General Honors Seminars

Fall Semester 2014

Please note: before registering for any of these seminars, be sure your name is on the appropriate sign-up sheet in the honors center office.

Also, please sign-up for only one seminar and be certain you intend to take that seminar before placing your name on the sign-up sheet.


HON 111YHA — Walking and Human Experience

  • Dr. Erin Mitchell
  • MW 11–12:15
  • 3 credits

This seminar is open to incoming freshmen only.

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.—John Muir

Walking is the theme and metaphor that connects the subjects you will explore in this seminar. It is an activity that most of us take for granted, but, when one considers it as a subject matter, it is surprising to realize that it is such an important academic topic. Walking is a universal human activity. It can be relational or solitary. Anthropologists are interested in walking (bipedalism) because it was the evolutionary trait that set us on the course to humanness. We can use it to test our faith or ponder our condition. It is therapy, meditation and exercise. Philosophers, thinkers, and psychologists think about walking and think while walking. Literary types scribble the meditations and emotions evoked by walking. The simple act of moving forward on two feet has thus provoked much thought across many disciplines and arts. Walking is a major literary metaphor and a significant scientific consideration.

Students will be introduced to representations of and about walking. This will help students understand the similarities and differences between various literary movements. The assignments in this class will include a journal of walks and reactions to readings, literary analysis, and creative work, allowing students many ways of examining human experiences, values and ideals. Students will be reading works from a variety of genres and historical periods, from around the world. The main text will be Solnits’s Wanderlust: A History of Walking. Through this in-depth exploration of walking students will do some serious thinking about what it means to be human. They might be inspired to walk a bit in the world they inhabit. They should receive more from this seminar than they seek.

This course is also an experimental gateway course for the new general education program we hope to introduce in the near future. Gateway course are intended to help students to make the intellectual transition from high school to college. They also help students grasp the place of General Education in their total college academic experience and highlight the ways different disciplines examine the human experience.

This seminar will satisfy the humanities component of the Plattsburgh general education program.

This seminar will meet in the Honors Center: Hawkins Hall 121 Seminar Room A.

HON 115HA — Individuality, Eccentricity & Mayhem

  • Dr. Ann Tracy
  • TR 3:30–4:45
  • 3 Credits

You may think that the early years of the 21st C. are unique in the variety of life-styles, tolerance of a range of behaviors and the degree of social chaos that is so evident around us. But that would be because you haven’t considered the 17th C! There is no better way to take in the rampant eccentricity, edginess and unfettered delight of Renaissance

England than to read Aubrey’s Brief Lives, John Aubrey’s late 17th C. compendium of biography and gossip that has grown to be something of a cult classic. Aubrey’s often uproarious biographical sketches suggest a long age of untrammeled individuality—of writers, scientists, inventors, academics, doctors and whores—in that sunny patch between the rule of the church and the popularity of reason.

The first part of this seminar will explore Aubrey with close attention to detail and with supplementary reports by students. (For example, if the quirky William Butler was ‘the greatest physician of his time’, what on earth were the others doing?) What can we learn from the struggles of individuality against the pressures of social conformity in the 17th C. that will illuminate our own similar struggles?

In the second part of the seminar our attention will turn to a particularly sensational feature of this period known as Revenge Tragedy. Headstrong heroines, poisoned objects, incestuous passions, charnel houses, hallucinations and the like reveal, it might be argued, the more hazardous side of individuality. Students will be provided with a list of common ingredients of Revenge Tragedy and each seminar member will construct a detailed scene-by-scene synopsis for his or her own Revenge Tragedy. If you are drawn to the off-beat, non-conformism and the human capacity for variety, this seminar will set you on an exploration of discovery and creativity. As students write throughout this portion of the seminar, works in progress will be read or performed in class.

This seminar will satisfy the humanities component of the Plattsburgh general education program.

This seminar will meet in the Honors Center: Hawkins Hall 121 Seminar Room A.

HON 120HA — American Mass Media and the Jewish Experience

  • Dr. Jonathan Slater
  • MW 11–12:15
  • 3 Credits

From the late 1800s into the early 20th century the United States experienced a wave of innovation that laid the groundwork for what would become the mass media revolution. The modern newspaper took form, and the technologies behind the phonograph, motion pictures, radio, and television were invented. The industries that would come to promote and popularize their use also came into being. At the same time, this was a period of wholesale displacement of populations from Eastern Europe — an era when waves of Jewish immigrants, fleeing persecution and poverty settled here. The coincidence of these two social transitions and their consequent merging, i.e., the role that Jews have played in the formation and development of the modern mass media in the American cultural landscape, are often poorly understood chapters in the social history of this country. Frequently lionized and regularly demonized, the Jewish contribution to American mass communication has all too often been the subject of myth and mystery and all too rarely the object of deliberate, intellectual investigation and discourse.

