Engagements at a Glance

EGMT 1510: Engaging Aesthetics

Fall 2019

Fall Session One: August 27 - October 16

EGMT 1510: Black and White - Race and Photography in America

EGMT 1510: Black and White - Race and Photography in America

What does it mean to see the world in black and white? How has photography as a medium shaped how we understand race? How have ideas about race shaped aesthetic practices in photography?  This course explores the overlapping histories of photography and race in the nineteenth and twentieth century US.

Technologies for seeing and making sense of the world, race in a post-emancipation society and photography as a medium evolved together in the US.  As the ex-slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, the most photographed American of his era, argued in the 1860s, the new “picture-making faculty” was “a mighty power,” an effective tool for defining the identities of both enslaved and emancipated Americans.  Race and photography depended on vision and on an appeal to aesthetics for this authority.  Both also claimed to present rather than represent—to reveal the material world in ways unmediated by human agency. 

In the contemporary moment, we no longer understand photography as a transparent documentation of the real world.  We no longer argue that race is an identity that people can see.  Yet photography continues through its aesthetic and documentary power to shape the meaning of race.  In this course, we will examine images by photographers including James Van Der Zee, Frances Benjamin Johnston, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Gordon Parks, Danny Lyon, Emmet Gowin, Dawoud Bey, Carrie Mae Weems, and Sally Mann.  We will visit the Fralin Museum of Art and UVA’s Small Special Collections Library.

Instructed by

Hale

Grace

I am trained as a cultural historian with a focus on the twentieth-century US, and I teach in both the History Department and the American Studies Program.  My research explores the history of cultural categories and concepts like race, place, rebellion, authenticity, and conceiving of yourself as an outsider that we use to order and think about our world.  My classes are organized around teaching students to interpret the past by analyzing visual sources like photographs and films and audio sources like rock songs and radio programs as well as more traditional historical sources including letters and newspapers.  I try to show students how the study of history reveals dimensions of our shared humanity on longer visible in the present that can help us understand what will be gained and what will be lost as we make our future. 

I joined the college fellows because I love exposing new college students to the wonders and the challenges of thinking and conducting research in a serious community of scholars.  My courses for first year students will focus on the intersection of aesthetics and difference by looking at the history of an old practice in the US South with a new name, “creative placemaking.”  We will explore how the aesthetic practices of artists, artisans, writers, musicians, and documentary makers have both created and challenged romantic ideas about Southern peoples and places.  We will also explore how art and other forms of creative expression have shaped actual southern places, from Delta towns and Appalachian villages to El Neuvo Atlanta, newly hip downtown Richmond, and indie culture stronghold Athens.

TR 6:30pm-7:45pm
EGMT 1510: Cultures of Play - Listening, Collaborating, Improvising

EGMT 1510: Cultures of Play - Listening, Collaborating, Improvising

It can be unnerving to make something from what seems like nothing. But we all improvise when we play, so what is it that you draw upon? Is playing fun because it offers an avenue to re-imagine yourself, to get to know other people, even to form communities? These are some questions we delve into during this course.

We will attend to practices from several places in the world, both nearby and distant, ranging from kids' clapping games to song styles from the African rain forest. We'll explore proportions of freedom versus constraint, preparation versus spontaneity, and individuality within a collective, considering how these dynamic balances inform our sense of taste -- that is when and why an expression, experience, or style just feels "right" or doesn't. Working with live materials (rhythms, speech, gestures, melodies, beats, fragments of text or conversation, memories, dreams, jokes) we’ll develop a grab bag of shared practices/skills. Our active responses to reading, research, and poetic invocations about play and improvisation will take the form of "reading collages" (drawn from weekly reading assignments and spoken aloud), along with brief writing activities. We will pay attention to our poetic sensibilities -- noticing moments of affect and micro-politics in our everyday lives.  As the course progresses, we will test out a variety of mini-projects in groups that range in size, devising brief ‘happenings’ in class and around grounds. We end the term with an all-class flash mob or related event that we design and enact together. The details of any of these endeavors will depend on: 1) who is in the class and how we combine to create a shared aesthetic 2) our immediate circumstances moment to moment and our responses to local, national, or global events, and 3) the directions we decide to take along the way. Students should expect to step out of their comfort zones, to be challenged to think independently, and to engage in lively and open debate.

Instructed by

Kisliuk

Michelle

I actively research, write, and teach about creative experience in dynamic communities. I have lived with the forest people (BaAka) of the Central African Republic and learned from them about how musical life, dance, and art in everyday life are essential to healthy community. This includes an understanding of the importance for free and strong individual expression within the balancing context of a collective. I teach courses on music in everyday life, ethnographic creative nonfiction, and I direct the UVA African Music and Dance Ensemble where we learn and perform music and dance from Ghana/Togo and from the Central African Republic, and relate our performances to the immediate realities of our own lives. My training is in the post-discipline of Performance Studies, spanning fields including ethnomusicology, anthropology, theater, dance, creative writing, poetics, and folklore studies. I have published books and essays, and lectured and run workshops nationally and internationally.

In my classes we become a dynamic thinking and interacting community. Students look first to their own current stories, share them with others, and then work as individuals within a collective to bring into action the materials and issues that emerge. I am excited to offer an Engagement course because it gives me the opportunity to unite and continue to hone the trans-disciplinary approaches in arts, humanities, and social sciences that I have been developing for a long time.

TR 3:30pm-4:45pm
EGMT 1510: Digital Art & Social Change

EGMT 1510: Digital Art & Social Change

Digital technologies and emerging interactive media such as video games, the internet, 3D printing, artificial intelligence (AI), and immersive virtual realities(VR/AR/MR) continue to provide contemporary artists with new expressive possibilities for social and political engagement. In this course, we will critically examine the capacity of digital art for provoking social change and the ways by which artists creatively deploy new media tools to visualize, perform, and propel activism. Through encounters with a variety of original digital artworks, we will map technologically-enabled aesthetic practices that effectively address, raise awareness, and inspire dialogue about pressing issues of our time including human rights violations, climate change, and civil, economic or political inequalities. We will explore the reach and impact of digital art both as a form of social engagement and as a method for challenging existing perceptions and cultural narratives while offering alternative possibilities about the world around us. In addition to examining the creative potential of digital art for social change and reflecting on the implications and limitations of the practice, we will also deepen our ability to interpret and evaluate socially-engaged works of digital art. Ultimately, we will apply new media tools and technologies to imagine creative solutions for promoting social activism and advocacy.

Instructed by

Kasra

Mona
Assistant Professor of Digital Media Design, Department of Drama
Kasra

I believe the Engagements courses offer a unique and transformative educational experience that fosters independent learning, active participation, and critical and reflective thinking. My scholarly work and creative practice is centered on transdisciplinary exploration and critical examination of the confluence of visual communication and emerging media in the 21st century, and my pedagogy reflects my artistic practice and scholarship. I believe in empowering students to understand the sociopolitical and cultural implications of technology and to experiment with the ways by which new media can enhance and reimagine narrative, performance, and personal and creative forms of expression.

I strive to equip students with strong foundations in media literacy, theory, and practice while introducing them to emerging media as spaces for creation, reflection, and speculation. As an assistant professor of digital media design in the College’s Department of Drama, I work to continuously find new ways to connect technology to students’ creative ingenuity and help them develop critical perspectives on new technologies and artistic practices.

I apply an interdisciplinary framework to my research, combining semiotics, visual studies, media theory, and cultural studies to examine the power and impact of online images upon cross-cultural and cross-political life in the networked age. I have exhibited work in numerous exhibitions and have programmed, curated, and served as a juror for several film festivals and art exhibitions. In 2016, I served as the conference chair at ACM SIGGRAPH, the world’s largest, most influential annual conference on the theory and practice of computer graphics and interactive techniques.

MW 11:00am-12:15pm
EGMT 1510: Digital Art & Social Change

EGMT 1510: Digital Art & Social Change

Digital technologies and emerging interactive media such as video games, the internet, 3D printing, artificial intelligence (AI), and immersive virtual realities(VR/AR/MR) continue to provide contemporary artists with new expressive possibilities for social and political engagement. In this course, we will critically examine the capacity of digital art for provoking social change and the ways by which artists creatively deploy new media tools to visualize, perform, and propel activism. Through encounters with a variety of original digital artworks, we will map technologically-enabled aesthetic practices that effectively address, raise awareness, and inspire dialogue about pressing issues of our time including human rights violations, climate change, and civil, economic or political inequalities. We will explore the reach and impact of digital art both as a form of social engagement and as a method for challenging existing perceptions and cultural narratives while offering alternative possibilities about the world around us. In addition to examining the creative potential of digital art for social change and reflecting on the implications and limitations of the practice, we will also deepen our ability to interpret and evaluate socially-engaged works of digital art. Ultimately, we will apply new media tools and technologies to imagine creative solutions for promoting social activism and advocacy.

Instructed by

Kasra

Mona
Assistant Professor of Digital Media Design, Department of Drama
Kasra

I believe the Engagements courses offer a unique and transformative educational experience that fosters independent learning, active participation, and critical and reflective thinking. My scholarly work and creative practice is centered on transdisciplinary exploration and critical examination of the confluence of visual communication and emerging media in the 21st century, and my pedagogy reflects my artistic practice and scholarship. I believe in empowering students to understand the sociopolitical and cultural implications of technology and to experiment with the ways by which new media can enhance and reimagine narrative, performance, and personal and creative forms of expression.

I strive to equip students with strong foundations in media literacy, theory, and practice while introducing them to emerging media as spaces for creation, reflection, and speculation. As an assistant professor of digital media design in the College’s Department of Drama, I work to continuously find new ways to connect technology to students’ creative ingenuity and help them develop critical perspectives on new technologies and artistic practices.

I apply an interdisciplinary framework to my research, combining semiotics, visual studies, media theory, and cultural studies to examine the power and impact of online images upon cross-cultural and cross-political life in the networked age. I have exhibited work in numerous exhibitions and have programmed, curated, and served as a juror for several film festivals and art exhibitions. In 2016, I served as the conference chair at ACM SIGGRAPH, the world’s largest, most influential annual conference on the theory and practice of computer graphics and interactive techniques.

MW 8:00am-9:15am
EGMT 1510: Immortality - A User's Guide

EGMT 1510: Immortality - A User's Guide

Shall we live forever?  Why not?  While ours is the species that knows it must die – or because of that brute fact – humankind has a long, broad tradition of indulging immortal longings by imagining a life beyond this one.  The gods live forever, we say, or the soul does, or the durable productions of culture and art do.  The return of our mortal remains to the planet’s biomass may represent a mode of ecological life after death; so may the survival into posterity of our selfish genes.  The recent proliferation of photographic and phonographic modes, and the contemporary possibility of perennial cryogenic storage, have in modern times afforded new versions of technological afterlife.  Meanwhile, religion and art continue to rehearse what might be called the eternity of the now, through ritual and aesthetic patterns that step not outside mortal time but right inside it.  After comparing imaginations of immortality that are found in cultural practices both secular and devout, we’ll focus on a set of aesthetic versions drawn from poetry, painting, science-fiction, and cinema.  Our survey will dwell on the challenge of describing immortality in mortal human terms.  Our abiding questions will be on one hand whether immortality is something we really want after all, and on the other hand whether it’s something we can ever quite live without.

Instructed by

Tucker

Chip
John C. Coleman Professor of English
Chip Tucker

For me the pursuit of letters started early, and there’s no end in sight.  I can’t remember learning to read.   Since childhood I have been absorbed in books: what they teach about the world, how they constitute other worlds, and how imagination brokers an unceasingly various relationship between what we are made up of and the stories we make up in order to discover who, individually and collectively, we are.  Writing is power; so is reading.  How to use such power forms the intellectual passion of my life; how literature has used it, for good and for ill, has formed the subject of my scholarship and teaching for four decades, the last three of them at UVa. 

Historically my work centers on writings from the 19th century, when modernity became industrial and imperial, when a mass audience for literature asserted itself, and when most of the modern disciplines arose that shape education to this day.  Generically I focus on the study of poetry, which is literature in its most concentrated, verbally articulated, and beautiful mode.  That said, as a teacher I’m pretty promiscuous, and am as likely to teach a course on Darwin or money as on Shakespeare or the ode.

By literature, then, I mean in the first instance the plays and essays, fiction and poetry, that are staples of an English department curriculum.  But the actual province of literature is much wider than that.  I want my students to be reading science, history, psychology, scriptures, social and cultural theory, and to correlate what we find there with imaginative writing, along a two-way street.  Cultural and historical knowledge on one hand informs both the content of a literary text and the context in which it was produced; on the other hand, the habits of interpretation we hone on an artistically crafted lyric or story show us that information too has a form, which it behoves us to grasp and evaluate as further information in its own right.  Close attention to the feedback loop between meaning and structure is what I try hardest to teach in my classes, lectures, articles, and books.  I think it’s the essential contribution of humanistic study to liberal education, especially in a distracted era like ours when paying close attention to anything is an act with radical potential.

MW 2:00pm-3:15pm
EGMT 1510: Meaning and Saying

EGMT 1510: Meaning and Saying

Fertile gaps between meaning and saying can exist in all sorts of verbal expression. Poets, satirists, and all of us in ordinary life sometimes have to speak or write with double or hidden meanings in order to communicate the truth as we understand it. Critics sometimes call this gap between meaning and saying irony. We might think that irony is a way of being sarcastic, or saying the opposite of what you believe. (An example in two words: yeah, right!) These things are, however, only a small part of irony. Irony can also reflect disappointed expectations, conflictedness, even a sense of humility about our ability to say what we mean at all. Ultimately, irony is a way of approaching the world and ourselves that affords unique possibilities for self-criticism and reflection. We’ll work together to understand how we can both use and appreciate the rifts between meaning and saying that irony creates. We’ll read poetry and essays from James Baldwin, Frederick Douglass, Robert Frost, Jonathan Lear, Audre Lorde, Marianne Moore, Susan Sontag, Oscar Wilde, and others. Course members will also work throughout our seven weeks to develop and curate their own anthologies of irony, with examples carefully selected from their reading, listening, and viewing beyond class. These anthologies introduce us to the pleasures and problems of curating a collection of texts and explaining why they belong together.

 
Instructed by

Ogden

Emily

My goal as a teacher is to help my students to flourish. I’m there to create a space in which our intellectual pursuits together are real—and not, as the saying goes, only a test. I want my students’ work to be motivated by the discovery of an interest or even a passion, just as my own scholarly work is. When I’m not teaching, I’m researching nineteenth-century American literature and culture, as in the book I wrote about mesmerism, an early form of hypnosis. Or, I’m thinking about the nature of our lives as aesthetically attuned human beings, as in my column “On Not Knowing” at 3 Quarks Daily. It has been an honor to receive the Cory Family Teaching Prize and the Mead Honored Faculty Award for teaching at UVa. Guiding students to an experience of the intrinsic goods that motivate scholarship is a possibility to which I remain ever alert. I’m drawn to the engagements because they let us articulate together the principles that structure the collective work that happens at this university.

Course Name: Title: 
TR 3:30pm-4:45pm
EGMT 1510: Sounds of Resistance

EGMT 1510: Sounds of Resistance

This class explores the aesthetics of resistance in social and political life, emphasizing sound. We will rely on a broad understanding of “resistance,” from street protests to campaign theme songs to Super Bowl performances. Likewise, “sound” will refer primarily to music, but will also include other audible outputs of voices, bodies, and environments. Students will consider how sounds can straddle and influence the intimately connected domains of the aesthetic and the sociopolitical. We will ponder questions such as: how does sound mean? Is sound capable of provoking social change? How do people draw on their own experiences to interpret what they hear? How can the same song or sound inspire some to love and others to hate? Can sound be used as a weapon? How can sound foster inclusivity or exclusivity, or allow individuals to heal, motivate, resist, or change?

We will attend public events in the area to enhance our studies. Importantly, students will examine their own engagements with sonic and musical resistance and will complete self-designed projects that allow them to experiment with sound’s capacities to engage in social action.

Instructed by

Flood

Liza
Postdoctoral Fellow
Flood

I am an ethnomusicologist who studies American music and culture. My primary focus is country music in all its various forms: honky-tonk, bluegrass, pop country, and others. Studying a kind of music that was historically ignored by the academy, and yet enjoys broad popularity, prompts important questions such as: what cultural forms are worthy of study? What is good music? How can music represent groups of people or ideas? How can music be used as a form of self-expression, resistance, or political stance?    

These are the kinds of questions that motivate ethnomusicologists. We start with music or sound and then ask questions about its content and context. Music guides us through explorations of identity, taste, ethics, difference, social interaction, memory, and belonging. We examine music in everyday life, made by everyday people, not just the megastars whose music gets played on the radio. Through this lens, ethnomusicologists are deeply concerned with participation: music isn’t just an object, it’s very importantly an activity. It’s something we do. As I step outside of my field and join the Engagements program, I bring with me some of the same concerns. I hope to help students explore how big questions inflect everyday life and how we are all active participants in culture-making, capable of engaging, influencing, challenging, and celebrating the world around us.

My first experience teaching was with incarcerated teenagers in a wilderness setting. My students would write slam poetry about cloud types while sitting around a camp fire or study rock formations as we relied on collaboration and problem solving to navigate rugged terrain. This was a formative experience, one that motivated my excitement about the Engagements, a program that is also interested in crossing the boundaries of classroom environments, of academic discipline, and of creative methodology. I believe that this is when the greatest learning can occur: when we are active and collaborative participants in our learning, deeply engaged in the world immediately around us in order to think in limitless ways.

TR 9:30am-10:45am
EGMT 1510: Time and Memory in the Arts

EGMT 1510: Time and Memory in the Arts

We have all experienced a long-forgotten memory suddenly triggered by something seemingly ordinary: a taste, a smell, a song that brings the past rushing back. How do artists, composers, and filmmakers utilize this phenomenon of sudden, involuntary memory to create art?

In this course we will ask: How do artworks manipulate the depiction of the passing of time? How reliable are our memories, and does implementing timelines in storytelling make our narratives more or less reliable? In what different ways do both personal and public spaces facilitate the process of remembering? How have artists sought to capture the fleeting nature of time through painting, and how have they sought to freeze time in photography? How does repetition in music incite memory to help structure a four-hour opera? How are words and names used strategically as an efficient way to conjure up memories? Is there such a thing as present time, or is there only past and future?

Instructed by

Smith

Wendy

I have always been drawn to examining history, memory, and ideas of the past through images and objects. I am particularly interested in the various ways artists, novelists, and philosophers have visualized time and how we experience the passing of time. Instead of being passive listeners, viewers, or readers, I encourage students to critically think about the histories they have been taught, and to ponder the reliability of the stories they have been told as we investigate how personal perspectives and identity affect the way we teach, talk about, and represent the past. We apply this thinking to our own lives and family histories as well as using it to become more actively discerning about the way we hear the stories of the past in other contexts such as the university classroom, novels, museums, films, etc..

I teach in both the Differences and Aesthetics Engagement areas, finding that themes of time and memory, and the important role of objects in material and visual culture, are pertinent to a wide range of disciplines and modes of inquiry. I was drawn to the Engagements program’s interdisciplinarity because I believe it more naturally models the research environment most academics are working within. This atmosphere invites students to enjoy the freedom of intellectual curiosity with academic rigor. My own research intersects with the disciplines of art history, musicology, fashion history, English, French and Italian Studies, history of science, and history of theatre. Based on my doctoral research, I am completing the first full-length critical study of the Spanish-Venetian designer and artist Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo (1871-1949). Fortuny, like other figures I am drawn to, had an intriguing view of temporality and continuously used new inventions to re-interpret and re-create historical designs. I am also beginning a book-length project, The Weather in Wagner: Atmospheric Stage Décor c.1870-1930, which will examine the ways technological advances affected approaches to scenography in opera and simultaneously influenced the divergent styles of Romantic realism and abstraction around the turn of the 20th century.

I grew up in rural southern Virginia and suburban North Carolina, but after a transformative undergraduate study abroad experience in Italy, I knew I wanted to live overseas. I completed my M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History and Visual Studies at The University of Manchester in England and enjoyed frequent research trips to Venice. After my studies I lived in Boston for five years, and in the summer of 2019 moved to Charlottesville with my husband and daughter.

TR 9:30am-10:45am
EGMT 1510: Virtuosity and Its Others

EGMT 1510: Virtuosity and Its Others

What do a urinal in a museum and a silent piece of music have in common? What’s wabi-sabi? How far behind the beat is not far enough? Why talk wrong? And who gets to? When is trying and failing more beautiful than trying and succeeding? 

In this class, we’ll explore conceptions of virtuosity — where they come from, what they mean, and how we might like to re-form them. Engaging with ideas and exemplars found across all the arts, we’ll gain a more profound appreciation for scribbles and bad guitar solos, obsessive repetition, breathless oversharing and restraint. Some of the major projects in the class will be creative works (e.g., visual and music / sound), affording opportunities to play with critical perspectives on virtuosity through artistic expression. We’ll use computer applications for manipulation of sound and image, and some experience with DAWs, Photoshop, and video editing software, may be useful though not required.

Instructed by

Coffey

Ted
Associate Professor of Music
Coffey

I teach subjects at the intersection of music, culture, and technology. I make acoustic and electronic chamber music, sound installations, and songs, and much of my practice involves collaboration with artists working in other media.

I was drawn to the College Fellows to enrich and refine my teaching, especially through community with other scholars thinking through new perspectives, ideas, and methods. When I consider “engaging aesthetics” as one of the themes for the Engagements courses we’ve designed, to me it implies appreciating and evolving an ancient, profoundly human way of reasoning, one distinct from and not reducible to other ways of reasoning. Both in the apprehension and in the poetic practices of art, things can be demonstrably true without being quantifiable. In fact, we may not even be able to specify what quanta are relevant. Yet even where haphazard proliferation of ‘facts’ effects white noise, art maintains its power to speak, to cut through, to tell stories that we recognize as true.

This is part of why the arts are fundamental rather than ornamental to human experience. The other part has to do with what education fundamentally is: the transformation of areas of knowledge and practice once unfamiliar into that which we hold dear, full of logic, specificity and care. As more of the world is transformed in this way, we gain traction toward humility and intellectual honesty, less inclined to prejudge our fellows and worlds, more inclined and able to commune with them. 

TR 3:30pm-4:45pm

Fall Session Two: October 17 - December 6

EGMT 1510: Cultures of Play - Listening, Collaborating, Improvising

EGMT 1510: Cultures of Play - Listening, Collaborating, Improvising

It can be unnerving to make something from what seems like nothing. But we all improvise when we play, so what is it that you draw upon? Is playing fun because it offers an avenue to re-imagine yourself, to get to know other people, even to form communities? These are some questions we delve into during this course.

We will attend to practices from several places in the world, both nearby and distant, ranging from kids' clapping games to song styles from the African rain forest. We'll explore proportions of freedom versus constraint, preparation versus spontaneity, and individuality within a collective, considering how these dynamic balances inform our sense of taste -- that is when and why an expression, experience, or style just feels "right" or doesn't. Working with live materials (rhythms, speech, gestures, melodies, beats, fragments of text or conversation, memories, dreams, jokes) we’ll develop a grab bag of shared practices/skills. Our active responses to reading, research, and poetic invocations about play and improvisation will take the form of "reading collages" (drawn from weekly reading assignments and spoken aloud), along with brief writing activities. We will pay attention to our poetic sensibilities -- noticing moments of affect and micro-politics in our everyday lives.  As the course progresses, we will test out a variety of mini-projects in groups that range in size, devising brief ‘happenings’ in class and around grounds. We end the term with an all-class flash mob or related event that we design and enact together. The details of any of these endeavors will depend on: 1) who is in the class and how we combine to create a shared aesthetic 2) our immediate circumstances moment to moment and our responses to local, national, or global events, and 3) the directions we decide to take along the way. Students should expect to step out of their comfort zones, to be challenged to think independently, and to engage in lively and open debate.

Instructed by

Kisliuk

Michelle

I actively research, write, and teach about creative experience in dynamic communities. I have lived with the forest people (BaAka) of the Central African Republic and learned from them about how musical life, dance, and art in everyday life are essential to healthy community. This includes an understanding of the importance for free and strong individual expression within the balancing context of a collective. I teach courses on music in everyday life, ethnographic creative nonfiction, and I direct the UVA African Music and Dance Ensemble where we learn and perform music and dance from Ghana/Togo and from the Central African Republic, and relate our performances to the immediate realities of our own lives. My training is in the post-discipline of Performance Studies, spanning fields including ethnomusicology, anthropology, theater, dance, creative writing, poetics, and folklore studies. I have published books and essays, and lectured and run workshops nationally and internationally.

In my classes we become a dynamic thinking and interacting community. Students look first to their own current stories, share them with others, and then work as individuals within a collective to bring into action the materials and issues that emerge. I am excited to offer an Engagement course because it gives me the opportunity to unite and continue to hone the trans-disciplinary approaches in arts, humanities, and social sciences that I have been developing for a long time.

TR 11:00am-12:15pm
EGMT 1510: Extinction in Art and Literature

EGMT 1510: Extinction in Art and Literature

Scientists recently designated the contemporary era as the sixth age of mass extinction, and the first in which humanity has played the primary role. This course explores how man-made, or anthropogenic, extinction is being conceptualized and represented in literature, visual art and other cultural artifacts. We’ll explore how writers and artists think about and with the idea of our age of extinction as an urgent conceptual, representational and ethical problem, and the modes and media they use. Aesthetic approaches to this environmental crisis implicitly or explicitly force us to address the question of the ethical possibilities of the arts and encourage us to rethink what ethical engagement might look like across longer timescales and global networks of action.

            We’ll address one of the most pressing global issues of our time through the close analysis of literary texts, visual art, data visualizations, audio recordings, photojournalism and film that try to give a shape to a process that is not always visible, immediately experienced, or easily apprehended. We will ask how extinction has been imagined, through what forms and aesthetic expressions, and to what uses it has been put. What kinds of historical narratives and innovative visualizations emerge from efforts to imagine extinction? What aesthetic strategies do writers and artists use to conceptualize the idea of extinction within and alongside other historical, cultural and scientific processes – imperial expansion and colonization, conflict, fantasies of lost worlds, “deep” time, re-wilding, and so-called “de-extinction,” the resurrection of species?

Instructed by

Ghaly

Adrienne
Postdoctoral Fellow
Ghaly

I work on the modern novel in British, Anglophone and European contexts, and its philosophical and cultural tasks in twentieth-century thought; the interplay of ethics and literature; and cultural responses to global manmade species extinction. My research spans the period from the later nineteenth century to the contemporary. I work both within the field of literature and beyond it, for my scholarship addresses what ‘the novel’ is and the migration of novelistic modes into other media, particularly contemporary art, and asks how literature and visual art respond to and think about the age of extinction as a modern phenomenon. My interests are a reflection of my interdisciplinary training at New York University and the University of Chicago and exist at the intersection of literature, philosophy, critical theory, history and the environment.

I came to the College Fellows program and the engagements courses for three key reasons. First, aesthetic and ethical problems are intertwined in my work and I wanted to teach courses that encourage creative connections across disciplines and media. Second, the engagements lay the foundation for university-level thinking: to question the concepts we use to approach, categorize and reflect on ways of looking at the world, and to invite us to consider new and radical perspectives. Third, the role of the humanities in public life is crucial to the questions I ask in my teaching and research, and to the urgent challenges - such as manmade extinction - facing us now.

TR 2:00pm - 3:15pm
EGMT 1510: Immortality - A User's Guide

EGMT 1510: Immortality - A User's Guide

Shall we live forever?  Why not?  While ours is the species that knows it must die – or because of that brute fact – humankind has a long, broad tradition of indulging immortal longings by imagining a life beyond this one.  The gods live forever, we say, or the soul does, or the durable productions of culture and art do.  The return of our mortal remains to the planet’s biomass may represent a mode of ecological life after death; so may the survival into posterity of our selfish genes.  The recent proliferation of photographic and phonographic modes, and the contemporary possibility of perennial cryogenic storage, have in modern times afforded new versions of technological afterlife.  Meanwhile, religion and art continue to rehearse what might be called the eternity of the now, through ritual and aesthetic patterns that step not outside mortal time but right inside it.  After comparing imaginations of immortality that are found in cultural practices both secular and devout, we’ll focus on a set of aesthetic versions drawn from poetry, painting, science-fiction, and cinema.  Our survey will dwell on the challenge of describing immortality in mortal human terms.  Our abiding questions will be on one hand whether immortality is something we really want after all, and on the other hand whether it’s something we can ever quite live without.

Instructed by

Tucker

Chip
John C. Coleman Professor of English
Chip Tucker

For me the pursuit of letters started early, and there’s no end in sight.  I can’t remember learning to read.   Since childhood I have been absorbed in books: what they teach about the world, how they constitute other worlds, and how imagination brokers an unceasingly various relationship between what we are made up of and the stories we make up in order to discover who, individually and collectively, we are.  Writing is power; so is reading.  How to use such power forms the intellectual passion of my life; how literature has used it, for good and for ill, has formed the subject of my scholarship and teaching for four decades, the last three of them at UVa. 

Historically my work centers on writings from the 19th century, when modernity became industrial and imperial, when a mass audience for literature asserted itself, and when most of the modern disciplines arose that shape education to this day.  Generically I focus on the study of poetry, which is literature in its most concentrated, verbally articulated, and beautiful mode.  That said, as a teacher I’m pretty promiscuous, and am as likely to teach a course on Darwin or money as on Shakespeare or the ode.

By literature, then, I mean in the first instance the plays and essays, fiction and poetry, that are staples of an English department curriculum.  But the actual province of literature is much wider than that.  I want my students to be reading science, history, psychology, scriptures, social and cultural theory, and to correlate what we find there with imaginative writing, along a two-way street.  Cultural and historical knowledge on one hand informs both the content of a literary text and the context in which it was produced; on the other hand, the habits of interpretation we hone on an artistically crafted lyric or story show us that information too has a form, which it behoves us to grasp and evaluate as further information in its own right.  Close attention to the feedback loop between meaning and structure is what I try hardest to teach in my classes, lectures, articles, and books.  I think it’s the essential contribution of humanistic study to liberal education, especially in a distracted era like ours when paying close attention to anything is an act with radical potential.

MW 3:30pm-4:45pm
EGMT 1510: Meaning and Saying

EGMT 1510: Meaning and Saying

Fertile gaps between meaning and saying can exist in all sorts of verbal expression. Poets, satirists, and all of us in ordinary life sometimes have to speak or write with double or hidden meanings in order to communicate the truth as we understand it. Critics sometimes call this gap between meaning and saying irony. We might think that irony is a way of being sarcastic, or saying the opposite of what you believe. (An example in two words: yeah, right!) These things are, however, only a small part of irony. Irony can also reflect disappointed expectations, conflictedness, even a sense of humility about our ability to say what we mean at all. Ultimately, irony is a way of approaching the world and ourselves that affords unique possibilities for self-criticism and reflection. We’ll work together to understand how we can both use and appreciate the rifts between meaning and saying that irony creates. We’ll read poetry and essays from James Baldwin, Frederick Douglass, Robert Frost, Jonathan Lear, Audre Lorde, Marianne Moore, Susan Sontag, Oscar Wilde, and others. Course members will also work throughout our seven weeks to develop and curate their own anthologies of irony, with examples carefully selected from their reading, listening, and viewing beyond class. These anthologies introduce us to the pleasures and problems of curating a collection of texts and explaining why they belong together.

 
Instructed by

Ogden

Emily

My goal as a teacher is to help my students to flourish. I’m there to create a space in which our intellectual pursuits together are real—and not, as the saying goes, only a test. I want my students’ work to be motivated by the discovery of an interest or even a passion, just as my own scholarly work is. When I’m not teaching, I’m researching nineteenth-century American literature and culture, as in the book I wrote about mesmerism, an early form of hypnosis. Or, I’m thinking about the nature of our lives as aesthetically attuned human beings, as in my column “On Not Knowing” at 3 Quarks Daily. It has been an honor to receive the Cory Family Teaching Prize and the Mead Honored Faculty Award for teaching at UVa. Guiding students to an experience of the intrinsic goods that motivate scholarship is a possibility to which I remain ever alert. I’m drawn to the engagements because they let us articulate together the principles that structure the collective work that happens at this university.

Course Name: Title: 
TR 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1510: On Ghosts

EGMT 1510: On Ghosts

 Do you believe in ghosts? Or rather: What does it mean to believe in ghosts? What are ghosts as objects of belief and why are they confined to the framework of belief, as opposed to knowledge? If one could “know” ghosts, how would one prove their existence—and what would proof or evidence mean in these contexts? At the same time, ghosts exist, at least in stories told across many cultures in the world and over the long histories of these cultures. And, to be sure, the representation of ghosts differs across these cultures and time spans, in ways that are often dependent on historical contexts, cultural understandings, and belief systems. For some cultures, the ghost is an unwanted guest, but for others, the ghost is connected by kinship and owed certain services and dignities; and in some periods, the ghost speaks to (and for) larger religious frameworks, while for others, the ghost is a malevolent force unmoored from all logics.

 This course will take up the problem of the ghost from a variety of perspectives—aesthetic, epistemological, ethical, and empirical. As a class, we will read ghost stories, watch ghost films, and even participate in a ghost tour (and consider the critiques of such tours). Much of our work will begin with the question of how to think critically about cultural texts, whether these are literary works, films, philosophical writings, religious texts, or folkloric tales, and to be able to read these in a rigorously analytic manner. We will also discuss what the ghost represents in its specific cultural locus and historical moment, how the ghost complicates the boundaries of the living and the dead, what we owe to ghosts (if anything), what it means to be haunted, what evidence there is for the existence of ghosts, how we recognize a ghost, and above all, why there should be ghosts in the first place?

Instructed by

Chen

Jack

I knew that I loved literature from a young age, reading everything from Marvel comic books to Jane Austen. As a college student, I somehow managed to read James Joyce’s Ulysses twice, along with most of T.S. Eliot’s poetry and plays, and a fair chunk of Wallace Stevens, before taking a (now) more than twenty-year detour into the thickets of classical Chinese literature, particularly the poetry of the Han through Tang dynasties. For the last couple of years, I’ve co-directed the Humanities Informatics Lab at UVA and have been thinking about how information technologies shape our cultures, both past and present.

I wanted to join the College Fellows to be able to teach and think about subjects that are outside of the East Asian cultural sphere and yet may also be illuminated by a knowledge of non-Western traditions. I’m interested in topics that allow us to consider larger questions of how we understand our world, what the limits of our knowledge might be, and how we relate to one another as human beings. I believe that serious, sustained, and thoughtful conversation is what underlies a humanistic education and that learning how to read and think is a lifelong endeavor. I am looking forward to meeting you over the course of the next two years.

Course Name: Title: 
TR 6:30pm-7:45pm
EGMT 1510: On Ghosts

EGMT 1510: On Ghosts

 Do you believe in ghosts? Or rather: What does it mean to believe in ghosts? What are ghosts as objects of belief and why are they confined to the framework of belief, as opposed to knowledge? If one could “know” ghosts, how would one prove their existence—and what would proof or evidence mean in these contexts? At the same time, ghosts exist, at least in stories told across many cultures in the world and over the long histories of these cultures. And, to be sure, the representation of ghosts differs across these cultures and time spans, in ways that are often dependent on historical contexts, cultural understandings, and belief systems. For some cultures, the ghost is an unwanted guest, but for others, the ghost is connected by kinship and owed certain services and dignities; and in some periods, the ghost speaks to (and for) larger religious frameworks, while for others, the ghost is a malevolent force unmoored from all logics.

 This course will take up the problem of the ghost from a variety of perspectives—aesthetic, epistemological, ethical, and empirical. As a class, we will read ghost stories, watch ghost films, and even participate in a ghost tour (and consider the critiques of such tours). Much of our work will begin with the question of how to think critically about cultural texts, whether these are literary works, films, philosophical writings, religious texts, or folkloric tales, and to be able to read these in a rigorously analytic manner. We will also discuss what the ghost represents in its specific cultural locus and historical moment, how the ghost complicates the boundaries of the living and the dead, what we owe to ghosts (if anything), what it means to be haunted, what evidence there is for the existence of ghosts, how we recognize a ghost, and above all, why there should be ghosts in the first place?

