The Honors Colloquium serves as the foundation for the academic honors experience. Distinguished faculty convey the importance of academic leadership and life-long learning in a small discussion-based seminar on a special topic. Dedicated peer mentors attend each class and introduce opportunities for academic and social engagement. Each course also includes experiential learning opportunities to connect course content to the community through field trips and class speakers. Following are the colloquia offered during the fall 2021 semester.
COLQ courses marked with an asterisk (*) are Service Learning courses. Students in these courses must also register for the corresponding Service Learning component.
-02 MW 1:00-2:15p | -03 MW 3:30-4:45p | -04 TR 3:30-4:45p | -05 TR 9:30-10:45a
Students and professors in this interdisciplinary seminar will read and discuss a series of important texts in order to develop insights into the values that have informed the construction of and participation in various human communities—political, social, and religious—in various periods of history. The texts chosen for this course are works that have shaped the conversations that frame current discussions of social ethics, political theory, and other human values. Reading lists vary, but have included works by Sappho, Homer, Sophocles, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Cervantes, Dante, Montaigne, Shakespeare, John Milton, Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Karl Marx, W.E.B Du Bois, Virginia Woolf, Albert Camus, James Baldwin, Hannah Arendt, Italo Calvino, John Coetzee, Cormac McCarthy, and Claudia Rankine.
John Howard, Associate Director, Murphy Institute | BIO
Elizabeth Gross, Lecturer | BIO
Labeled the “age of rage” by activist-writer Soraya Chemaly, director Adam Bhala Lough, and a host of media outlets, the current cultural moment serves as a pronouncement of the outrage of citizens across the globe. This rage marked by political turmoil, viral injustices, and concurrent movements (e.g., Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, and March for Our Lives) not only illuminates building frustrations of marginalized groups but also creates a pathway for revising narratives surrounding anger. This class explores raced and gendered notions of rage in media, popular culture, and academic discourse while allowing students to see the ways that anger can be an impetus for (political) action. Students will be introduced to scholarship in Gender Studies, African American Studies, Affect Studies, and Cultural Studies that shape contemporary conversations about anger. The course inspires students to answer the questions: How can the ongoing movements (and the media coverage) aid us in understanding anger? How do race, class, gender, and other markers of identity impact the ways this emotion is perceived?
Ebony Perro, Professor of Practice, English | BIO
The study of art and the study of nature may seem to be different disciplines, but they inform each other in myriad ways. Artists have always looked to nature for inspiration-- but how does art inform our understanding of the natural world? This colloquium delves into the intersection of art and nature through an interdisciplinary lens: What is nature from the perspective of art? What is the role of art in shaping the scientific understanding of nature? What is the role of environmental activism in art and science? These themes will be introduced through foundational and modern naturalist works from poetry to print-making, and activities such as walks in the park (as a naturalist and an artist), keeping a field journal, visits with artists, scientists and environmental advocates, and creating an exhibit of our own art and nature.
Donata Henry, Senior Professor of Practice, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | BIO
Norah Lovell, Program Manager, Academic Enrichment | BIO
This seminar will examine the ways in which gender and women are presented by the authors of the Hebrew Bible, and in later Jewish or Israeli texts. Among the central questions in the seminar will be: Is there a general prejudice against women in the Jewish tradition? What roles are given to women; can we speak about equality between the genders? Are women portrayed as powerful or powerless, and what are the implications of our answer? How do modern women react to the misogyny of Biblical texts? In what ways do women “fight back”? Among our readings will be excerpts from the Bible and Babylonian Talmud, the diary of Glückel of Hameln, Paula Wengeroff’s autobiography, Sylvia Plath, the poetry of Rachel and Leah Goldberg, and contemporary authors such as Orly Castel-Bloom.
Brian Horowitz, Sizeler Family Professor, Jewish Studies | BIO
Earth’s surface is dynamic, with the processes of plate tectonics interacting with a atmospheres and oceans. Climate changes in response to the creation and removal of mountain belts and rifts, volcanic eruptions, orbital forcings, and human activity, result in a feedback system that enhances or diminishes global temperature. As global temperatures rise, polar ice sheets melt, and the meltwater causes sea level rise at a global scale. Yet, the majority of humans live or work along Earth’s coastlines, which respond to sea level rise in a variety of ways. Sea level rise, therefore, poses tremendous financial risk to coastal communities, and is already provoking resettlements and expensive mitigation. This Colloquium offers students the opportunity to consider the response of Louisiana’s coast within a global context, and to compare and contrast the coastal response in this region with tropical and arctic examples. We focus on a review of the Earth-ocean-atmosphere system, data constraining sea level rise, evidence for the regional variations in rates of sea level rise, economic, societal, and strategic implications of land-loss and increasing severity of storms, and discuss geo-engineering projects for Louisiana and other areas worldwide.