Well beyond a recitation of celebrated American Jews and their achievements in the mass media industries, this seminar will examine the ways Jews affected the mass media in the United States and how the mass media transformed Jewish life and culture here. In addition, the seminar will explore many of the Jewish ethical themes that have become woven into both the fabric of modern media content and the moral criticism about the effects of mass media upon our culture and society.

Through a considered, guided study of works by American Jews or about the Jewish experience in America, sampled among a number of popular cultural genres throughout the last century, students will have occasion to filter, analyze and critique information in an intellectually stimulating and open setting. The story about the relationship of the Jewish experience to the growth of mass media in the United States deserves to be taught, for it is a rich and intriguing story. Unfortunately, Jewish and non-Jewish interpretations of this story often become entangled in ethnic self-mythologizing or muddied by malicious disinformation. To counter these tendencies, the seminar will provide an analytical framework in which students will be able to have access and apply critical thinking to both the explicit, material manifestations of Jewish creativity in American mass media and the implicit expression of Jewish moral traditions often embedded in such creations. Simultaneously, we will learn about and appreciate the artistic and aesthetic elements of American Jewish output and involvement in literature, journalism, film, television, and the recording industry.

The main goals of the seminar are to examine the social, historical and ethical significance of mass media in the American Jewish experience. Students will lend their critical vision to analyses of the influence of mass media on Jewish life in America and of the role Jewish religion, culture, and thought have played in the development of the media in the U.S. Together participants will become aware of their own assumptions about this relationship, while learning to think critically and collaborate in an open dialogue.

This seminar will satisfy the U.S. civilization component of the Plattsburgh general education program.

This seminar will meet in the Honors Center: Hawkins Hall 121 Seminar Room B.

HON 131YHA — Sexualities, Culture & Identity

  • Dr. James Armstrong
  • MW 3:30–4:45
  • 3 Credits

This seminar is open to incoming freshmen only.

Sexuality is marked (at least in the American context) by ambivalence, contradiction, and confusion. We find this lack of clarity in the language we use to talk about it, in its representations, and even in the science that describes and attempts, inadequately, to explain it. The recent historical context of a culture war pitting a traditional, male-dominant, sex negative construction of human relationships against a more accepting, androgynous, egalitarian world view probably contributes to the confusion. This course will explore the ambivalence and contradictions by using a social science approach that includes cross-cultural and cross species comparison. The main focus, however, will be on culture and sexuality in the American context. The approach is culturological, but acknowledges both evolutionary theory and the exploration of the self in order to understand sex. The main topics to be addressed are rites of passage, sex and love, taboos and constraints, hooking-up, sexual world views, varieties of sexuality, and sexual violence. We will explore answers to the following questions:

  • What can we learn about sexuality by exploring the way we talk about it?
  • How does society shape our images of ourselves, our sexualities, and our genders?
  • How do social sciences study sex? What issues are associated with different approaches?
  • What are the theoretical orientations of those who study sex?
  • What are the cultural attributes that interact most directly with sexuality?
  • What’s love got to do with it?
  • Is our society rape prone? What makes it that way?
  • What can be done about sexual violence?
  • Where do our sexualities come from?

This course will focus on developing the habit of critical thinking. According to Scriven and Paul, “Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from or generated by observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.” This will be the main learning objective of the course. The assignments, both in-class and homework, are intended to help students develop this habit. These assignments will include guided reading, in-class writing, reaction papers, film critique, and personal reflection.

This course is also an experimental gateway course for the new general education program we hope to introduce in the near future. Gateway course are intended to help students to make the intellectual transition from high school to college. They also help students grasp the place of General Education in their total college academic experience and highlight the ways different disciplines examine the human experience.

This seminar will satisfy the social science component of the Plattsburgh general education program.

This seminar will meet in the Honors Center: Hawkins Hall 121 Seminar Room B.

HON 139HA — Men & Women of Faith & Courage

  • Father Roger McGuiness
  • M 2–4:45
  • 3 Credits

Human history has been punctuated by men and women who have been able to influence our sense of humanity and its potentials, the course of social change, and the direction of history itself. Often these individuals have shown great courage and just as often this courage has emanated from a deep faith. Gandhi, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela quickly spring to mind, though there are many others. Often such people have had to endure great suffering or deprivation and have found the strength to do so in their faith. Frequently the lives of these men and women exhibit a ‘turning point’ that forever changed their personal outlook on life to a more global and altruistic outlook on society and the world.