Instructed by

Chen

Jack

I knew that I loved literature from a young age, reading everything from Marvel comic books to Jane Austen. As a college student, I somehow managed to read James Joyce’s Ulysses twice, along with most of T.S. Eliot’s poetry and plays, and a fair chunk of Wallace Stevens, before taking a (now) more than twenty-year detour into the thickets of classical Chinese literature, particularly the poetry of the Han through Tang dynasties. For the last couple of years, I’ve co-directed the Humanities Informatics Lab at UVA and have been thinking about how information technologies shape our cultures, both past and present.

I wanted to join the College Fellows to be able to teach and think about subjects that are outside of the East Asian cultural sphere and yet may also be illuminated by a knowledge of non-Western traditions. I’m interested in topics that allow us to consider larger questions of how we understand our world, what the limits of our knowledge might be, and how we relate to one another as human beings. I believe that serious, sustained, and thoughtful conversation is what underlies a humanistic education and that learning how to read and think is a lifelong endeavor. I am looking forward to meeting you over the course of the next two years.

Course Name: Title: 
MW 6:30pm-7:45pm
EGMT 1510: The Aesthetics of Trauma

EGMT 1510: The Aesthetics of Trauma

What is the difference between the beautiful and the grotesque? What is the gravitational pull of the iconic Vietnamese “Napalm Girl” 1972 picture and the drowned Syrian refugee boy’s picture on the shores of Turkey in 2015? How does art allow us to grapple with trauma? What jarring or therapeutic effects can one extract from traumatic recollection and expression? How Can individual and collective trauma intertwine to create a narrative witnessing, and an everlasting artistic and national remembrance?

This course will explore the artistic and ethical engagements of traumatic recall and expression. It will address the moral capacities of art at times of national and cultural crisis. We will cover the various ways in which certain groups have grappled with catastrophic events such as: slavery, genocide, holocaust, Nakba, Maffa, and the unfortunate aftermath of the Arab Spring. In particular, we will evaluate the effectiveness of art installations, interactive drama, digital music, films, and literature in covering the tragic outcome of the Syrian revolution, its toll in terms of lost lives and refugee world crises. We will explore art’s potential to provide healing and activism despite utter loss.

Instructed by

Al-Samman

Hanadi
Associate Professor of Middle Eastern & South Asian Languages & Cultures
Hanadi

My research interests in Arabic literature and culture, gender studies, and trauma theory have informed my scholarship and course selections. My motivation as a College Fellow to design and teach Engagements courses in the new curriculum stems from my belief in the relevance of issues of gender, politics, and trauma to all majors. I am also a strong believer in the gained intrinsic rewards for all concerned when there is a synergy between the teacher’s research and teaching mission. This teaching pedagogy has always informed the courses I offered, at UVA and beyond, in order to engage students culturally and aesthetically as well as the public at large.

I will offer a series of courses that examine the extent of the success or failure of the Arab Spring’s democratic experiment throughout the Arab world. These courses will focus on the artistic outcome of such movements as expressed in art, film, and other forms of dramatic expression. Of particular interest to me are the ways in which artists found innovative mediums to convey the traumatic experience of imprisonment, killing, and refugee status in their work. For example, we will explore how artists created an evocative art installation containing talking graves to convey the traumatic experiences of those killed by authoritarian regimes, and how another artist captures the horrific results of bombing civilians by crafting bronze statues using barrels and shrapnel mediums.

By developing courses that highlight political and civil activism through art, I hope to elicit aesthetic and ethical engagement in our classroom discussions, and to engage difference on Grounds and within the College’s general education curriculum.

 

MW 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1510: The Aesthetics of Trauma

EGMT 1510: The Aesthetics of Trauma

What is the difference between the beautiful and the grotesque? What is the gravitational pull of the iconic Vietnamese “Napalm Girl” 1972 picture and the drowned Syrian refugee boy’s picture on the shores of Turkey in 2015? How does art allow us to grapple with trauma? What jarring or therapeutic effects can one extract from traumatic recollection and expression? How Can individual and collective trauma intertwine to create a narrative witnessing, and an everlasting artistic and national remembrance?

This course will explore the artistic and ethical engagements of traumatic recall and expression. It will address the moral capacities of art at times of national and cultural crisis. We will cover the various ways in which certain groups have grappled with catastrophic events such as: slavery, genocide, holocaust, Nakba, Maffa, and the unfortunate aftermath of the Arab Spring. In particular, we will evaluate the effectiveness of art installations, interactive drama, digital music, films, and literature in covering the tragic outcome of the Syrian revolution, its toll in terms of lost lives and refugee world crises. We will explore art’s potential to provide healing and activism despite utter loss.

Instructed by

Al-Samman

Hanadi
Associate Professor of Middle Eastern & South Asian Languages & Cultures
Hanadi

My research interests in Arabic literature and culture, gender studies, and trauma theory have informed my scholarship and course selections. My motivation as a College Fellow to design and teach Engagements courses in the new curriculum stems from my belief in the relevance of issues of gender, politics, and trauma to all majors. I am also a strong believer in the gained intrinsic rewards for all concerned when there is a synergy between the teacher’s research and teaching mission. This teaching pedagogy has always informed the courses I offered, at UVA and beyond, in order to engage students culturally and aesthetically as well as the public at large.

I will offer a series of courses that examine the extent of the success or failure of the Arab Spring’s democratic experiment throughout the Arab world. These courses will focus on the artistic outcome of such movements as expressed in art, film, and other forms of dramatic expression. Of particular interest to me are the ways in which artists found innovative mediums to convey the traumatic experience of imprisonment, killing, and refugee status in their work. For example, we will explore how artists created an evocative art installation containing talking graves to convey the traumatic experiences of those killed by authoritarian regimes, and how another artist captures the horrific results of bombing civilians by crafting bronze statues using barrels and shrapnel mediums.

By developing courses that highlight political and civil activism through art, I hope to elicit aesthetic and ethical engagement in our classroom discussions, and to engage difference on Grounds and within the College’s general education curriculum.

 

MW 9:30am-10:45am
EGMT 1510: Virtuosity and Its Others

EGMT 1510: Virtuosity and Its Others

What do a urinal in a museum and a silent piece of music have in common? What’s wabi-sabi? How far behind the beat is not far enough? Why talk wrong? And who gets to? When is trying and failing more beautiful than trying and succeeding? 

In this class, we’ll explore conceptions of virtuosity — where they come from, what they mean, and how we might like to re-form them. Engaging with ideas and exemplars found across all the arts, we’ll gain a more profound appreciation for scribbles and bad guitar solos, obsessive repetition, breathless oversharing and restraint. Some of the major projects in the class will be creative works (e.g., visual and music / sound), affording opportunities to play with critical perspectives on virtuosity through artistic expression. We’ll use computer applications for manipulation of sound and image, and some experience with DAWs, Photoshop, and video editing software, may be useful though not required.

Instructed by

Coffey

Ted
Associate Professor of Music
Coffey

I teach subjects at the intersection of music, culture, and technology. I make acoustic and electronic chamber music, sound installations, and songs, and much of my practice involves collaboration with artists working in other media.

I was drawn to the College Fellows to enrich and refine my teaching, especially through community with other scholars thinking through new perspectives, ideas, and methods. When I consider “engaging aesthetics” as one of the themes for the Engagements courses we’ve designed, to me it implies appreciating and evolving an ancient, profoundly human way of reasoning, one distinct from and not reducible to other ways of reasoning. Both in the apprehension and in the poetic practices of art, things can be demonstrably true without being quantifiable. In fact, we may not even be able to specify what quanta are relevant. Yet even where haphazard proliferation of ‘facts’ effects white noise, art maintains its power to speak, to cut through, to tell stories that we recognize as true.

This is part of why the arts are fundamental rather than ornamental to human experience. The other part has to do with what education fundamentally is: the transformation of areas of knowledge and practice once unfamiliar into that which we hold dear, full of logic, specificity and care. As more of the world is transformed in this way, we gain traction toward humility and intellectual honesty, less inclined to prejudge our fellows and worlds, more inclined and able to commune with them. 

TR 5:00pm-6:15pm

Spring 2020

Spring Session One: January 13 - March 2

EGMT 1510: Black and White - Race and Photography in America

EGMT 1510: Black and White - Race and Photography in America

What does it mean to see the world in black and white? How has photography as a medium shaped how we understand race? How have ideas about race shaped aesthetic practices in photography?  This course explores the overlapping histories of photography and race in the nineteenth and twentieth century US.

Technologies for seeing and making sense of the world, race in a post-emancipation society and photography as a medium evolved together in the US.  As the ex-slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, the most photographed American of his era, argued in the 1860s, the new “picture-making faculty” was “a mighty power,” an effective tool for defining the identities of both enslaved and emancipated Americans.  Race and photography depended on vision and on an appeal to aesthetics for this authority.  Both also claimed to present rather than represent—to reveal the material world in ways unmediated by human agency. 

In the contemporary moment, we no longer understand photography as a transparent documentation of the real world.  We no longer argue that race is an identity that people can see.  Yet photography continues through its aesthetic and documentary power to shape the meaning of race.  In this course, we will examine images by photographers including James Van Der Zee, Frances Benjamin Johnston, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Gordon Parks, Danny Lyon, Emmet Gowin, Dawoud Bey, Carrie Mae Weems, and Sally Mann.  We will visit the Fralin Museum of Art and UVA’s Small Special Collections Library.

Instructed by

Hale

Grace

I am trained as a cultural historian with a focus on the twentieth-century US, and I teach in both the History Department and the American Studies Program.  My research explores the history of cultural categories and concepts like race, place, rebellion, authenticity, and conceiving of yourself as an outsider that we use to order and think about our world.  My classes are organized around teaching students to interpret the past by analyzing visual sources like photographs and films and audio sources like rock songs and radio programs as well as more traditional historical sources including letters and newspapers.  I try to show students how the study of history reveals dimensions of our shared humanity on longer visible in the present that can help us understand what will be gained and what will be lost as we make our future. 

I joined the college fellows because I love exposing new college students to the wonders and the challenges of thinking and conducting research in a serious community of scholars.  My courses for first year students will focus on the intersection of aesthetics and difference by looking at the history of an old practice in the US South with a new name, “creative placemaking.”  We will explore how the aesthetic practices of artists, artisans, writers, musicians, and documentary makers have both created and challenged romantic ideas about Southern peoples and places.  We will also explore how art and other forms of creative expression have shaped actual southern places, from Delta towns and Appalachian villages to El Neuvo Atlanta, newly hip downtown Richmond, and indie culture stronghold Athens.

MW 5:00pm-6:15pm
EGMT 1510: Black and White - Race and Photography in America

EGMT 1510: Black and White - Race and Photography in America

What does it mean to see the world in black and white? How has photography as a medium shaped how we understand race? How have ideas about race shaped aesthetic practices in photography?  This course explores the overlapping histories of photography and race in the nineteenth and twentieth century US.

Technologies for seeing and making sense of the world, race in a post-emancipation society and photography as a medium evolved together in the US.  As the ex-slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, the most photographed American of his era, argued in the 1860s, the new “picture-making faculty” was “a mighty power,” an effective tool for defining the identities of both enslaved and emancipated Americans.  Race and photography depended on vision and on an appeal to aesthetics for this authority.  Both also claimed to present rather than represent—to reveal the material world in ways unmediated by human agency. 

In the contemporary moment, we no longer understand photography as a transparent documentation of the real world.  We no longer argue that race is an identity that people can see.  Yet photography continues through its aesthetic and documentary power to shape the meaning of race.  In this course, we will examine images by photographers including James Van Der Zee, Frances Benjamin Johnston, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Gordon Parks, Danny Lyon, Emmet Gowin, Dawoud Bey, Carrie Mae Weems, and Sally Mann.  We will visit the Fralin Museum of Art and UVA’s Small Special Collections Library.

Instructed by

Hale

Grace

I am trained as a cultural historian with a focus on the twentieth-century US, and I teach in both the History Department and the American Studies Program.  My research explores the history of cultural categories and concepts like race, place, rebellion, authenticity, and conceiving of yourself as an outsider that we use to order and think about our world.  My classes are organized around teaching students to interpret the past by analyzing visual sources like photographs and films and audio sources like rock songs and radio programs as well as more traditional historical sources including letters and newspapers.  I try to show students how the study of history reveals dimensions of our shared humanity on longer visible in the present that can help us understand what will be gained and what will be lost as we make our future. 

I joined the college fellows because I love exposing new college students to the wonders and the challenges of thinking and conducting research in a serious community of scholars.  My courses for first year students will focus on the intersection of aesthetics and difference by looking at the history of an old practice in the US South with a new name, “creative placemaking.”  We will explore how the aesthetic practices of artists, artisans, writers, musicians, and documentary makers have both created and challenged romantic ideas about Southern peoples and places.  We will also explore how art and other forms of creative expression have shaped actual southern places, from Delta towns and Appalachian villages to El Neuvo Atlanta, newly hip downtown Richmond, and indie culture stronghold Athens.

MW 2:00pm-3:15pm
EGMT 1510: Cultures of Play - Listening, Collaborating, Improvising

EGMT 1510: Cultures of Play - Listening, Collaborating, Improvising

It can be unnerving to make something from what seems like nothing. But we all improvise when we play, so what is it that you draw upon? Is playing fun because it offers an avenue to re-imagine yourself, to get to know other people, even to form communities? These are some questions we delve into during this course.

We will attend to practices from several places in the world, both nearby and distant, ranging from kids' clapping games to song styles from the African rain forest. We'll explore proportions of freedom versus constraint, preparation versus spontaneity, and individuality within a collective, considering how these dynamic balances inform our sense of taste -- that is when and why an expression, experience, or style just feels "right" or doesn't. Working with live materials (rhythms, speech, gestures, melodies, beats, fragments of text or conversation, memories, dreams, jokes) we’ll develop a grab bag of shared practices/skills. Our active responses to reading, research, and poetic invocations about play and improvisation will take the form of "reading collages" (drawn from weekly reading assignments and spoken aloud), along with brief writing activities. We will pay attention to our poetic sensibilities -- noticing moments of affect and micro-politics in our everyday lives.  As the course progresses, we will test out a variety of mini-projects in groups that range in size, devising brief ‘happenings’ in class and around grounds. We end the term with an all-class flash mob or related event that we design and enact together. The details of any of these endeavors will depend on: 1) who is in the class and how we combine to create a shared aesthetic 2) our immediate circumstances moment to moment and our responses to local, national, or global events, and 3) the directions we decide to take along the way. Students should expect to step out of their comfort zones, to be challenged to think independently, and to engage in lively and open debate.

Instructed by

Kisliuk

Michelle

I actively research, write, and teach about creative experience in dynamic communities. I have lived with the forest people (BaAka) of the Central African Republic and learned from them about how musical life, dance, and art in everyday life are essential to healthy community. This includes an understanding of the importance for free and strong individual expression within the balancing context of a collective. I teach courses on music in everyday life, ethnographic creative nonfiction, and I direct the UVA African Music and Dance Ensemble where we learn and perform music and dance from Ghana/Togo and from the Central African Republic, and relate our performances to the immediate realities of our own lives. My training is in the post-discipline of Performance Studies, spanning fields including ethnomusicology, anthropology, theater, dance, creative writing, poetics, and folklore studies. I have published books and essays, and lectured and run workshops nationally and internationally.

In my classes we become a dynamic thinking and interacting community. Students look first to their own current stories, share them with others, and then work as individuals within a collective to bring into action the materials and issues that emerge. I am excited to offer an Engagement course because it gives me the opportunity to unite and continue to hone the trans-disciplinary approaches in arts, humanities, and social sciences that I have been developing for a long time.

TR 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1510: Digital Art & Social Change

EGMT 1510: Digital Art & Social Change

Digital technologies and emerging interactive media such as video games, the internet, 3D printing, artificial intelligence (AI), and immersive virtual realities(VR/AR/MR) continue to provide contemporary artists with new expressive possibilities for social and political engagement. In this course, we will critically examine the capacity of digital art for provoking social change and the ways by which artists creatively deploy new media tools to visualize, perform, and propel activism. Through encounters with a variety of original digital artworks, we will map technologically-enabled aesthetic practices that effectively address, raise awareness, and inspire dialogue about pressing issues of our time including human rights violations, climate change, and civil, economic or political inequalities. We will explore the reach and impact of digital art both as a form of social engagement and as a method for challenging existing perceptions and cultural narratives while offering alternative possibilities about the world around us. In addition to examining the creative potential of digital art for social change and reflecting on the implications and limitations of the practice, we will also deepen our ability to interpret and evaluate socially-engaged works of digital art. Ultimately, we will apply new media tools and technologies to imagine creative solutions for promoting social activism and advocacy.

Instructed by

Kasra

Mona
Assistant Professor of Digital Media Design, Department of Drama
Kasra

I believe the Engagements courses offer a unique and transformative educational experience that fosters independent learning, active participation, and critical and reflective thinking. My scholarly work and creative practice is centered on transdisciplinary exploration and critical examination of the confluence of visual communication and emerging media in the 21st century, and my pedagogy reflects my artistic practice and scholarship. I believe in empowering students to understand the sociopolitical and cultural implications of technology and to experiment with the ways by which new media can enhance and reimagine narrative, performance, and personal and creative forms of expression.

I strive to equip students with strong foundations in media literacy, theory, and practice while introducing them to emerging media as spaces for creation, reflection, and speculation. As an assistant professor of digital media design in the College’s Department of Drama, I work to continuously find new ways to connect technology to students’ creative ingenuity and help them develop critical perspectives on new technologies and artistic practices.

I apply an interdisciplinary framework to my research, combining semiotics, visual studies, media theory, and cultural studies to examine the power and impact of online images upon cross-cultural and cross-political life in the networked age. I have exhibited work in numerous exhibitions and have programmed, curated, and served as a juror for several film festivals and art exhibitions. In 2016, I served as the conference chair at ACM SIGGRAPH, the world’s largest, most influential annual conference on the theory and practice of computer graphics and interactive techniques.

MW 11:00am-12:15pm
EGMT 1510: Digital Art & Social Change

EGMT 1510: Digital Art & Social Change

Digital technologies and emerging interactive media such as video games, the internet, 3D printing, artificial intelligence (AI), and immersive virtual realities(VR/AR/MR) continue to provide contemporary artists with new expressive possibilities for social and political engagement. In this course, we will critically examine the capacity of digital art for provoking social change and the ways by which artists creatively deploy new media tools to visualize, perform, and propel activism. Through encounters with a variety of original digital artworks, we will map technologically-enabled aesthetic practices that effectively address, raise awareness, and inspire dialogue about pressing issues of our time including human rights violations, climate change, and civil, economic or political inequalities. We will explore the reach and impact of digital art both as a form of social engagement and as a method for challenging existing perceptions and cultural narratives while offering alternative possibilities about the world around us. In addition to examining the creative potential of digital art for social change and reflecting on the implications and limitations of the practice, we will also deepen our ability to interpret and evaluate socially-engaged works of digital art. Ultimately, we will apply new media tools and technologies to imagine creative solutions for promoting social activism and advocacy.

Instructed by

Kasra

Mona
Assistant Professor of Digital Media Design, Department of Drama
Kasra

I believe the Engagements courses offer a unique and transformative educational experience that fosters independent learning, active participation, and critical and reflective thinking. My scholarly work and creative practice is centered on transdisciplinary exploration and critical examination of the confluence of visual communication and emerging media in the 21st century, and my pedagogy reflects my artistic practice and scholarship. I believe in empowering students to understand the sociopolitical and cultural implications of technology and to experiment with the ways by which new media can enhance and reimagine narrative, performance, and personal and creative forms of expression.

I strive to equip students with strong foundations in media literacy, theory, and practice while introducing them to emerging media as spaces for creation, reflection, and speculation. As an assistant professor of digital media design in the College’s Department of Drama, I work to continuously find new ways to connect technology to students’ creative ingenuity and help them develop critical perspectives on new technologies and artistic practices.

I apply an interdisciplinary framework to my research, combining semiotics, visual studies, media theory, and cultural studies to examine the power and impact of online images upon cross-cultural and cross-political life in the networked age. I have exhibited work in numerous exhibitions and have programmed, curated, and served as a juror for several film festivals and art exhibitions. In 2016, I served as the conference chair at ACM SIGGRAPH, the world’s largest, most influential annual conference on the theory and practice of computer graphics and interactive techniques.

MW 8:00am-9:15am
EGMT 1510: Extinction in Art and Literature

EGMT 1510: Extinction in Art and Literature

Scientists recently designated the contemporary era as the sixth age of mass extinction, and the first in which humanity has played the primary role. This course explores how man-made, or anthropogenic, extinction is being conceptualized and represented in literature, visual art and other cultural artifacts. We’ll explore how writers and artists think about and with the idea of our age of extinction as an urgent conceptual, representational and ethical problem, and the modes and media they use. Aesthetic approaches to this environmental crisis implicitly or explicitly force us to address the question of the ethical possibilities of the arts and encourage us to rethink what ethical engagement might look like across longer timescales and global networks of action.

            We’ll address one of the most pressing global issues of our time through the close analysis of literary texts, visual art, data visualizations, audio recordings, photojournalism and film that try to give a shape to a process that is not always visible, immediately experienced, or easily apprehended. We will ask how extinction has been imagined, through what forms and aesthetic expressions, and to what uses it has been put. What kinds of historical narratives and innovative visualizations emerge from efforts to imagine extinction? What aesthetic strategies do writers and artists use to conceptualize the idea of extinction within and alongside other historical, cultural and scientific processes – imperial expansion and colonization, conflict, fantasies of lost worlds, “deep” time, re-wilding, and so-called “de-extinction,” the resurrection of species?

Instructed by

Ghaly

Adrienne
Postdoctoral Fellow
Ghaly

I work on the modern novel in British, Anglophone and European contexts, and its philosophical and cultural tasks in twentieth-century thought; the interplay of ethics and literature; and cultural responses to global manmade species extinction. My research spans the period from the later nineteenth century to the contemporary. I work both within the field of literature and beyond it, for my scholarship addresses what ‘the novel’ is and the migration of novelistic modes into other media, particularly contemporary art, and asks how literature and visual art respond to and think about the age of extinction as a modern phenomenon. My interests are a reflection of my interdisciplinary training at New York University and the University of Chicago and exist at the intersection of literature, philosophy, critical theory, history and the environment.

I came to the College Fellows program and the engagements courses for three key reasons. First, aesthetic and ethical problems are intertwined in my work and I wanted to teach courses that encourage creative connections across disciplines and media. Second, the engagements lay the foundation for university-level thinking: to question the concepts we use to approach, categorize and reflect on ways of looking at the world, and to invite us to consider new and radical perspectives. Third, the role of the humanities in public life is crucial to the questions I ask in my teaching and research, and to the urgent challenges - such as manmade extinction - facing us now.

TR 9:30am-10:45am
EGMT 1510: Immortality - A User's Guide

EGMT 1510: Immortality - A User's Guide

Shall we live forever?  Why not?  While ours is the species that knows it must die – or because of that brute fact – humankind has a long, broad tradition of indulging immortal longings by imagining a life beyond this one.  The gods live forever, we say, or the soul does, or the durable productions of culture and art do.  The return of our mortal remains to the planet’s biomass may represent a mode of ecological life after death; so may the survival into posterity of our selfish genes.  The recent proliferation of photographic and phonographic modes, and the contemporary possibility of perennial cryogenic storage, have in modern times afforded new versions of technological afterlife.  Meanwhile, religion and art continue to rehearse what might be called the eternity of the now, through ritual and aesthetic patterns that step not outside mortal time but right inside it.  After comparing imaginations of immortality that are found in cultural practices both secular and devout, we’ll focus on a set of aesthetic versions drawn from poetry, painting, science-fiction, and cinema.  Our survey will dwell on the challenge of describing immortality in mortal human terms.  Our abiding questions will be on one hand whether immortality is something we really want after all, and on the other hand whether it’s something we can ever quite live without.

Instructed by

Tucker

Chip
John C. Coleman Professor of English
Chip Tucker

For me the pursuit of letters started early, and there’s no end in sight.  I can’t remember learning to read.   Since childhood I have been absorbed in books: what they teach about the world, how they constitute other worlds, and how imagination brokers an unceasingly various relationship between what we are made up of and the stories we make up in order to discover who, individually and collectively, we are.  Writing is power; so is reading.  How to use such power forms the intellectual passion of my life; how literature has used it, for good and for ill, has formed the subject of my scholarship and teaching for four decades, the last three of them at UVa. 

Historically my work centers on writings from the 19th century, when modernity became industrial and imperial, when a mass audience for literature asserted itself, and when most of the modern disciplines arose that shape education to this day.  Generically I focus on the study of poetry, which is literature in its most concentrated, verbally articulated, and beautiful mode.  That said, as a teacher I’m pretty promiscuous, and am as likely to teach a course on Darwin or money as on Shakespeare or the ode.

By literature, then, I mean in the first instance the plays and essays, fiction and poetry, that are staples of an English department curriculum.  But the actual province of literature is much wider than that.  I want my students to be reading science, history, psychology, scriptures, social and cultural theory, and to correlate what we find there with imaginative writing, along a two-way street.  Cultural and historical knowledge on one hand informs both the content of a literary text and the context in which it was produced; on the other hand, the habits of interpretation we hone on an artistically crafted lyric or story show us that information too has a form, which it behoves us to grasp and evaluate as further information in its own right.  Close attention to the feedback loop between meaning and structure is what I try hardest to teach in my classes, lectures, articles, and books.  I think it’s the essential contribution of humanistic study to liberal education, especially in a distracted era like ours when paying close attention to anything is an act with radical potential.

TR 3:30pm-4:45pm
EGMT 1510: Meaning and Saying

EGMT 1510: Meaning and Saying

Fertile gaps between meaning and saying can exist in all sorts of verbal expression. Poets, satirists, and all of us in ordinary life sometimes have to speak or write with double or hidden meanings in order to communicate the truth as we understand it. Critics sometimes call this gap between meaning and saying irony. We might think that irony is a way of being sarcastic, or saying the opposite of what you believe. (An example in two words: yeah, right!) These things are, however, only a small part of irony. Irony can also reflect disappointed expectations, conflictedness, even a sense of humility about our ability to say what we mean at all. Ultimately, irony is a way of approaching the world and ourselves that affords unique possibilities for self-criticism and reflection. We’ll work together to understand how we can both use and appreciate the rifts between meaning and saying that irony creates. We’ll read poetry and essays from James Baldwin, Frederick Douglass, Robert Frost, Jonathan Lear, Audre Lorde, Marianne Moore, Susan Sontag, Oscar Wilde, and others. Course members will also work throughout our seven weeks to develop and curate their own anthologies of irony, with examples carefully selected from their reading, listening, and viewing beyond class. These anthologies introduce us to the pleasures and problems of curating a collection of texts and explaining why they belong together.

 
Instructed by

Ogden

Emily

My goal as a teacher is to help my students to flourish. I’m there to create a space in which our intellectual pursuits together are real—and not, as the saying goes, only a test. I want my students’ work to be motivated by the discovery of an interest or even a passion, just as my own scholarly work is. When I’m not teaching, I’m researching nineteenth-century American literature and culture, as in the book I wrote about mesmerism, an early form of hypnosis. Or, I’m thinking about the nature of our lives as aesthetically attuned human beings, as in my column “On Not Knowing” at 3 Quarks Daily. It has been an honor to receive the Cory Family Teaching Prize and the Mead Honored Faculty Award for teaching at UVa. Guiding students to an experience of the intrinsic goods that motivate scholarship is a possibility to which I remain ever alert. I’m drawn to the engagements because they let us articulate together the principles that structure the collective work that happens at this university.

Course Name: Title: 
TR 5:00pm-6:15pm
EGMT 1510: Meaning and Saying

EGMT 1510: Meaning and Saying

Fertile gaps between meaning and saying can exist in all sorts of verbal expression. Poets, satirists, and all of us in ordinary life sometimes have to speak or write with double or hidden meanings in order to communicate the truth as we understand it. Critics sometimes call this gap between meaning and saying irony. We might think that irony is a way of being sarcastic, or saying the opposite of what you believe. (An example in two words: yeah, right!) These things are, however, only a small part of irony. Irony can also reflect disappointed expectations, conflictedness, even a sense of humility about our ability to say what we mean at all. Ultimately, irony is a way of approaching the world and ourselves that affords unique possibilities for self-criticism and reflection. We’ll work together to understand how we can both use and appreciate the rifts between meaning and saying that irony creates. We’ll read poetry and essays from James Baldwin, Frederick Douglass, Robert Frost, Jonathan Lear, Audre Lorde, Marianne Moore, Susan Sontag, Oscar Wilde, and others. Course members will also work throughout our seven weeks to develop and curate their own anthologies of irony, with examples carefully selected from their reading, listening, and viewing beyond class. These anthologies introduce us to the pleasures and problems of curating a collection of texts and explaining why they belong together.

 
Instructed by

Ogden

Emily

My goal as a teacher is to help my students to flourish. I’m there to create a space in which our intellectual pursuits together are real—and not, as the saying goes, only a test. I want my students’ work to be motivated by the discovery of an interest or even a passion, just as my own scholarly work is. When I’m not teaching, I’m researching nineteenth-century American literature and culture, as in the book I wrote about mesmerism, an early form of hypnosis. Or, I’m thinking about the nature of our lives as aesthetically attuned human beings, as in my column “On Not Knowing” at 3 Quarks Daily. It has been an honor to receive the Cory Family Teaching Prize and the Mead Honored Faculty Award for teaching at UVa. Guiding students to an experience of the intrinsic goods that motivate scholarship is a possibility to which I remain ever alert. I’m drawn to the engagements because they let us articulate together the principles that structure the collective work that happens at this university.

Course Name: Title: 
TR 3:30pm-4:45pm
EGMT 1510: Virtuosity and Its Others

EGMT 1510: Virtuosity and Its Others

What do a urinal in a museum and a silent piece of music have in common? What’s wabi-sabi? How far behind the beat is not far enough? Why talk wrong? And who gets to? When is trying and failing more beautiful than trying and succeeding? 

In this class, we’ll explore conceptions of virtuosity — where they come from, what they mean, and how we might like to re-form them. Engaging with ideas and exemplars found across all the arts, we’ll gain a more profound appreciation for scribbles and bad guitar solos, obsessive repetition, breathless oversharing and restraint. Some of the major projects in the class will be creative works (e.g., visual and music / sound), affording opportunities to play with critical perspectives on virtuosity through artistic expression. We’ll use computer applications for manipulation of sound and image, and some experience with DAWs, Photoshop, and video editing software, may be useful though not required.

Instructed by

Coffey

Ted
Associate Professor of Music
Coffey

I teach subjects at the intersection of music, culture, and technology. I make acoustic and electronic chamber music, sound installations, and songs, and much of my practice involves collaboration with artists working in other media.

I was drawn to the College Fellows to enrich and refine my teaching, especially through community with other scholars thinking through new perspectives, ideas, and methods. When I consider “engaging aesthetics” as one of the themes for the Engagements courses we’ve designed, to me it implies appreciating and evolving an ancient, profoundly human way of reasoning, one distinct from and not reducible to other ways of reasoning. Both in the apprehension and in the poetic practices of art, things can be demonstrably true without being quantifiable. In fact, we may not even be able to specify what quanta are relevant. Yet even where haphazard proliferation of ‘facts’ effects white noise, art maintains its power to speak, to cut through, to tell stories that we recognize as true.

This is part of why the arts are fundamental rather than ornamental to human experience. The other part has to do with what education fundamentally is: the transformation of areas of knowledge and practice once unfamiliar into that which we hold dear, full of logic, specificity and care. As more of the world is transformed in this way, we gain traction toward humility and intellectual honesty, less inclined to prejudge our fellows and worlds, more inclined and able to commune with them. 

TR 6:30pm-7:45pm

Spring Session Two: March 4 - April 23

EGMT 1510: Cultures of Play - Listening, Collaborating, Improvising

EGMT 1510: Cultures of Play - Listening, Collaborating, Improvising

It can be unnerving to make something from what seems like nothing. But we all improvise when we play, so what is it that you draw upon? Is playing fun because it offers an avenue to re-imagine yourself, to get to know other people, even to form communities? These are some questions we delve into during this course.

We will attend to practices from several places in the world, both nearby and distant, ranging from kids' clapping games to song styles from the African rain forest. We'll explore proportions of freedom versus constraint, preparation versus spontaneity, and individuality within a collective, considering how these dynamic balances inform our sense of taste -- that is when and why an expression, experience, or style just feels "right" or doesn't. Working with live materials (rhythms, speech, gestures, melodies, beats, fragments of text or conversation, memories, dreams, jokes) we’ll develop a grab bag of shared practices/skills. Our active responses to reading, research, and poetic invocations about play and improvisation will take the form of "reading collages" (drawn from weekly reading assignments and spoken aloud), along with brief writing activities. We will pay attention to our poetic sensibilities -- noticing moments of affect and micro-politics in our everyday lives.  As the course progresses, we will test out a variety of mini-projects in groups that range in size, devising brief ‘happenings’ in class and around grounds. We end the term with an all-class flash mob or related event that we design and enact together. The details of any of these endeavors will depend on: 1) who is in the class and how we combine to create a shared aesthetic 2) our immediate circumstances moment to moment and our responses to local, national, or global events, and 3) the directions we decide to take along the way. Students should expect to step out of their comfort zones, to be challenged to think independently, and to engage in lively and open debate.

Instructed by

Kisliuk

Michelle

I actively research, write, and teach about creative experience in dynamic communities. I have lived with the forest people (BaAka) of the Central African Republic and learned from them about how musical life, dance, and art in everyday life are essential to healthy community. This includes an understanding of the importance for free and strong individual expression within the balancing context of a collective. I teach courses on music in everyday life, ethnographic creative nonfiction, and I direct the UVA African Music and Dance Ensemble where we learn and perform music and dance from Ghana/Togo and from the Central African Republic, and relate our performances to the immediate realities of our own lives. My training is in the post-discipline of Performance Studies, spanning fields including ethnomusicology, anthropology, theater, dance, creative writing, poetics, and folklore studies. I have published books and essays, and lectured and run workshops nationally and internationally.

In my classes we become a dynamic thinking and interacting community. Students look first to their own current stories, share them with others, and then work as individuals within a collective to bring into action the materials and issues that emerge. I am excited to offer an Engagement course because it gives me the opportunity to unite and continue to hone the trans-disciplinary approaches in arts, humanities, and social sciences that I have been developing for a long time.

TR 11:00am-12:15pm
EGMT 1510: Immortality - A User's Guide

EGMT 1510: Immortality - A User's Guide

Shall we live forever?  Why not?  While ours is the species that knows it must die – or because of that brute fact – humankind has a long, broad tradition of indulging immortal longings by imagining a life beyond this one.  The gods live forever, we say, or the soul does, or the durable productions of culture and art do.  The return of our mortal remains to the planet’s biomass may represent a mode of ecological life after death; so may the survival into posterity of our selfish genes.  The recent proliferation of photographic and phonographic modes, and the contemporary possibility of perennial cryogenic storage, have in modern times afforded new versions of technological afterlife.  Meanwhile, religion and art continue to rehearse what might be called the eternity of the now, through ritual and aesthetic patterns that step not outside mortal time but right inside it.  After comparing imaginations of immortality that are found in cultural practices both secular and devout, we’ll focus on a set of aesthetic versions drawn from poetry, painting, science-fiction, and cinema.  Our survey will dwell on the challenge of describing immortality in mortal human terms.  Our abiding questions will be on one hand whether immortality is something we really want after all, and on the other hand whether it’s something we can ever quite live without.

Instructed by

Tucker

Chip
John C. Coleman Professor of English
Chip Tucker

For me the pursuit of letters started early, and there’s no end in sight.  I can’t remember learning to read.   Since childhood I have been absorbed in books: what they teach about the world, how they constitute other worlds, and how imagination brokers an unceasingly various relationship between what we are made up of and the stories we make up in order to discover who, individually and collectively, we are.  Writing is power; so is reading.  How to use such power forms the intellectual passion of my life; how literature has used it, for good and for ill, has formed the subject of my scholarship and teaching for four decades, the last three of them at UVa. 

Historically my work centers on writings from the 19th century, when modernity became industrial and imperial, when a mass audience for literature asserted itself, and when most of the modern disciplines arose that shape education to this day.  Generically I focus on the study of poetry, which is literature in its most concentrated, verbally articulated, and beautiful mode.  That said, as a teacher I’m pretty promiscuous, and am as likely to teach a course on Darwin or money as on Shakespeare or the ode.