Cynthia Ebinger, Marshall-Heape Chair Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences | BIO
While propaganda and fake news have an ancient lineage, they have taken on a political intensity in years, coinciding with these crucial trends: 1) the viral spread of information via social media; 2) technological advances that permit increasingly realistic fakes in both video and audio; and 3) an increasing tribalization of epistemology, where the relatively fixed ground of “rationality and “fact” have become contested terrain. What is happening and why? What, if anything, can we do about it? Answering these questions cannot be done without a deeper dive into how we know what we know and how we come to have the critical tools to change our own minds. This colloquium explores all of these questions and asks students, by the end of the semester, to articulate their own claims to knowledge and belief.
Justin Wolfe, Associate Professor, History | BIO
This course will focus on the role of art and how it relates to questions of beauty, the possibility of objective evaluation of a work of art, and the relationship between art and reality, creativity and reason, art and life, and how societal values affect what might be considered art. More specifically, we will investigate what art is and its role in human life. Some of the questions the class will consider are whether there might be a distinctive quality or function which all works of art possess and which makes them art; whether art has a distinctive kind of meaning and what determines an artwork’s meaning? Can it be expressed in other terms? Why do we care about an artwork’s originality and authenticity? How should, in philosophical terms, art be evaluated? Does art have the potential of influencing ethics and morals? In asking these questions, it is important to test those theories against actual works of art. I’ll frequently bring (reproductions of) artworks to class and I may assign a trip to the Museum.
Isa Murdock-Hinrichs, Professor of Practice, English | BIO
This course encourages students to be curious and critical. Students learn to think metacognitively about their own thinking, to observe patterns and problems inherent in human thought, to apply insights from different disciplines, and to make explicit our naturalized cultural assumptions. Methodologically, we complete inquiry-based learning assignments, in which teachers present problems for students to work on before students are taught the key ideas that will help them solve the problems. Ultimately, the process models the way academics often address new questions.
Anne-Marie Womack, Professor of Practice, English | BIO
By examining readings spanning sound studies, linguistics, cultural theory, musicology and film studies, we will explore the new interdisciplinary terrain of studies in vocality. We will hear and think about the voice both as a sound object and as a carrier of meaning. Topics will include the sonorities and semantics of the voices of villains and the voices of children. We will consider ventriloquism, the voiceover, ghostly or possessed voices, and other kinds of vocal embodiment and disembodiment. We will discuss the uncanny sounds of robot voices, such as Siri, Alexa, HAL, and Samantha from the movie Her. As a related concern to robot voices, we will also consider the zoopolitics of the voice—the question of how voices contribute to understandings of the boundary between human and non-human. The musicality of the spoken voice, and the elements of speech within song will constitute another area of inquiry. We will think about pronunciation, accents and shibboleths—words whose pronunciation separate insiders and outsiders. Work by Amanda Weidman, Roland Barthes, Laurie Stras, Michel Chion and many others will spark our discussions, as well as close listening to audio and video clips.
Daniel Sharp, Associate Professor, Music | BIO
This seminar focuses on the creative process as a psychological tool that serves both artists and non-artists. Engagement with the work of artists in exhibition and performance will heighten students’ appreciation and comprehension of creativity. Texts will cover theories of creativity and its relation to positive psychology. Beginning with Csikszentmihaly’s concept of “flow,” we will examine intrinsic motivation and the defining characteristics of the creative state. How does creativity happen? What distinguishes it from novelty? Why does it bring us joy? We will also investigate the psychological concept of happiness and its potential relationship with the creative process. The course also includes exercises in practical strategies to cultivate happiness in our lives. The seminar will consist of lectures, exercises and first hand experience with artists and non-artists discussing their creative process. Field trips include attending concerts, theatre, museums, and dance performances. For the final project, students will interview a creative individual who best exemplifies the concepts introduced in the course.
