Laura Singleton | Laura Singleton has much in common with many Eckerd students – she is not from Florida, lived for an extended time in New England before joining Eckerd's management faculty in the fall of 2011 and attended a liberal arts college (Davidson) for her undergraduate education. After college, Laura pursued a business career for about 15 years, obtaining an M.B.A. from Harvard and holding positions in marketing and management, primarily in technology-related firms. Having always enjoyed writing, she left corporate life to become a freelance writer and researcher, ultimately co-authoring a book on 20th-century U.S. business leadership (Paths to Power, Harvard Business School Press, 2006) and completing a Ph.D. in Management at Boston College. Laura has taught courses in organizational behavior, leadership, business history and entrepreneurship, and her research focuses on historical topics in business and management scholarship. Laura's other interests include sports - as a native of Morgantown, West Virginia, she remains a proud fan of her hometown university's teams but has embraced new loyalties to the Eckerd Tritons! She also enjoys participating in Pinellas Community Church, not far from Eckerd's campus.
AT 16: Pinhole Photography
We will learn about photography in its most primitive form. We will also investigate the history of the pinhole, become generally aware of its various scientific applications, and also become familiar with the artistry of several practicing pinhole photographers. In this hands-on experience, you will learn how to make and use pinhole cameras, how to process both film and paper negatives in the darkroom, and how to print and mount your work for display. Our course will culminate in a gallery exhibition of your pinhole photographs. Materials fee: $50.
Arthur Skinner, Professor Visual Arts, was born in Atlanta, received his B.A. from Florida Presbyterian College (now Eckerd College) and his M.V.A. in printmaking from Georgia State University, following a year of study in Florence, Italy. He has exhibited his drawings, prints, and photographs nationally, and over the years has received three awards for his teaching and campus leadership. He lives in an older neighborhood in southeast St. Petersburg with his spouse Katrina (an ESOL teacher), two turtles and a dog. Their two sons attend Eckerd College. Arthur also enjoys singing in his church choir and cheering for the Tampa Bay Rays.
AT 17: Music, Politics, & Social Movements
"The modes of music are never disturbed without unsettling of the most fundamental political and social conventions" (Plato, Republic, Book IV 424). Plato's warning to fourth century BC Greeks still holds great significance for our contemporary culture. Today more than ever, music is filled with political content. With technological advances in distribution and accessibility, its power is even greater. Music in the service of politics and social movements is documented in works spanning several thousand years. This course will focus on music from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century, exploring classical, folk, and popular styles ranging from Beethoven, Verdi, Wagner and their successors to slave songs/Negro spirituals. Also included will be protest songs of all types with emphasis on the 1960s in the US as well as more contemporary forms such as Rap and Gangsta Rap. Class activities will include assigned readings, writing exercises, listening to and viewing relevant CDs and DVDs. "If politics is the blood that feeds our societies with the energy to evolve, then music is an essential ingredient to political transformation." (Courtney Brown, Politics and Music – Farsight Press)
Marion Smith | Marion Smith is a professor of music and director of choral music at Eckerd College. He teaches courses in music history, music theory, interdisciplinary arts, and courses in the general education program. Professor Smith has lead Winter Term Abroad classes in Vienna, Prague, Salzburg, Italy (Rome, Florence and Venice), London and Paris. As director of the Eckerd College Concert Choir and Eckerd Ringers, his choirs have sung throughout the state of Florida and the southeast. The choirs have also performed in the National Cathedral and Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (Washington, D.C.), Carnegie Hall, The Cathedral Church of St. John The Divine and St. Patrick's Cathedral (NYC), and have made international tours to the United Kingdom, Italy, China and Spain.Dr. Smith earned the Bachelor of Music at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, the Master of Arts at Washington State University, and the Ph.D. at Washington University in St. Louis. He has done further study at Westminster Choir College and the New England Conservatory, and has participated twice in the Varna International Conductors Workshop in Varna, Bulgaria. A lover of singing himself, Professor Smith has performed with the Berkshire Choral Festival in Canterbury, England; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Vancouver, British Columbia; Montreal, Canada, Edinburgh, Scotland and Sheffield Massachusetts.
AT 18: Representing the Apocalypse
Will the world end, as Robert Frost says, in fire or in ice? And why would we want it to do either? Since ancient times, writers and artists have been imagining the apocalypse - how it will happen, who is to blame for it, and what will follow it. For unknown reasons, each generation tends toward regarding itself as existing at the end or culmination of history, though their specific definition of and attitudes toward the apocalypse vary. This class will perform a rigorous synthesis of differing interpretations of millenarianism and eschatology, from ancient accounts to Industrial-era visions of plagues and scarcity, to modern "bombs and zombies" fears. Our analysis of the causes and consequences of the end of the world will, ideally, lead us not only to a more complete understanding of shifting human attitudes toward the value and purpose of living on earth, but also a vision of how and why the earth itself is valuable. This class will include both wide-ranging readings in text and visual representations, in print and film, of the end of the world.