By literature, then, I mean in the first instance the plays and essays, fiction and poetry, that are staples of an English department curriculum.  But the actual province of literature is much wider than that.  I want my students to be reading science, history, psychology, scriptures, social and cultural theory, and to correlate what we find there with imaginative writing, along a two-way street.  Cultural and historical knowledge on one hand informs both the content of a literary text and the context in which it was produced; on the other hand, the habits of interpretation we hone on an artistically crafted lyric or story show us that information too has a form, which it behoves us to grasp and evaluate as further information in its own right.  Close attention to the feedback loop between meaning and structure is what I try hardest to teach in my classes, lectures, articles, and books.  I think it’s the essential contribution of humanistic study to liberal education, especially in a distracted era like ours when paying close attention to anything is an act with radical potential.

TR 5:00pm-6:15pm
EGMT 1510: On Ghosts

EGMT 1510: On Ghosts

 Do you believe in ghosts? Or rather: What does it mean to believe in ghosts? What are ghosts as objects of belief and why are they confined to the framework of belief, as opposed to knowledge? If one could “know” ghosts, how would one prove their existence—and what would proof or evidence mean in these contexts? At the same time, ghosts exist, at least in stories told across many cultures in the world and over the long histories of these cultures. And, to be sure, the representation of ghosts differs across these cultures and time spans, in ways that are often dependent on historical contexts, cultural understandings, and belief systems. For some cultures, the ghost is an unwanted guest, but for others, the ghost is connected by kinship and owed certain services and dignities; and in some periods, the ghost speaks to (and for) larger religious frameworks, while for others, the ghost is a malevolent force unmoored from all logics.

 This course will take up the problem of the ghost from a variety of perspectives—aesthetic, epistemological, ethical, and empirical. As a class, we will read ghost stories, watch ghost films, and even participate in a ghost tour (and consider the critiques of such tours). Much of our work will begin with the question of how to think critically about cultural texts, whether these are literary works, films, philosophical writings, religious texts, or folkloric tales, and to be able to read these in a rigorously analytic manner. We will also discuss what the ghost represents in its specific cultural locus and historical moment, how the ghost complicates the boundaries of the living and the dead, what we owe to ghosts (if anything), what it means to be haunted, what evidence there is for the existence of ghosts, how we recognize a ghost, and above all, why there should be ghosts in the first place?

Instructed by

Chen

Jack

I knew that I loved literature from a young age, reading everything from Marvel comic books to Jane Austen. As a college student, I somehow managed to read James Joyce’s Ulysses twice, along with most of T.S. Eliot’s poetry and plays, and a fair chunk of Wallace Stevens, before taking a (now) more than twenty-year detour into the thickets of classical Chinese literature, particularly the poetry of the Han through Tang dynasties. For the last couple of years, I’ve co-directed the Humanities Informatics Lab at UVA and have been thinking about how information technologies shape our cultures, both past and present.

I wanted to join the College Fellows to be able to teach and think about subjects that are outside of the East Asian cultural sphere and yet may also be illuminated by a knowledge of non-Western traditions. I’m interested in topics that allow us to consider larger questions of how we understand our world, what the limits of our knowledge might be, and how we relate to one another as human beings. I believe that serious, sustained, and thoughtful conversation is what underlies a humanistic education and that learning how to read and think is a lifelong endeavor. I am looking forward to meeting you over the course of the next two years.

Course Name: Title: 
MW 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1510: On Ghosts

EGMT 1510: On Ghosts

 Do you believe in ghosts? Or rather: What does it mean to believe in ghosts? What are ghosts as objects of belief and why are they confined to the framework of belief, as opposed to knowledge? If one could “know” ghosts, how would one prove their existence—and what would proof or evidence mean in these contexts? At the same time, ghosts exist, at least in stories told across many cultures in the world and over the long histories of these cultures. And, to be sure, the representation of ghosts differs across these cultures and time spans, in ways that are often dependent on historical contexts, cultural understandings, and belief systems. For some cultures, the ghost is an unwanted guest, but for others, the ghost is connected by kinship and owed certain services and dignities; and in some periods, the ghost speaks to (and for) larger religious frameworks, while for others, the ghost is a malevolent force unmoored from all logics.

 This course will take up the problem of the ghost from a variety of perspectives—aesthetic, epistemological, ethical, and empirical. As a class, we will read ghost stories, watch ghost films, and even participate in a ghost tour (and consider the critiques of such tours). Much of our work will begin with the question of how to think critically about cultural texts, whether these are literary works, films, philosophical writings, religious texts, or folkloric tales, and to be able to read these in a rigorously analytic manner. We will also discuss what the ghost represents in its specific cultural locus and historical moment, how the ghost complicates the boundaries of the living and the dead, what we owe to ghosts (if anything), what it means to be haunted, what evidence there is for the existence of ghosts, how we recognize a ghost, and above all, why there should be ghosts in the first place?

Instructed by

Chen

Jack

I knew that I loved literature from a young age, reading everything from Marvel comic books to Jane Austen. As a college student, I somehow managed to read James Joyce’s Ulysses twice, along with most of T.S. Eliot’s poetry and plays, and a fair chunk of Wallace Stevens, before taking a (now) more than twenty-year detour into the thickets of classical Chinese literature, particularly the poetry of the Han through Tang dynasties. For the last couple of years, I’ve co-directed the Humanities Informatics Lab at UVA and have been thinking about how information technologies shape our cultures, both past and present.

I wanted to join the College Fellows to be able to teach and think about subjects that are outside of the East Asian cultural sphere and yet may also be illuminated by a knowledge of non-Western traditions. I’m interested in topics that allow us to consider larger questions of how we understand our world, what the limits of our knowledge might be, and how we relate to one another as human beings. I believe that serious, sustained, and thoughtful conversation is what underlies a humanistic education and that learning how to read and think is a lifelong endeavor. I am looking forward to meeting you over the course of the next two years.

Course Name: Title: 
MW 9:30am-10:45am
EGMT 1510: The Politics of Popular Music

EGMT 1510: The Politics of Popular Music

Why did it take a white artist like Elvis covering a song like “Hound Dog” to make it a hit, and why did his performance of the song on television ignite such controversy? Who decided holding a “Disco Demolition Night” between the two halves of a 1979 Chicago White Sox/Detroit Tigers doubleheader was a good promotional idea, and why did it turn into a riot? What made Ronald Reagan praise Bruce Springsteen at a 1984 campaign stop, and why did Springsteen tell a concert audience two days later that Reagan must not have understood his songs? Why did a conservative pundit dismiss Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” as “paranoi[d]…Millennial groupthink,” and what does that reaction have to do with the song and its video’s content? The answers to these questions tell us that popular music is more than just a collection of artistic works and cultural commodities. In “The Politics of Pop Music,” you will examine pop music as an art form, a social movement, and a business. In doing so, you will consider how and what studying aesthetic products such as pop songs, albums, videos, and performances can tell us about the historical moment in which they were created and, in turn, the world they helped create.

Instructed by

Mound

Josh
Postdoctoral Fellow
Mound

Josh Mound is a scholar of modern U.S. politics and policy. He received a joint Ph.D. in History and Sociology from the University of Michigan in December 2015. Prior to arriving at UVA, he was the Smith Postdoctoral Fellow in American Political Economy at Miami Universiy of Ohio. His book project is under advance contract for publication in the Politics and Culture in Modern America series at the University of Pennsylvania Press, and his popular articles have appeared in the New Republic, Jacobin, and Salon

MW 6:30pm-7:45pm
EGMT 1510: Virtuosity and Its Others

EGMT 1510: Virtuosity and Its Others

What do a urinal in a museum and a silent piece of music have in common? What’s wabi-sabi? How far behind the beat is not far enough? Why talk wrong? And who gets to? When is trying and failing more beautiful than trying and succeeding? 

In this class, we’ll explore conceptions of virtuosity — where they come from, what they mean, and how we might like to re-form them. Engaging with ideas and exemplars found across all the arts, we’ll gain a more profound appreciation for scribbles and bad guitar solos, obsessive repetition, breathless oversharing and restraint. Some of the major projects in the class will be creative works (e.g., visual and music / sound), affording opportunities to play with critical perspectives on virtuosity through artistic expression. We’ll use computer applications for manipulation of sound and image, and some experience with DAWs, Photoshop, and video editing software, may be useful though not required.

Instructed by

Coffey

Ted
Associate Professor of Music
Coffey

I teach subjects at the intersection of music, culture, and technology. I make acoustic and electronic chamber music, sound installations, and songs, and much of my practice involves collaboration with artists working in other media.

I was drawn to the College Fellows to enrich and refine my teaching, especially through community with other scholars thinking through new perspectives, ideas, and methods. When I consider “engaging aesthetics” as one of the themes for the Engagements courses we’ve designed, to me it implies appreciating and evolving an ancient, profoundly human way of reasoning, one distinct from and not reducible to other ways of reasoning. Both in the apprehension and in the poetic practices of art, things can be demonstrably true without being quantifiable. In fact, we may not even be able to specify what quanta are relevant. Yet even where haphazard proliferation of ‘facts’ effects white noise, art maintains its power to speak, to cut through, to tell stories that we recognize as true.

This is part of why the arts are fundamental rather than ornamental to human experience. The other part has to do with what education fundamentally is: the transformation of areas of knowledge and practice once unfamiliar into that which we hold dear, full of logic, specificity and care. As more of the world is transformed in this way, we gain traction toward humility and intellectual honesty, less inclined to prejudge our fellows and worlds, more inclined and able to commune with them. 

TR 2:00pm-3:15pm

EGMT 1520: Empirical & Scientific Engagement

Fall 2019

Fall Session One: August 27 - October 16

EGMT 1520: Exploring Your Genome

EGMT 1520: Exploring Your Genome

What is a genome? What can you do with your genome? How can others use your genome? In this course, you will learn about the human genome, from how it is measured to what information it contains. You will have the opportunity to take a glimpse at your own genetic information and we will discuss the implications of this knowledge. Through this course, you will gain an understanding of the profound role that the human genome plays in your life and your future.

The Takeaway (what will you know 5 years from now… My hope for students upon completion of this course is the ability to discuss genetic concepts confidently with their colleagues, to know what can and can’t be done with their genetic information especially as reported by the popular press, and to use this information to guide them in making informed decisions in their own lives in years to come. And along the way, you will become empirically engaged.

Our objectives this semester... By the end of this course, you will have glimpsed at the foundation of life and you will:

  • Be able to describe and discuss the human genome and its utility in medicine and life
  • Become curious about the ways in which you and others can use your genome
  • Gain skills that will allow you to think about and interpret genetic data
  • Help others better understand the use of genetic information in their future
Instructed by

Connelly

Jessica
Associate Professor of Psychology
Jessica Connley

As a teacher, my general strategy is to provide an open and nurturing environment to learn in. I encourage the students to ask questions and have been lucky to be able to create a dynamic, interactive classroom in each course I have taught. My scientific passion lies in the understanding of genes and how the unique differences in our genomes make us tick. I am a classically trained epigeneticist with a background in the human genome, brain sciences, and health and human disease. I teach about topics that span the genome and epigenome of many organisms including humans. Epigenetics is a topic that many have read about in the popular press and I have found that students are very eager to understand it, which makes my job easy. I teach to a very diverse crowd of students, even some who have never learned about genes. I think my students leave my classroom with a greater appreciation of who they are and how they work and this helps them piece their future world together. I will continue this work through the College Fellows Program using genes to engage the mind.

TR 11:00am-12:15pm
EGMT 1520: Genetics: Solutions for Life!?

EGMT 1520: Genetics: Solutions for Life!?

How can we cure sickle cell disease?  Why don’t snakes have legs?  How do we make a seedless (insert your favorite fruit or vegetable here)?  How do we bypass egg allergies by genetically modifying chickens?  What contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire?  Was Thomas Jefferson the father of Sally Hemings’s children?  Is violent behavior a genetic disease?  Can we cure (insert disease of interest here) through gene therapy?

These are all analytical questions/problems that have been addressed through genetic/DNA analysis.  We’ll use examples like these to explore how our increasingly sophisticated understanding of genomes and the genetic basis of life can be used to approach a wide variety of puzzles or problems.  In each case, we’ll examine how investigators framed a specific scientific question, what analytical approach was designed to address that question, what results were produced by the analyses, and what conclusions could be drawn from those results.  Wherever possible, we’ll consider any related ethical dilemmas that continue to arise, as our rapidly expanding genetic knowledge impacts both individuals and society.  And, best of all:  You’ll learn some genetics along the way!

Instructed by

Cronmiller

Claire
Professor of Biology
Cronmiller

I deeply believe in both the value of a liberal arts education and in our responsibility as educators to engage students actively in their own learning.  These convictions have guided me to where I am today as a biology professor, having taught a range of courses, including biology major courses from introductory to advanced levels, as well as a University Seminar for first-year students. 

The opportunity to help craft a curriculum that’s committed to both the liberal arts and to engaging with students in a STEM learning experience is very exciting. Pedagogically, I hope to apply scientific teaching principles to the design of my new Engagements course. The rationale here is that teaching science should reflect the very nature of science. That is, it should embrace the process of discovery. My approach to scientific teaching combines active learning strategies with a broad range of teaching methods and activities that can engage students with diverse backgrounds and learning style preferences.

My research interests and passion have always focused on the field of genetics, and I can’t think of a more exciting and contemporary topic for an Engagements course. There are so many fundamental topics that could be considered for developing students’ abilities to understand and evaluate scientific discoveries and theories, while also addressing broader societal issues/implications:  Finding human disease genes, pre-symptomatic genetic diagnosis, gene therapy, genes and behavior, the nature/uses of human genome information, GMOs, the pros/cons of personal genome testing, etc. I’m looking forward to exploring the possibilities!

MW 2:00pm-3:15pm
EGMT 1520: Life On the Move

EGMT 1520: Life On the Move

We cannot work or play, fight or express love without an accompanying movement, however subtle, somewhere in the body.  But does movement accomplish more than just getting from one place to another?  Will running nurture resilience?  Can we dance our way around chronic diseases?  Do big biceps lead to bigger brains?  Did humans evolve to run?  What are the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle?  Should couch potatoes take “exercise” pills?  We will address questions like these by applying empirical approaches to explore the scope and scale of nature’s movements -- from the tiny trajectories of molecules and cells to the global migrations of animals and people.  By observing and measuring your own patterns of movement, you will also learn to think like a scientist and to consider the limitations of empirical approaches.  By hypothesizing how novel types of movement might occur and how you might test your ideas, you will come to appreciate that discovery about the unknown is a creative process limited only by an infinite imagination.

Instructed by

Schafer

Dorothy
Associate Professor of Biology
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This cartoon, which lives pinned above my office desk, describes the essence of being a scientist.  I originally posted the cartoon to inspire graduate students as they embarked on journeys of discovery.  But it could easily be tacked to the artist’s easel, accompanying a linguist’s recordings or an economist’s spreadsheet, or tucked into a physician’s pocket guide.  Its message offers a useful guide to any future “solutions architect”, especially undergraduate students beginning the journey of a liberal arts education. Gain knowledge; build connections from the power of experience; create/innovate/solve.  The opportunity to participate with the College Fellows in helping first-year students become curious, to question and to think critically and creativity is certain to be both challenging and invigorating. 

I am a cell biologist with a love passion to understand how cells, the smallest living “unit” of most organisms, live and function at the molecular level.  I tease out the strategies cells use to move from place to place, morph from one shape to another and divide to make new cells. Much of my empirical work involves watching living cells and their behaviors. The microscope offers incredibly gorgeous visual effects, but also requires rigorous, sometimes tedious, quantitative analyses in order to gain meaning from the observations and to make new discoveries.  The approaches I use in my research align closely with the Empirical and Scientific Engagements, but also easily touch on elements of Engaging Aesthetics from the practical (designing figures for publication) to the sublime (a cool image hanging in New Cabell Hall). 

Course Name: Title: 
TR 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1520: Poverty Counts

EGMT 1520: Poverty Counts

The United States' definition of "poverty" dates to 1963, when Social Security administration economist Mollie Orshansky used the Department of Agriculture's "Thrifty Food Plan" to calculate the amount of economic deprivation in the U.S. But Orshansky never intended for her calculation to become the official poverty line, and it's been challenged by critics on the left and the right ever since. Orshansky's calculation has persisted, however, because (re)defining poverty is both complex and controversial. Like categories such as "race" and "disability," poverty is a socially constructed concept. When we say someone is "poor," what do we mean? Do we mean that his or her income falls below an absolute threshold (a dollar amount) or a relative one (such as a percentage of the median income)? Moreover, what do we mean by "income"? Should we even define poverty in material terms? In answering these questions and related ones, this course will ask you to consider the theoretical and empirical issues involved in operationalizing socially constructed concepts such as poverty. Through critical engagement with the interdisciplinary poverty literature, both qualitative and quantitative, and hands-on research, you will gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of carrying out empirical social science.

Instructed by

Mound

Josh
Postdoctoral Fellow
Mound

Josh Mound is a scholar of modern U.S. politics and policy. He received a joint Ph.D. in History and Sociology from the University of Michigan in December 2015. Prior to arriving at UVA, he was the Smith Postdoctoral Fellow in American Political Economy at Miami Universiy of Ohio. His book project is under advance contract for publication in the Politics and Culture in Modern America series at the University of Pennsylvania Press, and his popular articles have appeared in the New Republic, Jacobin, and Salon

TR 5:00pm-6:15pm
EGMT 1520: Thrifting: A Case Study for Empirical Inquiry

EGMT 1520: Thrifting: A Case Study for Empirical Inquiry

At semester’s end at any American University peruse the dumpsters, dorm hallways and suite common rooms and you are sure to see mounds of castaway objects, once deemed of highest importance to the life and welfare of it’s owners. Eventually some of these objects, especially clothing, will find their way into a thrift-store, or on-line via second-hand sales or will be remade into new fashionable objects. Who buys and sells second-hand clothes and why? Thrifting may seem a trivial issue but even when they disagree as to its specific functions and meanings, scholars across a range of disciplines agree that it is of  increasing economic, political, cultural and personal importance in contemporary communities in the U.S. and globally. We will use the case study as an empirically grounded approach to investigate the real-world contexts of thrifting. The case study can be a powerful in-depth approach using multiple forms of empirical evidence to research complex issues, objects or activities when the phenomena is not well described and where there are multiple interpretations and points of view. Students will learn about the strengths and limitations of different types of empirical case study designs. They will then design a case study research project, explore related scholarly and popular literature, collect empirical evidence, and interpret their findings about some specific aspect of thrifting. The course will involve the students and professor in exploring how a case study method applied to a specific social practice can be a rich source for empirical inquiry into our social world, how we experience it, how it shapes our cultural identities and how it is structured across local and global sites. 

Instructed by

Fraser

Gertrude
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Fraser

My research focuses on medical anthropology and race and gender in organizations. I like to teach courses which take a commonly assumed human universal phenomenon – girlhood, death and dying, health care – and critically explore with my students the different cultural shape and meanings found across and within societies of these seemingly familiar human experiences.

A recent class on the Anthropology of Girlhood discussed the ways that rural girls and boys are provided very different options as they think about their lives as adults. Boys are encouraged to stay local in the masculine rural, while girls envision lives lived globally in feminized urban cosmopolitan settings. Students paired the discussion with their own retrospective reflections of how their “possible selves,” were and are shaped by cultural logics that are gendered and stratified.

It is not unusual for me to invite undergraduates to work on my research projects or to develop their own. If you ask students who have taken a course with me, they will tell you that I encourage and expect that they want to contribute to the conversation. They may also have noticed that I am genuinely gleeful when someone finally understands a complicated argument or brings new insights from their personal experience or complementary concepts learned in another course.

Having an infusion of different disciplines and perspectives dropped into the anthropological fundamentals of the subject material keeps me and, I hope, my students continually learning and engaged. When someone tells me that they shared an article we read together with a parent or friend, that is high praise as our work in the classroom pushes out to new audiences and contexts.

 

MW 5;00pm-6:15pm
EGMT 1520: Why We Hold Hands

EGMT 1520: Why We Hold Hands

Why do we hold hands? If you think about it, it's a peculiar behavior. What is its function? What does it accomplish? Why do so many people all around the world do it? I hadn’t given it much thought until I embarked on the scientific study of how—at the level of brain function—people soothe each other’s fears and anxieties. In my early work, hand holding was little more to me than a convenient way to study social support in the restrictive environment of the brain scanner. But as the years, and studies, have gone by, a deeper understanding of simple hand holding has unlocked for me many of the secrets of our shared humanity—and helped me explain why, for humans, social isolation is the quickest route to misery, poor health, and even early death. We’ll use the mystery of hand holding as our point of departure on a scientific journey toward understanding the way social relationships affect our earliest sensory experiences, the length of our lives, and everything in between. We’ll also explore the likeliest theories about the evolution of Homo sapiens, and how that evolution is reflected in the structure and function of the human brain. 

Instructed by

Coan

Jim

For years I've been interested in pushing the boundaries of my teaching, in structure, content and engagement with students. When I learned of the New Curriculum, my first thought was "this is exactly what I've been hoping for." This is because I feel passionate about my work, my field, and the transformative power of scientific knowledge, and I want to explore new ways to share that passion with young people. Every day, by virtue of the work that I do at UVA, I get to experience real awe and wonder--the beauty of learning about how our social relationships shape and support our brains and bodies, and what that knowledge suggests about our origin and future as a species. The knowledge created in my lab and in labs throughout the world has also instilled in me a desire to engage with my broader community--which is part of why I've been involved in things like television programs, podcasting, and UVA's Center for Media and Citizenship. It is a privilege to add teaching for the New Curriculum to that list.

I am Professor of Psychology and Director of the Virginia Affective Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Virginia. I consult for clinicians, businesses and researchers, working with groups as diverse as the Oregon Social Learning Center, the Anna Freud Center, the Kurt Lewin Institute, and the Community of Democracies. I am the co-editor of the Handbook of Emotion Elicitation and Assessment and have authored more than eighty peer-reviewed articles. My work has been covered in Science, Nature, and the New York Times, among other media outlets. I've also appeared as an expert for the National Geographic show Brain Games. In addition to being a professor at UVA, I'm a fellow of the Mind and Life Institute, produce the podcast Circle of Willis, and serve as Chief Scientific Advisor at Movius Consulting.

Course Name: Title: 
MW 11:00am-12:15pm

Fall Session Two: October 17 - December 6

EGMT 1520: Genetics: Solutions for Life!?

EGMT 1520: Genetics: Solutions for Life!?

How can we cure sickle cell disease?  Why don’t snakes have legs?  How do we make a seedless (insert your favorite fruit or vegetable here)?  How do we bypass egg allergies by genetically modifying chickens?  What contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire?  Was Thomas Jefferson the father of Sally Hemings’s children?  Is violent behavior a genetic disease?  Can we cure (insert disease of interest here) through gene therapy?

These are all analytical questions/problems that have been addressed through genetic/DNA analysis.  We’ll use examples like these to explore how our increasingly sophisticated understanding of genomes and the genetic basis of life can be used to approach a wide variety of puzzles or problems.  In each case, we’ll examine how investigators framed a specific scientific question, what analytical approach was designed to address that question, what results were produced by the analyses, and what conclusions could be drawn from those results.  Wherever possible, we’ll consider any related ethical dilemmas that continue to arise, as our rapidly expanding genetic knowledge impacts both individuals and society.  And, best of all:  You’ll learn some genetics along the way!

Instructed by

Cronmiller

Claire
Professor of Biology
Cronmiller

I deeply believe in both the value of a liberal arts education and in our responsibility as educators to engage students actively in their own learning.  These convictions have guided me to where I am today as a biology professor, having taught a range of courses, including biology major courses from introductory to advanced levels, as well as a University Seminar for first-year students. 

The opportunity to help craft a curriculum that’s committed to both the liberal arts and to engaging with students in a STEM learning experience is very exciting. Pedagogically, I hope to apply scientific teaching principles to the design of my new Engagements course. The rationale here is that teaching science should reflect the very nature of science. That is, it should embrace the process of discovery. My approach to scientific teaching combines active learning strategies with a broad range of teaching methods and activities that can engage students with diverse backgrounds and learning style preferences.

My research interests and passion have always focused on the field of genetics, and I can’t think of a more exciting and contemporary topic for an Engagements course. There are so many fundamental topics that could be considered for developing students’ abilities to understand and evaluate scientific discoveries and theories, while also addressing broader societal issues/implications:  Finding human disease genes, pre-symptomatic genetic diagnosis, gene therapy, genes and behavior, the nature/uses of human genome information, GMOs, the pros/cons of personal genome testing, etc. I’m looking forward to exploring the possibilities!

MW 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1520: Making Truth Claims - The Power & Limits of Empirical Reasoning

EGMT 1520: Making Truth Claims - The Power & Limits of Empirical Reasoning

What makes a truth claim powerful and persuasive? In our everyday lives, most of us rely on at least some version of empirical reasoning to advance our own truth claims and assess others. For example, a person might say “Everyone is either male or female” because that person has never met anyone who isn’t and so s/he imagines the world is fully represented by male and female people. However, someone with different experience may assess this claim as ridiculous and obviously untrue. This is an example of rudimentary empirical reasoning – we have an idea of how things work in our heads and we check it against the “real world.” This is a central tenet of the scientific method – we test our theories against empirical data to see if they are supported. But we all know examples of “bad” science, or disputed “facts,” or questions that empirical data don’t seem to help answer. In this course, we will think about the process and evaluation of empirical observations and scientific reasoning. Through activities and discussion students will grapple with question such as:  What are the strengths of these knowledge systems and what might undermine them or make them less relevant? How do we turn the “real world” into data and what problems does that cause? What are the similarities and differences in empirical reasoning about the natural world and the social world?

Instructed by

Corse

Sarah
Associate Professor of Sociology
Corse

The College’s new general education curriculum offers a great opportunity to get involved in teaching incoming students as they make the transition to college. In the last five years, most of my teaching has been with upper-level majors and graduate students, and I miss the intellectual excitement generated by new students. The pre-disciplinary Engagements offer a space to (re)discover intellectual play, to think broadly – even a bit wildly. The pre-disciplinary focus also facilitates big questions and a sense of possibilities, allowing, I hope, for an intensity that is sometimes lacking in the classroom.

Sociology is a discipline that few students encounter in high school, but it shares with many other disciplines an interest in patterns and in understanding how and why people do the things that they do. I’m excited about the chance to think through what this means in “big picture” terms. I see lots of possibility in asking questions about what “we” think knowledge is or how we decide what is even knowable. Different disciplines, and sub-disciplines, have different answers to these questions, so wrestling with them from multiple vantage points is really helpful.

The Engagements also offer a chance to think about how we learn and what a classroom is. I’m excited by the chance to incorporate different forms of learning, e.g., community-based or visual, into the standard formats of reading and discussion. The pre-disciplinary breadth and innovative character of the Engagements facilitate teachers-as-learners and students-as-teachers reversals, opening a space for building real learning communities.

TR 2:00pm-3:15pm
EGMT 1520: Making Truth Claims - The Power & Limits of Empirical Reasoning

EGMT 1520: Making Truth Claims - The Power & Limits of Empirical Reasoning

What makes a truth claim powerful and persuasive? In our everyday lives, most of us rely on at least some version of empirical reasoning to advance our own truth claims and assess others. For example, a person might say “Everyone is either male or female” because that person has never met anyone who isn’t and so s/he imagines the world is fully represented by male and female people. However, someone with different experience may assess this claim as ridiculous and obviously untrue. This is an example of rudimentary empirical reasoning – we have an idea of how things work in our heads and we check it against the “real world.” This is a central tenet of the scientific method – we test our theories against empirical data to see if they are supported. But we all know examples of “bad” science, or disputed “facts,” or questions that empirical data don’t seem to help answer. In this course, we will think about the process and evaluation of empirical observations and scientific reasoning. Through activities and discussion students will grapple with question such as:  What are the strengths of these knowledge systems and what might undermine them or make them less relevant? How do we turn the “real world” into data and what problems does that cause? What are the similarities and differences in empirical reasoning about the natural world and the social world?

Instructed by

Corse

Sarah
Associate Professor of Sociology
Corse

The College’s new general education curriculum offers a great opportunity to get involved in teaching incoming students as they make the transition to college. In the last five years, most of my teaching has been with upper-level majors and graduate students, and I miss the intellectual excitement generated by new students. The pre-disciplinary Engagements offer a space to (re)discover intellectual play, to think broadly – even a bit wildly. The pre-disciplinary focus also facilitates big questions and a sense of possibilities, allowing, I hope, for an intensity that is sometimes lacking in the classroom.

Sociology is a discipline that few students encounter in high school, but it shares with many other disciplines an interest in patterns and in understanding how and why people do the things that they do. I’m excited about the chance to think through what this means in “big picture” terms. I see lots of possibility in asking questions about what “we” think knowledge is or how we decide what is even knowable. Different disciplines, and sub-disciplines, have different answers to these questions, so wrestling with them from multiple vantage points is really helpful.

The Engagements also offer a chance to think about how we learn and what a classroom is. I’m excited by the chance to incorporate different forms of learning, e.g., community-based or visual, into the standard formats of reading and discussion. The pre-disciplinary breadth and innovative character of the Engagements facilitate teachers-as-learners and students-as-teachers reversals, opening a space for building real learning communities.

TR 8:00am-9:15am
EGMT 1520: Poverty Counts

EGMT 1520: Poverty Counts

The United States' definition of "poverty" dates to 1963, when Social Security administration economist Mollie Orshansky used the Department of Agriculture's "Thrifty Food Plan" to calculate the amount of economic deprivation in the U.S. But Orshansky never intended for her calculation to become the official poverty line, and it's been challenged by critics on the left and the right ever since. Orshansky's calculation has persisted, however, because (re)defining poverty is both complex and controversial. Like categories such as "race" and "disability," poverty is a socially constructed concept. When we say someone is "poor," what do we mean? Do we mean that his or her income falls below an absolute threshold (a dollar amount) or a relative one (such as a percentage of the median income)? Moreover, what do we mean by "income"? Should we even define poverty in material terms? In answering these questions and related ones, this course will ask you to consider the theoretical and empirical issues involved in operationalizing socially constructed concepts such as poverty. Through critical engagement with the interdisciplinary poverty literature, both qualitative and quantitative, and hands-on research, you will gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of carrying out empirical social science.

Instructed by

Mound

Josh
Postdoctoral Fellow
Mound

Josh Mound is a scholar of modern U.S. politics and policy. He received a joint Ph.D. in History and Sociology from the University of Michigan in December 2015. Prior to arriving at UVA, he was the Smith Postdoctoral Fellow in American Political Economy at Miami Universiy of Ohio. His book project is under advance contract for publication in the Politics and Culture in Modern America series at the University of Pennsylvania Press, and his popular articles have appeared in the New Republic, Jacobin, and Salon

TR 5:00pm-6:15pm
EGMT 1520: The Big Bang - The Creation of Our Universe

EGMT 1520: The Big Bang - The Creation of Our Universe

For many people “The Big Bang Theory” is a CBS sitcom following the tangled lives of four geeky Caltech students. But what is the real Big Bang Theory? Most people know it concerns the beginning of the Universe, but exactly what does the theory say and how firm is the evidence for it? In this class, we’ll journey out into the galaxies and back to the primordial fireball, always paying attention to how we know what we claim to know. Ultimately, we’re pursuing an idea that has been present in all cultures at all times: what is the deep origin of our world, with its land and sky, sun and stars, and even ourselves?

During the seven weeks of the course, we’ll explore the following seven themes, one each week: 1) the expansion of the Universe and our remarkable ability to directly witness the remote past; 2) the immensely bright fireball of the first million years, whose light we see today as the microwave background; 3) the first hour, when conditions everywhere were similar to those at the center of the sun; 4) how barely perceptible patches within the fireball were amplified over time by gravity to make stars and galaxies; 5) the nature of dark matter and dark energy, and how our current cosmological framework is tested using many different kinds of data; 6) the stunning fact that the total energy content of the Universe is zero – it sums to nothing – and how that fact points to a possible creation mechanism, from nothing, called inflation; 7) how life and humans fit into this cosmic narrative – including our surprising ability to understand the Universe, and what the narrative might mean to us emotionally and spiritually.

Throughout, we will honor the overall intent of the “empirical engagement” by using the Big Bang Theory as a test case to explore how science works – how observations are used to test and refine a theory that is built using the known laws of physics. Perhaps surprisingly, after a century of effort, this theory – with the exception of the creation mechanism itself – is now about as detailed and robust as the theories of, for example, evolution or atomic structure. While these other theories reached maturity some time ago, modern cosmology has only recently gelled and is therefore, arguably, the greatest scientific narrative of our current time.

Instructed by

Whittle

Mark

My subject is astronomy – a subject I’ve loved since I was ten years old, when my father would tell me of strange new discoveries: powerful quasars, spinning pulsars, the faint glow from the big bang. Decades later, and a career that has allowed me to learn about all these things, my sense of wonder is no less intense. What has changed for me, and perhaps for the entire field of astronomy, is the recognition of a single, integrated, and fabulously rich story that links all these realms into an overarching history of our universe, from the big bang to the formation of planets, including ones suitable for life.

Perhaps a fundamental goal of the University is to help students explore their place within ever larger and interconnected contexts – cultural, historical, environmental, religious, to name a few. My own goal, especially in entry-level classes, is for students to leave my class with a sense of their cosmic context. Of course, I want them to gain an intellectual understanding. But what I’m really aiming for is an emotional awakening – a feeling of awe at nature and a deep sense of their own cosmic ancestry and citizenship. My allies in this are simple: metaphors that turn the alien into the familiar; frequent links that build the bigger picture; an honest reflection of my own emotional reactions; and an opportunity for students to articulate their own sense of place.

The engagement courses, with their more open format, have challenged me to find a fresh path into the subject that provides two rather distinct experiences for students – one is an intuitive understanding of the richness of the cosmic narrative itself, and the other is an appreciation of how science actually constructs that narrative.     

TR 3:30pm-4:45pm
EGMT 1520: Thrifting: A Case Study for Empirical Inquiry

EGMT 1520: Thrifting: A Case Study for Empirical Inquiry

At semester’s end at any American University peruse the dumpsters, dorm hallways and suite common rooms and you are sure to see mounds of castaway objects, once deemed of highest importance to the life and welfare of it’s owners. Eventually some of these objects, especially clothing, will find their way into a thrift-store, or on-line via second-hand sales or will be remade into new fashionable objects. Who buys and sells second-hand clothes and why? Thrifting may seem a trivial issue but even when they disagree as to its specific functions and meanings, scholars across a range of disciplines agree that it is of  increasing economic, political, cultural and personal importance in contemporary communities in the U.S. and globally. We will use the case study as an empirically grounded approach to investigate the real-world contexts of thrifting. The case study can be a powerful in-depth approach using multiple forms of empirical evidence to research complex issues, objects or activities when the phenomena is not well described and where there are multiple interpretations and points of view. Students will learn about the strengths and limitations of different types of empirical case study designs. They will then design a case study research project, explore related scholarly and popular literature, collect empirical evidence, and interpret their findings about some specific aspect of thrifting. The course will involve the students and professor in exploring how a case study method applied to a specific social practice can be a rich source for empirical inquiry into our social world, how we experience it, how it shapes our cultural identities and how it is structured across local and global sites. 

Instructed by

Fraser

Gertrude
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Fraser

My research focuses on medical anthropology and race and gender in organizations. I like to teach courses which take a commonly assumed human universal phenomenon – girlhood, death and dying, health care – and critically explore with my students the different cultural shape and meanings found across and within societies of these seemingly familiar human experiences.

A recent class on the Anthropology of Girlhood discussed the ways that rural girls and boys are provided very different options as they think about their lives as adults. Boys are encouraged to stay local in the masculine rural, while girls envision lives lived globally in feminized urban cosmopolitan settings. Students paired the discussion with their own retrospective reflections of how their “possible selves,” were and are shaped by cultural logics that are gendered and stratified.

It is not unusual for me to invite undergraduates to work on my research projects or to develop their own. If you ask students who have taken a course with me, they will tell you that I encourage and expect that they want to contribute to the conversation. They may also have noticed that I am genuinely gleeful when someone finally understands a complicated argument or brings new insights from their personal experience or complementary concepts learned in another course.

Having an infusion of different disciplines and perspectives dropped into the anthropological fundamentals of the subject material keeps me and, I hope, my students continually learning and engaged. When someone tells me that they shared an article we read together with a parent or friend, that is high praise as our work in the classroom pushes out to new audiences and contexts.