While the lives of these persons are fascinating in themselves, they also raise fascinating questions. What led up to such turning points? How do men and women of faith and courage wrestle with the events and experiences of life and finally pass the turning point? How have they ultimately decided to change not only their own lives, but to act in ways that change the lives of countless others? What are the consequences and costs of such decisions? These and many other questions will occupy the seminar throughout the semester.

To help understand men and women of faith and courage the seminar will draw on a number of developmental theories. Central to the work of the seminar will be James Fowler’s theory of the stages of faith development. Fowler’s theory offers a framework that provides profound insights into the lives of these men and women. Links between Fowler’s theory and the theories of other developmental psychologists such as Piaget, Kohlberg, Maslow and Erickson will also be explored. In exploring and comparing different theories of psychological development, students will be exposed to, investigate and discuss the methods of developmental psychology. Students will gain a deeper understanding and knowledge of men and women of courage who have made an impact on world events. Students will also have a better and richer insight into their own personal goals and ambitions either by re-defining them or by enhancing them for their future contribution to society.

Students will write several short papers based on seminar readings. In addition students will make formal class presentations drawn from the rich resources the seminar will examine.

This seminar will satisfy the social sciences component of the Plattsburgh general education program.

This seminar will meet in the Honors Center: Hawkins Hall 121 Seminar Room A.

HON 141HA — Quantitative Reasoning in Basic Math

  • Dr. Robert Keever
  • MWF 9–9:50
  • 3 credits

Unlike many other math courses, Quantitative Reasoning in Basic Math does not focus on content, but on problem solving. The main objectives of the course are for students to study how to analyze and simplify a range of problems, how to estimate and check mathematical results for reasonableness, and arrive at answers in which they have confidence. Methods of problem solving include teaching oneself by doing simpler problems, translating between English and symbolic language of mathematics, and rewriting problems in ways that extract the mathematical content, ignore nonessential detail, leaving well-defined mathematical problems that are (perhaps) easier to solve.

The assignments and class time are aimed at getting students to understand the problem solving presented, and we hope to accomplish this through the direct engagement of students in the problem solving in a process in which they help teach each other to accomplish this goal. These methods embody the expectations of the Math category of the General Education program, to “introduce students to mathematical thinking and logic and foster students’ ability ‘to interpret and draw inferences from mathematical models such as formulas, graphs, tables, and schematics,’ ‘to represent mathematical information symbolically, visually, numerically and verbally,’ ‘to employ quantitative methods such as arithmetic, algebra, geometry, or statistics to solve problems,’ and ‘to recognize the limits of mathematical and statistical methods.’” We hope to accomplish this in a mutually supportive environment. Students will be graded on their ability to demonstrate this understanding as well as the ability to apply the methods to a wide variety of problems.

The assignments and class time will focus almost entirely on real world problems. The pedagogy will ask every student to actively engage in the education of their classmates as well as themselves. This is the ideal math class for students who lack confidence in their mathematical ability.

This seminar will satisfy the mathematics component of the Plattsburgh general education program.

This seminar will meet in the Honors Center: Hawkins Hall 121 Seminar Room B.

HON 152HA — Outsiders in American Film

  • Dr. Michael Devine
  • TR 11–12:15 & T 7–9
  • 3 Credits

In the late 19th century film provided a vision “outside” or beyond the constraints of genteel society: Muybridge’s motion studies recorded what the unassisted human eye could not see, while early boxing films provided recordings of a sport considered illegal to watch in most states. Unsurprisingly, this new technological vision — unmoored, kinetic, roving through city streets with early “actuality” films—soon aligned itself with outsiders, characters who critiqued mainstream society in films both comic and tragic. In doing so, the new art form appealed to an audience of poor and disenfranchised immigrants. The story of film’s assimilative, hegemonic powers is well known; less familiar is the medium’s power of anarchic, outsider critique. This seminar will explore this critique. The organizing questions are:

  • What was the nature of this critique?
  • Where did it come from and how did it change over the 20th century?
  • What is the nature of the critique today?

