Colloquia at BHSU
Each semester, the BHSU Honors Program offers its students the unique opportunity to take a custom-made colloquium. This "fringe" seminar is taught by an esteemed professor at the university and introduces students to concepts and ideas not normally covered in an undergraduate class. Faculty create one-of-a-kind curriculum to challenge and engage students in a course that provokes thought through free exchange of new ideas, academic scholarship and research, and experiential learning opportunities. The colloquia are selected by student vote every two years.
Fall 2016 Disability in American Culture. (Dr. Rickie Ann Legleitner)
Disability Studies scholars posit disability as the relationship between those who possess the power to define normalcy and those who are marginalized by these definitions— not as a physical or mental deficiency. Disability becomes the opposite of “normalcy,” and the problem lies in how we culturally define these norms. As Lennard J. Davis states, “One of the tasks for a developing consciousness of disability issues is the attempt, then, to reverse the hegemony of the normal and to institute alternative ways of thinking about the abnormal.” This course examines the representation of disability in American culture through the reading of critical texts and documentaries, fictional works and films, as well as other media in popular culture, largely driven by students’ individual interests. Examples include Game of Thrones, Alphas, South Park, X-Men, Murderball, and The Simpsons. Through course discussions and critical writing, we will analyze how the body's appearance and abilities have been linked to character and fate and have been used to justify discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, and capability. We will further consider how disability is shaped socially, politically, and legally and how one might challenge traditional constructions of “normality" and "abnormality” in American culture.
- Spring 2017: The Enduring Appeal Of Modern/Post-Modern Pop-Culture Hero Sherlock Holmes. (Dr. Nikki Dragone)
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson were first introduced to the masses of modern Victorian England in 1887 through Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel A Study in Scarlet. By the time The Strand contracted with Doyle to publish The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Holmes became a cultural icon on both sides of the Atlantic. Despite Doyle’s attempts to kill and/or retire Sherlock Holmes, Holmes remains a “startlingly malleable” international icon endowed with a cultural staying power enabling him to survive as a hero of both modern and post-modern pop culture for over 125 years. During that time, he has been continuously reinvented by filmmakers and actors, playwrights and authors, television and radio producers. Additionally, Holmes has been credited with influencing criminology and scientific method. Holmes continues to receive mail from all over the world asking for his help and advice. This cultural studies and philosophy course proposes exploring the enduring appeal and cultural staying power of Sherlock Holmes as a modern/post-modern pop-culture hero by studying not only Doyle’s Holmes but also the post-Doyle reinventions of Holmes including but not limited to William Gillette’s 1899 play, graphic novels and Japanese anime based on Holmes, a sampling of TV and film interpretations of Holmes and Watson (like the BBC’s Sherlock and CBS’s Elementary), video and board games, Holmesian societies, and the very recent “I Believe in Sherlock” movement.
Spring 2017: Opting Out: Hermits, Pirates, Homesteaders and Hackers. (Dr. Tim Steckline)
As the Enlightenment project has begun to resemble a herd of humans rounded up for a life of quiet domestication, certain groups of these humans who are disenchanted with the mainstream society have begun to break away to carve out separate and independent lives. This course will track back to early renegades, such as Essenes along the Sea of Galilee or Free-Thinkers in Europe or Sufis in Turkey or the Oneida Colony of New York, and many other communities of heretics. Pirates dallied in secret harbors of uncharted islands before chasing along the sea lanes. Escaped slaves, known as “maroons,” formed mutual protection brigades in swamps and forests, to avoid ever being taken into slavery again. In the modern era breakaways have eschewed the conventions of homes, careers, money, food, human company, and coal power. Homesteaders and proponents of simple living have shown how one can live “off the grid,” following the examples of Helen and Scott Nearing, who built
a home in Vermont’s woods during the Depression and never took jobs again. The Nearings took on the mantles of publicity agents for self-sufficiency well into the 1990s, when only their deaths silenced them. Homesteading implies other simplicities, such as gardening, handmade textiles, canning and preserving, solar power, or home burials. Back-to-the-country communes were the last attempt of the 1960s movements to carve out some peace. Now data havens are a prospect, a way to give cover to hackers, free market entrepreneurs, currency ascetics, data thieves, cyber-utopians and other electronic pirates. What is the impetus that draws humans away from the mainstream? Is opting out a feasible option? Is self-sufficiency satisfactory? Is there romance in social disapproval? Can one form a true society out of a collection of individualists? These and other subsequent questions will give students reason to pause, and then either head for the high country, or go get grooved, till the groove turns into a rut that leads to a grave.
- Fall 2017: Madness in Popular Culture: The “Insanity” of Women,
Dr. Laura Colmenero-Chilberg
Throughout history women have been diagnosed, treated, committed to institutions (or burned at the stake) for symptoms of what their society identified as insanity. From the wild bacchanalia of the Maenads in Ancient Greece, to the delicate insanity of Ophelia, to the mad heroines of classic Victorian literature, to contemporary images found in television series like Penny Dreadful and movies like Kill Bill, women suffering from mental instability has been a favorite topic of popular culture. Why? Is there really a tie between gender and insanity, a “female malady,” or is there something else going on?
The social construct of women as “deviant” has a long history. It can be seen in the world’s major religions and spiritual traditions, which often view women as “uncontrollable.” In the last two centuries in particular, we have seen a very strong connection between the concept of femininity and the cultural construction of madness. In this course we will focus on the historical and cultural factors and behaviors that have been associated with madness in women as it is reflected in popular culture. By examining the representations of insanity in popular culture, we can examine changing ideas about gender, social class and family structures, and the effect these factors have on what we consider to be “sane.”
Spring 2018: Ethics and Leadership in Popular Science Fiction (Dr. Jeffrey P. Wehrung Sr.)
Business History courses recognize that certain themes persist through time, yet neglect to consider the potentially timeless nature of management practices. In this course we will discuss the foundations of management, and specifically managerial ethics, as applied in science fiction. In this course we will study the decisions of famous entrepreneurs such as Malcolm Reynolds, Klineman Halpen, and Datak Tarr. The course will also involve heated debate regarding such topics as the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition, whether William Adama should have cut off labor negotiations with Chief Tyrol, and the choice to prosper from someone’s Ood-like desire to serve others. We will also consider the innovation process, and whether particular products (Adipose pills or Meat) and revenue models (dabo tables) are inherently unethical.With each example our goal is to connect what occurs in our favorite Sci-fi shows to businesses practices of today. How is Votan clan control similar to asian business practices? Why might arduous government regulations, and other environmental factors, lead you to sell black market cows? How might we emulate Dr. Who’s confidence to become a leader in our organization, yet avoid the cognitive biases that create a sense of moral superiority? Other topics will include the benefits (and detriments) of team-decision making, how organizational structure affects our ethics, organizational agility, building your personal and organizational identity, and the effects of diversity and culture on human resource management.
- Spring 2018: Molecules That Changed History, Dr. Katrina Jensen
This course will examine a selection of specific molecules that have had a significant impact on human history. The course will focus on the impact of each molecule on historical events, economics, and politics as well as the chemistry of each molecule as it relates to its source, properties, and use. Examples of topics include the pill, penicillin and the discovery of antibiotics, eugenol (found in nutmeg) and the spice trade, and the development of polymers and plastics. No prior understanding of chemistry is required.