 

MW 9:30am-10:45am

Spring 2020

Spring Session One: January 13 - March 2

EGMT 1520: Boundaries of Knowledge in the Universe

EGMT 1520: Boundaries of Knowledge in the Universe

What happens inside black holes? What caused the Big Bang? Are there other dimensions? Despite major technological advances of the last century, we still know shockingly little about the universe in which we live. This Engagements course will explore why we think we know what we do, why we don’t know what we don’t, and the fundamental strengths and limits of empirical inquiry.  The class will be grounded in epistemological understandings of knowledge, and discussions will focus on the borderlands between science, theology, and philosophy.  Throughout the 7 weeks, students will be charged with nurturing their curiosity, and challenged to ask meaningful questions. 

Instructed by

Johnson

Kelsey
Associate Professor of Astronomy
Johnson

I am a zealous science evangelist and a fervent advocate of cross-disciplinary collaboration and education, which can stretch us beyond our comfort zones into rich and unexplored intellectual landscapes. Learning is one of our most essential responsibilities, and the breadth and depth of our collective knowledge and understanding affects virtually every aspect of society and how we live and thrive within it. 

My work in the classroom is heavily influenced by embracing and promoting students’ sense of curiosity and wonder, which I argue is at the core of fostering life-long learners. My work as the founding director of the award-winning “Dark Skies, Bright Kids” outreach program for elementary school students has strengthened my conviction that astronomy can serve as a powerful tool for rekindling a love of science in students who have pursued other disciplines.

I have taught in the University of Virginia’s Department of Astronomy since 2004. My research spans galaxy evolution, with a focus on ancient star formation in the universe. I am a champion for the importance of science literacy in modern society; our understanding of how science works and how to interpret scientific findings has consequences for issues ranging from the mundane to the profound.

I have served on numerous national and International committees that have to integrate the competing forces of scientific impact, financial resources, public understanding, and policy.  In addition to my work as a College Fellow and as associate professor of astronomy, I am excited to accept a new appointment in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences as director of the Echols Scholars Program.

TR 3:30pm-4:45pm
EGMT 1520: Monsters, Mutants, and Master Genes - What Can Frogs Teach Us About Humans?

EGMT 1520: Monsters, Mutants, and Master Genes - What Can Frogs Teach Us About Humans?

"Every animal form is the product of two processes-development from an egg and evolution from its ancestors," --- Sean B. Carroll (Evolutionary Developmental Biologist). We marvel at the process of an egg, becoming an adult, and how our body works in health and disease. This inquiry-based course will show you how development and evolution combined shape these processes. Scientific research done in frogs has played a prominent role in the recent history of cell and developmental biology. Developmental Biology is asking fundamental questions at the level of whole organisms, organs, or tissues. It has been and continues to be most useful in delivering explanations for diseases or medically relevant processes including infertility, birth defects (e.g., deformation, developmental brain disorders, deafness), cancer, wound healing, tissue regeneration, etc. Frogs are  an invaluable tool to screen a large number of potential disease-causing genes identified from human patients. We will apply the scientific method and learn how scientists have experimentally approached these problems in biology. This course will then enable you to evaluate and make decisions about the scientific information about human health you come across every day.

Instructed by
TR 9:30am-10:45am
EGMT 1520: Poverty Counts

EGMT 1520: Poverty Counts

The United States' definition of "poverty" dates to 1963, when Social Security administration economist Mollie Orshansky used the Department of Agriculture's "Thrifty Food Plan" to calculate the amount of economic deprivation in the U.S. But Orshansky never intended for her calculation to become the official poverty line, and it's been challenged by critics on the left and the right ever since. Orshansky's calculation has persisted, however, because (re)defining poverty is both complex and controversial. Like categories such as "race" and "disability," poverty is a socially constructed concept. When we say someone is "poor," what do we mean? Do we mean that his or her income falls below an absolute threshold (a dollar amount) or a relative one (such as a percentage of the median income)? Moreover, what do we mean by "income"? Should we even define poverty in material terms? In answering these questions and related ones, this course will ask you to consider the theoretical and empirical issues involved in operationalizing socially constructed concepts such as poverty. Through critical engagement with the interdisciplinary poverty literature, both qualitative and quantitative, and hands-on research, you will gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of carrying out empirical social science.

Instructed by

Mound

Josh
Postdoctoral Fellow
Mound

Josh Mound is a scholar of modern U.S. politics and policy. He received a joint Ph.D. in History and Sociology from the University of Michigan in December 2015. Prior to arriving at UVA, he was the Smith Postdoctoral Fellow in American Political Economy at Miami Universiy of Ohio. His book project is under advance contract for publication in the Politics and Culture in Modern America series at the University of Pennsylvania Press, and his popular articles have appeared in the New Republic, Jacobin, and Salon

MW 5:00pm-6:15pm
EGMT 1520: Who Was Cleoptra

EGMT 1520: Who Was Cleoptra

Few historical figures from antiquity excite as much interest as Cleopatra VII, last Ptolemaic ruler of Egypt. Despite her enduring popularity, most of what people believe they know about her owes more to Hollywood than to historical evidence. This course examines the nature of historical knowledge by exploring a series of questions about Cleopatra. We will consider such issues as what constitutes historical evidence (What is Cleopatra’s story?), how historians interpret historical evidence in light of its known context (Who were Cleopatra’s enemies?), and how the biases and contexts of modern historians impact historical knowledge (Was Cleopatra Black?). Along the way, we will also consider the difficulties inherent to premodern historical reconstruction caused by the relative paucity of evidence and accidents of survival, as well as the difficulties historians face in reaching the public because of Hollywood-imposed preconceptions about antiquity.

Instructed by
MW 2:00pm-3:15pm
EGMT 1520: Who Was Cleoptra

EGMT 1520: Who Was Cleoptra

Few historical figures from antiquity excite as much interest as Cleopatra VII, last Ptolemaic ruler of Egypt. Despite her enduring popularity, most of what people believe they know about her owes more to Hollywood than to historical evidence. This course examines the nature of historical knowledge by exploring a series of questions about Cleopatra. We will consider such issues as what constitutes historical evidence (What is Cleopatra’s story?), how historians interpret historical evidence in light of its known context (Who were Cleopatra’s enemies?), and how the biases and contexts of modern historians impact historical knowledge (Was Cleopatra Black?). Along the way, we will also consider the difficulties inherent to premodern historical reconstruction caused by the relative paucity of evidence and accidents of survival, as well as the difficulties historians face in reaching the public because of Hollywood-imposed preconceptions about antiquity.

Instructed by
MW 11:00am-12:15pm
EGMT 1520: Why We Hold Hands

EGMT 1520: Why We Hold Hands

Why do we hold hands? If you think about it, it's a peculiar behavior. What is its function? What does it accomplish? Why do so many people all around the world do it? I hadn’t given it much thought until I embarked on the scientific study of how—at the level of brain function—people soothe each other’s fears and anxieties. In my early work, hand holding was little more to me than a convenient way to study social support in the restrictive environment of the brain scanner. But as the years, and studies, have gone by, a deeper understanding of simple hand holding has unlocked for me many of the secrets of our shared humanity—and helped me explain why, for humans, social isolation is the quickest route to misery, poor health, and even early death. We’ll use the mystery of hand holding as our point of departure on a scientific journey toward understanding the way social relationships affect our earliest sensory experiences, the length of our lives, and everything in between. We’ll also explore the likeliest theories about the evolution of Homo sapiens, and how that evolution is reflected in the structure and function of the human brain. 

Instructed by

Coan

Jim

For years I've been interested in pushing the boundaries of my teaching, in structure, content and engagement with students. When I learned of the New Curriculum, my first thought was "this is exactly what I've been hoping for." This is because I feel passionate about my work, my field, and the transformative power of scientific knowledge, and I want to explore new ways to share that passion with young people. Every day, by virtue of the work that I do at UVA, I get to experience real awe and wonder--the beauty of learning about how our social relationships shape and support our brains and bodies, and what that knowledge suggests about our origin and future as a species. The knowledge created in my lab and in labs throughout the world has also instilled in me a desire to engage with my broader community--which is part of why I've been involved in things like television programs, podcasting, and UVA's Center for Media and Citizenship. It is a privilege to add teaching for the New Curriculum to that list.

I am Professor of Psychology and Director of the Virginia Affective Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Virginia. I consult for clinicians, businesses and researchers, working with groups as diverse as the Oregon Social Learning Center, the Anna Freud Center, the Kurt Lewin Institute, and the Community of Democracies. I am the co-editor of the Handbook of Emotion Elicitation and Assessment and have authored more than eighty peer-reviewed articles. My work has been covered in Science, Nature, and the New York Times, among other media outlets. I've also appeared as an expert for the National Geographic show Brain Games. In addition to being a professor at UVA, I'm a fellow of the Mind and Life Institute, produce the podcast Circle of Willis, and serve as Chief Scientific Advisor at Movius Consulting.

Course Name: Title: 
TR 12:30pm-1:45pm

Spring Session Two: March 4 - April 23

EGMT 1520: Exploring Your Genome

EGMT 1520: Exploring Your Genome

What is a genome? What can you do with your genome? How can others use your genome? In this course, you will learn about the human genome, from how it is measured to what information it contains. You will have the opportunity to take a glimpse at your own genetic information and we will discuss the implications of this knowledge. Through this course, you will gain an understanding of the profound role that the human genome plays in your life and your future.

The Takeaway (what will you know 5 years from now… My hope for students upon completion of this course is the ability to discuss genetic concepts confidently with their colleagues, to know what can and can’t be done with their genetic information especially as reported by the popular press, and to use this information to guide them in making informed decisions in their own lives in years to come. And along the way, you will become empirically engaged.

Our objectives this semester... By the end of this course, you will have glimpsed at the foundation of life and you will:

  • Be able to describe and discuss the human genome and its utility in medicine and life
  • Become curious about the ways in which you and others can use your genome
  • Gain skills that will allow you to think about and interpret genetic data
  • Help others better understand the use of genetic information in their future
Instructed by

Connelly

Jessica
Associate Professor of Psychology
Jessica Connley

As a teacher, my general strategy is to provide an open and nurturing environment to learn in. I encourage the students to ask questions and have been lucky to be able to create a dynamic, interactive classroom in each course I have taught. My scientific passion lies in the understanding of genes and how the unique differences in our genomes make us tick. I am a classically trained epigeneticist with a background in the human genome, brain sciences, and health and human disease. I teach about topics that span the genome and epigenome of many organisms including humans. Epigenetics is a topic that many have read about in the popular press and I have found that students are very eager to understand it, which makes my job easy. I teach to a very diverse crowd of students, even some who have never learned about genes. I think my students leave my classroom with a greater appreciation of who they are and how they work and this helps them piece their future world together. I will continue this work through the College Fellows Program using genes to engage the mind.

TR 3:30pm-4:45pm
EGMT 1520: Exploring Your Genome

EGMT 1520: Exploring Your Genome

What is a genome? What can you do with your genome? How can others use your genome? In this course, you will learn about the human genome, from how it is measured to what information it contains. You will have the opportunity to take a glimpse at your own genetic information and we will discuss the implications of this knowledge. Through this course, you will gain an understanding of the profound role that the human genome plays in your life and your future.

The Takeaway (what will you know 5 years from now… My hope for students upon completion of this course is the ability to discuss genetic concepts confidently with their colleagues, to know what can and can’t be done with their genetic information especially as reported by the popular press, and to use this information to guide them in making informed decisions in their own lives in years to come. And along the way, you will become empirically engaged.

Our objectives this semester... By the end of this course, you will have glimpsed at the foundation of life and you will:

  • Be able to describe and discuss the human genome and its utility in medicine and life
  • Become curious about the ways in which you and others can use your genome
  • Gain skills that will allow you to think about and interpret genetic data
  • Help others better understand the use of genetic information in their future
Instructed by

Connelly

Jessica
Associate Professor of Psychology
Jessica Connley

As a teacher, my general strategy is to provide an open and nurturing environment to learn in. I encourage the students to ask questions and have been lucky to be able to create a dynamic, interactive classroom in each course I have taught. My scientific passion lies in the understanding of genes and how the unique differences in our genomes make us tick. I am a classically trained epigeneticist with a background in the human genome, brain sciences, and health and human disease. I teach about topics that span the genome and epigenome of many organisms including humans. Epigenetics is a topic that many have read about in the popular press and I have found that students are very eager to understand it, which makes my job easy. I teach to a very diverse crowd of students, even some who have never learned about genes. I think my students leave my classroom with a greater appreciation of who they are and how they work and this helps them piece their future world together. I will continue this work through the College Fellows Program using genes to engage the mind.

TR 2:00pm-3:15pm
EGMT 1520: Life On the Move

EGMT 1520: Life On the Move

We cannot work or play, fight or express love without an accompanying movement, however subtle, somewhere in the body.  But does movement accomplish more than just getting from one place to another?  Will running nurture resilience?  Can we dance our way around chronic diseases?  Do big biceps lead to bigger brains?  Did humans evolve to run?  What are the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle?  Should couch potatoes take “exercise” pills?  We will address questions like these by applying empirical approaches to explore the scope and scale of nature’s movements -- from the tiny trajectories of molecules and cells to the global migrations of animals and people.  By observing and measuring your own patterns of movement, you will also learn to think like a scientist and to consider the limitations of empirical approaches.  By hypothesizing how novel types of movement might occur and how you might test your ideas, you will come to appreciate that discovery about the unknown is a creative process limited only by an infinite imagination.

Instructed by

Schafer

Dorothy
Associate Professor of Biology
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This cartoon, which lives pinned above my office desk, describes the essence of being a scientist.  I originally posted the cartoon to inspire graduate students as they embarked on journeys of discovery.  But it could easily be tacked to the artist’s easel, accompanying a linguist’s recordings or an economist’s spreadsheet, or tucked into a physician’s pocket guide.  Its message offers a useful guide to any future “solutions architect”, especially undergraduate students beginning the journey of a liberal arts education. Gain knowledge; build connections from the power of experience; create/innovate/solve.  The opportunity to participate with the College Fellows in helping first-year students become curious, to question and to think critically and creativity is certain to be both challenging and invigorating. 

I am a cell biologist with a love passion to understand how cells, the smallest living “unit” of most organisms, live and function at the molecular level.  I tease out the strategies cells use to move from place to place, morph from one shape to another and divide to make new cells. Much of my empirical work involves watching living cells and their behaviors. The microscope offers incredibly gorgeous visual effects, but also requires rigorous, sometimes tedious, quantitative analyses in order to gain meaning from the observations and to make new discoveries.  The approaches I use in my research align closely with the Empirical and Scientific Engagements, but also easily touch on elements of Engaging Aesthetics from the practical (designing figures for publication) to the sublime (a cool image hanging in New Cabell Hall). 

Course Name: Title: 
MW 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1520: Monsters, Mutants, and Master Genes - What Can Frogs Teach Us About Humans?

EGMT 1520: Monsters, Mutants, and Master Genes - What Can Frogs Teach Us About Humans?

"Every animal form is the product of two processes-development from an egg and evolution from its ancestors," --- Sean B. Carroll (Evolutionary Developmental Biologist). We marvel at the process of an egg, becoming an adult, and how our body works in health and disease. This inquiry-based course will show you how development and evolution combined shape these processes. Scientific research done in frogs has played a prominent role in the recent history of cell and developmental biology. Developmental Biology is asking fundamental questions at the level of whole organisms, organs, or tissues. It has been and continues to be most useful in delivering explanations for diseases or medically relevant processes including infertility, birth defects (e.g., deformation, developmental brain disorders, deafness), cancer, wound healing, tissue regeneration, etc. Frogs are  an invaluable tool to screen a large number of potential disease-causing genes identified from human patients. We will apply the scientific method and learn how scientists have experimentally approached these problems in biology. This course will then enable you to evaluate and make decisions about the scientific information about human health you come across every day.

Instructed by
TR 11:00am-12:15pm
EGMT 1520: Monsters, Mutants, and Master Genes - What Can Frogs Teach Us About Humans?

EGMT 1520: Monsters, Mutants, and Master Genes - What Can Frogs Teach Us About Humans?

"Every animal form is the product of two processes-development from an egg and evolution from its ancestors," --- Sean B. Carroll (Evolutionary Developmental Biologist). We marvel at the process of an egg, becoming an adult, and how our body works in health and disease. This inquiry-based course will show you how development and evolution combined shape these processes. Scientific research done in frogs has played a prominent role in the recent history of cell and developmental biology. Developmental Biology is asking fundamental questions at the level of whole organisms, organs, or tissues. It has been and continues to be most useful in delivering explanations for diseases or medically relevant processes including infertility, birth defects (e.g., deformation, developmental brain disorders, deafness), cancer, wound healing, tissue regeneration, etc. Frogs are  an invaluable tool to screen a large number of potential disease-causing genes identified from human patients. We will apply the scientific method and learn how scientists have experimentally approached these problems in biology. This course will then enable you to evaluate and make decisions about the scientific information about human health you come across every day.

Instructed by
TR 8:00am-9:15am
EGMT 1520: The Big Bang - The Creation of Our Universe

EGMT 1520: The Big Bang - The Creation of Our Universe

For many people “The Big Bang Theory” is a CBS sitcom following the tangled lives of four geeky Caltech students. But what is the real Big Bang Theory? Most people know it concerns the beginning of the Universe, but exactly what does the theory say and how firm is the evidence for it? In this class, we’ll journey out into the galaxies and back to the primordial fireball, always paying attention to how we know what we claim to know. Ultimately, we’re pursuing an idea that has been present in all cultures at all times: what is the deep origin of our world, with its land and sky, sun and stars, and even ourselves?

During the seven weeks of the course, we’ll explore the following seven themes, one each week: 1) the expansion of the Universe and our remarkable ability to directly witness the remote past; 2) the immensely bright fireball of the first million years, whose light we see today as the microwave background; 3) the first hour, when conditions everywhere were similar to those at the center of the sun; 4) how barely perceptible patches within the fireball were amplified over time by gravity to make stars and galaxies; 5) the nature of dark matter and dark energy, and how our current cosmological framework is tested using many different kinds of data; 6) the stunning fact that the total energy content of the Universe is zero – it sums to nothing – and how that fact points to a possible creation mechanism, from nothing, called inflation; 7) how life and humans fit into this cosmic narrative – including our surprising ability to understand the Universe, and what the narrative might mean to us emotionally and spiritually.

Throughout, we will honor the overall intent of the “empirical engagement” by using the Big Bang Theory as a test case to explore how science works – how observations are used to test and refine a theory that is built using the known laws of physics. Perhaps surprisingly, after a century of effort, this theory – with the exception of the creation mechanism itself – is now about as detailed and robust as the theories of, for example, evolution or atomic structure. While these other theories reached maturity some time ago, modern cosmology has only recently gelled and is therefore, arguably, the greatest scientific narrative of our current time.

Instructed by

Whittle

Mark

My subject is astronomy – a subject I’ve loved since I was ten years old, when my father would tell me of strange new discoveries: powerful quasars, spinning pulsars, the faint glow from the big bang. Decades later, and a career that has allowed me to learn about all these things, my sense of wonder is no less intense. What has changed for me, and perhaps for the entire field of astronomy, is the recognition of a single, integrated, and fabulously rich story that links all these realms into an overarching history of our universe, from the big bang to the formation of planets, including ones suitable for life.

Perhaps a fundamental goal of the University is to help students explore their place within ever larger and interconnected contexts – cultural, historical, environmental, religious, to name a few. My own goal, especially in entry-level classes, is for students to leave my class with a sense of their cosmic context. Of course, I want them to gain an intellectual understanding. But what I’m really aiming for is an emotional awakening – a feeling of awe at nature and a deep sense of their own cosmic ancestry and citizenship. My allies in this are simple: metaphors that turn the alien into the familiar; frequent links that build the bigger picture; an honest reflection of my own emotional reactions; and an opportunity for students to articulate their own sense of place.

The engagement courses, with their more open format, have challenged me to find a fresh path into the subject that provides two rather distinct experiences for students – one is an intuitive understanding of the richness of the cosmic narrative itself, and the other is an appreciation of how science actually constructs that narrative.     

TR 3:30pm-4:45pm
EGMT 1520: Why We Hold Hands

EGMT 1520: Why We Hold Hands

Why do we hold hands? If you think about it, it's a peculiar behavior. What is its function? What does it accomplish? Why do so many people all around the world do it? I hadn’t given it much thought until I embarked on the scientific study of how—at the level of brain function—people soothe each other’s fears and anxieties. In my early work, hand holding was little more to me than a convenient way to study social support in the restrictive environment of the brain scanner. But as the years, and studies, have gone by, a deeper understanding of simple hand holding has unlocked for me many of the secrets of our shared humanity—and helped me explain why, for humans, social isolation is the quickest route to misery, poor health, and even early death. We’ll use the mystery of hand holding as our point of departure on a scientific journey toward understanding the way social relationships affect our earliest sensory experiences, the length of our lives, and everything in between. We’ll also explore the likeliest theories about the evolution of Homo sapiens, and how that evolution is reflected in the structure and function of the human brain. 

Instructed by

Coan

Jim

For years I've been interested in pushing the boundaries of my teaching, in structure, content and engagement with students. When I learned of the New Curriculum, my first thought was "this is exactly what I've been hoping for." This is because I feel passionate about my work, my field, and the transformative power of scientific knowledge, and I want to explore new ways to share that passion with young people. Every day, by virtue of the work that I do at UVA, I get to experience real awe and wonder--the beauty of learning about how our social relationships shape and support our brains and bodies, and what that knowledge suggests about our origin and future as a species. The knowledge created in my lab and in labs throughout the world has also instilled in me a desire to engage with my broader community--which is part of why I've been involved in things like television programs, podcasting, and UVA's Center for Media and Citizenship. It is a privilege to add teaching for the New Curriculum to that list.

I am Professor of Psychology and Director of the Virginia Affective Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Virginia. I consult for clinicians, businesses and researchers, working with groups as diverse as the Oregon Social Learning Center, the Anna Freud Center, the Kurt Lewin Institute, and the Community of Democracies. I am the co-editor of the Handbook of Emotion Elicitation and Assessment and have authored more than eighty peer-reviewed articles. My work has been covered in Science, Nature, and the New York Times, among other media outlets. I've also appeared as an expert for the National Geographic show Brain Games. In addition to being a professor at UVA, I'm a fellow of the Mind and Life Institute, produce the podcast Circle of Willis, and serve as Chief Scientific Advisor at Movius Consulting.

Course Name: Title: 
MW 3:30pm-4:45pm

EGMT 1530: Engaging Differences

Fall 2019

Fall Session One: August 27 - October 16

EGMT 1530/1540: Do We Still Have Faith In Democracy?

EGMT 1530/1540: Do We Still Have Faith In Democracy?

*Note: Since this class satifies both EGMT 1530 (Differences) and EGMT 1540 (Ethics), students must enroll in both Fall Session 1 and Fall Session 2 sections.

Democracy is currently face daunting challenges in the U.S. and around the world.  Authoritarian leaders and populist parties have undermined democratic values across the globe, including Brazil, Hungary, Algeria, Poland, and the United States.  In the U.S., there are attempts to make it more difficult for citizens to vote. Practices of gerrymandering and unethical campaign finance undermine citizen’s interests in representative government. In Charlottesville, especially in the wake of events of August 2017, questions have been raised about the responsiveness of local government to the needs of its citizens and the city’s failure to protect the safety of those who protested against the actions of self-admitted racist and fascist groups.

In the midst of these challenges, do we still have faith in democracy and, if so, why?  Must we have faith in democracy in order for it to succeed?   What do we mean by faith?  How might the resources of democracy itself (its ideas and its practices) help societies respond to these crises?

This course examines the character of democracy:

  • What is a democracy and what distinguishes it from other forms of governments?
  • What are the practices of democracy and the role of education in preparation for democratic participation? 
  • What does it mean to be a citizen of a democracy and who counts as a citizen?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities of pluralism (religious, cultural, racial, political) to the life of democracy?

A major goal of the class is to prepare students to connect questions about democracy to the different settings they will encounter in their years at UVA, from the classroom to the many social and political situations they negotiate.

In addition to reading assignments and short papers, students will be required to move out of the classroom and select, observe and reflect upon a real-life instance of democratic politics in action (e.g., city council meetings, school board meetings, and so forth).     

Instructed by

Flores

Nichole

I am excited to serve as a College Fellow co-teaching a course (along with Bruce Williams), “Do we still have faith in democracy?" Teaching in the engagements presents a unique opportunity to explore the ideas and practices of democracy with a diverse group of students eager to tackle one of the most challenging topics of our time during their first year in the college! 

My teaching and research in religious ethics and democracy is animated by two life experiences. The first experience is attending public middle school on the west side of Denver, Colorado where the majority of my classmates were either Mexican or Vietnamese Catholics. Our teachers often asked us to explore questions about our deepest passions, values, and commitments, but we were tacitly asked to do so without breaching the "wall of separation between Church and State" famously articulated by Thomas Jefferson in his “Letter to the Danbury Baptists." Limiting religious engagement in the public educational setting curtailed our ability to constructively and critically evaluate the way our religious upbringings influenced our lives. The second experience is participating in community organizing alongside farmworkers from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers when I was in my mid-20s. As I marched alongside workers whom had experienced economic exploitation and human rights abuses in U.S. agricultural fields, I witnessed the power of religious people, communities, ideas, practices, and commitments (Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, and Buddhist, among others) to help pursue justice for those on the bottom rungs of the global economy. While I think maintaining the separation between church and state is vital to maintaining a society committed to justice and equality, these experiences of religion in public life ignited my passion for exploring the ways that religion can enliven and/or hinder democracies at the local, national, and global levels. 

My academic research emphasizes the relationship between religious ethics and aesthetics in cultivating solidarity in the context of religiously diverse and politically democratic societies. I also have a “side hustle" as a contributing author on the masthead at America: The Jesuit Review of Faith and Culture, where I write feature essays that interlace Catholic theology and ethics with politics and culture. This past winter, I fulfilled a lifelong dream of interviewing Federico Peña, the first Latinx mayor of Denver and a member of Bill Clinton’s cabinet, about the role his Catholic faith played in his public life.

,

Williams

Bruce

Bruce Williams is the Ambassador Henry J. Taylor and Mrs. Marion R. Taylor Professor of Media Studies. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Minnesota and, before coming to UVA, taught at the Pennsylvania State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois, and the London School of Economics. His research and teaching interests focus on the impact of a changing media environment on democratic politics. He has published five books and more than forty scholarly journal articles and book chapters. His two most recent books are The New Media Environment: An Introduction (with Andrea Press) and After Broadcast News: Media Regimes, Democracy, and the New Information Environment (with Michael Delli Carpini), both published in 2012.  In 2012 he received an All-University Teaching Award.  For six years, Bruce served on the committees that designed both the College Forums and New College Curriculum.

 
MW 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1530: #Stay Woke - Social Movements and Social Media

EGMT 1530: #Stay Woke - Social Movements and Social Media

Throughout history, the most egregious violations of human rights have been justified by exclusionary theories of human “difference.” These atrocities have been resisted by small groups of thoughtful individuals banding together to challenge the way dehumanizing notions of difference are used to justify large-scale oppression. This course will examine how oppositional movements intervene in and produce media to resist these oppressive practices and theories, both historically and in the context of current social movements. Movements for social change that are led by members of oppressed groups often face hostile, even physically violent, political opposition. This has necessitated that proponents of social change who are deemed “different” from the majority, challenge the majority public opinion —which often presents itself as the moderate voice of reason—through coordinated media campaigns. Students will examine a series of historical case studies focusing on how leaders of social change movements have engaged the media (or created their own media) to challenge conventional wisdom, to wrest rhetorical control from the dominant narrative, and to frame their struggle in terms which are politically favorable.

Instructed by

Press

Andrea
Williams R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Media Studies and Sociology
Andrea Press

As an interpretive sociologist who entered the interdisciplinary media field and later developed concentrations in audience study and in feminist theory which have thrust me in part into the humanities, I have occupied a scholarly position halfway between the humanities and the social sciences throughout my career. I have been joint appointed in Colleges of Humanities, Colleges of Social Sciences, and sometimes joint-appointed in both.  I have always struggled with balancing the sensibilities, goals, and approaches to knowledge fostered by each realm of inquiry.  The distinctions between them have always seemed arbitrary to me given the nature of my thinking, my work, and concomitantly, in my teaching.  In consequence I teach film aesthetics courses that paradoxically uncover, in a scientific manner, the historical and social dimensions of our society, with a special focusing on issues of social class, sexual, racial, and gender difference.

Given the inherent interdisciplinarity of my teaching and research, I am thrilled to see the College prioritize The Engagements within the new curriculum which has been proposed.  It is as difficult, I have found, to transcend the staid boundaries of disciplinarity when developing our curriculum as it is in our scholarship.  Yet powerful writing, as scholars in many fields have noted, must involve elements of both science and aesthetics, ethics and difference.  I have written extensively about the problem of “method” in the social sciences, in particular addressing the issue of how the social sciences draw from both sciences and the humanities, in several articles and books. Also I have taught methods of research engagement and the philosophy of inquiry in all my departmental appointments. I relish the opportunity to develop courses that will allow us to draw from scholarship in several realms – and in particular, I welcome the opportunity to build on my scholarship in media and feminist activism in my class entited "#Staywoke: Social Movements and Social Media", This highly original and comprehensive re-tooling of our foundational undergraduate curriculum will develop critical competencies in our students which at present we do not do enough to foster.

TR 2:00pm - 3:15pm
EGMT 1530: Lost and Found in Translation

EGMT 1530: Lost and Found in Translation

This course explores the idea that translation, in an extended sense, is all around us. When we encounter differences – in the form of experiences, ideas, narratives, religious traditions, texts, languages, etc. – we come to understand these differences through acts of translation: that is, we make creative interpretive decisions as we restate, rephrase, and recast what we don’t know in terms of what we do know. In this course, we ask: how does translation in this extended sense participate in eliding, highlighting, obscuring, celebrating, distorting, and transforming difference?

Instructed by
TR 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1530: Lost and Found in Translation

EGMT 1530: Lost and Found in Translation

This course explores the idea that translation, in an extended sense, is all around us. When we encounter differences – in the form of experiences, ideas, narratives, religious traditions, texts, languages, etc. – we come to understand these differences through acts of translation: that is, we make creative interpretive decisions as we restate, rephrase, and recast what we don’t know in terms of what we do know. In this course, we ask: how does translation in this extended sense participate in eliding, highlighting, obscuring, celebrating, distorting, and transforming difference?

Instructed by
TR 5:00pm-6:15pm
EGMT 1530: Origin Stories: Identity, Migration, and Homelands

EGMT 1530: Origin Stories: Identity, Migration, and Homelands

Why do we attach importance to origin stories? How does knowing our heritage (family history or national history) influence the way we imagine the past, the present, and the future?  In this course we will examine tales of creation myths in the superhero genre, stories of world building from immigration and science fiction narratives, and chronicles of the American Dream.  We will ask why are different perspectives integral and valuable to the way we engage with others. Class discussion and assignments will be framed around questions of how origin stories frame and influence discussions about power, privilege, and difference.  How does our sense of self and our cultural values relate to  constructions and portrayals of American national narratives such as the settlement of the New World or icons such as the Statue of Liberty? We’ll examine how creation myths and origins appear in superhero films such as Black Panther and Wonder Woman, delve into companies that focus on ancestry and heritage tours,  and document how origin stories are a part of our own family histories and where/what we call home.

Instructed by

Davé

Shilpa

I’ve always seen popular culture as a site where heroes, aliens, sexualities, nationalities and citizenship, and history are negotiated on a daily basis. As an avid consumer and fan of visual culture such as comics, television, and film, and literature and as a teacher, I believe media culture offers an accessible entry to explore issues and ideas that engage all of us on both a personal and professional level to live in a culturally diverse world.  

Outside of teaching, I am also an academic advising dean in the College of Arts and Sciences and I talk with students about their course and major selection, resources at the university, and plans towards graduation.  I teach classes on comparative race and media studies such as Racial Borders and American Film, and Asian American Media Cultures as well as classes on gender and sexuality  and the graphic novel. In my research, I write about and am interested in how Asian Americans and South Asian Americans are represented in the media such as through racial performance such as an accent and also produce cultural productions (literature, theater, visual culture, and digital media) that have shaped and developed American culture.

I wanted to be a College Fellow because I like working first years at UVA and enjoy talking with my colleagues about ideas about teaching and learning. I am excited to be part of creating an interactive first year experience that includes activities across the disciplines sets the stage for how learning and participating in a liberal arts curriculum crosses multiple boundaries and fosters interactive thinking and cooperative culture that is vital to undergraduate success in college and beyond. 

 
MW 9:30-10:45
EGMT 1530: Real or Fake? The Politics of Authenticity

EGMT 1530: Real or Fake? The Politics of Authenticity

Why do we say that “real men don’t cry” or that “real women have curves”? Who gets to cook pho and tacos, and who gets to eat them? What does it mean to be called, or even to call yourself, black or white or Asian or Latinx or Native American? Does shopping at Wal-Mart make you working class, or wearing Prada make you upper class? Can one change one’s racial, gender, or class identity, or are such identities given by birth? And can sexuality, religion, or disability be identities, since many people may change their sexual orientation, religious affiliation, or disability status over time? Who gets to police these identities? And what is at stake in these battles—what do we win (or lose) in deciding who is “real” and who is “fake”? This course will explore these questions by investigating various controversies involving authenticity and identity politics. We will draw our examples from law, politics, music, food, cinema, sports, literature, and other realms of U.S. culture and society from the 19th to the 21st centuries.

Instructed by

Chong

Sylvia
Associate Professor of English
Chong

I view the Engagements courses as an extension of my ongoing study of race and ethnicity in the U.S. Before joining the College Fellows, I had already taught general courses in Asian American Studies, in American Studies in general, and on particular topics within these fields such as racial performance, censorship, the Vietnam War, and American exceptionalism. I wanted to bring ideas from these upper level courses to a broader audience.

Because of my training as a film and media studies scholar, I always draw on examples from movies, television, the internet, popular music, and the news media. I think these cultural materials help us imagine the beliefs and attitudes of people unlike ourselves, whether separated from us by time, by place, or by race, gender, sexuality, class, or disability. Even though we are surrounded by popular and visual culture, we don’t often think critically about these texts, and the combination of film/media studies and race/ethnic studies gives us many tools for rigorously engaging with them.

I hope to relate to students in the Engagements courses not only by connecting with the kinds of culture they already know and care about, but also by introducing them to new images, sounds, and ideas that will help them understand the world around them, at UVA and at large. I want students to feel personally connected to the ideas we encounter, and at the same time, to challenge their notions about what makes up our identities and how these identities came about, historically, politically, and socially.

TR 2:00pm-3:15pm
EGMT 1530: Unnatural

EGMT 1530: Unnatural

“That’s unnatural.” These words convey a judgment of a practice, a state of being, or a social arrangement; we hear them often, and likely even use them ourselves. To call something unnatural is to suggest that it is out of keeping with the natural of order of things and the way they ought to be. To render this judgment is to imply that no further debate, discussion, or argument is needed, because we take for granted that what is unnatural is to be avoided and rejected. Who can argue with biology or nature?

But what, exactly, is nature? On what basis do we evaluate whether something is natural or unnatural? Who gets to decide? And why do we consider this an important distinction to make? In this seminar, we will examine these questions as we work towards untangling how the concepts of “natural” and “unnatural” function in our society—and how they might function differently in other times and places. Our goal will be to denaturalize our understanding of nature. We will analyze how the naming of people, practices, and institutions as “unnatural” works to create and perpetuate various forms of difference and inequality in society, along the lines of gender, sexuality, race, class, the environment, and other categories. We will also examine how the concept of nature has been used in attempts to overcome inequality, specifically through the discourse of natural rights, and what are the possibilities and pitfalls of such approaches. This course encourages students to observe the world around them carefully and critically, so that they can be aware of and capable of responding to the ideologies that underlie their everyday experiences.

Instructed by

Shuve

Karl
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Karl Shuve

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to join the College Fellows and to be teaching one of the Engaging Differences courses. As a historian of Christianity in the ancient and medieval worlds, I am profoundly interested in difference. My research and teaching explores the ways in which concepts and institutions that we often assume to be static and unchanging do, in fact, have their own histories and how understandings of them have changed, sometimes dramatically, over time. I am particularly interested in ideas about gender, sexuality, and marriage. What did early and medieval Christians think about these topics? What do we learn when we set aside our modern preconceptions about gender differences and marriage practices? What differences emerge, and what can these differences tell us about the world that we live in, today, in the present?