Jenny Mercein, Assistant Professor, Theatre and Dance | BIO
Ryder Thornton, Professor of Practice, Theatre and Dance | BIO
This colloquium explores running as an activity of the embodied imagination. Students will be expected to think deeply about how running and other physical activities engage our imaginations and shape our identities and relationships to the world. Each student will develop deeper ways of asking the question, “why do we run?”—and perhaps come to some answers. We will read and discuss some works of literary fiction and memoir that use running to explore the relationship between the physical activity of running and characters’ identities and imaginations; some non-fiction explorations of the careers of great runners and the relationship between the inner-life and running; and some texts that explore the relationship between running and social and racial identity. We will also discuss running as a practice, including introductions to local routes and races (for those interested) and theories of training.
The service-learning component of the course will partner students with local young runners through Youth Run Nola. In the process of supporting Youth Run Nola’s mission, students will also develop insights into the different ways in which these young runners’ imaginations are shaped by physical activities and consider how the different social situations and community experiences of their running partners shapes their experience of physical activity and of themselves as embodied imaginations. Differences between how the younger runners view physical activity and how the students approach running will ideally help students reflect on their social positions and what running means to them.
**This course includes a service-learning component**
F. Thomas Luongo, Associate Professor, History | BIO
Taking many different shapes and forms, the concept of the Other inherently points towards difference and, as a result, often highlights a sense of non-belonging. As such, it expresses opposition to what is known, familiar, and accepted. Moreover, the existence of the Other questions everything through an often-silent enunciation of a series of questions: Who am I? Who are you? And, who am I in relation to you? Throughout the semester, this course addresses, discusses, and attempts to find answers to these questions via the study of a variety of inter-cultural texts and films articulating the phenomenon of selfhood and otherness from a philosophical, psychological, sexual, geographical, socio-economical, and racial point of view.
Alexandra Reuber, Senior Professor of Practice, French and Italian | BIO
Conjoined twins. Bearded ladies. People big and small. Freak shows exhibited human “freaks” for entertainment and profit at circuses, dime museums, and boardwalks all across America. Despite the freak show’s mid-20th century wane in popularity, the history of the extraordinary body as a site of public spectacle continues to shape contemporary media representations of race, gender, and disability. From reality television to self-proclaimed “fame monster” Lady Gaga, contemporary “freaks” continue to at once attract and repel viewers. At the crossroads of history, intersectional feminist studies, disability studies, and media studies, this interdisciplinary seminar invites students to study the American freak show and explore its legacy in our modern-day cultural landscape. We will consider how and why people with extraordinary bodies have been regarded as public spectacles; carefully analyze the intersection of disability, gender, and race; and reflect upon how we are implicated in the politics of staring. To do so, students will engage with academic scholarship, memoir, pop culture texts, and creative assignments. Moreover, seminar sessions will integrate skill-building activities that prepare students to be academically successful and active participants in Tulane’s vibrant intellectual community (note taking, annotation, media literacy, civil debate, public speaking, etc.).
Krystal Cleary, Professor of Practice, Gender and Sexuality Studies | BIO
This course is a project-based exploration of the philosophical themes of Self-Reliance, reason, and real life scenarios, the class will discuss and explore and create projects demonstrating ways of making basic human aggression into a creative force. Why is cynicism so seductive? What makes us tune out and feel disempowered? Can some dead philosophers and a gradual, attenuated “small bites” approach to project development give us more access to our aggressive energy to create and outwit the sense that it’s all pointless? Readings include texts by Ralph Waldo Emerson, David Hume, and Bertrand Russell, and students will develop projects that explore these ideas in the context of their own experiences.
Amy Chaffee, Assistant Professor, Theatre and Dance | BIO
This course will explore, specifically, the modernist movement that dominated modes of thinking throughout European and U.S. culture from the late nineteenth century at least through World War II (and some would say, to this day). We will trace the roots and influences of modernism as we seek to define and understand how such ideas came to stretch across nationalities, genres, and forms of artistic production. While this course is not a survey course, and therefore will not attempt to be comprehensive, we will explore the fundamental tenants of modernism in such a manner that allows such an understanding to be applied to a broader context—looking at novels, films, poems, painted art, architecture, fashion, culinary arts, and (for a brief moment) even fonts. How did artists and philosophers identify and react to what they saw as a crisis of modernity? How do such perceptions of a crisis affect our thinking today, especially in a world of global terrorism and the Internet? Is modernism dead, and how is such a question relevant?