“Outsiders in American Film” focuses on both film and cultural history. It is a survey of film’s intervention in continuing debates over American identity. The class starts with the earliest kinetoscope films to examine the threat and promise they represented to the cultural custodians of the time. Students will develop a better sense of the concerns of film history as an outsider art in the subsequent period of narrative development in films like Laughing Gas (Porter, 1907), which stars a female African American lead. Viewed in the context of writings by Theodore Roosevelt and writers ranging from Stephen Crane to Brander Matthews, these early films show how pop culture had its own say in the most pressing political and literary debates of the era. The nativist turn of the 1920s establishes the next part of the class. The ascendancy of the documentary era—films like Manhatta (Strand and Sheeler, 1921) and especially Nanook of the North (Flaherty, 1922)—gets framed by writers and artist ranging from Jean Toomer to Georgia O’Keefe, a context that emphasizes the dramatic way in which film weighed in on the key question of the “authentic” American.

Turning to issues of genre and strategic pairings, the class considers films such as the pre-Code I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (LeRoy, 1932) and Cool Hand Luke (Rosenberg, 1967) to consider how the image of the outsider is addressed and sometimes suppressed. Fugitive revolves around a displaced war veteran, a figure which leads to other mainstream productions such as the multi-Oscar Award winning The Best Years of Our Lives (Wyle, 1946), which raises the issue of disability as spectacle. We will also address the question of mainstream versus “outsider” cinema; this can be done in a film such as Bunel’s The Young One (1960); a Mexican film by a Spanish director with American actors that tells a tale of racism. The last part of the class considers the contemporary turn, and specifically the way that films explicitly quote, revise, and otherwise rewrite their influences, and in doing so rewrite the image of the outsider. This means viewing groundbreaking films such as Badlands (Malick, 1973) and Moonrise Kingdom (Anderson, 2012). Finally, the major crises of today—familial, social, environmental—are articulated in Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012), circling the class back to its original concerns with outsider visions—of racial others, of what constitutes “realism” of our world.

The classroom approach is an inquiry-based collaborative learning environment. Students will find their voice by interacting with texts (writing on and responding to films in every class), with paratexts (reviews, etc.), and with their peers.

This seminar will satisfy the art component of the Plattsburgh general education requirement.

This seminar will meet in Hawkins Hall 121A on TR 11–12:15 & Yokum Hall 206 ON T 7–9.

HON 174HA — Parenting: A Sine Qua Non In Human Evolution: Its Role To Our Human Future

  • Dr. Magarita García-Notario
  • T 5–7:45
  • 3 Credits

Traditionally, parenting was considered to be one of humans’ natural purposes, something imbedded in human nature that guides the species toward the goal of reproducing itself. Not too long ago most humans would see parenting as an unavoidable outcome for the majority of men and women. However, with the advent of technologies that control or enable our life-conceiving capabilities, parenting is no longer unavoidable or “natural.” Nonetheless, most of us who become parents are not well prepared for the task.

Following bio-physical anthropologist, other scientists, and social thinkers, such as Sarah Hrdy, David Loye, Rianne Eisner, Alice Miller Gabor Mate, and Daniel Siegel among others, this seminar will examine the role that parenting plays in human life. We will reflect on the methods and ideas that guide childrearing today, in contrast with what was common in the past, and we will search for beneficial and enriching parenting and education habits and behaviors. We will explore the following questions:

  • How does the brain develop from conception to adolescence?
  • What role do feelings and emotions have in a healthy life?
  • What role does bonding and attachment play in determining human behavior?
  • How does one become a good parent?
  • What is the role of parenting in human evolution?

Students will read contemporary brain research focusing on emotions, and together we will explore the reinterpretation of Darwinian lessons. We will focus on the role of compassion and cooperation in natural selection and species survival. We will explore Alice Miller’s thesis that we are not born with a clean slate, but with a history of our own: the history of nine months from conception to birth. In addition to the genetic blueprint we inherit, we will consider the thesis that character depends crucially on the nature of the social surroundings in which one is raised.

At all stages students will take responsibility for defining the terms and boundaries of the discussions. Students will be expected to question the premises and conclusions of the authors they read. Discussion questions will be required for all readings. Presentations and participation are expected, and will occur in a supportive environment. A detailed, inquisitive and critical reflection will be required for all assigned readings.

This seminar will satisfy the natural science component of the Plattsburgh general education requirement.

This seminar will meet in the Honors Center: Hawkins Hall 121 Seminar Room B.