I will be teaching a course called “Unnatural.” Nature is one of the most fundamental concepts that we use to organize our world. We tend to value and to seek out things that are “natural,” and to disparage and avoid things that are “unnatural.” We can find this reasoning used in areas as varied as food consumption (“this product contains only natural ingredients”) and marriage practices (“monogamy is unnatural for humans”). Once we start looking for it, we can find it nearly everywhere. But what, exactly, is nature? On what basis do we evaluate whether something is natural or unnatural? Who gets to decide? And why do we consider this an important distinction to make? Together we will examine these questions as we work towards untangling how the concepts of “natural” and “unnatural” function in our society—and how they might function differently in other times and places.

Course Name: Title: 
TR 8:00am-9:15am
EGMT 1530: What is Inequality and Why Should We Worry About It?

EGMT 1530: What is Inequality and Why Should We Worry About It?

This Engagement course is designed to explore how economic inequalities shape human differences and social conflicts nationally and globally, and whether they are compatible with the common good and democratic rule. According to Oxfam “almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population” and the wealth of that one percent totals approximately $110 trillion, which in turn amounts to “65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.”  Are these disparities so extreme, and the lives of the haves versus the have-nots so fundamentally different, that it becomes a stretch to speak of a common humanity?  Do income and wealth inequalities exacerbate other types of inequalities based on gender and race, and how do they affect human health and dignity?  Are they an invitation to new forms of authoritarianism and a world of violent conflicts?  Or, are current levels of inequality the just and legitimate rewards for entrepreneurial, innovating, and risk-taking behavior? In short, are economic disparities the logical and inevitable consequence of the contradictory processes of wealth creation and poverty reduction, and are they justifiable and ultimately sustainable?

Students will explore these questions by investigating various controversies involving the nature, and potential costs or benefits of inequalities. We will draw our examples from the experiences of both the advanced industrialized nations and the “global south.”  We will also examine what analytical approaches scholars have used to study the social, economic, and political consequences of inequalities. 

Instructed by

Fatton

Robert
Julia A. Cooper Professor of Government and Foreign Affairs
Fatton

I have always preferred teaching at the undergraduate level. I also feel that my new research project on the relationship between inequality and “exceptionalism” will help me create Engagements courses that give students the possibility of critically appreciating their own situation in the world.

Inequalities have dramatically increased over the past three decades. According to Oxfam, “almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population.” As a political scientist, I am interested in questions of power and legitimacy.  Not surprisingly, I seek to understand not only whether this level of inequality is justifiable, but also whether it is sustainable? Is it an invitation to a Hobbesian world of violent conflicts? Indeed, are these disparities so extreme, and the lives of the haves versus the have-nots so fundamentally different, that it becomes a stretch to speak of a common humanity? 

This question leads me to my second theme, “exceptionalism.”  As I conceive it, exceptionalism is the belief that a particular group of people is inherently unique. While exceptionalism can and has degenerated into xenophobic or racist forms of exclusion, it can paradoxically claim a form of cultural distinctiveness based on universalism. In short, exceptionalism can both undermine and exalt a human commonality. Studying inequality and “exceptionalism” will encourage students to question their own ideas and assumptions about the world; in the process, they will hopefully understand that seeking good “answers” to major problems requires a complicated and ongoing quest for knowledge.

Originally from Haiti, I have taught at UVA since 1981. I chaired the Department of Politics from 1997 to 2004 and have also served as the Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. My most recent book. published in 2014, is Haiti: Trapped in the Outer Periphery.  

MW 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1530: You Are Here

EGMT 1530: You Are Here

Where am I? This is a question we often pose only when we’re lost, or need directions. The answer we are looking for is usually quite straightforward, and thanks to our smartphones, easy to come by. Yet there are other ways to pose this question that lead to more complex answers, ones that hit much closer to home. How has this place – my home, my city, my country – shaped the person I have become, and how does it continue to define my possibilities? Where do the lives of others play out, and what does that mean for the way we treat each other? It turns out that life has an irreducibly spatial dimension and that dimension has profound ethical dimensions. We learn who we are and who we can be from spaces that are gendered, racialized, and nationalized in a variety of ways, not only when we are young, but an on ongoing basis, yet we do not often think about this aspect of life. In this class, we will learn to think about this“hidden dimension” of life, its spatial dimension, and how it shapes, or tries to shape, who we are, who we can be, and how we relate to our fellow human beings.

Instructed by

Padron

Ricardo

Some of my fondest memories from my time as an undergraduate at U.Va. involve conversations about big ideas, either in class or outside it, that forced me to really think about who I was, what I believed, and how I should live my life. When I decided to become a college professor, I knew I wanted to help students have similar experiences. For me, it was never about preparing students for post-graduate careers, but about helping them prepare for life as reflective and ethical human beings. This is why so much of my research has involved the Spanish encounter with the New World and Asia in during the century after Columbus’s voyages, when Spain was first building its empire. The topic inevitably brings up questions about the nature of historical truth and of cross-cultural encounter, not to mention the ethics and politics of colonialism.  I became interested in how these issues played out in what might seem like an esoteric context, the drawing of maps and the description of spaces in literature. This has introduced me to broader questions about how we build the spaces (domestic, civic, national, global) we inhabit, and how those spaces in turn shape who we are and how we interact.  I am looking forward to sharing these interests with first-year students in my Engagements course, and hopefully guiding them toward the sort of college experience that I am so grateful to have had. 

Course Name: Title: 
MW 3:30pm-4:45pm

Fall Session Two: October 17 - December 6

EGMT 1530/1540: Do We Still Have Faith In Democracy?

EGMT 1530/1540: Do We Still Have Faith In Democracy?

*Note: Since this class satifies both EGMT 1530 (Differences) and EGMT 1540 (Ethics), students must enroll in both Fall Session 1 and Fall Session 2 sections.

Democracy is currently face daunting challenges in the U.S. and around the world.  Authoritarian leaders and populist parties have undermined democratic values across the globe, including Brazil, Hungary, Algeria, Poland, and the United States.  In the U.S., there are attempts to make it more difficult for citizens to vote. Practices of gerrymandering and unethical campaign finance undermine citizen’s interests in representative government. In Charlottesville, especially in the wake of events of August 2017, questions have been raised about the responsiveness of local government to the needs of its citizens and the city’s failure to protect the safety of those who protested against the actions of self-admitted racist and fascist groups.

In the midst of these challenges, do we still have faith in democracy and, if so, why?  Must we have faith in democracy in order for it to succeed?   What do we mean by faith?  How might the resources of democracy itself (its ideas and its practices) help societies respond to these crises?

This course examines the character of democracy:

  • What is a democracy and what distinguishes it from other forms of governments?
  • What are the practices of democracy and the role of education in preparation for democratic participation? 
  • What does it mean to be a citizen of a democracy and who counts as a citizen?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities of pluralism (religious, cultural, racial, political) to the life of democracy?

A major goal of the class is to prepare students to connect questions about democracy to the different settings they will encounter in their years at UVA, from the classroom to the many social and political situations they negotiate.

In addition to reading assignments and short papers, students will be required to move out of the classroom and select, observe and reflect upon a real-life instance of democratic politics in action (e.g., city council meetings, school board meetings, and so forth).     

Instructed by

Flores

Nichole

I am excited to serve as a College Fellow co-teaching a course (along with Bruce Williams), “Do we still have faith in democracy?" Teaching in the engagements presents a unique opportunity to explore the ideas and practices of democracy with a diverse group of students eager to tackle one of the most challenging topics of our time during their first year in the college! 

My teaching and research in religious ethics and democracy is animated by two life experiences. The first experience is attending public middle school on the west side of Denver, Colorado where the majority of my classmates were either Mexican or Vietnamese Catholics. Our teachers often asked us to explore questions about our deepest passions, values, and commitments, but we were tacitly asked to do so without breaching the "wall of separation between Church and State" famously articulated by Thomas Jefferson in his “Letter to the Danbury Baptists." Limiting religious engagement in the public educational setting curtailed our ability to constructively and critically evaluate the way our religious upbringings influenced our lives. The second experience is participating in community organizing alongside farmworkers from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers when I was in my mid-20s. As I marched alongside workers whom had experienced economic exploitation and human rights abuses in U.S. agricultural fields, I witnessed the power of religious people, communities, ideas, practices, and commitments (Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, and Buddhist, among others) to help pursue justice for those on the bottom rungs of the global economy. While I think maintaining the separation between church and state is vital to maintaining a society committed to justice and equality, these experiences of religion in public life ignited my passion for exploring the ways that religion can enliven and/or hinder democracies at the local, national, and global levels. 

My academic research emphasizes the relationship between religious ethics and aesthetics in cultivating solidarity in the context of religiously diverse and politically democratic societies. I also have a “side hustle" as a contributing author on the masthead at America: The Jesuit Review of Faith and Culture, where I write feature essays that interlace Catholic theology and ethics with politics and culture. This past winter, I fulfilled a lifelong dream of interviewing Federico Peña, the first Latinx mayor of Denver and a member of Bill Clinton’s cabinet, about the role his Catholic faith played in his public life.

,

Williams

Bruce

Bruce Williams is the Ambassador Henry J. Taylor and Mrs. Marion R. Taylor Professor of Media Studies. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Minnesota and, before coming to UVA, taught at the Pennsylvania State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois, and the London School of Economics. His research and teaching interests focus on the impact of a changing media environment on democratic politics. He has published five books and more than forty scholarly journal articles and book chapters. His two most recent books are The New Media Environment: An Introduction (with Andrea Press) and After Broadcast News: Media Regimes, Democracy, and the New Information Environment (with Michael Delli Carpini), both published in 2012.  In 2012 he received an All-University Teaching Award.  For six years, Bruce served on the committees that designed both the College Forums and New College Curriculum.

 
MW 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1530: #Stay Woke - Social Movements and Social Media

EGMT 1530: #Stay Woke - Social Movements and Social Media

Throughout history, the most egregious violations of human rights have been justified by exclusionary theories of human “difference.” These atrocities have been resisted by small groups of thoughtful individuals banding together to challenge the way dehumanizing notions of difference are used to justify large-scale oppression. This course will examine how oppositional movements intervene in and produce media to resist these oppressive practices and theories, both historically and in the context of current social movements. Movements for social change that are led by members of oppressed groups often face hostile, even physically violent, political opposition. This has necessitated that proponents of social change who are deemed “different” from the majority, challenge the majority public opinion —which often presents itself as the moderate voice of reason—through coordinated media campaigns. Students will examine a series of historical case studies focusing on how leaders of social change movements have engaged the media (or created their own media) to challenge conventional wisdom, to wrest rhetorical control from the dominant narrative, and to frame their struggle in terms which are politically favorable.

Instructed by

Press

Andrea
Williams R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Media Studies and Sociology
Andrea Press

As an interpretive sociologist who entered the interdisciplinary media field and later developed concentrations in audience study and in feminist theory which have thrust me in part into the humanities, I have occupied a scholarly position halfway between the humanities and the social sciences throughout my career. I have been joint appointed in Colleges of Humanities, Colleges of Social Sciences, and sometimes joint-appointed in both.  I have always struggled with balancing the sensibilities, goals, and approaches to knowledge fostered by each realm of inquiry.  The distinctions between them have always seemed arbitrary to me given the nature of my thinking, my work, and concomitantly, in my teaching.  In consequence I teach film aesthetics courses that paradoxically uncover, in a scientific manner, the historical and social dimensions of our society, with a special focusing on issues of social class, sexual, racial, and gender difference.

Given the inherent interdisciplinarity of my teaching and research, I am thrilled to see the College prioritize The Engagements within the new curriculum which has been proposed.  It is as difficult, I have found, to transcend the staid boundaries of disciplinarity when developing our curriculum as it is in our scholarship.  Yet powerful writing, as scholars in many fields have noted, must involve elements of both science and aesthetics, ethics and difference.  I have written extensively about the problem of “method” in the social sciences, in particular addressing the issue of how the social sciences draw from both sciences and the humanities, in several articles and books. Also I have taught methods of research engagement and the philosophy of inquiry in all my departmental appointments. I relish the opportunity to develop courses that will allow us to draw from scholarship in several realms – and in particular, I welcome the opportunity to build on my scholarship in media and feminist activism in my class entited "#Staywoke: Social Movements and Social Media", This highly original and comprehensive re-tooling of our foundational undergraduate curriculum will develop critical competencies in our students which at present we do not do enough to foster.

TR 2:00pm-3:15pm
EGMT 1530: Other People's Music

EGMT 1530: Other People's Music

Musical sound is a way that people the world over imagine, imitate, and engage with people different from themselves. In the US, genres like hip-hop and country are ways we deal with and imagine the lived experience of race and class. ‘World Music’ and associated sounds—like Peruvian panpipes, Afro-Cuban rhythmic components, and Celtic melodies—tell us musical stories about people beyond our borders. But what do we really know about others when we listen to “their” music? And how do musical sounds come to represent certain bodies and identities in the first place, or even to “belong to” certain groups? What is the difference between cultural appropriation and creating or consuming music as a means of identifying with or advocating for others? How do technology and capitalism play a part in the power of music to cause both good and harm?

This course explores the processes through which sounds come to index certain cultural categories (race, gender, class, nationality, age, religion, sexuality) or global locations, and how musical material can be repurposed for political means. Students will investigate terms such as hybridity, exoticization, cultural appropriation, revivalism, and embodiment. We will look at case studies including minstrelsy in the US, “non-Western” college music ensembles, racial identity among Asian-American jazz musicians, bluegrass in post-Communist Czech Republic, white rappers, the international hip hop scene, and corrido listenership in the transnational Mexican community. Students will also have the opportunity to examine their own listening practices and to create and share playlists with peers.

Instructed by

Flood

Liza
Postdoctoral Fellow
Flood

I am an ethnomusicologist who studies American music and culture. My primary focus is country music in all its various forms: honky-tonk, bluegrass, pop country, and others. Studying a kind of music that was historically ignored by the academy, and yet enjoys broad popularity, prompts important questions such as: what cultural forms are worthy of study? What is good music? How can music represent groups of people or ideas? How can music be used as a form of self-expression, resistance, or political stance?    

These are the kinds of questions that motivate ethnomusicologists. We start with music or sound and then ask questions about its content and context. Music guides us through explorations of identity, taste, ethics, difference, social interaction, memory, and belonging. We examine music in everyday life, made by everyday people, not just the megastars whose music gets played on the radio. Through this lens, ethnomusicologists are deeply concerned with participation: music isn’t just an object, it’s very importantly an activity. It’s something we do. As I step outside of my field and join the Engagements program, I bring with me some of the same concerns. I hope to help students explore how big questions inflect everyday life and how we are all active participants in culture-making, capable of engaging, influencing, challenging, and celebrating the world around us.

My first experience teaching was with incarcerated teenagers in a wilderness setting. My students would write slam poetry about cloud types while sitting around a camp fire or study rock formations as we relied on collaboration and problem solving to navigate rugged terrain. This was a formative experience, one that motivated my excitement about the Engagements, a program that is also interested in crossing the boundaries of classroom environments, of academic discipline, and of creative methodology. I believe that this is when the greatest learning can occur: when we are active and collaborative participants in our learning, deeply engaged in the world immediately around us in order to think in limitless ways.

MW 11:00am-12:15pm
EGMT 1530: Real or Fake? The Politics of Authenticity

EGMT 1530: Real or Fake? The Politics of Authenticity

Why do we say that “real men don’t cry” or that “real women have curves”? Who gets to cook pho and tacos, and who gets to eat them? What does it mean to be called, or even to call yourself, black or white or Asian or Latinx or Native American? Does shopping at Wal-Mart make you working class, or wearing Prada make you upper class? Can one change one’s racial, gender, or class identity, or are such identities given by birth? And can sexuality, religion, or disability be identities, since many people may change their sexual orientation, religious affiliation, or disability status over time? Who gets to police these identities? And what is at stake in these battles—what do we win (or lose) in deciding who is “real” and who is “fake”? This course will explore these questions by investigating various controversies involving authenticity and identity politics. We will draw our examples from law, politics, music, food, cinema, sports, literature, and other realms of U.S. culture and society from the 19th to the 21st centuries.

Instructed by

Chong

Sylvia
Associate Professor of English
Chong

I view the Engagements courses as an extension of my ongoing study of race and ethnicity in the U.S. Before joining the College Fellows, I had already taught general courses in Asian American Studies, in American Studies in general, and on particular topics within these fields such as racial performance, censorship, the Vietnam War, and American exceptionalism. I wanted to bring ideas from these upper level courses to a broader audience.

Because of my training as a film and media studies scholar, I always draw on examples from movies, television, the internet, popular music, and the news media. I think these cultural materials help us imagine the beliefs and attitudes of people unlike ourselves, whether separated from us by time, by place, or by race, gender, sexuality, class, or disability. Even though we are surrounded by popular and visual culture, we don’t often think critically about these texts, and the combination of film/media studies and race/ethnic studies gives us many tools for rigorously engaging with them.

I hope to relate to students in the Engagements courses not only by connecting with the kinds of culture they already know and care about, but also by introducing them to new images, sounds, and ideas that will help them understand the world around them, at UVA and at large. I want students to feel personally connected to the ideas we encounter, and at the same time, to challenge their notions about what makes up our identities and how these identities came about, historically, politically, and socially.

TR 3:30pm-4:45pm
EGMT 1530: Unnatural

EGMT 1530: Unnatural

“That’s unnatural.” These words convey a judgment of a practice, a state of being, or a social arrangement; we hear them often, and likely even use them ourselves. To call something unnatural is to suggest that it is out of keeping with the natural of order of things and the way they ought to be. To render this judgment is to imply that no further debate, discussion, or argument is needed, because we take for granted that what is unnatural is to be avoided and rejected. Who can argue with biology or nature?

But what, exactly, is nature? On what basis do we evaluate whether something is natural or unnatural? Who gets to decide? And why do we consider this an important distinction to make? In this seminar, we will examine these questions as we work towards untangling how the concepts of “natural” and “unnatural” function in our society—and how they might function differently in other times and places. Our goal will be to denaturalize our understanding of nature. We will analyze how the naming of people, practices, and institutions as “unnatural” works to create and perpetuate various forms of difference and inequality in society, along the lines of gender, sexuality, race, class, the environment, and other categories. We will also examine how the concept of nature has been used in attempts to overcome inequality, specifically through the discourse of natural rights, and what are the possibilities and pitfalls of such approaches. This course encourages students to observe the world around them carefully and critically, so that they can be aware of and capable of responding to the ideologies that underlie their everyday experiences.

Instructed by

Shuve

Karl
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Karl Shuve

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to join the College Fellows and to be teaching one of the Engaging Differences courses. As a historian of Christianity in the ancient and medieval worlds, I am profoundly interested in difference. My research and teaching explores the ways in which concepts and institutions that we often assume to be static and unchanging do, in fact, have their own histories and how understandings of them have changed, sometimes dramatically, over time. I am particularly interested in ideas about gender, sexuality, and marriage. What did early and medieval Christians think about these topics? What do we learn when we set aside our modern preconceptions about gender differences and marriage practices? What differences emerge, and what can these differences tell us about the world that we live in, today, in the present?

I will be teaching a course called “Unnatural.” Nature is one of the most fundamental concepts that we use to organize our world. We tend to value and to seek out things that are “natural,” and to disparage and avoid things that are “unnatural.” We can find this reasoning used in areas as varied as food consumption (“this product contains only natural ingredients”) and marriage practices (“monogamy is unnatural for humans”). Once we start looking for it, we can find it nearly everywhere. But what, exactly, is nature? On what basis do we evaluate whether something is natural or unnatural? Who gets to decide? And why do we consider this an important distinction to make? Together we will examine these questions as we work towards untangling how the concepts of “natural” and “unnatural” function in our society—and how they might function differently in other times and places.

Course Name: Title: 
MW 8:00am-9:15am
EGMT 1530: What is Inequality and Why Should We Worry About It?

EGMT 1530: What is Inequality and Why Should We Worry About It?

This Engagement course is designed to explore how economic inequalities shape human differences and social conflicts nationally and globally, and whether they are compatible with the common good and democratic rule. According to Oxfam “almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population” and the wealth of that one percent totals approximately $110 trillion, which in turn amounts to “65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.”  Are these disparities so extreme, and the lives of the haves versus the have-nots so fundamentally different, that it becomes a stretch to speak of a common humanity?  Do income and wealth inequalities exacerbate other types of inequalities based on gender and race, and how do they affect human health and dignity?  Are they an invitation to new forms of authoritarianism and a world of violent conflicts?  Or, are current levels of inequality the just and legitimate rewards for entrepreneurial, innovating, and risk-taking behavior? In short, are economic disparities the logical and inevitable consequence of the contradictory processes of wealth creation and poverty reduction, and are they justifiable and ultimately sustainable?

Students will explore these questions by investigating various controversies involving the nature, and potential costs or benefits of inequalities. We will draw our examples from the experiences of both the advanced industrialized nations and the “global south.”  We will also examine what analytical approaches scholars have used to study the social, economic, and political consequences of inequalities. 

Instructed by

Fatton

Robert
Julia A. Cooper Professor of Government and Foreign Affairs
Fatton

I have always preferred teaching at the undergraduate level. I also feel that my new research project on the relationship between inequality and “exceptionalism” will help me create Engagements courses that give students the possibility of critically appreciating their own situation in the world.

Inequalities have dramatically increased over the past three decades. According to Oxfam, “almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population.” As a political scientist, I am interested in questions of power and legitimacy.  Not surprisingly, I seek to understand not only whether this level of inequality is justifiable, but also whether it is sustainable? Is it an invitation to a Hobbesian world of violent conflicts? Indeed, are these disparities so extreme, and the lives of the haves versus the have-nots so fundamentally different, that it becomes a stretch to speak of a common humanity? 

This question leads me to my second theme, “exceptionalism.”  As I conceive it, exceptionalism is the belief that a particular group of people is inherently unique. While exceptionalism can and has degenerated into xenophobic or racist forms of exclusion, it can paradoxically claim a form of cultural distinctiveness based on universalism. In short, exceptionalism can both undermine and exalt a human commonality. Studying inequality and “exceptionalism” will encourage students to question their own ideas and assumptions about the world; in the process, they will hopefully understand that seeking good “answers” to major problems requires a complicated and ongoing quest for knowledge.

Originally from Haiti, I have taught at UVA since 1981. I chaired the Department of Politics from 1997 to 2004 and have also served as the Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. My most recent book. published in 2014, is Haiti: Trapped in the Outer Periphery.  

TR11:00am-12:15pm

Spring 2020

Spring Session One: January 13 - March 2

EGMT 1530/1540: Do We Still Have Faith In Democracy?

EGMT 1530/1540: Do We Still Have Faith In Democracy?

*Note: Since this class satifies both EGMT 1530 (Differences) and EGMT 1540 (Ethics), students must enroll in both Fall Session 1 and Fall Session 2 sections.

Democracy is currently face daunting challenges in the U.S. and around the world.  Authoritarian leaders and populist parties have undermined democratic values across the globe, including Brazil, Hungary, Algeria, Poland, and the United States.  In the U.S., there are attempts to make it more difficult for citizens to vote. Practices of gerrymandering and unethical campaign finance undermine citizen’s interests in representative government. In Charlottesville, especially in the wake of events of August 2017, questions have been raised about the responsiveness of local government to the needs of its citizens and the city’s failure to protect the safety of those who protested against the actions of self-admitted racist and fascist groups.

In the midst of these challenges, do we still have faith in democracy and, if so, why?  Must we have faith in democracy in order for it to succeed?   What do we mean by faith?  How might the resources of democracy itself (its ideas and its practices) help societies respond to these crises?

This course examines the character of democracy:

  • What is a democracy and what distinguishes it from other forms of governments?
  • What are the practices of democracy and the role of education in preparation for democratic participation? 
  • What does it mean to be a citizen of a democracy and who counts as a citizen?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities of pluralism (religious, cultural, racial, political) to the life of democracy?

A major goal of the class is to prepare students to connect questions about democracy to the different settings they will encounter in their years at UVA, from the classroom to the many social and political situations they negotiate.

In addition to reading assignments and short papers, students will be required to move out of the classroom and select, observe and reflect upon a real-life instance of democratic politics in action (e.g., city council meetings, school board meetings, and so forth).     

Instructed by

Flores

Nichole

I am excited to serve as a College Fellow co-teaching a course (along with Bruce Williams), “Do we still have faith in democracy?" Teaching in the engagements presents a unique opportunity to explore the ideas and practices of democracy with a diverse group of students eager to tackle one of the most challenging topics of our time during their first year in the college! 

My teaching and research in religious ethics and democracy is animated by two life experiences. The first experience is attending public middle school on the west side of Denver, Colorado where the majority of my classmates were either Mexican or Vietnamese Catholics. Our teachers often asked us to explore questions about our deepest passions, values, and commitments, but we were tacitly asked to do so without breaching the "wall of separation between Church and State" famously articulated by Thomas Jefferson in his “Letter to the Danbury Baptists." Limiting religious engagement in the public educational setting curtailed our ability to constructively and critically evaluate the way our religious upbringings influenced our lives. The second experience is participating in community organizing alongside farmworkers from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers when I was in my mid-20s. As I marched alongside workers whom had experienced economic exploitation and human rights abuses in U.S. agricultural fields, I witnessed the power of religious people, communities, ideas, practices, and commitments (Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, and Buddhist, among others) to help pursue justice for those on the bottom rungs of the global economy. While I think maintaining the separation between church and state is vital to maintaining a society committed to justice and equality, these experiences of religion in public life ignited my passion for exploring the ways that religion can enliven and/or hinder democracies at the local, national, and global levels. 

My academic research emphasizes the relationship between religious ethics and aesthetics in cultivating solidarity in the context of religiously diverse and politically democratic societies. I also have a “side hustle" as a contributing author on the masthead at America: The Jesuit Review of Faith and Culture, where I write feature essays that interlace Catholic theology and ethics with politics and culture. This past winter, I fulfilled a lifelong dream of interviewing Federico Peña, the first Latinx mayor of Denver and a member of Bill Clinton’s cabinet, about the role his Catholic faith played in his public life.

,

Williams

Bruce

Bruce Williams is the Ambassador Henry J. Taylor and Mrs. Marion R. Taylor Professor of Media Studies. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Minnesota and, before coming to UVA, taught at the Pennsylvania State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois, and the London School of Economics. His research and teaching interests focus on the impact of a changing media environment on democratic politics. He has published five books and more than forty scholarly journal articles and book chapters. His two most recent books are The New Media Environment: An Introduction (with Andrea Press) and After Broadcast News: Media Regimes, Democracy, and the New Information Environment (with Michael Delli Carpini), both published in 2012.  In 2012 he received an All-University Teaching Award.  For six years, Bruce served on the committees that designed both the College Forums and New College Curriculum.

 
MW 9:30am-10:45am
EGMT 1530: #Stay Woke - Social Movements and Social Media

EGMT 1530: #Stay Woke - Social Movements and Social Media

Throughout history, the most egregious violations of human rights have been justified by exclusionary theories of human “difference.” These atrocities have been resisted by small groups of thoughtful individuals banding together to challenge the way dehumanizing notions of difference are used to justify large-scale oppression. This course will examine how oppositional movements intervene in and produce media to resist these oppressive practices and theories, both historically and in the context of current social movements. Movements for social change that are led by members of oppressed groups often face hostile, even physically violent, political opposition. This has necessitated that proponents of social change who are deemed “different” from the majority, challenge the majority public opinion —which often presents itself as the moderate voice of reason—through coordinated media campaigns. Students will examine a series of historical case studies focusing on how leaders of social change movements have engaged the media (or created their own media) to challenge conventional wisdom, to wrest rhetorical control from the dominant narrative, and to frame their struggle in terms which are politically favorable.

Instructed by

Press

Andrea
Williams R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Media Studies and Sociology
Andrea Press

As an interpretive sociologist who entered the interdisciplinary media field and later developed concentrations in audience study and in feminist theory which have thrust me in part into the humanities, I have occupied a scholarly position halfway between the humanities and the social sciences throughout my career. I have been joint appointed in Colleges of Humanities, Colleges of Social Sciences, and sometimes joint-appointed in both.  I have always struggled with balancing the sensibilities, goals, and approaches to knowledge fostered by each realm of inquiry.  The distinctions between them have always seemed arbitrary to me given the nature of my thinking, my work, and concomitantly, in my teaching.  In consequence I teach film aesthetics courses that paradoxically uncover, in a scientific manner, the historical and social dimensions of our society, with a special focusing on issues of social class, sexual, racial, and gender difference.

Given the inherent interdisciplinarity of my teaching and research, I am thrilled to see the College prioritize The Engagements within the new curriculum which has been proposed.  It is as difficult, I have found, to transcend the staid boundaries of disciplinarity when developing our curriculum as it is in our scholarship.  Yet powerful writing, as scholars in many fields have noted, must involve elements of both science and aesthetics, ethics and difference.  I have written extensively about the problem of “method” in the social sciences, in particular addressing the issue of how the social sciences draw from both sciences and the humanities, in several articles and books. Also I have taught methods of research engagement and the philosophy of inquiry in all my departmental appointments. I relish the opportunity to develop courses that will allow us to draw from scholarship in several realms – and in particular, I welcome the opportunity to build on my scholarship in media and feminist activism in my class entited "#Staywoke: Social Movements and Social Media", This highly original and comprehensive re-tooling of our foundational undergraduate curriculum will develop critical competencies in our students which at present we do not do enough to foster.

TR 11:00am-12:15pm
EGMT 1530: Encountering the World Through Collected Objects

EGMT 1530: Encountering the World Through Collected Objects

This course will examine how objects can be used to shape (or distort) our understanding of other cultures, and how stories about societies, nations, and ethnic groups are formed around collections of objects and artworks. This way of encountering others can illuminate the differences and similarities between cultures and result in a deeper, more tangible connection across humanity that yields greater appreciation and understanding.

However, there are also several challenges in this process. Museums are generally how we access objects from cultures and civilizations from around the world. How do museums handle objects that were stolen or looted? How do displays confront or enforce racial stereotypes? What aspects of a society are being highlighted or hidden and how does this change the story being told about them and our engagement with them? How do those in power represent those without power? How do those without power represent themselves?

In this course we will learn to distinguish how objects have been used in museum collections, exhibitions, and displays to tell stories about various groups of people. We will learn to detect gaps in what is presented. We will recognize bias in the presentation of objects from other cultures. We will engage with the questions museums are struggling with today: Can we display objects from other cultures without our own cultural bias? How can voices from other cultures be represented in the display of their art/artifacts? What does it mean for these objects to speak for themselves? From paintings, textiles, tribal masks, Chinese vases, and ancient sculptures and sarcophagi to looted menorahs and slave shackles, we will see how objects can tell us about their creators, users, and collectors. We will reflect on how some of our own possessions can reveal aspects of our identity, as well as doing hands-on work to examine how historical objects have been used to tell the story of UVA.

Instructed by

Smith

Wendy

I have always been drawn to examining history, memory, and ideas of the past through images and objects. I am particularly interested in the various ways artists, novelists, and philosophers have visualized time and how we experience the passing of time. Instead of being passive listeners, viewers, or readers, I encourage students to critically think about the histories they have been taught, and to ponder the reliability of the stories they have been told as we investigate how personal perspectives and identity affect the way we teach, talk about, and represent the past. We apply this thinking to our own lives and family histories as well as using it to become more actively discerning about the way we hear the stories of the past in other contexts such as the university classroom, novels, museums, films, etc..

I teach in both the Differences and Aesthetics Engagement areas, finding that themes of time and memory, and the important role of objects in material and visual culture, are pertinent to a wide range of disciplines and modes of inquiry. I was drawn to the Engagements program’s interdisciplinarity because I believe it more naturally models the research environment most academics are working within. This atmosphere invites students to enjoy the freedom of intellectual curiosity with academic rigor. My own research intersects with the disciplines of art history, musicology, fashion history, English, French and Italian Studies, history of science, and history of theatre. Based on my doctoral research, I am completing the first full-length critical study of the Spanish-Venetian designer and artist Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo (1871-1949). Fortuny, like other figures I am drawn to, had an intriguing view of temporality and continuously used new inventions to re-interpret and re-create historical designs. I am also beginning a book-length project, The Weather in Wagner: Atmospheric Stage Décor c.1870-1930, which will examine the ways technological advances affected approaches to scenography in opera and simultaneously influenced the divergent styles of Romantic realism and abstraction around the turn of the 20th century.

I grew up in rural southern Virginia and suburban North Carolina, but after a transformative undergraduate study abroad experience in Italy, I knew I wanted to live overseas. I completed my M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History and Visual Studies at The University of Manchester in England and enjoyed frequent research trips to Venice. After my studies I lived in Boston for five years, and in the summer of 2019 moved to Charlottesville with my husband and daughter.

MW 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1530: Encountering the World Through Collected Objects

EGMT 1530: Encountering the World Through Collected Objects

This course will examine how objects can be used to shape (or distort) our understanding of other cultures, and how stories about societies, nations, and ethnic groups are formed around collections of objects and artworks. This way of encountering others can illuminate the differences and similarities between cultures and result in a deeper, more tangible connection across humanity that yields greater appreciation and understanding.

However, there are also several challenges in this process. Museums are generally how we access objects from cultures and civilizations from around the world. How do museums handle objects that were stolen or looted? How do displays confront or enforce racial stereotypes? What aspects of a society are being highlighted or hidden and how does this change the story being told about them and our engagement with them? How do those in power represent those without power? How do those without power represent themselves?

In this course we will learn to distinguish how objects have been used in museum collections, exhibitions, and displays to tell stories about various groups of people. We will learn to detect gaps in what is presented. We will recognize bias in the presentation of objects from other cultures. We will engage with the questions museums are struggling with today: Can we display objects from other cultures without our own cultural bias? How can voices from other cultures be represented in the display of their art/artifacts? What does it mean for these objects to speak for themselves? From paintings, textiles, tribal masks, Chinese vases, and ancient sculptures and sarcophagi to looted menorahs and slave shackles, we will see how objects can tell us about their creators, users, and collectors. We will reflect on how some of our own possessions can reveal aspects of our identity, as well as doing hands-on work to examine how historical objects have been used to tell the story of UVA.

Instructed by

Smith

Wendy

I have always been drawn to examining history, memory, and ideas of the past through images and objects. I am particularly interested in the various ways artists, novelists, and philosophers have visualized time and how we experience the passing of time. Instead of being passive listeners, viewers, or readers, I encourage students to critically think about the histories they have been taught, and to ponder the reliability of the stories they have been told as we investigate how personal perspectives and identity affect the way we teach, talk about, and represent the past. We apply this thinking to our own lives and family histories as well as using it to become more actively discerning about the way we hear the stories of the past in other contexts such as the university classroom, novels, museums, films, etc..

I teach in both the Differences and Aesthetics Engagement areas, finding that themes of time and memory, and the important role of objects in material and visual culture, are pertinent to a wide range of disciplines and modes of inquiry. I was drawn to the Engagements program’s interdisciplinarity because I believe it more naturally models the research environment most academics are working within. This atmosphere invites students to enjoy the freedom of intellectual curiosity with academic rigor. My own research intersects with the disciplines of art history, musicology, fashion history, English, French and Italian Studies, history of science, and history of theatre. Based on my doctoral research, I am completing the first full-length critical study of the Spanish-Venetian designer and artist Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo (1871-1949). Fortuny, like other figures I am drawn to, had an intriguing view of temporality and continuously used new inventions to re-interpret and re-create historical designs. I am also beginning a book-length project, The Weather in Wagner: Atmospheric Stage Décor c.1870-1930, which will examine the ways technological advances affected approaches to scenography in opera and simultaneously influenced the divergent styles of Romantic realism and abstraction around the turn of the 20th century.

I grew up in rural southern Virginia and suburban North Carolina, but after a transformative undergraduate study abroad experience in Italy, I knew I wanted to live overseas. I completed my M.A. and Ph.D. in Art History and Visual Studies at The University of Manchester in England and enjoyed frequent research trips to Venice. After my studies I lived in Boston for five years, and in the summer of 2019 moved to Charlottesville with my husband and daughter.