Brittany Kennedy, Senior Professor of Practice, Spanish and Portuguese | BIO
This colloquium will introduce students to the state of American politics and society during the presidency of Donald Trump. It is not designed to be solely a look at his election in 2016 and his administration; instead, it is a multidisciplinary exploration of the factors that lead to his election and the resulting “state of the union.” Through readings (both scholarly and journalistic) and discussion of current events, we will explore the history of our current state of public opinion, issues regarding polarization, race relations, and gender dynamics, and the prospects for forming a “united” country in the midst of a divisive era.
Brian Brox, Associate Professor, Political Science | BIO
In the age of the microbiome, what does it mean to be an “individual”? Or is the concept of individualism outdated? It is now recognized that symbiotic associations (in all of its guises, i.e. mutualism, commensalism, and parasitism) are way more prevalent than previously thought. In this seminar we will explore what it means to be “human” from a biological perspective and examine the various roles that microbes play in shaping our physical, mental, and psychological selves. In the second half of the semester, we will discuss how our fear/revulsion of pathogens and contagion may have shaped (and may still be shaping) cultural differences, religious beliefs, and ideologies.
Tim McLean, Senior Professor of Practice, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | BIO
#MeToo, the Kavanaugh hearings, and many other incidents have awakened our society to the ubiquity of sexual violence, but we have only begun work to dismantle a culture that eroticizes, normalizes, excuses, and enables gender-based violence. Students will learn about the scope, causes, and consequences of rape culture, and develop evidence-based strategies for peer education, prevention, and intervention. In this course we will emphasize activism, moving beyond just describing the problem to discussions of how we can do something about it. We will take an interdisciplinary approach, and introduce how different disciplines, such as history, literature, film, sociology, and criminology have illuminated this issue and provide a map for further exploration. Course readings will include works from Kate Harding, Roxane Gay, Caroline Heldman, Danielle McGuire, Catherine Jacquet, Ray Douglas and others, and films such as The Hunting Ground and The Rape of Recy Taylor.
Sally Kenney, Newcomb College Endowed Chair Professor, Newcomb Institute | BIO
Laura Wolford, Associate Director, Newcomb Institute | BIO
The goal of this course is to introduce students to the various ways that the pursuit of knowledge is carried out within and across scholarly disciplines. Grounded in an interdisciplinary exploration of race, knowledge production, and education, students will learn about the purpose and processes of academic research: examine various forms of academic research to appreciate the similarities and differences in questions in methods of scholarship; and study the organization of knowledge and the role of scholarly communities. In doing so, students will analyze research across disciplines relating to race, racial identity construction, and the ideological utility of racial identity construction. This course meets once a week through the entire semester.
Ray Proctor, Assistant Professor, Theatre and Dance | BIO
Everyone knows that the French founded New Orleans, but did you know that Spain ruled the city for over 40 years? This began New Orleans’s long, rich relationship with Latin America, the topic of this seminar. As a port city, often described as the northernmost city of the Caribbean, New Orleans has experienced the flow of people and goods from and to Latin America for more than 200 years. We’ll explore New Orleans’ historical and present connections with Latin America, including Sam Zemurray’s infamous banana trade with Central American countries, the numerous Spanish-language newspapers and magazines published in New Orleans, and immigration from Latin America to New Orleans. Students will learn about how these relationships have shaped the history, culture and communities of New Orleans. Proficiency in Spanish is not required to take this class.
Lee Skinner, Dean, Newcomb-Tulane College | BIO
What makes us like some things more than others? How do we understand the "rules" that often guide creative and intellectual work? What does it mean to say that you love something inanimate or immaterial? Moving from arts to sciences to food and drink, this class looks at how tastes are formed, shaped, and debated in the context of aesthetic concerns.
Victor Holtcamp, Associate Professor, Theatre and Dance | BIO
This course will examine the changing dynamics in the current business environment where companies and consumers are overwhelmed by data, hundreds of choices, accelerating technological change in the marketplace and an expanding generation gap. In addition, there is a decline in human interaction and a rising lack of trust locally, regionally, nationally and across the globe. This class will review how emerging new business models might address these issues. Lectures/discussions will be led by Tulane faculty and administrators, local and national business leaders.
Rob Hailey, Senior Associate Vice President, University Services | BIO
Peter Ricchiuti, Senior Professor of Practice, Business | BIO
R 2:00-3:15p | 3:30-4:45p
This course introduces students to the business world by critically examining the art of management. The course's objective is to introduce students to basic business concepts, develop a plan for their field of study, and have fun in the process. In the end, students will better understand how to connect an academic plan to a career, work in groups and network, and become socially responsible.
**This course includes a service-learning component**
Ashley Nelson, Professor of Practice, Business | BIO