Daniel Spoth | Daniel Spoth was raised in a tiny Alaskan town where the TV reception was lousy and the public library wasn't open on weekends, so he had to cultivate his literary education using a scattered assortment of texts torn from the ravening jaws of the ever-present megafauna. His love of the liberal arts and depressing winter-long drizzles drew him to gain his B.A. in English literature at Reed College in Portland, OR, and his interest in Southern letters and promises of all of the fried catfish he could eat resulted in him obtaining his PhD in the same discipline from Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Now he lives in an even more tropical climate, but still bears a soft spot in his heart for hardscrabble tales of survivalism and subsequent gruesome death in stark Arctic environments. Professor Spoth is most interested in literature as a medium for, as William Faulkner (one of his idols) said: "the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed – love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice." When not obsessing over the human heart in conflict with itself, Professor Spoth enjoys biking, baking bread, beekeeping, boxing, bocce ball, and sundry other activities not beginning with the letter B. He is licensed to run a 250 kW TRIGA Mk I nuclear reactor and is also an amateur charcutier--a designer and creator of artisan sausages.
AT 19: Sharks as Scientific Models
Shark may be the only word in the English language capable of both filling theaters and emptying beaches. This project will provide an opportunity to investigate scientific principles through the study of these organisms and their relatives, the rays. Students will examine the diversity of sharks and their adaptations, and learn how concepts from the physical sciences, (e.g., chemistry, biochemistry), biological sciences (e.g., cell biology, genetics, physiology, evolution), and mathematics (e.g., statistics) are used to gain a better understanding of them. Students will learn about research currently being conducted on sharks and rays, examine preserved specimens in the lab, and take field trips to gain exposure to live animals. The course will emphasize the interdisciplinary nature and rigor of the marine science field.
Bill Szelistowski | William A. Szelistowski, Associate Professor of Biology and Marine Science, earned his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California and has been at Eckerd College since 1990. He is an ecologist and ichthyologist with special interests in shallow tropical and sub-tropical marine environments and fishes. His research topics have included estuarine food web structure, fish population biology and habitat use, predator-prey interactions, population genetics, and coral reef and mangrove ecology. Much of his work has been done on Costa Rica's Pacific coast. He and his wife have a son (18), a daughter (11), and a boxer (2); they all like to boat, camp, and fish (even the boxer).
AT 20: Unsp*k@ble Acts: Myth & Meaning in Greek Tragedy
Aristotle once wrote that tragedy described not the thing that has been, but the kind of thing that might be. Upon reflection we might wonder how Aristotle's statement could possibly be construed as true. Were the Greeks actually preoccupied with the danger of killing one's father and marrying one's mother? Did straying husbands often meet their demise in the bathtub at the hands of an axe-wielding wife? The answer is, of course, that the real dangers of the tragic stage are often metaphorical rather than literal, psychological rather than physical. For these reasons ancient Greek drama continues to thrive in the modern imagination. Far from the austere and staid performances we often associate with the classics, modern reconceptualizations of tragedy can be just as horrifying, grotesque, and relevant as they were in fifth century Greece. Join me as we explore the ways in which Greek tragedy survives and is recreated in modern film, theatre, and literature. Together, we will investigate the implications of ancient tragic motifs in our contemporary social and political context, and will discover what ancient literature can teach us not only about the past but about ourselves in the 21st century.
Heather Vincent | Dr. Heather Vincent is Associate Professor of Classics and has served at Eckerd College since 2006. She holds the Ph.D. in Classics from Brown University, an M.A. in Latin and Greek from the University of Maryland, and the B.S. from Vanderbilt University, with a double major in Biology and Classics. Dr. Vincent is the coordinator for the Ancient Studies major, an interdisciplinary program that brings together several fields in the humanities and social sciences, to include: Classics, Religious Studies, History, and Philosophy. Dr. Vincent's research concerns Greek and Roman comedy, Roman satire, ancient and modern humor theory, and literary criticism. Although she teaches a wide range of courses at Eckerd College covering many aspects of the ancient Mediterranean world, Dr. Vincent is especially passionate about the first-year freshman program and about the role of general education in the small liberal arts environment.
AT 21: Mathematical Approaches to Contemporary Problems
This course will offer students new insights and a fundamental understanding of how mathematics contributes to solving important national and global problems in the environmental, behavioral and natural sciences. Starting with a real problem concerning an important process of general interest, we will formulate simplifying assumptions about how the process evolves over time. We will build equations to model the sequence representing the values of the characteristic under study, and will develop and interpret solutions in the context of the original problem. We can then either accept the model as adequate or modify it in order to obtain a better model. Important applications include fitting simple models to medicine dosage, repeated loan payments, oil consumption and reserves, predicting populations levels; we also look at chaotic processes. These models use basic mathematical functions studied in high school.