MW 9:30am-10:45am
EGMT 1530: Origin Stories: Identity, Migration, and Homelands

EGMT 1530: Origin Stories: Identity, Migration, and Homelands

Why do we attach importance to origin stories? How does knowing our heritage (family history or national history) influence the way we imagine the past, the present, and the future?  In this course we will examine tales of creation myths in the superhero genre, stories of world building from immigration and science fiction narratives, and chronicles of the American Dream.  We will ask why are different perspectives integral and valuable to the way we engage with others. Class discussion and assignments will be framed around questions of how origin stories frame and influence discussions about power, privilege, and difference.  How does our sense of self and our cultural values relate to  constructions and portrayals of American national narratives such as the settlement of the New World or icons such as the Statue of Liberty? We’ll examine how creation myths and origins appear in superhero films such as Black Panther and Wonder Woman, delve into companies that focus on ancestry and heritage tours,  and document how origin stories are a part of our own family histories and where/what we call home.

Instructed by

Davé

Shilpa

I’ve always seen popular culture as a site where heroes, aliens, sexualities, nationalities and citizenship, and history are negotiated on a daily basis. As an avid consumer and fan of visual culture such as comics, television, and film, and literature and as a teacher, I believe media culture offers an accessible entry to explore issues and ideas that engage all of us on both a personal and professional level to live in a culturally diverse world.  

Outside of teaching, I am also an academic advising dean in the College of Arts and Sciences and I talk with students about their course and major selection, resources at the university, and plans towards graduation.  I teach classes on comparative race and media studies such as Racial Borders and American Film, and Asian American Media Cultures as well as classes on gender and sexuality  and the graphic novel. In my research, I write about and am interested in how Asian Americans and South Asian Americans are represented in the media such as through racial performance such as an accent and also produce cultural productions (literature, theater, visual culture, and digital media) that have shaped and developed American culture.

I wanted to be a College Fellow because I like working first years at UVA and enjoy talking with my colleagues about ideas about teaching and learning. I am excited to be part of creating an interactive first year experience that includes activities across the disciplines sets the stage for how learning and participating in a liberal arts curriculum crosses multiple boundaries and fosters interactive thinking and cooperative culture that is vital to undergraduate success in college and beyond. 

 
TR 2:00pm-3:15pm
EGMT 1530: The Individual and Society

EGMT 1530: The Individual and Society

In this course we ask big questions, perhaps among the biggest.  Who am I?  How do I come to be who I am?  How do I know myself?  Can I know myself?  What makes me who I am?  Am I responsible for my own life?  What are my relationships to others?  What are my relationships to my society (societies)?  What are my rights?  What are my obligations?  Does who I am in private say more about me than what I do in public? Can I live a moral life surrounded by immorality?   Should there be a safety net in a society of individuals? If we are indeed individuals, or can be, how do we forge our lives, in our interests and in those of others, toward the public good?

This course considers these big questions in order to help us better understand the richness and complexity of individuals and communities. We will reflect on the historical impacts of society on individuals and consider how individuals begin to form societies – or even more important, communities. In particular, we will consider how we as individuals encounter one another in our differences  and what it might mean to pursue a common good.

Instructed by

Braun

Tico
Associate Professor of History
College Fellows

I came from Colombia and Mexico to teach the liberal arts in the United States, the nation that knows them best. I have been involved with the liberal arts in my specialized undergraduate courses on Latin American history for more three decades at the University of Virginia. How do hierarchical and deeply conservative societies, we ask, seek to build enduring order? 

The Engagements offer me the opportunity to teach the liberal arts more broadly as ways in which our American and international students can think about themselves and their places in this nation’s democracy and in their expanding globalized world. I view the Engagements as a once-in-a-lifetime classroom opportunity to bring together the often-conflicting views of liberals and conservatives about the central issues of our past, present and future.  A liberal arts education seeks discourse and debate across different ideologies, and it aims to help us understand better those who seem to have ideas that may be different from our own, and thereby to also know ourselves more deeply. 

To make this experience come alive in my first course on Engaging Difference, we will ask about the places of the individual in various societies, in the past and in our contemporary world. This is perhaps one of our richest and deepest concerns, as we create different and overlapping ideas about our individual obligations to others and to the making of a good society. 

TR 11:00am-12:15pm
EGMT 1530: Unnatural

EGMT 1530: Unnatural

“That’s unnatural.” These words convey a judgment of a practice, a state of being, or a social arrangement; we hear them often, and likely even use them ourselves. To call something unnatural is to suggest that it is out of keeping with the natural of order of things and the way they ought to be. To render this judgment is to imply that no further debate, discussion, or argument is needed, because we take for granted that what is unnatural is to be avoided and rejected. Who can argue with biology or nature?

But what, exactly, is nature? On what basis do we evaluate whether something is natural or unnatural? Who gets to decide? And why do we consider this an important distinction to make? In this seminar, we will examine these questions as we work towards untangling how the concepts of “natural” and “unnatural” function in our society—and how they might function differently in other times and places. Our goal will be to denaturalize our understanding of nature. We will analyze how the naming of people, practices, and institutions as “unnatural” works to create and perpetuate various forms of difference and inequality in society, along the lines of gender, sexuality, race, class, the environment, and other categories. We will also examine how the concept of nature has been used in attempts to overcome inequality, specifically through the discourse of natural rights, and what are the possibilities and pitfalls of such approaches. This course encourages students to observe the world around them carefully and critically, so that they can be aware of and capable of responding to the ideologies that underlie their everyday experiences.

Instructed by

Shuve

Karl
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Karl Shuve

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to join the College Fellows and to be teaching one of the Engaging Differences courses. As a historian of Christianity in the ancient and medieval worlds, I am profoundly interested in difference. My research and teaching explores the ways in which concepts and institutions that we often assume to be static and unchanging do, in fact, have their own histories and how understandings of them have changed, sometimes dramatically, over time. I am particularly interested in ideas about gender, sexuality, and marriage. What did early and medieval Christians think about these topics? What do we learn when we set aside our modern preconceptions about gender differences and marriage practices? What differences emerge, and what can these differences tell us about the world that we live in, today, in the present?

I will be teaching a course called “Unnatural.” Nature is one of the most fundamental concepts that we use to organize our world. We tend to value and to seek out things that are “natural,” and to disparage and avoid things that are “unnatural.” We can find this reasoning used in areas as varied as food consumption (“this product contains only natural ingredients”) and marriage practices (“monogamy is unnatural for humans”). Once we start looking for it, we can find it nearly everywhere. But what, exactly, is nature? On what basis do we evaluate whether something is natural or unnatural? Who gets to decide? And why do we consider this an important distinction to make? Together we will examine these questions as we work towards untangling how the concepts of “natural” and “unnatural” function in our society—and how they might function differently in other times and places.

Course Name: Title: 
TR 8:00am-9:15am

Spring Session Two: March 4 - April 23

EGMT 1530/1540: Do We Still Have Faith In Democracy?

EGMT 1530/1540: Do We Still Have Faith In Democracy?

*Note: Since this class satifies both EGMT 1530 (Differences) and EGMT 1540 (Ethics), students must enroll in both Fall Session 1 and Fall Session 2 sections.

Democracy is currently face daunting challenges in the U.S. and around the world.  Authoritarian leaders and populist parties have undermined democratic values across the globe, including Brazil, Hungary, Algeria, Poland, and the United States.  In the U.S., there are attempts to make it more difficult for citizens to vote. Practices of gerrymandering and unethical campaign finance undermine citizen’s interests in representative government. In Charlottesville, especially in the wake of events of August 2017, questions have been raised about the responsiveness of local government to the needs of its citizens and the city’s failure to protect the safety of those who protested against the actions of self-admitted racist and fascist groups.

In the midst of these challenges, do we still have faith in democracy and, if so, why?  Must we have faith in democracy in order for it to succeed?   What do we mean by faith?  How might the resources of democracy itself (its ideas and its practices) help societies respond to these crises?

This course examines the character of democracy:

  • What is a democracy and what distinguishes it from other forms of governments?
  • What are the practices of democracy and the role of education in preparation for democratic participation? 
  • What does it mean to be a citizen of a democracy and who counts as a citizen?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities of pluralism (religious, cultural, racial, political) to the life of democracy?

A major goal of the class is to prepare students to connect questions about democracy to the different settings they will encounter in their years at UVA, from the classroom to the many social and political situations they negotiate.

In addition to reading assignments and short papers, students will be required to move out of the classroom and select, observe and reflect upon a real-life instance of democratic politics in action (e.g., city council meetings, school board meetings, and so forth).     

Instructed by

Flores

Nichole

I am excited to serve as a College Fellow co-teaching a course (along with Bruce Williams), “Do we still have faith in democracy?" Teaching in the engagements presents a unique opportunity to explore the ideas and practices of democracy with a diverse group of students eager to tackle one of the most challenging topics of our time during their first year in the college! 

My teaching and research in religious ethics and democracy is animated by two life experiences. The first experience is attending public middle school on the west side of Denver, Colorado where the majority of my classmates were either Mexican or Vietnamese Catholics. Our teachers often asked us to explore questions about our deepest passions, values, and commitments, but we were tacitly asked to do so without breaching the "wall of separation between Church and State" famously articulated by Thomas Jefferson in his “Letter to the Danbury Baptists." Limiting religious engagement in the public educational setting curtailed our ability to constructively and critically evaluate the way our religious upbringings influenced our lives. The second experience is participating in community organizing alongside farmworkers from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers when I was in my mid-20s. As I marched alongside workers whom had experienced economic exploitation and human rights abuses in U.S. agricultural fields, I witnessed the power of religious people, communities, ideas, practices, and commitments (Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, and Buddhist, among others) to help pursue justice for those on the bottom rungs of the global economy. While I think maintaining the separation between church and state is vital to maintaining a society committed to justice and equality, these experiences of religion in public life ignited my passion for exploring the ways that religion can enliven and/or hinder democracies at the local, national, and global levels. 

My academic research emphasizes the relationship between religious ethics and aesthetics in cultivating solidarity in the context of religiously diverse and politically democratic societies. I also have a “side hustle" as a contributing author on the masthead at America: The Jesuit Review of Faith and Culture, where I write feature essays that interlace Catholic theology and ethics with politics and culture. This past winter, I fulfilled a lifelong dream of interviewing Federico Peña, the first Latinx mayor of Denver and a member of Bill Clinton’s cabinet, about the role his Catholic faith played in his public life.

,

Williams

Bruce

Bruce Williams is the Ambassador Henry J. Taylor and Mrs. Marion R. Taylor Professor of Media Studies. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Minnesota and, before coming to UVA, taught at the Pennsylvania State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois, and the London School of Economics. His research and teaching interests focus on the impact of a changing media environment on democratic politics. He has published five books and more than forty scholarly journal articles and book chapters. His two most recent books are The New Media Environment: An Introduction (with Andrea Press) and After Broadcast News: Media Regimes, Democracy, and the New Information Environment (with Michael Delli Carpini), both published in 2012.  In 2012 he received an All-University Teaching Award.  For six years, Bruce served on the committees that designed both the College Forums and New College Curriculum.

 
MW 9:30am-10:45am
EGMT 1530: #Stay Woke - Social Movements and Social Media

EGMT 1530: #Stay Woke - Social Movements and Social Media

Throughout history, the most egregious violations of human rights have been justified by exclusionary theories of human “difference.” These atrocities have been resisted by small groups of thoughtful individuals banding together to challenge the way dehumanizing notions of difference are used to justify large-scale oppression. This course will examine how oppositional movements intervene in and produce media to resist these oppressive practices and theories, both historically and in the context of current social movements. Movements for social change that are led by members of oppressed groups often face hostile, even physically violent, political opposition. This has necessitated that proponents of social change who are deemed “different” from the majority, challenge the majority public opinion —which often presents itself as the moderate voice of reason—through coordinated media campaigns. Students will examine a series of historical case studies focusing on how leaders of social change movements have engaged the media (or created their own media) to challenge conventional wisdom, to wrest rhetorical control from the dominant narrative, and to frame their struggle in terms which are politically favorable.

Instructed by

Press

Andrea
Williams R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Media Studies and Sociology
Andrea Press

As an interpretive sociologist who entered the interdisciplinary media field and later developed concentrations in audience study and in feminist theory which have thrust me in part into the humanities, I have occupied a scholarly position halfway between the humanities and the social sciences throughout my career. I have been joint appointed in Colleges of Humanities, Colleges of Social Sciences, and sometimes joint-appointed in both.  I have always struggled with balancing the sensibilities, goals, and approaches to knowledge fostered by each realm of inquiry.  The distinctions between them have always seemed arbitrary to me given the nature of my thinking, my work, and concomitantly, in my teaching.  In consequence I teach film aesthetics courses that paradoxically uncover, in a scientific manner, the historical and social dimensions of our society, with a special focusing on issues of social class, sexual, racial, and gender difference.

Given the inherent interdisciplinarity of my teaching and research, I am thrilled to see the College prioritize The Engagements within the new curriculum which has been proposed.  It is as difficult, I have found, to transcend the staid boundaries of disciplinarity when developing our curriculum as it is in our scholarship.  Yet powerful writing, as scholars in many fields have noted, must involve elements of both science and aesthetics, ethics and difference.  I have written extensively about the problem of “method” in the social sciences, in particular addressing the issue of how the social sciences draw from both sciences and the humanities, in several articles and books. Also I have taught methods of research engagement and the philosophy of inquiry in all my departmental appointments. I relish the opportunity to develop courses that will allow us to draw from scholarship in several realms – and in particular, I welcome the opportunity to build on my scholarship in media and feminist activism in my class entited "#Staywoke: Social Movements and Social Media", This highly original and comprehensive re-tooling of our foundational undergraduate curriculum will develop critical competencies in our students which at present we do not do enough to foster.

TR 5:00pm-6:15pm
EGMT 1530: Lost and Found in Translation

EGMT 1530: Lost and Found in Translation

This course explores the idea that translation, in an extended sense, is all around us. When we encounter differences – in the form of experiences, ideas, narratives, religious traditions, texts, languages, etc. – we come to understand these differences through acts of translation: that is, we make creative interpretive decisions as we restate, rephrase, and recast what we don’t know in terms of what we do know. In this course, we ask: how does translation in this extended sense participate in eliding, highlighting, obscuring, celebrating, distorting, and transforming difference?

Instructed by
TR 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1530: Other People's Music

EGMT 1530: Other People's Music

Musical sound is a way that people the world over imagine, imitate, and engage with people different from themselves. In the US, genres like hip-hop and country are ways we deal with and imagine the lived experience of race and class. ‘World Music’ and associated sounds—like Peruvian panpipes, Afro-Cuban rhythmic components, and Celtic melodies—tell us musical stories about people beyond our borders. But what do we really know about others when we listen to “their” music? And how do musical sounds come to represent certain bodies and identities in the first place, or even to “belong to” certain groups? What is the difference between cultural appropriation and creating or consuming music as a means of identifying with or advocating for others? How do technology and capitalism play a part in the power of music to cause both good and harm?

This course explores the processes through which sounds come to index certain cultural categories (race, gender, class, nationality, age, religion, sexuality) or global locations, and how musical material can be repurposed for political means. Students will investigate terms such as hybridity, exoticization, cultural appropriation, revivalism, and embodiment. We will look at case studies including minstrelsy in the US, “non-Western” college music ensembles, racial identity among Asian-American jazz musicians, bluegrass in post-Communist Czech Republic, white rappers, the international hip hop scene, and corrido listenership in the transnational Mexican community. Students will also have the opportunity to examine their own listening practices and to create and share playlists with peers.

Instructed by

Flood

Liza
Postdoctoral Fellow
Flood

I am an ethnomusicologist who studies American music and culture. My primary focus is country music in all its various forms: honky-tonk, bluegrass, pop country, and others. Studying a kind of music that was historically ignored by the academy, and yet enjoys broad popularity, prompts important questions such as: what cultural forms are worthy of study? What is good music? How can music represent groups of people or ideas? How can music be used as a form of self-expression, resistance, or political stance?    

These are the kinds of questions that motivate ethnomusicologists. We start with music or sound and then ask questions about its content and context. Music guides us through explorations of identity, taste, ethics, difference, social interaction, memory, and belonging. We examine music in everyday life, made by everyday people, not just the megastars whose music gets played on the radio. Through this lens, ethnomusicologists are deeply concerned with participation: music isn’t just an object, it’s very importantly an activity. It’s something we do. As I step outside of my field and join the Engagements program, I bring with me some of the same concerns. I hope to help students explore how big questions inflect everyday life and how we are all active participants in culture-making, capable of engaging, influencing, challenging, and celebrating the world around us.

My first experience teaching was with incarcerated teenagers in a wilderness setting. My students would write slam poetry about cloud types while sitting around a camp fire or study rock formations as we relied on collaboration and problem solving to navigate rugged terrain. This was a formative experience, one that motivated my excitement about the Engagements, a program that is also interested in crossing the boundaries of classroom environments, of academic discipline, and of creative methodology. I believe that this is when the greatest learning can occur: when we are active and collaborative participants in our learning, deeply engaged in the world immediately around us in order to think in limitless ways.

MW 11:00am-12:15pm
EGMT 1530: The Individual and Society

EGMT 1530: The Individual and Society

In this course we ask big questions, perhaps among the biggest.  Who am I?  How do I come to be who I am?  How do I know myself?  Can I know myself?  What makes me who I am?  Am I responsible for my own life?  What are my relationships to others?  What are my relationships to my society (societies)?  What are my rights?  What are my obligations?  Does who I am in private say more about me than what I do in public? Can I live a moral life surrounded by immorality?   Should there be a safety net in a society of individuals? If we are indeed individuals, or can be, how do we forge our lives, in our interests and in those of others, toward the public good?

This course considers these big questions in order to help us better understand the richness and complexity of individuals and communities. We will reflect on the historical impacts of society on individuals and consider how individuals begin to form societies – or even more important, communities. In particular, we will consider how we as individuals encounter one another in our differences  and what it might mean to pursue a common good.

Instructed by

Braun

Tico
Associate Professor of History
College Fellows

I came from Colombia and Mexico to teach the liberal arts in the United States, the nation that knows them best. I have been involved with the liberal arts in my specialized undergraduate courses on Latin American history for more three decades at the University of Virginia. How do hierarchical and deeply conservative societies, we ask, seek to build enduring order? 

The Engagements offer me the opportunity to teach the liberal arts more broadly as ways in which our American and international students can think about themselves and their places in this nation’s democracy and in their expanding globalized world. I view the Engagements as a once-in-a-lifetime classroom opportunity to bring together the often-conflicting views of liberals and conservatives about the central issues of our past, present and future.  A liberal arts education seeks discourse and debate across different ideologies, and it aims to help us understand better those who seem to have ideas that may be different from our own, and thereby to also know ourselves more deeply. 

To make this experience come alive in my first course on Engaging Difference, we will ask about the places of the individual in various societies, in the past and in our contemporary world. This is perhaps one of our richest and deepest concerns, as we create different and overlapping ideas about our individual obligations to others and to the making of a good society. 

TR 9:30am-10:45am
EGMT 1530: Unnatural

EGMT 1530: Unnatural

“That’s unnatural.” These words convey a judgment of a practice, a state of being, or a social arrangement; we hear them often, and likely even use them ourselves. To call something unnatural is to suggest that it is out of keeping with the natural of order of things and the way they ought to be. To render this judgment is to imply that no further debate, discussion, or argument is needed, because we take for granted that what is unnatural is to be avoided and rejected. Who can argue with biology or nature?

But what, exactly, is nature? On what basis do we evaluate whether something is natural or unnatural? Who gets to decide? And why do we consider this an important distinction to make? In this seminar, we will examine these questions as we work towards untangling how the concepts of “natural” and “unnatural” function in our society—and how they might function differently in other times and places. Our goal will be to denaturalize our understanding of nature. We will analyze how the naming of people, practices, and institutions as “unnatural” works to create and perpetuate various forms of difference and inequality in society, along the lines of gender, sexuality, race, class, the environment, and other categories. We will also examine how the concept of nature has been used in attempts to overcome inequality, specifically through the discourse of natural rights, and what are the possibilities and pitfalls of such approaches. This course encourages students to observe the world around them carefully and critically, so that they can be aware of and capable of responding to the ideologies that underlie their everyday experiences.

Instructed by

Shuve

Karl
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Karl Shuve

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to join the College Fellows and to be teaching one of the Engaging Differences courses. As a historian of Christianity in the ancient and medieval worlds, I am profoundly interested in difference. My research and teaching explores the ways in which concepts and institutions that we often assume to be static and unchanging do, in fact, have their own histories and how understandings of them have changed, sometimes dramatically, over time. I am particularly interested in ideas about gender, sexuality, and marriage. What did early and medieval Christians think about these topics? What do we learn when we set aside our modern preconceptions about gender differences and marriage practices? What differences emerge, and what can these differences tell us about the world that we live in, today, in the present?

I will be teaching a course called “Unnatural.” Nature is one of the most fundamental concepts that we use to organize our world. We tend to value and to seek out things that are “natural,” and to disparage and avoid things that are “unnatural.” We can find this reasoning used in areas as varied as food consumption (“this product contains only natural ingredients”) and marriage practices (“monogamy is unnatural for humans”). Once we start looking for it, we can find it nearly everywhere. But what, exactly, is nature? On what basis do we evaluate whether something is natural or unnatural? Who gets to decide? And why do we consider this an important distinction to make? Together we will examine these questions as we work towards untangling how the concepts of “natural” and “unnatural” function in our society—and how they might function differently in other times and places.

Course Name: Title: 
MW 8:00am-9:15am
EGMT 1530: You Are Here

EGMT 1530: You Are Here

Where am I? This is a question we often pose only when we’re lost, or need directions. The answer we are looking for is usually quite straightforward, and thanks to our smartphones, easy to come by. Yet there are other ways to pose this question that lead to more complex answers, ones that hit much closer to home. How has this place – my home, my city, my country – shaped the person I have become, and how does it continue to define my possibilities? Where do the lives of others play out, and what does that mean for the way we treat each other? It turns out that life has an irreducibly spatial dimension and that dimension has profound ethical dimensions. We learn who we are and who we can be from spaces that are gendered, racialized, and nationalized in a variety of ways, not only when we are young, but an on ongoing basis, yet we do not often think about this aspect of life. In this class, we will learn to think about this“hidden dimension” of life, its spatial dimension, and how it shapes, or tries to shape, who we are, who we can be, and how we relate to our fellow human beings.

Instructed by

Padron

Ricardo

Some of my fondest memories from my time as an undergraduate at U.Va. involve conversations about big ideas, either in class or outside it, that forced me to really think about who I was, what I believed, and how I should live my life. When I decided to become a college professor, I knew I wanted to help students have similar experiences. For me, it was never about preparing students for post-graduate careers, but about helping them prepare for life as reflective and ethical human beings. This is why so much of my research has involved the Spanish encounter with the New World and Asia in during the century after Columbus’s voyages, when Spain was first building its empire. The topic inevitably brings up questions about the nature of historical truth and of cross-cultural encounter, not to mention the ethics and politics of colonialism.  I became interested in how these issues played out in what might seem like an esoteric context, the drawing of maps and the description of spaces in literature. This has introduced me to broader questions about how we build the spaces (domestic, civic, national, global) we inhabit, and how those spaces in turn shape who we are and how we interact.  I am looking forward to sharing these interests with first-year students in my Engagements course, and hopefully guiding them toward the sort of college experience that I am so grateful to have had. 

Course Name: Title: 
MW 3:30pm-4:45pm
EGMT 1530: You Are Here

EGMT 1530: You Are Here

Where am I? This is a question we often pose only when we’re lost, or need directions. The answer we are looking for is usually quite straightforward, and thanks to our smartphones, easy to come by. Yet there are other ways to pose this question that lead to more complex answers, ones that hit much closer to home. How has this place – my home, my city, my country – shaped the person I have become, and how does it continue to define my possibilities? Where do the lives of others play out, and what does that mean for the way we treat each other? It turns out that life has an irreducibly spatial dimension and that dimension has profound ethical dimensions. We learn who we are and who we can be from spaces that are gendered, racialized, and nationalized in a variety of ways, not only when we are young, but an on ongoing basis, yet we do not often think about this aspect of life. In this class, we will learn to think about this“hidden dimension” of life, its spatial dimension, and how it shapes, or tries to shape, who we are, who we can be, and how we relate to our fellow human beings.

Instructed by

Padron

Ricardo

Some of my fondest memories from my time as an undergraduate at U.Va. involve conversations about big ideas, either in class or outside it, that forced me to really think about who I was, what I believed, and how I should live my life. When I decided to become a college professor, I knew I wanted to help students have similar experiences. For me, it was never about preparing students for post-graduate careers, but about helping them prepare for life as reflective and ethical human beings. This is why so much of my research has involved the Spanish encounter with the New World and Asia in during the century after Columbus’s voyages, when Spain was first building its empire. The topic inevitably brings up questions about the nature of historical truth and of cross-cultural encounter, not to mention the ethics and politics of colonialism.  I became interested in how these issues played out in what might seem like an esoteric context, the drawing of maps and the description of spaces in literature. This has introduced me to broader questions about how we build the spaces (domestic, civic, national, global) we inhabit, and how those spaces in turn shape who we are and how we interact.  I am looking forward to sharing these interests with first-year students in my Engagements course, and hopefully guiding them toward the sort of college experience that I am so grateful to have had. 

Course Name: Title: 
MW 2:00pm-3:15pm

EGMT 1540: Ethical Engagement

Fall 2019

Fall Session One: August 27 - October 16

EGMT 1530/1540: Do We Still Have Faith In Democracy?

EGMT 1530/1540: Do We Still Have Faith In Democracy?

*Note: Since this class satifies both EGMT 1530 (Differences) and EGMT 1540 (Ethics), students must enroll in both Fall Session 1 and Fall Session 2 sections.

Democracy is currently face daunting challenges in the U.S. and around the world.  Authoritarian leaders and populist parties have undermined democratic values across the globe, including Brazil, Hungary, Algeria, Poland, and the United States.  In the U.S., there are attempts to make it more difficult for citizens to vote. Practices of gerrymandering and unethical campaign finance undermine citizen’s interests in representative government. In Charlottesville, especially in the wake of events of August 2017, questions have been raised about the responsiveness of local government to the needs of its citizens and the city’s failure to protect the safety of those who protested against the actions of self-admitted racist and fascist groups.

In the midst of these challenges, do we still have faith in democracy and, if so, why?  Must we have faith in democracy in order for it to succeed?   What do we mean by faith?  How might the resources of democracy itself (its ideas and its practices) help societies respond to these crises?

This course examines the character of democracy:

  • What is a democracy and what distinguishes it from other forms of governments?
  • What are the practices of democracy and the role of education in preparation for democratic participation? 
  • What does it mean to be a citizen of a democracy and who counts as a citizen?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities of pluralism (religious, cultural, racial, political) to the life of democracy?

A major goal of the class is to prepare students to connect questions about democracy to the different settings they will encounter in their years at UVA, from the classroom to the many social and political situations they negotiate.

In addition to reading assignments and short papers, students will be required to move out of the classroom and select, observe and reflect upon a real-life instance of democratic politics in action (e.g., city council meetings, school board meetings, and so forth).     

Instructed by

Flores

Nichole

I am excited to serve as a College Fellow co-teaching a course (along with Bruce Williams), “Do we still have faith in democracy?" Teaching in the engagements presents a unique opportunity to explore the ideas and practices of democracy with a diverse group of students eager to tackle one of the most challenging topics of our time during their first year in the college! 

My teaching and research in religious ethics and democracy is animated by two life experiences. The first experience is attending public middle school on the west side of Denver, Colorado where the majority of my classmates were either Mexican or Vietnamese Catholics. Our teachers often asked us to explore questions about our deepest passions, values, and commitments, but we were tacitly asked to do so without breaching the "wall of separation between Church and State" famously articulated by Thomas Jefferson in his “Letter to the Danbury Baptists." Limiting religious engagement in the public educational setting curtailed our ability to constructively and critically evaluate the way our religious upbringings influenced our lives. The second experience is participating in community organizing alongside farmworkers from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers when I was in my mid-20s. As I marched alongside workers whom had experienced economic exploitation and human rights abuses in U.S. agricultural fields, I witnessed the power of religious people, communities, ideas, practices, and commitments (Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, and Buddhist, among others) to help pursue justice for those on the bottom rungs of the global economy. While I think maintaining the separation between church and state is vital to maintaining a society committed to justice and equality, these experiences of religion in public life ignited my passion for exploring the ways that religion can enliven and/or hinder democracies at the local, national, and global levels. 

My academic research emphasizes the relationship between religious ethics and aesthetics in cultivating solidarity in the context of religiously diverse and politically democratic societies. I also have a “side hustle" as a contributing author on the masthead at America: The Jesuit Review of Faith and Culture, where I write feature essays that interlace Catholic theology and ethics with politics and culture. This past winter, I fulfilled a lifelong dream of interviewing Federico Peña, the first Latinx mayor of Denver and a member of Bill Clinton’s cabinet, about the role his Catholic faith played in his public life.

,

Williams

Bruce

Bruce Williams is the Ambassador Henry J. Taylor and Mrs. Marion R. Taylor Professor of Media Studies. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Minnesota and, before coming to UVA, taught at the Pennsylvania State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois, and the London School of Economics. His research and teaching interests focus on the impact of a changing media environment on democratic politics. He has published five books and more than forty scholarly journal articles and book chapters. His two most recent books are The New Media Environment: An Introduction (with Andrea Press) and After Broadcast News: Media Regimes, Democracy, and the New Information Environment (with Michael Delli Carpini), both published in 2012.  In 2012 he received an All-University Teaching Award.  For six years, Bruce served on the committees that designed both the College Forums and New College Curriculum.

 
MW 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1540: How Do We Become Who We Are?

EGMT 1540: How Do We Become Who We Are?

"Now let’s get in formation!” While the command Beyoncé sings in the title track of her 2015 album Formation is at its most basic level an instruction to her dancers to get ready to perform, it is also something more than that. Throughout the song, Beyoncé reflects on how she has come to be who she is—where she comes from and the people that surround her, the work she has put in, and the traits, virtues, and dispositions that have shaped and been shaped by her experiences —as well as about who she is still becoming. Like Beyoncé, this course explores how we become who we are, albeit a bit more analytically and systematically!

Over the course of seven weeks, we will identify and interrogate the complex, multi-faceted relationships between social contexts and factors, identities, and ethical approaches and actions. What social, cultural, and historical factors shape us? How do these factors shape us— how do they impact how we relate to others, what we see as good or successful, the decisions we make and the ways we organize and order and live our lives?  How, then, do we shape the world around us as we’re being shaped by it? Drawing on resources from across the humanities and social sciences, we will reflect on and evaluate meta-ethical theories of identity and formation, ethical inquiries that arise in both theories and processes of formation, and ethical implications and applications of various accounts.

As one distinctive part of a broader framework of scholarly engagements, this course will aid us in cultivating an approach to ethical reflection and practice that can serve as a basis for critical inquiry and civic participation. Put another way, in asking how we become who we are, this course (and the Engagements program it is a part of) is also saying something about who we could (should?) become and how we might get there. (Given this, we’ll even actually turn to this very course as a site of inquiry! #meta.) In exploring approaches and questions around how we become who we are, through close reading, class discussions, and course assignments, students will reflect critically, constructively, and creatively about who they want to be as individuals and/in community, why, and what the processes of becoming might look like.

Instructed by

Daniels

Brandy
Postdoctoral Fellow
Daniels

I was the first person in my family to go to college. I grew up just outside of Los Angeles, my dad was (and still is) a copier repairman, and my mom worked as a cashier at Walmart. I almost didn’t even go to college. If I’m honest, the only reason I went is because I knew I wanted to get married someday, and I thought I should find a spouse who was going to get a better job than either of my parents did, so I’d probably find them at college. I went to a small religious liberal arts school close to home. Turns out, rather than falling in love with another person, I fell in love with education instead. I went on to get two Bachelor’s degrees, two Master’s degrees, and then, realizing I wanted to go back to college as a professor, yet another Master’s degree and a PhD.

As what folks call a first-generation college and graduate student, I often felt like an outsider, especially at places like Duke and Vanderbilt (and, for that matter, at UVA!), especially as a women studying religion, a field that tends to be predominately male. I also grew up in a deeply religious family, hence my fascination with studying religion, and came from a tradition that did not believe women should be teachers, especially not teaching religion. I felt like an outsider within the academy, and within the community I came from. My background deeply shaped my own research interests—can communities sustain their identity and take difference seriously at the same time? If so, how? How do accounts and practices of formation—the ways we become who we are—assist or hinder such endeavors? These questions lie at the heart of my research, which is on gender and sexual difference in religious thought and practice. They also deeply shape and are deeply shaped by my teaching, and are, in many ways, what drew me to teach courses in the Engagements.

I view the classroom as a formational site where community amidst difference can be interrogated, imagined, and inhabited—an occasion for transformative intellectual practice through engagement together with texts, traditions, and theories. No wonder, then, that I was drawn to teach courses in the Engagements program, given its emphasis on, well, engagement—on collaboration and creativity, on active learning, on conversation and critical thinking. In my course on Engaging Difference, we will explore these questions of community amidst difference, as well as practice and live them, as we consider what kind of good difference is by exploring visions of the future, and in my course on Ethical Engagements, we’ll look at how we become who we are and imagine together who we might want to become and how we might get there.

MW 6:30pm-7:45pm
EGMT 1540: How Do We Become Who We Are?

EGMT 1540: How Do We Become Who We Are?

"Now let’s get in formation!” While the command Beyoncé sings in the title track of her 2015 album Formation is at its most basic level an instruction to her dancers to get ready to perform, it is also something more than that. Throughout the song, Beyoncé reflects on how she has come to be who she is—where she comes from and the people that surround her, the work she has put in, and the traits, virtues, and dispositions that have shaped and been shaped by her experiences —as well as about who she is still becoming. Like Beyoncé, this course explores how we become who we are, albeit a bit more analytically and systematically!

Over the course of seven weeks, we will identify and interrogate the complex, multi-faceted relationships between social contexts and factors, identities, and ethical approaches and actions. What social, cultural, and historical factors shape us? How do these factors shape us— how do they impact how we relate to others, what we see as good or successful, the decisions we make and the ways we organize and order and live our lives?  How, then, do we shape the world around us as we’re being shaped by it? Drawing on resources from across the humanities and social sciences, we will reflect on and evaluate meta-ethical theories of identity and formation, ethical inquiries that arise in both theories and processes of formation, and ethical implications and applications of various accounts.

As one distinctive part of a broader framework of scholarly engagements, this course will aid us in cultivating an approach to ethical reflection and practice that can serve as a basis for critical inquiry and civic participation. Put another way, in asking how we become who we are, this course (and the Engagements program it is a part of) is also saying something about who we could (should?) become and how we might get there. (Given this, we’ll even actually turn to this very course as a site of inquiry! #meta.) In exploring approaches and questions around how we become who we are, through close reading, class discussions, and course assignments, students will reflect critically, constructively, and creatively about who they want to be as individuals and/in community, why, and what the processes of becoming might look like.

Instructed by

Daniels

Brandy
Postdoctoral Fellow
Daniels

I was the first person in my family to go to college. I grew up just outside of Los Angeles, my dad was (and still is) a copier repairman, and my mom worked as a cashier at Walmart. I almost didn’t even go to college. If I’m honest, the only reason I went is because I knew I wanted to get married someday, and I thought I should find a spouse who was going to get a better job than either of my parents did, so I’d probably find them at college. I went to a small religious liberal arts school close to home. Turns out, rather than falling in love with another person, I fell in love with education instead. I went on to get two Bachelor’s degrees, two Master’s degrees, and then, realizing I wanted to go back to college as a professor, yet another Master’s degree and a PhD.

As what folks call a first-generation college and graduate student, I often felt like an outsider, especially at places like Duke and Vanderbilt (and, for that matter, at UVA!), especially as a women studying religion, a field that tends to be predominately male. I also grew up in a deeply religious family, hence my fascination with studying religion, and came from a tradition that did not believe women should be teachers, especially not teaching religion. I felt like an outsider within the academy, and within the community I came from. My background deeply shaped my own research interests—can communities sustain their identity and take difference seriously at the same time? If so, how? How do accounts and practices of formation—the ways we become who we are—assist or hinder such endeavors? These questions lie at the heart of my research, which is on gender and sexual difference in religious thought and practice. They also deeply shape and are deeply shaped by my teaching, and are, in many ways, what drew me to teach courses in the Engagements.