HON 182HA — Democracy & Education

  • Dr. Jean Ann Hunt
  • W 3:30–5:45
  • 3 Credits

Over the past few years American politics have been particularly nasty and ineffectual. At times it seemed to some of us that the foundations of our democracy itself are in jeopardy. And perhaps the question of the health of democratic institutions and processes remains in question. For those of us living in an academic community an even deeper question emerges from the recent political context. We may…and should…wonder what is the connection between democracy and education.

“What the best and wisest parent wants for his or her own child, that must the community want for all of its children.” This statement made by John Dewey epitomizes the spirit of a democratic community. This seminar is designed to explore the connection(s) between democracy and education. Throughout the semester the work of the seminar will be guided by two broad questions

What is democratic education and why is it important?

In pursuing these questions the seminar classroom offers unusual opportunities. As we learn about democracy and education we will also gain experience in democracy by constructing what we might call a democratic classroom. Such a classroom will be collaborative in nature with shared responsibility for contributing to the learning and teaching that will take place. We will in short be exploring democracy as a way of life, not merely as an event such as voting or as an abstract idea. To paraphrase Naomi Wolf, the democratic life is “…difficult, personally exacting and vanishingly fragile.” So the work in this seminar is intense and rigorous, but it will provide each student the opportunity to delve into an exploration of the fundamental purposes of education and what kind of classroom and schools we all want in our communities.

Students will write reflection papers in response to assigned readings. They will also construct a “time-ball” that focuses on significant life events and what was learned through those events. Finally, the seminar will develop a collaborative answer to the two fundamental questions of the seminar.

This seminar will satisfy the Western civilization component of the Plattsburgh general education requirement.

This seminar will meet in the Honors Center: Hawkins Hall 121 Seminar Room A.

HON 183HA-Rebellion and the Status Quo: “A Critique of Cynical Reason”

  • Dr. Jurgen Kleist
  • TR 3:30–4:45
  • 3 Credits

Cultural systems of all levels of complexity are inherently conservative. They are structured and rationalized in order to preserve themselves. The ideas that sustain them, religious and political, are often system maintaining ideologies. Nonetheless, they do change, and often this change is rapid, violent, and destabilizing. The main emphasis of this seminar focuses on the antagonism between the forces that constitute the status quo at any given point in time and the forces that oppose the status quo, rebelling against the system maintaining structures and ideologies. For many philosophers in the Western tradition this dialectic exchange and dynamism is the structural foundation of historical progress, cultural achievements, political institutions, and a large part of philosophical inquiry. Students will gain a deeper understanding of the power structures of the modern world through an in-depth study of these forces. In addition, the student will explore the main topics of philosophical thought, while examining the history of philosophy from the ancient Greeks to contemporary thinkers. This goal will be achieved in two parts. The first part will introduce the student to the history of philosophy through the novel Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. In this novel a fourteen year old Norwegian girl receives lessons in the history of philosophy from the pre- Socratic to the present. This introduction makes philosophy accessible, while laying the foundations for the second part of the course. The second part of the course focuses on Critique of Cynical Reason by Peter Sloterdijk. This book describes in detail the dialectical process of rebellion and status quo in Western history.

In essence this course constitutes an introduction to 2000 years of Western philosophy through the exploration of the tension between the status quo and forces of change.

Students will engage in a number of learning activities, especially critical thinking and writing assignments used to construct a portfolio and class presentations.

This seminar will satisfy the Western civilization component of the Plattsburgh general education program.

This seminar will meet in the Honors Center: Hawkins Hall 121 Seminar Room B.

HON 301HB — Modeling Dynamic Systems

  • Dr. Kevin O’Neil
  • TR 9:30–10:45
  • 3 credits

This course introduces you to system dynamics modeling and systems thinking applied to the analysis of global complexities. You will learn to visualize the environmental, social, economic, physical and biological policy arenas in terms of the structures that create dynamics and regulate performance.

Accelerating economic, technological, social and environmental change requires policy makers to adapt. Increasingly, we must learn how to manage complex systems with multiple feedback effects, long time delays, and nonlinear responses to our decisions. Yet learning in such environments is difficult precisely because we never confront many of the consequences of our most important decisions. You can probably think of a host of examples illustrating this point from the AIDS epidemic to global climate change. Effective learning in such environments requires methods to develop systems thinking, to represent and assess such dynamic complexity—and tools that can be used to accelerate learning by policy makers.

System dynamics allows us to create “micro-worlds,” manage flight simulators where space and time can be compressed, slowed, and stopped in order to assess the long-term side effects of decisions. We can also explore new strategies and develop better understandings of systems. In this class we will use role playing games, simulation models, case studies, and policy flight simulators to develop principles of policy design for the complexities we now face.