Walter Walker | Walter O. Walker, Associate Professor of Mathematics, Ph.D., Clemson University. His research is in the area of Time Series Analysis. He enjoys teaching across the entire undergraduate mathematics curriculum, but frequently teaches courses in calculus, probability and statistics, optimization, combinatorial mathematics and linear algebra. Professor Walker has served as a member of the national committee charged with exploring the feasibility of offering an AP course in Statistics, and is subsequently a Member of the Course and Test Development Committee. Consequently, he has conducted workshops to train High School Teachers in the US and Canada to teach the first AP classes in Statistics. He was also a member of a team of three National Faculty Scholars who on three occasions offered National Faculty Summer Institutes for High School Teachers of Mathematics in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Georgia, and was Vice-President-elect for programs and Past-President for the Florida Section of the Mathematics Association of America. Professor Walker was Visiting Dana Faculty at Cornell University 1987-1988 before joining Eckerd College. He enjoys playing basketball, reading mathematics, and watching boxing.
AT 22: Astrobiology and Extreme Environments
Joel B. Thompson
Astrobiology includes the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. It is multidisciplinary in its content and execution, and therefore depends on the close coordination of diverse scientific fields that we will examine. One scientific field we will explore in detail is geomicrobiology/ microbial ecology and the study of life in extreme environments here on Earth. We will investigate the ongoing search for life within our solar system from our nearest planetary neighbor Mars to Europa, an icy moon of Jupiter. Geomicrobiology is the study of bacteria and their interaction with the environment. Studying microbial life in extreme environments here on Earth may serve as important analogs for life beyond Earth. Microbial biogeochemical cycling creates gases and other unique chemical signatures of life that may be detected on other celestial bodies.
Joel B. Thompson | Professor of Marine Science, has taught for 22 years at Eckerd College. He has advance degrees in both geology and biology. His specialty is geomicrobiology or the role of bacteria in various aquatic environments. He has conducted research with Eckerd students on the role of bacteria in white band disease in corals, the precipitation of carbonate minerals by bacteria, and the origin of stromatolites, ooids, and whiting events in the Bahamas. NASA, National Underwater Research Program (NURP), Caribbean Marine Research Center, and the Florida Space Grant Program have funded his research. Dr. Thompson has conducted Astrobiology research at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), in Pasadena, California. His research at Ames and JPL relates to the study of microbial mats as possible Martian analogs for evidence of life on Mars and other planets. Dr. Thompson's hobbies include SCUBA diving, underwater photography, snow and water skiing, and traveling throughout the US and abroad for teaching, research, and pleasure. He has conducted field research in 12 states and three foreign countries. Professor Thompson has led the Eckerd London Semester Program and Winter Term's to the Bahamas, Ecuador and Galapagos Islands, Hawaii and French Polynesia, and to Micronesia's world famous coral reefs and Jellyfish Lake. Next summer he will take six Eckerd College students to conduct research in Japan under a LUCE grant.
AT 23: Saint Petersburg: Building the Sunshine City
Saint Petersburg is a city of contrasts - rich and poor, blight and beauty, sweeping expanses of mangroves abutting urban sprawl. Our city has been shaped in part by the same broad social forces that have affected all American cities, but it has also been formed by the choices of its individual residents and visionaries. We will explore how the city is shaped by its physical environment, like its geography, parks, buildings, and roads. But we will also consider how people have built communities in St. Petersburg, from pre-Columbian indigenous peoples, to Gilded Age entrepreneurs, 20th Century snowbirds, and the contemporary Creative Class. We will pay particular attention to the contemporary issues of development facing the Sunshine City, such as building a new baseball stadium for the Rays, redeveloping the pier, and confronting issues of homelessness. In so doing, we will explore the question of how your new home town can attain its greatest potential in the future.
Nick Dempsey grew up in New York's Catskill Mountains, but was chiseled into an urbanite over 15 years in Chicago, where he earned his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Chicago. His research focuses on the sociology of culture - jazz music and arts institutions in particular - and issues in urban studies and social stratification. He has written several articles published in sociology journals and books, and has worked professionally as a saxophonist. In his free time, he enjoys cycling, angling, and taking in the culture of the Bay Area with his wife and two young children.
In the spring, Davina C. Lopez, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, will be teaching Human Experience: Selves and Others with Professor Dempsey's Autumn Term and Human Experience: Then and Now section. Professor Lopez holds an M.A. in Social Ethics, and an M.Phil. and Ph.D. in New Testament Studies, from Union Theological Seminary (NYC), and the B.A. in Religion (with a second major in Chemistry) from Emory University. She teaches courses that consider the contexts, texts, and histories of engagement with biblical literature, across time and cultures, and considers what we call "The Bible" to be a significant site for asking big questions such as "what does it mean to be human?" and "why does it matter?" She also enjoys teaching about such topics as the beginning and end of the world in culture and history, the formation of biblical and other canons, ancient and modern heresies and "banned books," new religious movements, and religion and film. Professor Lopez has published a book on the Apostle Paul, as well as essays on ancient miracles and magic, method in biblical scholarship, Roman imperial visual representation, and teaching and learning in religious studies. When she is not laboring in the liberal-arts vineyard at Eckerd, she can be found walking with her energetic Boston Terrier around town, baking breads and cakes of all sorts from scratch, trying (and trying) to grow her own tomatoes, and watching birds.