I view the classroom as a formational site where community amidst difference can be interrogated, imagined, and inhabited—an occasion for transformative intellectual practice through engagement together with texts, traditions, and theories. No wonder, then, that I was drawn to teach courses in the Engagements program, given its emphasis on, well, engagement—on collaboration and creativity, on active learning, on conversation and critical thinking. In my course on Engaging Difference, we will explore these questions of community amidst difference, as well as practice and live them, as we consider what kind of good difference is by exploring visions of the future, and in my course on Ethical Engagements, we’ll look at how we become who we are and imagine together who we might want to become and how we might get there.

MW 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1540: The Examined Life

EGMT 1540: The Examined Life

The unexamined life is not worth living. At least, that is what Socrates thought. According to Plato, Socrates uttered these words while defending his practice of philosophy as self examination during the trial that would cost him his life. It’s a bold claim to make when thestakes are high. Was Socrates right? In this course, we’ll explore self examination as an ethical practice. We’ll dive into questions such as: what does it mean to examine and thereby know ourselves when we are beings who live in flux? What is the role of honesty in the act of self-knowledge? What do we do when we examine ourselves and don’t like what we find? Is the truth always good, and are lies always bad? What is the role of self-knowledge in ethical behavior and decision-making? Do we even have a self that we can know? Does self examination really make life better, or in Socrates’ terms, more worth living, and how? 

We will approach these questions by exploring different approaches and representations from fields in the arts and social sciences. We will begin with how ancient Greek thinkers theorized and dramatized the ethical vocation of self-knowledge. While Plato represents Socrates as the paragon of the ethical life through his commitment to self examination, the pursuit of truth, and to the communal pursuit of better thinking, the poet Sophocles staged a gripping drama of self-discovery and the disastrous consequences of self-deception in his play Oedipus Rex. We’ll turn to the field of psychology to examine the limits of introspection. Finally, we’ll explore themindfulness movement and how awareness of the present moment is represented as awareness of the self.

This course is as much an exploration of thehistory of self examination as it is a practicum in self examination. Accordingly, we will engage in practices of self-knowledge, including journaling and reflective writing, mindfulness meditation, and dialogue. Throughout this course, we will explore our relationship with digital media as a test case for practicing self examination. Much research connects the use of digital media to problems with mental health and other forms of suffering. Acting on the premise that it is worth knowing whether this is true of ourselves, will explore the ethical implications of various dimensions of our digital media use. We will engage in a digital detox, or a break from all digital media, which students will process in writing and in dialogue with a small group of classmates. For our final project, students will work with their groups to co-author their best practices for using digital media and their ethical justifications of their best practices. These best practices should incorporate and further practices of self-knowledge.

Instructed by
MW 9:30am-10:45am
EGMT 1540: What is Authority?

EGMT 1540: What is Authority?

What is authority? Why do we follow the instructions of certain persons and sources (pilots, lifestyle bloggers, WebMD, religious texts)? Merely to question or merely to follow authority does not, on its own, make us good. Rather, to navigate a complex world ethically, we must be able to discern who should be trusted with authority and who should be ignored or resisted, judge which directives for action are good and which are bad, and debate why some statements should be accepted as authoritative and others rejected. Authority, whether respected or reviled, inflects and influences the behaviors, habits and dispositions that constitute a good or successful life.

In this class we will examine authority as a special kind of human relationship with deep implications for what it means to be a good person. We will read about a wide variety of types of authority—for example, professional, parental, religious, scientific, political—and ask how they interact with each other and change over time. We will study how authority is different from, but often becomes entwined with, power. Finally, we will build a better understanding of the conditions under which people are willing to accept, resist, and/or reformulate authority.

Instructed by

Reed

Isaac Ariail
Associate Professor of Sociology
Isaac Reed

Since my own first year of college (a long time ago!), I have always been drawn to the life of the mind. The purpose of that life, in my view, is to create a learning environment where students can become clear and careful thinkers, active and engaged citizens, and responsible and caring people. In the engagements, we have the opportunity to reconsider and reconstruct how we educate young people and prepare them to navigate the world outside of Grounds. My own research in historical sociology considers how humans have, in different times and places, enhanced their capacity to flourish by constructing complex and interconnected forms of social, technical and economic organization, democratic republics, and ethical traditions; yet simultaneously we have reproduced, and even introduced new forms of, disempowerment, domination and moral destruction. In the engagements, I draw on my research experience to teach students to think comparatively about society and history, and to venture outside their own experience so as to better understand the world and how to act ethically within it. I ask students to learn about the tremendous variation in how the interconnected societies of the globe are organized, connect the long arc of human history to the concerns and struggles of their own generation, and write with rigor, clarity, and courage in the pursuit of truth.

The grandson of Jewish refugees, I was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina. I received my Ph.D. in Sociology from Yale University in 2007, after which I taught for nine years at the University of Colorado at Boulder. In 2016 I moved to Charlottesville with my wife Jennifer and daughter Hannah. My first book, Interpretation and Social Knowledge: On the use of theory in the human sciences, proposed a framework for bringing the humanities and social sciences closer together. My current book project examines authority and power in the history of the American republic.

Course Name: Title: 
TR 2:00pm-3:15pm
EGMT 1540: What is Authority?

EGMT 1540: What is Authority?

What is authority? Why do we follow the instructions of certain persons and sources (pilots, lifestyle bloggers, WebMD, religious texts)? Merely to question or merely to follow authority does not, on its own, make us good. Rather, to navigate a complex world ethically, we must be able to discern who should be trusted with authority and who should be ignored or resisted, judge which directives for action are good and which are bad, and debate why some statements should be accepted as authoritative and others rejected. Authority, whether respected or reviled, inflects and influences the behaviors, habits and dispositions that constitute a good or successful life.

In this class we will examine authority as a special kind of human relationship with deep implications for what it means to be a good person. We will read about a wide variety of types of authority—for example, professional, parental, religious, scientific, political—and ask how they interact with each other and change over time. We will study how authority is different from, but often becomes entwined with, power. Finally, we will build a better understanding of the conditions under which people are willing to accept, resist, and/or reformulate authority.

Instructed by

Reed

Isaac Ariail
Associate Professor of Sociology
Isaac Reed

Since my own first year of college (a long time ago!), I have always been drawn to the life of the mind. The purpose of that life, in my view, is to create a learning environment where students can become clear and careful thinkers, active and engaged citizens, and responsible and caring people. In the engagements, we have the opportunity to reconsider and reconstruct how we educate young people and prepare them to navigate the world outside of Grounds. My own research in historical sociology considers how humans have, in different times and places, enhanced their capacity to flourish by constructing complex and interconnected forms of social, technical and economic organization, democratic republics, and ethical traditions; yet simultaneously we have reproduced, and even introduced new forms of, disempowerment, domination and moral destruction. In the engagements, I draw on my research experience to teach students to think comparatively about society and history, and to venture outside their own experience so as to better understand the world and how to act ethically within it. I ask students to learn about the tremendous variation in how the interconnected societies of the globe are organized, connect the long arc of human history to the concerns and struggles of their own generation, and write with rigor, clarity, and courage in the pursuit of truth.

The grandson of Jewish refugees, I was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina. I received my Ph.D. in Sociology from Yale University in 2007, after which I taught for nine years at the University of Colorado at Boulder. In 2016 I moved to Charlottesville with my wife Jennifer and daughter Hannah. My first book, Interpretation and Social Knowledge: On the use of theory in the human sciences, proposed a framework for bringing the humanities and social sciences closer together. My current book project examines authority and power in the history of the American republic.

Course Name: Title: 
TR 11:00am-12:15pm
EGMT 1540: What is Engaged Citizenship

EGMT 1540: What is Engaged Citizenship

If citizenship gives us rights, can it also make demands of us? What would it mean to acquiesce to these demands, if so, and what to refuse them? Such questions about the ethics and requirements of engaged citizenship were central to the founding of the University of Virginia and increasingly serve as a rallying cry for the importance of the liberal arts tradition. But what is engaged citizenship and what does it require of us? In this class, we will consider varying frameworks for the ethics of engaged citizenship—education, self-reflection, presence (or showing up)—to struggle with the relationship of the self to society within the University community and beyond. Why do we increasingly know more about certain aspects of our food supply and so little about others? What are the implications of this visibility and invisibility for our behavior towards each other? Does citizenship require us to confront those who we perceive as challenging our values, and, if so, can that ever be anything other than a coercive and oppressive act? Is citizenship a communal agreement or an individual one? Does it bind us together or separate us? When is violence justified, if ever? Under what circumstances should we bend or discard our citizenly duty? Through class excursions, readings, journaling activities, viewings, and course presentations we will experiment with the ethical implications of the various positions we take—including inaction—when we respond to the world around and inside of us.

Instructed by

Goldblatt

Laura
Posdoctoral Fellow
Goldblatt

I worked as an English teacher at a failing high school in the Mississippi Delta before arriving at the University of Virginia. Nearly all of my high-school students were of color and qualified for free or reduced price lunch: I can count the exceptions to this rule on a single hand. More than half of the female students in my classes graduated from or left high school with at least one child, and my daily headcount too often depended upon sentences in juvenile detention, or worse.

Suffice it to say that the student body at the University of Virginia, an elite public institution that largely educates the children of professionals, has little in common with those who helped me craft my earliest and most abiding pedagogical principles. Despite these differences, both experiences have shown me that good teaching does not depend upon academic level and that the classroom can serve as a powerful laboratory for participatory democracy.

Due to these experiences, the hands-on, collaborative, and wildly ambitious pedagogical imagination at the core of the Engagements proposal drew me to the program. Two main goals guide my teaching. On the pedagogical side, using the tenets of cultural and literary study, I urge my students to view aesthetic objects as entangled in a complex web of meanings, historical contexts, and relationships that require consideration from multiple perspectives and methodologies. But for me, teaching also has material consequences on my students’ lives and the lives of those with whom they interact.

Beyond the content I convey, I aim to teach my students to think critically and creatively about the local and global systems in which they are imbedded while also urging them to consider possibilities to be realized outside these systems. I consider my courses a success when my students acquire the ability to consider the different viewpoints that can be brought to bear on cultural artifacts and to resist the urge to overlook the way something is said—its packaging—when considering its message. Most of all, I hope my classes will give them the courage to speak.

TR 5:00pm-6:15pm

Fall Session Two: October 17 - December 6

EGMT 1530/1540: Do We Still Have Faith In Democracy?

EGMT 1530/1540: Do We Still Have Faith In Democracy?

*Note: Since this class satifies both EGMT 1530 (Differences) and EGMT 1540 (Ethics), students must enroll in both Fall Session 1 and Fall Session 2 sections.

Democracy is currently face daunting challenges in the U.S. and around the world.  Authoritarian leaders and populist parties have undermined democratic values across the globe, including Brazil, Hungary, Algeria, Poland, and the United States.  In the U.S., there are attempts to make it more difficult for citizens to vote. Practices of gerrymandering and unethical campaign finance undermine citizen’s interests in representative government. In Charlottesville, especially in the wake of events of August 2017, questions have been raised about the responsiveness of local government to the needs of its citizens and the city’s failure to protect the safety of those who protested against the actions of self-admitted racist and fascist groups.

In the midst of these challenges, do we still have faith in democracy and, if so, why?  Must we have faith in democracy in order for it to succeed?   What do we mean by faith?  How might the resources of democracy itself (its ideas and its practices) help societies respond to these crises?

This course examines the character of democracy:

  • What is a democracy and what distinguishes it from other forms of governments?
  • What are the practices of democracy and the role of education in preparation for democratic participation? 
  • What does it mean to be a citizen of a democracy and who counts as a citizen?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities of pluralism (religious, cultural, racial, political) to the life of democracy?

A major goal of the class is to prepare students to connect questions about democracy to the different settings they will encounter in their years at UVA, from the classroom to the many social and political situations they negotiate.

In addition to reading assignments and short papers, students will be required to move out of the classroom and select, observe and reflect upon a real-life instance of democratic politics in action (e.g., city council meetings, school board meetings, and so forth).     

Instructed by

Flores

Nichole

I am excited to serve as a College Fellow co-teaching a course (along with Bruce Williams), “Do we still have faith in democracy?" Teaching in the engagements presents a unique opportunity to explore the ideas and practices of democracy with a diverse group of students eager to tackle one of the most challenging topics of our time during their first year in the college! 

My teaching and research in religious ethics and democracy is animated by two life experiences. The first experience is attending public middle school on the west side of Denver, Colorado where the majority of my classmates were either Mexican or Vietnamese Catholics. Our teachers often asked us to explore questions about our deepest passions, values, and commitments, but we were tacitly asked to do so without breaching the "wall of separation between Church and State" famously articulated by Thomas Jefferson in his “Letter to the Danbury Baptists." Limiting religious engagement in the public educational setting curtailed our ability to constructively and critically evaluate the way our religious upbringings influenced our lives. The second experience is participating in community organizing alongside farmworkers from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers when I was in my mid-20s. As I marched alongside workers whom had experienced economic exploitation and human rights abuses in U.S. agricultural fields, I witnessed the power of religious people, communities, ideas, practices, and commitments (Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, and Buddhist, among others) to help pursue justice for those on the bottom rungs of the global economy. While I think maintaining the separation between church and state is vital to maintaining a society committed to justice and equality, these experiences of religion in public life ignited my passion for exploring the ways that religion can enliven and/or hinder democracies at the local, national, and global levels. 

My academic research emphasizes the relationship between religious ethics and aesthetics in cultivating solidarity in the context of religiously diverse and politically democratic societies. I also have a “side hustle" as a contributing author on the masthead at America: The Jesuit Review of Faith and Culture, where I write feature essays that interlace Catholic theology and ethics with politics and culture. This past winter, I fulfilled a lifelong dream of interviewing Federico Peña, the first Latinx mayor of Denver and a member of Bill Clinton’s cabinet, about the role his Catholic faith played in his public life.

,

Williams

Bruce

Bruce Williams is the Ambassador Henry J. Taylor and Mrs. Marion R. Taylor Professor of Media Studies. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Minnesota and, before coming to UVA, taught at the Pennsylvania State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois, and the London School of Economics. His research and teaching interests focus on the impact of a changing media environment on democratic politics. He has published five books and more than forty scholarly journal articles and book chapters. His two most recent books are The New Media Environment: An Introduction (with Andrea Press) and After Broadcast News: Media Regimes, Democracy, and the New Information Environment (with Michael Delli Carpini), both published in 2012.  In 2012 he received an All-University Teaching Award.  For six years, Bruce served on the committees that designed both the College Forums and New College Curriculum.

 
MW 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1540: Ethical Dilemmas and Science

EGMT 1540: Ethical Dilemmas and Science

Science and the technology it has spawned has radically transformed societies throughout history, at ever increasing rates.  The traditional caricature of the scientist is as a dispassionate searcher of “what is true,” who is not concerned with the ethical implications of his/her work.  It is not possible to escape ethical considerations and decisions – to ignore ethics is a choice with ethical consequences. Many think of ethics as merely a prescription against certain actions but the most interesting and vexing ethical choices involve trade-offs between options that have both positive and negative consequences. One goal of this course is to introduce you to ethical questions that face scientists and the broader society that financially supports and regulates science. Another is to consider consequences of choices to individual scientists, to institutions, to professions, and to society at different levels of organization. The three specific areas to be examined: (1) The ethics of medical research, including questions of potential conflicts between the interests of subjects and the possible benefits to the larger society. (2) The ethics of practice of science, including the influence of incentives and conflicts of interest.  (3) The responsibilities of scientists for the uses and other impacts of their research on society.  Examples for discussion will be taken from well-studied examples from the past, present controversies, and the impact of emerging transformative technologies such as CRISPR-Cas9 and Artificial Intelligence.

Instructed by

Lehmann

Kevin

I have long had an interest in the intersection of Science and Ethics, but that has been amplified by the teaching of scientific ethics as part of a graduate chemistry course.  In that course, the focus was on the ethics and misconduct of how science is practiced.   In the engagement course I will teach, I will strive to explore ethical issues and reasoning that arises from Science, and how responsibilities for the consequences of Scientific research should be apportioned between different levels of the hierarchy that goes from the individual scientist, through scientific institutions, and ultimately to society at large.

My research has been at the interface of Physics and Chemistry, a field known as Chemical Physics.   In particular, I use spectroscopic and quantum mechanical theoretic methods to explore the properties of molecules, the strength of their interactions and how energy exchanges between forms, both in a single molecule and in collisions with other molecules.  Lasers are my preferred tools of the trade.  I am a Fellow of both the American Physical Society and the Optical Society of America. 

 
TR 5:00pm-6:15pm
EGMT 1540: The Ethics of Piracy, from the High Seas to Torrents

EGMT 1540: The Ethics of Piracy, from the High Seas to Torrents

“…an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized…when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, ‘What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled emperor.’”

                                                                                                            —Augustine, City of God

What is piracy? Can piracy, or theft, ever be ethical? What connects torrent sites like “The Pirate Bay” to the eighteenth-century pirates of the Caribbean or the present-day pirates active off the Horn of Africa and in the Malacca Straits? This course explores the full range of activities that have been described, or denounced, as piracy, from maritime seizures to copyright violations and intellectual property theft, from antiquity to the present day. Whereas some would have (or did) reject the label of pirate, situating their activities within the legal context of warfare and service to faith or state, others have embraced the term—and are celebrated for it in popular culture. Regardless of whether its practitioners have been publicly lauded or criticized, piracy has frequently been deployed in service of empire, whether by England in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Caribbean or by China in the intellectual property realm in more recent years. The phenomenon of piracy raises questions about who gets to decide what is legal or ethical and whether those are indeed the same thing: Do the ends always justify the means? Who has the jurisdiction to prosecute pirates, and who actually should? If we acquire stolen property, music or movies, are we pirates too?

Instructed by

White

Josh
Associate Professor of History
Josh White

I’ve long been fascinated with borders and boundaries, with how they are constructed, crossed, and transgressed. As a historian of the Ottoman Empire, that interest in boundaries, both territorial and legal, was what first led me to the phenomenon of piracy, which was endemic in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Mediterranean. I figured that focusing on piracy would provide an engaging way to explore the social, legal, and diplomatic history of the Ottoman Mediterranean world. But one of the things you quickly learn when you study piracy is that there’s a lot of ambiguity and rather less agreement over definitions. What is piracy, and perhaps more important, who gets to decide? Even tougher to answer: Who is a pirate? Historically speaking, few of those we might choose to call pirates would have embraced the title. Many received (or believed that they had) license from rulers or their faith to attack and plunder enemy shipping and were (and still are) celebrated for their actions in their home countries. Others only dabbled in piracy, well-armed merchants engaging in a little opportunistic free trade. Regardless, the majority of “pirates,” whether of ships or of intellectual property, whatever they have called themselves, have sought ways to justify their activities. But can piracy be ethical? When does taking something become piracy, and what does (or should) that mean for both pirates and buyers or receivers of pirated goods? The questions are as relevant today as ever, the ethical considerations no less pressing in the internet age as in the age of sail. That’s why I’m so excited to be navigating them together with students in the Engagements. After all, thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier to be a pirate. Now we must all contend with the implications.

Since joining the UVA faculty in 2012, I have taught courses at all levels on the history of the medieval and early modern Middle East and North Africa, the Ottoman Empire, and the Mediterranean. My first book, Piracy and Law in the Ottoman Mediterranean, examines the impact of and Ottoman response to maritime violence in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. I am currently working on a number of projects, including studies on illegal enslavement and freedom suits in the Ottoman Empire and the role of Islamic law and religious-legal authorities in Ottoman foreign relations.

MW 2:00pm-3:15pm
EGMT 1540: The Ethics of Piracy, from the High Seas to Torrents

EGMT 1540: The Ethics of Piracy, from the High Seas to Torrents

“…an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized…when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, ‘What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled emperor.’”

                                                                                                            —Augustine, City of God

What is piracy? Can piracy, or theft, ever be ethical? What connects torrent sites like “The Pirate Bay” to the eighteenth-century pirates of the Caribbean or the present-day pirates active off the Horn of Africa and in the Malacca Straits? This course explores the full range of activities that have been described, or denounced, as piracy, from maritime seizures to copyright violations and intellectual property theft, from antiquity to the present day. Whereas some would have (or did) reject the label of pirate, situating their activities within the legal context of warfare and service to faith or state, others have embraced the term—and are celebrated for it in popular culture. Regardless of whether its practitioners have been publicly lauded or criticized, piracy has frequently been deployed in service of empire, whether by England in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Caribbean or by China in the intellectual property realm in more recent years. The phenomenon of piracy raises questions about who gets to decide what is legal or ethical and whether those are indeed the same thing: Do the ends always justify the means? Who has the jurisdiction to prosecute pirates, and who actually should? If we acquire stolen property, music or movies, are we pirates too?

Instructed by

White

Josh
Associate Professor of History
Josh White

I’ve long been fascinated with borders and boundaries, with how they are constructed, crossed, and transgressed. As a historian of the Ottoman Empire, that interest in boundaries, both territorial and legal, was what first led me to the phenomenon of piracy, which was endemic in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Mediterranean. I figured that focusing on piracy would provide an engaging way to explore the social, legal, and diplomatic history of the Ottoman Mediterranean world. But one of the things you quickly learn when you study piracy is that there’s a lot of ambiguity and rather less agreement over definitions. What is piracy, and perhaps more important, who gets to decide? Even tougher to answer: Who is a pirate? Historically speaking, few of those we might choose to call pirates would have embraced the title. Many received (or believed that they had) license from rulers or their faith to attack and plunder enemy shipping and were (and still are) celebrated for their actions in their home countries. Others only dabbled in piracy, well-armed merchants engaging in a little opportunistic free trade. Regardless, the majority of “pirates,” whether of ships or of intellectual property, whatever they have called themselves, have sought ways to justify their activities. But can piracy be ethical? When does taking something become piracy, and what does (or should) that mean for both pirates and buyers or receivers of pirated goods? The questions are as relevant today as ever, the ethical considerations no less pressing in the internet age as in the age of sail. That’s why I’m so excited to be navigating them together with students in the Engagements. After all, thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier to be a pirate. Now we must all contend with the implications.

Since joining the UVA faculty in 2012, I have taught courses at all levels on the history of the medieval and early modern Middle East and North Africa, the Ottoman Empire, and the Mediterranean. My first book, Piracy and Law in the Ottoman Mediterranean, examines the impact of and Ottoman response to maritime violence in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. I am currently working on a number of projects, including studies on illegal enslavement and freedom suits in the Ottoman Empire and the role of Islamic law and religious-legal authorities in Ottoman foreign relations.

MW 11:00am-12:15pm
EGMT 1540: What is Engaged Citizenship

EGMT 1540: What is Engaged Citizenship

If citizenship gives us rights, can it also make demands of us? What would it mean to acquiesce to these demands, if so, and what to refuse them? Such questions about the ethics and requirements of engaged citizenship were central to the founding of the University of Virginia and increasingly serve as a rallying cry for the importance of the liberal arts tradition. But what is engaged citizenship and what does it require of us? In this class, we will consider varying frameworks for the ethics of engaged citizenship—education, self-reflection, presence (or showing up)—to struggle with the relationship of the self to society within the University community and beyond. Why do we increasingly know more about certain aspects of our food supply and so little about others? What are the implications of this visibility and invisibility for our behavior towards each other? Does citizenship require us to confront those who we perceive as challenging our values, and, if so, can that ever be anything other than a coercive and oppressive act? Is citizenship a communal agreement or an individual one? Does it bind us together or separate us? When is violence justified, if ever? Under what circumstances should we bend or discard our citizenly duty? Through class excursions, readings, journaling activities, viewings, and course presentations we will experiment with the ethical implications of the various positions we take—including inaction—when we respond to the world around and inside of us.

Instructed by

Goldblatt

Laura
Posdoctoral Fellow
Goldblatt

I worked as an English teacher at a failing high school in the Mississippi Delta before arriving at the University of Virginia. Nearly all of my high-school students were of color and qualified for free or reduced price lunch: I can count the exceptions to this rule on a single hand. More than half of the female students in my classes graduated from or left high school with at least one child, and my daily headcount too often depended upon sentences in juvenile detention, or worse.

Suffice it to say that the student body at the University of Virginia, an elite public institution that largely educates the children of professionals, has little in common with those who helped me craft my earliest and most abiding pedagogical principles. Despite these differences, both experiences have shown me that good teaching does not depend upon academic level and that the classroom can serve as a powerful laboratory for participatory democracy.

Due to these experiences, the hands-on, collaborative, and wildly ambitious pedagogical imagination at the core of the Engagements proposal drew me to the program. Two main goals guide my teaching. On the pedagogical side, using the tenets of cultural and literary study, I urge my students to view aesthetic objects as entangled in a complex web of meanings, historical contexts, and relationships that require consideration from multiple perspectives and methodologies. But for me, teaching also has material consequences on my students’ lives and the lives of those with whom they interact.

Beyond the content I convey, I aim to teach my students to think critically and creatively about the local and global systems in which they are imbedded while also urging them to consider possibilities to be realized outside these systems. I consider my courses a success when my students acquire the ability to consider the different viewpoints that can be brought to bear on cultural artifacts and to resist the urge to overlook the way something is said—its packaging—when considering its message. Most of all, I hope my classes will give them the courage to speak.

MW 3:30pm-4:45pm
EGMT 1540: What Isn't For Sale? And What Shouldn't Be?

EGMT 1540: What Isn't For Sale? And What Shouldn't Be?

There are many things in life we value, and which it seems unproblematic to buy or sell: houses, sweaters, and ice cream, for example.  But there are other things we value, which it seems impossible to buy or sell: love, moral goodness, or happiness, for example.  And there are still others which we can buy or sell, but might think we should not: kidneys, sexual or reproductive labor, ideas, or spiritual goods, for example.

Students in this engagement will consider whether there is anything that it is either impossible or wrong to sell.  We will focus on examples from a wide variety of domains and draw on readings from philosophy, religious studies, and fiction.  Our aim throughout will be to understand more clearly the value of the particular goods in question and the role such goods might play in making our own lives good and meaningful.

Instructed by

Stangl

Rebecca
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Stangl

Moral philosophy is my passion, but I strongly believe that ethics is not the sole province of professional philosophers. It is not the sole province of professionals insofar as every reflective human being faces the central ethical question of how best to live, and it is not the sole province of philosophers insofar as we have much to learn from other disciplines about the nature and possibility of value.  My work is therefore situated squarely within the discipline of moral philosophy while at the same time reaching beyond it. 

My particular academic focus is on virtue ethics and bioethics, and my recent articles have appeared in such journals as EthicsPhilosophical Quarterly, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, and The Hastings Center Report, as well as edited volumes from Oxford. My current book project – a Neo-Aristotelian account of heroic virtue, ordinary virtue, and the relation between them – is a work of analytic philosophy that also draws on insights from biography, literature, and social psychology.  

What excites me about teaching is drawing from this general approach to ethics to encourage a robust ethical discussion among students. In 2012, I was a recipient of UVA’s All-University Teaching Award.  I welcome the opportunity to reach an even wider audience of students within the intellectual environment that the College Fellows program seeks to cultivate.

TR 3:30pm-4:45pm
EGMT 1540: What Isn't For Sale? And What Shouldn't Be?

EGMT 1540: What Isn't For Sale? And What Shouldn't Be?

There are many things in life we value, and which it seems unproblematic to buy or sell: houses, sweaters, and ice cream, for example.  But there are other things we value, which it seems impossible to buy or sell: love, moral goodness, or happiness, for example.  And there are still others which we can buy or sell, but might think we should not: kidneys, sexual or reproductive labor, ideas, or spiritual goods, for example.

Students in this engagement will consider whether there is anything that it is either impossible or wrong to sell.  We will focus on examples from a wide variety of domains and draw on readings from philosophy, religious studies, and fiction.  Our aim throughout will be to understand more clearly the value of the particular goods in question and the role such goods might play in making our own lives good and meaningful.

Instructed by

Stangl

Rebecca
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Stangl

Moral philosophy is my passion, but I strongly believe that ethics is not the sole province of professional philosophers. It is not the sole province of professionals insofar as every reflective human being faces the central ethical question of how best to live, and it is not the sole province of philosophers insofar as we have much to learn from other disciplines about the nature and possibility of value.  My work is therefore situated squarely within the discipline of moral philosophy while at the same time reaching beyond it. 

My particular academic focus is on virtue ethics and bioethics, and my recent articles have appeared in such journals as EthicsPhilosophical Quarterly, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, and The Hastings Center Report, as well as edited volumes from Oxford. My current book project – a Neo-Aristotelian account of heroic virtue, ordinary virtue, and the relation between them – is a work of analytic philosophy that also draws on insights from biography, literature, and social psychology.  

What excites me about teaching is drawing from this general approach to ethics to encourage a robust ethical discussion among students. In 2012, I was a recipient of UVA’s All-University Teaching Award.  I welcome the opportunity to reach an even wider audience of students within the intellectual environment that the College Fellows program seeks to cultivate.

TR 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1540: Who Wants to Save the World, and Why? The Ethics of Global Citizenship

EGMT 1540: Who Wants to Save the World, and Why? The Ethics of Global Citizenship

This class seeks to ask one simple question: why do we care about the ethical state of the world?  Once upon a time, people thought about ethics as it pertained primarily to their immediate local context; to be a “good person” meant being “good” relative to those closest to you—family, friends, and neighbors.  Now, people increasingly care about ethics globally, and assume that to be good we must be ethically thoughtful as regards a wide range of global issues.  What does it mean to be a “global citizen”? Why do we increasingly think this way?  What is good about this?  What is bad about it?  And finally, why did this whole issue arise—that is, what makes this question interesting and important to us?

Instructed by

Mathewes

Charles
Carolyn M. Barbour Professor of Religious Studies
Mathewes

I was born in the United States, but I spent the rest of my childhood overseas, in Saudi Arabia. Because of that, I’ve always thought that profound religious difference and serious geopolitical concern were alive and interrelated. 

I eventually became fascinated with religious ethics, because I am interested in how people think about how and why they behave as they do in their lives, how they might behave better, and why they might care to so improve. I have a special interest in evil: in how humans have imagined what it means for people to “go bad,” in what that fact says about the cosmos, and in what responses we might be obliged to make to those insights.

I am drawn to the College Fellows centrally because of the Fellows’ interdisciplinary ambition. It is both interesting and fun to work together with colleagues to create a kind of education that is more than the sum of its parts, and that tries to spark conversations across disciplinary boundaries and semester segments. Liberal education’s traditional intellectual flexibility, and its diversity in courses of study, should be retained; but we want to amplify those strengths with a direct holistic attention to the overall shaping of the individual, as both a person with vivid convictions and a citizen with civic obligations.

I enjoy working with students to engage their interests in thinkers, writers and complicated philosophical and religious topics. I delight in those moments when a class “spills over” the syllabus’s explicit boundaries, and we begin to engage matters far beyond the themes on the syllabus; in those moments, we confront matters of surprisingly immediate concern to people in the class, or just go so deeply into the topics of our study that we uncover surprising and heretofore unnoticed (even by me) insights. 

MW 5:00pm-6:15pm
EGMT 1540: Who Wants to Save the World, and Why? The Ethics of Global Citizenship

EGMT 1540: Who Wants to Save the World, and Why? The Ethics of Global Citizenship

This class seeks to ask one simple question: why do we care about the ethical state of the world?  Once upon a time, people thought about ethics as it pertained primarily to their immediate local context; to be a “good person” meant being “good” relative to those closest to you—family, friends, and neighbors.  Now, people increasingly care about ethics globally, and assume that to be good we must be ethically thoughtful as regards a wide range of global issues.  What does it mean to be a “global citizen”? Why do we increasingly think this way?  What is good about this?  What is bad about it?  And finally, why did this whole issue arise—that is, what makes this question interesting and important to us?

Instructed by

Mathewes

Charles
Carolyn M. Barbour Professor of Religious Studies
Mathewes

I was born in the United States, but I spent the rest of my childhood overseas, in Saudi Arabia. Because of that, I’ve always thought that profound religious difference and serious geopolitical concern were alive and interrelated. 

I eventually became fascinated with religious ethics, because I am interested in how people think about how and why they behave as they do in their lives, how they might behave better, and why they might care to so improve. I have a special interest in evil: in how humans have imagined what it means for people to “go bad,” in what that fact says about the cosmos, and in what responses we might be obliged to make to those insights.

I am drawn to the College Fellows centrally because of the Fellows’ interdisciplinary ambition. It is both interesting and fun to work together with colleagues to create a kind of education that is more than the sum of its parts, and that tries to spark conversations across disciplinary boundaries and semester segments. Liberal education’s traditional intellectual flexibility, and its diversity in courses of study, should be retained; but we want to amplify those strengths with a direct holistic attention to the overall shaping of the individual, as both a person with vivid convictions and a citizen with civic obligations.

I enjoy working with students to engage their interests in thinkers, writers and complicated philosophical and religious topics. I delight in those moments when a class “spills over” the syllabus’s explicit boundaries, and we begin to engage matters far beyond the themes on the syllabus; in those moments, we confront matters of surprisingly immediate concern to people in the class, or just go so deeply into the topics of our study that we uncover surprising and heretofore unnoticed (even by me) insights. 

TR 9:30am-10:45am

Spring 2020

Spring Session One: January 13 - March 2

EGMT 1530/1540: Do We Still Have Faith In Democracy?

EGMT 1530/1540: Do We Still Have Faith In Democracy?

*Note: Since this class satifies both EGMT 1530 (Differences) and EGMT 1540 (Ethics), students must enroll in both Fall Session 1 and Fall Session 2 sections.

Democracy is currently face daunting challenges in the U.S. and around the world.  Authoritarian leaders and populist parties have undermined democratic values across the globe, including Brazil, Hungary, Algeria, Poland, and the United States.  In the U.S., there are attempts to make it more difficult for citizens to vote. Practices of gerrymandering and unethical campaign finance undermine citizen’s interests in representative government. In Charlottesville, especially in the wake of events of August 2017, questions have been raised about the responsiveness of local government to the needs of its citizens and the city’s failure to protect the safety of those who protested against the actions of self-admitted racist and fascist groups.

In the midst of these challenges, do we still have faith in democracy and, if so, why?  Must we have faith in democracy in order for it to succeed?   What do we mean by faith?  How might the resources of democracy itself (its ideas and its practices) help societies respond to these crises?

This course examines the character of democracy:

  • What is a democracy and what distinguishes it from other forms of governments?
  • What are the practices of democracy and the role of education in preparation for democratic participation? 
  • What does it mean to be a citizen of a democracy and who counts as a citizen?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities of pluralism (religious, cultural, racial, political) to the life of democracy?

A major goal of the class is to prepare students to connect questions about democracy to the different settings they will encounter in their years at UVA, from the classroom to the many social and political situations they negotiate.

In addition to reading assignments and short papers, students will be required to move out of the classroom and select, observe and reflect upon a real-life instance of democratic politics in action (e.g., city council meetings, school board meetings, and so forth).     

Instructed by

Flores

Nichole

I am excited to serve as a College Fellow co-teaching a course (along with Bruce Williams), “Do we still have faith in democracy?" Teaching in the engagements presents a unique opportunity to explore the ideas and practices of democracy with a diverse group of students eager to tackle one of the most challenging topics of our time during their first year in the college! 

My teaching and research in religious ethics and democracy is animated by two life experiences. The first experience is attending public middle school on the west side of Denver, Colorado where the majority of my classmates were either Mexican or Vietnamese Catholics. Our teachers often asked us to explore questions about our deepest passions, values, and commitments, but we were tacitly asked to do so without breaching the "wall of separation between Church and State" famously articulated by Thomas Jefferson in his “Letter to the Danbury Baptists." Limiting religious engagement in the public educational setting curtailed our ability to constructively and critically evaluate the way our religious upbringings influenced our lives. The second experience is participating in community organizing alongside farmworkers from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers when I was in my mid-20s. As I marched alongside workers whom had experienced economic exploitation and human rights abuses in U.S. agricultural fields, I witnessed the power of religious people, communities, ideas, practices, and commitments (Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, and Buddhist, among others) to help pursue justice for those on the bottom rungs of the global economy. While I think maintaining the separation between church and state is vital to maintaining a society committed to justice and equality, these experiences of religion in public life ignited my passion for exploring the ways that religion can enliven and/or hinder democracies at the local, national, and global levels. 