This course will help you understand the dynamic, simultaneous, and inter-relational nature of intra and extra systems activity through causal loop making and system dynamic simulations. Students will create models that represent complex, non-linear feedback systems of personal or professional interests to them. Some of the simulations we will explore include global concerns such as population growth, epidemics, economic, environmental and social change, among other policy arenas.

The course objectives include the following:

  • Understanding of basic positive and negative feedback mechanisms.
  • Use of feedback thinking in developing causal loop models of dynamic systems.
  • Translation of dynamic causal loop models into system dynamics structures for policy development.
  • Development of dynamic, simultaneous understanding of complex systems in the global context.

Students will keep a weekly journal and participate in a group project formulating, designing and simulating a systems project that is interesting to you and your team. You will also complete other assignments focused on individual modeling and problem solving homework.

Students will need their own laptop computer in order to participate in this class.

This seminar will satisfy the global issues component of the Plattsburgh general education program.

This seminar will meet in Au Sable Hall 126

HON 307HA — Communist Totalitarianism to the European Union

  • Dr. Monica Ciobanu
  • TR 2–3:15
  • 3 credits

As a general rule, most Americans don’t know much about Eastern and Central Europe. At its peak the Soviet Bloc was perceived as a mysterious monolithic monster, threatening world peace and American domination. Students of the current generation only vaguely remember the existence of the Soviet Union, the Iron Curtain, and the Cold War. This seminar will provide students with an understanding of this critical era in global politics, through an examination of social, political, and cultural developments in this area beginning with the rise of Soviet dominance after World War II. Other important developments to be covered through reading and discussion include the process of forced Stalinization of the 1950s, quasi-liberalization of the 60s and 70s, the emergence of dissident movements in the 70s and 80s, and the collapse of the socialist system in 90s. The seminar will then focus on one of the most important social, political, and economic transformations in recent history, the transition to democracy and a market economy in this region. Through the examination of the social, political, and economic developments, the seminar will expose the ongoing geo-political and cultural tensions facing countries in this region which are caught between Eastern and Western spheres of influence. Students will come to understand the similarities and difference in developments and responses to development in the region.

Some of the important questions to be examined in the seminar include:

  • What was the impact of communism on the various states in this region?
  • What is the relationship between ideology, policy, and social processes in the Soviet Bloc countries?
  • Why did the Soviet Empire collapse?
  • What was the impact of democratization and economic transformation after the collapse?
  • How were the social and cultural lives of people affected by the changes that took place?
  • What accounts for the recent rise of nationalist movements in some of the countries of the region?

Participants in this seminar can expect an atmosphere of dialogue and discussion, with perhaps a bit of contentiousness, as the issues at hand can be emotionally loaded. Students will be expected to complete two essays and a research paper examining one of the important issues raised by the seminar. In addition, everyone will make a presentation on their research.

This seminar will satisfy the global issues component of the Plattsburgh general education requirement.

This seminar will meet in the Honors Center: Hawkins Hall 121 Seminar Room A.

HON 401HA — Women in the Bible

  • Kari Tulling
  • MW 2–3:15
  • 3 credits

This seminar is open only to students with sophomore standing or above.

Cross listed with GWS300A

As a foundational text for multiple religious traditions and cultures, the Bible shapes societal attitudes regarding gender roles, family structures, and interpersonal responsibilities. In this course these attitudes are evaluated in light of feminist theory as well as biblical criticism. Students will also learn about life in the ancient Near East in order to gain a greater sense of the context of the biblical narratives. The goal of this course is to develop greater sophistication in reading this text. By the end of the course students will understand the difference between pious and scholarly arguments, and they will know how to build a convincing argument for their own interpretation of the Bible through the use of academic sources.

This course will address the following questions:

  • What assumptions regarding gender roles and family life were made in the time of the Bible?
  • What does it mean to re-read the text from the perspective of feminist criticism?
  • How has the Bible been used to reinforce patriarchal assumptions?
  • How might the text be read in ways that subvert patriarchy?

Although this course is not approved for a particular general education category, students wishing to use it to fulfill Western civilization or humanities should talk to Dr. Armstrong.

This seminar will meet in the Honors Center: Hawkins Hall 121 Seminar Room B.

Contact Information

If you would like more information about the honors program at SUNY Plattsburgh, please contact

Dr. James Armstrong, Director

Sandra Boulerice, Secretary

Office: Hawkins Hall 121-123
Phone: (518) 564-3075
Fax: (518) 564-3071