My academic research emphasizes the relationship between religious ethics and aesthetics in cultivating solidarity in the context of religiously diverse and politically democratic societies. I also have a “side hustle" as a contributing author on the masthead at America: The Jesuit Review of Faith and Culture, where I write feature essays that interlace Catholic theology and ethics with politics and culture. This past winter, I fulfilled a lifelong dream of interviewing Federico Peña, the first Latinx mayor of Denver and a member of Bill Clinton’s cabinet, about the role his Catholic faith played in his public life.

,

Williams

Bruce

Bruce Williams is the Ambassador Henry J. Taylor and Mrs. Marion R. Taylor Professor of Media Studies. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Minnesota and, before coming to UVA, taught at the Pennsylvania State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois, and the London School of Economics. His research and teaching interests focus on the impact of a changing media environment on democratic politics. He has published five books and more than forty scholarly journal articles and book chapters. His two most recent books are The New Media Environment: An Introduction (with Andrea Press) and After Broadcast News: Media Regimes, Democracy, and the New Information Environment (with Michael Delli Carpini), both published in 2012.  In 2012 he received an All-University Teaching Award.  For six years, Bruce served on the committees that designed both the College Forums and New College Curriculum.

 
MW 9:30am-10:45am
EGMT 1540: Ethical Dilemmas and Science

EGMT 1540: Ethical Dilemmas and Science

Science and the technology it has spawned has radically transformed societies throughout history, at ever increasing rates.  The traditional caricature of the scientist is as a dispassionate searcher of “what is true,” who is not concerned with the ethical implications of his/her work.  It is not possible to escape ethical considerations and decisions – to ignore ethics is a choice with ethical consequences. Many think of ethics as merely a prescription against certain actions but the most interesting and vexing ethical choices involve trade-offs between options that have both positive and negative consequences. One goal of this course is to introduce you to ethical questions that face scientists and the broader society that financially supports and regulates science. Another is to consider consequences of choices to individual scientists, to institutions, to professions, and to society at different levels of organization. The three specific areas to be examined: (1) The ethics of medical research, including questions of potential conflicts between the interests of subjects and the possible benefits to the larger society. (2) The ethics of practice of science, including the influence of incentives and conflicts of interest.  (3) The responsibilities of scientists for the uses and other impacts of their research on society.  Examples for discussion will be taken from well-studied examples from the past, present controversies, and the impact of emerging transformative technologies such as CRISPR-Cas9 and Artificial Intelligence.

Instructed by

Lehmann

Kevin

I have long had an interest in the intersection of Science and Ethics, but that has been amplified by the teaching of scientific ethics as part of a graduate chemistry course.  In that course, the focus was on the ethics and misconduct of how science is practiced.   In the engagement course I will teach, I will strive to explore ethical issues and reasoning that arises from Science, and how responsibilities for the consequences of Scientific research should be apportioned between different levels of the hierarchy that goes from the individual scientist, through scientific institutions, and ultimately to society at large.

My research has been at the interface of Physics and Chemistry, a field known as Chemical Physics.   In particular, I use spectroscopic and quantum mechanical theoretic methods to explore the properties of molecules, the strength of their interactions and how energy exchanges between forms, both in a single molecule and in collisions with other molecules.  Lasers are my preferred tools of the trade.  I am a Fellow of both the American Physical Society and the Optical Society of America. 

 
TR 5:00pm-6:15pm
EGMT 1540: The Ethics of Piracy, from the High Seas to Torrents

EGMT 1540: The Ethics of Piracy, from the High Seas to Torrents

“…an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized…when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, ‘What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled emperor.’”

                                                                                                            —Augustine, City of God

What is piracy? Can piracy, or theft, ever be ethical? What connects torrent sites like “The Pirate Bay” to the eighteenth-century pirates of the Caribbean or the present-day pirates active off the Horn of Africa and in the Malacca Straits? This course explores the full range of activities that have been described, or denounced, as piracy, from maritime seizures to copyright violations and intellectual property theft, from antiquity to the present day. Whereas some would have (or did) reject the label of pirate, situating their activities within the legal context of warfare and service to faith or state, others have embraced the term—and are celebrated for it in popular culture. Regardless of whether its practitioners have been publicly lauded or criticized, piracy has frequently been deployed in service of empire, whether by England in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Caribbean or by China in the intellectual property realm in more recent years. The phenomenon of piracy raises questions about who gets to decide what is legal or ethical and whether those are indeed the same thing: Do the ends always justify the means? Who has the jurisdiction to prosecute pirates, and who actually should? If we acquire stolen property, music or movies, are we pirates too?

Instructed by

White

Josh
Associate Professor of History
Josh White

I’ve long been fascinated with borders and boundaries, with how they are constructed, crossed, and transgressed. As a historian of the Ottoman Empire, that interest in boundaries, both territorial and legal, was what first led me to the phenomenon of piracy, which was endemic in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Mediterranean. I figured that focusing on piracy would provide an engaging way to explore the social, legal, and diplomatic history of the Ottoman Mediterranean world. But one of the things you quickly learn when you study piracy is that there’s a lot of ambiguity and rather less agreement over definitions. What is piracy, and perhaps more important, who gets to decide? Even tougher to answer: Who is a pirate? Historically speaking, few of those we might choose to call pirates would have embraced the title. Many received (or believed that they had) license from rulers or their faith to attack and plunder enemy shipping and were (and still are) celebrated for their actions in their home countries. Others only dabbled in piracy, well-armed merchants engaging in a little opportunistic free trade. Regardless, the majority of “pirates,” whether of ships or of intellectual property, whatever they have called themselves, have sought ways to justify their activities. But can piracy be ethical? When does taking something become piracy, and what does (or should) that mean for both pirates and buyers or receivers of pirated goods? The questions are as relevant today as ever, the ethical considerations no less pressing in the internet age as in the age of sail. That’s why I’m so excited to be navigating them together with students in the Engagements. After all, thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier to be a pirate. Now we must all contend with the implications.

Since joining the UVA faculty in 2012, I have taught courses at all levels on the history of the medieval and early modern Middle East and North Africa, the Ottoman Empire, and the Mediterranean. My first book, Piracy and Law in the Ottoman Mediterranean, examines the impact of and Ottoman response to maritime violence in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. I am currently working on a number of projects, including studies on illegal enslavement and freedom suits in the Ottoman Empire and the role of Islamic law and religious-legal authorities in Ottoman foreign relations.

MW 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1540: The Ethics of Piracy, from the High Seas to Torrents

EGMT 1540: The Ethics of Piracy, from the High Seas to Torrents

“…an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized…when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, ‘What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled emperor.’”

                                                                                                            —Augustine, City of God

What is piracy? Can piracy, or theft, ever be ethical? What connects torrent sites like “The Pirate Bay” to the eighteenth-century pirates of the Caribbean or the present-day pirates active off the Horn of Africa and in the Malacca Straits? This course explores the full range of activities that have been described, or denounced, as piracy, from maritime seizures to copyright violations and intellectual property theft, from antiquity to the present day. Whereas some would have (or did) reject the label of pirate, situating their activities within the legal context of warfare and service to faith or state, others have embraced the term—and are celebrated for it in popular culture. Regardless of whether its practitioners have been publicly lauded or criticized, piracy has frequently been deployed in service of empire, whether by England in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Caribbean or by China in the intellectual property realm in more recent years. The phenomenon of piracy raises questions about who gets to decide what is legal or ethical and whether those are indeed the same thing: Do the ends always justify the means? Who has the jurisdiction to prosecute pirates, and who actually should? If we acquire stolen property, music or movies, are we pirates too?

Instructed by

White

Josh
Associate Professor of History
Josh White

I’ve long been fascinated with borders and boundaries, with how they are constructed, crossed, and transgressed. As a historian of the Ottoman Empire, that interest in boundaries, both territorial and legal, was what first led me to the phenomenon of piracy, which was endemic in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Mediterranean. I figured that focusing on piracy would provide an engaging way to explore the social, legal, and diplomatic history of the Ottoman Mediterranean world. But one of the things you quickly learn when you study piracy is that there’s a lot of ambiguity and rather less agreement over definitions. What is piracy, and perhaps more important, who gets to decide? Even tougher to answer: Who is a pirate? Historically speaking, few of those we might choose to call pirates would have embraced the title. Many received (or believed that they had) license from rulers or their faith to attack and plunder enemy shipping and were (and still are) celebrated for their actions in their home countries. Others only dabbled in piracy, well-armed merchants engaging in a little opportunistic free trade. Regardless, the majority of “pirates,” whether of ships or of intellectual property, whatever they have called themselves, have sought ways to justify their activities. But can piracy be ethical? When does taking something become piracy, and what does (or should) that mean for both pirates and buyers or receivers of pirated goods? The questions are as relevant today as ever, the ethical considerations no less pressing in the internet age as in the age of sail. That’s why I’m so excited to be navigating them together with students in the Engagements. After all, thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier to be a pirate. Now we must all contend with the implications.

Since joining the UVA faculty in 2012, I have taught courses at all levels on the history of the medieval and early modern Middle East and North Africa, the Ottoman Empire, and the Mediterranean. My first book, Piracy and Law in the Ottoman Mediterranean, examines the impact of and Ottoman response to maritime violence in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. I am currently working on a number of projects, including studies on illegal enslavement and freedom suits in the Ottoman Empire and the role of Islamic law and religious-legal authorities in Ottoman foreign relations.

MW 5:00pm-6:15pm
EGMT 1540: What is Engaged Citizenship

EGMT 1540: What is Engaged Citizenship

If citizenship gives us rights, can it also make demands of us? What would it mean to acquiesce to these demands, if so, and what to refuse them? Such questions about the ethics and requirements of engaged citizenship were central to the founding of the University of Virginia and increasingly serve as a rallying cry for the importance of the liberal arts tradition. But what is engaged citizenship and what does it require of us? In this class, we will consider varying frameworks for the ethics of engaged citizenship—education, self-reflection, presence (or showing up)—to struggle with the relationship of the self to society within the University community and beyond. Why do we increasingly know more about certain aspects of our food supply and so little about others? What are the implications of this visibility and invisibility for our behavior towards each other? Does citizenship require us to confront those who we perceive as challenging our values, and, if so, can that ever be anything other than a coercive and oppressive act? Is citizenship a communal agreement or an individual one? Does it bind us together or separate us? When is violence justified, if ever? Under what circumstances should we bend or discard our citizenly duty? Through class excursions, readings, journaling activities, viewings, and course presentations we will experiment with the ethical implications of the various positions we take—including inaction—when we respond to the world around and inside of us.

Instructed by

Goldblatt

Laura
Posdoctoral Fellow
Goldblatt

I worked as an English teacher at a failing high school in the Mississippi Delta before arriving at the University of Virginia. Nearly all of my high-school students were of color and qualified for free or reduced price lunch: I can count the exceptions to this rule on a single hand. More than half of the female students in my classes graduated from or left high school with at least one child, and my daily headcount too often depended upon sentences in juvenile detention, or worse.

Suffice it to say that the student body at the University of Virginia, an elite public institution that largely educates the children of professionals, has little in common with those who helped me craft my earliest and most abiding pedagogical principles. Despite these differences, both experiences have shown me that good teaching does not depend upon academic level and that the classroom can serve as a powerful laboratory for participatory democracy.

Due to these experiences, the hands-on, collaborative, and wildly ambitious pedagogical imagination at the core of the Engagements proposal drew me to the program. Two main goals guide my teaching. On the pedagogical side, using the tenets of cultural and literary study, I urge my students to view aesthetic objects as entangled in a complex web of meanings, historical contexts, and relationships that require consideration from multiple perspectives and methodologies. But for me, teaching also has material consequences on my students’ lives and the lives of those with whom they interact.

Beyond the content I convey, I aim to teach my students to think critically and creatively about the local and global systems in which they are imbedded while also urging them to consider possibilities to be realized outside these systems. I consider my courses a success when my students acquire the ability to consider the different viewpoints that can be brought to bear on cultural artifacts and to resist the urge to overlook the way something is said—its packaging—when considering its message. Most of all, I hope my classes will give them the courage to speak.

MW 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1540: What is Engaged Citizenship

EGMT 1540: What is Engaged Citizenship

If citizenship gives us rights, can it also make demands of us? What would it mean to acquiesce to these demands, if so, and what to refuse them? Such questions about the ethics and requirements of engaged citizenship were central to the founding of the University of Virginia and increasingly serve as a rallying cry for the importance of the liberal arts tradition. But what is engaged citizenship and what does it require of us? In this class, we will consider varying frameworks for the ethics of engaged citizenship—education, self-reflection, presence (or showing up)—to struggle with the relationship of the self to society within the University community and beyond. Why do we increasingly know more about certain aspects of our food supply and so little about others? What are the implications of this visibility and invisibility for our behavior towards each other? Does citizenship require us to confront those who we perceive as challenging our values, and, if so, can that ever be anything other than a coercive and oppressive act? Is citizenship a communal agreement or an individual one? Does it bind us together or separate us? When is violence justified, if ever? Under what circumstances should we bend or discard our citizenly duty? Through class excursions, readings, journaling activities, viewings, and course presentations we will experiment with the ethical implications of the various positions we take—including inaction—when we respond to the world around and inside of us.

Instructed by

Goldblatt

Laura
Posdoctoral Fellow
Goldblatt

I worked as an English teacher at a failing high school in the Mississippi Delta before arriving at the University of Virginia. Nearly all of my high-school students were of color and qualified for free or reduced price lunch: I can count the exceptions to this rule on a single hand. More than half of the female students in my classes graduated from or left high school with at least one child, and my daily headcount too often depended upon sentences in juvenile detention, or worse.

Suffice it to say that the student body at the University of Virginia, an elite public institution that largely educates the children of professionals, has little in common with those who helped me craft my earliest and most abiding pedagogical principles. Despite these differences, both experiences have shown me that good teaching does not depend upon academic level and that the classroom can serve as a powerful laboratory for participatory democracy.

Due to these experiences, the hands-on, collaborative, and wildly ambitious pedagogical imagination at the core of the Engagements proposal drew me to the program. Two main goals guide my teaching. On the pedagogical side, using the tenets of cultural and literary study, I urge my students to view aesthetic objects as entangled in a complex web of meanings, historical contexts, and relationships that require consideration from multiple perspectives and methodologies. But for me, teaching also has material consequences on my students’ lives and the lives of those with whom they interact.

Beyond the content I convey, I aim to teach my students to think critically and creatively about the local and global systems in which they are imbedded while also urging them to consider possibilities to be realized outside these systems. I consider my courses a success when my students acquire the ability to consider the different viewpoints that can be brought to bear on cultural artifacts and to resist the urge to overlook the way something is said—its packaging—when considering its message. Most of all, I hope my classes will give them the courage to speak.

MW 3:30pm-4:45pm

Spring Session Two: March 4 - April 23

EGMT 1530/1540: Do We Still Have Faith In Democracy?

EGMT 1530/1540: Do We Still Have Faith In Democracy?

*Note: Since this class satifies both EGMT 1530 (Differences) and EGMT 1540 (Ethics), students must enroll in both Fall Session 1 and Fall Session 2 sections.

Democracy is currently face daunting challenges in the U.S. and around the world.  Authoritarian leaders and populist parties have undermined democratic values across the globe, including Brazil, Hungary, Algeria, Poland, and the United States.  In the U.S., there are attempts to make it more difficult for citizens to vote. Practices of gerrymandering and unethical campaign finance undermine citizen’s interests in representative government. In Charlottesville, especially in the wake of events of August 2017, questions have been raised about the responsiveness of local government to the needs of its citizens and the city’s failure to protect the safety of those who protested against the actions of self-admitted racist and fascist groups.

In the midst of these challenges, do we still have faith in democracy and, if so, why?  Must we have faith in democracy in order for it to succeed?   What do we mean by faith?  How might the resources of democracy itself (its ideas and its practices) help societies respond to these crises?

This course examines the character of democracy:

  • What is a democracy and what distinguishes it from other forms of governments?
  • What are the practices of democracy and the role of education in preparation for democratic participation? 
  • What does it mean to be a citizen of a democracy and who counts as a citizen?
  • What are the challenges and opportunities of pluralism (religious, cultural, racial, political) to the life of democracy?

A major goal of the class is to prepare students to connect questions about democracy to the different settings they will encounter in their years at UVA, from the classroom to the many social and political situations they negotiate.

In addition to reading assignments and short papers, students will be required to move out of the classroom and select, observe and reflect upon a real-life instance of democratic politics in action (e.g., city council meetings, school board meetings, and so forth).     

Instructed by

Flores

Nichole

I am excited to serve as a College Fellow co-teaching a course (along with Bruce Williams), “Do we still have faith in democracy?" Teaching in the engagements presents a unique opportunity to explore the ideas and practices of democracy with a diverse group of students eager to tackle one of the most challenging topics of our time during their first year in the college! 

My teaching and research in religious ethics and democracy is animated by two life experiences. The first experience is attending public middle school on the west side of Denver, Colorado where the majority of my classmates were either Mexican or Vietnamese Catholics. Our teachers often asked us to explore questions about our deepest passions, values, and commitments, but we were tacitly asked to do so without breaching the "wall of separation between Church and State" famously articulated by Thomas Jefferson in his “Letter to the Danbury Baptists." Limiting religious engagement in the public educational setting curtailed our ability to constructively and critically evaluate the way our religious upbringings influenced our lives. The second experience is participating in community organizing alongside farmworkers from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers when I was in my mid-20s. As I marched alongside workers whom had experienced economic exploitation and human rights abuses in U.S. agricultural fields, I witnessed the power of religious people, communities, ideas, practices, and commitments (Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, and Buddhist, among others) to help pursue justice for those on the bottom rungs of the global economy. While I think maintaining the separation between church and state is vital to maintaining a society committed to justice and equality, these experiences of religion in public life ignited my passion for exploring the ways that religion can enliven and/or hinder democracies at the local, national, and global levels. 

My academic research emphasizes the relationship between religious ethics and aesthetics in cultivating solidarity in the context of religiously diverse and politically democratic societies. I also have a “side hustle" as a contributing author on the masthead at America: The Jesuit Review of Faith and Culture, where I write feature essays that interlace Catholic theology and ethics with politics and culture. This past winter, I fulfilled a lifelong dream of interviewing Federico Peña, the first Latinx mayor of Denver and a member of Bill Clinton’s cabinet, about the role his Catholic faith played in his public life.

,

Williams

Bruce

Bruce Williams is the Ambassador Henry J. Taylor and Mrs. Marion R. Taylor Professor of Media Studies. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Minnesota and, before coming to UVA, taught at the Pennsylvania State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois, and the London School of Economics. His research and teaching interests focus on the impact of a changing media environment on democratic politics. He has published five books and more than forty scholarly journal articles and book chapters. His two most recent books are The New Media Environment: An Introduction (with Andrea Press) and After Broadcast News: Media Regimes, Democracy, and the New Information Environment (with Michael Delli Carpini), both published in 2012.  In 2012 he received an All-University Teaching Award.  For six years, Bruce served on the committees that designed both the College Forums and New College Curriculum.

 
MW 9:30am-10:45am
EGMT 1540: Does Reading Literature Make Us More Ethical? Really?

EGMT 1540: Does Reading Literature Make Us More Ethical? Really?

Does reading literature increase empathy for others, and, if so, are there limits to empathy? Does it provide models for human flourishing? Make us inhabit modes of life different from our own? If so, does that lead to different action in the world? And how durable are its effects? From antiquity onwards it has often been claimed that literature can have an ethical effect upon the reader; in short, that literary works can change us for the better, influence our sense of our obligations to others, even alter our behaviors and be a powerful driver of social change. We’ll explore the historical and cultural conditions that comprise our individual moral particularity and ask to what extent that particularity is malleable. And we’ll consider arguments about how literary works afford explorations of our obligations to others in ways that non-literary modes cannot, looking at how diverse thinkers have argued for – and against – links between ethics and literature and reading literature as a public good.

In this class we’ll be exploring these questions in depth in the context of the current global refugee crisis, examining a diverse set of ethical commitments both within literary works and in arguments about them, and considering these arguments in their potential application to an urgent contemporary issue. We will ask what kinds of ethical commitments those might be, and whether and how they may transfer from the page to the life beyond it. To do so, we will be running the class as a lab space for a collaborative investigation into the possible uses – and, perhaps, limits – of literature for humanitarian advocacy. The culmination of the course will be the collaborative creation of materials for the United Nations with recommendations for the incorporation of literature into UNOCHA’s refugee advocacy campaign and a student-created portfolio of suggested reading materials with accompanying critical tools and apparatus.

Instructed by

Ghaly

Adrienne
Postdoctoral Fellow
Ghaly

I work on the modern novel in British, Anglophone and European contexts, and its philosophical and cultural tasks in twentieth-century thought; the interplay of ethics and literature; and cultural responses to global manmade species extinction. My research spans the period from the later nineteenth century to the contemporary. I work both within the field of literature and beyond it, for my scholarship addresses what ‘the novel’ is and the migration of novelistic modes into other media, particularly contemporary art, and asks how literature and visual art respond to and think about the age of extinction as a modern phenomenon. My interests are a reflection of my interdisciplinary training at New York University and the University of Chicago and exist at the intersection of literature, philosophy, critical theory, history and the environment.

I came to the College Fellows program and the engagements courses for three key reasons. First, aesthetic and ethical problems are intertwined in my work and I wanted to teach courses that encourage creative connections across disciplines and media. Second, the engagements lay the foundation for university-level thinking: to question the concepts we use to approach, categorize and reflect on ways of looking at the world, and to invite us to consider new and radical perspectives. Third, the role of the humanities in public life is crucial to the questions I ask in my teaching and research, and to the urgent challenges - such as manmade extinction - facing us now.

TR 12:30pm-1:45pm
EGMT 1540: Does Reading Literature Make Us More Ethical? Really?

EGMT 1540: Does Reading Literature Make Us More Ethical? Really?

Does reading literature increase empathy for others, and, if so, are there limits to empathy? Does it provide models for human flourishing? Make us inhabit modes of life different from our own? If so, does that lead to different action in the world? And how durable are its effects? From antiquity onwards it has often been claimed that literature can have an ethical effect upon the reader; in short, that literary works can change us for the better, influence our sense of our obligations to others, even alter our behaviors and be a powerful driver of social change. We’ll explore the historical and cultural conditions that comprise our individual moral particularity and ask to what extent that particularity is malleable. And we’ll consider arguments about how literary works afford explorations of our obligations to others in ways that non-literary modes cannot, looking at how diverse thinkers have argued for – and against – links between ethics and literature and reading literature as a public good.

In this class we’ll be exploring these questions in depth in the context of the current global refugee crisis, examining a diverse set of ethical commitments both within literary works and in arguments about them, and considering these arguments in their potential application to an urgent contemporary issue. We will ask what kinds of ethical commitments those might be, and whether and how they may transfer from the page to the life beyond it. To do so, we will be running the class as a lab space for a collaborative investigation into the possible uses – and, perhaps, limits – of literature for humanitarian advocacy. The culmination of the course will be the collaborative creation of materials for the United Nations with recommendations for the incorporation of literature into UNOCHA’s refugee advocacy campaign and a student-created portfolio of suggested reading materials with accompanying critical tools and apparatus.

Instructed by

Ghaly

Adrienne
Postdoctoral Fellow
Ghaly

I work on the modern novel in British, Anglophone and European contexts, and its philosophical and cultural tasks in twentieth-century thought; the interplay of ethics and literature; and cultural responses to global manmade species extinction. My research spans the period from the later nineteenth century to the contemporary. I work both within the field of literature and beyond it, for my scholarship addresses what ‘the novel’ is and the migration of novelistic modes into other media, particularly contemporary art, and asks how literature and visual art respond to and think about the age of extinction as a modern phenomenon. My interests are a reflection of my interdisciplinary training at New York University and the University of Chicago and exist at the intersection of literature, philosophy, critical theory, history and the environment.

I came to the College Fellows program and the engagements courses for three key reasons. First, aesthetic and ethical problems are intertwined in my work and I wanted to teach courses that encourage creative connections across disciplines and media. Second, the engagements lay the foundation for university-level thinking: to question the concepts we use to approach, categorize and reflect on ways of looking at the world, and to invite us to consider new and radical perspectives. Third, the role of the humanities in public life is crucial to the questions I ask in my teaching and research, and to the urgent challenges - such as manmade extinction - facing us now.

TR 9:30am-10:45am
EGMT 1540: How Do We Become Who We Are?

EGMT 1540: How Do We Become Who We Are?

"Now let’s get in formation!” While the command Beyoncé sings in the title track of her 2015 album Formation is at its most basic level an instruction to her dancers to get ready to perform, it is also something more than that. Throughout the song, Beyoncé reflects on how she has come to be who she is—where she comes from and the people that surround her, the work she has put in, and the traits, virtues, and dispositions that have shaped and been shaped by her experiences —as well as about who she is still becoming. Like Beyoncé, this course explores how we become who we are, albeit a bit more analytically and systematically!

Over the course of seven weeks, we will identify and interrogate the complex, multi-faceted relationships between social contexts and factors, identities, and ethical approaches and actions. What social, cultural, and historical factors shape us? How do these factors shape us— how do they impact how we relate to others, what we see as good or successful, the decisions we make and the ways we organize and order and live our lives?  How, then, do we shape the world around us as we’re being shaped by it? Drawing on resources from across the humanities and social sciences, we will reflect on and evaluate meta-ethical theories of identity and formation, ethical inquiries that arise in both theories and processes of formation, and ethical implications and applications of various accounts.

As one distinctive part of a broader framework of scholarly engagements, this course will aid us in cultivating an approach to ethical reflection and practice that can serve as a basis for critical inquiry and civic participation. Put another way, in asking how we become who we are, this course (and the Engagements program it is a part of) is also saying something about who we could (should?) become and how we might get there. (Given this, we’ll even actually turn to this very course as a site of inquiry! #meta.) In exploring approaches and questions around how we become who we are, through close reading, class discussions, and course assignments, students will reflect critically, constructively, and creatively about who they want to be as individuals and/in community, why, and what the processes of becoming might look like.

Instructed by

Daniels

Brandy
Postdoctoral Fellow
Daniels

I was the first person in my family to go to college. I grew up just outside of Los Angeles, my dad was (and still is) a copier repairman, and my mom worked as a cashier at Walmart. I almost didn’t even go to college. If I’m honest, the only reason I went is because I knew I wanted to get married someday, and I thought I should find a spouse who was going to get a better job than either of my parents did, so I’d probably find them at college. I went to a small religious liberal arts school close to home. Turns out, rather than falling in love with another person, I fell in love with education instead. I went on to get two Bachelor’s degrees, two Master’s degrees, and then, realizing I wanted to go back to college as a professor, yet another Master’s degree and a PhD.

As what folks call a first-generation college and graduate student, I often felt like an outsider, especially at places like Duke and Vanderbilt (and, for that matter, at UVA!), especially as a women studying religion, a field that tends to be predominately male. I also grew up in a deeply religious family, hence my fascination with studying religion, and came from a tradition that did not believe women should be teachers, especially not teaching religion. I felt like an outsider within the academy, and within the community I came from. My background deeply shaped my own research interests—can communities sustain their identity and take difference seriously at the same time? If so, how? How do accounts and practices of formation—the ways we become who we are—assist or hinder such endeavors? These questions lie at the heart of my research, which is on gender and sexual difference in religious thought and practice. They also deeply shape and are deeply shaped by my teaching, and are, in many ways, what drew me to teach courses in the Engagements.

I view the classroom as a formational site where community amidst difference can be interrogated, imagined, and inhabited—an occasion for transformative intellectual practice through engagement together with texts, traditions, and theories. No wonder, then, that I was drawn to teach courses in the Engagements program, given its emphasis on, well, engagement—on collaboration and creativity, on active learning, on conversation and critical thinking. In my course on Engaging Difference, we will explore these questions of community amidst difference, as well as practice and live them, as we consider what kind of good difference is by exploring visions of the future, and in my course on Ethical Engagements, we’ll look at how we become who we are and imagine together who we might want to become and how we might get there.

MW 5:00pm-6:15pm
EGMT 1540: How Do We Become Who We Are?

EGMT 1540: How Do We Become Who We Are?

"Now let’s get in formation!” While the command Beyoncé sings in the title track of her 2015 album Formation is at its most basic level an instruction to her dancers to get ready to perform, it is also something more than that. Throughout the song, Beyoncé reflects on how she has come to be who she is—where she comes from and the people that surround her, the work she has put in, and the traits, virtues, and dispositions that have shaped and been shaped by her experiences —as well as about who she is still becoming. Like Beyoncé, this course explores how we become who we are, albeit a bit more analytically and systematically!

Over the course of seven weeks, we will identify and interrogate the complex, multi-faceted relationships between social contexts and factors, identities, and ethical approaches and actions. What social, cultural, and historical factors shape us? How do these factors shape us— how do they impact how we relate to others, what we see as good or successful, the decisions we make and the ways we organize and order and live our lives?  How, then, do we shape the world around us as we’re being shaped by it? Drawing on resources from across the humanities and social sciences, we will reflect on and evaluate meta-ethical theories of identity and formation, ethical inquiries that arise in both theories and processes of formation, and ethical implications and applications of various accounts.

As one distinctive part of a broader framework of scholarly engagements, this course will aid us in cultivating an approach to ethical reflection and practice that can serve as a basis for critical inquiry and civic participation. Put another way, in asking how we become who we are, this course (and the Engagements program it is a part of) is also saying something about who we could (should?) become and how we might get there. (Given this, we’ll even actually turn to this very course as a site of inquiry! #meta.) In exploring approaches and questions around how we become who we are, through close reading, class discussions, and course assignments, students will reflect critically, constructively, and creatively about who they want to be as individuals and/in community, why, and what the processes of becoming might look like.

Instructed by

Daniels

Brandy
Postdoctoral Fellow
Daniels

I was the first person in my family to go to college. I grew up just outside of Los Angeles, my dad was (and still is) a copier repairman, and my mom worked as a cashier at Walmart. I almost didn’t even go to college. If I’m honest, the only reason I went is because I knew I wanted to get married someday, and I thought I should find a spouse who was going to get a better job than either of my parents did, so I’d probably find them at college. I went to a small religious liberal arts school close to home. Turns out, rather than falling in love with another person, I fell in love with education instead. I went on to get two Bachelor’s degrees, two Master’s degrees, and then, realizing I wanted to go back to college as a professor, yet another Master’s degree and a PhD.

As what folks call a first-generation college and graduate student, I often felt like an outsider, especially at places like Duke and Vanderbilt (and, for that matter, at UVA!), especially as a women studying religion, a field that tends to be predominately male. I also grew up in a deeply religious family, hence my fascination with studying religion, and came from a tradition that did not believe women should be teachers, especially not teaching religion. I felt like an outsider within the academy, and within the community I came from. My background deeply shaped my own research interests—can communities sustain their identity and take difference seriously at the same time? If so, how? How do accounts and practices of formation—the ways we become who we are—assist or hinder such endeavors? These questions lie at the heart of my research, which is on gender and sexual difference in religious thought and practice. They also deeply shape and are deeply shaped by my teaching, and are, in many ways, what drew me to teach courses in the Engagements.

I view the classroom as a formational site where community amidst difference can be interrogated, imagined, and inhabited—an occasion for transformative intellectual practice through engagement together with texts, traditions, and theories. No wonder, then, that I was drawn to teach courses in the Engagements program, given its emphasis on, well, engagement—on collaboration and creativity, on active learning, on conversation and critical thinking. In my course on Engaging Difference, we will explore these questions of community amidst difference, as well as practice and live them, as we consider what kind of good difference is by exploring visions of the future, and in my course on Ethical Engagements, we’ll look at how we become who we are and imagine together who we might want to become and how we might get there.

MW 2:00pm-3:15pm
EGMT 1540: What is Authority?

EGMT 1540: What is Authority?

What is authority? Why do we follow the instructions of certain persons and sources (pilots, lifestyle bloggers, WebMD, religious texts)? Merely to question or merely to follow authority does not, on its own, make us good. Rather, to navigate a complex world ethically, we must be able to discern who should be trusted with authority and who should be ignored or resisted, judge which directives for action are good and which are bad, and debate why some statements should be accepted as authoritative and others rejected. Authority, whether respected or reviled, inflects and influences the behaviors, habits and dispositions that constitute a good or successful life.

In this class we will examine authority as a special kind of human relationship with deep implications for what it means to be a good person. We will read about a wide variety of types of authority—for example, professional, parental, religious, scientific, political—and ask how they interact with each other and change over time. We will study how authority is different from, but often becomes entwined with, power. Finally, we will build a better understanding of the conditions under which people are willing to accept, resist, and/or reformulate authority.

Instructed by

Reed

Isaac Ariail
Associate Professor of Sociology
Isaac Reed

Since my own first year of college (a long time ago!), I have always been drawn to the life of the mind. The purpose of that life, in my view, is to create a learning environment where students can become clear and careful thinkers, active and engaged citizens, and responsible and caring people. In the engagements, we have the opportunity to reconsider and reconstruct how we educate young people and prepare them to navigate the world outside of Grounds. My own research in historical sociology considers how humans have, in different times and places, enhanced their capacity to flourish by constructing complex and interconnected forms of social, technical and economic organization, democratic republics, and ethical traditions; yet simultaneously we have reproduced, and even introduced new forms of, disempowerment, domination and moral destruction. In the engagements, I draw on my research experience to teach students to think comparatively about society and history, and to venture outside their own experience so as to better understand the world and how to act ethically within it. I ask students to learn about the tremendous variation in how the interconnected societies of the globe are organized, connect the long arc of human history to the concerns and struggles of their own generation, and write with rigor, clarity, and courage in the pursuit of truth.

The grandson of Jewish refugees, I was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina. I received my Ph.D. in Sociology from Yale University in 2007, after which I taught for nine years at the University of Colorado at Boulder. In 2016 I moved to Charlottesville with my wife Jennifer and daughter Hannah. My first book, Interpretation and Social Knowledge: On the use of theory in the human sciences, proposed a framework for bringing the humanities and social sciences closer together. My current book project examines authority and power in the history of the American republic.

Course Name: Title: 
MW 11:00am-12:15pm
EGMT 1540: What is Authority?

EGMT 1540: What is Authority?

What is authority? Why do we follow the instructions of certain persons and sources (pilots, lifestyle bloggers, WebMD, religious texts)? Merely to question or merely to follow authority does not, on its own, make us good. Rather, to navigate a complex world ethically, we must be able to discern who should be trusted with authority and who should be ignored or resisted, judge which directives for action are good and which are bad, and debate why some statements should be accepted as authoritative and others rejected. Authority, whether respected or reviled, inflects and influences the behaviors, habits and dispositions that constitute a good or successful life.

In this class we will examine authority as a special kind of human relationship with deep implications for what it means to be a good person. We will read about a wide variety of types of authority—for example, professional, parental, religious, scientific, political—and ask how they interact with each other and change over time. We will study how authority is different from, but often becomes entwined with, power. Finally, we will build a better understanding of the conditions under which people are willing to accept, resist, and/or reformulate authority.

Instructed by

Reed

Isaac Ariail
Associate Professor of Sociology
Isaac Reed

Since my own first year of college (a long time ago!), I have always been drawn to the life of the mind. The purpose of that life, in my view, is to create a learning environment where students can become clear and careful thinkers, active and engaged citizens, and responsible and caring people. In the engagements, we have the opportunity to reconsider and reconstruct how we educate young people and prepare them to navigate the world outside of Grounds. My own research in historical sociology considers how humans have, in different times and places, enhanced their capacity to flourish by constructing complex and interconnected forms of social, technical and economic organization, democratic republics, and ethical traditions; yet simultaneously we have reproduced, and even introduced new forms of, disempowerment, domination and moral destruction. In the engagements, I draw on my research experience to teach students to think comparatively about society and history, and to venture outside their own experience so as to better understand the world and how to act ethically within it. I ask students to learn about the tremendous variation in how the interconnected societies of the globe are organized, connect the long arc of human history to the concerns and struggles of their own generation, and write with rigor, clarity, and courage in the pursuit of truth.

The grandson of Jewish refugees, I was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina. I received my Ph.D. in Sociology from Yale University in 2007, after which I taught for nine years at the University of Colorado at Boulder. In 2016 I moved to Charlottesville with my wife Jennifer and daughter Hannah. My first book, Interpretation and Social Knowledge: On the use of theory in the human sciences, proposed a framework for bringing the humanities and social sciences closer together. My current book project examines authority and power in the history of the American republic.

Course Name: Title: 
MW 8:00am-9:15am

New College Curriculum

Requirements